Sunday, November 19, 2017

brave little robot

Torben ran a fever Sunday night, so he "got" to stay home from preschool. And then he was fine, of course. And then he begged to stay home the next day, but I was not going to be tricked again. I promised he could do something fun if he went to preschool, like call up a friend, and then he was convinced to get on the bus. Whew.

Torben got to go to said friend's house Friday afternoon. He had so much fun and they played great together, I'm told. I stay for a little bit while he acclimated, but then I had to leave to meet the girls off the bus.

The kids visited the dentist. Torben's eyes watered, of course, but what surprised me is that the girls did not. At some point they outgrew being bothered by the bright light on their teeth, and I only noticed in contrast to poor Torben being bothered instead. He turned down the offer of sunglasses though.

Wayne let his robot work all night on drawing Friday night, and supposedly it finished in the wee hours of Saturday morning. He won't be able to check on it until Monday, but what a brave little robot, growing up and becoming independent. Am I right?

Paela and I went to a joint Relief Society and Activity Day service project, in which people brought way too many cookies and we made cards and blankets. We had fun, but they had the girls sit at a different table, so it was different from last year.

Wayne and I went on a date to Ikea Saturday night. A girl in the ward needed a geometry tutor, and when they paid me I said "hey! Babysitter money!" It was purely a research trip, but still, it is nice to get out and about while someone else makes slime and puts the kids to bed.

My parents are here now, and Aderyn has a pretty good plan for the entire week, so hooray for that.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Writing a post... writing a post... writing a post...

My large scale CNC drawing plotter robot works. I've been drawing things on it this week. There are a few bugs -- I'm only able to draw 3' by 6' until I can figure out how to keep the shuttle off the ground at a consistent height, among other things. I took Paela to go watch it work Friday evening. She had me draw a fox and a dolphin. I need to write some code now to make it algorithmically spit out some gcode.

So that is two large scale (long-term) art projects that are coming to a close the past few weeks. I need to find some way to keep this momentum going, but I'm afraid that with the close of the semester looming over it means that I will need to focus on prepping classes for next semester.

Many of us around the house were sick this past week. Paela is just now coming out of a two week funk where she didn't want to eat anything and wanted to sleep all the time. Now Torben is starting it. Rebecca and I haven't felt ourselves for a number of days now. Let's hope we can all survive this.

Aderyn did gymnastics, Paela went to the swimming pool and we all went to science fair. Both Paela and Aderyn did great with their projects. Aderyn didn't talk to her judges, so we hope that next year she will be a little bit more clear.

Torben gave a talk at primary in church today. He does such a good job and was so happy to see me there to help him. He squirmed in his chair and was very excited to get up and give the talk he prepared all by himself.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

robotics and halloween

Wayne and the kids went to see a robotics competition on Saturday. Paela's coach wanted to get them all some perspective by watching other teams, even if they are older grades. Wayne and the kids all were very interested, and Paela brought a friend home to hang out afterward. I almost said "play with", but "hang out" is more apt. I guess it's a sign of being a double digit kid now. Or something.

Wayne and I had work of course, Wayne had to stay late a couple of times again. And the kids had school. Torben had preschool and story time at the library and speech. I went to a parent/teacher conference for Torben. He's warmed up a bit, though still on the "shy" side. At least he raises his hand and gets excited at school! And his speech therapist has made multiple comments on his progress and that he may be able to take a break for awhile just to see if he can maintain, and see which "older" sounds might come on their own. We'll see about that. It would be great if he didn't need speech, but it has been so helpful that I find myself a little nervous about not having the support there. Who knew?

Halloween was a thing this week, of course. It was a little cold, but Paela rocked the jellyfish costume and Aderyn was a great fox and Torben was the fastest cheetah around. Until they got cold. Then Paela was a Happy Bear instead (thanks Tutu's hat!) and Torben and Aderyn took a break. And then there was candy. Little known fact -- Paela ate a piece of candy from last Halloween...on this year's Halloween. Girl knows how to save.

There was a stake RS activity yesterday, where I saw Jessica. That was a fun surprise. I mean, I knew it was possible...but you never know who is going to show up. It was a good meeting all around, and I enjoyed chatting with some ladies at the lunch as well.

Today I played piano -- subbing for Primary one hour, and playing in Relief Society the other. That's news too; they released me (but not Wayne) from nursery. Which makes sense if they were to release one of us, because he totally ran the show, but still. I'm sad not to share a calling with him. Piano's easy, of course. We also did the tithing settlement thing. Lovely to get that over and done early.

