Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Back and Forward

As the New Year looms upon us, it is time to reflect on the year past and look forward to the new. I like New Year's Resolutions, I always have. So I've been thinking a lot lately about what I would resolve this year. But before we get to that, let's review 2008.

I was just looking back at my New Year's Resolution post from last year. I resolved to take more pictures this year and to post them. I think I managed to do that. I bored you all summer long with photos of my vegetable garden. I did post a few cute pictures of Violet and her adventures.

My last post of 2007 I was resolving not to let the little things get to me and to take back my life. I think I did that very well. At least for me. Sure I did get sucked into a few things I didn't want to be. But not as many as in the past. I went a whole year without a breakdown, that's definitely good! We cut way back in our outside activities and I didn't get involved with daycamp. Both positive steps forward towards not taking crap from everyone else. Funny thing, I reread that post and I can't really remember what had been bothering me. I know a few of the ongoing issues from last year, but I'm really not sure what prompted me to write that. I guess I succeeded in taking back control.

Highlights of 2008 would have to include You & Me Camp (both weekends) with Violet, acknowledging that I love to cook and diving head first into the kitchen, and the success we had in the garden. Goals for 2009 will include more of all that: going to activities with Violet that she wants to do, cooking and gardening.

Workwise I did okay too. I lost the months of March and April to writing a big manual for a client, but boy did I rack up the hours and the appreciation of some important people. I survived the new (now ex) CEO. And I still have a job as we begin 2009. That in itself is nothing to sneeze at.

Now for my goal for 2009: I resolve not to take on any more volunteer work for Girl Scouts. I will continue what I'm doing, but will also look for a replacement for one of my positions. But I won't agree to anything new.

I'm going to try to get someone else to be Juliette Coordinator next school year. I like it, but I don't like that Council keeps signing up every girl waiting for a troop as a Juliette. I expected to have about 12 girls, I have over 40. Not the job I signed on for. I'm either stepping down or doing only the very bare minimum needed, unless Council finds a new designation for the girls who don't want to be Juliettes. In a way I feel bad, because I love the Juliette program and I know there are some girls (Violet included) who love being Julittes. I want them to get the information they need. But Council only cares about getting their registration numbers as high as they can, so every girl they can they register. Even when they don't have a troop for them. Maybe they need to recruit more volunteers before they take on all the girls. But that's just me. So before I become even more cynical and start lashing out, I'm going to step down. Or try to. It isn't always that easy to get out of Girl Scout Volunteer positions.

I'm also going to try to get back into my skinny jeans and my skinny capris. That means Wii Fit and I have many more mornings together.

I think New Year's Resolutions should be about taking control and getting your life in order. So to all of you, have a wonderful 2009! And don't let them give you their crap. It's their crap, they can deal with it. If they don't like it, go all Freak on them!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wii Fit

I managed to work out again this morning. It was kind of a rush because we were heading to my parents for our Christmas with them. But I did it, marking the 24th straight day. Ami was asking about it so here are some highlights.

The basics: it works with the Wii, and has a special "balance board" you stand on for most exercises. There are yoga positions in which the board measures how much weight you have on one foot or the other. There are strength exercises, where it measures your movements. Aerobics like hula hoop, running and step aerobics. And balance games to improve your balance. You can pick whichever exercise or combination you would like to do. You get scores for many of them and you are ranked based on those scores allowing for family competition.

Your little "Mii" character you create goes through aerobics and balance games with you. It interacts with other Miis and it is all quite cute. For instance when you run, you are in the park and other Miis are running past along with dogs. There seems to be no leash law in the Wii. The Wii balance board character gets all excited when you start up and cheers you on.

For strength training and yoga you choose a male or female trainer who shows you how to do the exercises and encourages you. Of course they use the same stock phrases over and over so it helps to have a good imagination when you are hearing that you should practice yoga every day to improve your posture for the billionth time.

The Wii tracks your time spent exercising. And you can do a body test weigh in that measures your weight, BMI and center of balance. You can continue with extra tests and get your "Wii Fit Age" which is rather goofy in my opinion, although today I did measure in one year younger than I actually am. I hate it when it tells me my Wii Fit Age is in the 50s.

I like Wii Fit a lot because you can really mix up your workout and customize it. It is so much more fun than the clothes rack, I mean stair stepper I have upstairs. Up, down, up, down, over and over. Boring! It is much more fun to workout with the Wii and the characters built in. I suppose for someone with no sense of humor whatsoever it would be too corny. But for those of us who like fun and silly, it is perfect.

Mom #1 was asking what my favorite things to do are. I've been doing more of the yoga and strength training combos lately. It gets me to do exercises I'd probably skip. But if they are paired together as a workout, I try them. I hate some of the yoga poses: tree and dance in particular. I always fall over. I also hate plank. Good lord I can't do that one. I do like most of the others though. I love most of the aerobics, especially the step. I'm very cautious about hula hoop though, I remember your hula hoop injuries from this summer. I do like running too. I don't do too many of the balance games, mainly because I stink at them. But I do love penguin slide! I've been trying to get better at the bubble one (I can't remember what it is called) and the marble one (can't remember that either - and the game is in the other room and would require walking to get it.) You should see Violet try to do Lotus Focus. She can't stop talking long enough to sit still for it, then gets mad when it ends so quickly. That one definitely wasn't designed with a 9 year old in mind!

