Saturday, September 19, 2015

Geocaching update

For those who know me, I realize I may have gone a bit crazy over my hobby of geocaching, but I won't admit that out loud. 
We have stopped after ballgames.

Made our more nimble family members climb trees.

We usually make the find.  In the past year and three months, with the help of my family and geocaching friends, I have logged 756 finds in 22 states.  

My friend, Angela, and I even made a trip in June to Maine to meet a friend of hers.  The 12 hour trip to the most northern state took four days.  We had no schedule for the entire week of the trip.  We stopped where we wanted and did so often to grab a cache or two (or four or six...). We logged 8 different states and 156 finds.  We found easy park and grabs (P&Gs) and hunted down an elusive multi-cache.
The scenery was beautiful and the trip was fantastic.
We even made a FTF (First to Find) in New York! Cachers race to be the first to find a new geocache.

We found several different containers on the trip that we had never seen before.

With all the fun we have had with this activity,
 Scouring the forests,
 Finding fossils,
 checking under bridges,
Discovering hidden memorials,
this hobby will last many, many more years!

All who wander are not lost, some are geocaching!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Flying - The conclusion.

So the plane finally took off, after two cancelled flights and a major delay.  The boys loved the exerience of flying.  I will admit the two little Ms have always been great travelers.  They sleep on long car rides; they give plenty of notice when a pit stop is needed; and they only ask a dozen times how much longer the trip will take.

This experience was a test even for them.  Once we landed in Miami at 1:00am, our connecting flight had already taken off.  Since the airline frowns on boarding passengers mid-flight, they booked us on a flight later that day at 4:30 in the afternoon! It was only a 3 hour drive, so why wait 14 hours for a flight that might be full.  Due to the weather in the north and flights being rerouted, cancelled and delayed, all the hotels were full and because it was the middle of the night, most of the restaurants were closed.  So while my wonderful, and extremely tired husband went to get our luggage, I sprinted to the car rental desks to find transportation to get us to the Magic Kingdom, our desired destination, before our passes began in a few short hours.

I was able to claim a minivan and have it waiting at the curb outside the baggabe claim, while my man tried to rescue our two checked suitcases from a closed baggage claim. No luck. So we drove away with the hope our clothes would be at the Orlando airport in the much later hours of the morning.

So while the boys slept in the car (and I got in a short nap), Mike drove us north.  We arrived at our hotel outside the original airport at 5:30 in the morning.  Our room was waiting for us, but we had to check out by 11:00.  No problem. We all collapsed into the beds and awoke four hours later.  Thanks to packing two changes of clothes for each of us into our carry-on bag, we all dressed in clean clothes and headed out to experience day 2 of our vacation.

We went to the Orlando airport to return the rental and cancel our flight that the airline booked us on for later that afternoon, since we were already at the destination. While I returned our pumpkin turned coach, my man went to claim our bags. Well, one of them had arrived.  The suitcase with the boys clothes and all of our toiletries had missed the flight. We were promised it would be found and delivered to our resort the next morning (it did finally arrive Tuesday evening). Then we ate lunch and caught the Magic Express bus to Disney.  Now for the relaxation and fun of a week filled with great food and experiences.

As furstrating as getting there was, the rest of the week was amazing.  But that's the next post.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First Time Flying

Picking up from my last post, many moons ago, packing for vacation was successful.  We left that Friday night for our hotel that was minutes away from our karate tournament that was being held the same Saturday we were to fly out of Pittsburgh.  We had is planned well.  Big M and I would compete in the morning, have lunch on the way to the airport, and check our baggage in at the airport with an hour to spare before our flight.  No sweat.

Both little Ms were a little nervous at the prospect of flying.  Neither of them had been in an airport before, let alone on a plane.  We had done our best to describe what the boarding procedure would be like and how the plane would sound and feel during take off and landing, but, as we all know, experience is the best teacher. We each had our carry-ons and plenty of things to keep us busy during the flight. We were as ready as we could be.

The weather had different ideas.

As we were eating lunch, we received a phone call stating our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather in our layover spot in Philadelphia. Not to fear the call went on, we had been rebooked on another flight and our trip would continue as planned. Whew!

We decided our lunch would not be as leisurely as intended so we could get to the airport sooner and make sure all details of our changed flight were in order and our four tickets were still together.  I could only imagine the airline separating the adults from the children by mistake.

My dedicated husband dropped the boys and I off at our airline's door and went to park the car in long-term parking.  By this time the snow was really flying and the temperature had dropped to the teens. Burrr!!

