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....

Erik!



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.
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!!