Now ask me in 6 months if I'm still doing it. That will be a better time for a testimonial, won't it?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After

I am so glad we do a low key Christmas. We had such a nice day yesterday and I don't feel like "thank goodness that's over!" Today we are going to see Mr. Incredible's dad and step mom. His brother and maybe our nephew will be there too. Plus step-mom's brother. I've made a lentil salad to take. We aren't going until mid-afternoon, which is good. There was some freezing rain overnight but it is supposed to warm up, so it will be fine by the time we go.

Tomorrow I think we'll be with my parents. (I need to call them when I'm done here and confirm that will work. We left it open to see what the weather would bring us.) I'll be taking a spinach lasagna to that one. I think I'll try to assemble it today before we leave.

All our snow will be melting, including Violet's unfinished snow fort. We'll need more snow. I really don't mind the snow if I don't have to drive anywhere in it. I like it better than melted snow that creates mud everywhere. Plus we haven't even gotten out the snow shoes yet. I'm going to look locally at a couple of places for the snow pants. I realized that skiers wear them all the time. I don't ski. Well, I cross country ski, but not downhill. Tried it once. That was enough. I'll be in the lodge with an appletini.

I did manage to work out yesterday. I even did a little extra to try to work off some of those extra calories. Something pretty cool happened in Wii Fit. The balance board was wearing a Santa hat and wished us "Happy Holidays." I called Violet and Mr. Incredible in to see it.

Time to get a move on.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it. If you don't, I hope you had an enjoyable Thursday. We had a nice day here.

Violet let us sleep in until 8:30. It pays to have a night owl sometimes. We hung out at home all day. That is something we insist on. We aren't going to let our kid open her presents then not get to play with them at all. Or worse, pack them unopened in the car and make her wait until evening to open them, and still not get to play with them.

I got some cool new kitchen things I wanted including an electric can opener. My little hand-held one fell apart last week. Luckily Mr. Incredible is a procrastinator, so it wasn't too late to ask for a new one. I love my one. I've never had an electric opener before. I am still going to pick up a hand held one for picnics, when the power goes out, camping. We have another old hand crank one, but I can't use it without many bad words being uttered. I need a better one.

I also got Alton Brown's Gadget book:

So I will be asking for many more kitchen tools in gift giving occasions to come. I love to cook. One day, I will become good at it.

We went out for a walk after it got dark out, hoping to see holiday lights on the neighbors' houses. There weren't many on, it looked like many people weren't home. Many of the sidewalks weren't shoveled. Mr. Incredible and Violet trudged through the snow, I walked in the street. Luckily there was hardly any traffic. It was also quite cold. Violet had a great time. I was freezing. It is supposed to warm up tonight and rain the next two days. All our snow will melt. That's quite a bummer.

Tonight's cold walk confirmed it for me: I need snow pants. I need them for walking and for snow shoeing. I never even thought about getting myself snow pants until a few weeks ago, heck I didn't even know they made grown up snow pants. But a real life friend of mine told me that she got a pair this year and the first thing she did was make a snow angel. I'm off to L.L. Bean's website to see if they are clearancing any.

Edited to add: No snow pants anywhere near the clearance price I was hoping for. I think I better look into old fashioned long underwear! Maybe I can bring back the leg warmer. I loved those.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Three Weeks!

This morning marked 3 weeks of exercising every day with Wii Fit! A few days I didn't do much, but most days I've racked up 30-40 minutes with a combination of things. I've warned Violet and Mr. Incredible that I intend to work out on Christmas Day too.

Our snow seems to be tapering off for a while. We didn't get any of the freezing rain or sleet that a lot of areas got. I'm not sure how much snow is out there, it has drifted so much. The mailbox is practically covered, but most of that was from the snowplows. The temperatures are up too. It is around freezing, making a terrific day for playing in the snow. I'll work on getting those shipments of snow boxed up today. ;)

May I make a plea for a minute? If you are trying to get to friends or relatives houses for the holiday, and the weather and driving conditions are not good, please stay home. Yes, I know you really want to be together on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But in the long run, it would be really better if you are all still alive on New Year's Day. It just isn't worth it.

Someone I know told me yesterday that they are waiting to see if son, daughter-in-law and new baby grandson can make it in. If not, she's hell-bent on driving to Ohio herself to see them. She said there's no way she's not spending Christmas Day with her grandson. To me, that's insane. The grandbaby is 6 months old. He doesn't know what day it is. Celebrate a few days late, safely. The grandson needs his grandparents safe and not stuck in a ditch on Christmas Day. I understand the holiday is important to her, but that is taking things too far.

Please be safe and warm!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

One day to go

Violet is bursting at the seems. She did keep busy today. I had her make a to do list this morning. It included things like making paper snowflakes, wrapping presents and playing Wii Sports. I think we'll use that strategy again tomorrow.

No cooking today. Mr. Incredible is working late so I didn't bother to make dinner. It is Fend for Yourself Night. We have one last cookie batch to bake, but we'll do that tomorrow. A few weeks ago we make sugar cookie dough and stuck half of it in the freezer. That's what we'll bake tomorrow. According to Violet, Santa needs sugar cookies.

It seemed to be indecision and pass the buck day at work today. I did my share of tossing the old buck around too. But I did make a decision or two also. For some reason when we are down to a skeleton crew working, we freeze up.

Mr. I is probably stopping at the pet store on the way home. Violet asked Santa to bring the pets something too. Have you noticed how much help the big guy needs? But does he share the credit at all? No. I left him (Mr. Incredible, not Santa) a message on his cell phone saying Santa could probably find something here in the stash of stuff for the pets. But he (again, Mr. Incredible not Santa) never answers his cell phone. Not sure if he'll get the message or not. I tried.

