Saturday, January 31, 2009

Finally Proud to be Illinoisan Again

Did you all watch the Illinois news this week? We finally got that nutjob out of our government. It was a happy day in Illinois again! Late Thursday night our State Senate impeached our corrupt governor. Kicked his sorry ass right out of office. Now all that is left is for the federal government to prosecute him for trying to sell Omaba's Senate seat and all the other federal charges he's up for.

Governor Quinn is such a welcome sight. We figured all the other politicians were showing up at his old place with boxes, trucks and dollies to help him move into the governor's mansion. "Hey, Pat, let me grab that lamp for you. We'll get this stuff, you go fix our State."

First he probably needed to dust it. That was everyone's first clue that something was wrong with Blago. He refused to move into the governor's mansion. Someone gives you a huge beautiful house to live in, even temporarily, and you say no? Nutjob!

Did you hear how he left the impeachment hearings before the verdict? Yes, he wanted to fly home to Chicago by private helicopter on the taxpayer's dime one more time before he was forcibly removed from office. Sweet, huh? Yes, he's all about serving the Illinois people just like he says. Serving us what and where he's sticking it, isn't for a family blog like this one, but I think you know what I mean. (And I'm guessing I've lost most of my readers by now. I know you don't come here to listen to me rant on about state politics. Thanks for sticking with me this long if you have, and don't worry, I won't mind if you leave now and come back next entry. I understand.)

Did he really believe everyone was out to get him? Well, maybe we all were. Because he is a scumbag and a crook and a nutjob. But the real kicker, did you hear how he compared himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi? If that isn't enough to convince you the man is a nutjob, I've got some swamp land to sell you. Blago just like Ghandi. Uh huh. How stupid does he thing we are.

I guess many Illiniosans were stupid. I mean we did elect him to office twice. I am proud of the fact that I did not vote for him the second time he ran. By that point I knew he was bad news. I had no idea how bad. For the only time in my life I voted for a republican for a major office. (You all knew I'm a flaming liberal demoncrat, didn't you? I'm sure you guessed.) At least I can say I didn't re-elect the nutjob.

Governor Quinn has his work cut out for him. The State is more than 6 months behind on payments to doctors, nursing homes, schools. And those programs were horribly underfunded to begin with. For instance, the state is supposed to pay 50% of school expenses, yet they only actually pay 25%. It's in the state constitution, yet it doesn't happen. That's only the tip of the iceberg. Governor Quinn has a big, big job to do. Long live Quinn!

If you made it all the way through my post, thank you. You are either from Illinois too or are a really loyal reader. I promise tomorrow (or whenever I get around to posting next) I'll be back to my usual banter. I had to get this off my chest. Now I have to go disinfect myself. Writing about Blago has made me feel all slimy. Ewww.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spring Break Plans

I know, 2 posts in one day! Well, I was falling behind. You know how that goes.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the plans Violet and I have for Spring Break. It is always a big struggle, why do school when the public schools are out. But why not do school when the weather is icky and your public school friends are off on day trips with their families.

I pitched an idea to Violet today and she loved it. Each day that week will be declared some sort of fun day. And we'll plan fun activities around the theme. See, there will be learning but it will be a nice break from our regular school work. And it is flexible enough that if public school friends are free she can go off and play. Or if there are any good programs going on a the library or nature center she can enjoy those too.

So our initial ideas for possible days are these:

Game day: where we play board games and card games and Wii games all day

Japan day: where we do "Japan-y" things to be determined later (gee Sabrina, who put that idea in her head? Tee hee, it's a great idea!)

Noodle day: cook pasta and learn about pasta and make a past related craft

Popcorn day: see noodle day and substitute popcorn for noodle

Purple day: all things purple

Cat day, dog day, we haven't decided on any yet (although Japan Day is pretty much a done deal).

We will decide on our days by the end of February in order to have lots of time to plan our activities (because there's no way I'm doing all the work. She's in 4th grade, it is about time she started earning her keep.)

In the meantime we have Ireland Day to plan. World Thinking Day is February 22nd. It is the day that all Girl Scouts/Girl Guides think about other Girl Scouts/Girl Guides around the world. One of the "spotlight" countries this year is Ireland. So we are going to try out our plan for Spring break with Ireland Day, probably the Monday after Thinking Day because Maddie has a birthday party to attend on the 22nd.

You know what comes next, don't you? The plea to send us any fun ideas you may have or to tell us about similar things your family did. Thanks!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hello Kitty!

Sabrina sent Violet the most wonderful box this week, all the way from Japan. Violet had no idea it was coming or what to expect when she opened. And I have to say, although I knew it was coming I was little prepared for just what was in it. It was like a magic endless bottom box where cool fun Hello Kitty or Japanese toy, candy or other item just kept coming out.

