Thursday, July 31, 2008

Still catching up

Summer is supposed to be slow and relaxed and easy, isn't it? Whatever happened to that?

Violet's been taking it easy this week and relaxing. Yesterday she and Mr. Incredible went to see Space Chimps while I had my yearly performance review. Violet loved the movie. Mr. Incredible? He is waiting to see Batman this weekend. Me? I don't have time to go to a movie. Yet my entire Sunday will be taken up with going to my folks, leaving Violet with them, seeing a movie I don't care about, and finally getting home in the evening.

Sorry, I digressed into a whine.

Work has once again exploded. I have 6 presentations to prepare for other people. The good news is that they have to go to the conferences and speak. I get to stay home in my jammies. The bad news is that they have to be finalized no later than August 8th. Since I work primarily weekends, that just gives me one weekend to do them. And one of the days is taken up with Batman.

It is hot and humid here again. No relief in sight. The garden is loving it though. I took some pictures. I'll try to get them posted today or tomorrow. I still owe camp pictures too. There are at least 8 spaghetti squash growing. And one cute little eggplant. We've been eating cucumber and broccoli already.

Today Violet is going over to Cookie's house. It is her first time visiting there. Cookie has been here all the other times. I hope it goes smoothly and Violet doesn't pull a Violet-scene.

The house is disgusting. I dust mopped the wood floor the other day because I was tired of stuff sticking to my feet. The bathrooms are scary. There is still birthday stuff to be put away. Hissy and Missy are gone but the cat carrier is still in the extra room and none of the stuff that was in there has been put away. I want to paint that room before school starts up. I asked Mr. Incredible and Violet to pick up paint chips on their way back from the movie. They didn't. All they have to do is decide on a damn color and I can get the stupid room painted and get the house back in order.

Sorry, that time I digressed into a vent.

I guess rather than sit here and type about how much I have to do I should just go do it.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

There's no place like camp

Violet and I got home today at about noon. Another successful camping trip under our belts. For a while there late Friday night I didn't think it would be a success, but I'll get to that.

It took us both a while to get used to this new camp. But once we did, I think we both fell in love with it. First thing at check-in they inspected our heads for lice, our feet for athlete's foot and took our temperature. And confiscated my Seasonale. I've never had drugs taken from me at camp (as a grown-up). And in case you haven't heard my stories about how absolutely wonderful Seasonale is and how it has turned my life around since I no longer have horrible PMS symptoms two weeks each month, well there's my story. I was quite uneasy about turning it over. I DID NOT like that idea at all. I offered to keep it locked in my car, they said no.

Okay, got through check in, went to settle in our unit. Found out we weren't in tents, but in cabins. With 6 other cabin mates. And bunk beds. Not good. Violet has a love-hate, mainly hate, thing with bunk beds. She really wants to sleep on the top bunk, but would rather it be lower. Sigh, I was crawling up to the top bunk. Even bigger problem, her extreme nervousness about being away from home. We couldn't do our hand holding from 2 different bunks. This would be a problem. And it was.

Our cabin mates all arrived later, after we had headed to the pool. At least the pool was good. They didn't make us do the swim test unless we wanted to go in the deep end. Violet's not a strong enough swimmer, we stuck to the shallow end. A few mom-daughter pairs did it. One dad-daughter pair tried, the daughter wasn't strong enough swimmer to complete it. But kudos to her (and to her dad for encouraging her and cheering her up afterward, "we'll practice and try it again next year, Pumpkin") she tried her little heart out. That's what Girl Scout camp is all about.

The pool was really nice, I'll post pictures in a day or two. Then off to dinner, which was breaded porkchops, veggies, salad, fruit. There was lots of food all weekend long. Lots of variety and available often, just what campers really need! We did crafts after dinner, then had a campfire and made s'mores. Yummy.

Bedtime. Oh no. Oh yes, she didn't fall asleep until 12:30 am. She kept our cabinmates up (we got dirty looks from 2 of the moms the next day, sympathy and encouragement from one). She cried. She used the pit latrines 3 times (which were really nice latrines if I may say so). I ended up pulling my sleeping bag and pillow down off the top bunk and slept (more or less, mainly less) on her bunk with her. Buggers what the cabinmates thought about that. I am Freakmom, hear me roar! I do what my Freak-kid needs. Even if my shoulder is really sore in the morning.

Morning and flag ceremony came all too early. But wait, cabin 2 (that's us) report for hopper duty. Hoppers are the campers who set up for meals. It is quite fun. Violet got a kick out of it. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with bacon and cheese, bread with jelly or peanut butter, fruit, yogurt, cereal. Again, a really good spread. Violet didn't eat much. She wasn't awake yet.

After breakfast we had unit kapers. That's where you all pitch in and clean up. We got to clean our program building. Well, Violet and I and the nice mom and daughter did it. We didn't see the other two. I think they were in the cabin putting on their make up or maybe at their car (the other mom made several snarky comments about them running off to their cars all the time).

After kapers we had creek stomping! This was so cool. We put on our water shoes and climbed down into the cold, cold creek and walked along, splashing, singing and see the beaver dam. Violet said this was her favorite thing at camp. We were pretty wet and muddy when we got out. There will be a photo eventually.

