Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Blech!!

Today, I had to go to the dentist, not my favorite activity at all. Especially not if there are three cavities involved. Did I mention how I hate the dentist? I spent a lot of time trying to think up excuses why I didn't really have to go, but my mature self won and I ended up going anyway.

I was in there for TWO hours! Did I mention that I hate the dentist? Lots of drilling, and he happily discovered a nerve that was exposed after all that drilling. Oh joy. Did I mention that I also hate novocain, so I did this all without anasthesia? I visualized being at the beaver pond, which helped a lot. The pain was there, but it was not foremost in my mind. It was more like an annoying background buzz while I was enjoying nature. Although I have to admit that it would have improved the situation if I had brough my machete I think :-)

He put a temporary filling on the one with the exposed nerve, permanent fillings on the others. And to add insult to injury, he prescribed a week's worth of antibiotics. I hate those too. Last time, they messed up my body for three months. Better go and get some acidophilus tomorrow I guess.

I was supposed to go play go in the afternoon, but the building was closed for the holidays. Oh well, at least I got to walk, since I hadn't done that in the morning because of the dentist visit. But I really had wanted to play go against a human. At least, when I came home, I got a package with new go books and new go software. That will keep my busy for a while.

You know, I didn't have any issues with my teeth before I went to the dentist, and now they hurt a lot. Makes me wonder why I even do this to myself. Blech!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Big Girl

She's growing up too darned fast. Today, I went down in our black hole basement, tried to find the baby seat to hang from the table. Took me only half an hour or so, but I finally did find it! That was after another half hour of replacing the table cloth, which I was going to do before Sylvia was born, but life got in the way. I know normal people have table cloths on their table, and they can just take it off and put on another one. Not us, no, we duct tape our table cloth to the table. It's not really a table cloth anyway, it's plastic with fabric backing, bought at JoAnne's, by the yard, to fit our pretty big table. The duct taping helps to make sure that no little fingers mess with the table cloth. It works too, but after half a year or so, holes start appearing and it needs to be replaced. After more than a year, it just looks disgusting, and it had been bothering me for a while, glad I finally got it done!

After finding the baby seat, I installed it on the table. Put Sylvia in there, with a few frozen blueberries, and she looked at me and just grinned. 'Really???? Are you going to let me sit here and eat??? All by myself???? Wow!!! I just love it!!!!' She happily picked up a blueberry, and brought it to her mouth. Took it out again, put it in again, and then the other kids discovered her sitting there. Erik was the first 'Guys, guys, come on!!!!! I found Sylvia's chair!!!! She is sitting in it!!!!!'

Six pairs of running feet, excited voices. 'Sylvia!!! You are so big!!!' 'She is eating!' 'What is she eating???' 'Whose chair is that??' 'What will you give her???' 'Will she eat every meal now??' 'How are we going to keep the table clean?' 'Look how she has this really disgusted look on her face when she takes out her blueberry!' 'YEAH!!! Sylvia, you ate it!!!!!'

Sylvia sitting there, surrounded by her siblings, chewing her blueberries. Happily grinning, and enjoying all the attention. Me, choking away tears, how can she be growing so fast. I am not the only food source anymore. Her poops will change to the more disgusting type, not the nice, soft, yellowish breastmilk poop anymore. I am not ready for this! But she sure is!

Not only that, but she has figured out that it is possible to pull yourself up to stand. For now, she is just doing it on people, but she has been eyeing the couch, and been experimenting with it. She is not totally there yet, but the way she is going, it won't be long. I keep telling her that she's too little to do that, but she doesn't listen.

Christmas was fun! The kids were happy with all their presents, spent all day yesterday and today playing with them. Sylvia was more interested in the wrapping paper than in her presents. And in the tiny pieces of the other kids' presents of course. I got my very own machete. Nice, big, and shiny! Can't wait to go bushwhacking again!

Of course, I had to go out and try it. Can't have a brand new machete and not do anything with it right. There is some brush in our front yard, which I want to take out at some point, so that was perfect practicing material. I had seen all those movies, where people just swing their machete, and the jungle dissolves around them I took a big swing at one of the bushes. And another one. And another one. It now had three tiny notches in it, but was still stubbornly standing. This was harder than it looked in the movies!

Not one to give up easily, I kept hacking at it, and eventually it gave in, leaving me proudly looking at this tiny stick on the ground, wondering how long it would take to bushwhack for a mile or so. I had some more fun taking down brush, but it really was much harder than it looked. Lots of room for improvement in my machete skills.

While I was standing there, swinging my machete like a mad woman, suddenly a passer by pops up out of nowhere. I kind of hide my machete behind my back and smile at him, with a bright 'Good morning!' added. He returns my greeting, but looks kind of doubtful about it all, and seems to be moving fast to get away from me. Hmmmm, I wonder what kind of story he will tell to the neighbors. I must be building up quite a reputation, first the ammo boxes, now the machete...

Finally did some baking again today, other than just the daily bread. I made blueberry scones, and a batch of unchicken steak. Not only that, but I also managed to make yogurt and pad thai. Yummy!

Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Night Before Christmas

All through the house, the kids were excited, but finally passed out. Tim kept on puking, the toilet was flooding, the baby was fussy, but we did get all the presents underneath the tree!!!! It will be an early morning, so merry christmas to all and off to bed!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Playing Go

Back in my old college days, I was one of those students who really enjoyed the social aspect of my education. So instead of going to all those boring classes, I spent my time in the cafetaria, playing all kinds of games, like bridge, chess, all kinds of card games, and go. Who needs classes when you can stimulate your intellect by having so much fun playing games?

Go was one of my favorite games, and I spent quite a lot of time playing and studying it. I even entered in some tournaments, not that I ever won anything, but it was fun. Then my college time was over, and life hit, and somehow I didn't get to play much go anymore. Until a few weeks ago, when I dug up my old board and stones and started playing again.

My family has a few go players, but none of them has the obsession with the game I have, so I soon ended up looking around on the trusted internet. And lo and behold, there is a whole on line go world out there! After some experimenting, we discovered that we could get Kiseido to work with our firewall. Which enabled me to suddenly play against tons of strong go players, and a bunch of go robots, which was less embarrassing to try to figure out my right rank :-)

Late every night, I log on to the server and get my daily go fix. Even better, I found a real life go 'club' close to home, and I went there for the first time today. What fun. Two nice go players, both of them way stronger than I am, but they took pity on me and gave me 9 stones handicap. I ended up winning the game, but it's kind of hard to lose with 9 handicap. Especially since my opponent was playing two games simultaneously. It just was so much fun to play against real humans face to face, as opposed to at the computer.

So yet another obsession has entered my life. I guess it's good to have something to do in the winter, when it's harder to geocache. At least I still got my daily walk in, and I have also started doing some yoga, not much, but it's a start.

Now I just have to make sure that Sylvia doesn't eat those nice, tasty go stones :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Solstice!


sitting!

My last blog entry ended with Kate puking. Well, that was just the start of yet another puking bug going around the house, culminating in tons of laundry and every one feeling pretty rotten at one time or another. The kids were nice enough to even share the bug with me! Found out that the toilets really do need cleaning, which I did yesterday. I wish the puking was pregnancy related, puking because of a bug just sucks!

Life has been hectic as usual, but at least I started walking again. I started last Thursday, and have walked almost every day. Even when the temps were significantly subzero. Brrrrrr! But it enabled me to teach Sylvia the sign for 'cold', I have started signing with her.

We celebrated the solstice today, still have the fire going, kids roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. Tomorrow, we'll have three more seconds of day light, oh joy!

Sylvia is helping me type, so have to keep this short, she isn't very good at spelling yet.

sitting!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

She Sits!!!

Sylvia is growing up way too fast. She has been crawling every where, and has been trying to figure out how to get into a sitting position from lying down.But up until now, she couldn't do it, would just be almost sitting up, but needed an arm to keep herself steady. Fast forward to today. She was eagerly exploring every single fuzzy on the living room carpet, when suddenly, she did the almost sitting up thing again. Wait, this wasn't almost sitting up, this was TOTALLY sitting up! Without hands! So amazing!!! I told her how wonderful she was, and she replied by toppling over within five seconds or so. I guess she isn't a steady sitter yet LOL, but I was really surprised to notice her getting into a sitting position without any help.

She still gets stuck underneath the furniture, although I am sure she will figure out a way to deal with that soon. I know the first year always flies past, but somehow it still surprises me every single time.

And talking about growing up way too fast, my teenager, a fresh 13yo, now is reading all my parenting books and tells me what I am doing wrong.... Today he was working on 'Siblings Without Rivalry'. Just imagine the following situation. Cees and me both reading books on the couch, suddenly mayhem breaks out and two screaming and fighting little ones come running into the room, one of them waving an empty cardboard tube, from inside a wrapping paper roll. 'Can I have this please????' 'No, I want to have it' 'No, me, me, me!!!' 'I want it this time!!!'

It's late and I don't really want to deal with it, so I tell Erik he can have it for today, as long as he takes it upstairs, and closes the door of whichever room he decides to take it in, and then Kate can play with it tomorrow. They run off, with a bit of grumbling from Kate, but not much, and the room is quiet again. Cees looks up from his books and comments 'You did that all wrong, mama!' I ask him what I should have done and he responds 'You should have said that they should work on negotiating a solution that they both are happy with' 'OK, I'll do that next time'

LOL, it's a weird feeling if your kid starts critiquing your parenting in a different way than 'Everybody else gets to do xxxxx' or 'It's not fair'. Maybe I should re-read all those books that he is working through now. Last I saw, he had started on 'How to talk so kids will listen', and a few days ago he was reading 'Raising boys!'

