Saturday, June 17, 2017

uber summer

School is finally out and we are definitely in summer mode! Look at this adorable face - Matthew (missing his two front teeth) is obviously excited for summer.
All third graders spend a day dressed as pioneers for Pioneer Day. This year I was on the planning committee and in charge of biscuit making, butter churning and lemonade. It was a LOT of work. I don't know that I want to be in charge of this when Matthew gets to this point. However the kids had a blast. It was a really fun day. They did tin punching, leather stamping, square dancing, candle making, made biscuits, butter, and lemonade, did chores, and so on. They lived as a pioneer and the kids loved it. Sarah really had a great time so I guess the stress was worth it.

Sarah in a blue pioneer dress

Sarah square dancing
 We have had two fantastic camping trips with our new explorer.  The car handles SO well and drives smoothly. I'm really happy we have it. The first trip we went to Alum Creek State Park and stayed in the G loop near the camper beach. The kids played in the sand for almost 8 hours while I read Red Rising by Pierce Brown. I have since read Golden Son and Morning Star. Those books were incredible. No wonder they won the science fiction goodreads award. I gave them 5 stars! Anyway, the kids had a great time.

Our second trip was to Lazy River with Matt and Sunshine and a new family we just met - the Bombas. The Bombas have 4 kids between 10 and 4 with only one girl (8).  I assumed Sarah (9) would play with the girl but she struck up a friendship with the 10 year old boy over mutual pokemon fascination. We had a great time and the kids played on the new playground there.  We are looking forward to more good camping trips this summer!
Alum Creek

Now these are some good oreos!

New Park at Lazy River
 We bought a new digital piano. It seems to work well. I'm not a piano player so I can't tell but the kids seem to enjoy trying to play. We will expect to be better than Beethoven now that we have this fancy piano I got on ebay.
digital piano
 On the first day of summer break I took the kids to McDonalds for breakfast. For some reason this is a huge treat for them. We never go to McDonalds for breakfast so they were so excited to have microwaved pancakes and rubbery sausage. Yum!
McDonalds for breakfast!
In other news:

  1. Erik traveled for 2 weeks recently for his new job. I'm hoping he will like his new role and it will not be too stressful. Also I hope this new job will come with some job security!
  2. My paper was accepted to IEEE Frontiers in Education in October. I'll be presenting and I'm excited about it! I've also been talking with a faculty in North Carolina about some collaborative research. I'm hoping it will move forward.
  3. We went to Mammoth Cave (pics in next post) and had an amazing time. I'm hoping to do the wild cave tour with Erik sometime. 
  4. I was flown out to Chicago to do an interview on cybersecurity and the internet of things. I hope it went well. I was nervous the entire time - of course there were bright lights and a ton of people in the film crew. They will be putting videos of me on social media now. Yikes! 
  5. I took an uber from the airport to the Devry campus and back. It was fun to take my first uber ;). 

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I don't need gasoline to run my car, I'll use scotch instead

 My jam business is really taking off! I have an order for 35 jars of apple jam. I tried a few different recipes to find one I liked the best. The one I liked the best was the one I came up with myself. So that gives me joy. Now that the Powell Village Winery has partnered with me to make blackberry merlot jam it is getting busy. Plus I need to ramp up for craft show season. I am thinking of replacing one of my normal jams with the apple jam. It's pretty good and not too sweet since I make it with granny smith apples and put 2 tsp of cinnamon in the batch.
Yummy apple jam
 I love to try new recipes. This can be good or it can backfire. Pretty much once a week I make some new recipe I find on pinterest. I made blackberry basil ricotta cheese pizza. This pizza was on pinterest and I thought it would be awesome. It was something. Not awesome.
Blackberry basil pizza looks better than it tastes
 May is always very busy with concerts, activities, end of year plans, writing workshop, enrichment day, pioneer day, field day, etc, etc, etc. I'm just crazy enough to add to the craziness!
Two weeks ago my co-leader and I for Sarah's troop took the troop to the zoo for an overnight. It was actually really well done. Sarah was picked to start the festivities. We got to tour the zoo in the evening when it was just us there and took a hike around in the morning by ourselves. They kept the girls busy until 11pm at night. Then wolves were howling all night so it was an interesting time.
Sarah at the zoo overnighter

