Friday, November 30, 2007

Yet Another Cache Not Found

Yesterday, I had the brilliant idea to go find a cache which looked very easy. Would be nice for everyone to get some exercise and fresh air.

There was only one pile of snow, so of course, people had to fill their boots with snow to get nice cold feet...

It was not a very long hike, and we soon arrived at the cache location. But yet again, the giant squid had attacked the cache and eaten it, since we could not find it. It can't be because we are lousy cachers, we just KNOW it was that darned giant squid which keeps eating caches around here.

We kept telling Sylvia to stay away from the edge, but the wind kept blowing her towards it. It must have been very local wind, since we couldn't feel it where we were walking...

After not finding the cache, we stopped at the visitors center.

They had the best sign ever.

The kids were begging me to leave them behind, but I didn't think I could handle five puppies on top of the seven kids, three kittens, two bunnies, one mouse, and three rats.

So we went home without finding a cache AND without puppies. But we did eat chocolate to console ourselves, so life was good anyway.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kitten Wars

Tonight, watch yet another exciting episode of Kitten Wars!
Three bed rooms, three kittens, so which one will sleep where?

In the beginning, there was a very strict schedule. But life happened and things got messed up, so we often are witnessing episodes like

Kate 'WE have Darkness tonight!'
Tara 'NO! It is your turn for Tiger!'
Kate 'NOT! We had Tiger last night, we should get Darkness!'
Tara 'You are too stupid to know which kitten you had.'
Kate 'You are stupid yourself and it is OUR turn for Darkness!'
Tara 'Is not!'
Kate 'Is too!'
Tara 'Not!'
Kate 'Too!'

This is only a few minutes of a conversation which can go on for twenty to thirty minutes, all variations on the same theme.

This is where Cees steps in, and tries to mediate and solve the issue and eventually asks for my help. As the tyrant of the household, I first tell them to figure it out for themselves, but eventually pass my judgement. Maybe now they can go to sleep. I can hope, right?

Night Time Visitor

A few nights, my kids had given me reports about this visitor, but I was never able to see him, or make pictures. Tonight, he showed up nice and early, and stayed long enough to make a series of pictures.

Of course, making pictures with flash through window is very hard, so this is one of the few reasonable ones. I really need to get to know my camera better, to figure out how I could have done this without flash, with high ISO.

Great Milestone!

Today, my oldest son treated me to lunch in a restaurant. With his hard earned money! Very first time that one of my kids took me out for lunch. Surprising and fun milestone.

Of course, it hits home even more how fast they are growing up, but for now I'll just enjoy the perks that come with having older kids. It feels like only a few weeks ago that he was in the NICU, while now he is taller than I am and takes me out to lunch!

Thank you, Cees!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Picture of the Day

Chasing the mouse.
So many things to pounce upon, so little time!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How To Celebrate Thanksgiving Without Turkey or Tofurkey

Today was thanksgiving. It is not a Dutch holiday, but that doesn't keep us back from celebrating it anyway. The first few years, when we had just moved to the States, I would buy a turkey, and go through the whole process of trying to figure out how the heck to cook this creature. And what to do with the so called giblets. And how to not eat dinner at 10pm when my turkey finally was done. I never have been much of a planner I guess.

It was interesting, and it was a good learning experience, but I have to admit that I am not missing it much. When I turned vegetarian, there were so many other things I could make instead, that the turkey never was something that I missed. Of course, there always was the tofurkey alternative, but somehow that felt wrong to me. I was curious about it though, so one day I got some in the after-Thanksgiving sales in the supermarket and tried it.

It was ok, but not something I felt very strongly about. I tried it once, and haven't had the urge to get some again. It is not cheap.

Last year, we had the brilliant idea to get take-out chinese at Thanksgiving. I mean, Chinese people don't celebrate thanksgiving, right? So we drove to one Chinese place. Closed! That was just a fluke for sure. Next place. Closed! Third place. Closed! Hmmm, was there a pattern here? What about pizza instead? Italians don't celebrate Thanksgiving either, right?

Wrong! They do if they live anywhere within a 42 miles radius from our home.

I threw my hands in the air and said 'FINE! We'll have McDonalds for Thanksgiving!' Guess what? Yes, McDonalds was closed too. Home we went and we ate pizza from our freezer, and I don't know what else I scrunched up, but it was fun anyway. We now remember this as the Thanksgiving where we kept driving around and EVERYTHING was closed. I bet you are jealous that your Thanksgivings aren't as exciting.

