Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Cat Who Came for Christmas

I just started reading The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory again. I read it years ago. I thought I owned it, but a couple of times I went looking for it, I couldn't find it. I own the second book, The Cat and the Curmudgeon. Over Thanksgiving we went to a library book sale in my in-laws home town and I found there and bought a copy. I had hoped to start it earlier, say before Christmas, but one thing led to another.

Anyway, I remembered liking the book, but I had forgotten just how good the book is. If you love cats, or animal rescue stories (or curmudgeon old men for that matter) and have never read it, you really should. And (spoiler alert) don't worry, it has a happy ending and isn't sad. Always something to beware of when reading true animal stories.

In brief, it is the true story of how Cleveland Amory came to adopt a cat on Christmas Eve. Amory is an animal rights activist, so some of his personal beliefs come through. Not everyone will agree with them. But hey, it is his story and his book, if you don't agree, write your own book. :)

Another spoiler alert, I once named a parakeet Polar Bird after the name the cat eventually gets. Something else I had forgotten until today. I wonder how much else I've forgotten during my adult life. Hmm. Something to ponder at the end of yet another year. What happened this year that I won't be able to remember by next year, or heck, by tomorrow.

I guess I won't worry about that, but sink happily into another year, and try to only remember good things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Get this

You all know the company Mr. I worked for closed at the end of October. Last summer it was hanging on by a thread, but still hanging on. Then the vice-president suddenly quit to work for a major competitor. Within two weeks she had not only stolen some key employees (amounting to at least 20% of the workforce if not more, the company had gotten pretty small) and was calling clients and stealing them too. Mr. I feels she really put the final nail in the coffin.

Anyway, get this. She sent us a Christmas card. Can you believe the balls on her? Mr. I hasn't opened it yet. I'm encouraging him to write "refused, return to sender" on it and stick it back in the mail. He's also contacting the others who worked there until the bitter end to see if they got cards too and try to get them to return them too. I don't think any of them are remaining in the industry. Mr. I is a computer guy, there's nothing for him in that industry (I'm leaving out the exact industry just in case this somehow gets traced back). The others are so disgusted with the whole scenario they are making career changes. No one has anything to lose.

Would he get in trouble from the feds if he wrote, "refused, return to sender, you bitch" on it? Probably, huh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Came back home

We did venture out. The roads were bad, even major roads with lots of cars traveling on them. We passed a Hummer in the ditch. We turned around and came back. We were traveling South, I don't think it was as bad there as it is up here. The snow is still coming down. We've gotten at least 6 inches of snow so far.

We made the right decision.

Boxing Day

We're supposed to be heading out to our last Christmas with family celebration. But we're waiting to see what the snow does. It is coming down hard and fast right now. We were supposed to get a total of 2-4 inches today. We've already gotten 4. Mr. I. went out to the barber shop (it was closed), post office and to get gas. He got back and immediately called his dad to report that the roads were not good, even the main highway through town. Neither of them can get in touch with Mr. I's Brother. They'll decide soon what we are doing.

We had a nice Christmas. Santa brought some good stuff. I got a thing for the Wii Fit that raises the step up 3 inches to give me a better workout. (I asked for it.) I also got a really nice blender (again, it was on my list). My old one will now be used to make recycled paper. Violet and her Girl Scout buddy Butterfly have been wanting to try that. Am I a good mom or what? Sacrifice my old blender for the greater good. And get a really nice new one out of the deal. I've named the new one Betty. She's Bertha's friend.

For dinner last night we had our fish. It turned out great. I also got a mandolin, one of those things that slices stuff really even. I used it to make fried potatoes to go with the fish and salads. It was a change in the menu, but I couldn't think of much else to slice. The potatoes were great.

Santa brought us Toy Story Mania for the Wii. Violet has been playing that all morning while waiting to go. She's getting quite good. I've played a few of the games too. It is really fun. Quite like the ride in Disney World. I'd definitely recommend the game for any Wii users out there. There are lots of games in it and it can be played by one to four players.

The snow hasn't slowed down since I started blogging. While I'd hate to miss out on the family Christmas, I'd also hate to be hit by some idiot going too fast or take three times as long to get there. Mr. I. is most worried about driving home in the dark. If I were a betting gal, I'd be putting my money on us not going.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

The stockings are laid out by the fireplace with care. We don't hang them anymore. They always fell down and left tape marks on the mantle. The cookies are plated for the Big Guy. And Violet laid out carrot and celery sticks for the reindeer. Mr. Incredible will pour the milk just before he goes to bed so that it doesn't sour. We had our Christmas Eve feast: super nachos. The presents are wrapped and under the tree. We might actually be ready for the holiday.

We had a bit of a scare this morning. Red's mom called and asked if we'd be home for a few minutes, Red wanted to bring Violet's present over to her. Crap, we'd forgotten to get her something! Luckily we had an extra sparkle lava lamp in the basement we'd gotten several years ago as an extra gift. One of those things you don't really have anyone in mind for but you pick up because the price is too right to pass up. Good thing we did. We stalled Red about a half an hour, wrapped the lamp quickly, then invited her over to play for a while and have lunch with Violet. Whew. Red declared the lamp cool when she opened it. The girls had fun playing and eating make your own mini pizzas for lunch. Just like we had the whole thing planned all along. I saw a blue glow from her bedroom window earlier tonight. (Her room faces our side of the street - the girls could signal each other from their rooms, but I don't think they've figured out to do that yet.)

We did get our ice storm. It warmed up enough for Mr. I. to hit the stores this afternoon without hitting the ditch as he drove. There is still snow on the ground tonight. I hope it doesn't all melt by morning. That would stink. It would be a waste to have about a foot of snow melt just before Christmas.

Tomorrow night's Christmas dinner feast will be talapia with a browned butter and balsamic sauce. It is Rachel Ray's recipe. We usually grill fish out on the grill, it will be our first time pan frying it. Heck, we only started grilling fish about a year ago. In our landlocked, middle of a corn field there really isn't much in the way of fresh fish to cook. Neither of us grew up eating much fish except fish sticks. My mom grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Trucked in fish grosses her out. If she can't smell the salt water it just swam it, it doesn't seem fresh enough to eat to her. To go with the fish we're going to have spinach salads and green beans. Maybe baked potatoes too. And we are surrounded by cookies and a bunch of goodies from Henry and David that my boss had shipped to us as a gift. Yum! Dessert is ready.

The chocolate snowball cookies changed into chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. Not sure why but Violet didn't feel like trying a new recipe today. Fine by me. I can't get enough homemade chocolate chippers. If I'm not careful around them I'll have to borrow's Santa's fat pants to wear!

Off to relax for a bit before tucking in for the night. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Big Bertha's Been Busy

Yes, I named my stand mixer Big Bertha. And let me tell you, she's the best sous chef anyone could ask for. I don't know how I ever cooked without her. And she's bright red, just like in the picture. She's beautiful!

Yesterday Violet and I made chocolate spritz cookies. The kind you make with a cookie press. I think it was the third time ever either one of us had used the cookie press. Big Bertha helped us make the dough. The cookies came out pretty good.

Today was the second in our Christmas cookie trilogy, we made oatmeal raisin. I don't think there will be any of those left to take with us to our last family Christmas gathering on Saturday. Violet set some aside for Santa. Good thing, or he wouldn't get any either. The recipe is really good, but it didn't make many. Again, I have to sing Bertha's praises. She did a great job mixing in the oats. What an exhausting job and she never complains.

Tomorrow we will wrap up our trilogy with a new cookie, chocolate snowballs. Chocolate cookie balls rolled in powdered sugar. How can that possibly be bad. We found the recipe in Food Network Magazine.

This afternoon we were getting a heavy snow that has since turned to an ice storm. What can you do but cook more? We got Big Bertha back out (I put the old gal away less than 30 minutes before we decided we weren't done). This time we made homemade bread. It was the first time we'd used her to do some of the bread kneading. The bread turned out great. I made our family's new favorite potato soup recipe to go with it. Yum. Too bad Bertha can't peel potatoes and stir soup.

Back to that winter storm I mentioned, it is quickly becoming a frozen icy mess out there. A good night not to go anywhere (like I was thinking of going out!). It is supposed to continue through the night. I hope all our snow doesn't melt. It would be much nicer to have a white Christmas than a mud brown Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We've gotten about 4 inches of snow today. We're supposed to get more tomorrow before it turns to ice and sleet. Mr. I. is taking the train downtown tomorrow. He still has to get to the train station and home. I'm glad he has a Jeep. He was going to drive downtown with my dad today to bring home more stuff. I'm glad they changed their minds.

I am done shopping for Christmas. We still need to wrap presents. Not sure when that will happen. I think Mr. I. still needs to go out. He usually enjoys his Christmas Eve trip out to several stores. I think he's nuts. Especially since the ice and sleet and freezing rain isn't supposed to have ended by then. Oh well. What can you do. He'll do whatever he wants.

Violet did a little math today, to try to take her mind off of waiting for Christmas. It didn't help. But she did get excited when she understood exponents a little.

We made our first batch of Christmas cookies. We did chocolate cookies with the cookie press. Tomorrow we plan to do oatmeal raisin. Then we have another chocolate cookie on tap for Thursday. I feel the pounds piling on.

Violet is outside playing in the snow in her snow suit. We haven't gotten the snow shoes out yet but should. And to answer Mom #1's question from a few weeks ago, yep, you just walk around in the snow with them on. That's about it. It is pretty and quiet out. You do get a good workout in, so maybe we should consider exercise rather than a fun activity.

