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Category: Little Kid Years (4-5)

29 Caches on the 29th

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Geocaching is an odd “sport”, if you will. It’s all about the numbers and then again, it’s all about the experiences. Today was a little bit of both.

The 29th of February is a special day for Geocachers. Those that are looking to put a find on every day of the year must wait four years for this day to come around so events are held, new caches are released, and general nonsense happens. Harlan had recently become interested in Geocaching, once again, and because he is now able to manage his own account and sign the log himself, we decided to maybe dip our toe back into the Geocaching world.

I thought it would be fun to try to find 29 caches on the 29th of February! That’s not necessarily a lot of finds but with two little kids in the back of the car, especially one that yells at you if you even consider trying to help buckle her in, this might be more of a challenge than one might think. Usually when one is out trying to do a numbers run they try to find a lot of park and grab (P&G) caches (basically a cache that you don’t really have to look for very hard and you can just drive up to, get out, sign the log, and move on to the next one quickly). I figured that Elise wouldn’t stand for this and the getting in and out of the car really wouldn’t make things fast so I went the entire opposite direction: we went for a hike. Yep, a numbers run included the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center with trails galore and the Beverly Triton Nature Park, again with lots of trails. This got the kids out of the car and we covered lots of distance looking for some really neat hides!

This isn’t to say we didn’t do some P&G caches as well. We actually did several of those on the way home after the sun had set and the kids were getting pretty tired. But that was okay, too. I’m happy to report that we ended the evening with 29 finds, along with a few DNFs. The kids had fun, which was important, and we were all able to get out and get some fresh air. So what’s on the agenda for next weekend? Maybe just one park and not the road trip… 🙂

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2019, A year in review.

Two thousand and nineteen… what a year. I’m almost not sure I want to re-live it to write about it, but lets see if we can pull together some of the good things that happened during the previous twelve months.

January

We are a snow-loving family (well, most of us). The first meaningful snowfall occurred on the fourteenth of January when five and a half inches of snow fell overnight. Another inch fell over the next day, and the kids had a lot of fun sledding and building things. We recently acquired a snow mold that makes penguins, and I had plans to leave the little guys on our neighbors’ front porches, but after being caught by one neighbor while crouching near his porch and finding out that another was in Florida for the season, my antics were short-lived. After the first day it warmed up just enough to melt just the top layer of snow on the sled run we cleared in the woods behind our house. Of course it refroze and made the hill very slick. Elise volunteered to sled down the hill first on day two and down she went. Fast. Really fast. Not to worry, though, as Amanda had piled some snow at the bottom of the hill to stop any wayward sleds… Elise hit that pile of snow, went airborne, narrowly missed a tree, and stopped just short of a large fallen tree. Expecting the worst, I started down the hill only to be met with a smiling, laughing little girl ready to go again.

In our continuing efforts to go green, we purchased an electric car in January, and have enjoyed being able to preheat the car in the garage on cold days, the quiet rides, and essentially using our home solar power generation to charge the car.

  • Elise, just in from the cold outside, with a big smile on her face.
  • Harlan hiding behind a green sled.
  • Eric, covered in snow.

March

The weather was warming up and with that Harlan wanted to join me on my search and rescue training. March saw him both hiding from a tracking dog and flanking an air-scent dog while searching for a “missing” subject.

Harlan also enjoyed participating in a Destination Imagination team at his school (in the kindergarten to 2nd grade noncompetitive division).

April

Boy was April a busy month for us! First, we went over to Chincoteague to watch NASA launch an Antares rocket! We spent a few days down there and visited the refuge. Renting bicycles seemed to be the best way to roam around the area, and so with Harlan and Eric on a tandem and Elise being pulled by Amanda, we visited a lighthouse, and rode all the way to the end of the peninsula where the public programs were being held. We camped the first couple of nights and then moved over to an inn, just in time for the rain to come.

At the end of the month, my sister Amy got married and we all went down to celebrate. Personally, I think it was all an excuse to get me dressed up.

May

Harlan had been complaining for awhile that he hadn’t lost any teeth, insisting he might be the last first grader in his entire school not to have lost a tooth. Finally, around the middle of the month he had a loose top tooth, which he yanked out on his own without any hesitation, leaving a nice gap in his smile.

We also ventured up to Ohio for the Memorial Day weekend. The kids had a ball at the various museums we visited and, of course, playing with their friend Jessie.

June

Harlan continued to lose teeth, making up for his perceived slow start. He also bid farewell to First Grade with good grades and maybe a few fond memories (except for all that reading and writing!).

Elise finally figured out that while I may be “Daddy” I’m not really a parent. I’m amazed it took her this long to realize.

We also took a trip to visit Grandma in June. The kids had a lot of fun picking blueberries and generally goofing around.

  • Elise bowing out of Aiki class.

July

July started by the kids participating in the neighborhood Fourth of July parade. This has become an annual event with the kids decorating their bikes and carts and doing a few laps behind the fire truck. Despite lots of pedaling experience, Elise had an issue with her (lack of) use of the brakes, opting instead for using a bush as a stopping mechanism. While she, as usual, was nonplussed, Amanda (who was close enough to see, but not to stop it) will never be the same.

We also went camping atop Apple Orchard Mountain. The trip was actually part of the APRS Golden Packet event, an amateur radio exercise to link up stations along the Appalachian Trail. That trip was really awesome, though, as the summit is the highest for several hundred miles around and our camping site was pretty much in the middle of a wildflower meadow.