By the way, I don't know if Santa answers his cell phone or picks up his messages either. But if he doesn't, I bet Mrs. Claus sometimes wonder why they're paying for it.

It has been snowing all day. The forecast is calling for it to change to ice over night. Then back to snow. Other forecasts say it will stay snow. At least we're getting a white Christmas. Can I send any of you a little of this white? I'd be happy to box it up and ship it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Alleged Gingerbread Doghouse

With another day with the high temperature hovering around zero, it was a good day to stay indoors. After having it for weeks, Violet finally made her gingerbread kit. We buy a kit every year. When I saw this one in the store, I didn't even bother to ask her, I knew she'd like it. One day we'll be brave and make one from scratch. This wasn't the year. Maybe next year.

Her doghouse turned out really cute. Here's the view from the top:

And here's a photo that neither Violet not I remember taking:

Kinda makes you wonder doesn't it? In the past our cat has tried to take licks from the gingerbread houses. This year we accidentally caught her on film. Well, on digital.

I did make it out to the grocery store this morning. Mr. Incredible was working from home so Violet didn't have to go out. I joked when I got back that whenever there is a break in the weather, I go to the grocery store. I think I'm starting to hoard food.

We're expecting another snow storm tomorrow. Mr. Incredible's boss called after dinner to tell him not to go in to the office if it looked bad. Mr. Incredible had been hoping to swap out a hard drive in one of the servers, or something to that effect, so he's going to decide in the morning if he should go in. I think the bad stuff isn't going to hit until later so he'll probably go. Problem is, he was wanting to stay late to do the work after everyone leaves, so he might be coming home in some pretty icky stuff. We'll see. Mr. Incredible is pretty level-headed about these things.

Violet and I made oatmeal raisin cookies this afternoon. See what being cooped up in the cold will do to you? I can almost feel my fat jeans getting tight. Better do a few extra rounds of Wii Fit hula hoop tomorrow morning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Oh so cold

Today's high never got over zero. The wind chill was around minus 30 all day. It was cold. In fact we were under a blizzard warning most of the day. Now if you didn't know you could have a blizzard without snow falling, don't feel bad. I didn't know either and I've lived my entire life here in the frozen Midwest. Apparently it has to do with visibility and wind chill more than actual snow falling. We had a lot of blowing snow, many roads were hazardous or closed, and consequently a blizzard warning all day.

Mr. Incredible intended to go out shopping today. But the town he wanted to go to was North of here. Many North-South roads were hazardous. The one he would have had to take has a lot of open fields on both sides which would lead to lots of blowing, drifting snow. I wasn't worried about his driving ability, or his Jeep. But I was worried about all the idiots who would be out on the roads, in their little cars without 4-wheel drive, or thinking their 4-wheel drive makes them immune to bad roads. I was just as glad when he decided not to go.

Today we got the cookies made. Peanut butter with chocolate kisses stuck on top. Yummy! And we got some presents wrapped. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Remember my friend who was let go before Thanksgiving? I heard from her tonight. She's been doing some freelance work. And she was contacted by one of our former co-workers to do some more freelance at the organization he's now at. I'm so happy for her! It will lead to full time soon I'm sure.

Time to go put on my fuzzy feet. Brrrr!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making Progress

We're almost ready for Christmas. Tonight I finally got Mr. Incredible and Violet to finish the tree and decide what other decorations they wanted out. We have too much stuff to have it all out each year. After asking him a bazillion times, Mr. Incredible finally brought the box of wrapping paper up from the basement. I would have done it myself, but it was on too high a shelf. Even if I managed to pull it off I'm sure I could not have lowered it without the whole thing falling on my head and spilling all over the floor. I would have said some bad words if that happened. It was better to wait for him.

My blog typing was just interrupted by the door bell. Yes it is 9 pm and the door bell rang. Two teen girls were standing there and sang Jingle Bells, turned and left. Violet said, "that doesn't happen very often." I swear, we get the weirdest things at our front door. I guess that was supposed to warm my heart and fill me with the spirit. It didn't. I was wishing I wasn't wearing my robe and fuzzy feet, and had real clothes on. I was wondering if they were collecting for a charity. I was wondering when the song would end so I could stop letting all the cold air in. Poor girls, they deserved a better audience than me.

Back to our preparations. I bugged Mr. Incredible and Violet enough that they went with me to look at the decorated Christmas trees at the Village Hall the next town over. It was the one Violet hung an ornament on for Girl Scouts. It was nice looking at the trees and seeing how the various organizations decorated them. Mr. Incredible took his camera and got a photo of Violet pointing to her ornament. I'll try to get a copy to post for you all.

Mr. Incredible is going out tomorrow to do some last minute shopping. And get groceries for me. He's gone the last few times too. He says he really likes grocery shopping. I've decided to start taking him up on it. Need anything? I'll have him grab it for you while he's out.

We still have some Christmas projects to do. Violet has a gingerbread kit to do. Every year she does another kit. This year she has the Snoopy Doghouse kit. We're going to bake more cookies. We meant to today, but we forgot. And there's wrapping and stuff. Even with how little we do for the holiday it is quite busy.

We have our menu planned. On Christmas Eve we're having Super Nachos. On Christmas Day it will be make your own mini pizzas. We're seeing Mr. I's family on the 26th. I'm taking a lentil cheese bake. If it is any good I'll post the recipe. I've never made it before. And for New Year's Day I found a recipe for black eyed pea dip.