I'd better get the hot cocoa mix ready. Violet will want a mug when she comes in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday all week

Since I went to the office on Monday, and I usually go on Thursday (hah, usually, like I go very often!), I've felt like it was Friday all week long. Today was my third Friday, I have one more to go.

Saturday (or tomorrow all week) we are doing Christmas with my parents. They are coming here. I'm making a pot of home made minestrone soup, and we'll have salad fixin's. We are sending the men folk out to hunt and gather the wild Subway sandwiches to go with it. We are unassuming folks. My mom is bringing a cherry pie (provided the grocer's bakery made one for her) or something else from the bakery if not. Violet and I are going to make banana bread. We've also got vanilla yogurt and frozen fruit for dessert. Should be a nice, easy visit.

You probably figured out, on the schedule tomorrow is make banana bread. We're also doing a lot of school. Mr. I. has been going to his office a lot, clearing it out, taking down systems, and other end of business activities. So while the house is quiet we're studying.

We have lots of snow in the forecast. Don't know if we will actually get lots of snow. I probably should have phrased it "we have lots of days with possible snow in the forecast." Not looking forward to it. Violet is though.

I'm still working on my Linked In account. I connected with an old college friend today. That was nice.

I'm getting closer to being ready for Christmas. If it weren't for online shopping, I'd be in big trouble!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Linked In

Is anyone else on Linked In? I recently joined. If you are and would like to link to a Freak Healthcare Consultant, let me know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whew, the tough week is over

Yes, I realize it is Monday. I was talking about the last 5 days, rather than calendar week. In the last 5 days I have driven into the office 3 times. Thirty-three miles each way, averaging an hour and twenty minutes of driving (each way that is). I hate that much driving. I hate that much traffic. And we've had northern Illinois weather for it: icy roads, snow covered roads, and today fog with the threat of ice. I'm so glad that is over.

I haven't done much on the home front, I haven't been on the home front. Violet and Mr. I have gotten out the Christmas tree and decorations, it looks really nice. They did a lot of science together. And Violet prepared an awesome poster of the rain forest.

I think she is glad we are getting back to normal. I know I am. I was worried if I kept going into the office like that someone would assign me a desk. Yikes. We can't let that happen. I haven't had a desk or cubicle in years. For a while I had a drawer. Now I don't even have an inbox. One of the administrative assistants gets my rare pieces of mail and she lets know what I need to know. I like it that way. If I get a place to sit they'll expect me to sit there!

Tonight was Violet's last swim class for the year, they are taking a break over the holidays. While she was changing I asked the swim instructor what Violet should be working on. She said mainly endurance, but also breast stroke a little. She also said she's strongly considering moving her up to the next level soon, maybe even before the next class. I am so relieved. I've been getting frustrated lately that Violet seems to be swimming circles around her classmates and isn't getting much out of the class. But, well, I'm her mom, it is my job to think she's light years above everyone else. Apparently I wasn't too far off because her instructor said she isn't learning as much in that class since she is ahead of them (she did start that level before any of them did - and she's a bit older, and definitely more mature). I did let Violet know. She knew exactly what she needs to work on in breast stroke. I don't think she's as excited as me that she'll soon be moving up. But then again, she isn't paying for the classes. I'm glad she's be challenged more soon.

Tomorrow we have some errands to run in the morning. Then we'll be home all day to try to get back into our old swing of things. Hooray for normalcy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Title Comes to Mind

Consider this a ramble, not a blog.

I've taken most of the last 2 days off from work. I've caught up with Girl Scouts. I must pause to say, I cannot believe how incapable some adult volunteer leaders are at following simple registration instructions. Now, I'm not one to worry about rules. But it pisses me off, because when they disregard rules, I have to do extra volunteer work. I'm not taking crap from any Girl Scouts this year, volunteers, girls or council professionals. I sent more requests this weekend for leaders to complete their information and get it to me than ever before.

How did I get off on that topic? Well, I did warn you this was a ramble.

Violet just has one more week of swim class before there is a two week break. We just found out about that tonight. That's a little frustrating. She's making good progress, I hate to have her break stride. Not my problem if other families travel during some of the few days they have off from public school each year. I think I'm a little crabby tonight, do you?

The swim club did give all of us long time families a punch pass for 12 visits to open swim times. We got it on Saturday. It is only good through the end of the month. And we have a boat load of crap going on due to the job changes in Mr. I's present (no longer is it in his future). I've got to go into my office several times in the next week as well. Guess we'll be lucky to make it to open swim once. What a waste of a good free pass.

Still waiting to see if we get health insurance starting January 1st. I applied (with the help of my insurance agent's assistant) but we haven't heard back yet. Mr. Agent called them and they said it was in underwriting. If I understand correctly, that means they can still decide not to cover us.

Tonight we are on storm watch. Violet and I have plans to get up early and do our errands: grocery store and library. Hopefully before the snow hits. Then Violet has plans to play in the snow all afternoon. I'll likely sit inside and complain. :grin:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Catching up

I hope to catch up this weekend. Work is finally down to a manageable pile, as opposed to the mountain I've been facing lately. We have some major changes coming in our industry, and being the researcher, that means lots for me to do. But much of it is sorted out so maybe I can hit that personal to do list and even read a few blogs.

I think Violet needs a break. I don't think we're doing to much, I think we are doing too many different things. I think we need to take a break from all but the basics (with some fun thrown in) for a while. Now I just need to figure out what those basics are. To me she should be doing it all. Maybe we just need to some of it on alternating weeks. Can you tell I don't know what to do? I just know she's acting all stressed out. Maybe she just needs a more consistent schedule. That's the one thing that is hard for me to give her. Sigh.

We had snow on the ground this morning. It was the first time this winter. I'm so not ready for winter. Maybe I can stay in denial until Spring. Nothing like shoveling denial off the windshield so you can see to drive.

There has been no progress made towards Christmas here yet. Except Violet has 2 advent calendars going. One we got for her. It has Lego figures for each day. You actually build a little Lego scene by the 24th. The other has chocolates, her grandparents gave it to her at Thanksgiving. I don't think you could make her choose a favorite. Talk about causing her stress.

My father-in-law stayed with us on Tuesday night. He and Mr. Incredible drove to downtown Chicago (gosh, I should rename this post "the stress issue") and picked up a car load of stuff from the closed office. There are all kind of goodies. I got a new mouse for my computer and a bunch of empty binders. It is like Christmas came early. Can you say severance package? Mr. I has several more trips to go.

Hoping to have a nice weekend. Hoping you do too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner with an author

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the author of Dancing in the Dew, the journal of a man's quest to live closer to nature. Harvey, the author, lives in a sod house he built himself. He has a root cellar, a sweat lodge (instead of a bathtub), a barn with a sod roof, 4 goats, many chickens (the chickens snuck off and laid their eggs in the woods, then came back one day with the babies following them), 3 horses, a dog and a barn cat. We visited his house on Friday and got to meet all the animals and tour the house and grounds.

It was fascinating. He has no electricity or running water. The house was quite warm and was heated by wood burning stoves. He has 3 rooms, but only uses 2. He decided the third was just more space than he needed, so he closed it off with blankets to conserve the heat. His "refrigerator" was a hole in the sod that was kept cool by the dirt. In the summer it becomes his oven. He gave Violet a bunch of dried apple pieces that he'd made himself by drying the sliced apples in a basket in the rafters of his house. They were better than anything we've ever bought at Trader Joe's. Harvey also showed Violet how to feed the goats "goat potato chips" which were actually dried oak leaves. The goats loved them.

He also has a tipi and we sat in there for a long time where he'd built a fire. He said his grandkids like to visit and play in there and camp out. He and his former wife lived in a similar tipi for several years, until changing diapers with no heat got to be a bit of a pain the, well, diaper. It was a nice toasty place to talk, out of the 30 degree Wisconsin afternoon. Wouldn't it be cool to spend the weekend in your grandpa's tipi?

How did we come to spend Thanksgiving with this man of the earth? He is a friend of my father-in-law. They live in the same small town and shortly after my inlaws moved there (couple of years ago) they met him. My father-in-law actually convinced him to turn his handwritten journal into the book. Dad-in-law edited it, Mr. Incredible did the layout work. This was the first time we'd met Harvey.

Violet is looking forward to returning to Harvey's farm to visit him again. She liked playing with the dog and the barn cat. Watching the chickens chase each other and feed the goats. I am actually going to read his book now. Although they'd talked about it for months while working on it, I never paid much attention to what it was about. And we are all hoping he'll join us again for another holiday meal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble, Gobble

Have a nice Thanksgiving everyone! Beware of flying dinner rolls. Don't drink too much (unless you have a designated driver). Don't eat too much (ah, go ahead and eat too much). And remember to be happy for what you've got. No matter how crappy it is. It could be a lot crappier.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The sock from beyond

Today I did a load of laundry. Not eventful, I'm sure many of you washed clothes today too. But I found the strangest thing in the washer when I moved the clothes to the dryer: a very old sock of Violet's. I didn't recognize it, but Violet did. Apparently its mate had been waiting for it on top of her dresser for more than a year. Our best guess is that the missing sock went to The Place Where Socks Go When They Get Lost in the Wash, and came back again. It came back very dingy gray, not bright white like its partner. I wish it could tell us about its travels.

Mystical experiences aside, it has been a very routine few days. The birthday party was a success. We barely talked about Juliette Low, but did do a big Thanksgiving service project. I think that would have been fine with her. The girls also played Thanksgiving themed bingo. As a group, we love bingo.

Work has been so busy. At least I'm keeping up my hours. I've talked to Violet and Mr. I and asked for more help around the house. I'm finding if I just leave things, eventually they get taken care. I just have to have a higher tolerance for dirty dishes in the sink.