This year, I was more organized, and planned a variety of non-traditional thanksgiving food, in such a way that everyone would have something they liked. We cut up organic potatoes from our CSA, and oven fried them. We made cranberry sauce, partly from our own cranberries (see first picture). This was the first year our cranberry bushes produced cranberries, so that was exciting. We had pizza. I made pad thai. I had baked bread. And the best, we had three pies, since you can celebrate Thanksgiving without turkey, but for sure not without pie.

I managed to get everything ready around the same time, which is pretty darned amazing. And the turkeys, we'll just leave them outdoors.

During dinner, we did talk about gratefulness, and people were grateful for things like the new kittens, videogames, our own cranberries, and more. We sure do have a lot to be grateful about.

Getting More Ready for Winter

Today, we went out and bought SIX pairs of snow boots. The shoe store already knows us 'Ha! There is the gang again!' Not sure whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

But the happy news is, that all have been provided with snow boots. One thing to cross off my list. Later, I took my teenage boys and we went clothes shopping. Very thrilling to them, as you can imagine ^^. But one set of pants is too little, even for my 16yo. The nice thing about taking just those two out, was that we could finish by having a nice lunch in Chili's restaurant. It is very different to be there with two older kids, as opposed to the bouncy little ones.

Now I just need to stock up on more gloves for the little ones, and we'll be all set for winter. I think we are fine on jackets and snow suits, but will have to check that again. They joys of living in New England.

There are so many things I had been wanting to do before winter hit. Somehow I always run out of summer before I run out of summer projects. Darn!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Noes!

I had hoped that ignoring the possibility of snow would make it not happen.

I was convinced that not buying new winter boots or snow suits yet would scare the snow away from our house.
I guess my weather controlling powers aren't as good as I thought they were.

And of course, it's a day filled with many dentist appointments and picking up CSA fall share and more fun. Not to mention that I got stopped by the police last night, because one of my head lights turns out to be out. Feh! Any of my Florida readers want a guest for the winter?

I guess I should try to find my second snow boot, so far I have only been able to locate one. When I grow up, I want to be organized!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Very Kate

This weekend, we went to the thrift store. Kate needed some new sweaters. She found some perfect ones, which thrill her to no end.

It is amazing how many nice sweaters they had in her size, here is another one of her finds. She came running up to me. 'Can I have this one, mom? Please???? Can I have this one?'

We found three more sweaters suitable for her, so she was very happy. And I spent less than $10 on those five sweaters, so I was happy too ^^ Our thrift store is great.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

Sylvia, to Cees 'I want to watch THAT video. Beauty and the Beast.'
Cees 'OK', checks the video and tell her 'Um... this one is Cinderella.'
Sylvia, grudgingly 'Well, then I want to watch Cinderella!'
Cees 'OK', proceeds to put on the video for her.

Sylvia adds in a decisive voice 'But I will pretend it is Beauty and the Beast!'

Picture of the Day

Quote of the Day

Sylvia, looking at a card Kate made for me, 'Mama?'
Me 'Hmmm?'
Sylvia, looking at the card again, and then holding it out to me 'Could you teach me to read ALL the words that are on this card?'
Me 'Sure, over time, you will learn all those.'
Sylvia 'I want to learn them NOW!'

I guess there is a tiny thirst for knowledge in her ^^

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Joys of Puddles

Because there is nothing better than wading in a puddle, even when it's fall and getting colder.

This is the same day I took this picture of a muddy foot.

I am so not ready for all these puddles to freeze and be covered in snow. Not ready at all!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good Morning!

So far, I have filled a dishwasher, emptied dryer, filled it again with wet laundry, started another load of laundry, taken care of a bunch of pets, and done many other small things around the house. The rest of my family, apart from Tara, slept through it all. Will have to get them up soon, but I have to admit that I was enjoying the quiet in the house.

Today, the cleaners will be here, looking forward to a clean house again. Our new system had the kids pick up on Thursday, before the cleaners are here on Friday, and that's working out very well. Now I have a clean house one afternoon of the week. Ok ok, maybe not a whole house clean, but you can actually see the floors! And eat off the kitchen floor. Wait, we can do that anyway, it usually has more than enough food :p



Verizon fixed our internet. Or actually they fixed our phone, but I never worried about the phone part, just about the internet. For all I care, the phone could be broken as much as it wants, but the internet... now that's different.

They promised to be here on Wednesday from between 2pm and 6pm. They showed up on Thursday at 9am. I don't even want to try to understand that.

Life is a lot more pleasant with working internet!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Hope They Are Lying


Rain in the evening...then rain and snow showers after midnight. Total accumulation around an inch. Lows in the lower 30s. Light and variable winds...becoming west around 10 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.