We then got ready for our lunch cookout. Violet got to help out thereby mostly completing her Outdoor Cooking Badge (they gave us a sheet of various badge requirements the girls completed at the end). We had grilled steak (Violet's first steak ever!), foil pack veggies, salad, and cake baked in the coals - you campers know how that was done, I think I'll let the non-campers wonder. Another good meal, even if I did skip the steak, looked good but I really want to eliminate or really cut back on red meat.

After lunch we tried our hands at more crafts. We made windchimes (the night before we painted fans, made lanyards and bead animals, and pins). Violet enjoyed it. I had troubled getting my old eyes to be able to see what I was doing. I didn't finish mine but asked Violet to paint it for me next week.

My favorite activity was next: canoeing! I am a canoer, canoest? can-do-canoe paddler, that's it. I love canoeing. We got suited up in our life jackets and put our canoe in. Violet in front, I steered. We explored the pond. Then they started a game of canoe tag. One canoe had a buoy and they tried to paddle close enough to toss it into another canoe. We expertly paddled away from one meanie mom from our cabin with our superior paddling skills. Then we teased several other canoes by stalking them making them think we had the buoy. We won the game by being the last ones tagged (I told Violet we had to let them get us because the game wasn't going to end until we all got it). We didn't officially win, I just told Violet that to cheer her up. She didn't want to play.

We had some rest time after canoeing, then we went back to the pool. Violet had been wiggling a tooth all weekend. By the time we got to the pool it was super loose. She let me pull it in the locker room. I put it in a baggie in our backpack and tonight the Toothfairy will visit. As we were saying with our friends from the cabin, if you try to have the Toothfairy visit while you aren't home she gets her whole database messed up and she can't find you the next time.

Dinner that night was baked pasta, bread, salad, more fruit. Then a Jell-O whip thing for dessert. By the time dinner was over Violet was barely able to remain upright she was so tired. There was a family Olympic competition which we just watched along with another mom/daughter pair from the weekend before. (I didn't mention there were two groups there that had been at the camp the weekend before. Turns out there are a lot of us who camp-hop all summer hitting several the local Girl Scout camps. Campies I guess you could call us. We're getting to know some of them so it will be fun to see who we see next summer too).

After the obstacle course relay race there was a "Hootenanny" dance. We were supposed to get dressed up as funny as we could do and go to the dance. Violet wanted to watch the dance but not dress up or dance. Part of her wanted to fit in and dress up. Most of her was so exhausted she could barely keep her eyes open. In fact when I went to First Aid to get my Seasonale tablet (the best drug on the planet) the first aider asked if she could take Violet's temperature because she was so droopy (we didn't tell her I had already given Violet some undeclared children's Tylenol I smuggled into camp).

Instead of a campfire that night we had a glow bracelet campfire. They cracked a bunch of necklaces and bracelets and put them in the fire pit. We sang songs and the girls wore the fire. Then we did memory sticks. Each girl took a turn saying what they liked about camp and put a bracelet or necklace back in the pit (typically you add a stick to the campfire, then save some of the ashes to take to your next fire). Violet spoke up and said she liked creek stomping the best. Isn't that awesome! She actually spoke up! After we had walked to our cabin they said the girls could take the "wishes" back and keep them. Some one else took the pink bracelet that Violet had put in, she was bummed. But we saw a counselor who was picking up the leftover and asked Violet if she wanted one. When Violet said she was hoping for a bracelet, not a necklace the counselor gave her both the ones she was wearing. Violet was over the moon.

We got ready for bed and Violet used the bracelet as a makeshift nightlight. She said that helped her fall asleep. She fell asleep much earlier, and much, much, much easier, and slept all night. I didn't bother trying to sleep in the top bunk. Instead I took the extra blankets I had in the car and used those to cover up on Violet's bunk with her. It was much cooler and far less humid than the night before had been. That helped too.

In the morning we just had our flag ceremony, breakfast (with the yummiest peach muffins ever), packed and cleaned up the unit. We took our time checking out. Funny, the other campies took their time too. The ones we'll probably never see again hightailed it out of there. In fact 3 pairs left the night before.

There was no rain. It was sunny, warm, and really good camping weather. The camp experience was very much like a miniature resident camp session, but with parents. There were 3 dads who had brought a total of 4 girls with them. Most of the people there were super nice. Mainly the snots were just our 2 cabin mates. And really, only one was mean, the other was just standoffish. We didn't care, especially after we met the other ones who were really nice.

I think we'll be going back there next summer. Especially if Violet can shake this not being away from home thing. I am seriously considering taking a bunch of glow bracelets with to act as nightlights. Hey, whatever works. That's the Girl Scout camp way.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Good news, bad news

Just got a phone call from Kids and College, Violet's "Ancient World" class for next week was canceled. She was the only one signed up for it. I tried to explain to Violet what an absolutely horrible job public schools do in teaching history and that because of that most people find it boring. But we homeschoolers know the truth that history is really cool. I'm letting her sleep in, so I haven't told her yet. I think it will be both good and bad news. Good news because she is really ready for a break this summer and we are heading off to camp again this weekend so no rest there. And bad news because she was looking forward to the topic and it was her all time favorite teacher who was teaching it.

The cat sitting is going smoothly. Again, not sure if that is good news or bad news. They've used their litter box, not the futon. They've not scratched up or broken anything too major (Missy likes to jump and has knocked a few things down). Hissy doesn't like it here and spends his time under the futon making scary noises. Missy is on an adventure and would love to go exploring the house. Good news that the room is still in one piece and no cats have killed each other yet. Bad news that Mr. Incredible might think this was a success and try it again.

