Saturday, May 30, 2009

What a shock

My mom called late this afternoon. She'd just gotten a call from my cousin. They found my aunt (mom's sister) this afternoon, she'd died at home by herself. She hadn't been sick. She had spoken on the phone that morning to her aunt (my great aunt), hadn't mentioned not feeling well or anything odd. No one knows what happened for sure. Mom and I suspect blood clot or stroke. It was a great shock to us all. She was 68.

I called my cousin and spoke to her briefly. She doesn't know if they'll have a service or not. (My family isn't big on memorial or funeral services. I can't explain it. I wish I could, then after 20 years I could finally explain it to Mr. Incredible.) If they do, we'd like to go. They live about 1000 miles away. That has always seemed too far. Tonight it seems even more distant than ever.

I guess this illustrates my post from yesterday more than I could have ever imagined. Celebrate the small stuff. Celebrate it all. Every day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

10 reasons to celebrate

I think we all need to stop and think of some good reasons to do a happy dance, let out a "woo hoo," and give a really big smile. There's too much icky stuff in the world and too many reasons to worry. So tonight, I give you my 10 reasons to celebrate:

1. Mr. Incredible's paycheck cleared! Any payday his check doesn't bounce is reason to celebrate.

2. Violet's girlfriend Red came over after school today to get Violet to show off her new guinea pig. After they played with the pig they walked down to the park together for a few minutes. I'm glad she's got such a good friend right across the street.

3. I got a 10% off my next grocery shopping coupon. One of the chain stores around here is desperate for business and is giving out 10% when your preferred card total reaches $300.

4. Turkey burgers were buy one get one free! We love grilling turkey burgers, but the pack of 12 is $8.50. I don't know how much beef is, I haven't bought any in over 15 years, so maybe that isn't too bad. But 24 turkey patties for $8.50, now you're talking.

5. Our new service unit manager is awesome! I was so excited when they announced her name last night. I hadn't known she was after the job. She's fun, she's nice, she's easy to reach via e-mail (I hate calling people and I never seem to just bump into people), she's professional, she's great!

6. Someone volunteered to be Juliette Coordinator next year! Yay! And someone else volunteered to be communications director (the person who takes minutes and sends out e-mails). They had asked me to do that too. I said I'd really rather not. Now I don't have to!

7. I didn't step in cat yark today. I did yesterday.

8. I have work to do over the weekend, but not so much I can't enjoy some time with my family. That's really all I ask for from work, some balance.

9. The weather is warm. After a hard winter, warm days are so welcome.

10. I have some great blogging buddies! I don't say it enough, but you guys are the awesome-most, bestest pals a gal could ever ask for! ((((hugs))))

Hope you all have some reasons to celebrate too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sew What?

We've been working hard here at the Freak house, catching up with all those things that I've promised to do with Violet but never seem to get around to. I started teaching her how to sew. She's practiced with both the sewing machine and by hand. She's coming along nicely and is very good at walking away for a few minutes when she gets frustrated.

She's made a couple of little projects: 2 blankets, a sleeping bag and a pillow for her new pet rock. The biggest item is only about 4 inches square. I think it is harder to work with a small object personally. She is one step away from finishing the sewing badge in the Junior book. She's going to make the puppet that is in there (for those of you with Girl Scouts). Not today, maybe tomorrow.

We also took the flower petals she's been pressing and drying and made them into a book marker using clear contact paper. She was a bit skeptical but was really happy with the final look.

I finished the new valences for the windows in her room and closet. Her old ones had Peter Rabbit on them, it was overdue. Her new ones are a cat print on one side and paw prints on the other.

I'll post photos sooner or later.

Tonight is our last Girl Scout service unit meeting of the school year. Yippee! I'll be bringing home with me lost of spring registration forms to process I expect. In good news we're having Root Beer Floats at the meeting for treats (I know Mother Mayhem is shouting "Don't drink the floats!"). And we are finding out who the new volunteers will be for next year for some of the positions. I'm staying as registrar but have resigned as Juliette coordinator. Not sure if they lined anybody up yet. The bigger question mark is service unit manager. The one to run everything. The one the rest of us are supposed to answer to (beside the paid council staff of course). I know there someone new coming in, but it has been very hush, hush. Why do they do that all the time? It is Girl Scouts for Pete's sake, not the CIA.