Speaking of camping, we started started our New England Road Trip this month!

  • Looking out of the tent window, lots of trees and the moon.
  • lots of butterflies
  • Apple Orchard Mountain sign
  • Amanda, Eric, and Elise hiking down the mountain with another mountain in view.

August

August was pretty much limited to our New England Road Trip. We made it up to Maine and spent as much time hiking around as possible. Elise did very well with her hiking and Harlan did well with his navigation. They both ate a lot of wild blueberries and enjoyed two weeks of camping.

September

School started back just after Labor Day here in Maryland. Harlan started Second Grade while Elise moved up to The Jungle class in preschool. After our busy summer, September was just left for recovery and getting back into a routine.

October

Everyone needs a break in the middle of October, right? Team E (Eric and Elise) took a week and went to Grandma’s house to visit and do some exploring while Harlan and Amanda did some playing of their own. We met up at the end of our respective breaks to attend the North Carolina State Fair.

November

With the Fall colors popping, we ventured out to Shenandoah National Park to see the show for ourselves.

And then there was the hiking, the learning activities, the beach, the chickens, and whatever other kinds of trouble we could get into. Finally stringing up the 150-foot zip line Amanda purchased for our backyard was also a highlight of the month.

December

The end of November and beginning of December is birthday season for our household. Elise turned four while Harlan turned eight. They each had parties with their friends and had a good time.

Elise also had her preschool holiday program where she sang her heart out to “Crabs for Christmas”.

And for the first time in years, we stayed home for Christmas. No traveling or schedules. Just relaxing at home.

Just after Christmas we had friends come to visit for a few days. It’s always fun to catch up with those that we haven’t seen in a while and let the kids play together. We ended up the Smithsonian’s National Zoo where, in the chilly rain, we made a pretty good tour of the animals (admittedly with a focus on the indoor ones)

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Elise’s Holiday Program 2019

Elise ready for her performance!

Oh yes, it’s that time of year again. Time for us all to pack into an auditorium and watch every child that attends Prime Time Children’s Center perform a song while dancing or… something. It’s cute to watch your kid, but that only lasts three minutes. It’s the waiting around while all the other kids are doing their performances that is painful. But it’s what we do, right?

Elise was particularly excited this year and had been talking about getting up on the “big stage” for about a week before her big performance. She’s never been shy about getting up there and doing something. Even as a baby she was bopping up and down to the music but now she’s much bigger and can do her own thing.

Each class picked a song that represented them. Some picked a pop song from years past while others chose something more… unique. The Jungle, Elise’s classroom, chose a song that not only had we not heard of, but we thought she might have been making up when she first told us about it. Nope, a quick check on YouTube found the song and, well, what can we say for our Maryland baby? She wants crabs for Christmas!

She also chatted with Santa after the show. Apparently she has requested a pink motorcycle for Christmas…

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Birthdays- 4 and 8!

Both kids wanted birthday parties with their friends this year, so we scheduled parties for either side of Thanksgiving and made it happen.

We outsourced Elise’s party to The Polymath Place, a neat little center where they have tutoring, classes, workshops, summer camps, and a kids theater program. They said they would plan activities along any theme and Elise suggested “rainbow superhero.” We invited her whole preschool class and got seven little girls and one little boy from her class plus some other friends from outside of daycare. The kids were all amazing. They decorated superhero masks; did superhero poses and played Duck, Duck, Goose (but using silly superhero names they made up); colored and baked Shrinky Dinks; and made marshmallow shooters (and fired them at the parents). We bought a rainbow cake and added superhero figures on top. Elise donned a rainbow skirt and superhero cape for the occasion. All in all, a fun time.

Harlan really wanted to have friends over to play for his birthday, so he invited all the boys from his class (because girls, totally not cool), our bus stop crew, and a couple other friends. I lost track, but we probably had about a dozen kids. I kept from planning so much this year, but I decided the kids needed an activity to keep them busy on arrival, so I bought 100 little plastic wheels and axels, a box of straws, 30 plastic propellers, and a box of rubber bands. We already had a huge box of popsicle sticks, tape, markers, and glue guns, so I wrote out some basic instructions on how to make cars and rubberband helicopters, and the kids took it from there. They were great helping each other and patiently waiting for the glue gun. As they finished their cars we raced them down a cardboard ramp. They rolled, they crashed, the boys cheered, there would be numerous claims of being the winner, and then they’d do it again, adding in the kids as they finished their cars. Some of them also managed to make rubber band helicopters and launch them off the front porch, but most opted for decorating or racing their vehicle creations until we headed outside. A couple parents got into it too and made propeller-powered cars. When the kids had mostly finished their vehicles Harlan led the charge outside to the backyard. Apparently he’d been talking up our new zip line at school, so most of the kids were pretty excited to get to try it out. I had bought a harness instead of just the seat for some added safety, which also meant added time to get everybody on and off, but they kids were patient and another mom stepped in and helped Eric strap them each in and send them down. After that the kids easily entertained themselves with a backyard Nerf gun battle. In addition to arming themselves with ammo and guns, they raided the dress up box and were geared up in all manner of outfits. They ran out of military-style helmets quickly, but others happily donned a safari hat, astronaut helmet, storm trooper mask, etc. and charged into battle.

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