Do you eat black eyed peas for good luck and financial prosperity on New Year's Day? My mom was raised in the Deep South (Ocean Springs, Mississippi), so we do. No one around here has ever heard of that tradition, so they always look at me like I'm nuts. Now here's the catch, I HATE black eyed peas. They taste like dirt. Several of my adult years I've skipped them. This doesn't seem like the year to tempt fate. So I went searching for a recipe to do something different besides just warm them up straight out of the can. I'm hoping the chiles and cheese will kill the dirt taste.

Don't ask how I know what dirt tastes like.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Now there's your snow day

We woke up this morning to a good 10 inches of snow on the ground and it was still falling. This is what it takes around here to close schools. Businesses, however, don't close. People still had to go to the office, and figure out what to do with their kids. Really, would it kill them to shut down or not open until noon? Maybe. Mr. Incredible worked from home although I think he really wanted to take his Jeep out in it.

Violet has already been out playing in it. We tried to find Red. She had been in their driveway with her dad. But by the time we got over she'd gone over to the neighbor's to sled in their back yard. Since we don't know the people, I didn't want to send Violet over. I know I wouldn't be too happy if strange kids just started playing in our yard. Violet was pretty disappointed. Not only because she couldn't play but because she was going to give Red her birthday present. Violet felt better after playing in our snow for an hour or so.

In a little bit we're going to bake some bread. Tonight we are going to try out a new lentil soup recipe. It isn't looking like we are going to finish up our school work today. I told Violet as long as the last few items get done by the 23rd, I'd be happy.

Here are some more photos. The grill and birdfeeder are covered:

The snow is at least a foot deep on the table on our deck:

Another view out my front window. I waited until the neighbor wasn't actively snowblowing the sidewalk. I thought it would be creepy to take his picture doing it:

Even way up on my covered porch, Penelope the guard goose is covered with snow.

Yes, she's wearing a Mickey Mouse outfit. We put it on her before our trip. I think it is time to get out her winter gear. Poor goose.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fuzzy Feet

Thanks, Piggy! My feet, err hooves?, will be toasty warm all winter! I love them! Violet spent all afternoon with her new Littlest Pet Shop kitties. After we played Go Fish, she decided the cards could be used for other games too. She played Littlest Pet Shop solitaire! What a wonderful box of goodies you and Sweetums sent.

Thank you so much! Love & Hugs from Illinois!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Good day

It was a good day today. A busy day. In fact it has been a busy week. I'll share some highlights with you.

This morning I got up early and exercised with Wii Fit again. It was the 14th day in a row I've done some exercising! Go me! Not all days have been long, but I've done at least a little every day. And some days I have done a lot. My weight was back up, but since we are only talking tenths of pounds here, there really isn't need to get excited. I was still down from my first day, so that is good.

We had tickets for The Nutcracker at the local theater today. It was performed by a local amateur ballet company. It definitely wasn't professional grade, but it was fun. Now you know my problems with this theater. Non-existent today. We found a parking place. We took in our gift for the local nursing home (the not-for-profit theater was collecting gifts for them - I used to do a lot of consulting there back in the day and miss them, so we participated in the gift collection). We found an usher. He took us in and showed us our seats, right up front. Then he said the oddest thing. "If it were me, I'd move back to the middle. There is plenty of room there and you can see so much better." What?? An usher as weird as us!! You'll be glad to know I refrained from kissing him right there in the theater, but I wanted to! Well we took his advice (in your face mean ushers from past performances) and found two nice seats a few rows back on the left. He was suggesting many people move back and they all did and seemed to like it very much. Of course there were only about 50 people in attendance and the theater can hold 800 I believe (I'm not bothering to look it up right now, let's just say the theater was practically empty.)

After the show we stopped by Cookie's house (remember Violet's little friend from over the summer?) and dropped off her cookie sale information. She's a Juliette this year too. Her mom is organizing a field trip to a water park in February so we dropped off our payment at the same time. Then we went to the Girl Scout Council office so Violet could buy this:

She used her J-Bucks (which are like gift certificates she earns for selling fall products and cookies). Here's the full scoop. To earn the stuffed pony this year she will have to sell 150 boxes of cookies. (She always likes to earn the stuffed toy). Frankly, I don't think we'll get that many boxes in sales. Did you know, the economy has tanked? I'm sure you've heard that somewhere or another. :grin: Anyway, several of her past customers from my office and Mr. Incredible's office are no longer employed. So are a few from Grandpa's breakfast buddies. And a couple of others have gone and joined Juliettes too! Her sales are going to be way down and I really don't want to be shaking people down to buy cookies, no matter how delicious they are. So I told her if she didn't sell 150 boxes, I'd buy her Cookie (that's the dog's name). Then I found out they are discontinuing Cookie! Revised deal: we buy Cookie now with J-Bucks and don't worry about how many boxes she sells. After all, it isn't her fault the economy is in the latrine.

After a stop for gas and at the library we finally got home at 3:30 to have lunch! We were hungry. A little later I checked e-mail for work. Remember Scary CEO? We got an e-mail from the senior partners that she has "left to pursue other career opportunities." Company speak for "we fired her ass." She'd been there just about 6 months. Hope I hear the inside story someday. I'm breathing easier that she's gone. I really didn't dislike her. I was truly scared that she'd have no qualms talking the partners into letting me go. I really do have a good relationship with the vast majority of the partners. I really do like working there. I wish her well in her other opportunities. And am doing a little happy dance tonight.

We're expecting more snow, sleet and ice tomorrow. We're not going anywhere. We had enough out and about for one week! Tomorrow we'll get ourselves lunch at a decent hour.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Expect the unexpected

On Mondays Mr. Incredible works from home. Today started out like any other Monday, then by 10:30 he was leaving to catch a train into the City. Computers were malfunctioning. Hard drives were crashing. Mayhem was rampant. Or something to that effect. He didn't get back home until after 9 tonight. He's supposed to work from home again tomorrow.