Apparently it all started with a Hello Kitty bag Sabrina won:

Perhaps she didn't have any packing peanuts and decided to just fill the box to the brim with neat stuff:

There was a washcloth and banner:

After a few items Violet really started getting excited:

Her own set of Yen play money:

The bottom of the box was no where to be found:

Japanese bubble gum!

There was too much stuff to try to list. There were stickers and notebooks. Candy. Craft projects. Chop sticks and a chop stick case!

There is even a Hello Kitty board game all in Japanese! Violet is going to make up her own rules where she can't figure it out. Although she did say she's going to have to learn Japanese so she can read it all!

And here she is with the incredible amount of loot Sabrina sent!

Sabrina, we can't possibly say Thank You enough! It was incredible! You are incredible!! Many hugs from Violet and the rest of the Incredibles!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yes, it's true. Ruby died today. She seemed fine. Swimming around this morning and afternoon. Then tonight after dinner Violet stopped in to check on her and called downstairs with the bad news. Mr. Incredible tested the water in the tank, he said the levels were fine, or at least nothing alarming.

The same thing happened with Violet's first hamster. Well, not exactly the same thing, but you know what I mean. She got Netta and within 2 weeks the poor thing had contracted wet tail and died. It was so sad. It took us several months to get another hamster and after a year and a half Harry is still going strong.

Not sure what we'll do about more fish.

I guess it will depend on what Violet wants to do. If she wants to try with more goldfish, we'll get more. She and Mr. I were talking a bit, and I haven't talked with him to see what she said.

When the ground thaws we'll bury Ruby, Pearl, Bubbles and Treasure. They are all in a little take out container together.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Snow cover

Today marks 3 straight weeks that we have had snow on the ground. Three weeks without seeing grass or dirt. We had 11 straight days of snow cover around Christmas. That's over a month of seeing nothing but white.

Yes, I've been counting. Last year around February I got curious about the last day I saw the ground without snow on it, but I couldn't find a website that tracked it. So this year I marked my calendar each time we got snow coverage and again when it melted enough to see patches of grass. Or at least I will mark the end of snow coverage if it ever comes again.

Tomorrow's forecast? Cloudy with snow likely, up to one inch accumulation.

We won't be needing that lawn mower any time soon.

p.s. I submitted the presentation proposal this afternoon. There's no going back now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another weekend over

How do they go so fast? One minute it is Friday night and the next thing I know it is Sunday night. It doesn't help that I work weekends, I guess. But still, they should be longer.

Heard back from the boss, she loved the idea of the presentation on balancing work and home. Now to wait and see if the Association picks it. I have no idea how many sessions they get pitched on that sort of thing so I have no idea what my chances are. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

We spent yesterday at a shopping mall about an hour from us. One of the sporting goods stores had advertised women's snow pants on clearance. We couldn't find any in the store. We found some men's that weren't on sale and were pricier than I cared to spend. I decided to hold out awhile.

We had taken a fist full of gift cards we've gotten and spent many of them. I wanted to use some up rather than having them sitting around. Violet got a bunch of fun stuff at Claire's Boutique. I got 2 cookbooks at Borders. Violet got a How to Draw book there too. Mr. Incredible picked up a book on the history of comic strips. We all got treats at Starbucks. All on gift cards.

Did you know that K.B. Toys is going out of business? I think they are (were) nationwide but I'm too lazy to look it up. If you haven't heard of them they must be regional. Anyway, they filed bankruptcy. Everything in their stores is 70% or more off. Mr. Incredible and Violet got a bunch of Hot Wheels cars for 38c each. The signs in their stores all said that they were no longer honoring their gift cards as of January 1, 2009. I was wondering how long they had been selling them. Were they still on sale at Christmas time only to be worthless a week later? I've never been a fan of them (I had a few nasty run ins with their employees and management), but that is really sucky.

Today Mr. Incredible and Violet went to see Hotel for Dogs. I stayed home and worked. That was fine with me. They said the theater was packed to the gills.

Tomorrow I will turn in Violet's cookie orders, plus those of 4 other homeschool Juliette friends. Violet sold 127 boxes of cookies this year. Down quite a bit from prior years, but quiet respectable. Especially considering the number of her prior year customers who were no longer employed this year. I think she was happy with the sales. I know she was happy with not going door to door all over the place this year. Deliveries will be so much easier this year too. She didn't sell enough to get the stuffed pony, but that was why we bought Cookie the stuffed dog. I think I feel worse than she did. I didn't want the stress and hassle of her selling more cookies. And I didn't want to be harrassing people to buy cookies when their finances are so strained right now. Maybe by next year the economy will be in better shape. I am curious to see how sales Council-wide are.

