Monday, December 31, 2007

A new start

I got up this morning deciding to make tomorrow and the new year a brand new start. Well, not a brand new start, just a much needed adjustment to my attitude of late. I've been dragging around, down in the dumps the last couple of weeks and starting tomorrow that is going to change. (Actually, I've already started feeling tremendously better since I've decided to.)

I've often believe that happiness can only come from within. We all know those people, the Eeyores of our lives, who go around moaning and complaining all the time. We all have our days when we turn in to Eeyores too. (A few people never turn into an Eeyore but most of us real people have our less than stellar days.) But some are constantly down and trying to drag everyone else with them. Luckily I learned early on in adulthood that I am responsible for my own happiness and if I choose to be happy, then I will be happy.

Anyway, back to my point. The last few weeks I've been feeling really down and put upon by many people in my life. I think it started when I was sick. I just never really shook it. It seemed like everyone was trying to make my life harder than it needs to be. I couldn't get anyone to listen to me. I felt like people were ignoring me and not respecting me.

Well, I'm now not letting them dump on me. I am back in control of my life and my happiness. I am as happy as I want to be. And only I can be responsible for my happiness.

I know this is probably cryptic to some of you. I apologize. I thought about explaining all the stupid little things that I've been letting get to me lately. But I decided that would be counterproductive.

If you are looking for a great post about resolutions check out Ami Mental's blog. Her story about her friend Rosemary is a wonderful read.

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Smoking in Illinois

In what I think is the best law I've heard about in ages, Illinois is banning indoor smoking in almost all areas beginning January 1, 2008.

Of course in the papers and on the news you see all these complaints from smokers and restaurant and bar owners. I just shook my head at the bar owner saying more people are going to die from pneumonia because they had to stand outside to smoke, than people ever did from secondhand smoke. Way to not know your facts, sir.

I admired the local restaurant owner who said the ban is a good thing. Now people will be forced to choose their eating establishment based on food and service rather on whether or not they can smoke there. Sounds like he is up for that challenge.

The only bad thing I can think of is that we will have to walk through the clouds of smoke to enter buildings now. But we often did that anyway. And if people don't like having to stand outside and smoke they have two options: quit or stay home.

My New Year's Resolution

I finally came up with one. Something I can keep. Something that would be useful.

I resolve to be better about taking pictures and distributing pictures to friends and family.

My MIL is always complaining that she has no current photos. I tend to forget to take pictures. Then I forget to take them off the camera. It is so easy to do both. And easy to post them here. I'm going to try to be better about it.

In an effort to get off on the right foot, here is an oldie but a goodie. This is Violet and me in the dining hall at Girl Scout camp last summer.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Snow day

It snowed about 6 inches today. Mr. Incredible had the day off. He was originally planning on helping my dad install Leopard on his Mac, but didn't want to be driving that far with the snow. Instead he and Violet got out the brand new snowshoes and gave them a try. When they got back from circling the neighborhood, I tried them out too. Since I didn't fall immediately flat on my face, I ordered a pair for myself too.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The after-Christmas blahs

Can you tell by my new poll that I'm feeling a bit of the post-Christmas blues? I'm so glad it is over and want things to get back to normal again. By noon on Christmas day I was ready to take the tree down and put it away. Of course it is still up and will probably be up for a least another week.

We had a nice Christmas but I feel like I let people down. I didn't do much. I was determined not to overdo and stress out. No cards were sent. Didn't get as many presents. Didn't make a big dinner. Didn't go to any parties except 2 family gatherings. So while I didn't stress during the holiday, I seem to be doing it now. I was happy with our more simple holiday celebrations, I just wish everyone else could be too.

Maybe I have the Charlie Brown syndrome, when he gets so upset with the commercialization of the holiday. His little tree is quite acceptable to him at first. But no one else likes it. It isn't good enough for them. They want more.

We really need to watch our spending so I tried hard to keep Christmas presents in control. Now Mr. Incredible has asked to get a new car. He has a Mustang, and while he loves it, it is rotten in bad weather. He'd like to sell it and get a new Jeep. It is an extremely practical solution to our winter transportation needs. I just dread the new car payment. Sigh.

Back to work I guess. I need to clean up the house (still wish I could get that tree out of the front room!), take advantage of the quiet time to catch up with some work projects, and plan for second semester of third grade.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who'da thunk it?