And now several of us are fighting a cold in various stages, so some of us are also fighting the grumps. Hopefully some good rest will help.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

'Science' fair

I'm sorry I didn't write last week. Our home has been crazy busy this past week and the kids haven't let us get a moment of thinking in. For example, right now I am trying to write this email and Paela is trying to get me to read the story she wrote and talk to me about it and Torben wants me to build five different lego instruction vehicles. Every kid wants our attention all the time. So the chances of me writing this email and comprehensively covering everything is very slim.

I've been doing lots of late nights at work. I leave for work on Mondays and Wednesdays at 7:20 and get back from work around 9. I have meetings and an undergraduate research assistant to work on my large scale drawing robot and it means I don't see kids on those days. And maybe this is why they are so desperate to get our attention the rest of the time that we are around. I was hoping that building my drawing robot would be quick and then we could spend the rest of the semester working on software remotely. But because I am not an engineer, this has been a painful process of trial and error.

While I'm gone during these evenings, Rebecca has Paela doing her robotics team and story time and library and her own work.

Aderyn does gymnastics on Tuesday evenings, which at least gives me a bit of time to do some of the grading work I need to do while she prances around. She loves her gymnastics class and happily does everything the teacher asks with enthusiasm.

Thursday evening was church Trunk or Treat. The kids got home really late and were all grumpy the day after. This meant that we all tried to keep Friday more low-key. We were supposed to feed the missionaries, but they cancelled on us at the last minute. There was another Fall activity put on by the city at Forest park, but since everyone just wanted to go to bed we decided not to go.

On Saturday we tried to catch up with so many projects that needed to be done. Both girls had science fair projects to start. Both projects were ... frustrating at times. Aderyn wanted to measure the effects of how the volume of water changes a water rocket's flight. One problem is that we don't really have any way of measuring 'the effects' other than an imprecise timer. The other problem was that it was about 42 degrees outside (and at times pouring freezing rain) and we were getting hosed down with water from the rockets. Eventually we managed to finish doing all our calculations and were saddened to learn that there really wasn't much of a difference between varying volumes (except when it is completely full). [I wouldn't say there was no difference, just that is was very small. But since we were launching a very stripped down rocket, we were measuring in the range of 4 seconds, so the error in my response time of starting/stopping the time probably didn't help. Oh well, it at least was a small difference, enough for her to talk about! -r]

Paela was sick all morning, but by the evening we started her project. Which has been a bit of a disaster. Paela is very creative with her projects, but we never know how to quantify what she wants to study. And since we can't change her mind about anything once she has made up her mind, we have been stuck trying to fill water balloons with different fluids. How do you fill a water balloon with soap might you ask? By making the largest mess in the world. Ditto with syrup, oil, and every other liquid she wants to study. Further frustrating is that we have no way of measuring the 'effects' of these liquids on the water balloon. What is the difference between oil and water on a water balloon? We don't know how to quantify that so we have been trying different approaches and making a huge mess. [I'm sure we'll come up with something eventually. But some of them just won't pop even when dropped from a step ladder! Ditto on the 40 degree so the roof isn't exactly a welcome option... -r]

Meanwhile there is Torben... the poor third child. He wants us to pay attention to him and help him build all the dozens of Lego creations that he sees in his library books. So he asks and asks and asks and asks. I feel bad saying no all the time, but we just don't have time to sit and build something for him. [Poor Torben. Fortunately, he is also very creative and he comes up with things on his own and mods the things we have built. -r]

Last night, Rebecca and I went to a Halloween party put on by a co-worker. The party wasn't all that good -- none of the people who are in my department showed up -- so we just came home after a short while. [after I finally got to see his office and studio! -r] And now, we are going to spend much of today trying to help Paela figure out her science fair project.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

fitting it all in

The biggest item this week, was of course Paela's birthday. We think she had a fun one. She is thankful for all the birthday presents and cards and well wishes. The kids played all day with the ozobot that Torben found for her at Once-upon-a-child (nice find!), and she immediately rearranged her bookshelf and scriptures and drawers to accommodate new literary acquisitions. Our present to her was too heavy to wrap, so we sent her on a treasure hunt around the house to retrieve it, one item at a time. And she got to play Sims just like she hoped for. She requested a bat birthday cake, which turned out pretty cute. And she is planning a small friend get-together on Tuesday.

The rest of the week has been full. Torben asked to go camping again, so we went Friday evening. We were too near a light, so in the middle of the night Torben saw me next to him, sprang up and gave me a huge hug and an even bigger grin. Sigh. An hour later he went back to sleep. At least he didn't wake anyone else up? We got to stay a little longer in the morning to hike a bit, until Aderyn's legs were too tired. And then we came back and tried really hard to get our house in order.

Of course, what is a fall break without fun library activities? The kids' love the Teddy Bear Sleepover/breakfast tradition, and seeing all the mischief their stuffed animals get into at the library. The candy science day was fun again. We'll see what else we make it to this week.