Tomorrow morning I have a bunch of phone calls to try to make for work. I expect to leave a bunch of messages for people who won't call me back. In the evening is swim class. We'll try to get some school work done in between. We aren't doing a new list for this week, instead we will try to finish up last week's list. We never actually finish a list. I guess instead of calling them school lists I should call them school guidelines.

The weather is holding out here, and it hasn't become winter quite yet. It is predicted to hit the first week in December. I could skip it.

I've been asked by my service unit manager (the Girl Scout volunteer in our area who is in charge of all of us other volunteers) to write up my negative experiences with registration and the realignment. Apparently other volunteers are also unhappy with the way we've been treated lately and she's going to give council some constructive criticism. I like her. She's got moxie and doesn't take crap from anyone.

The Next Iron Chef finale will be starting soon, and the Freak Family will be gathering around the TV to root on our favorite chefs. Go Chef Garces!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Juliette Low birthday party

Today Violet and I are hosting a birthday party for Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scout. Two families of Juliettes are coming over. We have Thanksgiving bingo, a memory game, snacks, and a service project planned. Plus snacks and cupcakes. It was originally scheduled for when Violet was sick, but we postponed it. We cleaned the house, mostly, last night. Today we just have to get everything out and make sure we have everything (and can remember what we planned to do). The others are all bringing stuff too. Should be fun.

I took the day off work so we could do this. The morning will be filled with preparation, the afternoon is the party and clean up, and tonight is the Girl Scout service unit meeting. I've got a ton of stuff to do for work before the Thanksgiving break, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

It is another rainy, gloomy day here. Winter is definitely on its way. Blech.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My horoscope is mocking me today

I get up this morning, a million things on my list and what does my horoscope tell me?

See if you can give a little thought to how you might be able to increase your income at this time. You might be inclined to want to throw your money around a bit today, but just try to avoid engaging in too much impulsive spending right now if you can help it. A few promising developments could be bringing a pleasant relief to an otherwise busy day.

How I can increase my INCOME right now? I have been working non-freaking stop and I'm supposed to increase my work? Yeah, I'll get right on it. I don't need that 6 hours sleep I'm managing to get in between nightmares. I'll take on another job. No problem. Maybe I can sell an organ while I'm at it.

Seriously. What the hell are the stars thinking?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What happens to the time?

I feel like all I do is go, go, go. By dinner time I'm falling asleep. Then I stay up another 5 hours and next thing you know I'm waking up early and starting all over.

Got good results back on my mammogram. Thought you'd all want to know. Well, you know now whether you wanted to or not.

Spent a day in my company's main office. I always feel so out of place there. I don't have a desk or a cubicle. I don't have a drawer there. For the longest time I had one that I could keep stuff in. Now, I don't even have an inbox. So I sat at an empty desk when I wasn't in meetings. I was glad to find out my key card still works and I could get into the ladies' room without asking for a key.

I used to have a company mug with my name on it. I couldn't find it in the kitchen. Wonder what they did with it.

This week Violet and Butterfly will do a bunch of recycled material craft projects. And later in the week we are throwing the Juliette Low birthday party, rescheduled from when Violet was sick. Swim lessons move to their new permanent location. They've been renting pool space while they built their own building. I wouldn't mind squeezing in a make up lesson this week, she still has 3 make ups to do.

Going to the inlaws for Thanksgiving. I said we could bring an appetizer and a dessert. Mr. I immediately offered to make them with Violet. I don't know how to break it to him that I was really looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner at home and now I don't even get to make our dishes to take with us. I'm bummed. I know he's only trying to help. But I wish he'd jump to clean the bathroom or vacuum instead. Maybe I'll get to cook again at Christmas.

Right now I feel like I've lost my old life and I don't like the one I've been given instead.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let's talk homeschool tonight

I have so much on my mind. Unemployment, the mammogram, a big issue at work that blew up today and could be potentially bad, insomnia. If I think about bad things I'll cry. I'm thinking about homeschool.

By the way, the mammogram isn't a bad thing. I was just thinking about the markers they use that are like a cross between a band-aid and a pasty. They use it to mark a particular place that I don't want the search engines to pick up the word for but it rhymes with ripples. Anyway, how the worst part of the whole thing is removing them afterward. Didn't want anyone to worry, I have no to reason to suspect I'll get anything but an all clear letter in a week. I am curious though, does anyone else's radiologist use those things? It is so weird.

Where was I? Ah yes, homeschool. (And thank you for sticking through that last paragraph.) Violet is in 5th grade this year and we are starting to see some real progress. A much more mature attitude towards school. She asked to pick up spelling again. And she's doing pretty darn good with it. We are using the word lists from Sequential Spelling, but only doing 10-15 words a week. We go through them and she writes them on the white board. Any she misses she writes in her notebook. We do that about 3 times in a week. We're also adding looking the words up in the dictionary for practice with that. If she nails a word, we do the Sequential Spelling thing of adding the "ing" or "ed" to it. If she's struggling with it, we don't. It is working really well.

In math we backed up and practiced addition. Now we're moving into some multiplication and division. Again the attitude is better than ever. She still freaks out sometimes. But I've noticed it is the workbook that makes her freak out, not the work itself. She's calmed down since I've been stressing not to immediately panic, but to take a look at what the question is.

We are loving The Story of Us for history. The Story of Science is starting to grow on Violet. It started out slow. And she's still loving Latin Minimus. We're almost ready to move into Secondus. I'm thinking of trying Critical Thinking's Root Words workbooks. I love their other products we've tried. Has anyone ever used them?

She's reading more books on her own. Partly because I've had a lot of work commitments and that is something she can work on by herself when Mr. I is around. It must be hard for him to jump in to a subject that we've always done together and have any idea of our methods. But they do well with making up their own stuff. When he doesn't have time to make up stuff, she's happy to read.

I have her reading a biography of Grace Hopper, the Mother of COBOL. My absolute favorite woman! I saw a really, really cool biography of her when I was in college and fell in love with her. I wish I could find it to show Violet.

We have some other subjects going here and there. Swimming class is her PE. We're reading a lot of things out loud. She is still working on grammar in Editor in Chief (also by the Critical Thinking Company).

In short, when we get around to having school, it has been going really well. Now if we could only get around to it a few more days a week...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I can't believe the weekend is over

What a waste. I feel like I didn't get anything done. There were technical difficulties at work so I couldn't do most of the stuff I needed to. I slept horribly and was a zombie during the day. I'm having one of those, "there's so much to do that I can't do any of it" times.

I did get a load of laundry done and the floor dust mopped. I put 4 new books on Violet's school reading list:

  1. James Herriott's Treasury for Children
  2. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat
  3. Cheaper by the Dozen
  4. The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Violet and Mr. Incredible chose to read Doctor Dolittle as their next read out loud book. That works for me.

I did manage to get Mr. I. to pick up another bag of cashews for me while he was out today.

Last night Violet threw up right before bed. Then she woke up during the night yarking again. We think it was a build up of mucus since she hadn't been coughing it out. Today we gave her the Musinex during the day to help thin out the mucus in the hopes that it will exit her body in a more pleasant manner. Judging by all the tissues she's been through, it is working.

The cats, the little hairball machines, were quite impressed with her last night.

Hope you weren't just eating your morning bagel while you read that. I apologize if you were. See, sleep deprivation has rendered my appropriate post-inappropriate post meter inoperable.

Tomorrow I go in for the BIG SQUISH. That's a mammogram for you youngsters who don't have to do it yet. So no caffeine for me. I do have a brand new box of white tea that doesn't have caffeine. I'm trying to convince myself that it will be a treat. I don't drink coffee anymore, but I do like my English Breakfast tea in the morning. Especially when I haven't slept well. Some days I just want to suck on the tea bag.

Here's hoping for a peaceful night for all of us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do I look as old as I feel?

Judging from the comments I got while I was out tonight, I'd say the answer is yes. First at the grocery store, I bought wine. The lady at the checkout barely glanced my way before ringing it up. They are supposed to ask for your id if you look any where near 35. Huh, guess I don't look close. Then at Taco Bell (yes, it was a wild and crazy evening), two kids working there asked me if I need cup holders to carry 2 drinks to the car. I'm a mom, we can juggle 2 drinks, 2 bags of burritos, a purse, car keys and much more at once. No toddler in tow? That was a cakewalk. Then the old guy in line behind me asked me if I needed him to get the door for me. I thanked him, but no it opened out, I was good. All I needed was a Boy Scout trying to help me across the parking lot.

Did I really look at old and feeble tonight? Maybe. I haven't been sleeping well. I am really tired. In the last week I got my Wii Fit age twice. Once I was 22. The next time, 54. I'm going to forget the 54 ever happened and go with 22. Even if I feel 154.

In other news. Violet is much, much better. She's barely got a cough left. Just a little now and then. I'm so glad that appears to be over.

We are working on dictionary skills in homeschool. I'm going to be giving her lists of words to look up in the dictionary. Mostly for the practice with finding them. She struggles with alphabetizing. Adding a second or third letter just doesn't come naturally to her. So we're practicing. Besides, if she can get good at it, maybe I can hire her out as a file clerk. The world needs good file clerks. As long as the drawers aren't too high, she isn't that tall yet.

I figure we'll need the extra money. Apparently I'm going to need a walker soon. I'm going to get me a nice one with a fold down seat and tennis balls on the feet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Announcing the next read aloud

Thank you to everyone who posted comments about their favorite read alouds. Many, many of them have been written down on my list of books to read. The only reason others weren't written down is because we'd already read them. I did leave the final decision up to Violet, since she's the audience and she has chosen Sisters Grimm. I haven't read them, but everything I see suggests they are funny, not scary or spooky. A little suspense is fine. Terrifying at bedtime isn't. If we get part way in and she decides it isn't a night time book, we'll read them in the afternoon instead. We won't be starting until next week, we're still finishing up The Old Meadow, the last book by the author of The Cricket in Times Square.