I'm really curious about who it will be. There are a couple I'm silently saying "not her, please not her." Not that they aren't nice, they are. One of my not hers, always seems to think I should be doing additional things that don't fall in my job description. She's a little bossy, and guess what? I'm not going to be bossed into anything that isn't listed on the job description. The other is very nice, but a bit of a marshmallow. I don't think she'll be as organized or on top of things as she should be. Yes, I know it is a volunteer position, but still, we're a very large, currently well run service unit. I'd like to see it stay that way. Or you know me, I'm a freak, I'll change service units, again. I have limited loyalty to anyone outside my family and to a different degree, my employer.

Well, I'll know one way or another in about 3 hours. You can bet I'll be sharing my feelings on the outcome, whether you want to hear them or not. :Grin:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Swimming along

Got Violet into a make up swim lesson this afternoon. In fact, 3 of the 4 kids in the lesson were there as a make up lesson. The place limits classes to no more than 4 kids. It was a different instructor which was good for Violet. She didn't push them as much as her regular teacher does, but she'd never met them before so it would be hard for her know where exactly they all are. One really good thing came out of it. Violet's rhythmic breathing on her front crawl was much better than usual. Not sure what the new instructor said, but hopefully it will stick with Violet until next week.

Today was my "anti-guilt" day. I was trying to make up for months of putting off projects with Violet. We got out the sewing machine and made the pillowcase that we bought the material for last September! Violet wanted to make a pillow and sleeping bag for her pet rock. She picked out the material, cut it out, pinned it and did a lot of the sewing. She gets nervous at the machine, so I guided the material for her while she ran the foot pedal. I'll get her out some practice material later this week and let her go crazy getting the feel for it. She also hand stitched the pillow shut after she stuffed it with cotton balls (her rock is quite small).

We made it out to the garden today. Well, she and Mr. I. have been out there several times, it was my first trip. Since we are awfully late planting the spinach and lettuce seeds I bought, we put them in containers. That way we can move them when it gets hot. I also got the onion sets in the ground. The first batch anyway. We used dirt from the compost pile. Our yard waste and kitchen scraps have become nice rich soil. I don't think the worms liked me disturbing their house, but they'll get over it.

I guess that was about it for today. It sure seems like we were busier than that. But I guess that was busy enough.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The rest of the weekend

Sunday I worked around a cookout we were invited to. It was at the home of some homeschool friends. Good food. Good friends. Good times. We hardly saw Violet at all. She was off playing with the other kids most of the time. She usually takes a long time to warm up, then never really joins in. Not this time. She was playing along with them nearly from the get go.

I wasn't alone working. I was e-mailing with my boss before we left for the party. She was at the office. That helps. Misery loves company. There's a big deadline May 31st. I doubt anyone in our department was off the entire weekend.

Today I finished up the most immediate work I had to do. Got replies back from a senior manager, she was working today. I also cleaned the powder room and mopped the wood floor. Those were the two most immediate chores that needed to be done. As soon as I was all done and was ready to enjoy the holiday started to rain. Wasn't really that bad, as you know from the rest of my post, I took plenty of time off, just intermittent around work.

We cooked out tonight, turkey brats and turkey burgers. Tomorrow morning I am on call for possible inclusion in a meeting. The client wanted a face-to-face meeting for some reason. I had offered to review the information with him over the phone. But he declined. No biggie, he's paying the bill he can have someone sitting at a desk with him if he wants. Anyway, the one meeting with him asked if she could call me if they ran into questions. I'm kind of hoping they don't, I'm not an expert in the area. But I'm more expert-ish than most of the others in the office on that particular subject.

Sorry about that, while it makes perfect sense to me, it probably holds no interest to anyone else. Where was I?

Yes, tomorrow morning I also need to call and try to schedule Violet for a make-up swim lesson. Her regular Monday lessons were canceled for the holiday. It is a little goofy, but you can't pre-schedule a make up lesson. You have to call the morning that you'd like to have one and see if there is an opening. I can understand why they do it, they probably would get too many no shows for make ups if they were scheduled earlier. And since they have ongoing enrollment, if there is an opening the day you call to sign up, your kids can even start that day. If they hold a slot for a make up lesson that is a no show that could have been filled by a new student, that doesn't make good business sense.

We just aren't "fly by the seat of the pants" kind of people. If I could have scheduled her make up lesson a few months ago, I'd have been really happy. Spur of the moment isn't me.

Anyway, that was the rest of the weekend in a ramble. It was nice. I feel much more relaxed than going into it. I am ready for summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bronze Her!