Not many plans for the coming week. School. Library. Work. Cooking dinner. Reading. Working out. You know, the usual.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wacky Idea

I don't know if I've told you all, but I used to do a lot of public speaking as part of my job. I'd present at seminars and conventions, usually as part of a team from my department. Since I've been work-from-home and part-time I've done very little. A few audio-conferences here and there but that's about it.

Digressing for just a minute from my original thought, missing the speaking and being afraid I was losing the ability to do so was a big part of the reason I got involved in the extra volunteer activities in Girl Scouts. I wanted to get back up in front of the room of people and talk. So I volunteered to be a delegate and present the updates from the board of directors to the service unit.

Now, mind you, I was the shyest kid you'd ever meet. I hated public speaking. Hated it in high school. Hated it in college. I'd get so nervous and would be so quiet I could barely do it. Then in grad school we had to present in our classes a lot. I got a bit better at it. Still didn't care for it. At my job we were required to do speaking engagements. Didn't matter if you wanted to or not, we had to. I actually got to enjoy it. I still felt like I was going to throw up before I went on, but once I got going it was pretty fun. Except when there'd be a heckler in the house, but that's for another day.

Back to my story. Proposals are due at the end of the month for presentations at a big state convention in September. I loved going to this convention and haven't been in years. I got the bug to speak at it again. I volunteered (for pay this time) to coordinate all the proposals from my firm. I came up with several ideas and am co-speaker for 4 of them. Of course none of them are submitted yet, and the association has to choose them, but I should get at least one. We have some good topics and my firm is well known in this association as putting on a good seminar. (In fact my boss could read her grocery list at this convention and people would go because as I overheard one lady say, "I don't know the topic but if Susie S. is speaking about it I need to know it.")

Well, I just sent my boss another topic for her approval. I want to do a session tentatively called, "Having it all without losing your mind" about balancing work and family life. They actually have a request on their topic list for just such a session. Who better to do it than a homeschool mom with a professional job? The time slots are all 90 minutes, so I am a bit concerned about whether or not I can fill that long. But I'll worry about that after the session gets picked. I sent it in before I chickened out again. You see, I had decided last night I wanted to do it. But by this morning I had changed my mind. Then today I mentioned it causally to Mr. Incredible. I thought he'd think it was silly. But he liked the idea and encouraged me to go for it. So I did.

Cross your fingers they pick my session. Well, first that the firm will let me submit it. I'm excited about the idea. I hope it pans out. I hope I don't fry in the pan if I actually try to do this session next September!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Junior Aide

On Monday Violet completed the requirements for her Junior Aide Patch. She had to work with a younger group of Girl Scouts three times in order to earn it. She helped with three Try-it days at our house with the younger Juliettes. She did a terrific job. I took her to the Council Shop today so she could get her patch. It will be sewn on the front of her sash.

One of the other moms e-mailed me tonight about something else. She said in her note how much Violet has blossomed and what a great job she does with the other girls. This mom has seen Violet in some of her worst times. Violet being shy, selfish, introverted and down right a pain in the you know where. It was really nice to see those words from another mom. I will share the compliment with Violet in the morning.

Next up for Girl Scouts, her bronze award. She has one more badge to earn, then she'll work with the greyhound rescue people Memorial Day weekend for her big project. Then she can coast for a year earning badges and just enjoying being a Junior Girl Scout.

No other news to report tonight. We had beautiful balmy 30 degree weather today. I went to the compost bin without my coat on. I completed a big project for work I've been doing. Yippee! Now I'm off to relax and stare at the TV.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Bubbles passed away last night. Before bedtime. Violet was quite sad. But the good news is 24 hours later and Ruby is still looking good. She seems to be fine as an only fish. Mr. Incredible is going to take Violet out this weekend to get more fish. Hope Ruby doesn't get too used to living alone.

We laid low today. I got some more cleaning done. Winter leads to really icky floors. My dad stopped by in the afternoon with some cookie orders for Violet. He and his breakfast buddies all ordered. We also showed him the Wii Fit. He's a jock from way back. He kept hearing us talk about it and wanted to see it. I don't think he's giving up his weight bench for one, but he did think it was pretty neat.

We're plugging away slowly at school. Mr. Incredible helped install Rosetta Stone Spanish so we can start that up. We bought it ages ago, and I could have sworn we had it installed. But it wasn't, but now it is. We tried with it before but Violet didn't seem ready for it. I hope she takes to it better this time. I'm going to learn with her and I think that will help.

I'm also plugging away at work. This is going to be a long busy season. Expect it to go until Memorial Day weekend. I was able to outsource some jobs to younger staff and since I'm expected to do that when I can, I'll be getting more practice at it. Since I still have to review their work I don't lose all the hours for a project when I do give it away. It makes the bosses happy. And it keeps me a little more sane. Except when they don't reply to let me know if they are taking the job or not and what their schedule is for completing it. I have to work on communicating that from my end.

