Sunday, September 2, 2012

Working Woman!

Well, I'm a working woman again. 

I had to take a forced break during the summer (perfect timing!) since I had a temp position, but now I'm back working for the University of Illinois. I received a promotion and was made a regular, permanent employee as iFoundry Program Coordinator (see our website here). I work 3/4 time (to you non-academic folks that's 30 hrs. a week). :)

It's a challenging transition to make, even from working 20 hours a week last year, but I'm very grateful. We need the money (short term: bills, bills, bills, long term: Aaron goes on a mission in about 4 years!?!), and the job is a good one with a good bosses and even though in my ideal world I wouldn't need to work, but since I do, I'm grateful to have this position. Plus, when you feel Heavenly Father leading you in a certain direction and you know it's what he wants for you and your family...you just do it and I'm jumping in and going to have fun doing it!

Couple of tidbits:
- I had to move buildings. It was like going from a 5 star hotel to a 3 star (there's a lock and chain on the office fridge??) but everyone's so nice so no complaints

- I got to clean, reorganize and redecorate my new space! (and get paid for it, too)

- I got a new PC with two 24" screens, and got to keep the Mac, too. Harry, one of the professors in my office suite said, "He with the most monitors wins!"   I guess I win. :)

- I work within the College of Engineering (iFoundry is kind of it's own thing, not a true COE dept. but anyway), which ranks #6 in the country for undergraduate engineering (some individual depts. rank higher, like Civil Engineering which is #2)

- I'm home by 3:30pm. Not a lot of "me time" these days, but I get home not too long after the kids get home from school, and that's a good thing. 

I gotta say, weekends now take on a whole new meaning!


Friday, August 3, 2012

Who Knew?

I've tried nearly every form of exercise there is (except for major sports. Not really great at hand/eye coordination or any other kind of coordination--too much of a risk for injury, especially when you're the kind of person who trips on nothing). 

I've tried everything from aerobics in the late 80's to joining a gym in the 200o's (the elliptical machine was difficult to master for my off-balance and klutzy ways, but I did it!). 

So, on their last visit here, my parents brought me dad's old bike. I seriously hadn't set my bum on a bike for over 20 years. Yes, I just admitted it: 20 years! 

I tried it out. I was a little wobbly at first, but, as they say, it's like riding a bike! I decided that during my sabbatical, or mini-retirement, or whatever you want to call this month+ I have off of work, (It was a temp job; waiting for it to become permanent. Lots of hoops to jump through for me and my bosses) that I would try bike riding, just to see if I would feel any better (less tired from the Hashimoto's, just feel better in general...).



Turns out I *LOVE* cycling. Who knew? My first ride, I tried to ride all the way to Windsor Road. Couldn't do it. I only made it a little over a mile and had to take several minutes to catch my breath and head the mile or so back home. It was SO hard!! Now, about a month later, I can bike 5 miles and not feel like I'm going to die from exhaustion. People talk about a runners high (and I would think to myself: if they say so...), but now I kind of get it. I'm not exactly an athlete in top condition, but there have been times I've just been in the zone, going on my 5 mile ride and it honestly has been pure bliss. Can't wait to go again!!  Hope I still feel this way in 6 months. :) 

Here's the bike helmet I got (thanks mom and dad! I spent my birthday cash early). Eric says I look like a Japanese cartoon character when I wear it. I love the Bern Co.'s tagline though: "We have helmets that don't make it look like a spaceship landed on your head."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Getting Back in the Game, Summer Fun

Getting Back in the Game—I Hope
I have been WAY out of the blog loop. The past several months I’ve had to simplify, and blogging and keeping up on my friends’ blogs went by the wayside. I hope to get back in the game.

I’m diseased! It’s not life threatening, but I have been diagnosed with a new-to-me disease: Hashimoto’s Disease. I already knew I had thyroid disease (hypothyroidism—of course, the kind that makes you tired and slows your metabolism). The past few years I’ve been SO tired, but I could manage it until I started working part-time. With all of the kids in school, I would take a nap right after lunch and that kept me going. After beginning work about a year ago, though, there was no time in my schedule for a nap and I realized just how painfully exhausted I was. 

I decided to go to the doctor to find out why I was so fatigued. My doctor was awesome—she had me tested for everything she could think of. They took 10 vials of blood to test! Turns out I had Hashimoto’s Disease, which is an auto-immune disease where antibodies attack the thyroid (probably the reason I’ve had thyroid disease for at least 12 years, but perhaps was getting worse as I had noticed a significant decrease in energy the past few years). 