Sarah's class hatched baby chicks
 This past weekend Dave was here for a conference. Jon and Michelle also came by and brought scotch. Jon is a big scotch fan and brought fancy scotch for everyone to try. Duane came over to sample the scotch as well. He brought 3 types: glenmorangie, ardbeg 10, and ardbeg uigeadail. The first type I tried and thought it was the worst food product I consumed in my entire life. It was worse than drinking kerosene. However I was wrong. The second product ardbeg 10 was even worse. I thought nothing could be worse than this. It was the most horrible thing I've ever consumed. I was wrong again. Ardbeg uigeadail was worse than drinking Satan's snot. For some unknown reason, everyone else seemed to like these "drinks". No thank you...
Drinking scotch for the first and last time (for me!)

Matthew's kindergarten concert. He is in the back in a blue shirt
 Because I love to add to the craziness - last weekend I coordinated a trip of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from our church on an overnight trip to Skyview Ranch. There were 12 kids and 3 adults. It was actually an amazing time and the kids really loved it. I'm planning on doing this every year because I think it is a great ministry and I believe in building up the faith of middle schoolers.
club456 overnighter
In other news:

  • I loved the book Ready Player One. Anyone who grew up in the 80s and played video games would love it.
  • After the book I finished last night I have currently read all books by Ilona Andrews. I need some new authors to read.
  • I went to Stir Trek last Friday. It is a technology conference and I loved it! I met some great people and learned some new tips and tricks with C#. 
  • Every minute of the next two weeks is booked. I'm in charge of Pioneer Day for the third grade at our school, I have a conference next week and various other things. It's all good and fun things though so I'm hoping it will go by fast. Then it will be summer where we can relax!
  • This weekend I want to plant our garden. I'm not planting zucchini this year. Every year the squash beetle has eaten it. So take that squash beetle! No zucchini for you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring game surprises!

The scent of lilac as I walk the kids to school is one of the greatest things about spring. Kroger always has managers special flowers for sale and lately they have had stargazer lillies. They are SO beautiful and smell SO good. Unfortunately Jenna may be allergic to them because she has had a stuffy nose lately. Although there is ragweed and pollen everywhere so that might be it too. Who knows? 

Erik and I went on a date to Le Chocolique. Yum! We got this delicious chocolate decadent cake and devoured the entire thing!  Then we went pokemon hunting to work off all that cake!
 Now that the weather is nicer we have started walking home from school (and today we walked to school). If it is nice in the morning we walk to school as well. Matthew and Audrey (the neighbor across the street) always run on ahead and Sarah and Alex (her brother) walk together talking about pokemon. Then Jacob walks with me talking about baseball. This morning I walked with 6 kids to school. I felt like a walking school bus!
Walking home...
 Jenna's middle school winterline competition was a few weeks ago. Surprisingly her group won second place. That is the highest they have ever placed. I pointed out Jenna in the color guard below. She did fantastic and the entire guard was in sync. They looked great!
color guard

entire group

Coloring Easter Eggs
 Now that we are all blue belts in tae kwon do, we all have armor, nunchucks, and boards to break. My favorite is nunchucks. I really want nunchuck skills. We are also learning forms which is like a tae kwon do dance (yay! zumba in tae kwon do). We've stepped up our game now. Don't mess with us!!
Matthew (in red) fighting Carter

Erik fighting Morgan (a brown belt!)
 I have the MOST wonderful husband in the world! Out of the blue he bought me lids for my tupperware. Say WHAT??? Yes! He is incredible and I don't deserve that kind of unselfish love. He just recognized my need to have my leftover food covered by lids that were not broken or missing or thrown in the trash accidentally by children. How amazing!  This act along has put him in the husband hall of fame.
 On Saturday we took the kids and Lauren to the spring game. It was their first time in the stadium and our first time to spend $26 on lemonade and kettle corn. The spring game is only $5 a ticket which is considerably cheaper than regular season games. We got there early and had pretty good seats. The kids loved the band (as they should!). The best thing about the band was that there were saxophones in it. I didn't realize the spring band had saxophones. Jenna was excited about that.  In the middle of the game an announcer said, look under your seat for a gift from Bob Evans. It is a huge stadium. I have seen things like this before. I don't think I've ever been around someone who won. So imagine my surprise when I read under my seat. I have a $20 gift card to Bob Evans. Oh yeah (cue dancing music). Go's your birthday.....
The view from our seats

