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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Time For Fun And Games Hutton Settlement Staffer Has Lots Of Ways To Keep Kids Busy

The glow of that favorite Christmas toy is fading. The children are starting to, well, not argue they’re just ITAL expressing UNITAL themselves, the little darlings.

And just now, Mom and Dad’s budget can’t handle a day on the ski hill.

What’s a family to do? In the interest of post-Christmas sanity, read on for ideas of activities that will engage both young and old during the rest of Christmas vacation - and year around.

At Hutton Settlement, Markie Schillinger is renowned for thinking of activities to involve everyone - more than 30 children of all ages. Schillinger is an assistant house mother at the historic orphanage in the Spokane Valley.

Ideas just spill out of her, some of them ‘regular’ things, some delightfully out of the ordinary. Her creativity started young.

“My parents are like this, too. On Sundays, we weren’t allowed to watch TV. We always had to come up with new creative ideas,” Schillinger said. “I hate to sit on my rear.”

Here are some of the tasks from a recent Hutton scavenger hunt - one that even Schillinger admits was awesome. Four teams of about nine kids competed, one team from each of Hutton’s “cottages.”

“We hung a flag from a window in one of the cottages. The kids had to say what country the flag was from.”

“What size tires are on Jerry’s car?” Jerry is one of the staff members.

“How many letters on the plaque in front of the buildings?”

“How many trees line the lane? That was a hard one. They were out there counting,” she said. Eighty-four plum and crab apple trees line the long driveway from Upriver Drive into the Hutton Settlement.

“How many keys on Ken’s keychain? Ken’s the maintenance man and so he has tons of keys.”

“How many steps from one side of the garden to the other?’

And so on, until all the tasks were done. At the end of the afternoon, everyone got ice cream.

Once, Schillinger divided the children into teams and had them invent their own games. Then they explained the new games to each other, vote on which is best, and the winning team got ice cream.

Or Schillinger and other staff members will design an obstacle course on Hutton’s play equipment and time the children as they scamper through it.

Sometimes the children make special audio cassette tapes for each other.

“Or I’ll sit them down and make then write essays for me. I’ll have everyone go and look up five words that (they) don’t know and write the definitions down.”

“We do macrame. We do origami. Sometimes, we clean,” she said. “We do art projects. We make play-dough. We bake. We fly kites. Just all the normal stuff.”

In all of these ideas, time is the common denominator.

“Few actual presents that I received as a child remain vivid memories today,” principal Margaret Patterson wrote in a newsletter to the students and families at Broadway Elementary School.

“What I do remember are the special times my family spent together and the traditions that were repeated year after year. These times became even more precious after my father died when I was 12 years old, and continuing the traditions provided a sense of security for us.”

Here are other suggestions for activities and places to go:

Walk a lonely dog

Check out the Spokane County Animal Shelter. For dog walking, each child must be accompanied, one on one, by an adult, said Nancy Sattin, shelter director. Or if weather is too wintry to take dogs outside, everyone is welcome to look at the dogs and cats. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays; the shelter is closed Wednesdays, Sundays and holidays. Call 458-2532 for more information.

Apples and a warm kitchen

Make your own apple butter. Buy a bag of cooking apples at your grocery store and try this recipe for Grandma Angie’s applebutter. Best of all, this old-fashioned treat is all done in the microwave:

Start by making applesauce. Slice four cups of apples, leaving skins on. Add a small amount of water, cover and cook on high until quite soft. Then run the apples through a food mill or food processor. Even a potato masher will work.

Add a third to half cup sugar, depending on taste, per cup of apples. Add to your quart of applesauce a cup of apple cider or apple juice. Also, add a tablespoon of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of cloves and half a teaspoon of nutmeg. The mixture will be a little soupy, because of the liquid.

Cook roughly another 20 minutes in the microwave, stirring every five or 10 minutes. It will turn quite brown. For a good wintry feel, make sure you’re using a wooden spoon. Some people like to use 2 tablespoons lemon juice instead of the apple cider.

Or, simply drive to Thackers Orchard in Veradale to buy inexpensive Red Delicious apples. They’re good for eating, but not cooking. Call 926-7904 for directions and more information.

Tigers and lions and pumas, oh my!

Take a trip to Cat Tales on the Newport Highway, just north of Green Bluff Road. The private zoo for endangered cats is open Wednesdays through Sundays during the winter season. They will be open New Years Day. The cats are much more active during the cold weather than in the summer’s heat. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $3 per children 12 and under; $4 for students and senior citizens, and $5 adults.

Frosty fun and flowers

Visit the Conservatory at Manito Park. It’s open every day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Closed on New Years Day. “And if it’s snowing, they can go sledding and warm up in the greenhouse,” said Stephanie O’Bryne, an employee there?. “Lots of times, people eat lunch in the conservatory.” Call 625-6682 for more information.

Visit the elderly

Call a elderly care center and talk with the activities director to find out what’s appropriate. At Sullivan Center’s Care Center, Teresa Waite suggests preparing a small homemade gift or card to take along. Or have a song or two ready to sing. Short visits are best.

Even friendly, well-mannered pets are welcome at some homes. Pets must have all their shots and, again, be sure to call ahead to see what’s appropriate.

Go find your own fish tale

Visit the Spokane Fish Hatchery at 2927 W. Waikiki Road, on the Little Spokane River. Next week, the hatchery will be open Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some three- or four-year-old adult rainbows may be on hand for the season’s spawning, as well as eight or 10 ponds with younger fish. Call 625-5169 for more information. Or, to arrange a tour, call 328-7327.

Llamas like visitors, too

Amy and Jim Logan own the Snow Ridge Llama Farm on Mt. Spokane. Call 238-4975 for directions and to make sure the Logans will be home. The Logans have 16 llamas, some of them so well trained they do tricks.

Bald eagles at Beauty Bay

Every year about Christmas time, eagles are drawn to the northeast corner of Lake Coeur d’Alene by spawning kokanee. The eagles are migrating south from Canada and Alaska. Take Interstate 90 east past Coeur d’Alene and look for the Beauty Bay-Harrison exit.

Tie on some skates

Families can go ice skating at Riverfront Park or the Ice House at Mirabeau. Call the Riverfront Ice Palace hotline at 625-6687 for times and costs. For Ice House hours and cost, call 928-5337.

Still skating, but warmer

Skate off those Christmas cookies at Roller Valley or Valley Sports Arena. For Roller Valley times and costs, call 925-7655. For the Valley Sports Arena in Otis Orchards, call 922-7379.

Hug a chicken, pet a pig

Joy’s Mobile Petting Zoo at Newman Lake gives children a chance to learn about a variety of animals. Owner Joy Katterfeld welcomes families, Boy Scout groups, birthday parties, even school classes. She usually asks for a donation of feed. And Katterfeld points out that, come springtime, she’ll have animal babies. Call 226-3899 for directions and more information.

Fuzzy, friendly Icelandic horses

Visit Sigurdsson’s Icelandic Horse Acres with about 70 horses, in Greenacres. “We always welcome visitors,” said Bridget Sigurdsson. Call 891-8232 for directions and more information.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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