I am "Mrs. Clausy"! I think it was all my answers about wanting to just stay home. Oh, and I do like to eat cookies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Around the World

Violet is in her last year of being a Brownie Girl Scout. We are making sure she gets a chance to complete any of the Try-It Badges that she wants to earn. The latest one she is working on is Around the World.

As I type this I am enjoying a wonderful scone she made. We found the recipe in The Kids' Multicultural Cookbook that we checked out from the library. There are a couple of other recipes in it that she is also eying.

Yesterday we read a book about Christmas traditions in other countries. The book had crafts in it as well, so she's going to pick one out to do for the badge also. I think she is leaning towards making English party crackers, but it hasn't really been decided yet.

She'll still have to do a couple of other activities to complete the badge. We were talking about learning more about Girl Scouts from other lands. But for now, we are enjoying our Scottish Scones.

Why do I do it?

I've been thinking about Ami Mental's comment asking why I put up with nonsense I get from the other Girl Scout leaders in our service unit. It was a good question and really got me asking myself the same thing. Why do I do it? Should I even bother? After all, Violet isn't in a troop any more and is very happy being on her own.

I came up with a couple of reasons why. The first is that I really like working with the majority of the women on our service team. They are a bunch of fun, we are always laughing, and they make me feel good about myself. I like being part of something bigger and to know what is going on behind the scenes. And I know it sounds crazy, but I like committee meetings. I miss regular staff meetings at work, since I now work from home. I guess it is how I can get my fix of adult interactions.

The idiots are few and far between. The vast majority are so nice and really appreciate any help I am able to give them or their troops. I loved that I was able to hook up a couple of girls whose troops had disbanded with new troops. And if I can do some of the committee work and free up the leaders to spend time with their troops then everyone wins. Having to put up occasionally with a few idiots here and there isn't so bad. The pluses outweigh the idiots!

I guess that's why I do it.

Sorry I've been away

I've been knocked out the last week with a nasty sinus infection. I'd never had a sinus infection before. Sure colds and bad allergies, but not this. Man, that hurt. I had no idea.

Looking back on the days before it hit me I can now see it was coming on. I was dragging around. I thought it was the time of the year coupled with the weather. I think it was the virus. Then by Friday, blammo, horrible pain on the side of my head.

I'm still getting tired easily, and once in a while the pain hits again. But nothing like over the weekend. Of course, none of my work got done while I was laying on the couch. So I've been frantically trying to catch up.

I also fell way behind in reading blogs, so I'll be by all of yours later to see what you've all been up to. And I've had a few ideas flitting through my brain, so I'll try to get caught up in my own posts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's okay to say Merry Christmas

The "man on the street" question in our local newspaper was "How do you feel about people saying 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas'?". Most of the respondents made comments about being upset about taking Christ out of Christmas. The whole concept of Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas was lost on the morons in this very conservative area (yet another reason I so often feel like a freak).

The point of "Happy Holidays" isn't to diminish Christ or Christmas. It is to acknowledge that not everyone on the planet is a Christian and celebrates Christmas. It is okay to tell people who celebrate Christmas, "Merry Christmas." But for those who don't, I expect it gets tiresome to hear over and over. Stores proclaiming "Happy Holidays" are simply acknowledging that some of their customers are of other faiths or perhaps none at all. (Okay, I realize that most are actually just being politically correct, but you get my point.)

Would you want to be wished "Shalom" on Passover, over and over and over again, if you weren't Jewish? I'm guessing not. Or how about, "May Allah's Blessing Be With You at Ramadan"? Why must people cram their religion down the throats of others.

"Happy Holidays" simply wishes a joyful season (filled with many holidays from which to choose) to everyone. If you prefer to personalize your greeting to the person you are greeting, absolutely do so! If you don't know what holiday they may celebrate why not politely ask? I work for a traditionally Jewish accounting firm, clients don't always know my religious beliefs and on several occasions I've been asked if I celebrate a particular religious holiday. I've never taken offense. Besides, just because someone is of a particular faith, doesn't necessarily mean they celebrate each and every holiday.

So to all my blog readers, I wish you a Very Happy Holiday Season! I choose this option because I know you are of many different faiths and I hope you and your families enjoy time of year however you celebrate it.