We tried to plan a few playdates, but apparently everyone here goes to either visit family or down to Florida for break?? Who knew?? At least one person was available last week, and hopefully we get a few more this week. It helps our kids play better together to have a short respite with friends. Funny, that.

Paela's sickness last week didn't spread, though when she woke up Monday with a sore throat and no other cold symptoms we did a strep test, just in case. It was negative, so that was nice. I know strep has hit a few people in our circles, so it was nice to know.

The kids and I made several batches of cookies this week in between activities and some work, because the ward has a tradition to "Boo" one another with a plate of treats. But then we had too many things this weekend so we froze them all to deliver this week instead. I'm sure they'll still be tasty, but now there are lots of cookies taunting us in our freezer!

Our baby grass is growing, so hooray for that. We've had a warmish fall, so hopefully that means the roots will be plenty strong before we freeze.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Torben's legos

Paela threw up at church. I know that is a terrible way to begin this, but since it has been the focus of the entire afternoon it is hard to not start there. Paela thinks she threw up because of fasting, but when she kept throwing up at home we are pretty sure it is a virus. All the rest of us are praying we don't get the bug because we have to move on with our lives. Paela gets to stay home tomorrow and not miss any school.

The reason for that? Fall break for the kids started on Friday. They all had a big party at school (and Torben went to Paela's class for the party) to celebrate fall break while Rebecca and I tried to brainstorm how to still help her get some work hours in at home. Fall break is great for people who have a spouse who stays home from work or has a flexible work schedule. I'm not sure how people pull it off who both parents work full time.

We went and saw the latest Lego movie in the theaters on Saturday after cleaning the house. Torben was so excited, but also really engrossed. Whenever he sees a movie in the theater, he just can't take his eyes of the screen. He is so invested into the movie that he doesn't even realize he is clenching his fists from stress and I have to hold him on my lap and wipe his sweaty hands on my pants throughout the film. I think the kids liked it. They laughed a lot. But when I tried to get them to talk about the movie after we went, they were dead silent.

Paela's birthday is next Sunday so we all purchased gifts for her. Paela keeps reminding us how many days we have left to wrap everything, because she doesn't want to be alone on her birthday so we aren't allowed to wrap her presents on that day. [Aderyn is already planning her own birthday out as well... -r]

Rebecca went to a Relief Society activity on Saturday. She made a few more Halloween decorations. We want more decorations, but we don't have any place to store them for the rest of the year. I wish our attic was bigger.

Torben had his first official Lego mini build this week. And this was perfect for him because they built a cool robot. I only had to point out to him a few minor mistakes he was going to make in the instructions, but on the whole he did a great job. He was so happy to do the build with his sisters instead of wandering the store while they got Legos. Speaking of which, he has been badgering Rebecca and I all week long about building things for him. It seems like the only 'conversation' I can get out of him lately is when he's telling me what to build and how to do it. [actually, he asks me to build k'nex or snap circuits for him, and Wayne to build Legos. I think he think I can't build Legos?? In any case, he quickly modifies whatever we built him to make it his own. We checked out a library book on 365 things to build with Legos, and he has put it post-it on all his interested pages! -r]

Monday, October 2, 2017

let there be light

Paela was invited to be a member of the robotics team at school. They had their first meeting this week, and she is very excited to be a part of the group. I will try to volunteer a bit, though with the other two kids in tow I'm not sure how helpful I will be. Wayne would be better, but alas, schedules are tight for him already.

We also signed up Aderyn for gymnastics again, since she really wants to do it again and master a cartwheel. That will be in a couple of weeks. Torben wants to Wayne to teach him soccer. He doesn't want a team, just wants to kick the ball around with Wayne and Aderyn. Sounds good to me!

The girls had their hawk-a-walk-a-thon on Friday. It went well, they tell me, though Aderyn preferred last year's because last year got rained out and they did it inside. Funny kids; they love to go camping and on hikes, so I'm not sure how this is different. Less trees??

Also, in preparation for putting down grass seed, I spent some time trying to clear out crabgrass that had gotten well out of hand so the seed could have room. And the most the kids would join me was maybe ten or twenty minutes outside on their bikes before retreating inside to read or play. Sigh.

But here's to hoping the grass seed takes in our bare spots. Third time's the charm??

We had a contractor give us an estimate on installing lights in our living room, to see if we have saved enough up yet. It's been a long time to have just the kitchen lights which don't really reach that room. It is pricier than we hoped, but I think we may be able to get away with doing it soon.

The roof we cleaned of moss looks better, but we think we need to get back up there and scrub some more. The grass took all our spare time between conference sessions yesterday, though, so that will have to happen another time.

