Our geocaching adventures

Here’s another topic I should’ve written about in 2014, but didn’t: geocaching.  Amber, Andrew and I started geocaching back in June.  For those of you who may not know what geocaching is, basically we “use multi-million dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.”  Wikipedia has a better description than that t-shirt slogan, and mostly we do urban caches more than the woodsy ones.  The principle is the same though: we use GPS to find containers of varying sizes in the world that other folks (a.k.a. cache owners) have hidden and posted coordinates for on the internet.

This was our first find.  The container was a Costco-style pub-mix plastic cylinder and contained a log book and several trinkets to trade.

Our first find

If you take an item from a cache, you are supposed to replace it with something of equal or greater value.  We don’t bother much with that, mainly we are in it for the find.

The caches can be quite small.  Here’s an example of a micro (a.k.a. nano) we found.  The log is a small piece of paper rolled very tightly inside.  The container is magnetic so it will stay in place when hidden.

A micro cache

Here’s a small cache that is a little more traditional, a camouflaged plastic box.  This one was what’s known as a puzzle cache.  In order to get the GPS coordinates, you have to solve a puzzle.

A puzzle cache (small)

It took us a while to decide on a team name, but logging as Amber, Michael and Andrew was a little boring, so we finally came up with our team identity: Drives with Eagles.  It’s from a day when we were driving from Seattle to an ultrasound appointment and saw an eagle flying and diving into the water of Lake Washington.  We joked that Drives with Eagles would be Andrew’s Native American name and that it was a good omen.  (My apologies if this is culturally insensitive to anyone.)

We decided a couple months before the end of the year that we were going to try to get to 100 finds by the end 2014.  I think we had something like 30 to go, but we made it.  We even took a day trip down to Portland a few days before the new year to visit this plaque and its nearby cache, the original stash tribute.

The original cache tribut plaque

We had hoped that it was going to be number 100, but it ended up being 99.  As of this writing, we are at 111 finds.

Why do we bother doing this?  I find there are several benefits.  Firstly, it gets us out and walking around more.  It also helps us explore our neighborhood and cities.  We have found so many parks around Redmond that we had no idea existed since we started doing this – many within walking distance of our house.  Similarly, it is a fun activity to do to explore an area while on vacation.  We did several caches on a visit to San Diego last June, including our first puzzle cache.  It’s a relatively inexpensive hobby.  You don’t even need a GPS – we just use apps on our phones.  We do have a premium membership to www.geocaching.com, but there are actually free sites that provide similar services.

Most importantly, though, it’s fun!

Change of season

I was looking at my old blog today and realized that I’d managed to go all of 2014 without posting once.  Impressive, huh?

It’s been a year of changes for us.  Andrew is now nearly one-and-a-half and he’s moved from the cutie you see rolling over in my last post to an equally (if not more cute) toddler.

Andrew at music class

Christmas was a blast this year.  He especially loved the lights, or “yights” as he adorably mispronounces them.  Our neighbors put on quite the show, and he figured out that he could turn our Christmas tree lights (on a clapper) on and off by clapping two blocks together since his hands weren’t quite strong enough to make a loud enough clap.  (There’s a video I’ll post later of this.)

Sadly, the neighbors’ lights are all gone, and we took the Christmas tree down Friday, so there aren’t that many “yights” for him to enjoy anymore.  But seasons change, and we have to change with them.

And with that (trite) metaphor: another change this year has been my employment.  You have probably heard about the layoffs that Microsoft has been doing this past year.  Turns out that I am one of the 18,000.  As of the end of December, I officially become a former Microsoft employee.  There’s very little I like about looking for work, but at least it gives me some freedom to do things like have Andrew/Daddy Thursdays, where I get to do fun things like take Andrew to music class (as pictured above).

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll blog some more.  But don’t count on it.  My track record sucks.

Rolling over video

Here’s a video I got of Andrew rolling over.  It was much harder to capture that day than I thought it would be.

This was taken the day that Andrew really went crazy rolling over.  I’d put him down on his back and before I could get my phone ready to get the video, he was rolling over already!

On my leave

I’ve been planning on writing a more detailed blog post for some time now, but I seem to be timing it wrong with Andrew’s nap to get some focused time.  Today is probably no different, but I thought I’d give it a swing anyway.

Amber went back to work a couple weeks ago now and I’ve been on leave and taking care of our little one full time during the day.  I must say that it’s been so good to be here with him.  I really thought I knew our little guy – it’s not like I don’t spend time with him or help out when Amber’s around – but there is something about spending so much one-on-one time with him that has really strengthened our bond.  It’s very cool.  It’s also a fun time to be home with him.  We’ve got the Christmas decorations up and we’ve been listening to lots of Christmas music to set the mood.

Overall, things have been going really well.  I was a little nervous for the first day when Amber went back to work.  I wasn’t sure how much he was going to like the bottle and had a bunch of other minor concerns.  But once we got through that first day, which actually went fine, we’ve been in a pretty good groove.  I did think I’d get more time to do stuff around the house while he naps, but his afternoon naps can be a little sporadic, so that is kind of hard to do.

Check out how happy he is.

all smiles

Last week he figured out how to roll over from his back to his belly, and now there’s no stopping him.  He isn’t crawling yet, but between rolling and wiggling, he can really get around on his play mats, and off of them if we aren’t careful.  I don’t think it will be too much longer before he figures out how to crawl for real.  It’s probably time to get moving on the baby proofing and safety stuff around here.


Behold the cuteness

I was going to write a post, but Andrew is waking up, so here’s another quick shot from a few days ago.


Sophie of the countertop Serengeti

I’m on leave for about a month, at home with Andrew full time, so you can hopefully expect some more pictures and posts soon.  Before he wakes up from his nap, here’s one that goes out specially to our friends Ali and Victor.

Sophie of the countertop Serengeti

Thanks for Andrew’s Sophie, guys!

Happy Halloween

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

So cute, isn’t he?

Knocks his socks off

Andrew seems to have a problem with socks.  He always manages to lose one.  This morning, I noticed that three different socks had accumulated in his swing.


Aren’t little socks just amazingly cute for some reason?


Welcome, Andrew!

I’m a dad! 

Our little bundle of joy, Andrew, is three weeks old as of today.  Isn’t he adorable?


The above was taken when he was just a couple of days old.  Here’s a more recent picture:


I’ll definitely be posting more photos, don’t you worry.

It’s been a fast three weeks since he officially entered our lives, one week later than expected.  He is the best baby ever.  Seriously.  He’s really great.  That isn’t to say that he doesn’t have his moments, but after some of the colicky baby horror stories I’ve heard, we definitely have nothing to complain about.  Most of the time, he’s really happy and not too fussy.  And most importantly, he’s doing great health-wise.

I’m still trying to articulate what it means to be Andrew’s dad.  I love him and want to take care of him and give him all the best things.  I can’t wait to see what he does next and how his personality will develop.  There is a lot that I don’t know about being a father, but I want to be really, really good at it.  I hope I will be.

Spring Cleaning

In preparation for our big arrival in July, Amber and I have been working on a lot of stuff around the house.  Essentially, it amounts to Spring Cleaning on a much larger scale than I’ve usually done.

In going through some old files, I came across this gem, an invoice for a DVD player I purchased in June 2000:

dvd invoice

A closer view:

dvd invoice

That’s right, I bought it for the low low price of $800.  Today, I’m pretty sure that stores throw more advanced technology at you to try to get you into their stores as you pass by.