Sarah is not as thrilled to go to the game
 Matthew and I went to the Mother Son dance and had a great time. He loves music and was dancing the whole time. He wasn't a huge fan of the electric slide but other than that, he loved dancing.

  1. Easter was fantastic! In the morning we went to church, had Easter brunch there and an Easter egg hunt, then drove to my parents for Easter dinner. It was great to see family.  This year for lent I gave up coffee, Jenna gave up chocolate, and Sarah gave up butter. It was hard but we all did it! I think Lent is a great spiritual discipline that more churches should incorporate. Jesus fasted all the time but the American church rarely talks about it or fasts from anything. We are gluttons I tell you!
  2.  I took the kids to Stations of the Cross at St. Joan of Arc. All kids did really well which is what I was hoping for!
  3. Dave and Missy came to our house for their anniversary. Because where else would you go??? We went to COSI and the zoo. Missy enjoys planetariums so we went to the planetarium at COSI. They came to church with us and we watched a movie in the basement. It was such a great time! 
  4. Jenna has had a quarter collection for a long time. Sarah recently started collecting pennies and then Matthew wanted to collect pennies as well. This caused arguments so we encouraged Matthew to collect nickels. So the kids now have coin collections. I'm not sure how long this will last but it has been fun so far. 
  5. I just finished Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It won second place in the goodreads award for science fiction. I loved it! So many twists and turns - I did not guess what would happen next. I'm on the list for the first place book but haven't gotten it yet. Yes, I have read all the teen fantasy and science fiction. Don't judge!
  6. I'm reading an apologetics Bible that I ordered from amazon (I love amazon!). It has some good answers to pressing questions and some lame ones. But I'm enjoying it.
  7. Since I have read all of Ilona Andrew's books I'm exploring some new authors. I've picked up some Mercedes Lackey books and Marie Lu. Hopefully they will be good. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Butterflies Everywhere!

Blackberry pie and raspberry pi
We celebrated pi day by having pizza and blackberry pie for dinner. I snapped a picture of my blackberry pie along with my raspberry pi B model because they are both pis! Although I only have the pi 2 and apparently there is onboard wifi with the pi 3. I also (in my copious spare time) want to build a retro pi gaming console. I have NO free time now. I'm a manager of 10 faculty and have to do all their reviews and answer all their questions. It's like real work! I'll get to the retro pi though - that is the fun stuff!

Erik took me on a surprise date to see Bon Jovi! Even after 20 something years I knew all the words to his songs - the oldies, not the ones from the new album. He rocked it! 

Bon Jovi
 This week is spring break for the kids. I've almost lost my mind though. On day 3 I yelled at them to get off their lazy butts and clean the house #momfail. Yes - not my best mom moment. On Tuesday we went to the Franklin Park Conservatory. At first it was just a bunch of plants and flowers and I was worried my kids wouldn't care. When we went to the butterfly exhibit they loved it!! Butterflies were flying everywhere and each kid got to hold a butterfly.
kids in the tree

Matthew next to his favorite sculpture

my favorite butterfly

Sarah with a butterfly

Jenna's butterfly

Matthew actually does have a butterfly on his finger
My Mom and Dad have saved me the rest of this spring break. They are watching the kids Thur - Sat. I'm not sure why I was more stressed this week than normally. With the kids home, making dinner for We Are cherished at church (I do this every 3 weeks), and the piles of work I have it's been crazy.

