Saturday, February 28, 2009

4 Hours Left

By the time I'm done writing this post, there will only be 4 hours left of February. If you ask me this month cannot end too soon. February is always hard, always busy. This month seemed worse than usual.

By the time March gets here you can pretty much consider it spring. Sure there may be another snow, but it won't be that bad or last very long. Sure it will be cold and windy, but it won't be 10 below zero before wind chill. March is the busiest month of the year for my department at work, but the work I do is a bit different, so I don't get the stress like the rest of them do. I remember the stress all too well from when I was full time, so I try to lay low all month, and just be ready to help as needed.

In February, Violet had three theater shows, a field trip to the water park, two birthday parties, Mr. Incredible's birthday, Valentine's Day, Groundhog Day, Girl Scout cookies, Japan Day, and a field trip to the Field Museum. What a month!

I worked over 100 hours, almost half of them in the last week. I drove through a big snow storm twice in the same day. Mr. Incredible had a pay cut and his responsibilities and hours increased. The economy went further into the toilet. There was more, but I've blocked it out of my memory.

But now it is almost spring. I can almost smell it. Actually that may be the house I haven't cleaned too much recently.

And in a spring-like note, there's an owl visiting our house tonight. He keeps landing on chimneys on our block and hooting to a friend of his, who hoots back. Mr. I keeps going out to watch him. One time he landed on our chimney so loudly, I thought he was going to fall in! Can you imagine? An owl falling down the chimney and landing in the fireplace? What on earth do you do when that happens. Luckily our owl is coordinated, just loud.

I wonder what March will bring?

Friday, February 27, 2009


The wind kept the ice from forming on the roads, so we made it to the water park this morning. We got there before our group coordinator had even gotten the wrist bands for us all. The place had us down as arriving at 11 am instead of 10 am. The tickets were cheap. We didn't complain.

The water park was the smallest we've been too. The lazy river was just a loop. One side looped next the to the other side. There was no winding around other attractions, just back and forth. The tickets were cheap.

Violet loved the medium sized slides and the thing where you hold on to the ropes over your head and walk across the floating things. I don't know what you call them. I hung out with other moms most of the time. The bar wasn't open, so no margaritas for us. Violet had me check out new areas with her then she was off on her own to do them over and over. She played with some friends who were there too.

It was crowded. Our group was about 50 people and we didn't even make up half the crowd. There were some boys who crossed the line from "boys will be boys" playing to obnoxious. I didn't recognize them as from our group, so that is good. Violet moved around a lot though so when anyone's actions started bugging her she moved on and came back later.

There were very few tables or chairs for that matter. The place was small. When we got our pizza for lunch we sat on a lounge chair to eat. The family next to us got flooded, and I mean FLOODED, by a water spout that suddenly burst open. Their clothes, their shoes, their lunch, their winter coats! The maintenance guys kept walking around with pipe wrenches. We moved to higher ground. I was glad we did because the chairs we had been in were later flooded with the same burst pipe. What a mess. The poor family got it twice. The tickets were cheap.

By about 2:30 Violet was tired and cold. She did a couple of more things then we headed out. She showered and washed her hair but there were no air dryers in the bathrooms. This was getting tedious. We toweled her, combed her, toweled her, combed her. It was below freezing out, so we waited until she air dried more. We walked around the resort and looked around. Then we called my folks to meet them for an early dinner.

We're home and tired. Looking to go to be early. But it was fun. We are glad we went. The tickets were $10.50 each. Water park day passes usually start at least $30, maybe $25 if you find a good deal. We definitely got our $10.50's worth out of the day. If the group goes back next year, we'll go.

We'll bring a blow drier.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I finished most of the work yesterday. This morning I reviewed some things, made some notes, made some minor corrections, and sent the work in. I stalled a little before I sent it, but the e-mail went out by noon. I told them I'd be available until 6 pm tonight, then not available until 8 am Saturday. Our office works Saturdays this time of year. Didn't hear from anyone. At 6 pm I set my away message for voice mail and e-mail. I'm done.

Thank goodness. I couldn't take much more of it.

I managed to keep working out every day as I worked the 10-12 hour days. I mainly did yoga though. My stomach hurt from Sunday through Wednesday. I thought it might be the flu, but I really think it was just stress. Just stress. Ha. At least half of all Americans are probably going around right now with stomach aches due to Stress Flu.

Yesterday Violet and my folks went to the Field Museum in Chicago. They had a blast. It was Violet's first trip there. They have plans to go back again.

Tomorrow we are signed up for an indoor waterpark trip with the homeschool group. That is, if the roads aren't too icy in the morning. What a kick in the pants that will be. If you'd asked us this morning if we still wanted to go, the answer would have been a big "not really." But after relaxing all day and re-engerizing we are both ready to go. We have plans to have lunch with another family we know that is going. Violet has plans for what slides and activities she wants to do. We even have plans to meet my folks on our way home. And to top it all off, I could have sold one of our tickets today, someone was looking for an extra.