We might actually venture out of the house tomorrow. I have some paperwork to take to the Girl Scout Council office and Violet wants to buy her Junior Aide Patch. We need to stop by the grocery store on the way home.

The excitement never ends.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's happened to Freakmom?

I'm sure you are all wondering where I've been. It is probably keeping you up at night. Your lives have been placed on temporary hold while you constantly hit refresh at Freakmom's Space to see if I've posted anything new.

No? Well, I'm going to tell you where I've been anyway (and no hard feelings).

I left you all when I was going to my ladies' dinner with the purple monkey socks. I think they liked them. We didn't do a "steal the gift" thing once they were opened. There was a much bigger variety this year. I got a pretty business card holder and purse holder (you use it to hold your purse to the table when you are at a restaurant). I'll post pictures as soon as I can.

We had a nice dinner and lots of laughs. There was lots of great gossip but it was all about people from work and I'm sure it wouldn't make any sense to any of you. Mr. Incredible tried to follow a couple of the stories but admitted he couldn't. Sounds like I'm going to have a job for the short term anyway. And it sounds like my boss (who wants me there) has quite a bit of power in the company.

While I was out, Mr. Incredible took Violet to buy 4 goldfish for her tank. They were Pearl, Ruby, Bubbles and Treasure. Sadly, Pearl and Treasure died during the night last night. She still has Rudy and Bubbles and is considering getting 2 more fish sometime. She was quite sad, but I assured her it wasn't her fault. Fish die.

On Sunday we delivered all those blankets, towels and pillows she collected for the greyhound adoption organization. We got a tour of the kennels. Violet even got to see them caring for the broken leg on one doggie, he was getting his foot rewrapped. It was quite fun. We've tentatively set up that she's going to help them out Memorial Day weekend for her Bronze Award project. She's going to help with cleaning the grounds and planting flowers before their big memorial ceremony for dogs that have passed on. We're going to see if she can also bring some goodies for the volunteers to snack on to add to the project. And maybe see if they need posters made or anything. That will help her meet the hour requirement without having to do hard manual labor the entire time.

Yesterday was the Juliette Art-to-Wear Try-It Day. We were busy cleaning up the house, setting up, and hosting the girls (and their moms). They decorated shoe laces with fabric paint, did the Sharpie marker tie dye on bandanas idea from Ami, turned socks into slipper socks with 3-D fabric paint and made papier mache bracelets. It went smoothly and of course I forgot to take pictures of the girls working on their projects. I did take photos of the finished projects on the drying table and I will post those eventually. The girls seemed to really enjoy the projects. There were no complaints about them or that they'd done things like that a lot already.

All in all, we are glad the Try-it Days are over with. Violet completed the requirements for her Junior Aide Patch. We may do another in the spring when it is warm enough to meet at a park instead of our house. They are a lot of work.

Today we watched much of the Inauguration. Violet enjoyed a lot of it, but tired by about the 5th hour of it. I could have watched more. I guess the day did get off to a rough start what with the deaths of Pearl and Treasure. Now she's reading Boxcar Children mysteries and is about to help me make stuffed shells for dinner.

So that's where Freakmom has been. I hope to not go AWOL that long again in the near future at least. I've been trying to keep up with all of your blogs and miss everyone.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Notes from the deep freezer

It has been too cold here to blog. Not really, I just have been trying to get caught up with stuff. But it has been too cold. Today it warmed up some. It got up to 1 degree. Fahrenheit that is. The temperature on Thursday never got above minus 5. The wind chills have been around minus 20 and below. Have I told you that Mr. Incredible walks about a mile from the train station to his office in downtown Chicago? Today he thinks his nose got frost bite, even though he had his face wrapped in a scarf.

Schools have been closed the last two days. That's a smart move. It is too cold for those kids to be walking to the bus stops and standing there. Although many parents wouldn't have their kids do that and would drive them, there are enough kids who wouldn't have any other option. Our district has now had at least 3 winter weather days plus the teacher's strike. That's a full extra week they'll have to go in June. Violet and I did school the last 2 days saying we'd rather be off when it was safe to go outside.

I've been talking up one of my Girl Scout friends, trying to see if she'll take the Juliette Coordinator job next year. I figure it is worth a shot. Her daughter wants to leave her troop next year and the friend is a sucker for volunteer positions. We'll see. I hope she only does it if she wants to. I'd like to keep her a friend more than find someone else to take the position (because I've decided I'm resigning with or without a replacement).