Oh, and Kate just puked all over the bed room floor and her mattress, a bunch of toys and her clothes. Life is never boring around here!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Busy

I was going to post some pictures today, but life got in the way. So just a short summary of what happened, before I am off to put the little ones to bed. I am totally overwhelmed right now, but also very very happy to have such a wonderful family. Sylvia is reveling in her crawling abilities, she is just so cute!

Today
  • We were First To Find on a new cache.
  • Did some grocery shopping
  • Had three mormons over! They just showed up, at least they helped to carry in the groceries. And no, I am still not converted, although I now know even more about the mormon religion. I never knew they baptized unrelated people who are dead, I thought they only baptized their family after death.
  • Rescued Sylvia form underneath the desk
  • Had a friend's toddler over, who puked over the couch
  • Made split pea soup
  • Rescued Sylvia from underneath a chair
  • Baked three loaves of bread
  • Rescued Sylvia from underneath the couch
  • Did lots of other small things
  • Did not do 320 things that should have happened, but just didn't get done
  • Just feel totally overwhelmed and as if I accomplished nothing, even although I was busy the whole day
  • Wished Sylvia would be able to put herself in reverse LOL and rescued her yet again when she was stuck
  • Played go on an on line go server and lost! Waaah! ;-)
  • Fished soggy paper out of Sylvia's mouth

So, a full day, but not much got done. Oh well, at least we were First To Find. And I'll post pictures soon, really!

Monday, December 06, 2004

SIX Months!!!

She is SIX months old now! How did that happen???? It's amazing how fast that half year went past, and also how much she has learned in those six months. She is crawling, babbling, cooing, grabbing everything within reach, picking up too many tiny fuzzies, and just a delight to be with.

She had a checkup today, weighs 16lbs 11oz now, doubled her birth weight. She was declared healthy. Kept trying to crawl off the table though :-)

We almost finished the long and involved multi cache, but we ran out of daylight. It's amazing how short the days have become! Can't wait for the solstice!

Yesterday, we celebrated Sinterklaas, yes, we did hide a cache to add to the Sinterklaas fun :-) Kids ended up with lots of fun new toys, including a block set to make a Roman arch. They have been having fun with that today, it's so neat.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Birthday Cache

Last week, it was my friend M's birthday, so what else would we do than hide a cache for her! So, on Wednesday, in the pouring rain, I went out to two remote ponds in Vermont with my friend I to hide a birthday cache for her. The kids somehow were not thrilled with the rain, I wonder why not. I had only five of them with me, the other two were at a friend's house. We hid the cache at the other side of the pond from where the parking area was, there was a connection that was easy to cross, no water on it during this time of the year. We decided that we didn't have to hike in too far today, the rain was kind of interfering with our caching experience.

Of course, when we decided that we wanted to hide the cache now, we could not find a good spot! Suddenly all the rocks had disappeared, the trees didn't have any good root holes to hide anything in, and no convenient stacks of broken sticks was presenting itself. Eventually I found a lonely rock, and just put the cache behind it, covered it with some stuff and we ran back to the car.

Fast forward to yesterday, when we presented our cache to M. We discovered that the rain of the last few days had filled the connection thingy with lots of water. Oops! This made it a bit harder to get to the other side. Heck, it made it a LOT harder to get to the other side. I ended up with a wet left foot, Kate had two wet feet, and Tara discovered that there was a gaping crack in one of her rain boots. M had to pour water out of Tara's boot.

Short hike to the cache hiding place, there was a spot with lots of mud and water, but easy to avoid by taking a kind of short cut. They did find the cache and the the normal amount of grabbing, crying, fighting ensued. Eventually they all settled on whatever they wanted. M found her birthday presents, and took a cute seahorse which Kate had selected for the cache in our local thrift store :-) The sea horse is going to be one of her travel bugs.

Fast hike back to the car (managed to get both of my feet wet this time), and there turned out to be a traveling cache hidden close by too. What a coincidence. OK, maybe my friend I planned it that way :-) Cees found that one, but we gave it to M to hide next, because it was her birthday.

Now we had to hurry back home, because we had invited some friend to celebrate M's birthday with us. I even had baked a cake for her, have to admit that it wasn't perfectly decorated, just a simple devil's food cake with vanilla frosting, but hey, at least it was home baked.

And today, the Vermont Geocaching Organization featured me as the featured Geocacher. I am honored.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

She's Crawling!

Interrupting our geocaching adventure series with a special report. Sylvia is crawling! Not on hands and knees yet, it's still the commando variant. But she is able to reach toys that used to be out of her reach. And all the tiny fluffy somethings that are on the floor. And all the tiny pieces of paper that were left from one of the art projects of Jane. And all the cheerios which got spilled during breakfast. She is thrilled about her new skill.

And yes, I did go out geocaching today, but did not even make it to the cache, because a wind storm had dropped a bunch of trees on the road in front of us. My friend I called the local sheriff and we had eventually two young, sexy guys come over to clean it up for us, but by then we were running out of daylight. Oh well.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Mormons

Last week, I was on my way to the grocery store, when I discovered that I could easily do this virtual cache on the way there, it would only add maybe forty minutes of driving time or so. I could easily just do less grocery shopping to compensate for that, right? And I knew a virtual would be fast, there isn't any physical things to be found, usually you just have to get some information about the landmark that the cache is at.

I had read the logs and figured out it was something religious, and in talking with other caches, it was mentioned that it was related to the Mormon religion. It turned out to be something at the birth place of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

fog in Vermont

I was the only visitor, so got a private tour of the visitor's center. Very interesting, I learned a lot of things I didn't know, including the information I needed for the virtual cache. I enjoyed the tour, but it didn't make me want to convert to the LDS religion. I also enjoyed the video about Joseph's Smith life, especially the part where he unearthed the gold plates, The way they portrayed it, made me think 'Oh wow, this looks just like he is geocaching!'

It took longer than I really had intended, but I did learn a lot of interesting tidbits, and when she asked whether I would like a book of Mormon, I replied 'Sure', expecting her to go over to a closet and grab a book for me. I like to expose my kids to different religions, so they can figure out which one fits them, and I thought it would be good to have a book of Mormon around, to let them read it if they were interested in the LDS religion. She perked up when I agreed to the book of Mormon and told me that their missionaries would contact me and drop it off at my house.

Yikes, what did I get myself into? I was too polite to change my reply to 'No, thanks!', so I just smiled and nodded and drove to the grocery store, hoping that maybe she wouldn't get around to notifying their missionaries.

The next morning, at 9am, the phone rang... Yes, the LDS missionaries. I wasn't even at home, so dh got them and was all surprised, since I hadn't quite told him about my religious adventure yet :-) He told them I would be back in an hour and indeed, at 10am the phone rang again, and a sister asked me whether they could come over today to drop off the book of Mormon. We had all kinds of stuff going on on Friday, homeschool meeting, geocaching, so I proposed a Monday visit instead.

Monday night, the door bell rang, and I opened it, expecting one person with one book. Instead, in come FOUR people, all with their own bible / book of Mormon and installed themselves in my house. They tried to convince me that their religion was the only right one, I kept repeating that I thought that different religions work for different people and that every one finds the religion that is perfect for them. They came up with all kinds of analogies, none of which made a lot of sense. They also did a building with papercups, showing how the church fell apart after the Apostles died, but then eventually Joseph Smith was born to fix it again. They obviously very much believed in what they were telling, but they weren't able to convince me. I guess the LDS religion just isn't the right fit for me. We had a pleasant talk though, and I learned even more about the mormons which I didn't know before.

During the first prayer, the timer for my bread went off. During the last prayer, Sylvia started pooping and pooping. They stayed for more than an hour, but I now do have my own copy of the book of Mormon. They wanted to come back next Monday, but I politely refused. I still can't believe I got myself into this, just by going geocaching!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Visit to City Hall

Saturday, we spent the day working on that long multi cache, which brought us to some coordinates and asked us to look for a certain something. We looked and we looked and we looked, but we could not find it. The coordinates seemed to lead us to City Hall, but we couldn't find the thing. Luckily, there was a police station behind City Hall, and we hoped they would have some idea where to find this thing. We went in, looking very innocent, and asked about the thing. Yes, they knew what we were talking about, it is located in the basement of City Hall. The only thing was, that City Hall wasn't open right now (remember, we are talking about Saturday night here)

My friend I opened her eyes really wide and wondered in a very nice tone of voice who would have the keys to City Hall. The dispatcher brightened and told us that they had a set of keys here, right at the police station, and did we want them to open it for us? We replied that that would be lovely, so out comes a police officer who accompanies us to City Hall and opens the door for us.

Elevator ride into the basement, some searching for the light switches, eventually found by the police officer. She leads us to the back of the building and proudly shows us the thing. Very nice, but wrong date. We take pictures anyway, walk and roll out of the building again and express a heartfelt thank you to the nice police officer. Dh later told me that this was typically Vermont, opening up City Hall for a bunch of weirdos, even although it was Saturday night :-)

Well, this was fun, but we hadn't found the thing yet. We decided to reconnoiter at our cars, but on our way there, we suddenly notice the fire department. Hmmmm, maybe they know where to find the thing? Yes, they sure do, it is inside the fire department! And of course they can let us inside to see it, no problem at all. A handsome fireman accompanies us to the thing and we make pictures and he even digs up a tape measure for us. He shows us around some more, including the amazing ceiling moldings (it's an old building) and we finally leave, wondering whether this was the right thing or not.