Today was the big day: the finale of the Girl Scout Bronze Award project at the dog kennels. We arrived about 10:30, we would have been a bit earlier but we hit a detour. Turned out that was fine, it was a small crew working there today (they had several no show volunteers) and they hadn't been there too long.

Violet and I set up the snack table:

There were a few other snacks brought by other volunteers too, but they complemented each other really well. Everyone liked Violet's food and even asked her to make more for their occasional bake sale fund raisers.

We did a little weeding in their gardens:

It was warmer today than predicted and very sunny. We all got hot really quick and there were a lot of breaks involved. It was a really laid back crowd which was nice. I didn't know what to expect. It was really good for Violet that they were so calm and slow moving and relaxed about it all.

When we left we stopped at McDonald's on the way home. Then when we got there, Mr. Incredible had a surprise waiting for Violet:

The card says "Congratulations on your Bronze Award!" and in the inside he wrote "We're so proud of you, Papa and Mama." Which we are. Her flowers smell as good as they look!

She did good. She held it together even when she was hot, tired, bored and really wanting to leave. She got past some of her shyness and reserves and talked to some of the volunteers. She helped out a lot. She definitely earned her award!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tomorrow's the big day

The cookies are baked, the brownies are baked, the trail mix is mixed, the dip is ready and the veggies are chopped. Tomorrow morning we load up the car and drive to the dog kennel. Not sure what to expect there, we've never been there except to their open houses. We have gardening gloves in the car in case we can't get out of yard work. We'll pack a cooler with drinks and sandwiches in case there isn't any other food (besides our snacks that is) available.

I'll be glad when she is done and has that Bronze Award. She's worked hard, and as her advisor I have too. I'm beat. I'm ready to move on to fun stuff.

Violet asked me the other day if I thought she should go for the Silver award when she is old enough. Part of my brain was screaming, "Good God no!" But I said I thought that when she was old enough she should consider it, read the requirements, think about it hard, and decide. I told her I'd be happy to help her if she decided she wants to try. But I wouldn't pressure her at all to do it. It is a lot of work, and I can't be her advisor for that one. (Not sure if that is just our council or nationwide, but they don't allow parents to be the advisor on silver and gold awards). But she can't even consider starting it for over a year, so we'll see how we both feel about it and about Girl Scouts in general by then.

I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. And if you are new to my blog and have no clue what I'm talking about (but for some reason read this far), here's a recap: Bronze Award.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Status: Hanging In

School is out for the spring. We couldn't do it any more. Luckily we have no specific reporting requirements here in Illinois. We are toying with the idea of a summer session in a few weeks. So many loose ends are hanging right now. We'll see.

Work hasn't gotten any busier. That's good. I have plenty to do and no brain cells to sit down and do it. Good news is, no one is looking for anything from me until after the holiday. They are all too busy and too exhausted themselves.

Mr. I's work situation is looking bleaker. No changes at this point. But the outlook is bad.

Violet is baking her cookies today. The dough is thawing and we'll soon have the smell of fresh baked cookies wafting through the air. Good thing we are making two batches. We've all be doing a lot of stress eating around here. Hmm, how bad would it be to eat all the cookies, then stop at the grocery store for some on the way to the kennel on Saturday? Probably bad.

Good news is, people like us. We have more invites for holiday get togethers than we can manage this weekend. Luckily, the things we'd prefer to do came in first. So we had already RSVP'd when the later invites came. Not that we wouldn't have wanted to do them, the others just win out.

We took yesterday off as a mental health day and hung out with my folks. I went shopping with my dad. He wandered off in Walmart and I couldn't find him. All I could think was that Mom warned me against letting him out of my sight in that store. He finally surfaced with a bottle of vitamins and some sunblock. I couldn't ditch him, he drove.

I bought more demin capri's and shorts yesterday at Farm and Fleet. I found some that are so comfortable! I had to have more. Funny, it was hard to find size 14 on their racks, but there were tons of size 4. Size 4, bah! I don't think I was ever a size 4. Do most size 4's even shop at Farm and Fleet? Most of us there have hips.

So our status is, we are hanging in, hanging out and trying to take it easy, while still getting the essentials done.

Hmm, fresh baked cookies plus stress eating may equal a trip back to Farm and Fleet for size 16's. Whose idea was this Bronze Award project anyway?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cucumber Dip

Don't worry Mom #1, this is the last recipe. ;)

Cucumber Dip

2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped fine
2 to 3 celery stalks, chopped fine
1/2 t. garlic powder
1 c sour cream
1/2 c cream cheese
1/2 c mayonnaise

Mix well.