We didn't accomplish much today. Every time we started the phone rang. I have two phone lines at home. One is my home office number. I use that for work, Girl Scouts, and anytime there is a potential for my phone number to get into the hands of a telemarketer. I am very good at ignoring that line and checking for messages when we aren't doing anything. The other phone line is unlisted and generally only family and close friends call it. I always answer that one.

Work people keep calling the home line. Another one did this morning. It interrupted the science lesson. Wasn't her fault, that's the number listed on the company directory. I've tried several times unsuccessfully to have them either change it to my work line, or add both noting which is which. Arggh. I resent the e-mail I sent 8 days ago asking it to be changed, but this time copied my boss on it. I'm hoping it will actually get changed this time.

The other calls were various grandparents. Rare that any of them call during the day, rarer yet that they call on the same day. Then the doorbell rang part way through something else. Since it was after the time public schools got out, and Violet's been totally itching to see her friend from across the street I got up to check. It was the UPS guy driving away after leaving boxes.

One of the boxes contained "The Feelings Book: The Care and Keeping of Your Emotions" and "The Big Book of Help" both by the American Girl Library. We've had some emotional problems around here lately that I'm beginning to accept are just part of being 8 years old. So when the Help book was instantly pounced upon, I dropped what we were doing and let her read.

I guess we were productive today. Just not how or when I'd planned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sump pump woes

For those of you who couldn't give a Thin Mint about Girl Scout complaints, here's a second post for today.

Our sump pump is on the fritz. A few months ago it wouldn't turn off. Then it started working again. Who knows why? Tonight it was pumping and pumping and wouldn't turn off. So Mr. Incredible investigated and found out that nothing was going out of it. He jiggled things a bit, then thought that maybe with all this freezing rain the hose might be frozen. Bingo.

A few unsuccessful attempts to get the frozen clog out and finally he brought it inside and thawed it in the bathtub. Then he rehooked it up. Now water can flow freely in it, but guess what? The sensor got jiggled and broken and it no longer knows when to turn on. Uh oh.

Mr. Incredible showed me how to turn it on and off (you just plug it in and unplug it, luckily it was that easy). He is going to be home late tomorrow night so I might have to empty it during the day. I was glad he showed me how tonight, rather than try to explain it to me over the phone tomorrow when it is close to overflowing.

Mr. Incredible blames himself for breaking it. I don't at all. It is nearly 10 years old and wasn't working right a few months ago. He seems to have blocked the prior fritz out of his memory. For now we'll just plug it in and unplug it. Could be worse, it could not work at all. That would be bad. We'll figure something out later.

And who knows, maybe it will repair itself again!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More bad weather

I'm beginning to think I am going to spend this entire winter blogging about bad weather. Friday's snow was only about an inch so we were able to go to my folks for the day. Violet and Grandma spent two hours out playing in the snow. Dad went with me shopping and we had a good time plotting Christmas gifts for Grandma and tricking the lady at Walmart into thinking he was stealing my stuff. (We didn't set out to trick her, she just couldn't figure out at first why he was taking my bags.)

Yesterday Violet had her last science class for a while. She DID NOT want to go. We made her. She had a good time. I think she needs some time off from classes. And with all the snow/ice we've had already this year, I don't think it is wrong not to make a lot of commitments but rather to go when it is clear.

She has said that everyone else her age can spell so much better than she can. I have tried to assure her that I have seen their writing, most of their words are spelled wrong. Mr. Incredible and I may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we are both in agreement that invented spelling is wrong. And we've obviously made an impression on our little perfectionist because she isn't comfortable with writing anything unless she knows for sure how to spell it. I write things down for her to copy a lot of the time.

But we've just started Sequential Spelling and I think this might actually work for her (knock on wood, rub a bunny foot, cross your fingers, say a prayer, and anything else you can think of). I've promised her that we will work steadily on her spelling and in a few months she'll be spelling better than many of them.

She asked why I think she has such a hard time at spelling. I told her I think it is because she taught herself to read at 4. We skipped phonics altogether because it seemed silly to have her sounding out "cat" when she could already read "catastrophe" and "feline". Now it is coming back to bite her in the butt.

Maybe she is just a naturally bad speller (I am), but at least this explanation takes the pressure off and builds up her confidence by remembering that she is far better than most at one thing (reading).

Well anyway, we are supposed to have freezing rain later today. I was hoping to run over to the library to get our interlibrary loan books. I think we still have another day or two on them before they fine us for late pick up.

