Monday, October 23, 2017

Lots of trips!

The past several weeks Erik and I have traded traveling. He went to Chicago and Seattle for work, and I went to Geneva on the Lake (for fun) and Indianapolis for work. Now we are finally home, and hopefully home to stay! My Mom came to visit for her birthday. I made her a cherry chocolate cheesecake and zucchini lasagna rollups. She seemed to like it. We also went to spinning and body pump together at the Y. The teacher for body pump walked up to my mom and said she could leave at any time if she couldn't do it. Ha! She doesn't know my mom. My Mom is hard core. She can run circles around some of those 20 year olds. 
Happy 70th Mom!
 When Erik is traveling we tend to eat a lot of vegetables. Not everyone in my house is as excited about it as I am. I made pea soup one day and leek and potato soup another day. This is Sarah's face when I served the pea soup. She couldn't wait for Daddy to come home so she could eat bacon.
yum! Pea soup!
 My sisters, neighbor Sarah and her friend Leah all went to Geneva on the Lake for a girls trip. We had a fantastic time. On Saturday we went to 4 different wineries. I'm not a huge wine drinker but I loved the scenery. I tried a little of the wine and some I liked more than others. We ended up not eating lunch because we drank so much wine (probably not a good combination).  The five of us stayed in a little cottage right by the lake. The view was spectacular. We also got pedicures which I enjoyed!
Wine tasting

Us at a vineyard
 For dinner we went to the Old Mill restaurant. For an appetizer they had pierogi pizza which is basically pizza with mashed potatoes and a garlic butter sauce on it. Of course I had to try and duplicate it. I made mashed potatoes and homemade pizza crust. Then I put the potatoes along with some sauteed onions and 3 varieties of cheese on the crust and baked it. The mashed potato pizza was good but not great. Not as good as the restaurant's version. It was very heavy too. I also made a regular pizza for Matthew since there was no way he would eat mashed potato pizza. I'm not sure this experiment was successful.
Mashed potato pizza

Right on the lake
Those who know me know that I am an oreo connoisseur. I bought the new mystery oreos (which taste like fruity pebbles) and submitted my entry to win oreos. Because I need more oreos. 
Mystery oreos
Wednesday - Saturday the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference was held in Indianapolis. This is a prestigious conference for Engineering Educators. I was excited to present my work on adding the raspberry pi to my CEIS100 course. The presentation went really well and I made a ton of contacts. I made several contacts at Ohio State which is good for collaboration or in case I need a job! Actually a woman from the University of Cincinnati tried to recruit me to teach there. She asked if I was happy at Devry. Ha! Not moving to Cincinnati.

Going to this conference made me realize how big makerspace is now. So  many universities are getting 3D printers and giving students pis or arduinos to create. Students like hands on and it really gives them an opportunity to be hands on. I've got some ideas of how I want to use the raspberry pi in my classes as well. In addition gamification is huge in education right now. I would love to figure out a way to add gamification to my online courses.

Unfortunately as soon as I left Sarah got strep throat. So she stayed home from school. Luckily Erik works from home so this wasn't too problematic.
A student project, 3D printed light scaffold from University of Florida
 I was in Indianapolis by myself but that didn't stop me from playing pokemon one night. I did 2 Entei raids and then started walking back to the hotel. One of the guys playing started walking with me and we were talking about our legendaries. Then he asked if I was married and said he was lonely. Dude I'm just here to play pokemon! Well and go to the conference. I do hope that my going to this conference and speaking raised the prestige of Devry in academia. That's my goal!
Me at the presentation

This upcoming session and the upcoming January session are going to be HARD! I have a new Advanced Visual basic class I'm teaching. I made videos explaining all the labs but still - it is an online course and that can be difficult (especially the first time you teach it). I'm teaching my mobile app class. This class is SO challenging because Android is quirky and Android studio can be a pain. So I need to meet with each student in a webex. I have 5 hours of webex a week scheduled for this. There are 20 students in the class so this is going to be difficult. I also am teaching a software engineering class I haven't taught before. I'd like to add github into the class because knowing version control is a good thing for students but this class is new and I'm not sure. I am still going to do it though. Finally I'm teaching onsite Friday nights CEIS100. Yuck! Friday nights!! At least this class is only 2 credit hours and I should be out of there at 9pm.