Treatment is to find the right balance of Synthroid (T4 thyroid hormone, which I was already taking) and Cytomel (T3 thyroid hormone). Turns out it’s not that easy to find the right balance. I’m on the third try of dosage balancing (with 6 week intervals between blood tests), and still not sure we have it right. I’m trying to have patience. I’m tired of being tired. Blah. It helps that I’m on a break from work right now (I probably will start back up in a few weeks—my temp job ended and they’re trying to hire me on permanently).
I hope to get blogging again, but it may be hit and miss for awhile.

 Not really sure what I'm looking at here, but the website said "Hashimoto's Disease at 4x magnification".

Summer Fun
As for this summer, I didn’t take many pictures, and we didn’t have any big vacations planned. We decided to stay home this summer and save money (read: not spend money we didn’t have) and do fun local things instead. 

Note to D.C. Family: Watch out! We may not be going anywhere this summer but next summer we’re heading your way!

I didn’t want the kids to feel like they missed out on what I call “Summer Fun!” so they helped me make a list of things they wanted to do. Plus, they had to endure my quest for seeing and doing things that are quirky and off-the-beaten-path. I think we succeeded! I’m posting this summer report now, because Dillon starts school tomorrow and his summer break is over (he’s in year-round school, or “balanced calendar” as they call it). We documented our Summer Fun on posters in the upstairs hallway. Look for such items as:

- Seeing the tallest (and ugliest) Abraham Lincoln statue in the world!

- Taking the kids to a drive-in movie for the first time

- Getting Dillon up-to-date on classic kids movies we somehow deprived him of in his first 8 years of life

- Aaron canoeing for 20 miles and biking for 50 miles (gotta love scouting!)

- Getting Dillon’s arm broken and ankle sprained (not strictly summer ‘fun’, but it was a summer event).

- Going to Thornton’s (almost) every Saturday for Saturday Slushies!



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family Update

Eric: Because of the early spring weather, it meant that mushroom-hunting came early, too. Here's Eric at his mom's house after finding tons of morel mushrooms. The kids hate all mushrooms except these (of course, dipping them in flour and frying them in 100% butter doesn't hurt either...). Eric just loves this time of year.

Me: This is my portrait that was taken for work that will end up on the "who we are" page for the new website I'm working on organizing/designing. I think it's funny how the lighting erased all of my freckles!

My friend Alysa has this really great book blog called (click HERE to visit EVEREAD), where she gives insightful and witty reviews on the books she reads and other book related activities. I recently designed a logo for her blog!

Other: I'm trying to not be so busy but things are too busy right now. I haven't blogged since Feb., and this post is taking me about a week to do. Work, Stake Relief Society (big Women's Conference coming up), birthdays, a baptism coming up, boy scout requirements, etc. etc. I need a vacation!! (all by myself). 


Aaron: Aaron just finished writing and illustrating a 63 page comic called "Shredded Metal". He stars in it, too. It's pretty cool!--and it's the longest comic he's done to date.

Sophia: Sophia's either hot (I-love-you-everything-is-dandy) or cold (leave-me-alone-why-are-you-bothering-me??). This picture was taken in one of her cold moods! I wanted to take a picture of her with her brace on--she fractured her thumb falling off of our slide in the backyard last week. No cast needed, just another 4 weeks of wearing the brace.


In other news, she's turning 12 and will start Young Women on Sunday! 


Oh, and here's a portrait of our family done by Sophia on her toes (from tallest to shortest--Eric, Aaron, me, Sophia, Dillon). What a talented child.


Dillon: Dillon turned 8! Here he is with his lightsaber cake (and I just noticed, a Star Wars shirt as well). He'll be baptized in a couple of weeks. 


Dillon got his first pet after turning 8. It sure is hard to get a hamster to stay still for a picture! Here's Rhino, the black bear hamster. Dillon's doing a good job taking care of him so far.


Other: On a recent temple trip to St. Louis, we stopped by the Butterfly House.


It really was like walking around inside a Disney film--we were surrounded by butterflies flying all around us!


Plus, it was "Morpho March", so there were 3000 of these Blue Morpho Butterflies there that day!