I also want to get the rest of the Christmas decorations put up today, and get the boxes moved back to the basement. And we discussed making more cookies. Violet's book club is having their holiday party tomorrow and we need to take some cookies to share. They are also doing their Secret Santa exchange so we need to wrap the gift. (They exchanged lists of 5 different paperback books they'd like to own, each Secret Santa will pick one of the books off their recipients list to get them.) Book club has become her most favorite activity.

And a quick thank you to Ami for the nice comment yesterday! I was feeling so down about sending Violet off to class kicking and screaming and fighting with Mr. Incredible. It really cheered me up! Thanks!!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

You can't predict anything

Wouldn't you know it, just when I think I have the theater all figured out, they change it on me. They didn't have all the homeschoolers up in the balcony this time. In fact, Violet and I had front row seats. We could hear the dancers feet hit the stage with each jump. Violet said she preferred this front row view over the balcony.

The show was good. I was completely distracted during a large chunk of it though because the nut from the first scene had been dropped on the stage. It sat there through the whole party scene and the fight with the mice. Finally one of the dancers kicked it over out of the way and scooped it up on her way off stage. I had thought for sure someone would trip on it and mess up their ankle but good.

Violet noticed that the show was shorter than The Nutcracker typically is and that scenes had been left out. I didn't know she knew the story that well. (I can't even tell you with certainty what wasn't it in.) The school day performances are always just an hour and have scenes cut. I guess most kids can't sit still longer than that in a large group. In fact the school group in the area next to us was getting pretty restless. I saw one girl about Violet's age completely flopped over in her seat. I guess I'd be too if I had to leave the theater and get back on the school bus and head back to that institution. But hey, our tickets are all $6 each. If we wanted the full show we could go back over the weekend and pay the full $30 and up for tickets. I'll take our shows just now, thank you very much.

Our next tickets aren't until February. We actually have 4 shows in February. We will be very cultured that month I tell you! The nice thing now is that at all the other shows this year we will know at least one other family there. There are 3 of us families who do a lot together these days. I guess you could say we've formed our own little support group. We are tentatively planning to go out after the shows to discuss them and enjoy lunch or hot chocolate or something. (We'll figure it out when it gets closer.)

As for tomorrow, we are supposed to go to my parents for the day. But as I type, it is snowing again. If Mr. Incredible needs a car that actually has traction in snow (he drives a Mustang - the last thing you want on a snowy road with the possible exception of a Camaro) then we'll stay home. We probably won't know until he has to leave to catch the train at 6 am. If our road hasn't been plowed yet, he'll take the Trailblazer. In theory, Violet and I could both get up and drive him to the train and be there to pick him up in the evening. We've never wanted to go anywhere badly enough to do that. We'd rather stay in. I'm good either way for tomorrow. I'd like to go to my folks, but staying home would be good too and we'll go next week. (They were the owners of both a Mustang and a Camaro in years past - they know all about bad roads and no traction. So there will be no questioning of whatever decision is made in the early morning hours.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Exactly our view

Actually, looking at my just posted theater picture, that is exactly the view Violet and I have of the stage. They've been seating the homeschoolers in that section of the balcony each time this season. Quite nice seats actually.

Sore muscles and theater tickets

I hurt all over tonight. I shoveled the driveway this afternoon. If you live in the South or another area where it doesn't snow, let me tell you 6 inches of wet snow is darned heavy. The worst part is the last 4 feet of the driveway where the snow plows have pushed 2 feet of snow and ice. And yet the road still isn't clear. Maybe they just move the snow from the fancier subdivision over here to the ends of our driveways.

I could have left it and Mr. Incredible would have done it when he got home tonight. After he'd been gone 12 hours at work. And after the sun had set and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees. But Violet wanted to go out and shovel, and it seemed the better solution to go out and do it before the snow all froze. Plus Mr. Incredible always leaves a big pile of snow at the end of my side of the driveway and I have to drive way over the side to get in and out. I'm really not that good of a driver. I prefer to go straight.

So we shoveled. Actually I shoveled, Violet threw snowballs at the house. Then she wimped out on me and abandoned me with 20 minutes to go. I just took a hot shower hoping to ease up the muscles. Didn't help. Next thing to try: wine. Even if my muscles still hurt, I won't care.