Violet plans to take Wheat thins, baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower for dipping in it. We're hoping to keep the dip chilled by putting it in a small container, then putting that in a larger tray/pan with ice. We'll do something with the veggies in the ice tray as well.

Work was busy again today. Mondays always are. Everyone gets back to work and reviews what I did over the weekend and has changes, or more work. Or they read through their e-mail and have more research for me to do. I started out this morning with about 2 hours of work to do. I never got to it because of the new stuff I got in. But I got all the new stuff done. I guess I broke even.

Violet's swim lesson went well tonight. She's definitely still making improvements. Next Monday is Memorial Day, so we'll have to try to get her into a makeup session during the week.

We've had beautiful weather lately. In the mid-60s and mostly sunny. I haven't gotten out much in it at all. I hope to change that by the end of the week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Applesauce Brownies

Disclaimer: we haven't tried this recipe yet. When Violet makes it on Friday we'll taste them before taking them to the greyhound people and make sure they are good. But the recipe sounds good.


1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 butter
2 eggs
1 c applesauce (regular or cinnamon, Violet is opting for regular)
1 t vanilla
1 c flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa
1 t cinnamon (Violet is leaving this out)
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c chopped nuts (again, being omitted)

Heat over to 350 F. Grease 9-inch square pan. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, butter and eggs, mix well. Stir in applesauce and vanilla, blend thoroughly. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add nuts. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Optionally (yeah, she's not doing this either) sprinkle with powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon.

Violet continues to make good progress on her project. Today she typed up the ingredient lists of everything she's taking. Tomorrow we'll figure out how to print them out and make it into little cards to set out with the food. She also bought the ingredients for her trail mix. I won't bother posting the recipe for trail mix. Buy a bunch of good stuff, mix together. There, I guess I did post it.

Mr. Incredible took Violet to Farm and Fleet to get the trail mix ingredients, the best store ever to buy bulk snack items. She chose peanuts, almonds, dried cranberries, dried pineapple, sunflower kernels, raisins and chocolate buttons (generic M&Ms) for her trail mix.

On their way out to the store they told me they saw a hummingbird on our lilac sipping nectar. That is the first one we've ever spotted in our yard!

I held to my not working too hard pledge, although I did put in a little more time than I intended. Oh well, they pay me by the hour. I'm not quite finished with the draft of the huge project. I'll finish it tomorrow and send it. Then I'll wait for it to come back with directions for changes. I know there will be changes that I'll have to make. I just don't know how many or how long it will take to get it back.

In the meantime, I'll relax a little.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sugar Cookies

Today's recipe is for sugar cookies. Violet is going to cut them out with dog, cat and flower cookie cutters and decorate them with sugar sprinkles.


3 cups flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 sticks butter (unsalted)
1 c sugar
1 egg
2-1/4 t vanilla
1 T milk
2 or 3 drops lemon or almond extract (optional, Violet opted no)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl, set aside. Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, milk and lemon or almond extract Slowly mix in flour (man, oh man, oh man, is this easy with the stand mixer). Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.

(Or do like we did and stick it all in the freezer to use next week. We did this at Christmas time too. We made a batch and froze half the dough for 2 weeks. Then we had a second batch of fresh cookies when the first batch was gone.)

Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on sheets until firm in center and golden around edges. 350 F oven. About 6-10 minutes, ours take longer because we tend to use smaller cookie cutters and thicker dough.

This is a recipe we saved from the newspaper on December 1, 1999. The Chicago Tribune in case you are wondering. It is the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tried. (I intend to try Ami's easy recipe sometime soon).

In other news, I'm working all weekend. But this time, I'm not killing myself to get the work done. I can't say a lot, since it is work and blogging about your job can be a real no-no. I intend to work hard. I will attempt to meet the deadline (that was randomly picked, that's the part I can't go into). But I have a feeling if I go nuts, work tons of extra hours, ignore my family (yet again), I'll get it done then the person who is to review it and finalize it, will sit on it for a week or more anyway.

