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.

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.