Violet continues to feel better, but now has a cough. The Musinex seems to really help it. Yippee!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fever is down

Violet knew we were calling the doctor's office today. In fact I called in the morning and her regular physician wasn't going to be in until 1:00. The other doctor's staff said to call back then, but definitely she should come in. By 1:00 her fever was down. She willed it down I think.

I went through the whole list of symptoms with the nurse, yes fever, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat. No aches or body pains. They said to try Musinex for a day and see if that would relieve the sinus pain. Bring her in if the fever goes back up or the Musinex didn't help.

Fever is still down. The Musinex seems to help the sinus pressure. Looks like she might have dodged the doctor bullet this time.

I am glad she's feeling better. She's still going to have a quiet day tomorrow, she's not 100%. But at least we're not worrying as much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Still sick

Violet was up during the night last night, coughing. We found Mr. I's cough syrup from a few weeks ago and gave her some and more Tylenol. Her fever was up again. She woke me up about an hour later saying she woke up but couldn't get back to sleep. I sent her back to her room to read in bed (it was early). After dozing a bit I felt guilty and went to see if I could make her a cup of her favorite tea and found her fast asleep. I guess it was good I sent her back to bed.

She's definitely got a cold. But the fever worries me. We got her some cold medicine that better fit her symptoms. It put her to sleep on the couch this afternoon. She still says she doesn't feel that bad. Not achy, not overly tired (except when the sinus stuff kicks in). Just stuffy with a runny nose and a sore throat. And that darned fever.

I'm calling the doctor's office in the morning. In the past his nurse has been very good about going through her symptoms with me over the phone and saying "yes, bring her in" or "no, don't expose her to our waiting room, do this for now." Hopefully she'll do that tomorrow.

I've rescheduled the Girl Scout Journey day. I'll call the swim club in the morning to tell them she won't be there tomorrow night. And I've e-mailed my boss to reschedule our 8 am phone meeting until later and filled her in on why I may not be too available during the day.

In other news, tomorrow is Mr. I's first day with no job. Does it count as no job if he's still getting paid for 2 months? I'm not sure if they are going to stick with the regular paydays or just pay them the rest and get it over with. I heard the accountant wanted to do that to finish up his payroll reports. This whole unemployment thing is new to both of us.

I guess you could say we've had better days around here. But it could be a whole lot worse! I'm glad it isn't.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


As she was getting ready for bed last night, Violet asked me to take her temperature. Yep, 99.7, she had a fever. We did the checklist: body aches - no, headache - yes, sore throat - yes, cough - no, runny nose - yes, stomach ache - no. Everything pointed towards cold. We Tylenoled her and tucked her in.

This morning, 100.7. More Tylenol. Same run down. Same results. Really seems to point towards cold, all except that fever. The Tylenol brought the fever down. She felt good and was bouncing around. Mr. I. talked me into letting her go trick or treating at a few houses, if she promised not to breath on anyone. It was cold and windy. I froze my kickers off. (Notice how he wanted her to be able to go out, but he didn't take her? Yeah, I noticed that too.) I thought Violet hadn't been planning on trick or treating this year anyway, but she said she had wanted to go to a few houses - just not the ones with spooky decorations. I don't know how that changed in the span of her getting sick. I guess the mom is the last to know.

Got home, only went on our block, maybe 10 houses. Checked her temperature again. 101.1. I'm going to kill him.

Anyway, everything still points to cold. All except the fever. She has energy, she isn't achy, she's a little sluggish, but not like you'd expect for the flu. Sigh.

She's getting ready for bed now. Going to do more Tylenol and another good night's sleep. Tomorrow we'll see where the fever is. Then cancel the Monday afternoon Girl Scout get together with her girlfriend, Butterfly, if it is still up. Even if she feels better, but hasn't been without a fever for 24 hours, they aren't going to work in close proximity. I wouldn't want Butterfly that near Violet if Butterfly had been the one sick. I won't do it to her.

We'll start thinking about taking her in too, if it is still up. But hopefully, a good night's rest will do the trick.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Funerals and other news

We declared all of the brine shrimp dead this morning. I think they were gone as of yesterday, but we wanted to be sure. This afternoon, when the rain finally let up, we went out to the garden and a had a mass funeral. We dug a little hole and poured the entire contents of the hatchery in. It was so muddy, they kind of created a puddle. We covered them up with the mud and Violet put some dried leaves and the one still blooming dandelion on the grave. It was quite nice. Especially for a brine shrimp funeral.

Got lots and lots accomplished today. Besides reclaiming my desk from the shrimps. I cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry. I spent an hour putting away things. I swear, things get left out so often around here. I did some cleaning. I did some paper work. And I finished getting ready for the Juliette Low birthday party Violet and I are throwing next week.

Today was the last day Mr. I's company was in business. It is now officially closed. He said the mood was pretty bad there today. He was considering buying beer and taking it in, but decided against it.

This afternoon I handed over the reins in my homeschool forum, Homeschool-Talk, back to Manda the original founder. She was looking for something to do, and I've been neglecting it terribly. It was a perfect solution. She's reopened registration (I was too lazy to figure out how to stop the spammers that I had locked down the place over the summer) and is sprucing things up. Check it out.

Manda started the original site, Teach Your Children Well, which had a forum at the time. She made me an administrator there, probably because I was driving her crazy. Then when it got overrun with spam and she decided move the forums and just keep the blog and resources, she asked me to take over the forums. Now, she's back in charge and I'm no longer feeling guilty about not doing anything. I can just post and be happy. At least I think that was the history of the sites. Something like that. We've been at this for years.

Finally, I will be glad when Halloween is over. Does it feel like it has been going on for over a month now? When did Halloween become its own season?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chicago and Books

Today my parents took Violet to the American Girl Place in downtown Chicago. They took the train. Violet got 4 new doll outfits. Christmas came early. They wanted to go before weather got bad and while schools were in session. So for a Christmas trip/present, off they went. They had a great time.

While they were gone I worked. Got a lot done. Not necessarily what I planned, but all work for the place that pays me, so that's good. My next paycheck should be really nice.

Other good paycheck news, Mr. I. will be paid through December, not just November like was the original plan. He will be helping to close out everything over the next two months. The two extra paychecks are wonderful!

Finally, books. Violet and I are need of some book recommendations for our evening read alouds. We've recently finished Paddington Bear (and all the sequels), The Rats NIMH (and the two sequels) and A Cricket in Times Square (and are almost through all those sequels).

Our ideal next read aloud would be:

1. About a group of cute little animals.
2. Not scary, gross, spooky or otherwise nightmare inducing (this is required, Violet is very suggestible to bad images late at night).
3. Have a few sequels or related books by the same author (we like to really get into our characters and study them for a few months.

I'm thinking maybe The Rescuers. I know the Disney movie was rather scary (or at least it scared me as a kid) but I don't think the book was as scary. I think it is that Disney animation that does it.

Any other ideas, oh smart blogging buddies? I'd like to give Violet a few to pick from. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Brine Shrimp

On October 1st, Violet made a brine shrimp hatchery. She had quite a colony going. Problem was, we couldn't figure out how to clean it. The little guys are so small, how do you get the waste and stuff out without scooping them out too? The problem was even worse because we followed the science kit's instructions and used a 2 liter soda bottle cut in half. It isn't very big, or sturdy, or filtered, or oxygenated.

It is a miracle they've lived this long.

Most of them are now dead. There are a few swimming very weakly around. I doubt they'll last much longer.

Am I a bad mom because I am anxiously awaiting the last of them to go? They've been a pain to take care of. I really didn't think they eggs were going to hatch in the first place. I want my desk back. They've been sitting on it with a desk lamp keeping them warm for 4 weeks now. It isn't pretty.

We should have fed them to the bigger fish tank at their prime.

Violet enjoyed having them and watching them hatch and grow. But I don't think she's crushed by them dying either. I'm hoping she doesn't ask to hatch more of the eggs. Maybe if the other eggs get "misplaced" before she thinks about it.

Can I mail anyone hundreds of tiny brine shrimp eggs?

Worst part, the little buggers are too small to put on skewers and dip in cocktail sauce.

I'm a bad mom.

Tee hee.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Productive Day

Gosh, I got a lot done today. No wonder I'm tired and heading for the couch very shortly.

This morning I got Violet's sales dropped off. As I was pulling away from the fall product chair's house I remembered I didn't keep a copy of her candy and nut sales. I usually do. We always get the form back, but I always keep a copy too. Just watch, this will be the first time we won't get it back and we won't know what anyone ordered. Ha! That'd be a kicker.

I went to Target and Walgreens and managed to get us ready for Halloween. Violet stayed home with Mr. Incredible. I found candy, probably more than we need, but enough to make Mr. I. happy. He's always worried we'll run out. We never do. And if we do? So what, I say.

I also now have Violet's white cat costume ready. I couldn't find any white sweatpants, stretch pants, or white bottoms of any sort. But I did find boys white long underwear. Shirt and pants. I don't think she was 100% convinced until she tried it on and found it did look rather cat like. And several times last winter we said, "Violet doesn't have any long underwear." Usually when we were headed out on the snowshoes. Well, this year she does.

I spent the afternoon sewing white felt over the tiger ears and tail. I put a pink felt bow on the end of the tail. And pink felt in the centers of the ears. I also bought her some white knit gloves ($1.50 for a combo pack of the white and a pair of black, we'll use them). I put pink "paw pads" in the palms of the gloves. I even put a pink bow on ears. I think it looks pretty good. I'll get pictures posted.

