Friday, October 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Leave

Five Minute Friday has a new home! Come check it out and join in on the free-writing fun!
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you; encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

Five minutes on leave...


"Leave Mommy alone for a minute, guys!"
"Let's go! It's time to leave!"
"I don't wanna leave Grandma's house!!"

It seems like there always some trauma associated with the word leave. It's so final. The End. Over. Finishing things does seem to have some modicum of loss to it. It's the end of something familiar, and consequently the beginning of something else unknown.

But then that finality does need to be given some perspective. Maybe Mommy needs to be left alone because she's finishing up a surprise for dinner. Maybe when it's time to leave, we're going somewhere fun. Leaving Grandma's house is never fun for the kids. To be honest, I cry when I drive away too. But I am thankful for the time my kids get to spend with my parents. It's significantly more time than I got to spend with my own grandparents.

The puzzle of leaving is that we have to do that to move on to better things. Life is not meant to be stagnant. There's no growth; no discovery; no learning in that.

This morning they had to leave me alone so I could finish my Wyldstyle costume!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

X Marks the Spot: Geocaching!

I mentioned yesterday that we had gone geocaching, so today I thought I would share a little bit more about that with you. 

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is like a big international treasure hunt that anyone can participate in! There are geocaches hidden in various places all over the world. Some of them can be as small as a film canister or as large as a large bucket or shoebox. Inside each cache you will typically find a log book where previous locators have signed in to indicate that they found the cache. Depending on the size you might also find small trinkets that can be traded out for another small trinket that you've brought with you.

How do you go Geocaching?

All you need is a GPS device and a set of coordinates to look for. Go online to the Geocaching website and input the area where you would like to search for a cache. You will find a list of locations as well as a difficulty rating, clues, and any other useful information you might need. If you are really adventurous, you can go Geocaching with a map and a compass, but I have a horrible sense of direction and three kids to bring along, so we use an app. You can download the app for iPhones, androids, or Windows phones. It is a free app, but there are upgrades you can pay for if you decide you want more options.

Finding a Cache

When you open the Geocaching app you will see a map of your current location.  You are indicated by a blue, pulsing dot. If there are caches nearby, they will be indicated with a green dot. You can pinch in or out to adjust how much you see on your screen, but the free version of the app will only show things within a small radius. (Grey dots indicate caches that you are too far away from to get information on.)

Choose a cache that you would like to find and tap it. It will bring up more info about the cache and tell how how close you are as well as what direction to head in.  Turn your phone until the orange line at the bottom on the compass is in the middle and start walking. When you get close, your phone will alert you, and also warn you of the limitations of GPS capabilities.

Once you have gotten close enough, it's time to start searching. Re-reading the clues and hints to figure out what you are looking for. Take note of the size, so you know how obvious it might be. Caches are hidden in order not to be found by non-cachers, so sometimes you might have to poke around to find it.
This cache box was hidden in a hollowed-out piece of landscaping timber. It took a while to find!

When you find the cache, celebrate! Open it up and see what's inside. You will likely find a log book to sign, but you might also find a collection of trinkets inside. When you go geocaching, it's a good idea to bring a set of trinkets with you so that you can trade out for something from your cache. We have a jar of small fast food type toys that the kids are willing to trade that we keep in our van.
We traded for the green-tinted sunglasses as a cache last weekend!

Some caches have a theme. There is one near our local SPCA that has an animal theme. Many of the items in the cache box were animal related, such as a tennis ball, a dog leash or a paw print eraser. If there is a theme, try to stick with it so you don't disappoint the next group that comes along.

When you are done

After you have located the cache, signed the log, and swapped a trinket; you can log your find on the app. This tells other people that the cache is still there and in good condition. If you find one that is not in good condition (wet, moldy, broken) you can also log this information to give other people, and especially the cache owner, a head's up. 
Searching for our first cache...that we never found. :(

If you have looked for a reasonable amount of time and you can't find anything, it's important to log this too. The first cache that we looked for was one we didn't find. In checking the activity log, we could see that others had not located it either. If you are deciding on a cache to hunt, it's a good idea to check the activity log to see when it was last found. Since Geocaching happens on public property, there's always a chance that someone else has stumbled across it and moved it, thrown it out, or outright stolen it. 