Tomorrow morning we have tickets to the school day performance of The Nutcracker at our favorite local theater. Violet has never seen a live performance of it. It should be fun. I'm going to try to post the only picture of the inside of the theater I could find. It is much more impressive in person. Quite beautiful in fact.

Snow Day

Wow, it is only the 5th of December and we just had our 3rd winter storm. If this is a sign of things to come, we're going to be stuck at home a lot this winter. Last night's storm left us 6 inches of snow. On top of the ice we still had from Saturday. Violet is going to be so excited when she gets up!

I thought for sure schools would be closed when I saw that very few of the neighbors had their driveways cleared yet and the road is still snow covered. I went to the emergency closing website, but they weren't listed. I guess school buses can plow through most anything.

On one hand that makes my still wanting to do at least a few subjects a lot easier. If Red were off today I'd encourage Violet to play with her out in the snow all day. After all, how many opportunities do you get like that? Well, maybe a lot at this rate. I'll still send her outside to play. But now we can still bake our cookies, do some math and spelling, curl up and read, all on our own schedule.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Freakmom's Favorites

I added a list of my favorite blogs and sites. If you don't wish to be associated with a freak, let me know and I'm happy to take the link off. (Freakmom respects the privacy of her fellow bloggers and won't mind in the least if you prefer to stay "off the grid".) If I forgot to list your site, let me know. I'm sure it was an oversight. I got mixed up and had a little problem part way through. That happens you know. If your link doesn't work, I messed it up, just let me know and I'll try again.

Basically, just let me know, okay? :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Change of plans and stormy weather

Friday didn't go as we planned. I wasn't terribly surprised. The truck with the candy and nuts that was supposed to be at Archery Mom's house by 10am still hadn't arrived by noon. (The mom who is our Fall Product Chair also taught archery at day camp.) So helping her wasn't working out and she was stuck making her kids do it. (Actually she said her high school age daughter and two of her friends were huge helps, so that's good.)

But our day was thrown off. I did what any self-respecting mom would do and offered to take Violet out for ice cream. I was actually going to take her out to lunch since Archery Mom lives right by Arby's. But we got frozen custard at Culver's instead.

We did get a little school work done. I had Violet try Brainish for the first time and she liked it. It is a math worksheet site. We also did more history. We tried one of the Sequential Spelling samples and it looks promising. And we had a huge fight over Easy Grammar. How can you fight over Easy Grammar? I don't know, we were both having an off day.

Saturday we got hit by the storm. Mr. Incredible took Violet to her Code Cracking class at a nearby science lab (not so nearby, it is about an hour away). During the class it started snowing, then the temperatures increased and by the time they left the freezing rain and sleet was starting up. It took them almost 2 hours to get home and they didn't get to stop for lunch like they'd planned. Two days, two canceled lunches.

Turns out her class didn't go smoothly either. First she couldn't sleep the night before because she was so anxious about going. Then our right-brained, highly sensitive perfectionist had a melt down when she couldn't get one of her projects just right. They had to remove her from the class and take her into another room because she was crying so hard she was heaving. Mr. Incredible and the instructor talked to her about how everyone has to do things more than once to get it right sometimes. The instructor said something about Edison needing 300 tries to make the light bulb. (This may not be entirely accurate, Mr. Incredible said the instructor's story changed a couple of times). She is signed up for another class next Saturday, and we'll try that one, but after that we're going to think long and hard before signing up for the next.

Sigh. They got back home just as the weather turned really, really bad. But we were in for the night and just watched the ice accumulate.

This morning was warmer so things were melting and the roads were passable again. In the afternoon I went to Archery Mom's house to pick up Violet's orders. The Double Dipped Chocolate Covered Peanuts are as good as I remembered from last year. Violet got to sort her own orders out and made thank you cards for her customers. She got her incentives for selling: a patch, a stuffed dolphin, a stuffed seal, a t-shirt, a light up pen and a sparkle clock. She had a lot of sales. And we had my favorite meal for dinner: Super Nachos.

And once again, tomorrow starts a new week and we start all over again. I told Violet we'd be hitting the books again tomorrow and she said she was looking forward to trying the math website again. I had been thinking we'd do Miquon, but I'll take any math practice I can get from her.

Tuesday Pump It Up has homeschool day again, so we'll go and hope other kids come this time. And Thursday we're back to the theater for our school day performance of The Nutcracker. Have a good week everyone!