Definite good news, I am feeling much better today. Violet was still complaining about not feeling well at bedtime last night. But I think hers is mostly allergies. High mold counts affect her a lot, and although I haven't checked them with all the rain we've had all summer they've got to be through the roof. I'm letting her sleep in today.

I finished one of the presentations I was doing for work yesterday. I'm going to let the other wait until next week. I have my research all done and printed out. I should be able to whip it out by mid-week.

Father-in-law stopped by last night and it was probably a good thing. I sat and visited instead of running around trying to do things. He had his dogs with and we put them in the backyard. For a few hours there were 2 dogs, 5 cats and a hamster here. Yikes!

Today's goals are to do laundry and lay out everything we need for camp session two. Make sure nothing major goes down at work and postpone everything else. And we're meeting up with some homeschool friends at the park who also want to "go Juliette" this year. Hee, hee, I don't mean to be recruiting people to the Juliette program and convincing them to leave their troops, but I seem to be. What can I say? Juliettes is everything you want out of Girl Scouts and none of the nonsense.

Juliettes Rule!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

worn out

Violet and I have been on the go non-stop the entire months of June and July. We are both worn out. I think I'm getting a cold. She's been complaining of stomach aches. We are trying very, very hard this week to take it easy. The week is not cooperating with us.

Yesterday I had my eye appointment. My eye doctor is 45 miles away. I've tried closer eye docs. I haven't found one I like. I keep going back to this guy who I've seen off and on since college. I like him. I like his office. Violet hung out at my parents while I was there.

I've had a floater in my left eye since December. And things have been getting blurry. I was worried. And I needed to order another year's worth of contacts. He checked my eyeballs out. The left eye is completely healthy, it is just an annoying floater because I'm old now. (Why do my medical professionals seem to enjoy telling me how old I am?) I did need to up the strength of my contacts. I'm relieved that is done. And Violet did enjoy quietly hanging out with my mom.

On the way from the eye doctor back to get Violet I ran a bunch of errands. I think we are good for now. Except that I need to go to the grocery store. I was going to go tonight after dinner. But Mr. Incredible's dad is stopping by for dinner and to see Violet and have Mr. Incredible look at his computer. Sigh. I'm thinking I can scrape by with the food we have until we leave for camp and that Mr. Incredible is on his own while we're gone. Grandpa Incredible is going to pick up Subway for us, so at least I don't have to cook. I hope the Mr. is home before his dad gets here so HE can get his dad's dogs secured in the backyard away from the pool and away from my prize garden.

Hissy and Missy are still in the guest room. We don't know their real names, Mr. Incredible forgot them. Missy rubs on you and tries to sneak out. Hissy growls all the time. I was calling him Mr. Growly Pants, but Violet didn't like that. She came up with Missy and Hissy. At first I was calling them Damn Cat 1 and Damn Cat 2. So far there've been no big cat fights or messes made. Just food and catnip all over the carpeting, which Mr. Incredible WILL be cleaning up. I wonder if I can claim my runny nose is that I'm allergic to the Missy and Hissy. I'm also wondering if we can choose which two cats to return to the neighbors. I'm thinking keep Missy and give them the cat who stands on me at 4 am and sticks his wet nose in my armpit.

I have 2 presentations to prepare this week for work. I'll be doing good to get one done. We haven't heard about Violet's class next week, but I think we are both hoping it gets canceled. But if it doesn't I'll actually be able to catch up with work.

We don't have to go anywhere today. I'd like to get my hair cut, but Violet is happy with hers so I hate to drag us both off to the Great Clips. I'll just tie mine back at camp with a bandana again. That's Girl Scout camp stylish anyway. So far the weather reports sound much better for this weekend than last.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camp Pictures

Mr. Incredible and Violet are next door attempting to wrangle the cats into cat carriers. The workers arrive tomorrow to suck all the oxygen out of the house. The neighbors left for vacation Saturday. I'm still not on board. Mr. Incredible feels that they have helped us out a lot by snow blowing our driveway a few times each winter. I still say this was a lot to ask in return. I guess I'm just not that nice a person.

Anyway, to try not to think about the impending doom I am posting pictures from camp.

This is our tent:

After dinner they had a barn dance. It was hot. So we hung around outside and Violet tried out some of the games on hand. She's practicing jump rope. She'll get it one day soon:

And Frisbee. She's getting the hang of this one:

Back at the tent rehydrating:

Here's the corn maze. See she has our rain ponchos. We weren't convinced it wasn't going to pour on us again.

In the morning we had the pool to ourselves for a while:

Here's me, on the trail:

This is Violet by the sign to our camp unit. There were 8 tents like ours in the unit. Our unit had our own pit latrine and wash stand. Except there were some pipe issues and many of the wash stands weren't working part of the time. One of the dads fixed them in the morning. We think he was a plumber or contractor. We didn't hear the whole story but the camp staff was quite grateful for his help.

This is Violet at Peace Pole. I didn't know this until we got home but apparently it is a Girl Scout thing to erect a peace pole reminding everyone to love one another and live in harmony. And here I thought I was an experienced Girl Scout! You learn something new every trip. It is where we took our hike to. You can see the Rock River down below us.

After the hike Violet was too hot to do anything but get her bandana wet and stick it on her head! That's our storm shelter in the background.