Tomorrow is my dinner with the ladies. I don't know how late I'll be so I probably won't post right away. But I will let you know how the purple monkey socks go over. There is a 40% chance of snow tomorrow. Cross your fingers and toes that we don't get it. I really want to go to my party and I don't want to drive there in snow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tank Girl

No, not the 90's cult classic film starring Lori Petty or the comic book. I'm talking about Violet and her quest for fish.

Violet got this idea last weekend that she'd like to have a pet goldfish. One of her very own, not just a fish in Mr. Incredible's big tank. My boss had given her a PetSmart gift card for Christmas, so we said sure. I had no idea how needy goldfish have gotten since the 70's.

Did you know you don't keep goldfish in a little bowl any more? I didn't. And that they need 2 gallons of water per inch of fish? And that they need a filter in their tank? And that a 20 gallon tank minimum is recommended? It has been quite a lesson in fish this week.

Violet started by checking out all the books on goldfish from the library and reading them cover to cover. I took her to the pet store and we picked out a little tank and a few accessories. We brought it home. Read the books some more. Did some Google searches. Went back to the pet store and exchanged it for a bigger tank. We ended up with a 5.5 gallon tank. (The return trip to the pet store is probably a blog entry in itself.)

Today she cleaned her tank, plastic plants and gravel. Arranged the gravel and plants in the tank. Put the decorative stones in the tank. Called her grandpa who made the table it is sitting on to make sure it is strong enough to hold 5 gallons of water and the gravel. Cleaned out part of the homeschool room to put the table and tank. Waited until Mr. I got home so he could change the location of the tank. (Don't ask, we knew he would.) And is currently filling the tank with water and goldfish solution (I'm blanking on what it is really called but it dechlorinates it). Then she'll put the filter in and start it up.

On Saturday, Mr. I said he'd take her out to the pet store again to buy 2 goldfish. The tank is supposed to run a few days before the fish move in. I believe the fish have already been named Bubbles and Treasure. Cross your fingers that after all this work Bubbles and Treasure live to see February.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Art Time

Violet has been in an art craze the last few days. I've finally photographed some of her work to share with you.

The first is a painting kit she got from her best friend Red. I have two photos so you can see that she also painted the inside of the jewelry box. The other pieces are a mobile and picture frame:

She's really into fairies, and we got her a fairy making kit for Christmas. Here are her first 2 fairies. It is the Fairy Queen and a baby in a flower basket. We had the little basket that Violet used for the baby:

And finally, Violet modeling the t-shirt she painted. The shirt and fabric paints were a gift from her cool aunt who lives in downtown Chicago and travels the world:

See why she preferred all this to math.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snowshoeing and the Weekend

We had a busy weekend. Violet had a great time at the birthday party Saturday night. The movie was Wall-E. She loves that movie. While she was there Mr. Incredible and I tried out a local Mexican restaurant, it wasn't bad, and went to K-Mart, Walgreens and the grocery store. Do we know how to live it up or what?

I was so glad Mr. I. was available to drive us. It had snowed almost a foot the night before and we were still getting some flurries. The roads weren't great, but he didn't have a problem driving us in his Jeep. Poor Violet. At the end of the party she was tired and hungry. Then on the way to the Jeep she slipped and fell into a snow bank. She didn't have her gloves on and her pants got soaked. Luckily, Mr. I. keeps the no sew blanket she made for him last year in the Jeep, so she could wrap up in that on the way home.

Today we had just a few flurries but mostly sun. The temperatures were in the low 20s. It was perfect for snowshoeing. Since my Southern friend, Mom #1 was asking about what it means to snowshoe, I'll tell you all about it. First, here's a picture of Violet and Mr. I. on their snowshoes from last winter.

Basically you strap the snowshoes (which don't really resemble tennis rackets at all) onto your boots. You use poles, just like the ones you use to cross country ski (yeah, I know, if you've always lived in warm climates I'm sure that doesn't clear it up at all), and you walk the trails in a nature preserve. Usually you enjoy the quiet and the forest sounds. If you go with a 9 year old girl, you hear whining.

We went to a bog right by our house. I'm not sure the difference between a bog and a marsh, but the conservation district that owns it makes a big deal out of saying it is a bog. It is just a smidge too far walk even in summer, so we drove over. Once there you get all bundled up and head out. We met several cross country skiers on the trails. They all had these tiny dogs with them. The snow was deeper than the dogs were tall. We can't find any place near us that has dedicated snowshoe trails so we have to share with the cross country skiers. Generally they are a nice group. It is polite to try not to step on the ski trails.

And that's basically it. It is fun. You do feel it in your legs afterward. But it isn't nearly as exhausting (or fast) as cross country skiing. I love to cross country ski and was thinking we should get those next. But then I saw Violet still having some coordination issues with her snowshoes, so it should definitely wait a few winters.