That's the update from us! Enjoy it--I may not get to another post for awhile. :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Funny Things Dillon Says Part 2

After telling Dillon to go to his room for being naughty, he says, "That's not a punishment. It's a FUN-ishment, because I wanted to go play with my toys anyway."

Me: "Do you know what it means to have your nose in the air?"
Dillon: "What, did they teach you that back in 1966 school?" (I'm surprised he didn't say 1906 school...)

I was explaining to Dillon how the British and the French haven't always gotten along. He suddenly takes on the characteristics of a British man, and with a British accent, holding up an imaginary crumpet, says, "We will fight with our crumpets!!!!" Didn't know he knew what crumpets were or that they were British...

 
Okay, so maybe Dillon gets some of his silliness from me...I was trying to diffuse the tension when he was really angry one day. When he's mad, he screams. Loudly. And a lot. I said, trying to be silly, "Dillon, when you scream, it makes your freckles cry! Stop screaming!"

He corrects me, "No, when I sweat my freckles cry."

"Mom, sometimes when I have good dreams, ads pop up in the corner. The other day an ad popped up for 'milk--60 cents' and there was another one for 'broccoli--$9.99'."

"If I were a gun, I'd be a hyper-rifle."


This kid cracks me up!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cheap Dates

It's been too long since I did a cheap "Theme Date". This picture is back in 2010 for our date to watch the series finale of "LOST."

I made a Dharma poster!

I even made sugar cookie Dharma fish biscuits.

So tonight we're having a "Parks and Recreation" date! We'll start with waffles for dinner.

I'm going to decorate with pics from the show. Eric's favorite character is Ron Swanson. The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness shows the qualities a person should have according to Ron (the most important at the top and so forth). One of my favorites: "CRYING: Acceptable at funerals and at the Grand Canyon."

 Can you see what the sign says?
"First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity"

Then we'll Netflix it up! There's something like 46 episodes of Parks and Recreation on there. We haven't started watching it faithfully until fairly recently so we have some catching up to do! 

Whoo hoo! Date night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Decorations

I put garland in the kitchen for the first time this year.

A wreath with ornaments all handmade by me (back when I had the energy to make lots of handmade Christmas ornaments!) plus German straw ornaments from mom and dad (which look just like Swedish straw ornaments).

A snowman I made. I really like snowmen.

Another snowman ornament I made. I saw this idea somewhere and had to make it!

I wanted a little tree with just white lights and red ornaments and got a great deal on the tree!

I made this snowman with a punch-needle so it's all cute and fuzzy. It's like making a terry cloth towel one loop at a time (= sore hand holding the punch needle). (I designed this, too.) Sometimes I look at stuff like this and wonder how I had the time or the energy to make it. I guess I've been feeling more worn out than usual this year!

Dillon, Sophia, and I made these gingerbread birdhouses one year (a project back from when I taught art classes.) Look closely--it's a wooden birdhouse painted brown and everything else is made from Sculpey. The clear glitter on the gumdrops makes it look like sugar!
For the first Christmas when Eric and I were married, Jan MADE and gave this to us! It's just about an exact replica of the one we had when we were growing up. AND, she made one for Cara and Jason (their first Christmas they were married, too). (Note: the number pockets are kelly green--for some reason they look black here...)

Sophia made this decoration out of Legos!
This is where I relinquish control--there are colored lights, white lights, bubble lights and about a gazillion ornaments (and actually only about 65% of the ornaments we own) on this tree. But it's a happy tree. Oh, and I forgot to trim that top branch before they put on the star.

Aaron made this super awesome tie-fighter Lego ornament (he says to say I took a picture of the back of it. I liked this side best, what can I say?)

Our wooden, non-breakable, kid-friendly nativity.

Our Swedish advent candle holder. One Sunday to go!

Gotta love the Christmas pictures done at home and school by the kids. This is Dillon's door.

The cupcakes Sophia and I made today for Christmas Eve dinner. My candy melt snowflakes are inspired by cousin Jen who can make anything (yes, anything) out of candy melts.
Lastly, our gingerbread houses. We needed a break after the out-of-control gingerbread lighthouse we made last year (see below. It kind of took forever), so I bought a kit last year on sale for this year. Then, 3 months after Christmas, our present from Aunt Barbara finally came out of the blue. It was a gingerbread house kit! Perfect. So we got to make 2 this year (and it was nice and easy and simple...)



Dillon.

The house made by the boys (Eric, Aaron, Dillon).

The house made by the girls (me, Sophia).