We were still in doubt. Just to be sure, we call some one who has done this cache, to ask his advice. Found out that both things were totally wrong, we needs something outside a building! Back we go, and there it is! Has it been there all along, or did some one take it away while we were looking there the first time? Oh well, we do our required measurements, and decide to call it a day. We found a very good Thai restaurant, where we have a very tasty supper. I loved it that all the dishes has a vegetarian option as first choice, as opposed to having one measly vegetarian dish to choose from. I think we have to eat there again some day :-) Sylvia tried to have her first solids by snatching some leaves from a plant, but I discouraged her from eating those, poor baby.

More adventures to follow, including the mormons and the getting totally drenched while geocaching, twice in a row even!

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Tooth!!!

It has happened. She is not toothless anymore. Two days ago, dh found her very first tooth. It's still tiny, barely broke through her gums, but it's there. The end of her toothless grin. I am both happy and sad about it. Happy because she is growing up and doing so well. Sad because it just happens so darned fast!

She is moving around too. Rolling, and almost crawling. Grabbing everything in site. Pulling cloth wipes of her face when the kids put them on and ask 'Where's the baby?', followed by 'Peekaboo!!! There's the baby!' She just loves it, as do her siblings. The funny thing is how they keep increasing the difficulty, by first putting one wipe on her face, which she will take off with one hand. The second wipe gets taken off by her second hand. Then the third wipe goes on. The first two days Sylvia would just lay there, bewildered, having no idea what to do, because both hands were full. Then suddenly, she made an all important discovery. She is able to let go of one of the wipes in her hand so that she can take off that third wipe!!! It's amazing the things you learn when you are a baby :-)

Life has been busy as usual, lots of geocaching, grocery shopping, cooking, and baking. Tomorrow night I will have some mormons visiting me to drop off the book of Mormon, and maybe try to convert me? All that thanks to geocaching, I will have to tell the long story, but not tonight. Also have to tell how the police opened up city hall for us on a Saturday night, so we could check out something. Life is never boring :-)

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Bear

Yesterday was a perfect day for caching, nice fall weather, crisp, sunny. I knew I couldn't just stay home, so I called a friend and begged her to go caching with me. She obliged and we met at a cool cemetery, from where we proceeded to go find the cache.

First surprise was finding a empty toolbox next to the trail, together with a bunch of empty packages of ready to eat meals. What happened? Did some one get scared away by an animal, which proceeded to eat the remainders of his meals? It sure looked like it! The packages were pretty much ripped to pieces. I threw the thrash in the back of her pickup truck, practicing sound 'Cache In Trash Out' principles. It was very needed, we found beer bottles and an anti freeze bottle close to the cache, how messy!

Second surprise was seeeing something that looked suspiciously like ice on the pond. I am sure it must just have been some interesting looking algae or so. It just can't be this close to winter yet!

We found the cache pretty easily. While we were looking at the cache contents, my friend M said she thought she heard some animal in the woods. I reassured her that it was most likely just a squirrel. Making jokes about how I always think I am going to see this really interesting animal, and then it turns out to be yet another squirrel. I was wrong this time.

Because the third surprise was meeting some hunters. M got to talk with one of them. He just had seen a > 400 lbs bear around where we had found the cache... So much for the noises being a squirrel.

We hightailed it out of there, and now have a pretty good idea of what must have happened to the owners of the toolbox...

Yesterday, Erik was doing better, but this morning at 4am or so, we had yet another puking episode. And both Erik and Kate woke up coughing. I want it to be summer again!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Caching

On Sunday, I had a wonderful caching day with two friends.We are working on a long and involved multi cache, and we made some progress. Not a lot, but it still felt good. Most people seem to spend at least 4 months or even up to 14 months to solve this one, so we really want to get at least part of it done before it starts snowing. We got a few puzzles to solve now, and more coordinates to visit, I wish it was closer by, so it would be easier to go and find the physical caches.

It was nice to be out caching, after having spent the night catching poop and puke, from both Sylvia and Erik. Well, Sylvia had diarrhea, Erik was puking. The second night in a row. At 3am of course. He was feeling very rotten, and we weren't too happy either. Yesterday, he felt better, but today he got sicker again, he even slept on the floor for a while, which is totally unheard of for one of my kids.

Some of the other kids have been sick too, I guess it's that time of the year. I hope they won't all get this puking thing though, that would be a tad intense.

At least I got some baking and cooking done today, which I wouldn't have if we had gone geocaching. Didn't think it was a good idea to take a puking and pooping kid on a cache hunt though :-) So I made three loaves of bread, a big pan of chili, and two pans of corn bread. Now I can go geocaching later this week, without having to worry about making dinner :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Party


Cees's 13th birthday party is over! Phew! He had a wonderful time, lots of running around, testosterone filled games. He got a bunch of miniatures and other neat things, was very happy with it. I have to admit that we bought a cake, because he wanted the front of one of his Dungeons and Dragons books on it, which is a lot easier on a store bought cake. I'll upload pictures soon, sitting here now with a sleeping Sylvia on my lap.

Yesterday, after the homeschool meeting, I ended up with two extra kids, and then decided to go grocery shopping for the party supplies. People did stop and stare at us when I showed up with nine kids in tow. I was happy to be able to say 'No!' to the 'Are they all yours????''s I was getting, and it was even more fun to add 'Only seven of them!'

Our new cache was found by two geocaching friends yesterday, they had a nice time. And I was happy to still be kind of connected to geocaching, even although I had to do other things that day. Couldn't geocach today either, it'd better be good weather tomorrow!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Scary Stories

The last travel bug has inspired my kids to write a bunch of scary stories. Here are the ones that made it into the travelbug's notebook, apart from Erik and Tim who didn't want to have theirs posted.

The River

By Cees

One day, I was in the basement, and I saw a door in the floor. Of course, I opened it. There was a long, dark stairway. I took a few hesitant steps down. I heard a strange, rumbling sound. I turned to run out of the stairwell, but the door was gone! I frantically searched for a secret panel or some other way out, but no! I was stuck!

Unhappily, I slowly made my way down, into the dark, dark cobweb-filled unknown. As I made it to a large cavern, I saw what had been making the rumbling noise. A river!

It was a sickly green color, and gave of a vile odor, so, although I was very thirsty, I decided against drinking it. I touched the water, which was boiling hot! I screamed in pain! While nursing my hand, I was a waterfall that the water was flowing up! Then, I noticed a narrow walkway, which led towards where ever the river was coming from.

After walking for a while, I saw a huge pit, and the river was coming out of it. Suddenly, in the wall sat the door! I rushed towards it, and ran back into the basement. One thing I know, is that if anymore doors appear, I'm not going in!

I told this to my family, but they didn't believe me. Do you?

Too Much Imagination

By Tara

One night, me and two of my brothers were playing bears. We were having fun and then I saw a ghost pop out of nowhere. Then it bowed at me and disappeared

The end

The Two Ghosts, Which Really Happened

By Jane

This thing really happened. Once, late at night, I looked around the room in my bed. Then I saw roller coasters on the wall, which I saw before in the television room. Then it stopped. But I saw two girl ghosts, and they looked like angels, but no halo and wings. They said 'Don't break the promise!' Then I whispered to the two ghosts 'I will break the promise'.

Then the roller coasters on the wall were there again. Then I saw all this gold all over the place. Then I started crying a little. Then my dad woke up, which was right next to me. Then he asked if I wanted to sleep with him. And I said yes.

Then later, when I was in my dad's bed, I went out to sleep in my mattress again. Then it was just normal.

The End

Three ghosts after me

By Kate

Once I was going to bed And I noticed there were three ghosts in front of me Then I noticed they were gone Then I was going back to bed and then I noticed them back in front of me

The End

Sylvia on quilt


It is fun to see how the writing style develops when the kids get older. And I love seeing them write (or dictate) stories, they come up with all kinds of complicating scenarios. Kate is the most prolific one at the moment, she has dictated at least six stories to me since last night. Now the kids want us to make a story writing travel bug too, so I'll have to be off to Staples to find a nice fat notebook for that.

I knew geocaching would be good for geography and history, but now it turns out that it's wonderful for language arts too. I could write a whole curriculum based on geocaching :-)

Hid yet another cache today, a travel bug hotel this time. I really don't want winter to come, today it was a bit warmer. But I am afraid that there has been snow predicted for tomorrow night, blech!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Caching in the Cold


Not much time to post, but we had our first snow today, and it was really really cold! Still did three caches though, just linking to them for stories and pictures, so I can be off to bed. We started out with a First To Find on this cache Then we did a Second To Find on this one. Check out the aurora pic of mosaica on that one, it's amazing.

Then we ended the day with a 'Did Not Find' on a fun traveling cache. But we had fun anyway. Did I mention how cold it was?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Skull

About a week ago, I woke up in the morning with an uneasy feeling, I couldn't remember details of my dream, but I did remember a hollow voice admonishing me 'Beware The Skull!' Not much more than that, so I kind of shrugged it off, thinking it just had been a normal nightmare.

