Sunday, June 25, 2017


Our big projects this past week was to completely refurbish and repaint the entire playstructure and our used patio furniture. It was an exhausting process in the heat and the sun. We had to sand down so many boards, use a whole bottle of Gorilla glue and prime and paint the pieces. Much of it had to be done in the garage because of rain forecasts. Hopefully the quality paint we got will help the finish to last longer than a simple stain. I believe the previous stain was done way too long ago, which is why there was so much moss and mold growing on the playstructure. Things look nice now.

On Monday, Rebecca took all the kids to a ballet/dance meet and greet. Some of the kids liked the event more than others, but on the whole it was a fun activity for them to do. I had a work dinner meeting. We discussed plans for our co-taught foundations course in the fall. I'd rather not think about what I need to take care of for that class yet, but I guess the days of summer are ticking swiftly away.

Our new babysitter for Torben is working out well. She does a great job keeping Torben distracted while Rebecca tries to get in about 2 hours daily. This means she only has to work 2 hours in the morning while the kids are still waking up in the morning. It is a good plan because now she is more free to take them places and to local activities. For example, on Wednesday they got to go look and learn about owls. Torben likes owls, but not as much as he loves eagles and cheetahs.

The problem is that we keep forgetting about library activities we want to do. Torben wanted to do a Paw Patrol thing and we got too wrapped up doing chores at home to remember. There was another few activities we had to sacrifice as well this week because the kids have been so slow getting their summer chores and practice done. [but they are slow because they are playing imagination games, so that's good too, eh? -r]

Sunday, June 18, 2017

back to summer

I've started a new work contract, this one for a university research project. So that has had some ramifications on our summer scheduling. It is part-time, flexible hours, and remote, just like the last contract. So we've asked a teenager in our neighborhood to come hang out with the kids a couple of hours a day. Torben was very excited the first day she came over, and now he wants to know if she is coming every day.

Wayne's summer class didn't fill up, so he was given the option to still teach it for a percentage of the pay, or to just cancel it. He has many summer projects in mind and needs research time, so he canceled the class. The kids are still confused about why he goes to work every day since he is a teacher and it is summer. Research is a hard thing for them to understand.

And in yet another decision, we found a private speech therapist for Torben. Hopefully it is a good fit and will help him this summer to keep making progress.

Beyond these decision and getting our house back in order, we filled our time with library activities and park activities. There was a scavenger art project at a nearby park that was fun. There is reading, and programming, and lego building. There is bike riding and the swimming pool. Wayne took the kids to the neighborhood pool a couple of times when I still needed more work hours.

And at one of the visits, Paela lost her fitness tracker. She threw it over to the chair with towels, but it landed on the ground and she forgot to grab it when it was time to leave. Luckily, we had a good idea where she left it, and went back the next day to look for it. Unfortunately, it was not there and not in the lost and found pile. Fortunately, Paela made a sign to put up at the pool, and someone called to let us know it had been found, and she brought it back to us. It is nice to know there are good people out there.

And then there was yesterday. We started sanding the playset and took apart the patio furniture someone gave us to strengthen the chairs and paint both. We still have a lot of work left on both projects, but the girls played imagination games the whole day long and worked on cleaning the house while Wayne and I got a good start on these projects. Torben alternated between tagging along as my helper, and tagging along as Wayne's helper. He's a good helper.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

so many miles

We haven't written in very long time. Mainly this is because we have traveled a lot lately and haven't had the time connected to the internet for very long. So here is a short run down to catch up.

I spent most of a week out in the woods with the rest of the faculty and a number of other students in our program. We're calling it Connected Foundations. Eventually it will be a Sophomore capstone course which concludes our revamped interconnected foundational courses. This will help all the students in our program be exposed to all the faculty and different ideas before they move onto the upperclass concentrations.

During the week I was out in the woods, I did a lot of critiquing and trying to make my own art. I'm happy to say that the Connected Foundations was a great success for all the students. Each one felt that they were able to better develop their understanding and focus on concepts that will carry them through the next two years. I did not have the same reaction to the course. Instead, I just got a lot of walking in.