Not going to happen this time my friends. If I get my part done, working a reasonable amount of hours each week, great. If not. What are they going to do about it? I'm tired enough not to care. And I've got cookies to supervise the baking of.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Peanut Blossoms

I will work on posting all the recipes that Violet is making for the greyhound people. Since AmiMental requested one first, I'll start with Peanut Blossoms. We're going to make this dough tomorrow and stick it in the freezer. Then next week we can just thaw it out and bake the cookies. Pre-mixing and freezing will really help Violet get all the work done and still have time for the other things on her busy schedule like: reading, swinging, moving the cats from one room to another, playing with Littlest Pet Shops, and conquering the monkey bars on her swing set (she's gone from not wanting to climb all the way up the ladder to making it across in just a few short days).

Peanut Blossoms

1 -3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
2 T milk
1 t. vanilla
48 candy kisses

Combine all ingredients except candy in large mixer bowl. Mix on low until dough forms. Shape dough into balls (1 t. rounded each). Roll balls in sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 F for 10-12 mins. Top each with candy kiss immediately pushing it down into the cookie ball.

They are easy to do. And yummy.

Did I tell you Mr. Incredible and Violet got me a stand mixer for Mother's Day? Mr. I. swears it was so on sale it practically fell off the truck, then he got another mystery discout at checkout (from Amazon). He never did figure out what the extra percent off was for.

Anyway, I love my stand mixer. We made the sugar cookie dough today and man, oh man, I'm never going back to a hand mixer ever again. I'll stop eating first. Violet was able to do all the mixing all by herself. She made the dough completely on her own. The only thing she can't do is lift the mixer up onto the counter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bronze Award

Violet is working on her Girl Scout Bronze Award this year. She's completed her initial badge work and other requirements. She is now down to the final homestretch.

She is working with a greyhound adoption agency in the area to help them with their Memorial Day grounds cleanup and memorial service. Since spending 10 or more hours doing nothing but yard work would kill Violet (or so she'd have us all believe), we offered to have her make homemade snack goodies for the volunteers (as well as pulling a few weeds herself). When we offered food, my contact there (a co-worker from our day jobs) said YOU BET! WE LOVE FOOD! ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE! Okay, she didn't really shout (we were visiting her in our office), but she loved the idea. Actually she might have shouted the chocolate part, it was tax season and she works in the tax department.

Violet has finalized her snack menu:

  1. cucumber dip with crackers and raw veggies
  2. applesauce brownies
  3. sugar cookies (shaped like dogs, cats, and flowers)
  4. peanut butter blossom cookies (the peanut butter ones with the Hershey's kiss in them)
  5. trail mix
Violet has made her shopping list, and we've figured out how to transport the items and what kinds of disposable trays, bowls, etc. we'll need to take. (Before you earth crunchy mamas out there come after me...we fully intend to bring back the "disposable" serving items and reuse or at the very least recycle them. But you know how it goes when you take food somewhere, some helpful Hannah grabs anything empty and before you can say "landfill" has tossed it in the garbage and hauls it out. I don't want that happening to anything I own and intend to keep. I don't want to lose my "good" dishes. So we are buying a few trays and such that can disappear without worry.)

Violet's next step is to grocery shop. She is also making ingredient lists to post in case anyone has any dietary concerns. Full disclosure. Eat at your own risk.

Finally, she'll need to cook it all. I think she can do the sugar cookie dough early and freeze it. Then roll it out later. We usually do that at Christmas time. We'll need to figure out what else we can do early to keep the last day a little less hectic.

I think she's come up with a nice project. It will help out a good group of people doing good work. And it is something she is comfortable with. Of course, she's going to want to hide in a kennel with some doggies if anyone tries to complement her while we're there. She'd really rather just talk with the dogs than with humans. I think for the most part she likes them better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lucky Girl

Violet has been hunting clovers this spring, 4-leaf clovers. She'd never found one before, even after hours of hunting. She'd hunt in the park, at camp, in our yard. A few weeks ago she found her first one. She's been pressing it.

Then on Sunday she found 2 more in our backyard. Today I lost count of how many she found, 7, I think. She's planning on making them into a bookmark. We'll either laminate them or use clear sticky Contact paper, I'm not sure yet. Depends on whether or not I figure out how to use the lamination machine that sits in my office.

I told her this must mean she is going to have a terrific summer.

I'm secretly wondering though, why so many 4-leaf clovers all of a sudden. We've lived here 10 years and these are the first that have ever been found in our yard.

Was toxic waste spilled on our yard or has it seeped in?

Could it be all those Chemlawn chemicals our neighbors insist on putting on their lawns have worked their way to our lawn?

What has caused this sudden clover genetic mutation?