Conference has been great, of course. We went to the Church building for the first session today, and Wayne went last night, but we have listened to the rest at home. The kids are playing trains right now. It goes without saying they heard more yesterday than today...and the same for me. Guess I'll need to study the later talks in more detail!

We had a few chances to hang out with some friends too, for a birthday party and to eat up some extra treats we had made. Good times, for sure.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


I have been overwhelmed at work. While I love my new schedule, I am currently working on some very time intensive projects for my personal research and it feels like I am moving at a snail's pace. I even brought my laptop home this weekend to try and catch up on grading because I haven't looked at that in 2 weeks and assignments have piled up. I still have a long way to go to catch up to current assignments, but at least I don't feel like I am leaving students without feedback on how they are doing.

Really, we haven't been 'doing' much on the home front. Torben went to a story time, we got temple recommend interviews finished, we tried killing all the mold and mildew on our front roof, and the kids did a primary program for church. Somewhere during the week we fed the missionaries at home. While we wanted to feed both Sisters and Elders, the mission has a new rule that we are not able to host both for one meal. Since the Sisters don't struggle to get meals in our ward, we opted to feed the Elders instead. It was uneventful.

All the kids did a great job at Primary program today in church. Torben gave one of the clearest spoken one-line talks at the podium. We're quite proud of that. [his hard work at speech has certainly been paying off! -r]

We look forward to upcoming General Conference, but we also have plans to aerate our lawn on Saturday morning. Well... aerate, dethatch, re-compost, and seed. It should be a quick couple of hours.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

decisions, decisions

Paela's trial for swim team came to an end. She wanted to wait until the very end to decide, and then spent all day waffling back and forth and making a pros and cons list. In the end, she decided though she has learned a lot and would love to learn more, this is not the year for signing up for so many practices. [If we signed up, we were committed through March!] We're back to the drawing board on finding a way for her to swim from now until next summer though. Open swim at some pool, maybe? It is pricey, though. In the meantime, at least she got a two week trial. That's almost like having a short swim class....

We had a ward picnic too, which was later than we typically ate, but actually right on target for eating after swim practice. So that worked well. The kids liked that there was a playground right next to us. I liked that we got to catch up with a few people.

Then yesterday our sitter came over so we could go to the temple. The kids had such fun, although Paela slept for about three hours afterwards. She's got a doozy of a cold, poor girl. Her voice is hoarse today, but she didn't nap so I think that's probably a good sign of a turning point. Though she says her throat feels worse, at least she has (a little) more energy.

Aderyn went to a friend's birthday party on Saturday. She was so careful and thoughtful picking a present, and so excited to go play drums with her friends.

Torben had to skip (private) speech this week, but he at least got story time. The older kids had early out Friday, so we had a conflict. He's been asking for play dates, so we'll have to see if we can drum some up for the kids.

And I gave a talk today. I'm always so nervous! But it went well enough. My purse broke, though, so I guess I'm in the market for a new one. It had lasted several years though.

And work continues, which is always good. Upwards and onwards.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

no title

Our credit card was hacked. Again. That's the third time in less than a year? Maybe? Something like that. Anyway, it is a great way to ruin a perfectly good Saturday to learn that someone tried buying 240$ worth of clothes online with your credit card.

We started Paela on her daily swim team classes. She was hesitant the first day and went at her own pace, but she is doing better about keeping up. I understand that in swim teams you have to keep a similar age group so it isn't unfair against the other team you are playing, but why is it a big deal for the younger classes that are all pre-team classes? [she is doing the first two weeks as a trial, and then after that she has to make a choice. I'm torn being glad she is finding something she loves, and not wanting to have to take her five days a means a total rethink in our dinner times so we can all eat together. At least they are all old enough to be flexible! -r]

Despite having two whole days in a week to dedicate to my personal work, it still feels like I don't get much of anything accomplished. I am behind my schedule for constructing my drawing plotter and while I am completing one series of large scale drawings I now realize it was a mistake to make them in the first place.

Our former realtor invited us out for an ice cream social at Alexander's, so we took the chance to go talk with her and get some free ice cream. The kids enjoyed the trip and we (finally) took an afternoon to walk around all the old cars on display at the square in downtown Noblesville. Aderyn and Paela weren't interested, but Torben loved all the cars (even the non-for-show cars).

On Labor day, we invited all the new families in our ward on our side of town to our house for a barbecue. It was good to get to know them because we have such a strong geographical split in our Ward.

We finally broke down and bought a deep freezer. We think it will fit in the garage with the two cars in there. There is a family in the ward who is going to sell us half a cow and we needed a place to put a couple hundred pounds of meat. That food storage should last us years.