So if it is icy and we can't go, what bust. But the rain is supposed to stop over night and the wind pick up as the temperature drops. That should keep the roads clear so we can drive there. It will be cold tomorrow, but in theory not icy. We'll have to see.

My friend who's going tomorrow and I are wondering what all the other homeschool moms would say if they saw us at 10 am with a pitcher of margaritas. Will they be shocked, outraged and disturbed? Or will they try to join in our party? I don't know many of the others who are going, so I suspect some of each.

Oh well, we'll chicken out and not drink. At least not on this trip. We'll save it for a ladies' weekend out. But it would be fun to the see the looks on their faces!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Japan Day

Today was Japan Day at the Freak House. It was our way to celebrate World Thinking Day (the Girl Scout holiday). We read some information on Girl Scouts of Japan we found on their website. Violet liked that their name for Daisy is Tenderfoot and their badges. We found the Girl Scout promise Japanese and she had fun trying to sound it out. She also liked that the girls wear sashes. She strongly prefers sashes over vests for holding badges, pins, etc. She's a traditional sort of gal.

She got out her goodie box from Sabrina and tried some of the candies. She was surprised to find what she thought was gum was actually candy too. And she made up her own game with the Hello Kitty game board that is written in Japanese.

For dinner we made a Teriyaki chicken stir fry. I shouldn't say "we", Violet did all the work. I cut up the raw chicken for her. She made a teriyaki marinade in the afternoon, then added broccoli, water chestnuts, carrots, peapods, bamboo shoots and baby corn. She served it over white rice and soba noodles. I guess I did one other step, I drained the noodles for her when they were cooked.

I worked a lot of hours again today and am at least two thirds done. I'm taking tonight off. I was so brain dead last night I think I was hallucinating while I was blogging!

I'll leave you with Violet's teriyaki marinade recipe. For one pound diced chicken:

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ginger
salt and pepper to taste

Let meat sit in fridge for 2 hours before cooking.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Halfway there

At least I think I am. If there are any "surprise changes" then I'm not. Otherwise I am. (My brain is becoming Jell-O, can you tell?) I have 100 charts to review. I have done 53 of them. I sent a sample to the attorney's office and to my manager this morning. My manager had some changes for me to do, but it only affected a fraction of the charts I'd done by that point. I didn't mind doing them. In fact, that's why I sent the sample. I wanted to find out today, not the day I'm finishing. Didn't hear from the attorneys. They have until tomorrow night to request changes without really ticking me off.

I wish I could tell you more about what I'm doing. Not because it is interesting, because it isn't. Just to be able to talk about it. But it involves patient charts and medical data and I'm bound by our Business Associate Agreement not to discuss it under the HIPAA regulation. Many people throw HIPAA around as an excuse. But a few years ago I lost most of my summer to helping write a HIPAA manual. I've read that damn 400 page regulation several times. The full blown puppy written by Congress. I can tell you the exact statutes that keep me from discussing what I'm doing. Or I could if my brain weren't cherry Jell-O.

Quoting HIPAA, that could be my talent in the Mrs. America contest. Hmm.

I also am under some ethical guidelines from the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants). But that isn't as exciting as HIPAA. Hey, did you know the Stimulus Package contained some statutes to further strengthen HIPAA? I like the idea of HIPAA, but some of the rules are a bit over the top. The new rules get even over the topper. By the way, it is HIPAA with two As, not HIPPA with two Ps. That drives us HIPAA Consultants bonkers. We do love a good hippo reference thrown in though. Some day I'll tell you about the travelling hippos we had in the office while we were working on the damn manual.

Do I sound impressive? Don't worry, I'm not. I'm just Freakmom with a strange little side job than one day may take off again. Some people work in libraries, some people are EMTs, some people fix things, I am a healthcare consultant.

Boy, I have rambled or what! I forgot what I was going to say. Something about working hard, Violet hanging out and playing, Mr. I.'s job driving him bonkers too. But I don't know what exactly. I think I'd better just hang it up for now and go get some sleep before the Jell-O leaks out of my head!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moving along

I made a lot of progress today. I put in about 10 hours, and may do a bit more when I'm done blogging. I'm not sure yet. The work is going pretty quickly. I do need to check with my manager in the morning to make sure I'm on track. And I'll contact the attorney we are doing the work for and make sure it will work for her. Cross your fingers, but I should be able to do it in around 35-40 hours instead of 50. While I'm paid hourly, and would prefer a 50 hour paycheck to a 35 hour one, I'd like to not kill myself in the process. Or alienate Violet and Mr. I. too much.

