December 30, 2005
December 24, 2005
Road Trip to MA
The kids and I took a road trip to the Boston area earlier this week. Here are some highlights ....
L. taking charge of the camera in the car on the way down. How many pictures did you take? Ooh, lots I see....
Going to the car wash with Grandma. They acted like it was the first time they'd ever seen one before. Well actually by the look of our car, maybe it should be a little more often....
Running around Boston in their new ponchos - they were certainly easy to spot in a crowd.
Taking a Flat Stanley on the Freedom Trail in Boston to learn a little history.
Checking out the ice skating rink in Boston Common. Of course the kids were upset with me for forgetting the ice skates but then decided that was OK when I asked them if they would have carried them on the T. That was a resounding no.
Eating a "real" roast beef sandwich. Well that was my highlight. I love them and I haven't found any better than in the Boston area. But I'll leave the blogging about great food to my co-worker, Colleen....
December 23, 2005
George vs. geocachers
This morning I went to put my dollar into the candy machine here at the office and noticed a www.wheresgeorge.com stamp on the back of my dollar bill. And in a moment of curiosity (and knowing I really shouldn't eat a candy bar anyway) I decided to keep the dollar and log onto the website to find out where my bill had been.
Well, the bill's history consisted of two entries, one of which was mine. And where was it originally logged in?
A whole 4.6 miles from my zip code. Not nearly as interesting as the kids' travel bugs in New Zealand.
And it was funny I should compare it to geocaching because there's actually a page on the wheresgeorge.com website about geocachers. Apparently the George people aren't so keen on geocachers using bills as travel bugs.
The general rules of this site specifically prohibit trading
or exchanging bills with friends, family or anyone known to the bill distributor.
This rule is to encourage "natural circulation" of the currency, and to prevent multiple "fake hits" from happening on any bill. Afterall, the purpose of Where's George? is to track the manner in which currency naturally circulates throughout the country and the world. Allowing people to arbitrarily enter multiple hits to track that a bill was traded among a circle of friends and family defeats the entire purpose of this site.
Poor George, feeling threatened by geocachers. Where's this game's sense of fun? Oh I know, it's with their related Where's Willy website....
December 20, 2005
New season, new road sign
A couple of weeks ago, snowmobile crossing signs were put up around our town. Since we don't have a snowmobile, the kids found an alternative way to introduce a Flat Stanley we're hosting from France to the snowmobile season in Maine.
December 19, 2005
Please sing to a snail
Tonight at my tap class (it should be called a talk-and-laugh -with-a-couple -minutes-of-actual-tapping class) my friend Darnell said that if you sing or hum a tune to a snail you find on a beach, it will come out of its shell.
OK, I have never heard this and I am skeptical. Before Darnell shared this bit of snail trivia, she had been talking about how she duped her young children into believing she made home-made oreo cookies. She went so far as to create the illusion of assembling the cookies and warming them in the oven as her children arrived home from school. She even explained away the oreo word stamped on the cookie, saying she had worked hard all day making it perfect for them.
So can you see why I question her information?
With winter upon us here in Maine and the fact we're unlikely to wade in the ocean when it's 10 degrees Fahrenheit, I am writing to request that my warm weather friends go to the beach, pick up a snail and try singing to it. Then tell me if it really comes out of its shell.
I really would like to know if this is another homemade oreo cookie story....
December 18, 2005
Screaming for the Pirates
Yesterday we met some friends to see a Portland Pirates game. Bunny and the Flat Stanleys we're hosting came along for the fun.
This was G. and L.'s first live hockey game and they weren't sure they liked all the checking and fighting.
"Ooooh mommy his face smashed against the glass! That rat guy wasn't very nice."
"I am happy the Pirates won but I feel sad for the other team. They look sad."
Yeah I know, they need a little more exposure to live sporting events.
The highlight of the game was the slapstick goal by the Pirates at a face-off and everyone jumped out of their seats to cheer. And of course, Crackers, Salty Pete, the popcorn, nachos and soda were big hits with the kids - and Bunny had his share of popcorn too.
But I think the best part, particularly for L., was screaming her lungs out along with her friend - something I don't generally encourage at home....
December 16, 2005
... my new column about winter disc golf.
December 10, 2005
Cross country skiing and disc golf, an interesting combo
What do you get when you combine cross country skiing and disc golf? An entertaining afternoon with a lot of laughs, especially when I heard G. lamenting ducks. But you'll have to wait until my next column is finished to find out what that was about....
I would admit that it would have been handy to have been an octopus while playing the game. I needed the extra hands to manage the ski poles (which I ended up ditching in the parking lot), score card and pencil, golf disc and camera. And we all agreed that it was no small effort to make tracks in 11 inches of ungroomed snow on cross country skis.
We took a lot of wipe outs on the course and ended up dumping the skis after 6 holes. It was a serious cardio workout and we were wiped out with the duck-walking up the course's hills. But we did play a few more holes in our boots before we headed home.