After I got home, we left for the Madsen family reunion in St. Louis. We played at the City Museum and explored caves and long slides. Torben was a big trooper and climbed everywhere. We played lots with cousins. We visited an art museum and watched a dog show at Purina Farms and visited the Science center. We walked a mile and a half at Onondaga caves. Aderyn still thinks that caves are boring, but Paela really enjoys them. Each night, Torben was so tired that he slept and slept.

After the Madsen family reunion, we did last days of school and Aderyn did her last soccer game for the spring. And then we left for Texas and the Rees family reunion.

Texas was great. We spent 9 days total on the trip, but four of those were just car travel. Our kids are able to handle two 10-hour drives well enough. They watched way too many dvds in the car, but it helped them get through so many hours of cramped space.

In Texas, we did Schlitterbahn for a day and did our best to avoid all sunburns this year. We think we succeeded [mostly; I may have had a few pinkish spots along edges. -r], but it took a lot of sunblock. We went through the whole bottle! While in Texas we visited Rebecca's friend and went swimming lots and went to the Zoo and an art museum. We visited Oma and Opa and rode kayaks at Zilker park. The past few weeks have been a blur of travel and exhaustion, but it was so much fun. [aderyn really wants to not forget her cousins before the next time we see them! -r]

Unfortunately, we came back to a mostly dead lawn. We have been trying to resuscitate it with lots of water. We will see if we can save our garden at least.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

big plans

The week had many of the usual suspects -- work, school, preschool, soccer, and gymnastics. And the unusuals weren't terribly unusual.

Aderyn had her heart set on bringing sugar cookies decorated like soccer cookies when it was her turn for snack. Of course this was very popular with her teammates. We multi-tasked and made a bunch of spring type sugar cookies too. Torben thought the "eagle" (upside-down tulip) was especially great. Have we mentioned his interest in eagles? It is awfully fun. Anyway.

Aderyn also made it to a friend's girls' night and another friend's birthday party. She loved that both evenings had a cool craft. She has so many activities so is looking forward to this month.

Torben has been a big helper with yard work, and he is very fast on his balance bike. Also this week he made his first "book" (random letters and scribbles, and a man running "very fast") and asked me to read it to him. I sounded out the letters he wrote, and when he realized he had pages with no letters, he made a few edits so I could pronounce more silly words. He loved hearing me try to "read" his book to him.

Paela is looking forward to summer, but we still have two weeks. She has big plans. Mostly they involve not waking up early, and not having to listen to her classmates getting in trouble for not paying attention. Also, the endless imagination games the kids all play together. We found a how-to-draw sea creatures book at the library, and both girls have been very interested in it.

Wayne power washed our siding. Apparently the HOA has a thing against any mold on your siding? Anyway. It was on our list already, we just had to do it in the spring instead of the fall. Fortunately, a friend had a tall ladder and a pressure washer we could borrow. Wayne also had some work meetings to get ready for an art school trip. They are going to a camp for most of this coming week, so he had meetings and food prep and packing to take care of. And then just for good measure he threw out his back getting a pot out of the dishwasher at the last minute. A pot. The insanity, right? Hopefully he can be functional enough during the week.

And hopefully we will survive in tact without him. Well, of course we'll survive.... Like I told him, we'll survive...but things always go more smoothly when he's around to help out. We've gotten kind of used to working together, you know? This is a good thing, even if it means the prospect of going our own ways for four days is slightly daunting.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

are you ready for some soccer?!

Aderyn is the MVP of the week. For soccer, she played one game Friday evening and then two games (nearly back to back) on Saturday. Each game would exhaust the poor kid and by halftime she would only walk around the field, even if the ball went right past her. It is a big step up to go from doing kindergarten games (on small fields) to a mostly full size field for the 1st and 2nd graders. We survived Saturday even though we did two games and took Paela to a friend's house and cleaned our house and did grocery shopping and a few other things.

The past week I have spent wrestling with rebuilding my art website. Hopefully things will be more UX friendly soon, but it has been a draining process. It wasn't the coding that exhausted me the most, but the struggle to simply decide what design choices I needed to make and how to best bring together a cohesive feel to the site.

We are almost ready to put our garden in the ground. Hopefully early this week we will get a bunch more dirt to fill the garden box I built and then we can plant on Wednesday. Here's to hoping for an awesome harvest later!