A few days later, I had a similar dream, but this time I could remember more details. I went into a kind of crypt, and there were bones laying all around. Human bones. The skull was missing though, and in my dream I really wanted to find that skull. So I started to look around into the corners and hiding places of the crypt, until suddenly a voice boomed out 'Beware The Skull!'. This scared me enough to wake me up right then, and when I finally got back to sleep, that dream seemed to have gone, couldn't get back into it. Not sure whether I wanted to get back into it anyway.

This weekend, we went caching. I was sitting on the ground, checking out a fallen down tree to find yet another film canister, and I felt my neck hairs rising. I slowly turned around, and low and behold, what did I see, but the crypt out of my dreams! A huge granite roof, old crumbling wall beneath it. Cold, dark interior, with empty beer bottles as opposed to the bones I saw in my dreams.

Sylvia just stared into the opening, and didn't seem to want to go in. I heard the 'Beware The Skull' voice in the back of my mind, and was kind of holding back, wondering whether I would dare to enter. My friend M was braver and did enter the creepy crypt. I hoped it wouldn't be the last I saw of her.
She had taken her flashlight and was shining it all around. Suddenly, in the corner of her eye, she saw a skull pop up and grin at her. I would have run out by then, but she wasn't scared at all, and just told me that she had found a skull and grabbed it.

Guess what was inside? Yes, the film canister we had been looking for!

We logged our find in the log that was inside and put everything back the way we found it. I still had goosebumps, thinking about those dreams and then this cache.

About ten minutes later, when we were on our way back to the car, a few passersby went around the huge boulder to check out the crypt and for all we know, they still could be there, they might not have been as lucky as we are, and might have gotten trapped by The Skull...

OK, the part about the dreams wasn't true, but the cache location and hide were. They were so amazing, that I felt strongly compelled to write a scary story about it! The passersby did go there and check, but we actually saw them come out of there a few minutes later. That just didn't make for a good story though. They didn't even look scared! LOL I have had dreams about geocaching, but nothing about this skull yet. But who knows, maybe I'll still have a dream like that some day :-)

We had a travel bug named 'Unfinished Tales', which asks for a scary story in the notebook, so this will tie in well with that. I thought it would be fun to write a scary story which did involve geocaching.

Had a busy day today, including a flat tire. How inconvenient. But had a nice visit with a geocaching friend, and lots of other fun and good things happen. I made bread and granola, hadn't made granola in ages, so feel very good about that. Now off to bed!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Teenager!

Yesterday, my oldest son turned thirteen years old. He entered his long awaited teenage years, and so we entered our first day of parenting a teenager. Will be doing that for at least the next eighteen years, wow!

He had been counting the months at first, then the days, and in the end was down to counting the hours. And where he usually has a hard time getting up, he now suddenly was able to get up before 6 am. Yawn! Now he is counting how many years till he will be allowed to drive a car, yikes!

He had a wonderful day, lots of fun presents, and tons of playing his new Nintendo game (Super Mario Sunshine). His siblings are suitable impressed by him being a teenager now. Tara has explained to him about wet dreams, to his utter embarrassment LOL.

Birthday time!


Went geocaching again today, lots of fun, even made progress on a challenging multi cache we are working on. We happened upon this amazing floating bridge, or maybe submerged bridge is a better description. Yes, we did drive over it, what a weird experience!

floating bridge

I am still wondering why they built a floating bridge here as opposed to a 'normal' one. One reason I came up with is that a floating bridge is cheaper than a conventional bridge, especially when there is soft ground, a long distance to span, or deep waters. This bridge is about 300 feet long, so not a very long distance, but I guess enough to warrant a floating bridge.


floating bridge

We also wondered whether the wood wouldn't rot being submerged in the water like this, and then thought that maybe it would rot less totally submerged than if it was getting wet and dry alternately. Amazing bridge!

On the way home, we saw two deer grazing next to the interstate. They must have known Sylvia would pass and wanted to say hi to her :-)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A New Skill

Today, just in time for winter, Sylvia learned an important new skill. A Very Important Skill. She learned How To Pull Off Your Hat. I used to be able to put a hat on her, and it would mostly stay on. But not today. She figured out how to grab it, and pull it off, and then grin proudly at all arournd her :-)

In the afternoon, we went geocaching yet again. The weather was so nice, I knew I couldn't just stay home and inside, we just had to go caching. Of course, life (including gymnastics for Erik and Kate) had to happen first, so it was later than planned before we left. No problem, this was going to be an easy hike anyway. Sound familiar? ;-)

First obstacle was avoiding the border patrol on the insterstate going South, I didn't want to spend tons of time convincing them that I am not a terrorist, even although my favorite pastime does involve ammoboxes.

Second obstacle was finding the parking coordinates. Somehow the road leading to them didn't seem to be totally suited to my 15 passenger van. I double checked whether my friend M had brought her cell phone, just in case we needed AAA to tow us out of the mud somewhere.

After some interesting backing up on tiny dirt road, we finally found a spot to park the car. Now we finally could start hiking. Well, apart from having to go back to get another jacket from the car.

We found the cache rather easily, but it was starting to get darker. And darker. So we did a quick exchange, quick jotting down a few words in the logbook and put the cache back. Some of the kids started to freak out, Sylvia wanted to nurse, and it got even darker.

Then we saw a car, in the middle of nowhere. And out of the car came our savior! With two cute dogs, who were very excited to meet all those people in the woods. He first asked us the most important question 'Did you find it???' before we got around to talking about the fastest way back to the car :-) He turned out to be the owner of the cache, who was out walking his dogs.

He drove me and the two little ones to our van, while flyingfisher took the other kids through a field to a road. I got the van and eventually was reunited with them all at that same road.

Oh, and we went back using the interstate and saw they were still stopping people, even although it was pitch dark by then. Big spot lights and flashing blue lights police cars, all in the middle of the interstate. You all can sleep better now that you know that the border patrol never sleeps. Although my friend M told me that she has been going South before 10am and they weren't set up yet. So maybe they do sleep after all? Better hope those terrorists don't get up too early and miss the security forces!

Our caching trips are never boring. At least it did get my mind of the election and my disappointment with the chosen candidate.

Monday, November 01, 2004

tired dragon

Long Trip, No Cache

Today we had a quiet homeschool group meeting, most people chose to stay home because they were too tired after all the Halloween happenings. Geez, some people just don't have any stamina! So we had a meeting with just a few families, still lots of fun though. And one of my friends actually vacuumed the floors, and cleaned my kitchen! Gotta love friends like that! I told her she could come over any time :-)

After the homeschool meeting, we decided to do yet another cache, somewhere in Vermont. The drive up there took longer than expected, the dark came sooner than anticipated and the road was even more of a dirt road than our usual caches. It went up really steep, was very narrow, and seemed to be covered with gravel. This was still 1.5 miles from the cache, otherwise I would just have gotten out and hiked. We still could have done that if it had been during the day, but it was getting too dark already, and I didn't want to actually start out a cache in the dark.

I have to admit that I for sure would have done it if it just had been me and the older kids, but with the little ones around, I just couldn't do it. Jane was starting to say already that she wished we were home and in bed, when she saw the dark rapidly approaching. So after driving to this cache for more than an hour, we turned around and went home.... Boohoo!!! We could have been first to find too!

So we turned around and drove back home. More than two hours in the car, and nothing to show for it. Not even a 'Did Not Find'. On the other hand, it gave the kids a lot of time to eat the Halloween candy that they had brought. That's a good thing, right? And we saw a lot of Vermont.At least on the way to the cache, the way back was just black.

Finally posting some quilt pics.

quilt squares
How Tim laid out the quilt squares

the quilt
Only five days later, the finished product!!!

costumes
Halloween Costumes

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fun Weekend


Just a quick update, have to get the little ones in bed. Still no pictures, hopefully tomorrow, really!

Yesterday was the very last farmer's market. Summer is over. OK, even fall is almost over. I am sooooooooooo not ready for winter! After the farmer's market, we went to a local gaming shop, where the boys wanted to pick up a few things. We really needed more dungeons and dragons books :-)

In the afternoon, we headed out to a geocachers Halloween party. Of course, we had to stop for a quick cache on the way there, which wasn't a quick cache at all. Well, we knew it was a months long multi, but we figured it wouldn't take long to pick up the first stage. We were wrong. Couldn't even find the darned thing.

Had a great time at the party though, it was nice to put faces to all the caching names. Came home around midnight, after a lot of pee stops, crying stops, water stops, gas stops, etc etc.

Today went grocery shopping, and off caching again. Found the cache we couldn't find on Friday, but still couldn't figure out the first stage of the multi... How frustrating!

We had to be back home in time to go trick or treating. The kids had a blast and are on a super sugar high now. Have to get the house ready for homeschool support meeting tomorrow, maybe I'll just let them step over the toys :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Quilt Is DONE!

Happy to announce that I finished my quilt! Started it Sunday night, finished it this morning. It's not perfect, but it's DONE! I will post pictures tomorrow, too tired now, but had to share the amazing fact that I actually made my very first quilt!

When I wasn't quilting, we went geocaching, had our very first 'Did not found' on a Vermont cache. We have to get back there and figure out what we did wrong.
Today was a nice day, with homeschool club and homeschool Halloween party. Way too much candy of course, the kids very much enjoyed it :-) Lots of running around and all kinds of fun things happening.

