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.
Theo
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.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Family time together

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We loved having our family here to celebrate Christmas even though it was the first of the year. Dave, Becca, Charlotte, Joel and Megan visited for a week starting Dec.30. We love spending time with them. Unfortunately Erik and I had to work but we still had a great time. We had Christmas dinner over at Grandma's house. She is so good at setting a beautiful table complete with centerpieces and  red goblets with fancy serving dishes. I served everyone tacos on paper plates. Go me!

We played so many games and got some new games. I liked sushi go party that plays with a large group. We played apples to apples and several games after the kids went to bed. Unfortunately Megan's car died so they had to drive our Taurus back home. I was hoping they would wreck it or something bad would happen to it but no such luck. We will get our Taurus back.

The ladies and I went out to eat to Melt (YUM!), Le Chocoholique (short north), and Panera. We also went out for duck donuts which is a made to order donut chain. I loved spending time with my sisters-in-law. 

duck donuts
 I have long known that my superpower is finding the perfect tupperware for food. I see other people struggle and put leftover food in containers too small or way too big and just shake my head. When I told everyone about this highly important superpower, Sarah made me a leftover woman sign to wear with a giant L. L is for leftover NOT loser....
Leftover Woman!

Dave, Becca, and Charlotte - we didn't get a pic of Joel and Megan!

After everyone left Grandma broke both feet. She is on her feet quite a bit so this has been hard for her. Hopefully she will heal soon. They had to cancel their trip to New Zealand.  Hopefully they can reschedule it for later this year.

One new game we got over Christmas was Forbidden Desert. This is a similar concept to Forbidden Island - a family cooperative game. However it plays with 5 players so we can all play. We love the game and have played it a few times. The kids really like it too!

Forbidden Desert



In other news:
  1. I have two goals this year - to do 2 pull ups, floss my teeth every day. I gave up on no library fines. I just can't keep that goal. #fail
  2. I've finished the Throne of Glass series by Sarah Mass. It is great! I also am on Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs (book 2 in Mercy Thompson) and in the middle of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Just reading through some fun fantasy. 
  3. Jenna just finished the Mortal Instruments. I was unsure about letting her read it but I've just given up. She has read so much and I can't keep up with her. I love that series too.
  4. Now I'm in charge of 8 faculty. I am a Senior Professor and just received this promotion in October. It's a great honor but wow - I'm not used to being a faculty lead. This seems like something outside of my comfort zone. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sarah is 9

Just call us the Incredibles!
Our whole family has been doing tae kwon do for over a year. We are now green decided belts except for Sarah who is a blue belt. Once we hit blue belt we will start sparring. I can't wait to beat up Erik!

I've sold almost all of my jam inventory. This is all I have left. It has been successful. I'm not sure I made that much money but I had fun. And I've already thought of several new jam flavors I want to try. 

my left over jam
 Sarah is 9! She had her birthday on the 23rd. Happy Birthday Sarah! Her birthday meal was meatloaf, mushrooms, and pickles. It's an interesting combination but it is what she wanted. She also did not want a cake but instead wanted a caramel cheesecake. I got her a t-shirt that says "All I need is cats and books". Jenna was very jealous because that is exactly the shirt she would want too (we got her one for her birthday in a few weeks!).
Sarah's cheesecake cake
 The next day we went to Christmas Eve service at church. Sarah read a Bible verse in front of the whole church. She did a great job and jumped up and down on stage. Everyone laughed and it was cute. I tried to get a picture but they were all blurry :(.
Christmas Eve service
 Every day after school the neighbor boy comes by and trades pokemon cards with Sarah. They are obsessed with pokemon so I made a pokemon cake. His birthday is Dec. 29 so it was for both of them.  His sister comes over every day also to play with Matthew. He is in 5th grade and Audrey is in 1st grade so they love playing with Sarah and Matthew.
Sarah and Alex
 We made our annual gingerbread house. The kids love decorating it and always make a mess.
Gingerbread house
 Sarah's friend birthday party was Thursday the 29th. She had a light up pokemon cake. At her party we made flubber (glue, borax, and water) and slime (cornstarch and water). The kids really liked it and the house wasn't as messy as we thought it would be.
Sarah's cake

flubber
 Last night we went to see Transiberian Orchestra. The concert was fantastic. I love Wizards in Winter and Carol of the Bells. The light show was fantastic.  The kids really loved it.
TSO
The kids have had a great break. It's hard to believe it is almost over and back to school!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas time is coming!