I grabbed the folder with our ticket information and headed to the desk to check our luggage and double check our tickets and changed flights.  This is where the fun really started.  Due to increased weather in Philadelphia, no flights were allowed in or out.  The flight we were rebooked on was supposed to have a layover in Philly just like our first flight. So now our second flight was cancelled. While I talked with the booking agent to find another flight, my man had joined us from his trip through the snow from the parking lot.

All our airline's fights to Orlando are routed through Philly. Since Philly was closed, flights south were limited.  After a 30 minute computer search, a direct flight to Miami was found that had four seats available. Book it, Danno! There was even a connecting flight from Miami to Orlando only 45 minutes after the first plane landed.  Fabulous! We would only have to wait at the airport for four hours for the flight.  No problem.  We had full charges on all our electronic gadgets, books at the ready, and even a few card games tucked into our carry-on bags.  Plus there is always wonderful people-watching in an airport!

So we found our gate and created a base-camp, so to speak.  Food was available nearby. Two moving sidewalks were within eyeshot. A power station for recharging was easily accessible.  We settled in for the duration.

It was fun to watch the giant plows clear the runways, blowing the snow tens of feet up into the air.  Ground crews and baggage handlers braved the freezing air, that was now in single digits, to shovel paths for the taxiing planes and scurrying luggage trolleys.  Time passed and we received another message from the airline, this time by text, that the flight - while not cancelled- was to be delayed. No problem, gadgets were recharged. Stomachs were filled. Legs were exercised.  We would wait it out, after all, Disney was at the other end of this trip.  Our tickets for the "Happiest Place on Earth" ran from Sunday to Saturday, dinner reservations began on Sunday evening.  Getting there was just the beginning of the adventure, right?

Another flight delay and then another. After the flight being cancelled and then re-instated, we finally boarded our 5:00 flight around 8:30.  It had been a long day of waiting, but we were on our way at last!  We got our bags tucked away and got into our seats. The plane was sprayed down with de-icer and we taxied to the runway.  The little Ms were nervous, slightly scared, and anxious to reach our destination. They each had a window seat. As the plane picked up speed and we were pushed back into our seat cushions, grins of excitement creeped across their faces and the glint of adventure lit their eyes as we rose off the ground, leaving it further and further below.

They watched the city lights fade from view and then settled back to enjoy the fight.  We landed in Miami four hours later, only twenty minuters after our connecting flight to Orlando had taken off.  Yep, the fun of air travel continues.  To be concluded in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Planning our Vacation

As I sit here typing, there is a load of clothes in the dryer and another in the washer.  I have already folded three loads and put away one of them.  The rest of the folded clothes are bing sorted. One pile to be put away by the boys and two other piles to be packed into suitcases.  The piles to be packed are arranged (and I use the term arranged very loosely) by matching outfits all over the living room floor.

This system developed a couple years ago when I didn't check the youngest's suitcase before we left on an trip and he had packed everything grey or black.  He looked like he was ready for a Goth party everyday of our vacation on the lake.  Grey T-shirt with darker grey shorts.  Black shorts with a different shade of black t-shirt.  You get my point.  So if we have any visitors today they are going to think our dryer exploded into the living room.

Careful outfit planning must be done for this trip.  We are leaving single digit temperatures and arriving to beautiful temperatures in the upper 70's. I think the key will be layers and roomy carry-on bags. This will also be the first time both boys will be flying.  To say they are excited would fall far short of the bag of emotions whirling through the house.

While we don't leave for a few more days, we are packing everything we possibly can now.  I hate the last minute panic of cramming things in a suitcase or bag, praying I haven't forgotten anything majorly important, like underpants or shoes.  I feel a little like Santa: I've made lists and am checking them at least twice.  I have this strange feeling we are going to get to our destination and I will have left the tickets for the amusment park at home.

I also have to account for layovers.  Normally when we travel, it is by car - leaving home when we want, stopping when we need to, and reaching the goal by day's end.  We will still get there by day's end, but having a one or two hour lay-over with two energetic boys is a differnet story.  Carry on bags will be filled with snacks, books, card games, and yes, the electronic gadgets to keep us all busy and help time pass as quickly as possible.

Speaking of time passing, when we planned this trip almost four months ago, it seemed the date on the calendar would never arrive.  Now "all of a sudden" it is just a few boxes away on the page.  We've talked about it.  Being the good homeschoolers, we have researched it. We have made and even crossed out some plans.  But now is crunch time, packing time, planning is over. It is time to put those plans into action!

Ready or not! Here we come!

Monday, January 19, 2015

How to become a better person

Visit the library.  Yep. To become a better person, visit the library.  Do you like to cook? The library has many cookbooks and even books on different styles of cooking to expand your repotoire.  Use some of those books and you will be a better cook.