I am soooooooooooooooooooooo not ready for snow!

Picture of the Day

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stupid ISP

For the last ten days, my ISP has been acting up. Or maybe more correctly stated, acting down. And up. And down, and up. And down, and up. It is like watching dogs in heat.

It will work fine for a while. Then the connection drops. Comes back for a few minutes, drops again. Comes back again, and so on and so on and so on.

As you can imagine this is quite frustrating. Especially the unpredictability of it all. It seems to work fine after midnight. But at any other moment of the day, it drops, drops, drops.

Just call them you would say. Yes, indeed I would like to. But! Enter my hubby, the computer genius. Who isn't happy with just any firewall. But has built a very complicated firewall, running on a dedicated linux computer. Which makes it a lot harder for me to technically trouble-shoot our connection and to bitch about it to our ISP.

So I do what any wife would do, I bitch to him about it. Which he basically ignores for a whole week, each day claiming he forgot to call. On Monday, he couldn't call, because he had to drop off Cees at McDonalds in the morning. Adding a phone call to such a busy day was too much.

Yesterday, he would have called during the day, but he didn't have the phone number... At night, he finally got tired of my whining and decided to call them. After about an hour on the phone, they told him that he had to contact the phone company first, because there was static on the line. Our ISP is Verizon and our phone company is Verizon... I guess we had to call the same person back on a different phone number.

So he spends an hour on the next phone number. On which the automated system keeps confirming how sorry it feels for him, to have all those problems. Would he like to talk about it some more? Their automated system seems more therapeutic than helpful. He finally finds himself an actual human, who tells us that they will send someone over, if we can give them a four hours window we will be home. And no, the 16yo isn't enough, it has to be a grownup. I told hubby that Cees could fake to be a grownup, but he wasn't convinced.

I look at my calendar, which is filled to the brim with doctors, dentists, and other fun facts of life. Rearrange a bunch of things in my mind and tell him that I can be home today from 2pm to 6pm. Which seems to work for the phone people. They even called this morning at 8am to confirm that they will show up.

It is 9:25pm now. Do you think they ever did show up? Do you think they ever let us know that they won't show up? If you answered no to both of those questions, you just won the jackpot!

Looks like I'll have to find another four hours window soon to try to get them to fix this. And then go back to the ISP part of verizon and complain to them again. Unless fixing the phone will fix the DSL part without us having to do that. Which is mostly a dream, seems unlikely that it will become reality.

Otitis Media and Cavities

The last few days have been spent at drs offices, dentists, and more fun places like that. Nothing serious, but annoying to have so many appointments in one week.

Jane turned out to still have fluid in her ears, just like two months ago. The doctor let the medical student look again 'Here! See the nice line of fluid, it even has bubbles in it!' She did the tympanogram thingy which was totally flat, confirming the visual diagnosis. Also , her nose membranes were red and swollen, even while she didn't have a cold or anything at the moment.

For now we'll wait and see for another two months. But I have to admit that I wonder how the heck she ended up with otitis media at such an 'old' age. Our family experience so far has been with Cees and Tim in the early years. Between the two of them , they had six sets of ear tubes, while the rest of the family never had any big ear issues. Coindidentally, they were the only ones who spent significant time in daycare, because both of us had to work back then.

Jane is our first one to have chronic (maybe) fluid issues like this. Which makes me ponder, and wonder, but not enough to do anything about it till we still see it present two months from now. I am not sure what the long term risks of this are, will have to spend time googling it more.

Cees and Tim both had dentist visits, and Cees discovered that yes, indeed people do get cavities if they don't brush their teeth. So more visits to the dentist for him. Gotta love teenagers.

Tomorrow, it is Tara's turn to visit the doctor for an ear re-check, life is never boring around here. Kate had a cavity too, we have seen too many doctors and dentists lately.

On a totally different topic. If anyone knows the name of the plant in the picture, I would appreciate it. It was a very small plant with a very red berry. You can see pine needles next to this plant, which seem giant, to give you some idea of the small size of the leaves and the berry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Geocaching in Pictures

Because the day was too full to write much, sharing some of last week's geocaching pictures.

The kids helped me find a cache which was unfindable when I went there by myself, a week earlier. The kids obviously are much better at geocaching than I am.

Before we went caching, some climbing on those mounds had to be done though. I mean, how could you resist getting to the top of those?

Time to find the cache.

The trail was just a bit wet at places.

But we they found the cache.

Many interesting things to check out.

We planted a flag to celebrate our victory over this cache.

Geocaching gets us to so many fun places, I love it. This was within fifteen minutes drive of our home, it's amazing the places you can visit practically in your own backyard. I never knew about this trail system till someone planted a cache there.

