Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nothing remarkable going on

We've been busy the last two days, but nothing to write home about. Working hard at school. Today Violet mastered multiplying fractions. She learned about reducing fractions. Which is rather hard to do if you don't know your multiplication facts. But the thought of memorizing them brings her to tears, screams and whines. I can't take it, I can't make her do it. I'm hoping she will learn them through use. It is my only hope. Mr. Incredible says he never memorized his. Call me a freak, but I thought times tests were fun in school. Then again, I wasn't a very social kid. If I was doing math I didn't have to talk to anyone. And I was good at it and comfortable with it.

"Yes, but how does that make you feel?"

Well, I ... wait a minute, that's not what this is about. I'm just talking about the last 2 days here, not getting deep character analysis.

I tried to talk Violet into taking a kayaking class with Girl Scouts over the summer. It is one day, 5 hours, take a sack lunch and learn to kayak in a lake. She didn't want to. She said she'd be too nervous in a small boat by herself. I looked at the calendar and it was just as well. The week before was going to be really busy. And besides, I think I'm the one that really wants to learn to kayak. Maybe I could take it. Think I could pass for a 4th or 5th grader?

I've been trying to get some answers from someone who works in a State office for a client. Today she basically told me to stop calling her. She said she'd get back to me sometime after she meets with 2 higher ups who are "very busy men." That didn't sit well with me. For one, she works for us - my clients and me. We pay our taxes, they pay her salary. For two, "very busy men?" Give me a break. Show me a working mom who doesn't do twice as much on any given day than these supposed "busy men." Snort. I bet they take lunch hours. I bet someone else makes dinner for them. I bet they don't go to the grocery store, the laundromat, kids' carpool, or help with homework. If they do any of them, it certain isn't on the same day while working full time. Moms do that. How about my clients? Running a small business (female owned and operated by the way), attempting to make payroll each pay period, trying to stay afloat in difficult times. While managing their own families. They are busy. And my bosses. I couldn't even report back to either of the two who have assigned me this task (both women) because both are traveling for business and have been gone most of the week. Both have husbands and extended families with health and other issues to take care of even while they are out of state. They are busy.

Very busy men, my ass.

There's no such thing.

(And to all those men I've just offended....what are you doing reading a freak mom's homeschool blog anyway? That's kind of creepy. Stop it.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rained out

It poured on and off all day Saturday and all Sunday morning. We didn't know if they'd move the Family Outdoor Fun Day indoors. If not, even if it quit raining, there was going to be a soggy mess outside. We all voted to change our plans. We went to the Burpee Museum and the Discovery Center instead. If you are ever in the Rockford area, both are time well spent.

Mr. Incredible and Grandfather had never been to the Burpee. While we like the Burpee (well, I do more than Violet), we were trying to rush them along so there'd be time to go to the Discovery Center as well. Discovery is much more hands on and far more interesting if you are 9.

On the way home we were all hungry, but we also knew that Grandfather had a long drive home ahead of him and didn't want to be any later than he had to be. I mentioned that it was too bad we didn't have our local pizza place's phone number with or I could call and order a pizza for pick up. Mr. I. remembered that he had Goog 411 programmed into his cell phone. You dial 1-800-GOOG-411 and tell the computer the business name, city and state that you want. It will confirm the address of the business with you then connect you. The service is free. Our large cheese pizza was ready for us when we drove into town. It was awesome! I have to remember to program that into my phone too.

Today we were back to school. Violet had a swim lesson tonight. She is doing so well. I told her that she's welcome to continue through summer and into the fall (I'd like to stop next winter when we have to worry about snow and ice), but that she's already to the point that I'm happy with her swimming. My goal for her was to be able to pass the deep water swim test at camp. I think she can. She might have trouble with the treading water, but the swimming she can do. Last week they treaded water for 40 seconds and Violet said that was hard. I'm thinking she may have to do a minute at camp. I also feel her swimming is good enough for her to go off to a pool (with a lifeguard) without me or Mr. I along. (Not by herself of course, but with a friend's family I mean.) Violet wants to keep going for now.

More school tomorrow. And I have an early morning update call with my boss who hinted she had more work to assign me. I've had a few days off, so that is a very good thing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not so far behind

While I'm not exactly caught up, I'm not as far behind as I usually am.