Also expected tomorrow: 2 to 5 inches of snow. Joy. The American Girl Store trip has been postponed yet again. I've got to get out to get the library books and stop by the grocery store before the snow starts. Currently they say I have until about noon. I'm not thrilled about going out even if it hasn't started snowing, the side roads are still icy from last night's ice storm.

Speaking of last night, it was so cold and windy. My goodness what an awful night. I woke up at one point to howling wind and a huge crash against the side of the house. I thought for sure the neighbor's trampoline had crashed into our house. And all day today there were big cracking noises. I think it was the siding expanding and contracting with the cold.

I'm just glad I have a house and heat!

Violet wasn't feeling 100% today. I think she is fighting off a cold. We had a bunch of read aloud stuff we want to get through this week, so we did a lot of that today. I think I'd better have one of her Rhino Pops for my sore throat from all that reading!

Mr. Incredible and Violet got the tree up last night. The lights are on and a few ornaments are up. We're right on schedule. We don't usually get it up before mid-month.

More shopping has been done. Mr. Incredible is actually keeping spending in check this year! He's eliminated some people from our list and reduced the dollars spent on others. I am so happy! Now to keep me in line in my buying for Violet. I'm getting a little carried away. Did you know American Girl has a line of cookbooks and paper dolls? Two of Violet's very favorite things! I've limited myself to buying only Julie's paper dolls and another cookbook. But gosh my credit card is itchy to buy another. Hee hee.

More to do tomorrow. I think I'm just as glad we're getting another storm and will have an excuse to stay in. After the morning errands that it. Blech. I hate errands.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Illinois politics and other crazy things

What a week to be from Illinois.

Unless you live in a cave or smartly avoid the news, you probably have heard about our governor. We've known for a long time the guy's corrupt. No one in their right mind would trust him further than they can throw him. But I don't think we knew just how nuts he was. Arrested on Tuesday for trying to sell President-elect Obama's Senate seat, back in the office on Wednesday pretending everything was fine. All the people and lawmakers in the state are calling for him to resign, be impeached, and/or declared incompetent. Possibly all three. He seems oblivious to the fact that anything is wrong.

How proud Lincoln would be. (Who by the way, only adopted Illinois as his home state. He was born in Kentucky. I had a high school history teacher try to claim he was born in Illinois. We questioned her and she dug in. I walked out of her classroom, during class mind you, I was a rebel, and told my guidance counselor the woman was incompetent. He wasn't sympathetic. I should have been homeschooled. How I hated high school.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, I had stupid teachers in high school and our dear governor Blago is insane. Ever feel like the whole world is going nuts?

In brighter news. I picked up Violet's necklace this morning. I've heard her J-Bucks are coming, so I'll give them a little longer before asking again. (J-Bucks are like gift certificates from the Council for selling cookies or fall products without a troop. They are good on stuff from the shop and program fees.)

Our snow is melting as we are getting rain. Tomorrow is supposed to be a lovely mix of rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Is sleet different than freezing rain? I'll have to look that up later. Anyway, it promises to be icky. Violet was out this afternoon making little tiny snowmen. She put the king and queen up in her swingset fort then made a bunch of peasants who were storming the castle. I'm not sure if she's studied her history really well or has read too many old Calvin and Hobbes comics.

For dinner tonight I made a yummy Shephard's Pie. I used ground turkey and frozen veggies.

And I talked to my boss yesterday. In the wake of Thursday's lay offs she reallocated several projects my direction. I'm feeling much more secure in my job. I guess the fact that I get no benefits and have no guaranteed number of hours each week is a bonus. If they have nothing for me, they don't pay me. If they need a lot of extra stuff, I work more. Still, I'm going to do some initial investigation into other possible work. One of the homeschool Juliette moms teaches online. I'm going to ask her about that. Plus, I want to see what I'd need to do to start doing tax work. I think I'd need a refresher course or two, but maybe next tax season worst case, I could work for H&R Block or someone similar.

And best news of all....I've lost one pound since I started Wii Fit!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


We just got an e-mail from the CEO at work. Another 9 people have been laid off. One of them had worked for the company forever when I started 14 years ago. They were mostly support type staff and marketing. How long before they decide the research and behind the scenes work I do is a luxury they can live without?

Violet and I are talking that perhaps this isn't a good year to leave her cookie sales form in the breakroom there. We have a few weeks to decide. I'll ask my boss for her opinion. My boss is one of Violet's biggest customers.

In happier news, I was back at it with Wii Fit this morning.

More happy news, Violet got her stuffed polar bears and t-shirt for selling Fall Product Sale goodies. Still waiting on her J-Bucks and a necklace. She wasn't concerned about the necklace, but I'm going to ask next week about the J-Bucks if I don't hear anything. The necklace has an ETA of a day or two. We were told ahead of time that the necklace was missing and we could wait to pick it all up. I knew Violet was in a hurry for the bears, so I said we'd get the necklace when it arrives separately. The pickup location is less than 3 miles away.

Violet's spent much of today working on drawings and paintings of fairies. She got this book the other day, and loves it:

Must keep thinking happy thoughts. Hope you all have good news today!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Minor Set Back

I've worked out with Wii Fit for 7 days now. The last 2 days I've had to force myself to start. Yesterday I was able to keep going and get a decent workout in. Today I threw in the towel. I was trying to play the balance game with the penguin. If you have the game, you know the one. If you don't, well you control the penguin by leaning back and forth and try to catch fish. It is more fun than it sounds. Well, today I couldn't concentrate at all. Those poor penguins were practically starving to death. I finally got frustrated and packed in.