Do you like to knit or sew? The library has books on different methods and stitches. Articles on better ways to hem or count stitches can be found as well.  Check out some of these book and you will be a better knitter or seamstress.

I think you get my point.  Yes, these books can be found in books stores and on-line, but at the library there are wonderful people who will help you find the right book and even suggest books or related topics to help you advance your knowledge.  History can boring if your reading a text book.  The same event will fly off the page and into your understanding when read from a first person perspective of a biography or even historical fiction.

Business people are always doing research.  Do it at the library! There are big tables and lots of space.  Many libraries now have free WiFi so your searches can extend to the web.  There have been times my small library does not have the specific book I am looking for. The librians are wonderful. They will request my book from another library and suggest another book or two on the same topic to hold me over until my book arrives in just a matter of days.

There are also people at the library.  I don't know how many times I have struck up a conversation with another mom between the shelves of books, each of us reccommending books to the other.  The library is a great networking place.  Visit often enough and you never know who you will run into today who can help you (or you can help them) later.

Crafters, dieters, runners, parents, executives all need to grow an expand their knowledge.  New technology comes out everyday it seems.  Books explaining that technology can be found on the shelves of the library.  People who understand that technology have probably read the book.  You could run into them and find those books at the library.

Visit yours today!

"You are the same person you were five years ago except for the people you meet and the books you read!" ~Charlie Tremendous Jones

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Life at Full Speed

Happy New Year!

After the relaxed busyness of the last two weeks, we have jumped into the New Year with a bang.  The Christmas decorations are put back in their boxes and stored in the attic.  The laundry was caught up from the holiday travels. We had a day with nothing planned and enjoyed it immensly!

Now school in back in full swing. Chores lists are checked off each day with no gift buying errands to interupt progress. Piano lessons are back on the schedule with the karate classes.  Christmas gifts are being put to use and communication between family members has relied on texting between the upstairs and downstairs a time or two.

Doctor appointments fill a couple squares of the calendar, regular check-up and a follow up for a broken hand that occured just before Christmas (cast coming off the oldest son this week).  Another day is colored in with karate testing.  Thankfully the pressure is low for this test as we are all taking mid-terms and not going for a rank change.  My wonderful husband must make a business trip and will be gone for two days this week and will miss the hectic-ness that these karate tests may bring.  He will take his own test Friday after he returns.

While Christmas celebrations are behind us, the year ahead is just as busy as last year.  And we enjoy it most of the time.  This busyness brings hard work, new milestones, and many happy memories.  When life gets too crazy, we pause. We go camping, geocaching, on a field trip, have a family game and movie night at home - anything to change the pace to prevent the busyness from overtaking the joy of our family.

Yes, sometimes we will admit our schedule is full to overflowing.  We trim back and stay connected to each other.  Sometimes we laugh when people say we are "SO busy".  These folks have three (or more) kids and each kid is in a different sport  or activity every night of the week.  To each their own.

Our family of four is active, connected to each other, and up for fun.  While we enjoy time together, we also know we each need time for our individual interests.  Youth group, knitting, reading, writing, gaming, whatever it may be we give each other the space to recharge in our own ways.

I am looking forward to this new year.  With all the hustle and bustle it brings, we are also ready for new stuff to do and to happen.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Out with the old. In with the new.

On this the last day of 2014, I am not making any resolutions.  Resolutions always fall by the wayside in two weeks or less. I am just going to focus on becoming healthier, which for me means losing weight, eating better foods, and drinking more water.

If anyone out there followed my posts through the month of October, you will remember I was focus on health then.  I still am.  So much so that I actually lost two pounds over Christmas.  I still ate the cookies and delicious foods that my wonderful family had made.  I ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast as part of our Christmas morning tradition.  I also exercised by getting outside and walking at a brisk pace 5 out of 7 days the week of Christmas.  Yes, I am very thankful for the unseasonably warm temperatures that made this easier to do.

Another step down this path is beverages.  Last week I had my last soda/pop/cola for a year.  I have given up those sugar filled drinks for the year of 2015.  This will be especially hard for me while traveling.  When ever I am in the car, I have a drink with me.  The easiest thing to grab from the cooler section of the quick stop (and what calls my name the loudest) is the cherry flavored sodas.  In a day of running erands, a giant cup from Chick-Fil-A will tide me over.  A trip of more than 2 hours requires at least two 20 ounce bottles of the bubbly beverages.  That had come to an end.

I will still have my drink at the ready, but the bottle or large cup in the holder at my hand will be filled with water, tea or flavored water.  So if you see me out and about and I am carrying a bottle that looks like soda, double check. I may have refilled it with tea or water.

Happy New Year everyone. Be Safe and Make healthy choices.