I am waiting for answers from other people for everything for work. I have plans for homeschool for the coming week. Granted they aren't formal or even well thought out, but I can wing it with what I've got. I placed the order from Rainbow Resources I've been researching for a week or so. I have a few Girl Scout things to do, but nothing urgent. And I need to get our camp forms sent in, but I have time.

My father-in-law is staying with us this weekend. He had a meeting in the City today. Tomorrow we are all supposed to go to an outdoor family fun science fair. The forecast is for thunderstorms and rain. Not sure that we will actually go. We probably will. We'll probably get wet.

What I ordered was some more Young Scientist Kits. Violet wanted a couple of Mind Bender books. And we're going to try Novel Thinking. I ordered Charlotte's Web and In Their Own Words: Abraham Lincoln.

I know, a few weeks left to go in the school year probably isn't the time to place a new order. But, I have the money now. Who knows what will happen with our jobs by fall. And Violet was enthusiastic about trying some of it now. That may be gone by September.

Strike while the learning iron is hot.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hopscotch Cake

Violet made cake number three on her way to her Piece of Cake badge. It was a hopscotch cake. She made the cake from scratch yesterday. Today she cut the cake into rectangles, arranged it, made buttercream frosting and decorated it. Well, I helped some. Boy, oh boy, that was my first cake from scratch and I definitely see why they invented cake mixes!

As you can see we found a tray to make the cake on, instead of the Mickey Mouse tray, and it didn't fit! It was actually the second tray we tried and it was still too small. We said that it was representing part of the sidewalk that had settled.

It is hard to tell but the rectangles each have a number on them. She used a cookie cutter for the number templates. She used candies to decorate it. Not sure if I want to eat quite that much candy, but hey, you do what you got to do.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I am a winner

Last night was the Girl Scout Adult Recognition dinner. We nominated our service unit mentor for the Thanks II Badge and she received it. It is the highest recognition an adult volunteer can receive. Only one other volunteer received it last night (no one received it last year). The other lady led the outdoor overnight training I took a couple of years ago. She's really, really good and totally deserving of it as well.

It was a fun night. I ate too much. I clapped and cheered for the award recipients. I hugged everyone afterward.

I even won a door prize! I had been kind of hoping for the $50 gas card, or the Girl Scout blanket, but my prize was even cooler. It was, in fact, a cooler. It is an insulated wine bag. It has plastic wine glasses, a cork screw, a cutting board, and cheese knife in it. It fits 2 bottles of wine (yes, but what will everyone else drink?). And you take it to the outdoor symphony.

I know what your thinking...when was the last time Freakmom went to the symphony? I know, but it is cool. Plus I was thinking. I take it to a really conservative homeschool picnic sometime and pop the cork. Maybe take a friend with (and arrange to have one of our husbands drive us and pick us up). Get more than a bit tipsy and let the comments fly!

Okay, I won't but a girl can dream.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whiny Day

Please tell me that all 9 year old girls whine a lot. I know they do, I just want some external validation that it wasn't me, wasn't her, wasn't what I had planned. They are just hard wired to whine.

It was cold and rainy today. In fact, the high was only 42F. Just miserable weather. No wonder she felt miserable. Nothing we tried to do made her happy. We had to stop math twice because it kept bringing her to tears. It wasn't too hard. Maybe it was too easy. I think it just irritated her. It was an introduction to percentages. It seemed to offend her to have to write both the fraction (10/100) as well as the percent (10%). Maybe it just went against her moral math convictions.

She tried making tissue paper fish. You cut out the fish shapes (2 pieces), decorate them and glue them together (all except an opening). When the glue dries tomorrow, she'll stuff the fish with toilet paper and glue them shut. She probably used too much glue. The marker ran. But although she whined through it she claimed it was fun.

She also worked on her totem pole. She drew pictures of our pets on strips of paper and glued them around a paper towel tube. She still has to draw "Peanut" one of her gold fish. She tried twice today and couldn't get her right. On the top she chose to cut out an owl from cardboard. Not 100% (see no fraction given, she's right it is silly) why she wanted an owl on top. Possibly because the owl that occasionally hangs out on our roof. Maybe just because owls are cool.

I'll take photos when the projects are complete. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and in the 50s. I'm hoping for less whine. I really should scrap the school plans and figure out an Earth Day project to do. Will I lose my status of "Good Homeschool Mom" if I don't?