Speaking of pictures, I didn't take any of the pumpkins and straw today. It rained all day. I didn't feel like going out in it to photograph anything. Blech.

In school today we took a slight step backwards in math. She was doing Miquon a year or so ago. We'd left off in book 5, the yellow book. She was getting bogged down with memorizing her math facts. I took a chance and moved her into Key To, measurement, decimals, fractions and lately percents. She's not all the way through any of them, in book 2 of most. I decided it was time to go back and reinforce those basic math principles. She was very receptive and actually seemed to enjoy doing addition problems today. I think we'll keep working in Miquon for a while before going back to Key To.

That's what I love about homeschooling only one. There's no competition. No saying, "You're in fifth grade, why are you doing a third grade book." The books aren't graded, but kids figure these things out. She can do what's right for her.

Swim lesson went very well. She even held up when she and a boy crashed into each other doing the backstroke. I was sitting near his mom and we were both holding our breath watching them about to crash. Neither reported it hurting much. Hard headed kids I guess.

The swim club is starting up a swim team in a month or so. They are moving to a new, permanent location (they've been renting pool space). Once they get there, they'll announce the non-competitive swim team. We are going to look into it. I think it would be good for Violet's confidence. And she has no interest in competing, so it might be just right. But I want to know how often the practice. I don't want to be driving to the pool 5 days a week. I'm lazy like that.

Tomorrow we have nothing planned. We might try to get into a make up swim lesson. If not, we'll just hang around at home. I like hanging around.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Weekend

Another busy weekend at the Freak Household. I worked a lot on Saturday. I feel good about the amount I got done. Plus I feel good that after I had finished one thing and sent it to my boss, I had a reply back from her (she must have been catching up) saying it was great. Positive feedback is good.

Violet has decided to be a white cat for Halloween, like Marie from The Aristocats. Ever try to find white cat ears? I bought tiger ears and white felt. I have some pink felt. We're going to try to convert them. I found a white sweatshirt for her. Tomorrow, I'm going to try another store to look for white sweatpants or leggings. Worst case, we have white tights and a pink skirt she can wear.

We bought our pumpkins today. We went to our favorite pumpkin patch (it is the most sincere). We also bought a bale of straw to keep Violet's strawberry patch warm and toasty all winter. Tonight the straw and pumpkins are on display on the front porch. Hmm, I'm betting you want me to go out tomorrow and take a picture and post it. I'll see what I can do.

I listened to a podcast on health reform this morning for work. While listening to it I tried to do a little research to figure out what we can do for health insurance come January 1st when ours ends. We won't be able to do Cobra since the company is closing and besides there were only 7 employees left. I can't qualify from my company (I've asked 2 or 3 times, they keep saying no). There is some sort of mini-Cobra program in Illinois, but from what I can tell online you have to have been dumped from your health insurance or denied coverage. We're healthy. I'll have to call the State for more information. Yay, calling the State, always a fun thing. We really need an insurance agent I guess. I'm afraid we'll have to buy privately.

So that's what gets my goat. (Well, if you've been reading here long you know A LOT of things get my poor goat.) Why are some people so violently opposed to a voluntary, government health insurance program? Because their taxes will go up? Boo hoo, your taxes will go up anyway. Because it would be serving the poor, the wretched, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? Well, I'm not wretched or huddled yet. I'm not poor, at least not in the eyes of the other State insurance programs although I'm not quite sure how we are going to pay our bills and health insurance on my part-time salary. So it is really so offensive to these people that I have proper healthcare coverage for my family? It isn't our fault we're soon to lose ours.

And the kicker is, I'm a healthcare consultant. I need an insurance agent.

On a less stressful topic, Violet and I made potato-leek soup for dinner tonight. On our way back from the pumpkin patch we pulled in our local grocer and bought leeks and a big loaf of French bread. Dinner was delicious. Violet and I each had 2 bowls of soup. Mr. I. had 3 bowls. He likes soup.

Tomorrow I will turn in Violet's fall product sales. Thanks again to those of you who played along at home. She earned all the patches and all the incentives! She'll get $60 in vouchers for the Girl Scout store or program fees. (She'll spend much of it on cute little stuffed toys in the store.)

It is a less busy week coming up. We are looking forward to hanging out at home some days. Violet has a field trip planned with my parents on Wednesday. I'll tell you about it after they are home. I don't like advertising her whereabouts, even though my dad does hold a black belt in karate and usually has an itch to get in a fight. It will be simpler and involve less bail money if I just wait. I'm also hoping we can get another make-up swim lesson in sometime too. I'd better be careful or our light week will implode!

As for tonight, I'm off to read with Violet. We are reading, "Chester Cricket's New Home" by George Selden. It is one of the sequels to "A Cricket in Times Square." We've loved them all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fudge, Rain, and Videos

Sorry, the fudge of which I write tonight isn't gooey, yummy fudge, but the character Fudge from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. We made it to the play today. It was freaky, we were the only homeschoolers there. Usually there are a couple of families. The ushers and theater manager kept checking on us before the show started. We had the entire back half of the theater to ourselves and got to pick our seats. The manager knows we prefer the back and not sitting right next to the stage. Guess we've made an impression on them. That or they feel bad because they never credit my account correctly for my payments, claim I'm overdue, then find that yes I did pay. Anyway, there were only 4 school groups and us in the theater. We moved to one row behind the school kids, in the center, but not with Violet directly behind the teacher.

Side note: why can't the teachers and chaperone parents SIT DOWN when they arrive? They always have to stand until the show is starting. Then they manage to sit down in front of Violet. We've traded seats or scooted to empty ones more times than I can remember. Maybe the ushers could ask the teachers to get their butts in their chosen seats so we can find a good view before the show is starting. I think it is more of the power trip thing. You know, the one authority figure over all the cookie cutter underlings. Just like in real life. Uh huh.

So back to the show. It was good. The actress who portrayed Fudge (yes, as Violet and I said walking back to the car, very Shakespearian) certainly was good at portraying an annoying 3 year old boy. Ack! Was she good. I'd wished I'd taken some Tylenol before the show. We did enjoy it. In two weeks we go back for "Click, Clack, Moo."

It has rained non-stop for two days. It was clear on Wednesday when we were at the zoo, but it had been raining Monday and Tuesday before that. Things are so floody. Next week's homeschool project should probably be building a canoe.

I just 2 put videos on order from Freshwater Fred's Lending Library. If you live in the States of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio or Wisconsin you can check out free of charge all sorts of educational materials for 30 day periods. They have all sorts of stuff like videos, DVDs, curriculum, books, computer software. They mail you the stuff and send you a postage paid return envelope for when you are done.

Tonight I ordered 2 videos about women inventors. I think Violet may have seen them before. But oh well. I wanted them for Violet and Butterfly for their Girl Scout Journey about energy. They are supposed to meet with an engineer and ask her about her job. Well, I'm lazy. I'm not setting it up. The Girl Scout police can come and get me and take away my s'mores stick. They are going to learn about female inventors instead by watching a video or two. And I think Violet already saw them, but double oh well. The other mom doesn't care that I'm cutting some corners. The girls are learning stuff and having fun.

I'd say that should be the point.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keeping busy

Our busy week is actually going pretty smoothly. Violet has been making it to all the stuff without getting too overwhelmed. In fact, I was even able to get her into a make up swim class tonight. Between the pool closing for a week for cleaning, labor day and our trip, we had 4 lessons to make up. One down, three to go.

Tomorrow is "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" at the local theater. I bet that schoolday performance is going to be a germ fest. Would it be wrong to have Violet wear a hazmat suit and slather her hand sanitizer afterward? I'd really, really like to avoid the flu. But after much deep contemplation, a long talk with my dental hygienist and many posts in a homeschool forum, I have decided to skip the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations. Our plan? Avoid people as much as possible. Kind of the lifestyle Mr. I, Violet and I prefer anyway.

A special thanks to Rosie. The Halloween goodie bag arrived today. Online friends are the best friends! The Smarties seem to help make Violet smarter while she is doing math problems.

Work is back to being smooth. My boss is back in town. She is just the voice of reason in a chaotic department. I guess that's why she's in charge.

Our day at the zoo was really nice. We had the most perfect weather. It was sunny-ish and in the upper 60s. Today it has rained non-stop. We couldn't have picked a better day in October to go to the zoo.

Tomorrow our new dishwasher arrives between 8 am and 10 am. Mr. I. will be working from home so he can take care of it and deal with the delivery/installation guys. I'm always relieved when he can do it. I usually do Wii Fit around that time. Not happening tomorrow as the Wii is in the family room which is only separated from the kitchen by a half wall. Maybe I'll do it later in the day. Probably not. I haven't missed a day in October yet. Oh well, like the trainers say, "if you are feeling tired, it is a good idea to give your body a rest."

Speaking of rest, soon it will be my turn for reading aloud with Violet, then time for a snack and a glass of red wine. Let the good times roll!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another week another to do list

The weekend flew by. That's what happens when you work. I did get a lot accomplished and I feel better about the start of this week. Always good.

Violet and her girlfriend Butterfly worked more on the Get Moving journey for Girl Scouts today. They made their energy pledges (Violet is going to try to use fewer paper products like paper napkins, paper towels, and shhh, she's not telling the whole world this part...less toilet paper - only what is really needed. She's going to kill me one day for sharing so much of her childhood on the internet, isn't she?)

Back to business. Mine is to turn off lights in rooms when I'm not using them and to sleep my computer more. I'm bad about leaving things on because I'm likely to go back to them, eventually. Butterfly is still working on hers, but she thinks she wants to eat more locally grown foods. I told her to take her time.