I have a great picture of Violet with the CIT, but since I don't have her parents' permission to post her photo I can't show you. Picture Violet with a really super teenaged girl and you'll have the idea.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Happy Campers return home

We got back from camp tonight. We've showered. Piled all the dirty stuff in the laundry room. And are getting ready for bed. It was fun.

The camp was a Family Overnight and it was a bit different than what we were really looking for. We wanted scaled down versions of the regular resident camp sessions with moms and daughter attending together to let the girls get a feel for camp until the girls are ready to go on their own. This was moms, dads, girls, brothers and every combination you can think of all going to spend the night at camp. There was even one family group that was a grandma and grandpa, at least 2 daughters and sons-in-law and a handful of grandkids. They've been going to family night every year for either 6, 7 or 8 years. They weren't sure. The grandma and one mom are bigwig volunteers in that Girl Scout council. They were really friendly and nice.

That was one difference I noticed. The people this weekend were so much more friendly and talkative and nice than the past 2 summers at our camp in the northwoods. It took us aback at first. But it was really nice. (How many more times can I say "nice" in this post?)

Anyway when we got there we got settled into our units and had dinner. We had a campfire and s'more afterwards. Then there was a night swim. That was fun, swimming under the overcast.

We got into bed and Violet was doing her usual panicking about not being at home but really holding it together much better. We had made a deal. For every night she spent camping I'd buy her a book. This summer only to help her through her phase. And the night in the backyard counted so she already had one coming.

We finally got to sleep late. The family reunion people restarted the fire and stayed up late talking. One of the counselors was complaining about that the next day too. Violet felt better that it wasn't just her being kept awake by them. She fell asleep sometime shortly before midnight. I woke up at 1:30 to the sound of very heavy rain. I dozed. Then Violet woke me up at 3. She had to use the latrine. We went. Then at 5 I woke to 2 HUGE cracks of thunder. A few minutes later a counselor appeared at our tent to say we were being evacuated to a nearby screened in shelter.

As Violet got her shoes and socks on I stuffed her stuffed toys and blankie plus our books we brought to read and flashlights in the backpack. I knew we weren't going to sleep at the shelter.We waited forever (under trees - was this a good idea?) waiting for all the families to finally be ready. Then we walked to a nearby unit to find very little room in the screen shelter and it was only screened in, not super secure. Funny thing was after the two big booms there hadn't been much more. Turns out, we didn't even stay at the shelter. Less than 5 minutes after arriving the counselors got the call on their walkie-talkies that we could go back to our tents. Another storm was expect around breakfast but that we'd be fine until then.

Now Violet didn't need to hear that another storm was coming. She was nervous, but handled it like a pro. We went back to our tent. I told her we didn't have to go back to sleep, but that we should lay back down and rest more. Like a cat. We did doze off.

No more storms came. Just rain at breakfast. It was cloudy and threatening all day so we lugged our rain ponchos around. And everything was soaking wet.

The activities were set up neat at this camp. They had about 8-10 options running concurrently and families could pick and choose and hop around to whatever they want. Many families crammed a lot in. Others like us, did only a few and did them for a longer time.

We visited the trading post (we love gift shops!) and Violet spent the money my mom had given her on stuffed toys (that will please mom who wanted Violet to get what she wanted with the money not what I wanted her to get). I bought us camp bandanas (I seem to be starting a collection) and patches. We had pre-ordered t-shirts that we got later at lunch.

We also did the corn maze. They grew a field of corn right there in camp and built a maze. It was muddy, but fun. Then we went to the pool. We were surprised to be almost the only ones there. Turned out the rest of camp went in the afternoon (when it turned hot so maybe they knew what they were doing).

After lunch we chatted with a high school girl we met last summer at camp. She was a Counselor in Training I (CIT) last summer and in her second year of it this summer. She is such a nice girl, just earned her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting. A terrific role model for Violet and all the other girls at camp.

We went on a hike after lunch which was fun, but since it got humid really wiped us out for the rest of the day. When we got back we drank lots of water in the shade. We tried to do the corn maze again but Violet was just too wiped out. We went up to the car and broke into our cooler. We split a Coke and ate granola bars and cookies. The snack helped tremendously.

We stumbled into lanyard making and Violet started one. We were supposed to be headed to the all camp activity - Quiz Bowl. We were poking along, stopped to look at rocks. Stopped to photograph a cool looking bug to try to identify later. We didn't really want to go. Apparently no one else did either because when we were almost there the camp director and a few counselors stopped us and said only one family showed up so they were canceling it. We could head out of camp if we liked. We looked at each other and said, "Ok." It was fun, but we were hot, tired, sweaty, stinky and hungry.

We were asked by several people, counselors, the family reunion, others, if we were going to be back next year. We said we just might be.

Back at home.

Violet earned herself two books for making through the night not only away from home and in a tent but being evacuated to a shelter during a storm. She wants to get a Manga version of Warriors and a Littles book. She earned them. We'll get them ordered from Amazon tomorrow.

There is a litter box, litter and cat food just inside the front door. No extra cats yet. I haven't asked Mr. Incredible. He plans to keep them in an extra bedroom. I'm avoiding the topic because I don't want to think about it and all the stuff I want to get out of that room before the cats move in.

Maybe I can rent a tent at camp for later in the week. Or maybe I can set the cats loose in the corn maze. Tonight after Violet is tucked in, there is a bottle of Merlot with my name on it.