On Saturday Erik sold jam at the Made Local Marketplace craft show. I had to teach so poor Erik had to sell my jam. And sell my jam he did! We sold about 170 jars and would have sold more but ran out of three types: Christmas jam, Habanero Apricot, and Raspberry Jalapeno. Many people said they were gifts for men. I thought spicy jam might be a good market for me. My top selling jams were:
  • Vanilla peach bourbon
  • Cherry Amaretto
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Blueberry Lemon
  • Raspberry 
  • Raspberry Jalapeno
  • Christmas jam


It will be great next year when all three kids are in school but I have enjoyed this time with Matthew alone while the other two are in school. We have gone to the zoo, COSI, playgrounds, etc. It has been so fun.  He is also doing an Art of Music class he really enjoys since he loves music.
Matthew at the zoo
 Next week Erik, me, Jenna,and Matthew test for our green decided belts. After that will be blue belts and we will start sparring. Sarah has been working hard on breaking her board with a knife hand strike but only broke it once. She has to break it to get the next belt.
Sarah (in the red) sparring at tae kwon do
 Matthew has been taking an Art of Music class on Mondays. They offered a one day art class for Jenna and Sarah as well. All three kids love the art class and they create some amazing projects.

Matthew with his art creation - not sure about that face though!


Jenna and Sarah with their pop art
 We wanted to ride the Polar Express in Cleveland. However it sold out immediately! So we went on the hocking valley santa train ride. It was great to ride the train and see the mostly dead trees in southwestern Ohio. Actually this ride would be beautiful in the fall. It was still nice now and the kids had a great time. Matthew wanted to explore the train but we had to stay seated.



Halloween with Saatvika. Matthew is pikachu, Sarah is a poodle skirt girl, Jenna is a coke can (yes that is my costume!)
Jenna and her friend Marissa served cupcakes to underprivileged kids at Miracle on Williams street a few weeks ago. She helped kids decorate cupcakes (that she baked) and had a great time serving!


Jenna serving cupcakes

Another Art of Music creation
 Jenna had her saxophone recital last weekend. She played Hedwig's tune from Harry Potter and a duet with her saxophone teacher to The First Noel. She did a great job! Listen here.
Jenna playing the saxophone
 I've made some Christmas cookies but not as many as usual. I've been focused on making jam. We decorated cookies the other night and I have big plans for cookie making this weekend. All the teachers get jam and cookies as gifts :).
decorating cookies

Jenna's recital
Our church had the Christmas smorgasboard and children's program on Sunday. Matthew really sang loud as usual. He is not shy at all. See the link here: https://www.facebook.com/erik.cooper1/videos/10154876465652318/

So I'm in finals week now and then moving on to a two week break. This has been a fantastic session and really not too difficult for me. Next session will be fine too. I love my job!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The floor of heaven

Matthew said the other day "is the top of the sky the floor of heaven?" I love the things kids say! Fall is a beautiful time and we have enjoyed it so much! Especially now that I've convinced Erik to play pokemon go. He is now walking around everywhere with me!  I've walked more from pokemon go than I ever have!
Fall Apple Picking
Some fun things we have done this fall include:

  • Apple picking 
  • Fall Camping
  • Pumpkin patch
  • COSI
  • Sitting by the fire drinking hot cocoa

COSI fun with Sarah's hair rising!

Jenna riding the bike at COSI

Camping - Matthew in costume with Haven and Ainsley

Sarah and Maddie in costume

Me and Joy in costume

Hayride

Girls on the camping trip
In other news:

  • We were all surprised Donald Trump won the presidency. All of the polls were wrong. Neither Erik nor I voted for him but we will support him as the president. It was a very odd election.
  • I can't even count the number of books I've read lately. Pretty much all I've done in the past few months is read. But that is partially because football is on and this is an easier session for me.
  • I teach on Saturday mornings from 9am -noon. It's fun to teach on site - I've missed it but online is so much more convenient. 
  • Jenna is now part of the color guard in the Winterline at her school. She really likes twirling flags and I'm excited she is enjoying this activity.
  • We got family pictures taken. I'll upload them sometime soon. Sarah was sad in the pictures because she didn't like the outfit I picked. Next year I'll just let her pick her own outfit.
  • School is going really well for all 3 kids. Matthew is learning some sight words, Jenna is doing fantastic in school, and Sarah is doing great with her multiplication facts. We are also all green belts in tae kwon do except Sarah who is a blue belt

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

We be jammin!

Erik and I sold Jam and coasters at the St. Joan of Arc Craft show on Saturday and had a great time! So many people stopped by to sample jam and really liked it. We sold $480 worth of jam. Technically it was $520 but the table cost $40 to reserve so I subtracted that out. Everyone who tried the jam loved it! It was such a success and made me feel good that so many people liked it. 

Our booth


I do need to work on my pricing though since not too many people took advantage of the buy 4 get one free. Maybe 5 jars of jam is too much? We sold it for $5 apiece and 5 for $20. Erik suggested $6 apiece and two for $10 to encourage people to buy two jars. 

The flavors I had were:
  • Blueberry jam
  • Fiery Habanero Apricot jam
  • Blackberry lime jam
  • Blueberry lemon jam
  • Vanilla peach bourbon jam
  • Strawberry jam
  • Raspberry jam
  • Raspberry jalapeno jam
  • Pina colada jam
  • Cherry amaretto jam
  • Chocolate strawberry sauce
The best seller was vanilla peach bourbon. This show gave me an idea of the good sellers. Cherry amaretto was in the top 5 and I wouldn't have guessed that. The chocolate strawberry sauce was somewhat thick but I didn't think it was thick enough to call a "jam" so I named it a sauce. Whatever it is - it was delicious! We also sold 4 sets of coasters. We didn't sell Erik's pumpkins. I'm sad because they were so cute!! 