I actually think it was good for Violet to see me just walk away from it. She gets frustrated with things, then gets upset, and it just escalates into an ugly scene. I'm hoping she learns that it is okay to say enough for one day.

I did get more exercise in later by shoveling 4 inches of snow out of the driveway.

I also had a horrible dieting day yesterday. Now let me clarify, I'm not dieting. I'm just trying to eat healthier. I definitely didn't succeed yesterday. I lost track of how many cookies I ate. I had chips. I had nachos and cheese. I had soda. I had an egg, cheese and turkey sausage sandwich for lunch.

I'm afraid to look at the scale today.

I am redoing my fitness goals. I had originally said I wanted to lose 2 pounds in the next 2 weeks, and a total of 10 pounds over time. Now I want to not gain weight over the holidays. Then I want to lose about 10 pounds before spring. It seems like a bad idea to try to lose weight right before Christmas. So if I can keep my weight steady, I'll be happy.

I'll try again to work out tomorrow morning. Just the fact that I keep going back is good, I know. Plus you do need to take rests. But trust me, even on my better days I really wasn't overdoing. I was barely doing. :snort:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A New Visitor

Look who was visiting our bird feeder this morning:

He was driving the cats nuts as he sat there eating the bird seed. Finally a gang of doves came along and forced him out. He's the first squirrel we've seen in the 10 years we've been here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas meme - my turn

Ami Mental tagged me for this a few weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to it. Here's goes:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Usually wrapping paper, but we always reuse gift bags.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. Unfortunately it isn't a prelit one. The prelit ones hit the stores the year after we bought ours.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually not until mid-December. It drives me crazy to have it taking over the house for too many weeks. I'd be happy with it up for only a week, if at all. Obviously, I don't win that argument.

4. When do you take the tree down? It is usually up until the 7th of January or later. I'd have it down by the 27th of December. Can you say "bah humbug?"

5. Do you like eggnog? Blech

6. Favorite gift received as a child? You know, I've been trying to think of one ever since friends started posting this meme and I can't come up with one. I know I got presents. Maybe the Lite-Brite. That was fun.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Pretty much all of Mr. Incredible's family. They aren't that hard, but he hates everything I suggest.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Mr. Incredible. He's always got a list of books and DVDs he wants.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? No, but there is one in the candle spinny thing we have. You know the thing I can never remember the name of from year to year. You light the candles and the propeller spins. Ours belonged to Mr. Incredible's mom, his dad gave it to her. Grandpa Incredible passed it on to us a few years ago.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? E-mail. Many years ago I quit mailing Christmas cards. I was green before green was in. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I have been saving paper and reducing green house gases emitted from the postal industry's vehicles all this time. It has nothing to do with the fact that I got sick and tired of writing nice notes to everyone, only to get a "Love, Bob and Fran" back. Speaking of stinky Christmas cards, did I ever tell you about the one my mom and dad got from my dad's parents? It was signed, "Mr. & Mrs Smith." Warmed my mom's heart to no end.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Gosh, where to begin? The ugly shirt? The dozens of picture frames that sit in their boxes taking up room in my office? The lotions and body washes I'm allergic to? The stinky candles? The tacky holiday decorations? The books I'll never read? Let's face it. I am stuck in a Christmas exchange with a lot of people who although they've known me almost 20 years still seem to know absolutely nothing about me. Do you wonder why I don't want to exchange with the extended family? I wish they'd donate to their local animal shelter or the Girl Scout's scholarship fund. I'd really prefer that to another gift card from a store I never shop in.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Of course this on is yet another, why I dislike my inlaws at the holiday's story. Our first Christmas married we spent the day with Mr. Incredible's new step mom's family. I had never in my life seen so many presents crammed into one house before. The youngest child was 14! And yet everyone got package after package. It was such excess my stomach hurt. Anyway, the Mr. and I, and Mr.'s little brother took off and went back to their dad's house. We were sitting around the living room and BIL was flipping through channels on TV. Christmas Vacation was on HBO. We all started watching it and laughed till we cried. It was the best part of the day and saved Christmas for all 3 of us. Mr. Incredible and I have watched it every year since. This year will be our 20th viewing of it. Our video tape got so worn out, we had to buy the DVD a few years back.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
No set time, when I see something, or remember to shop.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Holy cow, YES! Good grief, I can't keep all that crap.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? fudge

16. What decorations are on your tree?
A wide variety. Handmade ones by Violet. Lots of Hallmark ornaments, including many dating back 30 years that Mr. Incredible had bought for his mom. And the Star Trek ships and captains. God, I hate having the ships and captains on the tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
I know a lot of people are going to hate my answer. I'd offer to wear headphones when I listen to it, but I'd just sing louder along with it and that'd probably be worse. "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon. I warned you.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Absolutely, positively stay home. We actually went on vacation over Christmas one year. I was so homesick. After that awful first Christmas Day (see #12), Mr. Incredible and I said that we were going to be home all day on Christmas Day so that when we had kids we weren't dragging them away from the presents and all over the place all day. We've stuck to that (except for the family vacation year) and have been so happy.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Well, I know all their names, but I don't know who is who.

20. Angel on top of tree or star? Minnie Mouse dressed as an angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The lines, the crowds, the traffic, the Christmas music on the radio.

