We hid the 4H Trail Blazers geocache that has a letterbox stamp in it. The listing just went live so if you head to the trails today, you could be the first one to find it! If you don't have a GPS, just go to the "Additional Hints" section of the listing page and "decrypt" the message (the system does it for you - no hard thinking here ;-) to get directions to the box.
Robotbunnies Back in Action
Or you could make your own trail in the backyard using Girl Scout trail signs for your mom to follow.
End of trail sign with a ball 'prize' at the end.
This was a great activity suggestion from the Junior Girl Scouts Badge Book that the Webkinz bunny enjoyed too.
My family spent the last two days at Wolfe's Neck Farm with the 4-H Trail Blazers mapping the trail system there.
The Trail Blazers were originally supposed to map the trails at the farm and mark the trail's features using GPS/GIS technology but with the serious Nor'Easter we just had, the group was also asked to mark the coordinates of the storm damage locations. And boy were there a lot of fallen trees there!
The kids were up for the challenge and by the end of the second day, they had walked the entire trail system multiple times and marked all the coordinates needed not only for the new trail map and a new addition to the trail system but also all the storm damage.
An adult trail crew will be at the farm this weekend and is planning to use the kids' data to actually do the storm damage removal work.
Of course the group took lots of pictures - and video - of our time at the farm.
Not all the 4-Hers knew each other so they played a quick icebreaker to learn everyone's names. When it was L.'s turn to say her name and share her favorite ice cream, she couldn't think of a flavor and decided that 'everything' would be her answer.
The kids played a couple of games to practice marking waypoints with the GPS units before the group set out onto the trail. That was key knowledge for the mapping project.
The group was also given a quick overview of the trails by Mitch, the Farm's manager, so they could ask questions about how to prioritize storm damage they found and the type of features the farm wanted them to mark for the final map.
L. was her usual self with needing to bring along some random items. At least she only brought one Webkinz to the farm, instead of three she took on our Georgetown hike).
Each set of partners was given a GPS unit to mark coordinates of either a feature (bridge, signs, outdoor classrooms, etc.) or storm damage (fallen trees mostly) and a clipboard to write down those coordinates along with a physical description of the feature/damage. Then the groups split up to work on different parts of the trail.
4-H Trail Blazers work
While clearing away branches and brush from the trail, L. collected supplies to make a fairy house. She simply can't resist any opportunity to make one.
In Falmouth, state conservation officials said the hiking trail on Mackworth Island has been closed indefinitely because of damage from heavy rain and winds that reached the speeds of a Category 1 hurricane. There also were washouts on the causeway that connects the island to the mainland. Access to the island, which is home to the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, is being restricted.
But even with the job the kids had to do, they still found time to have some extra fun too.
L. taking a break with her dad and acting silly.
Balancing on logs
Work and Fun
AN EXCITING DISCOVERY
One of the kids spotted a musket bullet in a splintered fallen tree and after more investigating, we found several others. That was the talk of the day!
Finding musket bullets in tree
And of course L. was in her glory in the mud. There were a lot of washed out areas along the new long trail we were mapping the second day. And it was great that all the kids had a good sense of humor about being so muddy. We all were certainly wearing plenty by the time we returned to the trailhead.
Plenty of mud and snow
The 4-H Trail Blazers ranged in age from 10-16 years old.
We haven't had power since Sunday night and yesterday the girls and I spent the day knitting (they're really into that right now) and catching up on some house cleaning and organizing. One day without power isn't so bad. It feels like a free day and those are few and far between for us.
Two days without power starts to get old ... and smelly. We had lunch and showers at our friend's house today and then spent some time at the library checking email and reading.
The quote of the day yesterday was from L. as we were washing dishes in cold, rain water (Fino decided to make spaghetti with sauce on the camp stove - nice idea and very tasty but he really didn't consider the clean-up issue).
"Hey mom, this is like living in the Colonial times huh?"
Yeah, but they didn't know what they were missing.
Today I stopped at the store for paper plates; it was worth every penny.
If you're a Harry Potter fan, then you're going to have a lot to do this July. The much-anticipated final book in the series, Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21. And the latest movie, Order of the Phoenix will be in theaters on July 13.
As a way to celebrate the final book's release, a Portland group will be hosting it's own "MuggleFest" in the converted warehouses of The Portland Company Complex on the East End. The tickets proceeds, which are $12 per adult or child, will benefit the Youth and Family Outreach program (so although not the cheapest event, it all goes to a good cause). It's a 12-hour event that sounds like it will have something for Potter fans of all ages.
Then L. and Fino tried the spruce gum and both had a serious gag reaction.
While I decided to stay with L., G. and Fino headed over to the Maine State Museum for the morning. She took a ton of photos of the gemstones on display and when I was downloading the photos from the camera I began to wonder if she saw anything else there.
In reality she took 24 photos of the gems, "not THAT many mom!"
He's still in sprechen sie Deutsch-land and yesterday we received a new photo update of his adventures. Apparently he visited the Illertal-Ost rest stop in the southern part of the country.
His traveling partner posted this message for us:
The motorway service area of Illertal Ost in Bavaria/Germany has been designed by Herbert Maierhofer in the End 1990s an is highly imaginative from the outside as well as from the inside. Wee Scotty will enjoy himself.
The ice cream-like buildings sort of reminded us of Storyland ... without the entrance fee.
(Travel bugs are geocaching game pieces with a dog tag that travels from geocache to geocache. We have several and track them through geocaching.com).