Monday, April 20, 2009


Today was our library tour. It went far above and beyond my expectations. I thought they'd spend 30-45 minutes and talk to the kids about the library, maybe show them where the stuff was kept. The head librarian from the children's department talked to them, took them to all the departments and had them meet with lots of employees for almost an hour and a half! The kids got to go behind the circulation desk and check out then in a book. They met with representatives from all over the library who told them what they do and showed them how they do it. There were several people who weren't working today or else our tour might have lasted until closing time!

The kids (and moms) left with a much better understanding of what libraries and librarians do. The also learned what volunteers can do. And they learned what is required to become a librarian. When we were wrapping up the ladies asked the kids who would like to work in a library when they were older. All 5 girls raised their hands. The two brothers declined. We suspect they are holding out for bigger bucks than you make in a library.

Violet also had her swim lesson tonight. She's still doing great and really enjoying them. She's going to continue with lessons at least through June.

The rest of the week we are home and have no appointments! Except for me, on Wednesday night. I'm attending the Girl Scout Volunteer Awards dinner. But that will be fun. My mentor is receiving the Thanks II Badge. I have to go cheer for her.

Gack, I have nothing to wear to a fancy dinner. I wonder if I can wear the same dress I wore last year. Even if anyone recognizes it they shouldn't say anything about it. They are all Girl Scouts after all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AWOL Again

I know, I need to post more. I don't know where the time goes!

Last week I got really stressed out. I felt weighted down with everything. We don't have as much done for school as I'd like us to. Every time I turn around I have to go out at night for a Girl Scout related meeting. The house was a mess. I have a huge project to do for work that has me really out of my comfort zone and into the great unknown. I don't know what I have to do for it or how to do it.

In short, I felt like an anvil was sitting in my lap and I couldn't move.

Side note, has anyone ever seen an anvil in real life? Do they have anvils in real life? Or is it just Wiley E. Coyote and Road Runner who have them?

This morning I decided to get moving. I wanted to do something that I could actually complete. I cleaned the house. It is "presentable" now. Not really clean, but much, much better. Then I went to the grocery store and we have food for the next week or so. I finally feel on track again.

Tomorrow we have a tour of the library scheduled. I set it up when Violet started asking what the librarians do. We have three of the other homeschool Juliette families joining us. The librarians sounded excited to have us come in. We'll be a small group, 7 kids and 4 moms.

Tomorrow is also swim lessons. So our school schedule is purposely light. On Tuesday she is going to start Key to Percents. I'm not sure how far into the book her current math skills will let her get, but I know she can do the beginning concepts before we have to break and practice other things. Her addition, subtraction, multiplication and division aren't as strong as I'd like them to be. But working ahead in fractions, decimals and measurement (all Key to) have been helping without the drudgery of drills.

I'll try to blog more. And I'll try not to get so overwhelmed. One thing at a time. That's how things get done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What we've been up to

Besides working extra hours, we've been busy with fun projects. Time to share:

First, I'll finally post a photo of Peanut and Almond, Violet's goldfish. She took this photo. I don't know which fish is which, but she does:

Violet working on the igloo kit:

And the final igloo:

Here is the spider web model she made from "Keepers of the Animals". We downsized it a bit, they suggested using a hula hoop. Ours is an embroidery hoop I had in the basement.

For her candy making badge, Violet tried to make marzipan:

They look terrific, but I thought she was going to spit it out when she tried tasting it!

For the cake decorating badge, she made a butterfly cake (it is one of those that is actually a bunch of cupcakes put together, you bake it in one silicon mold). She did all the decorating herself:

The final butterfly (it was delicious!):

We've got to get a tray that isn't Mickey. It looks like he is wearing the butterfly!

There was a little batter left over, so she made cupcakes too:

And finally, how we spent today:

The kit was a really old one given to Violet by my mother-in-law. She'd originally intended to do it with her daughter (who is now in her 30s). I didn't want to take the kits (there are 4 total) or try to do them (I am not good at these sorts of things) but we survived it. Three more to go:

It was made on a foam dress mold. We had to cut material and ribbon, pin the whole thing together, find more beads when we ran out, and try to glue the damn hands onto Bo Peep. Her right hand keeps falling off. Tomorrow's project: superglue.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter dinner

Now it may come as a surprise to some of you, but we here in the Freak family are not very traditional. I know, I know, you can't believe it, but it is true. So while people across the country were having their ham dinner, we noshed a little differently.