Violet had a great time at the water park party today. She doesn't like the huge slides, but prefers the medium ones, lazy rivers, splash zones and the iceberg like things you have to walk across. Mr. I. hung out at a Caribou Coffee all day. He's still shaking. He won't fall asleep for a week.

Tomorrow Mr. Incredible works from home. The last of the cookies will be picked up in the morning by homeschool Juliettes. And I'm going to work my butt off again and try to get as far as possible.

Enough stalling, back to work.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


All my waiting is over. I can get to work. The client has paid enough money up front for me to do 25 hours of work. He is supposed to pay more on Monday when he drops the rest of the files off at the office. They'll messenger me the files on Tuesday.

This morning at 8 am I took off in the snow to go pick up the cookies. We'd gotten about 3 or 4 inches of snow overnight. I only slid once going around a corner. Violet got her neighborhood orders delivered (although the mom wasn't home next door, we left the cookies anyway with a note with the amount due - she's good for it). Violet sorted all her other orders plus separated the boxes for the other homeschool Juliettes. One family picked theirs up while I was out just a few minutes ago.

The manager called about 3:15, they were running late. The funeral was packed, she said over 500 people were there. She had to cancel her hair appointment that she really wanted to keep - she's heading off to a big convention this week and presenting at it. She called again when they got home, about 5:00. I headed over, through the snow and blowing drifts. Most of the snow had ended by then. We got about 6 inches total. But the main road between our houses was pretty snow covered. But I didn't slide at all. Of course, I didn't go particularly fast either.

I've now been training on what to do, have the materials, and am back home. I'm going to go take a quick shower, put on my jammies, then get started on it. The manager said to feel free to call her at home tomorrow after they get back from church. We both agreed that no one had better question our firm loyalty.

One quick note, that will mean more to me than anyone else. Turns out the manager has just as many problems with our IT department as I do. She works from home about half time and is at clients and the office the rest. They don't get her equipment that meets her needs or listens to what actually works for those of us away from the office. It isn't just me who doesn't feel the love from IT. That makes me feel better.

Time to quit stalling, here I go.......

Friday, February 20, 2009


Tonight I am waiting.

Waiting for the snow to hit. I'm pretty sure Mr. I will be doing the cookie pick up for me. I wish he didn't have to. But they are calling for 4-8 inches of snow still coming down heavily in the morning. You'd think they'd reschedule the cookie pick up, but it never seems to work that way. They have the loan of the warehouse for a very short period. They have the workers to move them for a very short period. It is one of the aspects I hate about Girl Scouts and won't miss when we leave the program.

Waiting for the project. Spoke with the manager briefly this morning. She's sick as a dog. She had a doctor's appointment then was going go to the client's office to get the files and the money. Tonight and tomorrow she's tied up with a wake and funeral of someone rather close to her. It is really nice of her to meet with me tomorrow night. She's going to call after the funeral. I must remember to be extra nice that she's going out of her way to help make this happen. Today I teased her that I was bringing a big bottle of Purell with me to her house. I wasn't kidding.

Took Violet to the library today after the theater. She checked out a ton of books to read next week. And we've been pulling out puzzles, games and crafts she can do mostly on her own. I also gave the house a good once over cleaning. It should do until next weekend.

I can't wait until the next week is over.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Mr. Incredible

Yes, the Mister turned 42 today. Funny that's he's so old. I'm 28. Bwahahaha.

Anyway, he was off from work today and he and Violet really stepped up to take care of the themselves. I worked a lot today in preparation for major work next week. Still assuming of course that the evil plan all falls into place.

I do feel a lot better about one thing. I was fretting over the 6-8 inches of snow predicted to hit by Saturday morning and driving out to pick up the cookies. Mr. I said he'd go get them for me if the roads are bad. Isn't he wonderful? He said to tell him exactly where to go and what to do and what he should pick up. That won't be a problem at all. They run cookie pickups with such efficiency. And they are completely accustomed to dads coming for them.

Tomorrow Violet and I have seats for the Chinese acrobats at our theater. The show was sold out so we couldn't get Mr. I a ticket when he found out last week that he had the day off. But since he's stepping up hanging out with Violet and some of my other duties while I work extra hours, he was just as glad to have a few hours to do his own thing. He would have taken her if I'd asked. But I hate to have him go through the parking issues and getting seated by the usher issues if he's willing to get the cookies for me Saturday. I'm afraid being harassed by an usher would be a cookie deal breaker.