Make sure to hide the cache back the way you found it so that the next group that comes along will have the same fun adventure that you did!
This one had a log book and an extra creative way to get to it!

Things to keep in mind

Geocaching should always be done on public property, or private property that the owners have given permission for. When you go to look for a cache, it is important to be stealthy. You should not be seen when you are hunting, lest someone else come along and steal or disturb the cache. People who do not know about Geocaching are called "Muggles." Many caches have a note inside describing the basics of Geocaching, so if someone stumbles across one, they might be converted to the fun. On the other hand, they might find a box of toys and decide to just take it. That obviously ruins the fun for others, so try not to be followed while you're on the search.

So Geocaches are harder to find than others. You should check the difficulty rating to see if there is extensive hiking or other treacherous terrain involved. Also check the activity log to see if other people have left clues as to where a cache is. Be careful though, because some people don't understand subtlety and might state outright where the cache is hidden. That might take some of the fun out of it for you.

Geocaches are hidden outdoors and ideally, should be waterproof. We have found, however, that many are not. We have had a few disappointments when we've found a water-logged book or moldy trinkets. If this is the case with something you find, please make a note of it so the owner can came fix things. 

Geocachers use some specific jargon that may be confusing at first. There is a nice glossary of terms that you can check to define words and acronyms that might have you stumped.

Geocaching is a great way to get outdoors on your own or with your family. It's fun and exciting and something almost everyone can participate it. You should definitely give it a try!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: A Day Off

The kids had Friday off from school last week. I took the opportunity to catch up with my friend Stacey, who I don't get to see nearly often enough anymore. She has a boy and two girls, where I have a girl and two boys. We rode bikes, played at the playground, caught up with each other, and tried out Geocaching (more on that next week). It was a glorious day!

Go ahead, say it...I know you're thinking it!




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#TuesdayTen: Favorite Cartoons

When my little brother Alan and I were younger, our older brother John used to call us "vidiots." It was his term to describe us as idiots for watching too much TV. To be fair, he spent most of his time in his room playing Dungeons and Dragons, so none of us were making excellent use of our free time.

Alan and I used to watch TV together most afternoons after school and most Saturday mornings. There were a few shows we fought over, but for the most part, we took turns based on what the regularly scheduled program was. We didn't have a DVR, so we had to watch whatever was on. To make it even more frightening, we didn't have a VCR or a remote. We had to watch basic cable and change the channels with our hands like cavemen! WAIT! I remember...we actually laid on the floor in front of the TV and changed channels with our feet so we didn't have to get up. Commercials were a good time to go to the bathroom or get snacks.

In honor of International Animation Day, Lisa and I are listing our ten favorite cartoons, past or present. You are encouraged to join in and link up your own post.

I've decided to go with five cartoons of my past and five of my present. I don't always watch the cartoons with my kids, but I frequently end up in the same room with them, so I know what they're watching. Just like back in the day, some choices are more palatable than others. However, the ways of watching are much different.

We have a DVR, so I record certain cartoons for my kids. I only keep the most recent 5 episodes so as not to take up all the space. They are allowed to watch their shows and then delete them so new ones can record. They almost don't know what commercials are because of the way their programs record. If they need a bathroom break or a snack break, they pause the TV so they don't miss anything important!

5 Cartoons I Watched as a Kid

  1. Care Bears
  2. My Little Pony
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  4. He-man/She Ra
  5. G. I. Joe

5 Cartoons I Don't Hate Today

  1. Mia and Me-This has an actual story line from episode to episode. I feel lost if I miss an episode! LOL!
  2. Wild Kratts-My kids have learned so much about animals from this show. Just the other day, Benjamin crept around the sidelines at Henry's soccer game with his rear in the air, pretending to be a honey badger and spraying me!
  3. Mike the Knight
  4. Team Umizoomi
  5. Doc McStuffins-Frances was to be a vet, so she claims this is like research.
And just for fun:

5 Cartoons I Hope I Never Have to Watch Again

  1. Caillou
  2. Dora the Explorer (or Diego)
  3. Backyardigans
  4. Sid the Science Kid
  5. Lalaloopsy
What's on your lists?

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