Torben did a preschool graduation performance with all the preschools from Noblesville. He sang a bunch of songs and dances with his class and was absolutely adorable. While he shows little fear in getting up to do the song and dance in front of people, if we catch his eye and smile at him he will intentionally fight back a smile with this cute lip movement. We don't know why he doesn't want to smile at us... but he fights it.

The kids all had a bunch of field trips and end of school nonsense. Their year doesn't end for a few more weeks but it always seems like their teachers really check out of teaching around this time of year.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

winners and carnivals

We started off the week with a quick visit from Tutu, which all the kids enjoyed. They can never get enough grandparent time, that's for sure!

And then we tried to get back into our scheduled routine and activities. But I decided that we had bitten off more than I cared to chew, so I backed off from a couple of items on our calendar as the week wore on. I'm glad we have options, but also glad we can be a little flexible when we need to.

As it was, Aderyn still had soccer and gymnastics, Paela had swim and activity day, and both had lego mini build and piano. All three kids made it to the dentist for good checkups (and some instruction on what spots they should spend a little more time brushing). With early release, Torben had to forego story time, but he still got to pick plenty of new books out to read. He loves to be read to for hours, just like his sisters.

The girls won tickets to the school carnival on Friday, which was lovely because we had decided it was not in our budget. They had fun, though it was more crowded than we generally like. Aderyn's class had a fundraising lemonade stand for the humane society, so she spent a little time helping at that. The class earned $230! We were impressed. Aderyn had fun pouring cup after cup. I think they liked the bounce house best.

And Saturday we kept busy with May Day egg hunt, coloring eggs, chores, and Aderyn's first soccer game (where we were just a little cold watching, but she was fine running around). We tried to tend to the yard, though some plants seem like they maybe got a little too much rain this week. More of our grass seed is growing, but there are still clumps that aren't looking great. We got enough rain that roads near the river had to be closed down in places. Though I'm told this happens almost every year here.

Wayne is finished with the semester, so now it's time to find a good summer routine so his artwork can continue. He had a work party Saturday, and Paela kept commenting that she missed him while we colored eggs. We were being very silly with the cups of food coloring!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trip to Springfield

We drove out to Illinois for my nephew, Cameron's, baptism this Saturday. It was a fun trip and we enjoyed playing with family. The drive home was exhausting in part because of a lack of good sleep at the hotel the night before. How will we make a long trip down to Texas this summer?

I finished the semester with a few class meetings and final projects. My advanced JavaScript class still has until the end of finals week (which is this coming week) to turn in their final project -- but mostly I am finished with this school year. I will be teaching a week long intensive art retreat in a couple weeks, but I don't think that my other summer class will make. There are only 5 enrolled as of today.

We rushed to do as much gardening during the past week as we could before the rains started. We finished building the new retaining wall and moved a large section of rocks so we have a place to start our garden. My parents dropped off at our house a handful of plants that needed to be put into the ground and the kids enjoyed finding new places for them. Some of our new grass is coming up... some of it is not [yet! -r].

Aderyn was very excited for her first game day in soccer class. But we were out of town and the rains cancelled the game. So she should be able to still get in all the games her team will play.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

hammocks and grass

Aderyn enjoyed her first official soccer practice this week. Finally! It felt like forever, since they cancelled the team meet and greet, and the optional skills clinics. But finally, she had a real practice with her team. And she loved it again. Gymnastics was this week also, though there was a tornado warning during it so they spent a half hour huddled in a tunnel. A disappointing turn of events. But on the plus side, we didn't see the tornadoes in town.

Paela enjoyed her swim class again. It is nice to have it in the warm pool again instead of the high school pool. She also visited an orthodontist for a second opinion. A few weeks ago the orthodontist recommended phase 1 of braces for her, even going so far as to suggest that she may have to have teeth pulled if she doesn't do it. She does not want them though, because she likes her teeth how they are(?), and we sought a second opinion. The second opinion thinks it wouldn't help anything to start now. Paela asked who we believe, and I said hands down minimal interference. No contest, in my mind! I guess we could ask a third place. I guess. But I probably won't.

And Torben got 5th disease this week. So that was exciting. We thought at first that he just had rosy cheeks from playing outside, though it wasn't that hot out. But then he took a bath and we saw all the spots all over him, from head to toe. Poor guy. So even though you are theoretically only contagious before the rash develops, we kept him home Thursday and Friday. To assuage fears, I suppose, and because who wants to play with lots of kids when you are itchy? Something like that. He and I played lots of duplos and board games and read lots of books.