I wore leggings under my jeans and two pairs of socks and a scarf and earmuffs so I was nice and warm. Violet had her snowsuit on and a hat and gloves. Cold was the only thing she didn't complain about. We were out for about an hour. That was plenty for a first time out this winter. Next weekend looks pretty busy too, so I don't know when we'll get back out.

Here are the snowshoes I have (in pink just like these), they are from L.L. Bean.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Up Before the Sunrise

Mr. Incredible gets up at 5 am on mornings he has to go in to the office (see why he likes to work from home?). He leaves by 6. I usually wake up when he's leaving, but I almost always go back to sleep and get up around 8. Not this morning. I was wide awake. I tried for a while but couldn't get back to sleep.

Part of the problem is that I was really mad about something. It is something stupid and boring and not the least bit juicy, so I'm not going to post about it. At least not yet. Between being pissed off and the cat causing a huge ruckus in the bathroom I was up.

I made a cup of tea (did I tell you I suddenly stopped drinking coffee in early December? No particular reason. It was around the time I started working out. Coffee just stopped sounding good.) Then I started in on work. I had quite a bit to do. The client in deep doo doo still needed help in the form of a million unreturned phone calls. I have called every health related government employee in the state this week. Three have answered their phones or returned my call. Bazillions more haven't called me back. My best contact's voice mail said he was on special assignment. How dare he do that to me? I need him at my beck and call once a year to help with a sticky problem. So inconsiderate.

Anyway, I got quite a bit done and still was able to work out on my normal schedule. Wendy wrote a great blog entry this morning with lots of good advice and encouragement on losing weight and working out, Use it or lose it. Thanks Wendy! You posted at the perfect time in my quest to fit into my capris!

We got the Girl Scout camp booklet today. Violet still isn't ready to go to camp by herself. That's okay with me. I'd rather she wait until she were really ready than have a bad experience. Plus, this way I get to go!

We're eyeballing 3 different mom-daughter sessions. One is a two night, moms and daughters only (and no dads, but you can substitute another adult female for the mom) at a camp we haven't been to. We met some mom-daughter pairs last summer who had been there and really liked it. Another session is one night family camp, the same we went to last year (when we had the really bad storm and were evacuated at 5 am, then were killed with heat and humidity the next day). Our weather may have been lousy but it was a really good program. The last is a pick your days family or troop camping at the first camp we went to up in Northern Wisconsin. You decide how many nights you want to stay and which days during a two week period. They provide all the meals. And they have optional activities you can choose from including archery, canoeing, swimming, hiking, crafts and more. Or you can leave camp and do activities in the area. I'm thinking 2 or 3 nights. I'm not sure. It is a 6 hour drive so we need to stay long enough to make the drive worth it.

Tomorrow night Violet has a birthday party to go to. Mr. Incredible and I are going out to eat during it. It is at the birthday boy's house. Violet's been there many times for homeschool/social activities.

We got about 4 inches of snow today. I shoveled it. I was doing okay until I hit that gosh-darned awful last 4 feet at the end of the driveway where the snowplow piled it all up. That's a killer. We are supposed to get another 2 or 4 inches overnight. I put the fear of the Girl Scout police in some new leaders' hearts at our meeting last night and they are supposed to be dropping off their registrations this weekend. I figured it would be best if they didn't get stuck in the driveway.

We made more progress with school today. I'm pleased overall with the week. But part of me wishes we had more to show for math.

Back to reread the camp brochure. There are so many cool programs that I wish I could attend! They need summer camp for moms only.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Got the money

I got the money that was owed to me by the Girl Scouts. Plus a big apology not only for it being late but because I had to remind her about it. That helps. I'm still resigning from Juliette Coordinator. I haven't told her yet. I will around April or May. Then she'll know I'm not wigging out mid-year. I have a reputation for doing that.

Didn't make much progress in school again today. Violet was still in a creative mood and was working more on her projects. I took a couple of pictures. I will get one of her wearing the t-shirt she painted then post them all. She was also feeling like reading. We read some more Texas books out loud. And she finished the American Girl series about Addy, who lived during the Civil War our current history time period. So it wasn't a total loss.

Our forecast is for 4-8 inches of snow tomorrow. This morning when our forecast was for only 2-4 inches we decided to go out to the library so we wouldn't have to drive in snow. I'm glad we did that.

I'm hoping we get the snow. We only have about an inch on the ground right now. I'd really like to snowshoe. A few more inches would be perfect. I guess I should look to see what the expected temperatures will be this weekend. I still don't have snowpants.

Tomorrow we must do math. We are so far behind where we really should be in math it is pathetic. Don't tell the authorities.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Busy Busy

Gosh, work has exploded! And here I was worried I would get laid off. Wow! I've had more people call me for things this week than I sometimes get in a month. I've made pretty good progress in the list and am ready to take the rest of the night off.