Friday, July 18, 2008


You are not going to believe this. Really, sit down, swallow the coffee, hold on to your hat.

Mr. Incredible has agreed to have us pet sit the neighbor's cats for 4 days. At our house. While their house is being fumigated or something to get rid of the mold that was caused when their toilet blew up. Or something like that. I stopped listening when he got to the part about their 2 cats staying here. Maybe Martians have asked to borrow the neighbor's house for 4 days and they don't like cats. I'm not sure. I really blacked out.

He did ask me. I said I really didn't want to do it. He told the neighbor yes. I think this is grounds for divorce in the State of Illinois. But I'm not going to do that. I'm going to hold this over his head for the next 40 years. Revenge is much sweeter than divorce.

It was supposed to be almost a week. But they day we were supposed to go to their house and catch the cats and bring them here, I have an eye appointment over an hour away and won't be home. Mr. Incredible will be at work. I said no. He offered that if someone else could watch the cats for the first couple of days we could take them after that. I still don't like this.

Cross your fingers that the neighbor will call back and say she's decided to put them in a kennel while they are gone and the house is under the control of the terrorists making poison with pufferfish. That could have been the story.

All this sprung on me while I am trying to pack Violet and I for our first weekend camping trip that we leave for in 2 hours. Violet doesn't want to be away from her bed tonight. Work is going nutso again. I can't catsit two cats that will be fighting with our three while their house is being used as a safe house for Federal witnesses.

We are packed. I'm going to go take a quick shower before we head off. It is hot, humid with a 60% chance of storms. Violet is homesick already. And my carpeting will be ruined completely next week.

I wish Girl Scout camp had an open bar.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baby pictures

I am just so thrilled with the garden this year. The garden has always been Mr. Incredible's territory. But the last couple of years he hasn't had time to do one. And when he has planted, I've done all the watering and harvesting anyway. That's why I took over this year. I wanted a garden. I knew what I wanted to try to grow. I seized control. The weather really has been my friend.

My pride and joy, the baby spaghetti squash:

Baby gourd:

Isn't the little baby cucumber so cute?

The baby broccoli is a little hard to see. (Yeah, I know they all are. Just wait until the harvest, then the pictures will be better.)

There really are baby tomatoes up in there. There was also a bee, so Violet wouldn't get any closer.

And the raspberry bush:

There were a lot more raspberries on it before the campout. Tinkerbell ate a ton of them. I really didn't mind, it saved me from having to pick them all and figure out what to do with them. Kind of wish she would have eaten gooseberries and currants too.

I just realized we forgot to take a picture of the baby green peppers. Just picture teeny tiny peppers, that's what they look like.

Heat Wave

Our weather has turned hot this week. And humid. Upper 80s. (Mom #1 is thinking that sounds nice and cool.) I'm really not complaining, we've had a really good summer weatherwise. Except for the hail. But the rain has been tremendous for the garden, and I expect this week's sun and heat will be too. After being buried in snow for months last winter, it is nice to be warm.

I'm a little bit bummed that it will be hot this weekend. It is our first Girl Scout camp trip of the summer. Violet and I are going one night to the camp that I went to as a girl. It is a family weekend, so there will be dads and brothers there as well as moms and girls. I'm wondering if we'll get our own platform tent to sleep in. That would be really nice. The cots always kill my back, so if it is just us in the tent I'm going to pull my mattress off the cot and sleep on the wood floor with it.

The camp info said we can participate in their planned activities or just hang out by the pool. We are going to check out their activities, but love the fall back plan of hanging out by the pool. Especially if it is hot. I'm thinking archery might be crowded and filled with dads and brothers. Violet loves the sport, but gets intimidated by boys. Crafts would be fun. She loves a good camp craft. They don't have a lake, but are on a river, so if they offer canoeing I'm not so sure about it. Violet needs better swimming skills and more upper body strength before tackling currents. The pool will be fun and so will just hiking around and hanging out at camp.

Today is my day off from work. I'm still not used to this having days off. For years I checked e-mail and worked every day. Usually only an hour or so a day, but still, daily. At first I was thinking I'd take my computer and do a little bit of the stuff I have to do while Violet is in her class, but then I realized that was a dumb plan. I'm taking books and magazines instead.

Yesterday there was no mention from her at all the Violet was the only girl. I guess the fun outweighs the cooties. Yippee!

Monday, July 14, 2008


That's the name of Violet's Kids and College class this week. They are learning about electricity and magnetism. Just her and the boys. Eight of them. She's the only girl. She did not fail to notice it. Luckily the teacher is a female and there is a high school girl helping out with the class. Violet still had a blast today, even with all the cooties.

She's still tired from the party. So are Mr. Incredible and I. But we are perking up. And cleaning up. I mopped the floor today. Did I tell you how muddy the backyard was from all the rain the day before? The rug by the back door was filthy. So was the mop water when I dumped it. But it didn't rain a single drop during the party, so can't complain there. The mud all over just makes it feel that much more like a real camp out.

Found out something interesting today. Many of you will remember evil Girl Scout leader, the reason Violet is a Juliette and I am no longer a leader. Well she quit the troop (although she still leads one for the younger daughter) and her daughter became a Juliette too. I'm not telling Violet. Violet still thinks she and this girl are friends. The other girl is a bully. Violet isn't hanging out with her, ever. Evil leader was supposed to turn the Juliette registration form in to me, but she didn't. I'm guessing she's not going to want any of my services as Juliette Coordinator through the year. Gack. At least 2 other friends of mine have decided to have their daughters also become Juliettes. One is also an ex-friend to her Evilness. The other 3 girls are all homeschoolers too. Violet is going to get together with them on occasion for projects and outings.