Also, apparently, adults that catch this don't get a rash but get achy and swollen joints instead. Which thing I figured out on Friday evening when my knees felt like I'd done wall sits all. Day. Long. I had to take my ring and watch off and it hurts to bend my hands or feet. So. But at least I don't have a full body rash?? And at least I won't infect anyone else? Or, rather, that if I did it was in ignorance, right?

I also had a birthday this week, which was lovely. Thanks for all the cards and emails and well wishes. Some friends took me to lunch, and Wayne and the kids spoiled me in the evening. I made a passion fruit mousse cake to celebrate, and it was a win, for sure. I also had lots of interviews this week, which kept me busy enough that I didn't send out any more application this week. But the interview process for most of these places are lengthy -- three or four interviews and some of them also ask for a coding test.

Wayne has a rash too. It's like an annual thing, I think, but sometimes it resolves on its own. Allergies maybe? I think this time he will end up needing to get something from the doctor, though. Work of course is busy busy, but he had some artwork accepted to another international show so that is always pleasant.

We've gotten our hammock out. It's that time. Next, unpack shorts and pack away coats and boot, right? Though actually most of us used our coats yesterday as we moved rocks around in our yard. Some of our grass seed has begun to sprout, so here's to hoping it takes! We did lots of yardwork this week and have finally rearranged most of the rocks covering our yard. We are anxiously awaiting the time when we can plant our garden. Wayne keeps talking about how he misses his Thai super chilis.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

can you hear me now?

Aderyn enjoyed her first class of gymnastics. She is very proactive about focusing on what the teacher is asking her to do and to planning out her moves before she starts. She enjoyed her time immensely and is looking forward to doing more. She loves the trampoline and wants to learn how to do a cartwheel.

Rebecca and Torben did all kinds of activities during the day. They went to help Aderyn's class at school. They did library. They did some birthday meal with Rebecca's friend.

I helped set up the Esports IUK invitational tournament. We had a decent turnout for the state. The highest ranked League of Legends teams came out. I had to leave early, so I don't know if the home team won or not. I guess we will find out on Monday.

Easter was good. We did our traditional meal. This year Aderyn asked what each of the foods represents so we put together a list of scriptures to read during our Easter meal to explain. She and Paela enjoyed taking turns reading and explaining each item.

And my cell phone won't get service anymore. Rebecca and I have the exact same phones purchased at the same time. Mine hasn't received cellular signal since Thursday, despite my efforts to reset and restart everything. Since Rebecca's work contract ended, I really don't feel like we have the money to buy another one. [but communication is important! -r]

Finally, we did some major work in our yard. Both companionships of missionaries came over Thursday morning. We bought 1.5 cu yards of dirt. We ripped out a bunch of clover, cleared out tons of rocks, put dirt down and then put new seed out. We've not had success in planting new seeds in the past, but we're hopeful.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

spring break, week two

We kept busy over Spring Break with two big things: having friends over, and visiting the library. There were some other activities scattered here and there, but those were the recurring themes.

The kids painted with flowers as their paintbrushes at the library, had story time, decorated peep houses, and used library coupons to visit the bounce house place. They also read lots of library books and watched several movies we borrowed from the library. They also went to the lego mini build, a party at our friend's house, and Aderyn was invited to a pre-sleepover party at a friend's house as well (the friend's mom thinks she is too young for sleepover so came up with this theme instead). They also invited as many friends over as they could think of (at least, the ones that were in town). Well, the girls did. Torben couldn't find a friend available to come over. Luckily, his sisters make good imagination games for him.

For my part, I did my best to keep the peace and say "yes" whenever they asked me to do something with them, like play games or read books or paint or help them with piano practice. I also tried to apply for jobs or brush up my programming skills here and there, but to have no particular expectations meant that it took to the back burner over time with kids. Still, I have a couple of "first" interviews coming up this week, so that's not a bad start. We'll see if they are good fits or not.

Tomorrow is back to school. Waking up for Church today was a little rough, so we are not holding our breaths for a smooth transition tomorrow. So it goes.