Several of my friends stopped by to my booth as well. Joy was my best customer! It was great to see friends and rewarding to have so much traffic at the show. 

I did have one bad experience before the show. I had talked with several vendors prior to the show and they were all really nice except one. A lady walked up to me and said that she sold jam and she didn't appreciate the competition. I said "ok". I wasn't sure what to say! Then she proceeded to tell me that she has a farm and all her fruit was from her farm is in her jam and I am underpricing my jam. She said that if I'm using the surejell box directions my jam is underpriced. I just said ok to everything she said. How rude! There can be more than one jam vendor at a show! I guess you have people like that everywhere. 


In other news:
  • I got a promotion to Senior Professor and a raise! Considering all the changes at the university I am so excited that I was promoted.
  • Next session I'm teaching onsite. Bummer because that means I'll have to go to campus and dress up and all that.
  • Sarah's troop had a letterboxing activity at a local park and the girls loved it. Letterboxing is like a scavenger hunt through the woods and the kids love things like that. 
  • I like pokemon go however it is hard to find other moms that play. I'm on a pokemom facebook page but locally I haven't found anyone. I'd really like to find some moms so that during the day I can take down some gyms rather than waiting for Jenna to get home from school. Sometimes I just have her leave her phone with me so I can use both phones. I'm a little obsessed I guess....
  • I have decided not to vote in this election. I always vote so this is surprising but I just can't vote for the candidates that we have to choose from. Really? In all of America these are our choices? Almost every person I know is a better choice!
  • In a few weeks we are getting new carpet from Home Depot. I can't wait! I wanted new carpet before Christmas when family will come visit. Erik agreed! Yipee!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Our Orlando Trip

We obviously love playing games as a family and since our kids don't play sports, we have more evenings free to play games. I've asked the kids if they want to play sports but they are all home bodies! Lords of Waterdeep is a game the whole family can play and enjoy. It is one of Jenna's favorites. 
Lords of Waterdeep
I made this glorious tomato tart the other day. Everyone except Matthew loved it. Matthew really only likes cheese quesadillas, pizza, and chicken nuggets :(. 
My tomato tart creation!
Riding horses with Jenna's girl scout troop

Yesterday we flew back home from our glorious week in paradise. We love going to Missy's company house in Orlando. It is beautiful and we always have a blast! Although we might not go during the school year in the future. Too much stress missing class.  

On Friday we went to Universal to Harry Potter world again. It was so much fun! We stayed there all day until our feet were blistered and sore but it was worth it! Last time we went to Universal we spent all our time at Harry Potter world. This time we saw the whole park. We rode several rides although no one would ride the roller coasters with me :(. Jenna and I rode the Forbidden Journey ride in the Hogwarts castle twice. That is my favorite ride! We drank a ton of butterbeer and ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Again, again!!! Jenna was picked at Ollivander's for the wand. It's great that she has been picked so many times.

We also spent quite a bit of time in Dr. Seuss world. Matthew's favorite ride was the Cat in the Hat. It was a fun ride that took you through the whole book. Dr. Seuss world was fantastic. I dragged Matthew and Jenna on a water ride that was somewhat of a roller coaster. Afterwards Matthew said he had "down motion sickness". 


 We bought wands for Sarah and Matthew. Jenna already had a wand from the last trip. They loved using the wands throughout the park.
mmmmmmm butterbeer

I love this picture of Jenna drinking butterbeer using her wand

Matthew on the caro-seuss-el

Sarah on the caro-seuss-el

On Saturday Jenna, Missy and I went to the Orlando Science Museum. Admission was free since we are COSI members. The museum was fun although we spent the majority of the time playing pokemon go. I'm a little addicted.....
Dr. Seuss world viewed from the train ride

On Sunday we went to the waterpark that is part of the resort where we stayed. It has a lazy river, water slides, and a giant pool. The kids loved it. The rest of the time we spent in the pool at the house. The house has a pool with a hot tub. It also has 5 bedrooms with 3 full baths and 2 half baths. The house is beautiful. The kids played nonstop and were exhausted every night. The grown ups took turns in the pool then the hot tub. It was glorious!

Erik and Missy ran every day even in the blistering heat of Florida. I'm proud of them.

Matthew has gotten so much better at swimming. Now our whole family can jump in the pool together. In fact, we did a super-cooper-cannonball. Sarah is already in the water (she jumped the gun - you can see her splash!).
Super Cooper Cannonball

mid-cannonball

beautiful paradise!
I have been reading like a mad-woman lately. I've been on goodreads and just reading every book similar to other books I like. Some have been good, some haven't been. I've been reading mostly sci-fi though. <3 sci-fi.  Jenna has also read some of the books I've stumbled upon as well.

Prior to our trip I had binge watched the TV show Lost. I probably should not have watched a tv show about a plane crash before flying!

This has been an excellent trip and I can't wait to go back!