I need some prayer this session!!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Cub Scout Campout

I snapped a few pictures of Sarah and Matthew sparring at tae kwon do. Yes Sarah is sparring in a skirt. That's my girl! The kids are doing great and really getting good at sparring. I enjoy sparring Erik. It should be required for all couples as marriage counseling.
Sarah and Matthew sparring

Another shot
 Matthew is outside ALL the time. After school every day he goes and plays in the backyard making a path through the woods that is poison ivy free. This happened after he got poison ivy twice this summer. All of the kids are doing well in school. Jenna (obviously) is doing fantastic. Sarah is doing amazing as well and Matthew is doing so much better. He got 23/25 on his last spelling test. So he is definitely catching up.
Matthew's path

Matthew working on his path
 We went to COSI and got a picture of Sarah riding the unicycle. She did a great job and wasn't scared at all even though she says she is afraid of heights.
Sarah on the unicycle
 Last weekend we had our first cub scout campout. I am the leader for all 22 first grade boys. This campout was for all elementary kids 1st - 5th grade. Our whole family went and we camped in our tent we haven't used in 10 years. It was SOOOO cold! 44 degrees at night. I'm trying to figure out how we can bring the camper next year. Sarah's best friend (and in fact the only person she seems to hang out with now!) is a boy named Alden. He was at the cub scout campout and they played together the whole time. Here is a pic of Sarah and Alden. They write stories together on google docs and get along really well.
Sarah and Alden
 The campout was fun. We sang songs, performed skits and our den earned our bobcat badge. This was a HUGE difference from girl scouts. We sit in a circle and do crafts at girl scouts. I couldn't get these boys to even sit still on the bench. They started jumping on the tables and acting bananas.

Playing phase 10
In other news:

  • Joel's book is the bomb diggity. I love it!
  • I'm reading Tower of Dawn, the 6th book in the Throne of Glass series. It is good - not as good as the others
  • My craft show is Saturday. I have a ton of jam ready for it, and I hope I sell more than last year.
  • Next session I'm teaching Advanced Visual Basic (a new class), Advanced Software Engineering (another new class), and Mobile App Development (a class I developed but is a difficult one to teach). So next session will be crazy for me. Not to mention the session after that I have 2 new classes as well. Yikes!! 
  • Sarah is now playing the viola. She seems to like it - we will see as the year goes further. I remember when Jenna played the viola. The 4th grade strings concert was not a melodious sound.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Outdoor woman again!

Matthew is officially a Tiger Cub Scout. Yay! He is also now selling popcorn if anyone wants any??? 
I am (of course!) leading his den. I also have a nifty shirt to wear. I thought leading two girl scout troops was not enough so I wanted to lead Matthew's den. Yikes! Also I planned on leading his troop the way I lead my girls troops - with crafts and coloring. Something tells me that might not work as well with 6 and 7 year old boys. 
Matthew as a cub scout
 This weekend I went on my Women in the Outdoors weekend with NWTF. It was a blast! I went with Michelle and we had a fantastic time. It was in a new location - Pleasant Hill Camp. I just love the variety of classes at this camp. This particular camp is very gun/hunting focused whereas camps in the past were more watercraft focused. This camp even had a field to freezer class where they actually took a deer and cut it up. I did not take that class.
Camp selfie

The cabin we slept in
 The classes I took were:

  1. Defensive knife - This class really made me think about the usefulness of carrying a knife. They are handy in many situations. So I bought one. 
  2. Shotgun - I like shooting clay pigeons. Out of 18 shots I hit 4. This is not a spectacular percentage but better than last time.
  3. Kayak - Yes! I love kayaking but we only were on the water an hour. I would have liked a longer kayak trip. It was still nice though.
  4. Archery - boooyah! This is my favorite. I have picked archery every single time we have done WITO. I love it. Please note - I put a bow and arrow on my amazon wish list.
  5. Automotive maintenance - this class was ok. I thought we were going to take apart cars. Instead they just talked about how to change a tire, oil, etc. I like hands on better. 

Michelle shooting

Me shooting

Hilarious spatula
The group
 This weekend is always a great getaway weekend for me.The new location is nice however there were only 8 showers for 105 women. Not enough. We had to ration our shower time. However the food was really good for a camp. There was a taco bar for lunch - yum! And french toast casserole with pure maple syrup they made there for breakfast. YESSSSS! I love going and want to go next year too!