The girls practiced folding furoshiki cloths. We talked about excessive packaging and about buying bigger boxes versus individual serving sizes. And they started to make coffee cup cozies (you know, like those paper sleeves Starbucks sticks on all the cups to make it easier to hold on to them) out of an old pair of jeans. They measured and cut out the cozies, then decorated them with fabric paint. Next time they'll sew on some Velcro.

This morning I had a dentist appointment, tonight is swim practice, tomorrow is Violet's orthodontist check up. You'll all be proud of me, I asked for help this morning. I asked the lady from the Girl Scout council who is often driving around our area if she'd be near my house later this week. I have a bunch of registration paper work to turn in. She said yes, she'd be happy to pick it up from me on Tuesday afternoon. Yay! One less trip to make. I think Violet and I will go to Trader Joe's after the orthodontist tomorrow instead. Closer and more fun!

Wednesday the three of us are taking the day off and going to the zoo. We all need it. We have a membership so parking and admission are free. And we're going to take sandwiches. The weather is much warmer this week, low 60s, so it will be perfect for going there.

If I don't post much for the next day or two, you'll know why. We aren't home. But at least some of it will be having fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wii Fit Plus

What do you know, I did get birthday presents yesterday! I'm here tonight to tell you all about them.

Mr. I. and Violet gave me Wii Fit Plus and Alton Brown's new book, Good Eats: The Early Years. I haven't had much time to peruse the new book yet, but I did get Wii Fit Plus fired up.

Many of you know I am a Wii Fit devotee. Even if my weight has gone up since I started using it a year ago, I still love it. At least it hasn't gone up much. I'd hate think what I'd weigh if I didn't exercise. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, Wii Fit Plus is an add on to the game. It pulls in all your current stats. And gives you more yoga poses and strength exercises and more advanced tracking. It counts your calories burned. And more stuff that I haven't gotten to because I've been too busy playing the new balance games. And trying to get the game back from Violet who has been playing the games whenever she can.

We both like snowball fight a lot. She's good at it. I like the new table tilt, I was a big fan of the old one. This one has a feature that "pops" your ball into the air to move it to different levels. It is hard. There's one game where you hip bump mushrooms with numbers on it to add up to a total number. That requires too much thinking. Violet really likes the parade game and juggling. I found that the cycling made me ill. I got really dizzy. I'm afraid to try the Segway.

You can also register your pets. Violet has set up Marbles, our biggest and youngest cat. He then shows up in some of the games. Pretty cool.

I also got a box in the mail yesterday from my inlaws. They always remember my birthday. I often exchange whatever I get. This year is no exception, but it isn't an issue of taste this time. They gave me a new outfit (which I desperately need now that I'm going into the office more). But unfortunately the pants are 2 sizes too small, and the sweater is a medium, and a large would definitely fit better. I guess they still remember the 21 year old girl their son/step son brought home from college. Well, she got bigger over the last 22 years. (Goodness, I've now been with Mr. I for over half my life. Yikes! When did that happen?)

Anyway, they included Kohl's gift receipts in the box, so I'll be heading there to find a new outfit that will actually fit. But it was really nice of them to remember and send something. But I don't think any amount of Wii Fit Plus will get me to cram into size 10 pants ever again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We think we might have seen snowflakes flying through the air this morning. I did have a dream where it snowed. I'm not ready for winter.

Today is my birthday. It has been mostly business as usual. I took yesterday off and Violet and I spent the day with my parents. Dad and I went to Wal-Mart. We always have a good time going into town together. Mom made my favorite homemade macaroni and cheese to go with lunch.

Violet baked me a cake today. Mr. Incredible is going to make my favorite dinner soon: super nachos! I'm a girl of simple tastes. My parents gave me a new cutting board for my birthday yesterday. Haven't seen a present yet today, but Mr. I and Violet did go off to his office on a secret project around lunch time. I'll keep you posted.

I'm still really enjoying the quiet at work with one boss on vacation and the other a convention. So nice. I have to write an article on HIPAA. I did my research today and took notes. I think I can turn it into an article fairly easily. But I doubt I'll do it today. It is due Monday. There's time.

I might try to get Violet into a make up swim lesson tomorrow. You have to schedule them the day of the make up. I might not. I kind of like the idea of not going anywhere tomorrow. We have 4 make ups to do. I thought Violet might be getting ready to stop lessons. She was complaining a lot before we went on Monday. But she said that she never feels like going, but once she's there she really likes it and can't wait until the next lesson. Guess she's staying in them for now. It is her only activity with any expense really. Girl Scouts is cheap, and with no troop dues, even cheaper. We have 5 theater performances to attend, but that is really more a school expense than an extracurricular. She might as well keep them up as long as she's still enjoying them.

The weekend is supposed to be warmer and sunny. That will be nice. We've been so rainy and dreary lately. Hmm, maybe I should tackle that article today and get it over with and be able to enjoy the nice weather on the weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I got an award!

Thanks to Mom #1 (who really is a Number One Mom!) I am the proud recipient of the Over the Top Award:

The rules of this award are as follows:

1. Answer the questions below using only one word. (Like I ever limit myself to ONE WORD! As my good friend Mary once said, "For a quiet person, you sure got a mouth on you.")

2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you. Thanks, Mom#1

3. Pass it on to 6 of your favorite bloggers. Well, I'm really bad about this part, plus by the time I get around to these, everyone else has usually done them. If you haven't, consider yourself Over the Top and tagged.

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse (ask me if it is charged)
2. Your hair? Blah
3. Your mother? Exercising (since she started exercise class she is on top of the world!)
4. Your father? Retired (and driving #3 crazy)
5. Your favorite food? Nachos
6. Your dream last night? Gone
7. Your favorite drink? Wine (Red)
8. Your dream/goal? Cabin (I'd love to live in the middle of northwoods of Wisconsin in a little cabin, near a lake, or better yet, the upper peninsula of Michigan)
9. What room are you in? Dining
10. Your hobby? Reading
11. Your fear? Snakes (bridges, tornadoes, large groups of small children)
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Couch
14. Something you aren't? Outgoing
15. Muffins? Yes, please
16. Wish list item? Wardrobe
17. Where did you grow up? Illinois
18. Last thing you did? Shower
19. What are you wearing? Pajamas
20. Your TV? Off (for another 30 minutes or so)
21. Your pets? Snoring (yes, from across the room I can hear the cat snoring)
22. Your friends? Wonderful (especially my online ones!)
23. Your life? Double (homeschool mom, career woman)
24. Your mood? Relaxed (the bosses are both out of town today!)
25. Missing someone? Aunt
26. Vehicle? Rattling
27. Something you're not wearing? Socks
28. Your favorite store? Burt's Bees Online Store
29. Your favorite color? Yellow
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? October 1st
32. Your best friend? Mr. I.
33. One place that I go over and over? Library
34. One person who emails me regularly? Library (to tell me my holds are in)
35. Favorite place to eat? Rosita's (a local Mexican restaurant)

See, I couldn't keep it to just one word, but at least I didn't beat any of my points to death as I am so often accused of by Mr. #32.

Well, I am off to the couch with #7 to do some #10, then turn on #20! Have a good night!

Dishwasher recall

Fatcat was asking which models were affected in the GE dishwasher recall, so I'm posting the link: GE Dishwasher Recall.

It seems to affect quite a few, so if you have a GE dishwasher that was manufactured between September 1997 and December 2001, you might want to take a minute and see if yours is included.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Parties, sales, work, and dishwashers

We went to a party last night, just Mr. Incredible and I. Violet hung out at her friend's house for the evening. My boss had a dinner party. It is always interesting to see work people outside the confines of the office. We had a nice time, ate a lot, I drank a lot (Mr. I. was driving) - not so much as to do anything memorable, just enough to have a headache after we got home. Violet had a good time at her friend's.

Violet's candy, nut and magazine sales are going great. Thanks to all of you who let me send you e-mails. The snail mails will arrive in January. I really appreciate you helping her out like this. It is such a scam to have patches that all fit neatly together, provided you give them enough e-mail and snail mail addresses. I included my own e-mail address on the list because I was ordering all of our magazines plus some for my parents. Guess what? It wouldn't count mine towards her 12 addresses! What a crock after I paid them I don't want to know how much. So guess what I did? I sent it to my work e-mail address instead.

Got try harder than that to hold Freakmom down!

I've been trying to catch up with work. I'm not there yet. Good news, the two who give me the most work are both out of town all next week. I should make some progress. I hope. On the plus side, the hours are good. I need them to pay for those magazines! Ack!

We're pretty sure we're going to replace the flammable dishwasher. Since we've had the other problems anyway. For now we are doing dishes by hand which is getting real old, real fast. Mr. I. is going to take apart the door and try to wrap the offending wires with electrical tape to insulate them. Or something like that. I think he was actually speaking in Martian when he told me because I didn't understand most of it. For a smart person, I'm pretty dense when it comes to science. That's why he's in charge of it in our homeschool. That and science experiments usually make me swear.

While we were at the party last night we noticed that my boss has the same dishwasher as we do. Or a very similar one. I called her this afternoon to see if she'd heard about the recall, she hadn't either. So I e-mailed her the info. I wasn't surprised they had the same one, we have the same microwave too. Our houses were built about the same time and all the builders seem to use the same appliances unless you buy big upgrades.

Tomorrow Violet's friend, Butterfly, is coming over and I'm going to help them with the new Girl Scout Journey about energy. It looks like a lot of fun. Much better than last year's journey. I wouldn't touch that thing with a 10-foot s'more stick. There is swim practice in the evening (I've decided she swims so well it is silly to call them "swim lessons" she's practicing flip turns and dolphin kicks now). Tuesday we are hanging out at my parent's house for the day. And on Wednesday, I turn 43!