Some kids have an off-beat sense of humor and L. and her cousin S. are prime examples.
A while back L. watched a Cantonese-subtitled movie with her dad called, "Mr. Vampire." It's a comedy featuring Chinese vampires who are a rest with a scroll on their foreheads. When the scroll comes off, they come to life and hunt people. With plenty of martial arts, the good guys always coming out on top. The vampires were fairly harmless anyway as they couldn't walk when they came to life, they could only hop with the arms outstretched in front of them.
The reason I explain this clearly B-movie is because L. thought it was one of THE funniest movies she had ever seen. She's a fan of Asian movies in general (she still laments Mothra's death) and since "Mr. Vampire" was still fresh in her mind, she had to share every detail of the movie with her equally spunky cousin S. while in New York City.
Then the dynamic duo proceeded to hop around Manhattan for two days like the Chinese vampires. I am really not exaggerating.
And the highlight of the entire trip for L. in NYC was not the American Girl Store (our planned highlight) but her discovery of a poster in Chinatown for another "Mr. Vampire" sequel.
Walking around Chinatown
Some kids were just made to keep life interesting.
Just the other day I received an email from "Ben" asking me what kind of boots my kids wore to keep their feet warm and dry because, "They always look so warm and happy."
Ben's daughter had gone out hiking this winter and had a bad experience with her boots. Here's an excerpt from his email:
This past Winter, I took her hiking with me in the woods. It was a
disaster. We were in extremely deep snow and, unfortunately, the boots
I bought for her turned out to be completely useless. They leaked very
badly. By the time we got home, her feet were completely drenched and
I emailed Ben back explaining that my kids have second-hand boots and one pair doesn't even have a brand name on it. I think for us the key has been that the boots the kids wear are tall (almost to their knees) and that they wear elastic bottom snow pants over their boots to prevent snow from getting inside the top of them. I also shared that we are often on cross country skis on the trail most of the time so they don't sink in the snow as much as they would in regular boots.
But then this morning L., who was helping to load up the car for our vacation, came up with this plan to keep the deep snow from getting in her boots (apparently she didn't "feel like putting on snowpants").
Those would be a couple of fleece scarves ties around her legs.
Do you have a suggestion for Ben about good winter boots and/or ways to keep your kid's feet warm and dry in the snow?
[Of course, this will be advice to follow for next winter as this will hopefully be the last of the white stuff this year.]
G. went outside with L. to snap a few pictures of our trees that are weighted down with the heavy snow. We easily received a foot of snow in our area, which my husband and I were not happy about as we dug out the car this morning for his early morning commute. As you know, we love snow ... during the winter. We're ready for spring over here, even the kids didn't have their usual enthusiasm to play outside this morning.
But later today we are off to snow-free lands for our annual urban vacation to NYC (the kids are already talking about how many boxes of Deli Manjoo we're getting this time). We'll be back next week and I'm sure we'll have some new tales to tell from our big city adventures.
The kids were not happy about seeing this weather report this morning. They love the snow but we're all ready to move on.
But that's how April goes around here. It's hard to believe just this past weekend my family was out hiking to Georgetown Island (more on that later), looking for birds and getting excited about spring.
The kids have been distracted lately with the Birdsong Identiflyer they got for Christmas. They identified some birds while hiking and in our backyard and now they can't put the thing down.
The Identiflyer is a handheld device that has special encoded cards with birdsongs on them. We haven't invested a lot of effort into learning about birding other than the basics (bring along the 'Maine Bird Guide' and binoculars on hikes and see if we can figure out what kind of birds we see). The Identiflyer is a whole lot more fun - and accurate - so the kids can say with confidence what kind of birds they find.
They play with the Identiflyer so much that last night they heard a whip-poor-will in our backyard and immediately knew what it was. Actually I bet our cat Toddy could identify several birds as well since they have spent a lot of time "teaching" him the birdsongs too (useful information for our blind, indoor cat of course).
So last night when they were supposed to be doing something else, they were instead playing with their Identiflyer again and lamenting that snow was on the way.
Today we're off to the Edible Book Festival at the Portland Public Library (yes, we eventually finished making our entries late last night once we put the Identiflyer away).
The basic idea of the event is to make something edible based on a book. Last year the entries were VERY creative and the winner made a rye bread bowl and put a stake in the middle with a picture of a baseball catcher for the book, "Catcher in the Rye." A lot of entries are done by local artists and are really impressive (ours however are not, we do it just for fun).
The Festival opens at 11:30 a.m. today to view the entries and vote for your favorite. It's an annual fundraiser for the library but there is no fee to stop by; it's $5 for 3 voting tickets and a plate for the feast.
We eventually finished our entries for the Festival, which were as much about trying to being creative as they were about tasting good (our entries last year were not so tasty to eat -- G. didn't like her black frosting and L.'s egg roll wrapper hand shadow book needed a little salt). This year it's all about jelly beans, candy and white cake.
Cheering (a.k.a. yelling), jumping around and laughing was how the kids and their friend A. enjoyed last night's Pirates game, which was a win without OT.
When L. and her friend A. get together at a game they need some space for their combined enthusiasm for all things game-related. From the action on the ice (which requires loud cheers and boos from them) to the songs and such that happens between periods.
G. was sitting next to the crazy fans, which were moved to sit in a row of empty seats behind our original ones so they didn't bother the people in our row sitting next to them.