About a week ago Violet and I went to Trader Joe's and one thing we picked up was some Mahi Mahi. We've been wanting to try our hands at making more fish. That is, fish that didn't come prebreaded and in a stick form. We grilled it with a lime, ginger and soy sauce marinade. It was perfect weather for grilling out, sunny and mid-50s. (We've had snow on Easter more times that I care to remember, so today's weather was nothing to complain about.) The fish was great.

To go with it I made a brown rice dish with shredded carrot and peas. Not too bad. And I had been planning plated salads, but when we were in our small neighborhood grocery Violet spotted asparagus and talked me into it. We grilled that too, in a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Violet brushed hers with melted butter. Mr. Incredible and I put a Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing on it.

I must say that I've always hated asparagus. If you asked me to list my most hated foods they'd be olives, mustard and asparagus. But Violet and Mr. I. both like it, so I agreed to try it. I can't believe how much I liked it! It was quite young which I think helped. When the stalks get too thick they are really awful. And the vinaigrette helped to mask the taste. I think my parents still have some asparagus growing on their properly, I may have to try to transplant some. Who knew that stuff could actually be edible!

I'm thinking I may need to give Brussel sprouts another try. Who know, maybe those aren't as awful as I remember either.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Totem pole craft

The finger still hurts when I type (or get it wet, or bump it) but it is healing. I'm getting a bit better at 7 finger typing.

Next week I want to have Violet make a totem pole as part of history/American Indian studies, but I don't have a plan as to how to do it. Have any of your kids made one and would you mind sharing how you did it? Mr. I. said he made a cool one as a Boy Scout with wooden spools threaded on a dowel rod and painted. I like the sound of it but don't have the supplies and really don't want to make a trip to the craft store (It is 2 towns away and I always spend too much money when I go there). I have so many recycled things I've saved for crafts, seems like there must be totem pole parts in one of my boxes. I just don't know what parts I'm looking for yet.

I'm going to read my craft books and see if I can find an idea, but you are all so crafty and smart. :bat eyelashes: You must have some good ideas.

Just so it doesn't involve a sharp knife. I'm not even using a dull butter knife yet. There goes my culinary career unless I can be a chef who only uses uncut, unchopped, full pieces of whatever the ingredient is.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Typing Troubles

I am having trouble typing. Last night while slicing potatoes for dinner, the knife slipped and I cut my left index finger tip quite badly. The bleeding wouldn't stop for over an hour. I'd apply pressure, it would stop, I'd move the gauze off, it would start again. Finally it stopped for good, but I took a slice of skin off the tip so it is really sore and typing is painful. Seven finger typing isn't that easy.

Since I have more typing I have to do for work, my blogging and forum posting will be limited for a bit. I hope it is better tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


We had some local elections here today. The only one I really wanted to get out for was the school board election. Why should I care who's on the school board since we homeschool? Because they agree to the teachers' union contract and set our property tax rate to pay for it all. We pay a lot in property tax for a "free" education. The State of Illinois has not paid their fair share for years, which has meant the local taxpayers have to make up the difference. Hopefully that will change with our new governor, the Mighty Pat Quinn, but it will take time. And when it does, do you think our tax rates will go down since the State will be picking up more of the tab? If you do, I have some swamp land to sell you. The teachers will get more perks and higher salaries. The taxpayers will still get stuck with the bill. And the kids won't do any better on standardized test because they'll still be little drones who get shuffled from one thing to the next without any time to stop and smell the roses and therefore never develop the ability to think on their own.

Hmm, where was I?

I went out to vote for the local nutjob. I like him. He may be a nutjob, but man, he is right most of the time. He can somehow sniff out inconsistencies in contracts and determine long before the others that some things just don't add up. He doesn't back down from the teachers' union. And many people in the area hate him for that. He stands up against the man.

He narrowly won a seat on the board a few years back after he started going to the board meetings and insisting they look closer at the referendum they were proposing. Yep, he was right. The paperwork they had was actually going to cost the taxpayers 3 times as much as they were telling us. Because of some complicated tax structure thing in this state that almost no one can understand, the dupes on the board had screwed up. I don't think they knew they had made a mistake. My man caught it and I became a fan.

He's constantly put down in the press and by the teachers and their pawns, the parents. But there are a number of us who like him in there stirring things up. He doesn't always go about things in the most politically correct manner. But he stirs them up and makes people think. The teachers' union are of course against that, because they don't like people to think for themselves.

Anyway, he was up for re-election today. And although I felt really lazy, I went out to cast my vote for him. And got Mr. Incredible to go vote for him too.