Now off to bed, it's late. Will go to a geocaching Halloween party tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The whole crew

Desperately Caching

The weather has been so nice lately, that I feel that we should get as many caches as possible in, before the snow starts. Winter is right around the corner, yikes! So today was totally devoted to caching yet again. Can you tell that we are hooked?

This morning we did some caching related administrative stuff. Cees's very first cache had been found yesterday, but the coordinates needed some tweaking. Travel bugs had to be activated, cache pages needed to be printed, and somewhere in between all that, we even ate some breakfast. We had hoped that our own new cache would have been approved already, but that didn't happen till tonight. So no first finder on that one yet.

Then off we went, and when the kids were finally in the van, I realized that I hadn't cut up my new orange fabric yet. I felt better about having it with us, because of hunting season, so I did a very fast project of cutting 7 strips of Halloween felt, which we could use as scarves or whatevers.

Now we really went off, we didn't even forget anything essential. Found the trailhead pretty easily, only one wrong turn. The biggest issue was meeting a truck on one of those one lane dirt roads. He was better at backing up than I am....

Today's cache was on the top of a nice, big hill. So up and up and up we went. The usual amount of complaining, whining and fighting happened, and it got windier and windier the higher we got. At the top it was really really windy. There used to be a cabin at the top, but some one stole it! How the heck would you steal a cabin? There still was a chimney though, and the anchors on which it had been chained. Guess that didn't help enough against theft.

Amazing views, I love those hill and mountain top caches.There is something soothing about being on top of the world, looking around you, enjoying the views. Even if there are kids insulting each other in the background :-)

Time to hike back, and get ourselves to the local Borders, where we met two other geocachers for some tea and hot cocoa. Very enjoyable afternoon with them. And yes, I did buy more books than I was planning to buy, somehow that always happens when I go over there. Even if I go without the kids. With the kids, it's even worse. Although I was able to resist the Hello Kitty mini DVD, which Kate tried to make me buy :-)

No, I didn't make any progress on my quilt, but maybe later tonight. For now I want to go watch the moon eclipse, it's just starting. But hope to do some sewing later.

On top of the world

Quilting Progress

I actually did start working on the quilt, not only that, but I even got the whole top sewn together already! It's not perfect, but it's done! I got backing fabric at JoAnn's yesterday, and then discovered that I needed more than I had thought. Those border strips took up a lot more fabric than I suspected. And to my utter surprise, did the borders make the quilt bigger, so I suddenly needed more backing fabric. Sometimes it would be nice if I actually thought before I jumped :-)

But hey, I just got more fabric today and have the whole top finished now. Hope to do the backing tomorrow, after geocaching of course :-)

Yesterday, I spent most of the day cleaning up five years worth of mail on our desk. OK, maybe it was only a few months worth of mail, but it FELT like five years! Just think, I could have been out geocaching instead.

Today, I wasn't going to fall into the same trap, so I made sure to get some caching in. We first had a drs appointment for Kate and Erik, made a stop at gymnastics to sign them up for the next session, picked up backing fabric at JoAnn's, and got some bagels for lunch (yes, I know that I could have baked them, but somehow that just didn't happen today). Cees had joined a friend to do a cache that he hadn't done yet (the rest of the family had), so we couldn't go find a cache. Because then he would have been mad that he would have missed that one.

So we hid a new cache instead. Our fifth one! Hiding is almost as much fun as finding them! Spent most of the night puzzling over and listing the cache, and now I need to be off to bed.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

yet another cache

Nice Weekend

Had a wonderful weekend, the only issue being that it just was too short. I drove down to Durnham, NH with my friend M, so we could do some caches there. She managed to find us a way in that involved bushwhacking and boggy soil. It's amazing how things like that keep happening to us! The first cache was a pretty easy find, the second one was more challenging. Way more challenging.

At least this time, it wasn't challenging in a physical way, not too much bushwhacking, and only about 3.5 miles of hiking alltogether. And no darkness involved either. This time, the difficulty was in figuring out the cache coordinates.

It was a multi cache, with some challenging stages. Stage one was a film canister, hidden in the woods, which contained a formula to determine the coordinates for stage two. Do you know how hard it is to find a film canister in the middle of the woods? Actually, this first one wasn't too bad, so we expected that the other stages wouldn't be too hard either.

We found the first film canister, with the formula and hiked to the football field, where my friend's son played in the marching band during half time. Amazing how the timing worked out just right. She watched the band play, I worked on the math for the coordinates. It wasn't too hard, and I got the result that the cache was more than ten miles away. Hmmmm, that sounded kind of unlikely.

My friend came back and we compared results, found a few counting errors and calculated again. This time the cache was less than half a mile away, which sounded a lot more likely. We considered getting lunch, but the cache was calling to us, so we wanted to go caching first. Well, the only issue was that Sylvia had decided to show her disdain for our mathematical efforts by having a poopy diaper. So much for caching, we first needed to find a bath room to change her. I had a hard time not getting anything from the vending machines on the way there, but I was able to resist that temptation. It did tell me that I was getting hungry though. But who wants to eat if you can be out geocaching instead? ;-)

Into the woods, we went, and to the coordinates of the second stage. Another film canister. As I said before, do you know how hard it is to find a tiny film canister in the middle of the woods? Really hard. There were so many perfect hiding spots, but none of them had the canister. The GPS kept leading us to the wrong spots, the tree cover didn't help. We were all over the place, looking, and looking and looking. Searching, and searching, and searching. I started wondering about the calculations, did we do everything right? Was there something we were missing? Was the canister at a totally different spot because we messed up?

I was sure that our arithmetic had been faultless, but there was one variable that I started to wonder about. We wanted to search for a bit more and then go back to the first stage to double check that one variable. I started looking at places that were less likely, but could possibly have the canister. And suddenly, it jumped out at me. There it was!!! It had taken us quite a long time to locate though, so I was even more hungry by now.

But here we got the coordinates for the last stage of the hunt, the actual cache. How could we go eat when we were so close? We both decided that finding the cache was much more important, and I had some Luna bars with me anyway, so I just ate one of those, and we went to search for the last part. There was a certain lack of trails in that direction, so we had to bushwhack yet again. Not that there was much bush to whack through, those were pretty open woods, not much undergrowth.

Finally arrived at the cache site, we were sure this was going to be so much easier. We were looking for a rubbermaid container this time, as opposed to a film canister. That couldn't be hard, we would just walk right to it and then go have lunch (it was 4pm by then I think...)

The GPS kept leading us to different places, but none of them had the cache. It took us at least half an hour till I finally was hit by a particle of inspiration and looked in the right location. Clever hide, and it made us feel really good that we managed to do all those three stages.

By the time we were back at the car (yes, I had set a waypoint on it :-), it was 5pm and kind of late for lunch. My friend went off to meet with her son, I drove all the way back home, stopping once to nurse and change Sylvia.

Dh was not happy that I had been away for so long, Kate had been kind of challening, screaming and yelling, and fighting all day. I couldn't feel too sorry for him, I deal with her the six days a week that he works, so I felt entitled to a day off. It will make him appreciate the quietness at his office a lot more :-) That's where he spent the day today, he seemed really happy to escape this morning :-)

I was home just in time to clean my bath rooms for my friend Rachel coming over. We had a really nice night, talking a lot about all kinds of issues. Her kids and my kids play well together, now if only they would have gone to sleep at some point. I think it was after midnight before any one, apart from the two babies, was asleep. But they had a great time together :-)

Today, we first spent some more time with Rachel's family, and then went off to Jo-Ann's to get some fabric for a quilt for baby Angela. We want to make a quilt with our LLL group, and I still hadn't bought fabric. I took all the kids with me, so that made it a bit more challenging. In a moment of insanity, I told them that they all could get two fat quarters, and I would make a quilt for our family out of it. Not that I ever have made one. Or know how to make one. But that's not holding me back from trying anyway :-)

We got back to the car and some one came over to me, remarking 'Wow, I was looking at your family, how many kids do you have? I counted six.' I replied that she must have missed one, because I have seven. She told me 'You must have been really desperate for whatever you were getting there, to take them all with you!' LOL

Dropped off the squares, made a spectacle of ourselves at the grocery store, and finally were back home. Tara had planned chocolate fondue for dessert, so we spent some time preparing that. Erik decided that he didn't like chocolate anymore. How can any one not like chocolate???? Especially one of my kids?

One of my friends called to go out for a walk, I told her about the quilt and she lent me one of her quilt books after the walk. Now I just need to sit down and actually do it. I want to just make a very simple quilt, I cut all the fat quarters in four, so I have 48 squares now. Tim made a 6 x 8 pattern, which he thought would be perfect for the quilt. So I'll use his pattern for this quilt, I also want to incorporate Sylvia's old sling (which got destroyed at Oliver's cave). I think I will make it into four squares for the corners. Wish me luck! It is not going to be perfect, but at least I will finally make a quilt!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

So tired

Caching, And Caching!

Well, it isn't all we did today, but we did spend a good part of the day caching. Cees hid his very first cache, all by himself. We had to wait 'far' away, so we wouldn't see where exactly he hid it. He really enjoyed making plans, preparing the cache, and doing the actual hide.

Then afterwards, we went to a local cache, in a very remote NH pond. About a mile hike in, but no bushwhacking, and the most amazing thing was that we were back at the car at exactly sunset, so no hiking after dark :-) Very nice pond, quiet, peaceful, well, apart from my kids fighting that is.

This morning we had a homeschool club meeting where we got all our kids back, so we are up to seven again. The house feels more right with them all at home.