We took Robot Bunny out to play the game with us. He's been a bit neglected lately with all the Flat Stanley comings and goings. But he's back in action. There is something to be said for being able to stand up on your own.
Flat things require a lot more hands-on attention....
December 09, 2005
Waxing away the night
When I got home from the office yesterday afternoon Fino and the kids were already out on their cross country skis. The kids' skis arrived on Thursday (we rent them) and we were psyched they came in time for the snow storm yesterday.
But when the kids came through the door after their ski adventure around the neighborhood, they were wiped out. Along with using muscles they hadn't used in a while, they told me that their skis weren't working correctly.
"They aren't sliding right," G. complained.
It turned out Fino hadn't waxed the skis before the kids strapped them on so last night he spent a couple of hours taking care of the wax issue for all of our winter gear - 4 pairs of cross country skis, 2 pairs of downhill skis and both of our snowboards.
Fino's thoughts after he was done with the task? "Man, that's a lot of f***ing gear to wax."
December 04, 2005
The dog and seal controversy
We were driving past Hadlock Field the other day and decided to stop to take a photo of the Portland Sea Dogs statue with some Flat Stanleys we have been hosting. Both flat friends came from boys so we thought a photo with a sports logo would be a fun picture for them.
The kids jumped out of the car, we took a quick picture and then went on our way.
Then last night L. was working on the journal she was writing to send home with the Flat Stanley and mentioned the "seal" picture.
"What seal picture?" I asked.
"The baseball guy," L. said.
G. chimed in, "He's a Sea Dog. You know, a dog just like his name says."
"No he's not! He's a seal," said L.
"But he has dog in his name and he looks like a dog."
"G., I was sitting by his feet and he has seal feet. He does not have dog paws. See look at the picture!"
After some searching, I came up with a story about the logo.
"I read him the whole list of names and he asked me what a Sea Dog was," Eshbach said.... Gilchrist said the logo of a spunky seal pup poking its head through the letter P and holding a bat in his teeth borrowed from the Chicago Bulls for the eyes, the San Jose Sharks for the bat in its mouth (the shark has a hockey stick) and the Durham Bulls for the animal through the letter.
So give L. a cigar, I thought he was a dog too.
December 02, 2005
Figuring ski boots sizes = ugh
I'm not a fan of math. The day I learned that computer science courses met my undergraduate "math and science" degree requirements, I never took another traditional math class again.
I can figure out sale prices easily, having spent my entire life in search of a good sale. But when faced with figuring out cross country ski boot sizes, I realized I had forgotten basic math.
I collected foot lengths for each child in a ski club I organized for my kids' 4-H club. I was told by a friend that the best way to figure out accurate cross-country boot sizes was to have the child's foot length in inches.
Everyone in the group emailed me their sizes and I sat down last week to put in our group's order to rent all the boots and skis through the Healthy Hometowns Program.
Originally I thought I could skip my own kids' measurements because I knew their downhill boot sizes. Nope. Cross-country ski boots use Euro sizes.
I did a web search for a conversion chart from MONDO (downhill boot size chart) to Euro but that proved time-consuming because G. wears an adult size and L. wears a child's size. Finding a chart that included the full range of sizes wasn't a quick thing to find, although I did track one down.
But that really was a waste of time. I should have just measured their feet in inches like everyone else.
I moved on to the other kids' sizes. According to the directions from my friend, I had to take the length in inches, add 1/8" and then convert that number to centimeters to figure out the Euro boot size.
Note to self: Have everyone send me their foot size in centimeters next year.
But OK, I could do the conversions as soon as I figured out first how to convert fractions to decimals and then figure out how many centimeters equaled an inch. This was not something I knew off the top of my head. Actually there was not one person I asked last week that knew the answer to either equation.
1 inch = 2.54 centimeters
1/8 = .125
I did the first size conversion with my trusty calculator and then decided to do another web search and found sites that did the fraction conversion and another for the inches to centimeters conversion.
After figuring all the sizes out and placing our group's order, I treated myself to a nice bowl of chocolate cookie dough ice cream and thought about how much I love the web .....
Re-stocking our geocache
Yesterday we went to re-stock the geocache we hid this past spring at the Lowell Preserve in Windham. It was a little muddy on the trail with all the rain we had the day before but that made the "fun stones" on the trail even more entertaining for the kids.
"Don't fall in the lake," L. yelled to me while she was jumping around the stones.
The geocache was pretty well stocked so we only added a few new items, including a Travel Bug. Over 40 people have visited the cache and wrote in the log book since we hid the cache in June. That's a lot more people than logged their visits online but some first-time geocachers noted in the log book that they used the cache's treasure map instead of a GPS. I'm guessing the newbies weren't familiar with the geocaching.com website yet.
No matter. The kids and I enjoyed reading the cache's log and recognizing some familiar names. The kids thought people had left some "really cool trades" so I have to say thanks to everyone who has visited and taken such good care of our cache!