Picture of the Day

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quote of the Day

Tonight, we were sitting around the dinner table, eating pizza. Tim drops some pizza, which lands on his lap.
Sylvia wonders 'Why did Tim spill pizza on himself?'
Me 'That sometimes happens, people do spill things.'
Tim explains 'Remember? Sometimes you spill something over yourself.'
Sylvia, in a disgusted tone of voice 'YUCK!'
After a moment's thought, she added 'Well, then I am not going to spill on myself anymore!'

I wish my other six kids would also make that promise and I wish even more they would all keep it ^^

Picture of the Day

Not sure about best caption: 'How My Kids Go Geocaching' seems good. Any other ideas?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Kitten Story told in Geocaching Logs

My friend flyingfisher wrote:

The first question was, "Do you want to go geocaching?"

When don't I??!!

The second was, "And go with us to pick up some kittens?"

Well, of course!

So NannyOgg was driving this honkin' 15 passenger van south on I-91 and then suddenly the van shot forward so fast I thought someone was trying to rear-end us, or did they have a shot gun pointed out the window? Oh, she was after a pick-up truck with a deer lashed to a 4-wheeler in truck bed. Ahem. I don't think it was because she wanted me to try out her new camera, but I tried out the new camera. She was after "blog fodder."

Wow. Some camera. In the photo it looks like all the vehicles are standing still, parked on the highway, not going 80 + MPH. I'll let her decide if she's going to post the photo.

And then as is her custom (now that she has a GPSr with mapping software and auto routing, that is), she kept saying, "We just passed a cache over there."

But wouldn't you know it the GPSr was caught in one of those endless loops to no where. Sure, don't get off at Exit 3, no get off at Exit 2 and get back on gong North and get off at --- Exit 3 ????? Where exactly was that cache.

So happily once we were off the highway we found this one. At least NannyOgg did while most of us were looking elsewhere. But she was nice enough to leave it in place so we could discover it one by one. And then we debated the pros and cons of hunting for caches rated "5" for difficulty with a 14 yo, a 11 yo, a 10 yo, an 8 yo. a 6 yo and a 3 y o. So we didn't head up the hill in the park.

Instead we went here. Funny thing was on the way down not knowing if we'd even look for that cache, I'd figured out the clue from the sign language I'd learned over 30 yrs ago!

We looked for, and did not find some kind of test tube, and made a quick visit to the Austine School for the Deaf, followed by a hike in the dark up to a cool tower. Did I mention it was getting dark? That has never happened to us before! The lack of light caused us not to find the cache, it is NOT because we are lousy geocachers. I repeat, it is not! Not even when we managed to not find another cache at the bottom of that hill. I am sure that cache must have been muggled just before we were there. That's my story and I'll stick to it!

By now we were feeling silly and in an excellent mood because of getting closer to our kittens. My DNF log story was:

Well, it was dark.
And we were running out of time.
It can't be because we are lousy geocachers.

But we sure couldn't find it!

We will be back!

NannyOgg, out caching with six Oggettes and one flyingfisher

flyingfisher was even sillier than I was (I know, hard to believe), but it is proven by her log:

Well, it was dark. (And my flashlight had hopped out of my pocket somewhere up the trail on the way to the tower.)

And we were running out of time. (To go meet the person with the kittens.)

It can't be because we are lousy geocachers. (We are not and never will be lousy geocachers.)

But we sure couldn't find it!
(We sure couldn't find it. In the dark. With coordinates switching back and forth an back and forth. ;-) )

We will be back!

(We will? When are we going for more kittens??)

Thanks for the cache. Maybe We'll find it some other day. Just enough time left to drive to Winchester and then, really find one more cache! In the dark.

NannyOgg, out caching with six Oggettes and one flyingfisher

Oops, that is,

flyingfisher out with the maniac van driver NanyyOgg and a few of her kids. Follow the links back to see the maniac part.

We went and got our two three kittens. And decided to try one more cache.

It was late.
It was dark.
We had found only 2 caches so far.
We had gotten 3 DNFs already.
So we needed a cache to redeem ourselves.

This was it!

I started out looking at the right place, but the cache must not have been there at that time, because I didn't see it. We spent quite some time looking in this wrong place and at that wrong place and found many other wrong places. It's amazing how many wrong places can just pop up when you dont' need them. Flyingfisher was smart enough to get back to the right place, where she found the cache where it hadn't been before. Caches can be funny like that.

NannyOgg, out caching with six Oggettes, three kittens, and one flyingfisher

We took our kittens home and life was good.