I was also worried (I do that a lot, don't I?) that we weren't making any progress in school. Then after dinner tonight Violet was showing Mr. Incredible all the art and craft projects she did all day. She really was busy. Her creative streak needed to get out. I guess trying to get math out of her would have been counter productive. I'll try to get some pictures of her work to post.

We have also made great progress on planning our next Juliette Try-It day scheduled for later this month. Their four art-to-wear projects will be:

1. Tie dye white bandannas using the Sharpie marker method Ami suggested.

2. Fabric paint to decorate shoe laces.

3. Friendship bracelets, using paper mache and a cardboard tube (this one comes from the Try-It book).

4. Turning a pair of ordinary socks into slipper socks with 3-D fabric paint.

We still have to find all our supplies and try a few things out. But I think the girls will like it all. I hope nothing gets on my carpeting. But if it does, it already has stains so I shouldn't get nuts about it.

We finally got some more snow. The brown grass was getting depressing. I think there is enough to snowshoe in, but the snowshoes are still in the basement. First we have to take Christmas down and make some room for the snowshoes. I guess I'd better get started on that tomorrow. Doesn't look like anyone else is going to. The worst part is that I can't take the tree down yet. Mr. Incredible wants to photograph it and hasn't gotten around to it. I don't get why. It looks basically the same as every year. I've already moved the tree skirt and presents out from under it. One of our cats finally got her Christmas wish and hacked up a hairball under it. Luckily the "tree skirt" is just a piece of Christmas material so I tossed it in the washer. It did get on the Blokus box, but came off okay. Blech.

Tomorrow night is a Girl Scout volunteer meeting. I e-mailed the service unit manager (also a volunteer) to see if I could finally get the reimbursement she owes me (from the service unit). She never replied. I've been waiting since September. I'm not feeling the love. She'd better have the money tomorrow night. It is about $60. That's enough in my book to be a tad ticked off about. My days as a volunteer are definitely numbered.

I'm off to watch Food Network, my latest obsession.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Off to a Slow Start

Today was our first day back at school after winter break. We got off to a slow start. We did make it to the library and checked out a huge pile of books. And Violet got 2 thank you cards written. And an e-mail to her grandpa to see if he'd buy some Girl Scout cookies. We started in on our readings for Texas, our next state in geography. Lots of picture books about armadillos and cowboys. We don't do our states in much depth. We go for a flavor of the states instead. Speaking of flavors, I'm thinking for a Texas state project she'll have to cook some chili later this week.

But that was about it that I can call school related. She did paint the craft set that her best friend Red gave her for Christmas. It is several little pieces with flowers and butterflies on them: a picture frame, a mobile and a jewelry box. She worked on that all evening after dinner.

Well, there's always tomorrow.

Mr. Incredible should finally be home soon. He left at 5 am this morning. It is now after 10 pm. He had horrible computer issues at work again. He thinks he'll be able to work from home tomorrow. As long as the servers hold out overnight.

I did get a bunch of stuff thrown out this morning from the pantry. There's still more to go through. I'll do some more later in the week. And I still need to tackle those spices.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mice, Cookies, Stock, Recipes and more

What a busy day here at the Incredible house. School starts back tomorrow so we had to scramble to get the rest of our holiday in. One thing we needed to do was fill the "bird seed box" my dad made for Violet. My dad is a craftsman and his specialty is boxes (I know, but he's retired now and it keeps him out of my mom's hair). He made a box that was just over one cubic foot big out of cherry wood. Violet has been taking care of the outdoor birds and bunnies this winter. They also got her some specialty bird seed and suet cakes at the feed store. So we needed to fill up her box and get it ready to go. I went out to the garage to fill an oatmeal container with the wild bird food we keep in a garbage can. I scooped a scoopful in, then I realized that brown thing in it wasn't a leaf. It was a mouse. There were two, one I had scooped up already and one still in the garbage can. I set the oatmeal container in the garbage can and went to get Mr. Incredible. Relocating mice is one of his jobs. He got them both safely back to the corner of the yard and reported back that the one I scooped up was unharmed, but a bit dazed.

I know, some of that was rather weird. A cherry wood bird box. A garbage can full of bird seed. An oatmeal container for keeping a little bit in the house. And two fat mice living in the birdseed. What can I say, we're Freaks.

Next on the agenda: Girl Scout cookie sales. The sale officially began here yesterday. Violet is taking a very laid back approach to sales this year. But she has a few loyal customers on our block. So I took her out to hit the 4 houses that have bought from her every year. She came back with sales from 3. The fourth house we think we found the wrong grown up. She'd sold 2 boxes of peanut butter sandwiches every year to the dad at the house. This year the kids answered the door and the mom yelled down from upstairs that the kids had food allergies and they couldn't buy any. (That's fine of course, but would it have killed her to answer the door? Why do people let their young children open the door like that? And they say we're Freaks.) We finally figured out that those 2 boxes were the dad's secret stash. Of course we couldn't say anything and blow his cover. Hopefully he can find another Girl Scout for his peanut butter fix.

