Kid Update

We just had our parent-teacher conferences last week and we are so proud of our little scholars. It is great to go in to those things without being worried about what the teachers are going to say. We were still surprised with how well they were doing…They are both exceeding in a lot of areas and, even though Austin won’t admit it, they both love school.

As for the sports update…Austin is currently playing flag football and competitive soccer while Taylor is just playing park district volleyball. Austin has been a mad man on the football field, I think he has scored at least 3 TDs in each game. It’s been fun to see him really start to figure it out and trust his speed. As for soccer, he is getting better with each practice and each game. He kind of freaks out in traffic and neglects working on his moves but he scored the only goal for his team against the first place opponent. They are U8s playing in the U9 division. Hopefully that means good things for next year when these kids are actually U9s. Taylor’s is playing Park District but she is a 4th grader playing up with the 5th and 6th graders. She is doing awesome, one of our few consistent servers/passers/setters (more like our only). She has had a few nice little serving runs for us…If she could only find a way to run off 25 in a row, we’d be set! She starts club ball later this fall on a U11 team. The level with the girls we had at open gym is so much higher than park district. Most of the teams are just teaching their kids to pass the ball right back over then net instead of working on their fundamentals and getting them to pass/set/hit. It’s disappointing to see those coaches encouraging those bad habits but oh well, better for our kids in the long run I guess.

Hiatus…

Not that anyone ever reads this thing but here is the latest – Taylor(and her team) took down second place in her first ever mathletics competition. I always enjoyed math but I was no mathlete!

Halloween 2010

Hey, it’s not even a month late, give me a break! Anyway, on with the pictures!

As usual, we headed to the zoo the week before Halloween for “Boo at the Zoo.” Even Lisa got into the act.

The kids tried out what it was like to sleep like the gorillas.

The next week, Evan had his Halloween parade at school.

Everyone’s favorite, scooping pumpkin guts!

The finished product. Gotta love the Potato Head pumpkins.

Time for trick-or-treating with Evan’s buddy Bridger.

Candy, mmmm….

Ditto.

Tough guys. Bridger was actually shaking, he was flexing so hard.

And our little Irish dancer.
That’s another Halloween. Look for pictures from Evan’s birthday coming soon!

Our New Family Pastime

Our new iPhones have opened up a new activity for our family: geocaching! From the official site description: Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. So far, I’m up just over 50 finds, and Ellie and Evan are right there with me with 26.
This past weekend, we all went out to Ellanor Lawrence Park for a little geocaching hunt. There were several caches hidden in the park within a reasonable hiking distance from each other. We ended up hiking a total of 4.3 miles over the course of about 4 hours, and we found 9 geocaches! The kids did great too, even during the “bushwhacking” through the deeper grass and tripping over fallen tree limbs.
One of the goals of every geocacher is to get an FTF: “first to find.” When a new geocache is hidden, an alert goes out to users notifying them, and the race is on. Usually, in our area, new caches are found within a couple of hours. Sunday morning, I got the word that TWO new caches were hidden in McLean, not far from us. I was still tired from the previous day’s hike, so I decided to have breakfast and wait a little while to see if anyone would stake a claim. Sure enough, one of the two was found fairly quickly. But the other one, a “multi” cache with more than one thing to find, was still out there at 10, 11, 12 o’clock! So the kids piled into the cars, and off we went.
When we got to the first part, we saw the standard brick wall sign welcoming us to a subdivision. We searched around that wall, knowing that the hider would not have intruded on the plants nearby, but still unable to find anything. Finally, we sat down in the shade of some nearby trees to cool off (it was getting up near 100 degrees, again!). We stared at the back of that wall for a while until Evan finally said, “Daddy, I think it’s a magnet.” Something clicked in my brain, and I flashed to something I had seen on the Spy Museum’s geocaching page. Sure enough, the message was hidden in a rusty magnetic bolt, which perfectly matched the rusty electrical box it was stuck to.
We dashed over to the next stage, knowing we had a chance for a FTF, since no one had logged it yet. This part was much easier to find. One of the key things to look for in the woods when searching for a geocache is a UPS: “unnatural pile of sticks.” We saw it immediately, and took the box out. The box held a reward for us as the first ones to find the cache, what a nice surprise!

We signed our names to the log book, posted our story online, and headed home for a celebratory Slurpee which was well earned on a searing hot July day!

Trying Canning

We’re trying something new around the DC D’s household: canning!

It’s something we’ve been thinking about doing for a while, but never really had the guts to try to figure it out. We figured that with CSA season quickly approaching, we had better start learning. With that, we bought about 5 pounds of strawberries from Whole Foods, got some jars and lids from the hardware store, and set about cooking up some strawberry preserves.

Jars cleaned and ready.

Strawberries ready.

Pot ready.

The strawberries sat in the sugar most of the day, and then we cooked them and let them sit overnight.

The following morning, we had to heat them back up and get them in the jars.

The jars being sanitized.

Filled jars sitting in the water cooling down.

The finished product. 2 pounds of strawberries gave us 3 half-pint jars of preserves. The recipe said we should have gotten 4, but even our second batch came up short of that. Now that we’ve gotten practice, we’re ready for the gobs of tomatoes and everything else to come this summer.