23. What theme or color are you using when you decorate?
I swear, until I read this meme I had no idea people themed Christmas.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Super nachos. (Are you getting the feeling, I'm pretty non-traditional?)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
A good vegetarian cookbook or a donation to your local animal shelter.

Sorry I'm not all fancy with the colors like most of you are. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse inside my head. Scary wasn't it?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thank goodness the client fired us!

Otherwise I'd be going there tomorrow. It is an hour and a half drive. Snow, ice, freezing rain are all predicted for tomorrow night, and Tuesday into Wednesday. Thank goodness I don't have to try to beat the storm out of there. Last year I drove home in freezing rain. The year before heavy snow. That is the one aspect of working for that client that I won't miss.

In other news....well, there is no other news. I went to the grocery store today to stock up before the storm. I forgot to buy bread. I'll probably think of something else I forgot by morning and I'll go over during the day. Worst case, I have lots of flour we can bake our own. Hardly "worst case" more like "yummiest case."

Violet finished her scrapbook of our trip today. It looks terrific! She has now completed her Traveler Badge. She was pleased.

My parents were thinking of taking Violet to the American Girl store tomorrow as her Christmas trip with them. But my dad has a nasty cold and with the storm moving in we all decided it was best to postpone the trip. Violet knows about the trip, but we never discussed what day it would be. This way she isn't disappointed that it isn't tomorrow.

We are threatening to make oatmeal raisin cookies tomorrow. Mr. Incredible is hope we do, they are his favorites.

I worked out again this morning. Four days in a row! I am on a roll! Those too tight capris will fit me in spring, no matter what it takes. Well, I hope they do anyway.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter is here

Can I just say BRRRRR! The temperature currently is 14 degrees. Wind chill is 4. It is supposed to get down to 2 without wind chill. I don't want to hear about any of you Floridians or Texans complaining it is so cold you had to put on a sweatshirt. We went to hang Violet's ornament on the Girl Scout Christmas tree yesterday, it was 13 out. We couldn't stay to look at them all because the wind was blowing right through us, in the middle of the afternoon. Tonight was the tree lighting. We didn't go. BRRRRR!

Yesterday we went to see A Christmas Carol at the local theater, a school day performance. It was a musical. This theater troupe always puts on a great show. We really like their performances. We're strongly leaning towards only going to their shows next year. Well, provided I'm allowed to attend any more at all. I'm always causing trouble. Like insisting on only paying once for our tickets and not repaying when they miscredit our account. And asking if we can move from the front row seats to the back of the theater. The ushers seem to hate that. We hate front row. We were traumatized by a show last year when the performers came off the stage and tried to interact with us. GET BACK ON THE STAGE! Ack!

Did I say the show was really good? It was. No actors tried to make us part of the show. Thank goodness. Of course at bedtime last night Violet starts thinking about the Christmas spirits and gets herself all freaked out. Thank goodness for Mr. Incredible. One of his many talents is the ability to make her laugh with lots of body function noise jokes. I know, isn't he handsome and talented? You see why I married him. Who could pass up a guy who can make burping and farting noises in several different pitches and dialects. Swoon.

Tonight we watched Kung Fu Panda. None of us had seen it. It was an enjoyable flick. I made split pea soup for dinner. Violet tried it and voted no thank you. She heated up some leftover spaghetti instead. I won't make 2 dinners, but I don't object to someone heating up leftovers if they don't care for the entree.

Wii Fit is going fantastic! We are loving it. Violet and I have worked out for a few days now and really like it. Her favorites are yoga and strength training. Mine is aerobics, hula hoop and step. (Did I tell you this already? It seems really familiar as I type it.) I'm trying to get her to not pay attention to my scores, we should be working out for ourselves, not competing. I think if we had chosen to make our status private instead of public we wouldn't get the scores combined. I keep reminding her we have different backgrounds and different work out goals. Hers is to increase her upper body strength. Mine is to lose 5-10 pounds. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

We don't have any specific plans for tomorrow. There are lots of little projects to do around the house. Violet is almost finished with her scrapbook from the trip. We probably won't get out Christmas decorations until next weekend.

Keep warm! And send some of that 60 degree weather our way. It sounds really nice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This Week Has Been Canceled

At least that is what it is starting to feel like! First my Monday night product sales committee meeting was canceled. We didn't have much in the way of business and that snow storm had more than doubled the Product Sales Director's morning commute. She wasn't anxious to be out late when she didn't have to be. Fine with me, I put on my jammies and did some work.

Then Tuesday we learned that the company's holiday party that was to be held this Friday, was canceled. Now that one came out of the blue. I haven't talked to my boss yet (our schedules have been crossed) but I'm guessing it was just economics. Not like "just economics" isn't scary enough. I wasn't planning on going (remember me agonizing over that a couple of weeks ago?) and now I'm really glad I hadn't jumped through hoops arranging child care so I could go. What if I'd had? That would have stunk.

I'm worried about just what the company's finances look like. My firm likes a good party. I mean they really like a party. Back when I was full time the drink cart used to come around by mid-afternoon on April 14th, filled with all kinds of booze. I don't think they do that anymore, but they still had big fancy holiday parties. And tax season parties. And summer outings. And even fancy lunches when we have our all company meetings. So to cancel the holiday party? That's not a good sign.