Who ever thinks that all homeschoolers get along simply because we homeschool and therefore must have so much in common, is out of their gourd. We homeschool moms can have fights, cliques, and grudges just like all the other moms.

Speaking of gourds (how's this for a transition to a garden update), Violet and I spotted a blossom on our gourd plant! She picked 6 beans today. And we spotted teeny tiny cucumbers, spaghetti squash, green peppers and tomatoes. Get your salad bowls ready and come on over! It will be quite a harvest!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I lived to tell about it

It is over. I am so tired. Violet is beat. Mr. Incredible is wiped out.

I think everyone had a good time, especially Violet. She was rather worried (okay, crying nearly hysterically) about sleeping in the tent, but once she settled down she fell right asleep. In the morning having survived the night in the tent she reported she loved it.

What I learned:

Always have a pickup time specified on the slumber party invitation. Otherwise your wonderful husband will be trying hard but will tell them at least an hour later than you really wanted and another family will decide it would be better to come after church. I thought those kids would never leave.

Your kid's two best friends probably won't get along. Tinkerbell had some sort of bone to pick with Red all weekend. I have no idea why but she seemed incredibly jealous of Red and antagonized her the whole time. Red was a pro and ignored her. Tink seems to like to push people's buttons. She was pushing mine the whole time. I don't find it empowering in children, I find it obnoxious. You can teach your children to think for themselves without teaching them to argue with the mom in whom's home you are sleeping. Mr. Incredible gently said I let her get to me too much and it thereby encourages her to keep it up. He's right. I can't help wanting to strangle her sometimes.

Edited to try to explain: I do really like Tinkerbell, she's a really nice kid and a good friend for Violet. I think the problem is she is so different from Violet and I am so used to Violet (and not particularly good with kids in general) that I have trouble adjusting to her kid style.

Before planning a backyard campout find out if there will be an outdoor festival three blocks away with live music until 11 pm first. No one could sleep until the music finally ended (well, Red and Cookie crashed a little before). Then I listened to the traffic for another hour.

Always have extra projects planned. I know, rookie mistake and I know better. But I didn't expect half the daycampers to decide they didn't want to do one of the projects. Luckily we had all crafts and all the girls who stayed over really got into them (of course that led to some competition between Red and Tink over who could braid better and faster). The daycampers decided to play on the swing set and pick berries instead. (I was all for them picking the berries, then I don't have to and don't have to feel guilty about not doing it.) But by morning we were out of crafts and I had to send them out to draw on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.

If you want help from a mom during the party, ask ahead of time if anyone is planning on staying. There were kids from 5 families at the party (two sets of siblings and Violet made up the 8 total), 3 of the moms always stay, none of them did this time. Yikes. Thank goodness for Mr. Incredible.

I didn't take any pictures but Mr. Incredible did, so I will try to get some to post. Tonight I am happy to be indoors, going to go to bed in a bed, and with my one and only wonderful kid here at our house.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Party Day

9:30 am and I am already exhausted. We had a night of horrible storms. You know the storms are bad when they wake up Violet. She usually sleeps through them. She came and got me twice during the night.

There's a 60% chance of storms through the morning, then it tapers off. I think we're still going to try to have the party outside, but I cleaned the house yesterday (except for all of Mr. Incredible's stuff which he will move shortly) just in case. The second time she got me Violet said she didn't want to sleep outside tonight because what if it storms. I said we'd check the weather, but we wouldn't be out if there was bad weather. Actually, I think it would be easier on me if they were in.

We did make a few decisions, like if they are in they will sleep in the family room, rather than upstairs. And (thanks Ami!) we will tell them where we are when we order pizza. Duh. That never occurred to me. We are ordering one large cheese and one medium pepperoni.

I'm thinking as long as it looks to be clear enough to sleep outside we should set up the tent then they can always actually come inside to sleep.

I need to go get the cake from Skippy and Skippy Two. But first I need more coffee. Thanks for listening to (and helping with) the party plans. Parties are killers on us obsessive compulsive planners!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Party Preparation

Tomorrow is Violet's camping party. We have all the crafts lined up. Mr. Incredible has plans for the scavenger hunt. The cake is ordered. Now we need the weather to cooperate.

Depending on who you listen to there is a 40-60% chance of storms tomorrow. I guess I have to prepare to have 8 kids in the house painting. The forecast for Saturday night is clear, so the campout looks good. Except that I think Violet is getting cold feet. We aren't sure how many girls are staying over. It could be anywhere from 2 to 5. I think there will be 4. Why can't people be clearer when they RSVP?

We can't decide if we should order pizza and if so when. If we are in the backyard, how do we get it delivered? We won't hear the doorbell. If we go pick it up it means one of us leaves the party for a good half hour. Do we need pizza? I say no. The main party is from 2-4 pm. I wouldn't expect a meal at that time. Mr. Incredible said he was thinking we need to order 3 pizzas. For 8 kids and probably 4 adults tops. We need a Federal negotiator to step in and help us come to a middle ground. We were going to grill hotdogs at dinner time for the girls staying over. What to do? What to do?

