Saturday, May 10, 2014

Orienteering at Oatka Creek Park

While at Mendon Ponds Winterfest back in January, we met some folks from the Rochester Orienteering Club who introduced us to the awesome sport of orienteering. Instead of just hiking trails as usual, you use a topographic map and compass to navigate to different points (controls) while competing against other teams.

We've found orienteering to be a great family friendly sport. You can compete either as an individual or as a team, and there are different levels of courses to choose from. They range in length and difficulty from White (shortest trail, relatively easy navigation, good for beginners) to Red and Blue (longest lengths, tricky navigation, physically difficult). The challenge of navigating with a map, hunting for controls, and the chance to explore off-trail make it an exciting sport, and we all love it!

Our White trail was 2.3 km (almost 1.5 miles) with 11 controls. We took it easy and let the kids set the pace.

Ben, Henry, and I took turns using the map and compass to navigate to the next control. Henry and Violet checked us in at each control.

This snake with a toad in its mouth distracted us just short of the finish line, adding a few extra minutes to our time.

We finished! It took us 51 minutes, which beat our previous White course time by more than 20 minutes. :)

The kids also finished a String-o course where they collected stickers at each control point. After finishing 5 String-o courses they will earn a Little Troll Orienteering patch.

Looking forward to our next orienteering meet!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sweet September Birthdays

We celebrated Violet's 3rd and Henry's 6th birthdays with colorful, candy-covered, kid-decorated cakes. The candy-covered birthday cake has become a family tradition, with the kids coordinating frosting and candy ideas months before their birthday. I'm lucky that, for now, they're satisfied with decorating their own cakes and not clamoring for a truck or castle or some other tricky-to-make cake.

The kids spent their birthday morning building with their new Keva planks (a birthday gift from the grandparents). Henry is a builder and will build with whatever materials are in front of him (including food, laundry, trash, and other non-standard building materials). The Keva planks were a hit! The simplicity of the identical blocks allows for intuitive building, with no distractions over whether you have the right-sized or -styled block for the job. And with no interlocking pieces, structure and stability become much more important. While flipping through the idea book which came with the set, Henry spied a bridge that he didn't believe could be built without using glue. After talking with him a little about cantilevers, he built the structure below. Nice!

Violet is sweet, smart, feisty, and quick to give hugs and encouragement. She loves to follow Henry everywhere, often watching and imitating his every move, insisting on doing exactly what he is doing. It will be fun watching them grow and learn together over this coming year!

Friday, September 20, 2013


We've been in Rochester for a little over a month now. The boxes are unpacked, the furniture placed, the pantry restocked, and everything else is slowly finding a home. Ben has settled into his job at RIT, and homeschooling has commenced. We've visited playgrounds, the science museum, and our local Wegmans (a grocery store that deserves a post of its own). We've found a church and are beginning to make new friends. We've even been sailing with one of Ben's colleagues (celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day, of course!). And, very importantly, I don't have to look up directions every time I leave the house now. Slowly, slowly, this is starting to feel like home.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Future Collapsed

The superposition of our possible future states has finally collapsed! We will be moving to New York in August, and Ben will be an Assistant Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)! It seems like a great fit for Ben and his proposed plan of research, and we're all excited about the move. Of course, it will be tremendously hard to say goodbye to so many friends again, and even though we know there are good things awaiting us in New York, it's hard not to regret having to leave our home here in Colorado. (Colorado friends: Anyone care to join us at Bittersweet in late July?)

In other news, Ben is currently in Shanghai, China, working with collaborators in the physics department at Fudan University. Skype has been amazing for keeping in touch. Really, it's helped me stay sane for the last week-and-a-half! We're enjoying our time together here in Colorado, but there has been sickness for the kids (colds, fever, and an ear infection!) and lost sleep and a serious lack of downtime for me. Only six more days! Another thing about Skype: it's great fun to imagine the sounds and images from Ben's computer traveling vast distancesnear the speed of light and through under-ocean fiber optic cablesand arriving at my computer in Colorado only a fraction of a second later. It makes me feel connected and close, even though we're separated by nearly 10,000 miles and more than half a day.

Ben has been doing a great job documenting his trip, and you can check out his blog here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Record of a Snow Day

We enjoyed a quiet day together at home this past Saturday, which was hopefully the last snow day of the season. What were we up to? Let's see...

  • Scattered legos and new creations before breakfast.
  • Pancakes, bacon, and coffee.
  • Playing in the snow.
  • Reading, thinking, planning, daydreaming.
  • One of the kids' favorite lunches: quesadillas and chips with avocado.
  • Paper circuits while Violet naps. The supplies were one of my Christmas presents from Ben.
  • Game time! (We actually played while Violet napped; the photo was staged.)
  • My first attempt at vegan donuts. Tasty, but could use some tweaking.
  • Chili and cornbread for dinner.
  • Glitter and glue after dinner.
  • Bedtime for the kids, movie- and popcorn-time for the adults :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Little Shop of Physics

Last weekend we visited the Little Shop of Physics yearly open house at Colorado State University. They had an amazing number of hands-on, kid-friendly physics activities. There were rooms full of balls to roll, drums to beat, knobs to turn, buttons to press, switches to flip, and all sorts of other things to manipulate and experiment with. We all had a great time and I highly recommend attending next year if you're in the area!