After the show we are going to stop by the library and Violet is going to check out all the books she can carry. Next week's school assignments are all independent reading. Except for Japan Day. Remember how we were going to have Ireland Day on Monday? Well, that has morphed into Japan Day (since we have the great box from Sabrina and Violet still hasn't made her way through all the cool stuff) and it has been moved to Tuesday. I figure on Monday Mr. I will be working from home. He and Violet are in charge of Monday's dinner. Anything they want. But Tuesday he'll be gone all day and it will just be the two of us. Violet's going to need some Freakmom time at some point. We'll look at a bunch of Girl Scout of Japan info I found, make teriyaki chicken, and try out some of the Japanese candies and gum.

All this planning and prep work. I'm getting everything done ahead of time for next week that I possibly can. What do you think the odds are that this whole project is still going to fall through the ice and not happen? The money will be very nice if it comes through. But if it falls through and I don't have to work 50 hours next week, I won't be altogether crushed either. That's a lot of work. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holy Cripes

You know the saying it's all or nothing? Or how about what a difference a day makes? Man oh man, are they true.

At four this afternoon I had no major work on the horizon. The snow predicted hadn't come. And Mr. Incredible was going to be off for his birthday tomorrow and we were going to the zoo.

At five the phone rang. It was the Senior Manager. The big job was finally coming through. The chart review project I've been waiting nearly 2 weeks on. The guy is supposed to bring the records to the office on Friday along with a down payment. It will all be due the following Friday. One week to do 35-40 hours of work. That's doable. But she suggested getting me the info on Monday afternoon. And we have plans to be out of town all day the next Friday. Now I'm down to three and half days, no day care, no way Mr. I can take off next week. I asked if there was any way to get it Saturday and Sunday, and there was. Whew. Saturday night I go to her house to get the stuff. Mr. I and Violet will be gone all day Sunday which will give me a really good head start.

I call my folks, they have been wanting to take Violet downtown for a day of sightseeing. Any chance they can do it next week? We have a tentative date and location (which will be blogged about after the fact since this is a public blog). They'll have fun. Provided the weather cooperates.

That brings us up to 6:30 when Mr. I comes home and says the roads are the worst they've been all winter. The snow started sometime after 4 and it all turned icy. He didn't think he was actually going to stop at one intersection. We check tomorrow's forecast, cold and windy and low wind chills. No zoo. That's okay, I don't think any of us mind too much.

Except (there had to be an except you know), there's a new storm watch for Friday and Saturday. Big winter storm might be heading this way. Up to 6 inches of snow. I have to pick up the Girl Scout cookies Saturday morning. Crap. I really, really hope this one passes us by. And doesn't keep client guy from dropping off the files and check. And doesn't keep Senior Manager from picking it up. And doesn't keep me from getting to her house Saturday night.


If the weather cooperates I think it will all fall into place nicely. If not, I'm screwed. The weather has really cooperated with me all winter so far. I'm afraid I may be in for it this time.

Can't type more, I have to cross my fingers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deep Breaths

Sorry I can't post much tonight. I have to go take deep breaths and try to relax.

I can't write about the fact that Roland Burris, our newest Senator from Illinois, may be kicked out because he lied about his involvement with King Blago the Idiot before his appointment. In Burris' defense, I think he's senile. I think he honestly forgot his conversations and that why his story keeps changing. Maybe there was a good reason he had retired from politics.

I can't write about Girl Scouts. I'm a bit pissed at a few people. The cookies will be in Saturday. I intend to eat an entire box before I even drive home from picking them up.

I can't write about work. Still haven't heard about the big project. Guess we aren't getting it. But I'd like to know so I can go on with my life and not keep everything open just in case I'm swamped. I'm also a bit miffed at the manager who can't answer a question I've asked her 3 times now, but can ask me if I've gotten an answer from a government agency yet - after they'd only been open 3 hours since the holiday weekend.

I can't write about Mr. I's work. Still don't know what's going on there.

I can't write about school. Violet had one of those 9 year old days when she was more interested in playing with Barbies than doing school. But she did do her work when prompted. I'm least irritated with her than almost anyone else on the planet right now.

I did IM with an old friend for a few minutes this morning. He recently got married and they bought a new house. I'm very happy for them. But his dad has had major medical problems and I'm so sorry about that. His dad is a truly nice man. A real good guy.

So, it is time to breath deeply and clear my head. I need to forget it all and start fresh tomorrow. We might get up to 3 inches of snow overnight and tomorrow.

I don't want to think about it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Party's Over

We made it to the party and back. Violet had a pretty good time even if she didn't know many kids there. Out of the 15 attendees she knew the birthday girl, her sister and one other girl. She was also a year or two older than the other kids, some were even younger. Which in Violet's case helped her I think. It gave her a little more confidence.

It was at an "exer-arcade". It had a trampoline, rope swing, climbing wall and foam pit like a gymnastics studio, but also arcade games like Wii and a bunch of others I hadn't heard of. The coaches working there also set up an obstacle course which Violet really enjoyed going through.