And last night, I finally managed to hit Staples, so I could make copies of clips for my paper query letters. I sent one out today. I have received one rejection already from the three I sent out over a week ago, but it was a 'We have enough material' one, as opposed to a 'Your writing sucks' one, so that was ok. I am just happy that I got those queries out at all, even if nothing comes from it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Till Death Do We Cache


Which is the name we came up with for our latest cache, a cemetery puzzle quest, in a historic cemetery. It got approved today, so now the race for First To Find can start. Talking about First to Find, we tried to get one in a Vermont cache today. It was a puzzle cache and we solved the coordinates yesterday, but the boys had to go to karate, and I didn't really want to drive for an hour to the cache at the end of the day. We were hopeful that maybe we still could be FTF today.

This morning, we got up early, ok, planned on getting up early, had a fast breakfast, ok, hoped to have a fast breakfast and set out to the cache. Realizing on the way there that I forgot my backpack with trading items and, even more important, the backpack with clean diapers for baby Sylvia. I did some moaning and groaning, but couldn't think of anything else to do than turn around and drive back home...

Half an hour later, we set out again and now actually made it to the start of the trail. Only one wrong turn, not bad for us :-)

It took a while, but Cees found it. We all gathered around it, to wait for the magical moment of opening. Anticipating to be the first ones to write in a virginal logbook. Drums rolling. Cache opened. We cried out in dismay when we discovered that THREE other people had been there before us. Well, two were together, so those were really two finds, but still...

Oh well, at least we were Fourth To Find, which still sounds like the proper acronym, right?

We left baby Sylvia's very first travel bug in the cache, appropriately named 'Baby's Bug' :-) This was Sylvia's first geocaching in her new sling, after we destroyed the last one at Oliver's Cave (remember the Too Much Adventure entry?)

Did two more caches, one fast virtual one, and one long, long multi cache one. By then we had to race back home, because we were supposed to meet a friend and I thought we were way way late. Luckily, she was even later, so that all worked out.

We have three of our kids sleeping over at other houses tonight, so only four kids at home. The house feels empty! Guess I better go enjoy it by getting some sleep :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bulbs!

Yes, it's that time of the year again! My bulbs got delivered, so I had to spend quite some time digging and planting. I got a few hundred this year, not as bad as sometimes, but still quite a lot of work. Now it just needs to snow for half a year or so, and then they will sprout...

After all that bulb planting, we got yet another cache ready and hid it in a historical, local cemetery. It's a really old one, with revolutionary soldiers, and you have to read the graves to find the cache coordinates. Nice cache hide, just in time for Halloween :-)

Before we went to hide the cache, I asked Tara to make a bunch of pictures of Phoenix the Medabot from Florida, our current travel bug. She came up with quite creative ones, including a date with Barbie LOL.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Confluence

Learned a new word today, when I visited a cache on a degree confluence. I thought geocaching would increase my geography and history knowledge, but now it's also increasing my vocabulary :-)

The drive to the cache was spectacular, the leaves are such beautiful colors. The lighting was amazing, we even saw purple mountains. We took a nice shortcut to the cache, with perfect autumn views.

My friend's baby is at home now, so she can be in the loving arms of her family as opposed to the cold hospital environment. I dropped off some food today, and I got to hold her. So small and so precious.

It has been a hectic week, and I can't even remember what we did. Some caching, LLL meeting, meeting with assessors, some benchmark hunting, gardening, baking, whatever. Just a full week. Baby Angela is taking up a lot of my thoughts.

Reading about Levi's poop blowout milestone made me remember one of the happenings this week. It had been a long, long day, and at the end of the day every one was cranky and tired. The kids had eaten dinner (sorry, no pics :-) and I decided to grab a bite of something to eat for myself too. Sylvia was willing to be put on the floor, but I was airing her out, so she was not wearing a diaper. No problem, I had put her down with her butt on a prefold.

I got a nice everything bagel, cut it in half. Was salivating anticipating the taste, I was so hungry. Popped the bagel halves in the toaster, got goat cheese from the fridge. Was impatiently waiting for the toaster to pop up, listening to the happy sounds of Sylvia playing on the floor. There it was, my long awaited bagel. Tara said that Sylvia had rolled off her diaper, but I figured I would put her back on in a few minutes.

Got a knife, and put goat cheese on the bagel. Deposited it on a nice plate, found myself a book, and walked over to the living room to finally take my first bite.

Just when I was bringing the bagel to my mouth, so close, but yet so far away, Tara told me 'Eeeew!!! Sylvia pooped all over the floor!!!' And yes, indeed she did.... A nice pile of sh*t in the middle of the living room, with her rolling in it... Yuck, yuck, yuck! So much for sitting down and eating my bagel.

Enfin, about twenty minutes later, I finally could sit down and eat my now cold bagel... Such is the life of a mom :-)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stuff

So many things to tell, so little time. My friend's baby is still in the hospital, and my friend is holding her as much as possible, making the most of the time they will have with her. Yesterday, I visited them, the baby is so cute and precious, it's hard to know that her time with us will be too short. Very sad. The baby's name is Angela, very fitting.

I finally got my registration straightened out. It took one visit to city hall, a visit to the DMV, another visit to the DMV, $12, a visit to the garage, but now I finally have the right color sticker. The kids didn't understand why getting a different colored sticker had to take up so much energy, I didn't either :-)

We hid our third geocache! Decided to do it on the Appalachian trail, which passes not too far from our town. We hiked in for about an hour, so it should take a normal person not more than 20 minutes I would guess :) Found a good spot to hide the cache, looking forward to reading the logs of the people finding it. Hiding caches is a lot of fun, even if it isn't as adventurous. We even were back at the car before dark :-) Got some sundaes to celebrate our third cache hide.

It was cold today, but I still did some outside stuff, putting gardens to bed for the winter. I had a lot of compost delivered last week, and am working my way through that pile now. I am sad that gardening season is over already, I feel that I didn't really do enough gardening. On the other hands, the reason that I didn't do much gardening is happily sleeping on top of me right now, so I don't care that I never harvested the beets in time.

But worse, geocaching season might be over soon! This road trip down South is starting to look more and more attractive, just don't know yet whether I really want to be stuck in the car with the kids for a long, long time. Have to think about it. There are a bunch of people I really really want to meet though.

We went apple picking again today, less apples, but just as much fun. Now I just need to find time to actually bake something with all those apples. I haven't even been baking bread, well, at least, not as much bread as I usually bake. Maybe I'll start a sponge tonight, so I can bake fast bread tomorrow morning, before going out on yet another geocaching day :-)

Had a LLL meeting tonight, nobody showed up. Which is not unusual for our night time meetings. We (my co-leader was there) still managed to sit and yak for more than three hours.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Hug Your Kids


Got some sad news, one of my friends had a baby with birth defects which are incompatible with life. Such a heartbreaking news, a birth day should be a day full of joy, not full of grief and sadness. I don't feel like writing much, but wanted to share my sadness and some pictures. Please hug your kids extra tightly today!
Sylvia
Sylvia

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Three Queries!

Well, it is less than I had planned on doing (my goal was one a day), but it is more than would have happened if I had continued to procrastinate. Three query letters have been sent out, and maybe I'll get out more tonight or tomorrow! It's a start.

Still trying to find my car registration though, ended up going to city hall to ask what to do to get a duplicate. They filled in the Yellow Form form for me, and sent me to the DMV. The DMV was closed for lunch though, so still no car registration for me. Don't want to be pulled over again, but hey, at least I can show them my Yellow Form to prove that I am trying to get my registration straightened out.

Sylvia has found her feet! So cute when she is sucking her toes :-)

For Jennifer B, no, I am not an American citizen, that's why the border patrol wanted to check me out. I am one of those suspicious Dutch citizens. Not sure why they call it border patrol, since it was at least 100 miles from the border I think. I wasn't trying to get into Canada, I actually was driving away from it. Still got stopped though, and had to be checked out because of not carrying my green card with me. At least they didn't notice that my inspection sticker was out of date, now that would have gotten me into even more trouble!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Homeland Security

Today, I got stopped by the border patrol again. This time they didn't believe in my innocence. 'US citizen?'
'No, permanent resident.' 'No, I don't have my green card with me'
'Do you know you can be deported for that?'
Didn't really have a good reply, but wondered what they would do with the van full of kids if they deported me right away. 'Sorry, I am afraid to lose it or have it stolen'
'But it's just like a driver's license or a credit card, you can have it replaced
Yeah, only it's a much bigger PITA and time frame to replace a green cardDidn't say that, but sure was thinking it.
'OK, go over there, and park behind a border patrol unit, we will have to check you out on the computer'

Drove over, tried to look innocent again, but I guess being sent over there convinced him that I wasn't. He reassured me that they weren't going to arrest me today. That was good, because I wanted to go geocaching, not spend the day in a cell. He asked for my alien number, I had to admit that I didn't even know that by heart. I handed him my driver's license instead, so he could check me out on the computer. He disappeared within a trailer, while we tried to explain to the kids why they were being so difficult. I tried to decide whether it would have been a good thing, or a bad thing, to have all those ammo boxes with me. I saw a DMV vehicle, and hoped that I wouldn't get into trouble next for not getting my new registration sticker yet.