It will be busy week.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking the day off

Freakmom style that is.

I have to be on an hour and a half conference call for work this afternoon. And I have to go to the Girl Scout service unit meeting tonight. But other than that, I'm taking off.

What I am doing on my day off (that isn't really off)? I'm going to finish unpacking, and clean bathrooms, and maybe mop the floor that we keep sticking to. I'm going to spend time with Violet doing school work. And I'm going to help her with some Girl Scouty stuff.

But I think I am caught up enough not to have to work furiously all day. I'll take whatever I can get.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maybe the leaking water will put out the fire

Have I mentioned here that our dishwasher leaks? It started over the summer. Mr. I. put a pan underneath it to catch the water and occasionally empties it.

This is actually the second problem we've had with it. The first was last winter when the drain got clogged and it wouldn't empty totally. There is nothing more fun that bailing a dishwasher after every load. Mr. I and his dad took it apart and were able to dislodge the clog. Now it drains, but leaks.

Now low and behold we learn it has been recalled. It wasn't GE that told us (but in all fairness, we probably didn't send in our warranty card so they didn't know we bought it). It was our local Fire Department. In their newsletter they reported that they recently responded to a kitchen fire that started from a recalled dishwasher. Since many, many houses were built in the same 5 year period they figured many, many of us are affected by the dishwasher recall. Smart assumption since builders do tend to put the same make and model of most appliances in every house in the subdivision unless the new homeowner wants to make an expensive upgrade, most don't.

So, yes, now not only does our dishwasher leak, it may burst into flames at any moment.


Mr. I. did the research recommended by those smart firefighters (who have better things to do that put out every dishwasher in several subdivisions). Seems we can get a free repair call to fix it (but I'm guessing not the leak even though they'll be here anyway) or get a rebate of either $150 or $300 on a new GE model (depending on what model is chosen).

I don't know what we're going to do. One thing is we won't set the dishwasher to run overnight anymore.

Never a dull moment.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yes, I'm still alive

I was just off the grid for a while.

First I spent two days in beautiful downtown Peoria, Illinois at a healthcare convention. I kid Peoria, I really like the city. It gets a bad rap in Illinois. It has to have the best traffic of any place on the planet. When I got there I couldn't find the entrance to the hotel parking garage. I was able to drive in circles through the city looking for it. Not once was a I run down by a city bus or a cab. I wasn't honked at even when I slowed way down to read street signs. There was just no traffic. Several convention attendees also commented on it.

I did a presentation at the convention. I had no information to share. My topic was picked last winter. Then the government put a hold on the changes. The hold was supposed to be lifted by now. It hasn't been. My co-speaker and I had to scramble to come up with material. (Side note, she was my third co-speaker, they kept dropping out on me - well, one quit our company to work for a client, one found out she had a conflict, and this last speaker actually agreed then found out she'd misheard the topic and really didn't want to speak on it because she knew nothing about it, but she did it with me.) But the audience didn't seem to mind, we got good feedback and had standing room only. I met a speaker who had a session at the same time, he had relevant current info, and virtually no attendees. He was a bit miffed. Tee hee.

Anyway, I had great time traveling again for work. I'm planning on putting in more speaking proposals for next year (when we'll travel to sunny Springfield, Illinois - I tell you, Northern Illinois has no respect at all for "downstate"). I'm also hoping to go to Michigan in April. Mr. Incredible was hoping I'd get sent to California next year, but I really don't think that will happen.

As soon as I got back we left for our family vacation. We went to Disney World. We have a time share there, so our room was paid for. We bought annual passes when we went last year, so our park admission was paid for. We needed to get there and back and food. We couldn't pass it up.

It was really hot, moderately busy, and a good time. I would have liked to have more downtime. I get so little relaxing in at home, I'd like to relax on vacation. Mr. I and Violet like to go, go, go. Next time we go, I'm going to ditch them and go to the pool on my own. There's a beach chair and a frilly drink with my name on it. They both like wild rides much more than I do anyway.

So we are back home. I'm almost caught up with work. I had a blow out with Girl Scouts (now isn't that a familiar story). This will be my last year volunteering. I'm going to finish up the rest of my commitments then turn in my...well, I don't have anything to turn in. I'll just quit. I've finally come to realize what so many volunteers have figured out before me, Girl Scouts is a business first and foremost and volunteers really are the least of their concerns. They don't care if they increase our burdens with no notice or change our job descriptions mid-year. It isn't about us, or about the girls. If you want the full story, let me know and I'll e-mail you. I won't bore everyone else.

Speaking of Girl Scouts, I do plan to keep my commitment to Violet who does still enjoy the program. That said, she loves selling and more importantly earning stuff. Starting Saturday is the Fall Product Sale. She'd like to earn all the patches. To do so she needs to send out 10 e-mails and 10 snail mails about magazine sales. She doesn't need to sell any. Many of you let her send you e-mails or mailings last year, if you are willing to get them again this year I'd appreciate it. The e-mails (there will be 2) come out next week and the week after), the mailing in January (you might get a second mailing, the info is unclear on that). The company doesn't keep the e-mails or addresses or sell them to any one else. If you are interested just e-mail me, I may e-mail some of you from the list last year to confirm your continued willingness. No is always an acceptable answer.

So, that's where I've been. Playing big shot in Peoria. Hobnobbing with a mouse. And causing a scene in a Girl Scout office.

Who says my life is boring!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What does this remind you of?

Saw this article today in a nursing home industry news letter: A kindergarten everyone should attend.

The author is amazed at how well both the children and the residents do when the two generations spend so much time together. Hmm. Sounds familiar. Sounds like something we've been saying for years. (That's the collective "we" the homeschool fanatics.)

Maybe the crazy idea of not isolating children only with other kids of the same age will catch on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Feeling Better already

Notice I haven't been posting much lately? I've been so busy, running hither and yon. We went to Homeschool Day at Six Flags (great fun!) and spent a day out of state with the in laws. Work has been busy and we've been trying to get ready for vacation (starting Saturday morning!). Plus the Girl Scout season has started up and that's been busy. Oh, and 5th grade started of course!

Well, yesterday was my biggest day of all. I had to drive three and a half hours, spend time at a trade show booth, give a presentation, attend a social function, and finally collapsed into bed at 10 pm. Ten is the earliest I think I've gone to bed in months. When I finally got to my hotel room I was so tired (and had maybe one more appletini than I should have - just enough to make me really tired), I just crawled into bed.

It was my first presentation before a live professional audience in more than 5 years. I've done audioconferences, where they can't see me reading my notes as I go. I've done training sessions and reports to Girl Scout leaders. That's not quite the same either. I had a last minute co-speaker (my original co-speaker, actually I was to be her co-speaker, resigned from our firm). But I had written the session and gave most of it. (I was so glad to have the co-speaker though because she was most familiar with the section I was least familiar with.)

There was a slight panic attack before the session started when I couldn't figure out where to get my computer plugged in. My poor co-speaker started running off to get hers from her hotel room. Luckily we figured it out and caught her before she'd gone too far. I'm lucky she didn't kill me, but I had warned her I wanted to get there early to figure it out. I haven't spoken since before the days of hooking up your own computer to their equipment.

Anyway, our session was packed. It went well. Kind of bummed that we had no questions to fill our time allotted for questions and we ended early. The attendees didn't seem to mind. Hopefully the association sponsoring this won't mind. Don't know when we will get our evaluation summary...

But that doesn't matter, because now I'm all but on vacation! In a few minutes I'll head down to the breakfast buffet and hopefully meet a few co-workers there. I'll need to check out of my room - I'm heading home tonight! I want to attend a session later this morning, I have to work the trade show over lunch (I'll still get my oh so yummy box lunch though provided by the conference), and I'm sitting in a round table discussion but in the audience not in panel (my boss is in the panel and has asked a few of us to be there in case any questions come up that she's unfamiliar with). Then I drive back home.

Compared to yesterday, today is a cake walk!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

8 things that have happened recently

So much to tell you, so little time to blog. Don't you hate it when responsibilities get in the way of your internet life? I sure do!

1. I bought a new outfit for my presentation in a couple of weeks. What do you think?

2. We had a possum on our deck the other night. He was in the corner birdfeeder. We couldn't figure out why one of our cats was glued to the deck door. We turned on the light and there he was. Haven't seen him again, but we are kind of hoping we do.

3. School got off to a pretty good start this week. Violet isn't too sure about this working on her own from her list. But I keep telling her it will get easier. I was helping her more at the end of the week. I assured her there are a lot of adults who couldn't take a to do list and have it all done by the deadline without any interference from anyone else. I work with a bunch of people like that. She's going to be so far ahead of the game when she gets to college if she masters this.

4. If you come to our house and we cook out, you might want to pass on the turkey burgers. We were cooking some on the grill tonight (or rather Mr. Incredible was, I was playing a game with Violet). First we ran out of gas in the tank and he had to microwave them to finish them. Then while we ate some in the other room, one of the cats (the possum spotter) jumped up on the counter and licked them! I'd recommend ordering a pizza.

5. I bought my first pair of shoes from Zappos. Man, is that the coolest sight ever or what! I bought a pair of plain, white, comfy Keds for walking. Got them a couple of days later. No shipping charges. And if they hadn't fit (which they did) free shipping back. I love them. I told Mr. I to put a parental supervision lock on that sight on my laptop.

6. Speaking of Mr. I. we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past week. Yep, 20 years he's put up with me. We didn't do anything since we are going on a trip in a couple of weeks and that is our present and celebration. But he did go out to the barber during the day and stopped at the store to bring me back flowers. And I had a Girl Scout service team meeting at an ice cream shop that night and brought him back a piece of apple pie.