When I grow tomatoes that are shaped like pyramids and 4-foot long green beans I'll really worry.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh the head pain

Allergy season is here. Actually my nose has been running since the first of April. Last night I got this sharp pain in my head over my left eye. It came and went. I thought I'd worked too much yesterday at my computer. Well, I did, but I don't think that caused the pain. It was still there this morning. I took some Claritin and some Tylenol and it was better. The sharp pain hasn't come back, but I've had a headache most of the day.

Curse you beautiful flowering trees! Can't you keep your pollen to yourself?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Kick me while I'm down, why don't you?

We went to the camp open house today. I have lost most of my enthusiasm for this camp. The woman in charge asked everyone what session they were coming to, so she could customize things she was talking about (although there were only 5 families there the whole time we were there so it wasn't hard to customize). I said Girls Weekend Out. She manages to tell us how it is her least favorite weekend (well, no big surprise there a lot of the moms are pretty obnoxious, but she could sound more encouraging) and how we'll be spending the weekend going into town shopping and getting our nails done because "that's the only thing I can get you moms to do."

Excuse me? Now I knew there was a field trip to town scheduled. There's a big touristy town about 20 minutes away with galleries and ice cream places and antique shops. I am assuming it is a Saturday afternoon trip to the town. That's fine, a lot of camps do field trips. We'd rather stay at camp and do camp things but we thought we'd give it a try.

But to tell me that the only thing I'm willing to do is shop and get my nails done? I hate shopping in those tourist traps of towns. They are too crowded. They are too expensive. I can't stand the yuppie scum that goes there, pushing their gigantic baby strollers through the tiny stores, or stopping on the sidewalks to smoke. I've never in my life had my nails done professionally, I'm sure as hell not starting when I'm going to camp.

She said we moms wouldn't canoe. You can't get me out of a canoe until my arms fall off my shoulders. She said we wouldn't do archery. Hello, give me the bow and arrow and I'll do my best to shoot you with it (although I'll miss you by a mile, I love to try, I'm just no good). She said we wouldn't do the rappelling wall. I've never tried it before, but if there's ever a time to try something scary it is when you are with Girl Scouts.

I think we signed up for the wrong session. Sad thing is, it was the only multi-night choice for moms and daughters.

So who are these moms who like to go to camp so they can browse antique shops and get their nails done? And why on earth are they going to Girl Scout camp in the first place? We've met a few each session we go to. But I always assumed they don't go back after one miserable trip. There are always plenty of moms alongside me dragging our canoes through the mud, hiking through the mud, singing at the campfire, swimming and stomping through the creek having a grand time. We have seen several of the same moms and daughters session after session. Where are the going this summer and is it too late for us to sign up?

Violet hates being dragged through art galleries and antique shops and kitschy stores. (Don't other 9 to 12 year old girls? What do they do while their moms shop and get their nails done, other than vow never to bring their moms to camp ever again?) So when we left the camp we went to the town to scout it out. We found a river we could walk along. We can visit a couple of historic sites. And the one that I think has gotten Violet's vote: we found the public library.

So while I'm stressed and a bit down anyway, add to it tonight that now I'm going off to Girl Scout camp, just to go hang out at the library. Because apparently I'm a freak who actually likes to camp and therefore signs up to camp. I'm supposed to like to shop and have my nails done. I don't fit in anywhere.

I hope the weekend is better than I think it will be. Maybe some of our other friends from past camps will be there and we can find something better to do than get our freaking nails done. Good God what is wrong with people. I'll check out the library's website. Maybe there will be some sort of program we can sign up for there. I guess sitting in the air conditioned library, in comfy chairs, reading books all afternoon won't be all bad. Probably better than listening to moms whine about getting mud on their shoes, if these women who go to this camp really are that bad.

Stay tuned, I'll post in June about when Freakmom and Freakkid go to camp and actually expect to camp there.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good news, but still stressed

The big secret announcement was that no one was being cut in our department. We've had 5 people leave in the last year, and that has saved us from having involuntary cuts made. That's good. But gosh, they are slowly killing the rest of us with these scary e-mails and surprise meetings.

I am still stressed. I have more work to do than ever. I know, that's good. But I just can't get it all done. But I have to get it all done.

I wasn't really worried that my job was going to be cut. My big fear was that this morning's announcement would be my boss is taking a leave of absence. Her husband's been sick and I was worried she would take time for that. Nothing good ever happens when she is off for a month or more. She's had to take two medical related leaves in the past 6 years and people lose their jobs each time. She really does look out for us.