We expected he would be back soon, but he wasn't. We were waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I should have nursed Sylvia, but I hadn't realized that he must have been using a dial-up connection as opposed to broadband. Cees started worrying about his and my criminal records. I just wanted to go on so we could do more geocaching. Didn't want to end up on yet another night time hike, even although I would have been able to blame the border patrol. I doubt that they would have been coming to my rescue if I had gotten myself lost in the woods without a green card. Unless they wanted to deport me, I guess.

It took at least twenty minutes for them to find me in the computer. I was wondering whether they had found my blog and were checking it out ;-) But then, I got my driver's license back and was allowed to continue my journey. Isn't it wonderful how they keep our borders safe? By stopping every single car on an interstate somewhere in the middle of Vermont?

After all that excitement, the caching seemed almost boring. The first cache was a very beautiful spot, nicely stocked cache, lots of bird houses, and birds. No bushwhacking, no brambles, no bogs, no night time hikes, just a very easy trail to a peaceful reservoir. But still the thrill of finding the cache, in the middle of nowhere.

The second cache was in a park, less peaceful, but a longer hike. Most of it on a paved road though, so that every one could drive their coolers to the picnic spots. Jane worded my sentiment when she sighed 'I wish they hadn't put a car road here, but just a trail instead'. Pretty easy find, but huge fights between Tara and Tim about the pocket knife, and between Kate and Jane about the crayons. My friend M came to the rescue when she pulled a pack of crayons out of her backpack, telling us that she was going to put those in the cache, maybe one of them could take it. The fight between Tara and Tim lasted longer.

It was definitely colder today than it was on our other caching outings, we are expecting the first frost tonight. Guess I will have to pick all those tomatoes tomorrow. I dont' like the idea of winter creeping up on us, maybe this winter I will make good on my plan of taking the kids on an extended road trip down South, and visit internet friends between all the caching we could do :-)

Now I really want to get a query out tonight, I still haven't gotten the epregnancy writer guidelines, so I will just send them the query and hope for the best. Then I want to write more queries, since I was going to work on trying to get one out every day. I really excel in procrastination!

Thanks to Heather for explaining to me what the difference is between an executive and a managing editor. I had no idea.

And to Annalise and Paula, This includes a nice introduction on how to write a query. I have seen other ones on line too, but somehow it's so much easier to read about it than just to do it :-)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Too Much Adventure

Yes, yet another geocaching adventure, it's amazing how those things keep happening to us. Maybe I should start stamp collecting instead, as a nice, sedentary hobby :-)

We really wanted to find Oliver's Cave before hunting season in Vermont started. It sounded like a neat place, although it wasn't clear how hard it would be to get there. The cache description read "There are a series of VAST trails in this area, giving you cachers no reason to bush whack. However, the way we approached it and the way you go may be very different." That sounded good. But some of the logs didn't sound that positive "*&^%^&^% %$@#$%@ ^^%@$@^&()#^
This was the hardest cache we have ever lived through!"

It sounded like it really would make a difference which way in we took. We poured over the topographical maps in the atlas. Printed and studied on line topo maps. Read all the logs, and all the experiences, and decided that it would be best to come in from the North. We used the road that one of the logs stated would be a good choice. This one had a lot less contour lines, than the other choices had. And because there was supposed to be this extensive network of VAST trails, we figured that we would be able to hit on one soon, wherever we parked.

Dh was home, so I gave the kids the choice to either come with us, or stay home. I kind of encouraged the two little ones to stay home, just in case we would end up bushwhacking a lot. The two older boys were at camp, so we ended up going with a group of all females. My friend M, Tara, Jane, Mesa, Sylvia, and myself.

The way in took us on progressively smaller dirt roads, after getting lost a few times. We found a nice parking spot, close to where a trail headed into the woods. Got on the trail, followed it about a third of the way in to the cave, and then it went in the totally wrong direction, so we decided to bushwhack. No problem to bushwhack in, we saw a nice pond, lots of brambles, but it was usually not to hard to find an easier route, so we eventually made it to the cave. It took us longer than expected though, but that was ok, because from the description, it sounded like we should be able to find trails really close to the cave, which we could use to get back to the car. And trails usually make it a lot easier and faster to hike through the woods, for some reason.

It was an extremely cool place. Some fellow, who didn't want to fight in the civil war, had first lived in a tiny cave up there, and then decided he needed more room. So he lugged a railroad jack up the mountain, and built himself a bigger one. Stone walls all around, and a huge, flat granite slab on the top. Mind boggling how he was able to construct it. It was nice to go in and be out of the rain, and to try to imagine how he could have lived there. Jane wondered how he could live without a door.

Now we just had to find the cache. After all the bushwhacking and hiking, we figured they shouldn't make this too hard on us. They did anyway! Dense tree cover, so we kept losing reception on the GPS. Luckily Tara suddenly spotted the cache, phew. We did a quick trading, because it was getting later, and we did not want to end up in the dark again. Little did we know.

It was 5:50pm by now, and the car was about a mile away. Shouldn't be a problem to get there before it got really dark, we should easily be able to do that within an hour, right? Wrong!

We spent some time finding the trails that were supposed to be close to the cache. They were not where they were supposed to be, we couldn't find a single one. We didn't want to get caught in the dark, so we decided to just bushwhack in the direction of the car, and hope we would hit one of the trails.

One of the logs stated "i think we found every bramble patch and small pond in the area. i think some of the brambles came in from other areas just to meet us." We met the same brambles. They kept jumping into our path, and getting into our hair and clothes and feet. It's amazing how many brambles there were growing there, I lost count after 14,621 or so.

Did I mention yet that Jane was wearing her flipflops? She said that she liked them better than her hiking shoes... I didn't notice that till we were way out on the trails, and it was too late to change.

The going wasn't as fast as we had hoped, and the dark came much sooner than we had feared. Suddenly, we were hiking in the dark yet again, and found out that it is not good to have to bushwhack in the dark. There was no way of finding the best route, so we kept running into those darned brambles, into fallen down trees, boulders, ledges, bogs, saplings, more bogs, more boulders, and did I mention brambles? I don't remember how many time we wished for a machete, but I think that might be part of our geocaching gear soon.

Jane was crying and told us that she wanted to be home. We totally empathized with her feelings, we wanted to be home too. She also said that she wanted to be as small as Sylvia, so she wouldn't have to hike. Sylvia was crying too, because she was just sooooooooooooooo tired, and couldn't fall asleep. She tried nursing, but that wasn't either, she just was too tired and I think she might have been picking up on my stress, increasing it by her crying. My sling was falling apart, suddenly I felt her feet sticking out at a spot where no hole should be, so I had to carry her partly in my arms, didn't want her to slide out of the sling.

Tara lost her shoe a few times, thanks to the darned bogs. I lost my shoe once too, had to hike in the bog with one shoe and one bare foot, till I could find a dry spot to get it on again.Mesa's shoes were wet enough that she ended up with blue dye from her shoes all over her toes. Jane kept losing her flipflops. The going was slow and agonizing.

It was getting later and later. So much for taking less than an hour to hike to the car. I don't know how long we had been going, but we weren't even halfway yet. The nice thing about having the GPS is that we never felt lost, we knew exactly where we were and what direction we should be going. The not so nice thing is that the GPS got us into this in the first place, without a GPS we would never have been there at this time of the night! On the other hand, we would have missed out on the cool cave. I felt so bad for Mesa, doing this to my own kids is one thing, but doing this to some one else's kid seemed worse. Although both Tara and Mesa were real troopers, they didn't complain at all, just did what needed to be done, and were almost cheerful about it.

We were starting to get pretty desperate. I felt that I would start to scream if we stumbled upon one more bramble. OK, I didn't, but I have to admit that it was tempting LOL. M checked whether she had cell phone reception, and we decided to call 911 to try to have them find us a trail. We figured they might have a good local trails map, and since we could tell them exactly where we were, they might be able to direct us to a nearby trail. For all we knew, we could be 50 feet next to a trail, but never know it because of the darkness.

911 was not very helpful. They had the very same topo map that we had been using to plan our trip, which did not include hiking or VAST trails. They also did not understand how slow we were going, with four little girls, in the dark, in the brambles. I wish they had sent out some one to give us a machete, now that would have been helpful!

It took us a while to get through to the right person at 911, so we had a break, which was nice. Sylvia was still crying, she so needed to fall asleep, but somehow couldn't. At least we did have flash lights this time around, I don't think we could have done this one without flash lights. I was sooooo sure that we were not going to need them though, boy, was I wrong!

We hiked on and on and on. Met a few more brambles. Found a few more bogs. Stepped over more fallen down trees. Got called back by the state trooper to ask whether we had made it out yet. No, we didn't. They really had no clue about how slow we were going, having to go around all kinds of obstacles.

Finally, we made it back onto the trails. It had gotten later and later, although I hadn't realized yet how late it was getting. My mind was really more on taking step after step in the direction of the car, as opposed to keeping track of time. It wasn't like knowing the time made any difference anyway, apart from making us feel even more desperate.

Following the trail wasn't easy in the dark either, but at least we didn't meet any brambles. They had given up on us now that we had escaped to the trails. At some point, none of the trails seemed to be going to the car though, so M called 911 yet again, to beg them for another map reading. The trail seemed to be going East-West, and the car was due North. We totally refused to do any more bushwhacking, so we wanted to figure out which way was the best to go.

While we were on the phone with the state trooper again, we found a sugar house. Civilization!!!! Not only that, but Tara spotted a road close to it, a real dirt road as opposed to a trail! And the very best thing was, that that dirt road seemed to be going in the direction of the car! We might actually make it home tonight!