Getting there wasn't as bad as it could have been. Traffic was better than usual since it was President's Day. Not too many parents stayed. I did since it was so far away and I really didn't know any places around it. That was my formal excuse. The real one was I wanted to be there if Violet had a breakdown. But she didn't. She told me afterward she almost did towards the end, but one of the coaches noticed her standing there and offered to help her try the rope swing. That lady wins my "You Go Girl" award of the day. Violet's rating of the rope swing: not her thing, but she was glad she gave it a go.

On the way home we stopped at McDonald's and we got lunch. I'm not a fan of McD's, but Violet is. I had one of their salads. I do like those. Then we stopped at the bank (which was actually open) and at the library. We took the rest of the day off. I worked out when we got home. Violet read books and played. Tomorrow we'll hit the school books again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This entry will be short. I feel like I've spent the entire weekend sitting here at my computer working. I didn't accomplish much. I tried. I really did. I just couldn't find the answers they wanted. I think it will be back to bite me in the behind later this week.

Tomorrow morning I have to get up early, get Violet up early, postpone my workout, drive her to a birthday party about an hour away that neither of us really wants to go to, and try to get her through it without a melt down. She doesn't usually shine at birthday parties. Crowds aren't her thing. We really got roped into this party. It was nice that she was invited. But we don't know them all that well, and I don't think we will become particularly close in the years to come.

On the way home I'm going to take her out to McDonald's for lunch. Then we're stopping by the library. The day will be pretty much shot.

Violet was feeling better today. She didn't feel hot any more, but she did say her throat hurt. Not enough to skip the party. I think she kind of wants to go. But kind of doesn't. Does anyone else's kid get like this? Doesn't want to miss out, but really doesn't want to be there either. Doesn't join in, but likes to watch from a distance.

I'm tired. I don't want to deal with it. The drive. The party. The likely meltdown that will occur. The comments from the other parents. The disapproval from the Mr. who means well but just doesn't get it. And the fall out from work that will likely be waiting for me once I get home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Although I've blogged several times this week, I don't feel like I've told you anything that's going on. Maybe I have. I just like to repeat myself.

Did I tell you Violet got 2 new goldfish last weekend? She got fancier goldfish this time instead of feeder fish. So far they seem to be hardier. Day 8 and Peanut and Almond are both still alive and swimming.

Mr. Incredible may have to go out of town the last weekend in February. He's trying to work it out so that if he does, it won't be next weekend when he is taking Violet to a birthday party. Mr. I's company is closing its one remaining branch office and the few remaining employees will be working from home. Mr. I may have to go help remove the equipment and get the employees set up from home. We usually like to tag along when he goes there. The office is near Minneapolis and we love Mall of America and have zoo memberships at the Minnesota Zoo. But this trip won't lend itself to us tagging along. We'd have to either stay at the hotel the whole time or be dropped off and picked up somewhere as Mr. I will need the car to get from location to location. That's too much to add to an already stressful trip.

I am trying to talk Mr. I into taking a couple of hours and stopping by the zoo himself before heading home. There's a new bear exhibit that we haven't seen yet. I say he really deserves a couple of hours to see it and relax before driving home. He says he'd want to see it with us. I say he can take us another time. He finally said, "well, maybe" with a distant look in his face like he was already enjoying the exhibit. I do hope he goes. To the zoo that is. He isn't sure the trip will be required or not. If he doesn't have to go that would be even better.

Violet wants to learn to sew. I can kind of sew. I tend to swear a lot when I do it. I promised her we would buy her some equipment of her own and find her a nice sewing box. And the next day we don't have to go anywhere and I don't have any stressful work hanging over my head, we'd try some. We have some material that we planned to make into a pillow case for her.

We made brownies for Mr. I for Valentine's Day. Brownies are his absolute favorite dessert. We made them Ace of Cakes style: bigger, badder, awesome. I'll post pictures eventually, but we made the brownies in some heart shaped cake pans we have. He liked them.

Tonight we made a heart shaped pizza for dinner. And I made a spinach, tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Very fancy.

Not much planned for tomorrow. I have one project for work to try to finish up. A research assignment. I worked on it for quite a while today and came up empty handed. I really should have some answers by now.

I had a chance to go to a homeschool curriculum give away on Friday. A local charity had received a donation of unused materials and wanted to get it to homeschoolers. We were all assigned times and mine was fairly early, but even by then most of the stuff was pretty picked over. I did get a middle school astronomy program that might be useful, a writing program CD, and (the best item) a set of Brain Quest cards on Hispanic America. The CD is pretty old, but it should still work on Violet's computer. I guess I should fire it up tomorrow. The Brain Quest cards are cool though. They cover geography, Spanish language, history and famous people of Hispanic descent. I told Violet it would just be for fun to look through them, not a school subject. That made them more interesting right there.