I got back Sunday afternoon and we went over to Matt's surprise birthday party. It was at my new friend Megan's house. She is my secret twin. When I went to her house I saw she had the same bread machine and bread cookbook as me. SAY WHAT? Yes - she truly is my secret twin. Then she tripled her bread dough recipe in her bread machine. I told her she was out of her mind but she did it anyway. Yikes! It turned out great though. She and I have read almost all of the same books. I brought my cookies too and one of her sons said "I knew these cookies would be good because you are my mom's twin so you must be a good cook."
Wow that's a lot of ingredients

Megan and the bread machine

In other news:
  • I finished Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia. This is just a silly book and I loved it! I'll be starting on the second book after I finish my new round of books.
  • The newest book in the Throne of Glass series came out and it is at the library waiting for me. So I'm going to pick it up ASAP. Rumor is that it isn't as good as the 5th book. Bummer!
  • Instead of sleeping while I was at the Women in the Outdoors weekend I read Legend by Marie Lu. It was a great book! I got the second book in the series on kindle as well.
  • Our Cooper book club is reading Joel's latest book about Spaceman Steve. This book is FANTASTIC! Seriously! It is his best book and very well written. He could do a series on Spaceman Steve and I would read every book. 
  • I'm preparing for the classes I'm teaching next session. It should be a fun session with Advanced Visual Basic.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

New School Year

This is the year I have been waiting for. This is it! The year that all my kids are in school full time. Last year Matthew's kindergarten schedule was Monday/Thursday every other Wednesday. Somehow we figured it out. This year in first grade Matthew goes to school every day. It has been somewhat of an adjustment but he is doing well. Jenna is in 7th grade, Sarah in 4th with Mrs. Sheehan and Matthew in first with Mrs. Shaw. Jenna doesn't have just one teacher. She has many teachers and is all over the school with her schedule. It's been a good start of the year.

Jenna's first day

Matthew and Sarah's first day

Matthew and Mrs. Shaw

Sarah and Mrs. Sheehan
 We've been walking to school quite a bit which has been good. I walk to and from school at 0.8 miles each way. 0.8 *4 = 3.2 miles a day. Nice! Although I'm also back in my workout routine so I'm going to the Y every morning and taking all types of classes (bootcamp, body pump, spinning, zumba, etc). It's great since I've missed the Bible study at the Y. We have a 45 minute workout and then a 15 minute Bible study (which is actually always longer than 15 minutes!). Then after that one of my friends and I work on our pull ups. My goal is 2 pull ups and her goal is 1. I love the women in this workout Bible study.

The eclipse was August 21 and I went to a party at one of my friend's houses. She has a huge telescope and is a big nerd (like me!). She is also level 40 in pokemon go (the highest level). Both women on either side of me are level 40. We go on raids together even though I'm only level 32. They still take me along! I love these women too!
My pokemon buds
 I know I recently posted about my favorite oreo flavors and now there are two more at the grocery store to try. However these will most definitely not make the top 10. The Jelly donut oreo would be in the bottom 3 in fact. It is not good. However, this will not deter me from my mission to try all the oreos.

 I have been searching for a soup kitchen that will allow kids. Most you have to be 14 years old. We found one called the Bridge which works with refugees and has a soup kitchen on Tuesday evenings. We took the kids and they were really helpful. They served everyone there with a smile and even helped clean up. I'm planning on more trips like this in the future. One of the people we were serving said to the kids "thank you for doing this, you could be out riding your bikes and here you are serving us." That was awesome!

Jenna may also do her silver award project here. She has to do 50 service hours but they can't just be service hours. She has to include education and sustainability. She thought about fixing up their playground (shown in the picture).

Playground at the Bridge
In other news:
  1. Our book club just finished All our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. It was fantastic. It was a book about time travel and the main character had many faults but it wrapped up so nicely. 
  2. I am reading Monster Hunter International and love it! This is a humorous fantasy book that I would call brain candy. It's just silly and a fun read.
  3. Yesterday we went to the Renaissance Festival. I didn't get any pictures but we had a great time. It was hot so we bought 8 bottles of water to cool us down. I think Erik drank 4 out of the 8 bottles. Labor day weekend is the best weekend to go since it is kids get in free. Kids are $10 apiece and adult tickets are $22.50. The shows are so much fun and we always have a great time. 
  4. Tomorrow is our 20 year anniversary. We got married 9/6/97. SO long ago! We are going to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate. Grandma is going to feed the kids dinner. Their dinner will not be as good as ours ;). 
  5. Jenna's saxophone teacher moved to Tennessee. This is very sad since we LOVED her! Hopefully Jenna will like her new saxophone teacher. She is a really good player so we want to continue her lessons. 
  6. I am not teaching this session but I have quite a bit lined up. I'm presenting at the Frontiers in Education conference, have a couple of trips lined up including Women in the Outdoors and am selling my jam at a craft show. So it will be a busy session. Not to mention in January I'm teaching 2 new classes. They are graduate classes so they will be wonderful. I LOVE teaching graduate classes. All the students work hard and turn in their assignments. Yay! 

