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