I will be glad when the party was a success and is over with.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garden Tour

Time for another garden tour. I am just so pleased at how well it is turning out. All the rain followed by lots of sun has really been good for growing this year. And between rising prices and salmonella I'm so excited to have our own veggies to eat this year!

Remember how our sunflower plants were eaten by the bunnies? Well, they couldn't reach these that came up in the planter on the deck.

Everything has blossoms on it. The cucumbers:

The green peppers:

The tomatoes:

The green beans (and purple beans) have little tiny beans on them! They are so cute:

The broccoli has little tiny broccolis (broccolettes?) starting to form:

And the one I am most excited about...the spaghetti squash:

If it keeps growing like this I am going to need your spaghetti squash recipes! E-mail them to me at freakmom at or better yet, post them on Homeschool-Talk.

And one more, just because she's so darned cute. Violet at Chuck E. Cheese on her birthday:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My new motto

I am 41 years old and I don't have to take that crap anymore.

I've been saying that a lot the last few weeks. When I first turned 40 I was really in denial. I claimed to be 39 for an extra year and a half. Then recently I decided it was time I get the respect I deserve.

Like tonight at the grocery store. Skippy the wonder boy was busy talking with Skippy Two and not paying the least bit attention to anything. He scanned my cereal box and tossed it without looking down the belt. I scolded him. "Don't throw my stuff," I said to him in my best mom voice. "What?" he said in his normal slacker voice as he tossed my loaf of bread the same way. "Like that. Do not throw my stuff." I was pissed.

Skippy Two randomly shoved items in bags and piled them without care into the cart. I rearranged the cart so that the cans were no longer crushing the bananas. Morons.

I'm going to have to work on enforcing that motto of mine. Stand back morons, Freakmom isn't putting up with your crap.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Got the J-Bucks

I took all the cookie paperwork and leftover cookies that I collected from the cookie lady over to Council last night. To say Council was stunned that all that stuff had just been sitting around her house and she didn't think they wanted it is an understatement. There are still 31 boxes of cookies that can't completely be accounted for. But Council gave me Violet's J-Bucks. We're done. And Council was much appreciative of the extra effort I put in.

(For anyone who is new to my blog or perhaps forgot because somehow my life isn't the most important thing going on with them right now: J-Bucks are like Girl Scout council gift certificates. Violet earned them for selling Girl Scout cookies as an independent Girl Scout this past year.)

I like being on the product sales committee. It is a lot of fun. Last night we got to see all the incentives available for the cookie sale and narrow it down to 15 possible ones for the girls to vote on. I'm pretty sure Violet will be included in the voting. Plus a perk of being on the committee, we get to order some of the extra incentives that won't be offered. I'm getting a sweatshirt and a travel mug with cookie logos on them. At least I'm requesting them, I won't count my sweatshirts until they hatch.

I also get to go to the Leader Jamboree training day and help present the "cookie kickoff in a box" that we put together. Leaders can get all the materials to teach the girls about safety, cookies, selling techniques with some fun games and activities we made up. We have some really cool games for the girls so it will be great fun to show them off to the leaders! They are pretty sure there will be an opportunity for an overnight there too. It is at the camp we held daycamp at last year and that I did my outdoor trainings at. I'm looking forward to the prospect.

Funny, I have to miss the fancy dinner opportunity through the committee (it is the same day as homeschool day at Six Flags), but I can go camping.

I am so super relieved that the J-Bucks are here. Next year I am handling things differently. Mainly, I am handling them, not someone else.

My mom always said if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The results are in

Violet has completed the science topic survey and here are her rankings:

  • Dinosaurs = 4
  • Weather = 3.5
  • Space = 4
  • Birds = 3
  • Mammals = 4
  • Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish = 4
  • Insects and Arachnids = 4
  • Chemistry = 5
  • Evolution = 5
  • The Oceans = 4
  • Madagascar = 4
  • African plains = 4.5
  • Plants and flowers = 3
  • Trees = 4
  • Ponds, Rivers, Creeks = 4
  • The Forest = 4
  • Ecology = 4
  • Rainforests = 4
  • The Body and Systems = 4.5
I'd say this experiment was a success! I now know where to concentrate my planning efforts. I need to think about which ones will work better in warmer months and which can be done inside when it is snowy too. I think I need to search for a chemistry set!

Stay tuned. Next up will be the listing of required subjects and a similar voting tool for some other electives.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Planning 4th Grade

It is that time of year again, time to plan the next homeschool year! Whee! It is the best time of the year. When all the ideas and subjects and plans work perfectly.

Tonight I was finalizing the list of topics that Violet will choose from for science. That is her favorite subject, so I know this list will meet with positive results. I created a ranking system like this:

5 = Yes, yes, yes! I definitely want to do this.
4 = That sounds pretty neat.
3 = Maybe, if there is time.
2 = Probably not.
1 = Ew, ick!

Mr. Incredible was wondering what happens when she picks all 5's. Isn't it wonderful that that is a very real possibility! I love that she loves science so much. Here are her topics:

  • Dinosaurs
  • Weather
  • Space
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish
  • Insects and Arachnids
  • Chemistry
  • Evolution
  • The Oceans
  • Madagascar
  • African plains
  • Plants and flowers
  • Trees
  • Ponds, Rivers, Creeks
  • The Forest
  • Ecology
  • Rainforests
  • The Body and Systems

She got a preview of the list and ecology and chemistry sounded like they will be ranked pretty high. She's tired today from spending the afternoon in the pool, so she'll do the actual ranking tomorrow. (To answer Paulanne's question: we can have pools here, but we never called the building department to see if we need a permit for it. We kind of think we were supposed to buy a permit.)