Sunday, August 13, 2017


This week we start school! I'm looking forward to this year. I know many people have said 7th grade is the most difficult year but I think Jenna can handle it. She is a top notch student. Sarah found out her teacher this year is Mrs. Sheehan for 4th grade and Matthew has Mrs. Shaw for first grade. He is NOT excited about going to school every day. It will be good for him though. He is VERY close to riding his bike. He just needs to work a little more on stopping with the brakes and not his feet.  I'd like to start riding to school instead of walking - that takes a long time!

The other day we had a cupcake wars challenge

It was so fun! The flavors were:
  • Erik made chocolate caramel coconut (with toasted coconut!) cupcakes
  • I made smores cupcakes
  • Jenna made lemon mint (and she used fresh mint leaves) cupcakes
  • Sarah made strawberry cupcakes
  • Matthew made orange cupcakes
Prior to our cupcake challenge I asked for a list so I could go grocery shopping and buy them whatever ingredients they wanted to make their cupcakes. It was fun and we ate a lot of cupcakes. Yum!!

We just had our Glow in the Dark VBS last weekend. I was on the committee and was the teacher. Other people on the committee were in charge of snacks, crafts, etc.  I loved that it was glow in the dark. The verse we were using was: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" ~Ephesians 5:8

I had to snicker since at first the committee wanted to name the VBS "Children of Light". It all worked out well - we even did glow in the dark yoga. Jenna was a helper and Sarah and Matthew were participants.

 This past weekend Erik and I went to Glenlaurel for our 20th anniversary. My parents took the kids for the weekend and it was glorious! Glenlaurel is very pricey but it was romantic (no one under 21 allowed) and beautiful. We stayed in the Douglas suite which had a whirlpool tub and even had robes for us to wear. The dinner is 6 courses: appetizer, soup, salad, sorbet, dinner, dessert. I loved it! Erik even got a scotch to drink so we really felt like we were in Scotland. Even though we ate so much we did several hikes to burn off all that yummy food! I was stung 3 times on Saturday. Two wasp stings and one bee sting. One of the wasp stings was bleeding too. Bummer. We still hiked though. I'm tough like that....

Erik drinking scotch


 For the past 3 weeks several legendary birds have been out in pokemon. I've gone around to try and catch these birds by doing raids with random strangers. Sometimes I take 4 phones with me (mine, Erik's, Jenna's and Sarah's - Matthew is not into pokemon). Anyway - someone caught a picture of me with my 4 phones and I made it on the Facebook site for PoGo. Then today when I went to do a raid someone recognized me and told me I was famous. I am famous among pokemon go players I guess. Regardless, I have all of the legendaries and am up to level 32. The max is level 40.
My pokemon facebook post
 Since our trip was for our 20th anniversary I thought I would post a picture of us on our wedding day and yesterday. We haven't aged a bit lol!
20 years

Friday, August 11, 2017

Another friend gone

We lost another friend from cancer. Our friend David DiSilvestro passed away from complications of immunotherapy. He had surgery and radiation. The cancer was gone. He was perfectly fine and healthy. They were just doing this last immunotherapy to check for any other cancer that might be there. It killed him.

He has a 2 year old son and another baby on the way. She is 37 weeks pregnant. I can't even believe this happened.  He was the bass player in our worship band and came to poker at our house. We were just starting to get to know them and then this tragedy. Why? He was such a great guy and now the kids will never know their father. He was 32 years old when he passed away. I've been sick to my stomach about this. Lots of tears shed.

My opinion is not popular but I believe chemotherapy and radiation kills more people than cancer. I think in 50 years we will look back and say "how could they do chemotherapy? didn't they realize it was killing everyone". It will be the same as we view bloodletting now. Of course it is all the doctors have and everyone is too afraid of medical malpractice to try something different.