It was 10:30pm by the time we reached the car. I couldn't believe how late it was, we had spent a freaking FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to hike one mile. Unbelievable! It didnt' feel like that long, I guess the adrenaline helped to deal with it. We called dh and Mesa called her parents to tell them that we were safe. We had considered calling from the trail, but we didnt' really want to tell them that we were in the middle of nowhere and had no idea how long it would take us to the car, it seemed better to call when we were at the car. We had offered Mesa to call her parents, but she had declined, and I figured Sander would have reassured them that we were ok, might be having dinner somewhere, which had been our original plan. By now it was too late to do that though.

The kids started eating corn chips and cheddar bunnies when we were in the car, we had eaten snacks on the way, but I think they suddenly realized how hungry they were when we finally made it back. We turned to heat to high, changed and nursed Sylvia, and started on the way back home.

Got lost only once, ended up on some ones driveway. All those dirt roads look alike. But somehow it was so much more relaxed to get lost in the nice, warm car, as opposed to bushwhacking in the dark.

Jane fell asleep on the way home, she never does that, she was really exhausted. Mesa's dad was at our house to pick her up, and Kate and Erik were happy to see us. Kate was begging me to take her to the cave, I was not ready to repeat this experience!

OK, it's really late now, and we have a homeschool support meeting here tomorrow, so I am off to bed, but I had to write about this! And no, I still didn't get a query letter out, but I am wondering whether I can write articles about geocaching with or without kids, maybe including a list of essential items, like flash lights and machete :-)

Friday, October 01, 2004

Procrastination


In more than one way. First for this blog, I have been wanting to write so many things, but life keeps getting in the way. Yesterday, we spent on the top of a mountain instead of blogging. Not only that, but we logged our first First To Find!!! Will post more details later, because at the moment I am also procrastinating on a query letter. In a moment of insanity, I decided to sign up for the MomWriters Query Challenge. We got divided into teams of five people, and the team with the most queries during the month of October will win.

Sounds easy, right? Yes, that is if you are a good query writer. As opposed to one who has lots of ideas, but always seems to have life getting in the way of query writing, and the 'there's always tomorrow' philosophy. Suddenly, tomorrow is here upon me!

This is what I wrote to the QueryChallenge mailing list today. I am still trying to get that query at least started today!

PROCRASTINATION

It was a dark and stormy night...

At 12:01, I could have started on my first query letter. But instead, I was snuggled in bed, next to my baby, and too lazy to get up and get my butt into gear. There would be so many more hours in the day, I would do it later...

It was a nice and sunny morning...

Homeschool meeting, I considered taking a piece of paper and start on writing a query. Never happened, but that was ok, there are so many hours in the day...

It was a even nicer and sunnier afternoon...

Decided that I hadn't cooked for so long, that I really wanted to make soup today. Thought about query letters while cutting up veggies. Does that count? I thought not, oh well :-)

Had to get the boys off to a scouting camping trip, I actually managed to turn on the computer before they left, but never actually sat down and started anything on it. I did dig up my Writer's Market book, and started looking for markets, but couldn't find epregnancy, which is going to get my first query. At least, it did give some examples of query letters, which should help.

Did lots of other stuff, but still no query letter.

Suddenly, it was night, and nothing had been written yet.

I did on the computer, and stared at a blank screen Picked up email, read message boards, and stared at the blank screen again. Read some more email, went into chat, and stared at the blank screen. Got one of my epregnancies that was laying around, and wondered what the heck the difference was between an executive editor and a managing editor, and stared at the blank screen. Looked for writer's guidelines for epregnancy on line and could not find them. Stared more at my blank screen.

Time was ticking, it was almost 10:30pm now. Realized that even if I write a query, I can't even print it, because I have run out of toner. But I still wanted to get the query written today.

I wish I could post a happy ending, but for now just posting the resolve of getting the query written, even if I am not sure yet which editor, but at least I can get everything else right.

I hope every one else is doing better than I am :-)

Stay tuned for more procrastination updates.

Karen :-)

Monday, September 27, 2004

Three Caches, One Day


Yes, I really did hit three caches in one day! But that was without the six older kids, which I guess it kind of cheating. Everything went so much faster without temper tantrums, whining, or required snacking stops. One of the caches, we saw a deer even, so amazing! Of course, my camera was still at home, so I am afraid I have no pictures to share.

And today, we hid our second cache! Using our first ammo box, and putting Kate's travel bug Penguin in it. We found a very good location, goog enough that even we had trouble seeing it after hiding it and knowing exactly where it was. Looking forward to seeing who the FTF will be.

Last night, I stayed up really late to make post partum pads and new born diapers for a friend's baby shower. I ended up with six pads and two newborn prefolds. I was very proud at myself. Somehow it was important to me to make those for her, as opposed to buying something. I had asked her whether she would need the pads, I knew she used cloth diapers, but wasn't sure whether she would use cloth pads. She did :-)

Off to bed now, tomorrow I'll try to post some pictures, too late now to edit and upload them. But I had to brag about my three caches :-)

Oh, one more thing, I got stopped by the border patrol on our local interstate. I didn't have my green card with me, so when I saw the road block, I soooooooooo hoped that they wouldn't ask for it. I opened the window and tried to look extremely innocent (stop laughing!). It must have worked, because me wide eyed 'Hello!' received a 'Have a nice day, madam' while he waved me on my way. I was thinking that it was good that I didn't have all those ammo boxes in the van, who knows what he would have thought if I had all those stacked next to me. Somehow I am not sure whether he would have believed in my innocence or would have accepted my lame excuse about geocaching LOL.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Third To Find

In geocaching land, it is kind of a sport to try to be First To Find on a new cache. So when a new cache turned up in our neck of the woods, we decided that we were going to log our first FTF. My plan was to leave immediately after breakfast, and get there nice and early. Of course, as usual, life got in the way, and we didn't get to the cache till 1pm or so.

The roads to the cache gradually got worse. First normal paved roads, then smaller paved roads. The paved roads changed into dirt roads, and the last few miles were on a dirt road that was barely wider than my van. I kept praying to the geocaching gods that we wouldn't have any cars coming in the opposite direction, because there was no way that that would have fitted, and I didn't really want to back up for three miles on a tiny dirt road.

We finally arrived at the parking lot, where we found two cars already parked. I knew we were out of luck on the FTF when I noticed the license plate on the first one 'GEOCACH'. Hmmmm, something told me that that was the vehicle of a fellow geocacher. I hoped that the other car maybe wasn't a geocacher, so at least we could be STF.

Got out, admired the nice pond, and started on the hike. On our way to the first waypoint, we met another couple of hikers. One of the kids remarked that they had a GPS too. And yes, there were our fellow geocachers. The FTFer, and the STFer. It was fun to meet them though, and put faces to the screen names. It turns out that one of them had done our own cache that morning and was FTF on our cache. She was in possesion of Tara's travelbug BunBun. The other one planned on doing our cache in the afternoon.

Talked a bit, and then both went our merry way. This was a multi cache, so we didn't get the real coordinates, but instead, the first coordinates led us to a clear plexiglass ring with more coordinates. Do you know how hard it is to find a four inch plexiglass ring in the middle of a HUGE wood? Yes, very difficult. Amazingly difficult. But thanks to a hint of the other geocachers, we eventually found the first ring, which made it easier to find the second one, because now at least we knew what we were looking for. The second ring gave us the coordinates for the cache. Which was another hard to find one, but we did it! Third To Find :-) Next time, we'll try to improve on that and be Second To Find maybe LOL

The pond had a wonderful beach, we played there for quite a while before heading home. And the best thing was that the hike back to the car wasn't even in the dark! Amazing huh? LOL We did get lost on the ride home, in the dark, but that's another story.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

on her belly

Ammo Boxes, Apples, and Potatoes!

Yes, I know that's a weird combination, but it describes pretty much what we did today :-)

This morning, the ammo boxes got delivered. Two big cardboard boxes, filled with eleven metal ammo boxes, in a few different sizes. Now we can get serious about hiding more caches! The kids were excited and had to open every single one of them. We decided to let them air out, so our deck was filled with all those ammo boxes, I am wondering what the neighbors were thinking :-) They might be very polite to us now LOL. The ammo boxes came with an interesting catalog... I don't think I'll buy any of their bumper stickers.

Today was the first day of fall, and we celebrated it by going apple picking. One of our yearly fall rituals, we have an apple orchard close by. We even could hike there from our house (about an hour when I hike by myself), but I took the easy way out and loaded every one in the car. We picked a few pecks of apples, those apple trees produce a tad better than our own. I started planting apple trees when we bought this house, and the total harvest has been exactly ONE apple over the last five years! Maybe next year will be better?

We also celebrated the first day of fall with a cake, my kids had convinced me that that was the proper way to celebrate :-) OK, any excuse for a party, right?

I spent some time digging up more potatoes. I just love the way potatoes grow, it's like digging for treasure. You never know how many there will be till you start digging. This bed had quite a few, and we had a bunch of baked potatoes for dinner. I also harvested some tomatoes, and froze them, they were the yellow peach ones. I love tomatoes that aren't boring red :-). And the most amazing thing, I mowed the lawn!!!! OK, maybe not the whole lawn. Not even half of it. But the part that's the most visible from the street, which was in very bad need of mowing. It looks so much better now.