In other news:

  1. I've been reading a lot about the Nephilim lately. I became interested in the Nephilim after reading the Mortal Instruments a few years ago. Now I'm reading the Book of Enoch which is a book considered canon by the Ethiopian Christian church which I found interesting. It contains some good information.
  2. I'm also reading A Court of Mist and Fury which is the second book in this series after a Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah Maas. Jenna can NOT read these books. They are quick, mindless reads but not suitable for a 12 year old. Although Jenna read the entire mistborn trilogy so I'm not sure there's something she shouldn't read.
  3. The Edge series by Ilona Andrews just came in from the library for me so that's another series I'll be starting soon. I finished the Clean Sweep series (there are 3 in that series) and let Jenna read them. We both really liked those books.
  4. Jenna had several Barnes and Noble gift cards and spent all of her money on 5 books. We went on Monday to buy books. She has ALREADY read all of them!
  5. Our Cooper book club is reading the Blade Itself. It is OK but I haven't gotten into it. I need to step up my game though. I can't have Joel outreading me.
  6. Every day Erik and I play Castles of Burgundy. I have won 30 games and he has won 72 which is not a great percentage. I need to step up my game in Castles of Burgundy too!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Erik knows the answers to everything

It's amazing what 12 years will do! This same chair held Jenna and Nicholas when they were very little. One pic was taken March 2005 and the other pic was taken February of 2017. Now they don't even fit on the chair together ;)

Maddie and Sarah fit!
 Erik turned 42. That is the answer to everything. Of course who knows what the question is? But now Erik has all the answers. He wore the black belt at tae kwon do for his birthday. When we first started tae kwon do he could barely kick. Now his flexibility has improved so much. He can kick pretty high and is much better at stretching. It has really been good for him!
Erik as a black belt

 For Erik's birthday dinner he wanted chimichangas topped with fresh guacamole and chili con queso. Inside the chimichanga was beef, black beans, cheese, and cilantro lime rice. I also made honey wheat bread but since he ate so much chimichanga he didn't have room for the bread.
Birthday dinner
 Instead of a cake Erik opted for a french silk pie. This pie was delectable if I do say so myself. I made the pie (using pasteurized eggs) and homemade raspberry chocolate whip cream using the raspberry jam I can. Yum!!
Birthday dessert
 For Erik's birthday I got him the expansion to Settlers of Catan so we can play it 5 player (Matthew can play too).. Jenna got him bacon and made him a very cute card. Sarah got him granola and made him a robot out of shoeboxes, and Matthew got Daddy a light bulb (of course!).
google - world's best dad and inside is....


robot gift

Erik's light bulb

My workout schedule is thus: Tuesday - heart and soul (45 minutes workout 15 minutes Bible study - seriously I love the women in this Bible study!! I feel like I can relate to them so well), Wednesday - spinning, Thursday - zumba toning and tae kwon do in the evening, Friday - body combat and zumba with Lindsay!, Saturday - yoga.
My FAVORITE day of the week is Friday because I love Lindsay's zumba class. I look forward to it all week. I leave there dripping in sweat and just love it! Well she is moving to California. This is awful. I might move with her. All my favorite zumba teachers are leaving. First Tera now Lindsay. Now what will I look forward to????

Lindsay and me after zumba

Sarah working on breaking a board

Playing Erik's new game of Settlers by the fire
 Jenna has been doing really well in the color guard for winterline. She is in the back middle in this picture. She really knows the routine and does a great job. She really dislikes the bumblebee-like uniforms though. Her winterline actually beat a high school winterline in the last competition. We were so impressed!!
Jenna winterline
 In other news:

  1. We are going to give Theo 6 months. Currently Twinkles is afraid of him and she sprints  across the house in fear of him. I think she feels terrorized in her own home and we don't want her to feel like that. If it doesn't get better we might have to find a new home for Theo. I would be so sad since I love him so much. But we can't have Twinkles afraid all the time.
  2. I am teaching Wednesday evenings this session. Actually having to go in to campus and get dressed and showered is kind of a lot to ask. I guess it's okay to have a real job once in awhile.
  3. I've been on a Ilona Andrews reading rampage. There are 9 books in the Kate Daniels series and they are great urban fantasy. I've just plowed through them along with the 3 books in the Innkeeper series. I let Jenna read the first two books of the innkeeper series but no more than that! 
  4. I also just finished reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas. Another urban fantasy book.
  5. Sarah has been playing project spark quite a bit. She has built several worlds and is a very good programmer. She recently showed me something she was working on. A test environment so she can test her characters and enemies. I know seasoned programmers who don't test enough! She's 9! I can't imagine what kind of programmer she will be!
  6. Spring break is coming soon. The kids will go to Nana and Papas for several days and I will sleep in and read books. Win! Win!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Cat and New Car