Tonight Violet's forehead is burning up and she's not feeling well. I took her temperature but it came up normal. We have a pretty lame thermometer so I never really take it as accurate. I gave her some Tylenol and she's getting ready for bed.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! I'm off to eat even more brownies.

Not So Happy Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the shootings at NIU. My long time readers will remember that NIU is my alma mater, the place where I met Mr. Incredible, where we lived and worked for 10 years. It is home.

If you are new to my blog, or just want to relive the stories, you might want to check out my tales of NIU or The Slinky Black Dress and the Frozen Burrito.

We will move on, but won't forget happened.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Didn't I say it would happen?

Nothing to do the first half of the week. I had to resort to vacuuming! Egads! Then on Thursday, the day I have to run all over and am booked solid (well, in my little brain at least) it all starts coming in. It all has to be done right away.

Well, it didn't get done right away. But I did write up my work to do list first thing this morning and sent to the powers that be, with my clear time frame of when I expect to have it done. They were happy with it. I can relax for a few hours. We have more errands today, but they are easier than yesterday.

We saw the musical, The Phantom Tollbooth at the theater yesterday, school day performance. It was pretty good. Violet enjoyed it. She started the book but didn't get through it. I think now she may tackle it again. It was my absolute favorite book as a kid.

The theater was full. That hasn't happened in a long time. We had balcony seats along with all the other homeschoolers.

Last night I had a Girl Scout service unit meeting. We had really low attendance. I read the leaders the riot act about not properly turning in their paperwork to me and explaining how I have to complete it if they don't. While I don't mind doing a form here and there, we have over 60 troops in our service unit. That's too many. I also had long talks with our membership director (the Council-paid rep) and my mentor. According to my membership direction I'm not the only one with complaints about some Council procedures. She's going to see if they can figure something out to help us volunteers. And my mentor said I was in all rights to be a bit irritated with some other things that are going on. My mentor has done every volunteer job there is. And she tells it straight. If things are falling to me that should be my responsibility she'd say so. The things I wasn't happy with, she said shouldn't be happening. I'm going to work with our service unit director to address these issues (the service unit director is another volunteer for those of you who don't speak Girl Scout - of course, you've probably already skipped to the next paragraph).

Gosh, I think I got that out of my system. Whew. Anyway, today has begun. Time to get moving. I'll be back with more updates when I can. Enjoy your Friday the 13th!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

School Closed

We here at the Freak Family Homeschool (hey, that would be a good real school name!) were forced to cancel most of our classes today due to the weather. The wonderful taste of Spring weather we had! It was too nice to be inside. Outside it was 60 degrees and sunny.

Violet and I cleaned up the bird feeders and bunny feeding station out back. We cleaned the bird poop off her swings so she could try those out (they were squeaking something terrible). She practiced jump rope, hula hoop and balancing on her bike in the front. (She has 2 flat tires so she got out of trying to actually ride her bike for now. She hasn't mastered that yet. Maybe this will be the Spring.) And she did some sidewalk chalk drawings.

Tomorrow the forecast is for chillier and rainy weather, so school will be back in session. What's the point of being off school when you can't play outside?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Caught up

I find myself today in unfamiliar territory. I am caught up. I have nothing pending to do for work. I am ready to go with homeschool (or at least as ready as I ever am, I never do lesson plans or anything, we fly by the seat of our pants, but know what subjects and general work we will cover). I have nothing waiting for me with my multiple volunteer positions in Girl Scouts. I am caught up.

Well, don't look at my messy house or the lack of menus for the week or the pile of laundry. Let me bask in my caught-up-ness.

I worked extra hard this weekend to get everything done for work. There is still hope we will get that big chart review project. Not a lot of hope, but a little. Even if we don't it feels wonderful not being behind the eight ball.

I spent the last hour making a library list for history and geography for the next few weeks and requested a ton of books on interlibrary loan. I went to the grocery store before dinner while Violet hung out with Mr. Incredible. Soon I'm going to plop down on the couch with a Suduko puzzle or three and relax. Then go to bed.

I can't remember where I left you last in the saga of Mr. I's job. He's gotten a 25% paycut. But they's upped his workload and responsibilities through the month of February. He'll likely have to travel to Minneapolis at the end of the month. He is so stressed out. He's really, really hoping once this big project is over he can cut back his hours to match his pay cut. And work from home most of the time. But really, what can he do if they say no? Quit? Yeah, like he can find something else. Sigh. It will work out. It could be a lot worse. March will be better.