I made vegetable stock today. I like to keep frozen stock around for making soup. I just used the last of the turkey stock from Thanksgiving. I throw all my leftover veggies, broccoli stems, celery and carrots that've seen better days, the cauliflower from the garden that wasn't quite edible all in a freezer bag and use them for stock. I added a fresh leek this time, an apple and a bunch of frozen currents. They brewed all day and I have about 12 cups of stock in the freezer again. Mr. Incredible heated up some leftover lentil soup for lunch and it had gotten a bit too thick in the fridge. So he scoop some of the stock out while it was cooking and added it. I have the hardest time keeping him out of my stock!

And finally, a recipe. Here's how we made black-eyed peas edible on New Year's Day:

Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip

4 ounces butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
12 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cans (15 ounces each) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed, or about 4 cups cooked and drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and sauté until golden in color; add garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer. Turn heat to low and add cheese, stirring until melted. Add the black-eyed peas, chopped jalapeno and green chiles. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in slow cooker or in a chafing dish.
Serves 8.

I halved the recipe, but still threw the whole can of chilies in to help kill the dirt taste of the black-eyed peas. We also mashed about half the black-eyed peas so the dip was less chunky. It was really yummy with tortilla chips.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another Goal for the New Year

I've got some big plans for 2009. I want to clean out my spice cabinet for one thing. I have spices that date back nearly 20 years. I doubt they still have their full flavor. When I open that cabinet door things invariably fall on my head. Remember the closet in Zoboomafoo? That's it, only tea, coffee and spices not sporting and camping equipment. May I just digress a minute and say I loved that show! How I wish Violet hadn't outgrown it.

Anyway, the spices need to be cleaned out. With it can go the iced tea bags that are over 10 years old that we didn't like. And the many things in the pantry that are also past their expiration dates. Mr. Incredible will buy anything to try it once. Problem is, he and Violet end up not liking it. So it sits in the pantry. And sits. And sits. I suggest throwing it out and he says no let's try it again. Still don't like it. It still sits.

But I'm the older and wiser Freakmom now. I'm just waiting for him to go back to the office, then I'll bag them up and toss them. If I do it a few things at a time he's less likely to notice and claim once again he's planning to eat it. Seriously, he's not going to. If I thought there was any chance he would I wouldn't throw them out.

Tuesday is D-Day for the next round of things.

In other news, since my grab bag idea got an overwhelming approval from all of you I bought the Sleepytime tea today and boxed and wrapped the whole thing. The party isn't for 3 weeks, so I'll let you know how it goes over.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Grab Bag Gift

In a couple of weeks my ladies group is having our quarterly get together dinner. There are 10 of us in our very exclusive, by invitation only group. There is one more lady who we would love to include, but she moved to Texas before we started. If we could only get her to come for a visit we'd throw an impromptu dinner in her honor. But no one else has come close to being invited in the four or five years we've been doing this.

We all met through work. I'm the newbie to the group, I've only known them all about 14 years. I did know one of them in grad school, so I guess I've known her 16 years. Some of the rest of them go back 25 years or more. We all worked at various times at the firm I'm still with, but I don't think we were all there at the same time. Even when not working there everyone stayed in the industry and worked as auditors or for clients. The first time I met two of them, they were auditing one of my clients who had me handling the case for them.

But that's not what I'm posting about. We have these dinners. We drink. We gossip about work and people we all know in the industry. We share family news. We encourage each other. We watch out for each other in the business world. We are a secret society. We don't tell anyone at work about our group. At our next dinner we are doing a post-holiday grab bag gift exchange. We did it last year too. We have a $10 limit. Everyone brought candles and lotions. Except me. I brought a cookbook. See, I've told you I'm a freak in all aspects of my life. We were doing the thing where you open the gifts one at a time and you could steal the present from someone else. Well wouldn't you know, my cookbook kept getting stolen. That set the bar. I had to find something good for this year that wasn't a candle or lotion.

Inspired by the Fuzzy Feet Piggy sent me for Christmas, I found these:

Purple monkey slipper socks! Aren't they great? Violet and I found them at the Hanes store at the outlet mall today. They had cats and pigs and dogs and something we think were sheep. I let Violet pick. I plan to give them with a box of:

It is a winter comfort kit!

So be honest, what do you think about my plan? I don't know if it is just me or if everyone gets tired of yet another candle and more scented lotions and body wash. But I definitely do. I'd be happy to come home with it. I hope they like it. I have a reputation to uphold.