RIP David.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Love Oreos

My birthday cake was epic this year. It is one of those cakes where you say it's the thought that counts. Erik knows I like brownies and peanut butter. So he wanted to make me the ultimate cake. He baked two pans of brownies. Then put peanut butter frosting in between to create two layers. Next he found a recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting online. 

This recipe had 4 sticks of butter and a pound and a half of chocolate in it. My chocolate buttercream recipe has 1 stick of butter and 2/3 cup of cocoa powder in it. YIKES! That is a lot of butter. So Erik channeled his inner Paula Dean to make this recipe. The cake was good but too much. I had to lie down after eating a piece. We also ate the entire thing because we are American. 

I love that he wanted to make me a special cake for my birthday. I told him, never make this again, but thank you. It's the thought that counts sometimes!

Matthew and his puzzle!

The ultimate cake!

Halfway gone
 Each year we go on a camping trip with the Masts and Mabrys and Brubakers. We went to Lazy River and had a spectacular time! The kids got muddy, sandy, wet, and loved it. The Mabrys bought a camper and this was the first time they took the camper out for the weekend. It rained (of course) but only one day. For the most part it was nice. We also went to Whit's for frozen custard (after the rain) and that was yummy! Jen, Joy and I got to sit and talk quite a bit this weekend. That was my favorite part of the trip - hanging out with my friends! I hope to continue doing this camping trip every year.
Kids in the water

Mast, Mabry and Cooper kids

Kids being silly
 Tricia and I took our kids to Young's Dairy. We got lunch and ice cream (obviously!). I got the ultimate peanut butter sundae. It had 3 scoops of ice cream, whip cream, peanut butter and hot fudge topping, reeses pieces, and a buckeye. It was heaven. I couldn't even finish it and I don't back down from a challenge.
My sundae
 The kids liked feeding the goats at Young's Dairy too. I also got some cajun cheese curds - yum!
Matthew, Jenna, Addie, Tyson, and Sarah
 For my birthday I requested to spar Erik at tae kwon do. YASSSSS! While sparring Erik was amazing I found that I was at a disadvantage because I do not have as long of a reach. So I have to get in close to punch him. Usually I spar Jenna but sparring Erik was a lot more difficult. It was still fun to beat up Erik!
 Oreo has a new flavor - Mocha. I think it is really good. After eating these oreos I thought long and hard about the different flavors of oreos I have tried. Unfortunately I have not tried candy corn oreos, gingerbread oreos, neapolitan oreos, fruit punch oreos, swedish fish oreos, and blueberry pie oreos. That is sad since I like oreos and didn't realized I missed my chance!!
mocha oreo
My favorite oreos:

  1. Brownie batter
  2. Chocolate cream
  3. Cookies n cream 
  4. Filled cupcake 
  5. Mint 
  6. Mocha
  7. Peanut butter 
  8. Smores 
  9. Cookie dough 
  10. Firework 
  11. Chocolate strawberry
  12. Regular
  13. Lemon
  14. Birthday cake
  15. Double stuff
  16. Golden
  17. Caramel apple
  18. Red Velvet
  19. Watermelon
  20. Cinnamon roll
  21. Peeps
  22. Pumpkin spice
In other news:
  1. Our book club finished the Bridge of Birds. Good riddance. We will pick another book that will definitely be better. I'm hoping for All Our Wrong Todays. I heard it was good. 
  2. Matthew is riding his bike pretty well in the cul de sac near our house. I've been working with him every day and today he pedaled 8 times without me holding on!! He is SO close!
  3. Sarah went to Y camp this week. She likes swimming every day and the crafts. She doesn't like getting up early and missing her family. I thought that was so sweet!
  4. Last weekend Erik went to Sacramento to spend the weekend celebrating David's 40th birthday. They spent the entire time playing games and Erik won a large percentage of them. He is good at board games. We play Castles of Burgundy almost every night and he wins most of the time. Yet I still keep coming back to get beat up again! They also played golf and drank an obscene about of disgusting, nasty, wretched gasoline-flavored liquid scotch. 
  5. I have moved my balls to the wall workout to Wednesday. Over the summer the schedules have changed at the Y and now they offer weight lifting on Wednesday. I've really noticed a difference since I've started weight lifting and I actually enjoy it.
  6. My 4 classes have been going really well this session. Next session I'm teaching Visual Basic and I haven't taught that in years so I'm pumped about that. It gets boring teaching the same courses over and over again.
  7. I've finished the first 7 of 9 books in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning,  Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson, and Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff. I've been reading a lot of mindless books lately.