In the meantime, I'm trying to do all the work I can to earn some extra money. You never know, tomorrow may bring an avalanche of more work. Or not. I'm hoping for an avalanche, but the break is nice. I'm enjoying it while I can. And hoping it doesn't last too long.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


After a full month on the ground, I got up this morning to see that the snow was really melting! I can see some blades of grass sticking up through it. What a beautiful sight!

Of course, once the snow melts the ground will be brown and muddy and ugly. But the snow was getting to be brown and icky and ugly. It was time for the change.

Our high temp for today is supposed to be 50! We haven't seen anything that warm in months. Oh sure, it is going back down in a day or two, but it is a welcome break. I was just telling Violet yesterday that once you get to February you can breath easier that winter is almost over. Only another month or so and we're home free.

Sure we've had lots of snow and cold, but the winter hasn't seemed that bad this year. I think partly because I didn't really drive any where in it this year. I avoided going out. Also I didn't have an infection all winter that culminated in a root canal this year. Thank goodness that happened last year while we had dental insurance! (Technically we still have dental, but it is a self-insurance plan through Mr. I's work and I can't imagine we'll actually get reimbursement for anything at this point).

Yippee, yahoo, Spring is almost here!

I wonder if my capris fit?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nine Weeks and Still Going

Yes, that's right. I've worked out every single day for the last 9 weeks. Actually, 9 weeks and 1 day. I have logged over 40 hours on Wii Fit. Some days I've worked out for an hour. Most days it was only 30 minutes. Some days it was only 10 or 20 minutes. But I keep going back and that's what counts.

I haven't lost any weight yet. I've been down a pound or two here and there but back up again. But I definitely feel better and that is even more important right now.

Almost every day I have looked forward to exercising. There have been a few days when I've had to drag myself to do it. But once I start I'm generally glad I did.

This is probably the longest I've ever stuck to a workout program.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soup of the day

I'm stressed out. In not going to go into detail just yet, mainly because I don't have all the detail. Which stresses me out even more. It is economics related. It isn't nearly as bad as many, many, many families have had to deal with. But is a change and you know me, I only like change if things stay exactly like they are. And like I said, the worst part is not knowing exactly what is happening. (Okay, you got it out of me. Mr. I is getting a pay cut. I thought his hours would be cut too, but it doesn't look like that is happening. My work hours are able to increase. But since he won't have more time to help, I don't know where the hours will come from. The immediate aggregate income loss isn't as bad as it could be. I'm just overextended time-wise. I'm stressed. And I can't keep a secret. Don't tell me anything.)

When I'm stressed, I cook. Yesterday it was potato soup. Today it was cheesy cauliflower soup. I followed the recipe almost exactly, I just left out the onion. It was really good. In fact it was so good Violet had a second bowlful. That almost never happens!

Cauliflower-Cheese Soup

3/4 cup water
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 cup cubed potatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

1. In a large saucepan, combine water, cauliflower, potatoes, celery,
carrots, and onion. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in separate saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, and
cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in milk. Return
to heat, and cook until thickened. Stir in vegetables with cooking liquid,
and season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese until melted, and
remove from heat.

Makes 4 servings.

The plan for tomorrow night is enchiladas. Mr. I is wondering how I'll make that into soup. ;)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Murphy's Law Kind of Day

You know the type. Nothing works. Nothing goes smoothly. None of it is all that bad. Just really annoying. Here are some highlights.

I could not get the jar of salsa open that I wanted to have with my lunch. After I had made the rest of my lunch and it was too late to pick out something else. I tried running hot water on the jar, tapping the lid on the counter (I know we aren't supposed to do that anymore but I was desperate) and grippy things. That damn lid wasn't coming off. First thing Mr. Incredible had to do when he came home tonight was open the jar so it wouldn't be a problem next time. Man, I wished he had been working from home today.

I submitted an article for work. There was an error. I fixed it. It got the okay to be sent to our clients. Then I heard that another part was wrong (I was listening to an audioconference and it came up there). Stop the damn presses while I research it. I haven't done it yet. The administrative assistants will be furious with me. They hate "stop the presses."

A couple of weeks ago I prepared a presentation for my boss and 3 other partners for them to give tomorrow morning. It included the outlook for healthcare under the Obama administration. Including....Tom Daschle as our new Secretary of Health and Human Services. What can I say, he looked like such a shoo-in 2 weeks ago! Ack. Scramble to summarize and send them the info on his stepping down and trying to find out if there was a new nominee. I'm so sorry, Mr. Daschle. I jinxed your appointment.

All day I dropped stuff. In school I totally forgot to do the subject Violet was most looking forward to (reading some Native American folk tales about the stars) yet made her do all the icky ones. I was short tempered and Violet was clingy. It wasn't the prettiest day.