But no, which is good. I like her husband, he's a big goof and they are fun together. I'm glad my worst fear was completely off base.

But the work for healthcare keeps pouring in. So we are as busy as ever. And I'm still as tired as ever. In just another couple of weeks we'll declare 4th grade over and that will help a lot. I'm just not quite ready to say she's done for the summer.

I'd like to say let's take a break and start back up in July. But that won't happen. The other kids will be off and there will be no way we'll get started again.

I can't work much tomorrow, I'll have to work on Sunday. Tomorrow we are going to the open house at the Girl Scout camp that we've never been to. We're scheduled to go to Girl's Weekend Out, moms and daughters only, in June. I'll talk to the trees at camp tomorrow and stare at the river or lake (not sure what they have). That will relax me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


About 4 o'clock this afternoon my brain shut down. If I were a Windows PC, I'd be a blue screen right now. I may be able to get my brain rebooted in the morning. I'm not sure. My hard drive may be permanently inaccessible. I'll start at the beginning.

You all know how I've been burning the candle at both ends since January. I'm always busy this time of year. I work for an accounting firm. It is the nature of the beast. This year I've been working extra hours. Mr. Incredible got a 25% pay decrease as of February 1st. At least he still has a job. At least I've been able to bring in more money. But it is slowly killing me.

This morning I was having a terrible time coping. I get like this every couple of weeks. I just can't handle anything more. Then the IT department wanted to access my laptop to do some sort of hardware and software inventory. Let me just say, this isn't as easy as it sounds. Mr. I. doesn't want my work issued Windows PC anywhere near his Mac network. He set me up with a very narrow passage through the firewall to access the internet, but it makes it almost impossible for the IT department to connect back. The IT guy was really nice and said he'd try to think of another solution so he could do his inventory.

I was fighting back tears trying to get through the day. This whole work issued laptop causes me all sorts of anxiety. Mr. I. has extremely strong opinions that are directly opposite of our IT department head. And our IT department head is very difficult to work with. He won't listen to me. He won't answer my questions. He just gives me orders and scolds me in e-mails which he cc's my boss. I was doing just fine until he decided I needed to do my job differently right at the beginning of the year. The frustrating part is, he doesn't even know what I do. He keeps making incorrect assumptions and won't listen to me. Oh yeah, he will be a subject I will bring up in my annual review this summer, provided I make it to it.

Anyway, I was more stressed than usual. Violet and I did some quiet school work, and that helped. I was feeling better by mid afternoon.

Then we got the first e-mail. My boss is calling an emergency department update meeting tomorrow morning. Anyone who can't make it should contact her for an alternate time for the update. I said I am actually scheduled to be at my senior manager's house during that time tomorrow working on a project with her. (Yes, another stress factor, I had to cut into homeschool time to make the requested trip to her house). I asked if senior manager could update me. Boss has arranged to tell us both the update while we are meeting tomorrow.

What could this update be that the senior manager doesn't know about. I have a few guesses. None of them are good.

But wait, there's more.

About 4:00 pm, the human resource manager sends out an e-mail to the whole firm announcing 4 more positions that have been eliminated. Yes, a nice way to say they fired 4 more people today. Including the IT guy I was working with this morning.

Now, tax season just ended. It is very common for firings to come at the end of tax season. But the 4 who were let go, aren't the ones you'd normally see gone. Usually there are a few first years who didn't work out. Or interns they aren't asking back. Or maybe someone who's been there 2 or 3 years that they've decided aren't promotable. These 4 have been there for quite a while. The IT guy must have been there over 15 years, he was there when I started.

Well, that's why my brain isn't working tonight. I just don't know what to think. I can't think. I can't work right now. I hope to be able to reboot by the time I get to my senior manager's house in the morning so I can be productive and get in and out of there.

Hopefully, with my job still intact.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Taking care of business

I got lots of little things off my to do list today.

I finalized the program for the Money Sense badge workshop I stumbled into doing this summer. I sent it all to Council for their review. I expect there will be changes.

I sent in our request for seats for next year's school day theater performances. We're only going to 5 shows next year. We've been to 9 shows each of the last 2 years. There wasn't as much on the list that we wanted to see next year.

I cleaned the bathrooms.

I washed my dress that I wore to the adult volunteer dinner. It is supposed to be dry clean only. I had planned to hand wash it. I decided the heck with it today and tossed it in the washing machine. It seems to have survived. My mom always says you shouldn't coddle your dry clean only clothes. They'll get needy and expect it all the time. We both wear a lot of cotton.