So the first two cancellations weren't problems. The one that came this morning was. I got a call from the client that I was doing all the year end work for. We talk a bit and it finally comes out that they have another accountant doing the work. They don't need me to do anything. I don't know if my contact didn't know, or hadn't thought it through. But finally it came out that I was doing stuff the other accountant was already working on. Sigh. Call the tax associate, tell her to stop on the depreciation work I'd asked her to help with. Call the partner, tell him the site visit is off and oh yeah, we lost more work. I'm still trying to determine if we are doing the final tax return and some Medicare/Medicaid reports for them or not. Call my boss, let her know about the lost work and we might lose more. Not good.

What a way to end a 12 year client relationship. I knew it was ending anyway since they'd sold the business, but I thought we'd get one more shot at it all. In the words of the partner, "That's a bummer." Sigh. I'm out about 30 hours of work over the next two weeks. I was hoping for a couple of nice paychecks right before Christmas. At least I still have a job. It could be a whole lot worse.

Guess I'll have more time for that Wii Fit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Cookie Day!

Ever wonder what a life-sized cookie would look like? Well, wonder no more! Here's Violet as a Caramel Delite:

And Yours Truly as a Peanut Butter Patty:

Three of the costumes we got were young girl sized, including the peanut butter patty one. I did not fit into them. I did try to cram myself into a Thin Mint costume. I needed a Thick Mint one. It wasn't pretty. The Caramel Delite costume was a larger sized (not sure why we had one bigger one, but whatever). Funny that the photos I chose to post have Violet in the too big costume and me holding up a too small one.

The girls had a great time today. They got a bit silly at the end. But the moms who bring them are great and calmed them down and whisked them away while my house was still standing. So much nicer than some of the random parents you get when you are a troop leader.

Bingo was a huge hit. I have to remember to tell my committee-mate who wrote it. The Cookie Buckets questions were a bit hard since they'd had no cookie training, but it served its purpose and made them stop and think a minute about safety. They loved the cookie pictures activities. The three visiting girls all made snowmen. One had two snowmen having a snow ball fight with cookies. One of the girls visiting cut out two Caramel DeLites (the cookies with a hole in the middle) and taped them over her eyes like glasses. Pretty creative, no? Needless to say the silliness factor shot up really high from that point on.

Violet did such a super job as Junior Aide. She's definitely going to be deserving of that patch! She called all the whole bingo game, organized the Cookie Buckets, came up with the idea of tape instead of glue for the cookie pictures, wore her sash and a cookie costume, and generally was a superb role model/leader.

She picked out 4 possible Try-its for the last session and explained them to the girls. Then she had them do a secret vote. They chose Art to Wear. Any cool ideas (that aren't too messy to do in my living room), Ami? We're thinking fabric paint on shoe laces and friendship bracelets. Not sure what else.

And speaking of Ami, I just want to say what an amazing Girl Scout leader she was for her girls. She had weekly meetings with girls of all ages, filled with crafts, games and fun! I'm exhausted after just one afternoon and am glad we only do these less than once a month. I'm really thinking after the next one and Violet gets her patch we hold off for a while. A lot goes into a good meeting or Juliette session. My bandana is off to Ami!

I was supposed to return the costumes to Council tomorrow, but we have another winter storm headed our way. I called this morning to see if anyone else has them reserved, or if I could keep them an extra day. They had no one else borrowing them this week and said to come when the roads are clear. I'm glad I asked because if they needed them we were going to run over as soon as we were done and we really didn't want to go anywhere once they left. We'll go on Thursday when sunny skies are predicted.

So when a Girl Scout comes to your door or you see her outside the grocery store selling cookies, remember us in our cookie costumes. Support silliness. Support Girl Scouts!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Working hard

Work is really busy right now so I haven't been posting like I should. I spend most of my computer time actually working. I'm not complaining. I'll take all the work they throw at me. Well, to a point, but I doubt they'll overstep that point.

The Thanksgiving leftovers are eaten or in the freezer. If I can remember we'll put turkey soup in the crock pot tomorrow. The homeschool Juliettes are coming over tomorrow afternoon. More about that in a minute.

Violet and I have been playing Wii Sports for our exercise. It has been fun. She's really good at tennis. She has a wicked serve. I think she is better than me at most of the sports except bowling. Not that I'm the slightest bit good at it. Just a tad better than she is. I stink at boxing. Ticks me off. I spent sooooo many hours in the karate studio as a kid. I think there is a problem with the program. I can't be that bad.

Mr. Incredible ordered us Wii Fit this afternoon. He had registered with Amazon to get a notification when they had it in stock. He got the message today and was able to order it! Yippee!! That will round out our homeschool P.E. curriculum quite nicely.

Back to the Juliettes. They are coming tomorrow to earn their Cookies Count Try-it badge. Number 2 of 3 for Violet to help them with to earn her Junior Aide patch. I drove through a snow storm to Council today to check out the cookie costumes for them to wear. I'll try to get Violet to pose for pictures so I can post them for you to see.

We're going to discuss their goals for the cookie sale. I plan to tell them that their goals don't have to be the number of boxes sold. A great goal could be to add up their own sales form, or maybe to ask people in a loud, clear voice, or even to say thank you to everyone. Next we're going to play Cookie Bingo, a game designed by my product sales committee buddy. It is really fun and teaches them about sales and safety. We're going to do cookie pictures, using cut outs of cookies. And finally we'll play Cookie Buckets, like the old Bozo buckets. We have a bunch of questions about cookie sales, cookies, and safety, but really throwing the ping pong balls in the flower pots is the fun part.

Everyone is bringing some Christmas cookies to share. It should be a fun afternoon. Sometime at the end of January we'll do the third and last one. I'm letting Violet pick out the Try-it for that one. (We'll just make sure none of the girls have it already).

Here's a cookie picture sample that Violet did last year:

Isn't she talented?