Then the topper happened. I broke the toilet. In technical terms the plastic thingy that connects the plunger thing to the handle thingy snapped. I could flush manually by reaching in the tank, but the handle just flopped on its own. Mr. Incredible rigged a string to flush it with until he can get out to buy the necessary parts. The rig is pretty cool, I'm a bit afraid I won't remember how to do it in the middle of the night when I make my 2 am trip in there.

Good things did happen. I might get a 35-40 hour project to do this month, on top of my other work. When my senior manager asked if I could get the time to do it I assured her I would make the time. It is quite different than my usual work and although it promises to be dull and boring by the end, it will be a different dull and boring. She still wants to iron out some items in the contract with the client first, so it isn't a done deal. Mr. Incredible's company is iffy again, so I'm taking all the work I can get.

I got to chat with Burb Bunny this morning. That always makes me smile.

Mr. Incredible called our insurance guy to ask why our home owner's insurance went up $500. Turns out there was a coding error (They claimed we weren't in the city limits and not covered by the fire protection district. That was such a load of hooey. We are in the city limits and the fire protection district. We're two miles from the fire station. There's a freaking fire hydrant right across the street from our house!). It got fixed and we're back to a normal bill again.

I finally found a place to get bulk couscous! Amazon! My couscous arrives tomorrow. Along with Prince of Wales tea by Twinings, my favorite tea of all time.

I made a good pot of potato soup. Here's the recipe, except I used veggie stock in place of the water and chicken bouillon (and I only used about 3-1/2 cups):

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Ingredients -
3 Potatoes, peeled & cut into bite size pieces
1 large Onion
1 Carrot, chopped
1 stalk Celery, chopped
1 tablespoon Parsley
5 cups Water
4 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 tablespoons Salt
Pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups milk

Cook on low 10 to 12 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours. During the last hour of cooking, add 1 1/2 cups milk. At the end of cooking take a few ladles of veggies and blend in the blender and return to the pot.

Here's hoping your day is smooth, your tea is hot and your soup is yummy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Answering reader comments

I'm terrible about replying to comments, so I thought I'd do so in one post. I'll start at the most recent and go back until I'm bored or Violet's ready for me to tuck her in.

Piggy asked about the streaker during Puppy Bowl. It was a shaved dog. Well, it still had tufts of hair here and there. And they blocked out his private's with a black box. It was funny.

Retha, I hadn't looked up to see where the World Cup was going next! That is so cool it is in your home country. You'd better be careful or you'll have the whole Incredible family bunking on your sofa.

Mom #1: I didn't watch any of Blago's TV appearances, by then he made me so sick I couldn't watch. Many of us are guessing that was all part of a plot to sell the book he's going to write and the movie rights. I'm not sure if I spelled it right, but most of us do call ourselves Illinoisans. Any you only pronounce the last "s". The "s" at the end of Illinois is always silent. (Just in case anyone was wondering. Tee hee)

Ami, Great Ireland ideas! Thanks! And yes, Irish Whiskey by the end of the day would definitely be in order. And it doesn't have to be Ireland Day either!

Wendy, great idea for Spring Babies Day!

To everyone, we haven't gotten any more fish yet, but I think the plan is to try again with 2 more.

Piggy & Mom #1, I never did get a review of Hotel for Dogs from them. I think they liked it. They never really said much. They did say that one of the dogs on Puppy Bowl looked like Romeo from the movie.

Gail, I hear you on being glad she didn't sell more cookies. I am so relieved not to have chase down nearly as many people for delivery and payment this year. I find that very stressful. We have some really cool incentives each year. We use ABC Bakers. Maybe you guys sell Little Brownie Cookies? Our Fall Product Sale incentives rock too. This year Violet got an ice cream ball (the thing where you put the ice cream mix in the ball that you kick all around and it turns to ice cream - sorry, I've quit being coherent. I'm too tired to go on. I'll post a picture of it one day.)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl? Not Here!

We aren't football fans here. We follow soccer. We used to be real fanatics. Then we had a house to look after and a kid to raise. Now Mr. Incredible and I are lucky to catch a few games a year. Except during World Cup. The world stops for World Cup. Violet has to find her own food for 3 weeks while we watch every game humanly possible.

Today was Super Bowl Sunday. It does mean something special here in the Incredible household. Puppy Bowl! We love it. It is impossible not to get sucked in to the cute little puppies running all over, tumbling over each other, and playing ball. And the kitty half time show is a real family favorite. We watch every year. This year was no exception.

Animal Planet really outdid themselves this year. The audience! The streaker on the field! It was hilarious. I can hardly wait until next year. But I don't have to wait, they are replaying it all day long. I can watch Puppy Bowl at least 2 or 3 more times today. Who can get enough of it?

Now that is a sporting event worth watching!