You'll notice that geology and physics are not on the list. We did a lot of those two last year and I'm tired of them. Plus the materials that I'd be able to find really wouldn't differ a lot from what she just did. Besides variety is the spice of science.

Regardless of the rank she's going to do a little bit of weather and space. We've never really covered either of those topics. If they rank a "1" then I'll make a deal with her that it can just be earning the Girl Scout badge on each topic and leave it at that for now.

My thought is that topics that rank a "5" will be about 2 weeks in length, 4s will be about 1 week. It will be flexible though depending on what I find and how the studies actually go.

I am really excited to see what she picks. I'll post the results when I get them.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Zero Tolerance My Ass

I do not like fireworks in the hands of the untrained. I am extremely opposed to fireworks and would like to see all firework sales to the general public completely outlawed. If you disagree and think it is just fine for the average guy on the street to shoot off fireworks in his backyard you probably want to move on to another blog and come back to mine another day.

Our town has been going on and on the last week about their "zero tolerance" policy on illegal fireworks. As I type this large, commercial grade fireworks are being shot off by several assholes neighbors. We are really hoping they don't land on our house or our fence. Mr. Incredible and I were just discussing how we could care less if they blow their own arms off. Just don't damage our property in the process.

Where are the police with their zero tolerance? My guess is doing security at the real fireworks display on the other end of town. Our town doesn't have a doughnut shop. In the State of Illinois only sparklers, snakes and party-poppers are legal. These things they are blowing up sure as hell aren't sparklers.

I'll be really curious to see how many of those $50 to $500 tickets they issue this weekend.

I just hope they don't find our pool while looking for fireworks in the sky.


I long for silence. Just a few hours with no noise, no machines, no talking. Just silence.

Our neighborhood is so loud. All this week people have had work done on their houses. One is getting siding. One is getting a brick driveway. At least two are getting roofs. And I have no idea what is going on behind us where they keep burning branches right next to their house.

I thought today might be quieter. It is a holiday. It started out that way. Then the lawn mowers got fired up. Next will come the weedwhackers. And why on earth do they need a leaf blower when the lots are only 40 feet by 70 feet? These aren't big estates we live on.

Our library isn't quiet. It is overcrowded and bustling. The library board likes it that way. It is good leverage for why they need to increase our taxes to build an addition.

Stores aren't quiet. They play the music so loud I often cannot hear Violet when she's standing next to me.

The roads aren't quiet. $4.25 a gallon hasn't stopped anyone.

The sidewalks aren't quiet. The kids are running up and down shouting all the time. Probably have to shout to be heard over the other noise. And that kid with the little tiny loud moped like thing that buzzes up and down the street for an hour every evening? I'm thinking boarding school far, far away.

If you leave me a comment, please type softly. I'll hear you. I'm designating this blog my quiet zone. Shh.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Going in all directions

It has been a busy week. I've been working in the garden and weeded it again. I also picked a ton of currants. Since I don't really know what I'm going to do with them I put them in the freezer. I'm thinking jelly as long as I don't have to seal it with the wax and all that. What a pain. I need to go looking for some recipes.

Violet's birthday is tomorrow. Today she is at Tinkerbell's house so I made some last minute stops and came home to wrap her presents and make her card. I almost forgot about a cake! We ordered a bakery cake for her party, but it seems a shame to have to wait a week for a cake. So I bought a mix and frosting while I was out.

Tonight I'm going out to meet up with the cookie lady from our area. The one who runs the driving school and took forever to get Violet's dog in. That one. She also hasn't turned in any of her paperwork, including the money for the extra boxes of cookies from the Juliette cases. No money means no J-Bucks for Violet. Grrr. I sit on the product sales committee so when I found all this out I called cookie lady and offered to help get everything turned in. She claimed she had no idea they were waiting for anything at Council. Council claims they've been calling her. Whatever. I just want Violet to get her J-Bucks.

So I'm driving to cookie lady's house tonight and hopefully coming home with money, boxes of cookies, or information on which troops took the boxes for 51 boxes of cookies. The 51 boxes are my main concern, the missing paperwork on the rest of it is secondary (to me). Then next week I'm meeting with the director of product sales at Council before our regular committee meeting and giving her everything I can get tonight. I hope this will all be straightened out quickly.

For her birthday tomorrow Violet wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese. We'll get a bad pizza and she and Mr. Incredible will play a bunch of games. I do like Skee Ball. And she'll have cake and presents here. That sounds easy enough. Her party is next weekend. We've had too many problems trying to have her party on the holiday weekend. Too many friends are out of town or otherwise unavailable.

On the 4th a homeschool family we are good friends with invited us over for a cookout. That was one of my other stops, to get the missing ingredients for the barley and black bean salad I'm going to take.

Here's the recipe:


* 2 cups water
* 1 cup quick-cooking barley, uncooked
* 1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
* 1 cup chopped tomato
* 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
* 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Combine barley, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients. Add to barley mixture, tossing to coat.

Except I'm using cherry tomatoes and adding frozen corn and green onions to it instead of fresh parsley and cucumber. So I guess that really isn't the recipe, is it?