7. At 5:00 am this morning, someone set off fireworks in our neighborhood. We actually heard them first in the front, then in the back, then in the front again. 2 people (groups? families?) setting them off at about the same time in the very early morning? I have no idea why.

8. Anyone remember when I was on the Girl Scout day camp committee a few years ago? I worked way too hard. Violet hated camp. We both vowed never again. Well, we've kept our word. But now we have a new Service Unit Manager and she has a very good idea. She is right that in the past the committee has been dysfunctional to put it very mildly. No punches have ever been thrown. No charges ever filed. But it came close a few times. She is calling a meeting of everyone who has been involved to air all the dirty laundry and come up with a good plan to move forward with. Long overdue and very brave of her. Not something I have any interest in being a part of. I've finally forgotten most of it. Luckily, she set up the meeting while I'm at the convention. Oh darn. Tee hee. I am going to send her a couple of notes on things I can still remember.

I'm sure there's more that I've forgotten to tell you, but that's what I can remember right now. Have a good remainder of the holiday weekend!

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day

We weren't going to start school until after Labor Day. We had decided that before we realized how late Labor Day is this year. I was going to stick to that. I made a promise. I don't like to go back on things school related.

Then today Violet was bored out of her gourd. She drove me crazy. Which wasn't hard to do because I feel downright awful today. I've been having stomach pains, I'm achy and I'm tired. Could be the flu. Could be bad shrimp fried rice at the outlet mall on Saturday. Could be allergies, mold counts have been through the roof. Or could be fatigue.

Anyway, I ended up yelling at her this afternoon. Felt bad about that. We sat and read outloud later. That's what we always do when we get mad at each other. Cool off, then read together. On the drive to swim lessons I suggested we start school tomorrow, September 1st, instead of waiting. She agreed. That's how bored she was.

I told her it made sense that she was bored. She'd been off since before Memorial Day. Her best friend, Red went back 2 weeks ago and hasn't been around to play. The weather really cooled off so we're taking the pool down early (that and it turned green and we couldn't clear the darned thing up again). I promised a light week to start with.

So when we got home I made up her school list for the rest of the week. Instead of math books her math assignment this week is to do the Math Whiz Badge. Next week she can do the Puzzlers Badge. I didn't think we needed to start out crazy.

Cutting this short to get to bed. First I'm going to have a bowl of Cheerios. That sounds good to my stomach. Normally I'd have a glass of wine and some sort of nuts (honey roasted peanuts are my favorite, but cashews and mixed nuts are always good, also a cajun flavored trail mix - yum!) But tonight my stomach says plain and simple.

I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow. I hate plain and simple. I want my late night snackies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not as crabby

I'm better tonight. A few things have worked themselves out.

I forgot to tell you what I did at the Girl Scout dinner the other night. It was kind of cool. Remember Camp Icky and all the problems we had there? Well, at my table was a teenaged girl who'd been to that camp too. I asked if the camp director had gone around in flip flops while she was there. The girl hadn't noticed actually. But who was seated at my table and got to hear some of my stories about the poorly run camp at the Council we're merging with? Our long time Director of Programming. Who happens to have had started out as a camp director way back when. Now, her job is up in the air along with everyone else's there, but I'd say she was a pretty darned good person to have heard about it. Plus she likes me. I've put together a couple of badge workshops in a box for them.

Too bad the new CEO wasn't at my table too.

By the way, the other girl didn't care for camp either, but it sounded like she just didn't like resident camp all that much. She did do the rappelling wall while she was there. I told her I was impressed. I didn't even try.

So, people are still being morons, but I'm working behind the scenes to change things as always. I didn't actually kill any morons today, but I'm making no promises about tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


That is the only word that can be used to describe my mood today. Crabby. It isn't my fault. People are being especially annoying lately. And previously normal people have morphed into morons.

Last night was the training dinner for Girl Scout's Fall Product Sale (you know the one where I'll be hitting you all up for e-mail and snail mail addresses to get the magazine pitch sent to - the one where Violet earns patches for e-mails and mailings sent, in addition to sales). I was asked to arrive at 6, the dinner started at 7. I was to help set up. Fine. I'm looking at this year as my swan song in Girl Scout volunteering. The last year of anything major as a volunteer. Why not?

I get there at 6, everything is already set up. There is nothing to do for an hour. I stood around talking to one of the program specialists at council and got a bunch of great leads on where to rent kayaks and take lessons. (She says I don't need to bother with lessons if I'm experienced in a canoe.) Great info. Nice gal to talk to, really fun person. Worth getting there an hour early? Probably not. I think she's saying the same thing about me. Why were we there so early? We could have been home with our families.

Dinner is nice, it is a nice restaurant. Oh and I got to meet the new CEO of the realigned council. Seems nice enough, but I don't trust her. Not yet.

After dinner the guy from the magazine, candy/nut company does his thing. He covers everything I'm supposed to later in the evening. I get cut from the program. I'm not a Fall Product Chair person. The only sales I'll be involved in are Violet's. I don't need to be there. Three hours later, I'm home. The only good thing was that I snagged some magazines they had there. Not the current issues, but ones I didn't have and want to read. But, I could have gotten them at the library.

Can you say crabby?

I won't go into all the ways my family has been annoying me lately. You know how families are. Underfoot, in the way and doing it all wrong!

I keep feeling like I am going in circles with things because people are morons and can't figure it out the first time. It was rainy and dreary all day.

Another example: Violet wanted to do a science kit today. I told her to go pick one out (we have a small stockpile). I must remember to read the instructions first. We used most of the eggs in the house and ended up making brownies after one cracked prematurely in the experiment. I figured I could use the chocolate, the egg was perfectly good, just not for the experiment. Yes, next time I must read the instructions before signing on.

Yes, I'm crabby. Maybe a glass of wine and a good night's sleep will help. Maybe I'll go moron hunting in the morning.

Or maybe I should just go out and rent a kayak tomorrow afternoon and paddle my cares away.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planning 5th Grade

We'll be starting school in just a few short weeks (and sneaking in some learning between now and then) so it was time this weekend to get planning.

First our subjects are divided into "core classes" and "enhancement classes" (title groupings lovingly stolen from Wendy).

Core classes:

  • Math - Key to series
  • Science - Young Scientist Kits, and various other books
  • Grammar - Editor in Chief
  • Writing Assignments that we make up
  • Literature - reading on her own and out loud, plus Novel Thinking Charlotte's Web and Reading Detective
  • Spelling - to be determined, probably just with the writing assignments
  • Building Thinking Skills
  • A History of US
  • Magic Tree House studies (made up by us, she reads the book, the research guide, another book on the subject, then does a project of her choosing)
Enhancement classes:

  • Latin - Latin Minimus, followed by Secondus
  • Cooking and other life skills
  • Art - various art projects and studies of artists
  • Music - listening to music and studies of composers
  • Girl Scout badges, etc.
  • Which Way USA books - since we still have some lying around
  • PE - swim lessons and other
  • Camera Skills - she and Mr. I. plan to study their cameras and the instruction manuals and learn lots of cool things about photography

Each Sunday Violet will be given the week's list of work. She can schedule it however she'd like (except of course things outside our control like swim lessons). She'll have until the following Saturday to complete it. She'll have a set amount of core classes to complete (x pages of math, y chapters in history, etc.) and a suggested amount of enhancement work (for example, pick 3 of the following 5 activities).

Most stuff we'll work together on still, leaning towards more independent work. Magic Tree House studies will be more independent. She'll read the books on her own, Mr. I or I will help her choose a project (art project, writing assignment, science experiment, etc.) and she will do it as independently as possible. For the book about volcanoes (Vacation Under the Volcano) she's already said she wants to build a volcano since she hasn't done that in a long time.

I'm pretty excited about the new school year. I think it will be a good one. We have a lot planned, but not so overwhelmingly much like I've tried to do in the past. I think the lean towards independence will be a good one.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eyes on Management

For the first time in my career, I am setting my sights on a promotion. I was moving along in my career at the normal rate when I had Violet and went part time. That put the brakes on things. I didn't want a promotion. I didn't want to be a manager or have more responsibility. I could barely handle everything I was doing as it was.

Then the last 2 weeks happened. I've been thrown into the supervisory and mentoring fray due to some recent resignations. As I was doing it all (some willingly, some because I had to), I got to thinking, why aren't I a manager? I'm doing all this anyway?

This morning I was talking to my boss and told her I'd like to set up a meeting with her and our HR person and whoever else should be involved and discuss what I need to do to get that promotion. What would the company expect from me, 1. to be promoted and 2. to keep that position.

My boss said she was very excited that I was interested in pursuing this path. I think that is a very good sign. She's traveling next week (Violet is petsitting her cat), but when she gets back she is going to talk to HR and the other partners in our department then set up a meeting with me in early September.

Now this could be a long process. The partners all have to approve anything as big as a promotion to manager. It is a big deal at my firm. And they announce promotions in January to be effective the following July. I am probably way too late to make the cut for next year. But at least I'm getting the ball rolling.

And it could very well be, I sit down with them and hear what is needed and say WHOA, I can't do that! Not right now at least. But at least I'll know.

And yes, I'd still be working part-time and mostly from home. In my version anyway, that's what I'd need to see about. There have been other part-time managers. They haven't all worked out that well, but I've impressed most with my work-from-home capabilities so I am hopeful. And my company is big on workplace flexibility, so I think I stand a chance.

So keep your fingers crossed for me. I'd love to be able to fast track this for next year. But I'm not counting on it at all.