I'm only a month behind on my blog. That's not too bad. I have more time now than when the kids were little but I'm more lazy now. My neighbor came over with her 2 year old for me to babysit. Wow. I forgot. You have to watch them all the time and pay attention to them. On Matthew's off kindergarten days I sit in the computer room the entire time on conference calls and let him just play by himself. I love the ages of my kids!! They are so easy.

Happy Birthday
Jenna had her 12th birthday on January 20th. We celebrated by making a dinner of her choice. Lemon shrimp pasta, salmon (for Grandpa), homemade bread, mashed potatoes, and lemon raspberry cake. The day after her birthday she had a cupcake wars party. We invited a few of her friends and they made cupcakes. Three out of four groups made chocolate. The cupcakes turned out really good. I gave out boxes filled with the cupcakes to each girl. We had a LOT of leftover cupcakes! It was fun and I think everyone had a great time.

Jenna cooking

Mixing the cupcakes

Decorating cupcakes

Tasting cupcakes

All the girls with their cupcake creations

Sarah was the taste tester
 The party was a hit. Jenna had a great time. The flavors were: chocolate peanut butter (won for best taste), chocolate mint with edible chocolate rocks (won for flavor combination), blackberry lemon cupcakes (this was Jenna's group, won for uniqueness), chocolate pokemon cupcakes (won for best decoration).

I had to snap a picture of Sarah in her fighting gear. This gear is expensive and soon we will all be getting some as we will be taking the test for blue belt in a few weeks. I can't wait to beat up Erik! Today in tae kwon do one of the other little boys asked Sarah to be his girlfriend. He is a 1st grader. Apparently he likes older women. Sarah said OK. However Sarah has another little boy who gave her a special valentine who I know has a crush on her. Yikes!! I'm scared for when she becomes a teenager.,...
Sarah doing tae kwon do
 The week before Christmas Matt and Sunshine asked us to watch their cat Theo. They were trying to find a new home for him because the dog was biting him. We said sure we will watch him but we couldn't take a new pet. Yeah right. The kids FELL IN LOVE with Theo! We really love Theo but Twinkles does not. She runs away from him and spends all her time on top of the refrigerator. I'm hoping she will start to like him. I'm a little worried he is terrorizing her.
My favorite zumba teacher is moving to California. I don't think anyone realizes how awful this is for me. My zumba class is kind of like a family.  I look forward to it every week and really love the teacher Lindsay. Finding a good zumba teacher is really hard. I'm going to a class called Heart of Soul on Tuesdays at the Y. It is a workout/Bible study. I look forward to that class too but zumba with Lindsay is the highlight of my week. I plan activities around it.

Last Friday I did a strip club outreach with my church. Me and a team of 4 other women went to 9 strip clubs and delivered gifts to the strippers there. They really loved the gifts and were so thankful. We wanted to show them they are loved by God too. I even got to pray with a stripper! It was so exciting!

Today we bought a "new" car. It is a 2008 Ford Explorer. We have a 2002 and a 2005 cars so this one is new for us! The car is great and rides really smoothly. We love it! Now we will have to say goodbye to the taurus!  No tears here.....

Our new car!
I've made so much jam lately testing new flavors. My jam business is actually doing really well. I have had several people contact me through facebook to buy jam. My new flavors are blackberry merlot, strawberry balsalmic black pepper, and strawberry chardonnay. I'm also thinking of trying a pear cinnamon. I thought of adding fresh ginger to the pear cinnamon but I'm not sure as that is a really strong flavor. I think I'll do one with ginger and one without.

Next session I have to teach onsite. Bummer. I have to shower and go into the office and dress up. Yuck. Hopefully I won't have to teach onsite in summer.