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!
SPAR!!
 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.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Michigan and Henry Ford

Last weekend we went up to Michigan for a fantastic camping trip. We stayed at Sterling State Park right on Lake Erie. It was beautiful. Except for the mayflies. They were NOT beautiful. And the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant. But other than that it was beautiful!
Fermi in the distance
 We arrived on Thursday to a swarm of mayflies. Luckily they were gone by Saturday. On Friday we went to the Henry Ford museum and toured the Ford Rouge plant. Both were really fun! The kids enjoyed seeing the Ford F-150s being built. Then we toured the Henry Ford museum and saw so much history. For dinner we met our friend Brad for Mediterranean cuisine and ice cream (of course!). He is on a summer mission trip in Detroit with Campus Crusade. It was great to see him and catch up.
Henry Ford museum
 We spent all day Saturday on the beach. There were so many seashells and the weather was perfect. It was glorious! We built 3 sandcastles together. I named Erik's the Pansy Palace. Mine was named the Stronghold of Artemis and Jenna's was named the House of the Hallows (it contained the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows). What a fantastic vacation!!
Lake Erie

One of the sandcastles

Matthew is buried!
 Because I am weird we had a rootbeer tasting with 8 different types. They were randomized so we did not know which cup held which type of rootbeer. The were:

  1. Great value
  2. Diet A&W
  3. A&W
  4. Virgils
  5. IBC
  6. Mug
  7. Stewarts
  8. Natural Brew
I liked IBC, Erik liked Virgils tied with IBC, Jenna liked Virgils, Sarah liked Great Value, and Matthew liked A&W. We (except Sarah) have expensive tastes!

Root beer tasting
In other news:

  • The new session just started on Sunday. And on Sunday I got a new class - yes SO last minute! However it is the Android programming class I have wanted to teach for years. I'm so excited to teach it!
  • Now I am managing 17 faculty. This is a lot. I am not sure I'm the best manager either. 
  • I took Jenna to see Wonder Woman. She really liked it! I loved it! The actress who plays her is phenomenal. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Mammoth Cave and Matthew's birthday

As promised I am posting a few pictures of our trip to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This was a fantastic trip. It was a geologist/hobby rock collector's dream. Note: I have a rock collection. 

We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Cave City. This hotel had a full breakfast and a nice pool that very few other people were in. So it worked well for us! 
cave tour
On the first day of our trip Erik, Dave, and my Dad went to the Corvette museum while the rest of us went to Onyx cave. It was a smaller tour and the tour guide gave us quite a bit of information about the caves and all caves in KY. I loved this tour. I liked the Mammoth Cave tours but they were crowded and this tour was much smaller. 
Then we went on two Mammoth Cave tours. We went on the Domes and Dripstones tour and the Historic tour. Both were fantastic! Sarah's favorite part was in the Historic tour where we went through an area called "fat man's misery". She giggled the entire time. There were many stores selling rocks and gemstones too. The kids couldn't resist. I almost couldn't resist. I love gemstones!!

Looks like a frozen waterfall

At lunch - why is Sarah sticking out her tongue?

Kentucky landscape + 3 kids
 We ate really well too! We went to a Mexican place that Erik loved, a steak house that everyone loved, and a buffet with ice cream for everyone. We also stopped at an  Amish bulk store that had amazing donuts. This trip was spectacular! Erik and I left early since he is low on vacation days and in the evening we went to see Tom Petty in concert. The good thing about Tom Petty is that you know all of his songs, especially if you're an American girl.
Tom Petty concert
 The peach truck came to Powell and we ended up getting 40 lbs of peaches. I made 44 jars of jam, 3 peach crisps and 1 peach cobbler. So I was a little busy and up to my ears in peaches. They were so delicious too!
peach truck peaches
 For Father's day we played through the desert and I made Erik some sourdough bread. I have failed many many many many many many times at making sourdough bread. I've tried numerous recipes and even bought fancy wild yeast online in my efforts to make sourdough. Well my friend Megan gave me some of her starter and it worked great! Now I can make delicious sourdough.
Through the Desert

sourdough! Erik's favorite!
 When Erik was in Boston and I was in Chicago my Mom came to watch the kids. Then we all went to the zoo and Culvers. It was a great day. The kids love going to the zoo with Nana.
Zoo with Nana
 Matthew is 7. I can't believe my youngest kid is 7! On Father's day we had pizza (Daddy and Matthew both like pizza) and on his birthday we had cheese quesadillas, corn on the cob, and orange cupcakes with orange frosting. Matthew also got some great gifts! He got a puppet, a GIANT light bulb, a track, some clothes, magnetic money, legos, sidewalk chalk, color wonder, a slip and slide and more! He was very happy with all his gifts. We also went swimming at the Dublin Rec Center to celebrate.
Matthew loves his gifts

Matthew's orange cupcake
In other news:

  1. We went to Origins on Saturday June 17. We got to go to True Dungeon ran by Jon Cook, Mike Naglee, and Jen Naglee. It was great to see them and participate in TD. We also were put with a group of people who had done True Dungeon many times so we got a good score and some great loot! At Origins we played several family games too. We actually didn't buy any games this year!
  2. The kids took the Summer Enrichment Experience through school. It was two weeks in the morning. Jenna and Sarah both took coding and Matthew took art. They seemed to really like it and Jenna and Sarah both worked on their scratch programs in the evening.
  3. Our washing machine broke. Our dryer has broken a few times and we've always called the appliance repair people. Well both are bad. They are 11 years old so we had to buy new ones. Unfortunately our laundry room is small so we were very limited about what we could buy.
  4. In addition to our washer and dryer that needs fixed, our blue Explorer is also very broken. Erik and Dave "fixed" the brakes but they didn't tighten everything enough and so it became very dangerous and Tuffy said the tire was about to fall off. Yipee! We are NOT doing the brakes ourselves anymore. No youtube videos! This is the second time we've had to bring it in because of these brakes!
  5. Last weekend we camped in Michigan. More about that in a future post!
  6. Devry has moved learning management systems. So next session I have 2 new courses with a new LMS. Yay! Also I have two more faculty I'm in charge of because they needed new managers and I'm good at responding. I'm not a fan of this. I feel like the better job you do the more work they give you!
  7. I'm teaching Tuesday nights next session but only one night a week so it isn't that bad.
  8. I have read almost the entire Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. I've been burning through Urban Fantasy lately. 

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.
LIDS OMG!
 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 Gina...it'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.