I got some answers for work and passed them along to people. That's the bad thing about being a "healthcare research specialist," people actually expect you to find answers for them.

I cleaned the angel food cake pan to use in lieu of a Bundt cake pan on Friday. I want the Pillsbury Tunnel of Fudge cake for Mother's Day. We're going to give it a try. If you happen to know that it will fail miserably if we use any other kind of tube pan instead of a Bundt pan, please don't tell me. I've torn the basement apart searching for the Bundt pan. I can't find it.

We have a growing list of missing items. I think we must have had a break in. We are missing: one yellow Bundt cake pan, a 35 year old paperback copy of "Charlotte's Web," the recipe for a s'more cake (although Mother Mayhem did provide a substitute for that one), a Littlest Pet Shop sticker (which we may or may not actually own, don't you love searches like that?), and the red post-it flags I use to indicate Girl Scout registrations paid by credit card in my volunteer position as registrar.

Any theories on who our robber was? A culinary bibliophile with a love of sticky things?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Here I go disappearing again

I know you are all dying to know what I've been up to and where I've been. Sorry about my absence. I did try to blog one night but was having internet issues and I quickly gave up. I know I could have written an entry and posted the next day. Well, I thought of that the next day. Not when it would have been helpful. I'm slow sometimes.

We took Friday off and spent the day with my folks. My mom and Violet worked on doll clothes for Violet's favorite doll. This doll was actually mine when I was a girl. Made for me by the aunt who Violet is named after, well middle named after. My dad took me out to the wood shop of a friend of his. My dad is a carpenter and wood worker, so I've grown up surrounded by fine woodworking. But man oh man, his friend's work blew my socks off. He's been to classes around the country and has earned the degree Master Woodworker. Dad wanted me to see these spice cabinets he makes. The were fabulous! I'd love to have one. He sells them over over $3000 a piece. I'm not getting one. :grin: He does wood inlay. I can't describe it, just know it was fine art.

But I did get a bag of asparagus that he picked while we were there. He also picked us some rhubarb. I traded my mom all the rhubarb for all the asparagus. We grilled the asparagus over the weekend. She made strawberry rhubarb pie.

Most of the weekend I worked. I had so much to do. And I knew I'd be busy this week so I didn't want anything left over to do.

Yesterday I spent the morning running errands, then we did some school work, then Violet had swim lessons. One of my errands was to go to the Girl Scout council office to pick up a set of flags and a parachute and toys. Today was our big park date with the Juliettes. Our Daisy friend was bridging to Brownies.

We got to the park and low and behold there was a big preschool in the area with the shelter that we'd hoped to be in. We scouted out a smaller park area with tables that was empty and set up shop there. We ate our lunches, then tried our hand at a flag ceremony. It was the first one for most of the girls. And my first one to lead. We did okay. But it could use some work. It did accomplish its goal: to introduce everyone to flag ceremonies so they'll have some clue what to do at one.

We didn't have a bridge handy, so we decided to have "Sunshine" bridge to Brownies by crossing the play equipment and sliding down the slide to Brownies. It was fun. I brought the girls cut flowers. It wasn't formal, it was rather silly, it was unorganized, it was fun. Just what all the families involved really want.

Since I was getting the flags at the Council office, I decided I should get something else too, so I had checked out the small parachute and a box of toys for it. It was a 12 foot parachute and we couldn't have handled a bigger one. We played games with it and tossed the toys around on it. Violet got really upset that one of the things in the toy box was a set of 6 stuffed owls to bounce. She thought the owls did not like bouncing one bit. But put the puff balls on it and she was fine.

I was pleased that Violet did pretty good at the park. She had a meltdown about the kids crowding her on the play equipment. But she wore her sash (none of the other girls had theirs this time) and she participated in the flag ceremony. She talked while we were eating lunch. And she played the animal charade parachute game: one girl gets picked at a time to cross under the parachute acting out an animal. Violet was a cat, a kangaroo and a gold fish. She picked gold fish on the last round when the girls each picked their own animal to be. She even went "bloop, bloop, bloop" across.

When we left (already exhausted) we drove 45 minutes to the Council office to return the stuff, then went to the library before coming home. Violet asked to take a relaxing bath when we got home (she'd gotten a bit muddy at the park). She was in the tub for an hour.

We're getting ready for bed now, exhausted, but with a couple of days off coming up now.