He may be a nutjob, but he's a nutjob who is usually right.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dodging a Bullet

We did get about 2 inches of snow. Not too much in the way of ice. So I went to my meeting. We all griped about having to drive in the snow.

Long time readers will remember the hell evil ex-co-leader put me through. Well, her name came up at the Service Team meeting last night. We were braining storming victims, I mean volunteers to try to recruit for open positions. They asked if she'd gotten any better (apparently she really riled some feathers her first year as a troop leader). I told them no, she hasn't. She and her family have been booted from at least 5 or 6 homeschool groups because they can't get along with others (understatement of the year). On my word they took her name off the list.

Thank goodness. I can't work with that woman again. Anyone new to my blog (and I've since deleted the posts I wrote about her) will probably think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. She's a bully and verbally harasses people. She will sabotage others' plans. She will tell you she can't keep friends and she has to be either completely in charge or not involved. She's not kidding. She's also raising her kids to be bullies. Many of us no longer want our children playing with hers. She's pure evil. I have a whole list of her "disposable friends" (term compliments of another of her ex-friends) who will back me up on that.

Yep, our service unit sure dodged a bullet last night.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

They've got to be kidding me

There is yet another Winter Weather Advisory posted for tomorrow. I can't believe we're still talking snow, freezing rain and sleet. This is out of control. Tomorrow's forecast is for just 3-5 inches of snow but sleet, freezing rain and all around ickiness all day. I have to go out for a Girl Scout service team meeting tomorrow night. I'm really hoping they'll decide to cancel it if the weather is bad. But I'm not counting on it.

I thought our last snow was going to be the last one. You'd think this would have to be our last. But, no. Thursday night we're supposed to get snow again! I surrender already. Stop with the winter and let us have our spring.

In other news, I am currently completely caught up with work. I have several things to do next week, but I can't do any of it until Monday at the earliest.

What to do with my free time? Oh, right, shovel snow and fret about driving on ice. Blech.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

American Indian Studies

We started our American Indian studies today. We're using volume one of a History of US, and combining with it Keepers of the Earth, Keepers of Life, Keepers of the Night and Keepers of the Animals. Today we read chapter 5 of History, which was about the Inuit. Keepers of the Earth, chapter 11 included an Inuit tale and activities about the ocean. Violet and I pretended to be different ocean animals, determined (very approximately, it is cold and rainy outside today so we didn't do it out in front with string and a tape measure like we should have) the sizes of various ocean animals. And she's doing some salt water versus plain water experiments. Salt water froze slower than tap water. Now she's letting some evaporate to look for residue. And we discovered that salt versus plain water experiments are part of the Water Wonders Badge so tomorrow we'll try some more they suggest: boiling speed, soap bubbles with both, and floating properties. Finally she's freezing the parts to make her own igloo. We bought this Scholastic igloo kit ages ago and finally broke it out today.

I'd better be careful or I'll start looking like an organized, together, real homeschool mom!

I'm also trying to set up a tour of our local library for the homeschool Juliettes and some friends. Violet asked the other day when we left the library what it would be like to work there. I said, "Let's find out." I spoke with one of the children's librarians today and she thought it was a wonderful idea. She's checking with the head of the department on dates and they will get back to me. Our areas of interest are how the library works, what librarians do, and kinds of volunteer activities teens can do.

One last quick note. Why I call them "American Indian Studies" and not "Native American Studies" (and by the way, we do realize that Inuit are not American Indians but a separate people, they just happened to be the first chapter since we were talking about the Bering Straight, but I digress). My mom is half Choctaw and half Cherokee. She (and her brother and sisters) refer to themselves as American Indian and do not like the term Native American. They are Indian. So out of respect for Grandma and the many other Indians who embrace the term, we use "Indian" and "American Indian."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm afraid to leave the house

Every time I do I get socked with more work. Granted, the hours are great and we can use the money. But it is killing me.

On Saturday afternoon we went out for pizza. When we got home I had 3 new assignments, 2 of which were due by Sunday night.

On Sunday we went to the Wonders of Science show. I came home to find 2 more requests for work. On a Sunday afternoon mind you. When all reasonable businesses are closed.

Monday night we took Violet to swim lessons. Time away from home, an hour and a half. Contents of my inbox when I came back, 6 new e-mails from one manager, all on different topics.

Today we went to the library and grocery store. Gone less than 2 hours. Got home and there were 15 new e-mail messages. All needing my response or attention.

I'm not going anywhere tomorrow. I need a break!