Friday, July 24, 2009

Gosh, how time flies!

I can't believe it has been nearly a week since I posted! I wasn't that busy, I'm not sure why I haven't updated. I'll try to catch you up.

On Monday night Violet had her first night of level 4 swimming lessons. In this level she will start to work on swimming strokes and speed for swim team. Now, she's unlikely to ever be on a swim team. Competing like that just isn't in her personality. Of course, she's welcome to if she wants. But I do see her lap swimming for exercise. She'll be learning butterfly stroke, flip turns and improving her front crawl, backstroke and breast stroke. Not bad for a kid who could barely dog paddle back in March!

Anyway, she's the only one in her class for now. Others may join. Still others may take it as a make up session. Her instructor told her that a lot of kids drop out after level 3. Well, I think maybe she meant the parents pull them out. They have become pretty darned good swimmers by the end of level 3. Violet spent the whole car ride home (okay, it is less than 10 minutes) telling me all the things Miss Emily told her to improve her strokes and speed. I'd say she likes it.

On Tuesday afternoon she had a homeschool friend over. They had lunch and played in the pool. Then they gave their American Girl dolls new hair styles. Don't worry, the dolls didn't get cuts or change their hair color.

Wednesday I had my yearly eye appointment. I go to the eye doctor back home. I really like him. After years of different eye doctors I decided I really preferred him. So I went back. Now he's in semi-retirement. I saw the pretty, young, blonde eye doctor who is taking over. (My dad had gone in there the week before me, and apparently he didn't mention the pretty, young or blonde part to my mom. Tee hee.) Violet hung out with my mom. My dad offered to drive me so that I wouldn't have to hang around with dilated eyes unable to drive home. I was really glad he did. The eye doctor's office is at a shopping mall, but it stinks when you can really browse because everything is blurry. We had lunch together before the appointment and coffee afterward. It was a nice afternoon. Well, as nice as it can be with eye dilation and a glaucoma test.

The good news: the eyes are healthy and no change in the contact prescription. The bad news: I need reading glasses. I have trouble seeing small print in dim light. If I can turn the light on real bright I'm fine. Once I thought I was going to light my menu on fire trying to read it in a dim restaurant by holding it up the candle. At the Girl Scout award dinner I went to I couldn't read the card that was with my thank you gift from our Director of Product Sales. Thank goodness I didn't get home in bright light and find out it said, "by accepting this gift you have agreed to volunteer at blah blah blah." It said some sap about volunteers are the heart of Girl Scouting. Dodged a bullet there.

But now I will be able to whip out my reading glasses and find out what those little cards and menus say. The eye doctor didn't try to sell me reading glasses, just said to pick up some 1.0 strength at the drug store. Violet went with me today and I found a cute pair of red rimmed glasses. I'll post a picture of me in them for you all to see. Can't do it now, I'm already in my jammies.

And now, the big news. I am a winner! Yes, AmiMental held a contest at her blog and raffled off some tie dye items. I won a pair of the socks! I'm so excited. When they arrive I'll post a picture of them as well. Thanks again Mental!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What happened to summer?

The last 3 days it has been unseasonably cold. No pool time. Capris instead of shorts. Heck, I've even worn a jacket.

Yesterday was Violet's birthday party. She invited 2 girlfriends for an afternoon of mini golf and ice cream. I had been worried it would be really hot. It didn't break 70 and even sprinkled on us. It was a nice time. I really like the course we went to. It is owned by the park district of a neighboring town. They have 2 mini golf courses. If you play one, you can immediately play the second for only $1 more. We did all 36 holes. The total price for 2 adult and 3 kids? $33. Yep. It is cheap fun.

We went to an ice cream place that sings at you if they find out it is your birthday. I think Violet was going to disown me. She HATES that. And since it was too cold and windy and rainy to open presents outside at the golf place we did it inside and she got sung at. She had pleaded to open them in the car. I think she would have been willing to return them rather than go through that. Poor kid, took her a few minutes to stop crying and regain her composure.

Today we ran errands in the morning and I worked in the afternoon. Tomorrow I just have a little work left to do. Not sure what to do with myself when I have free time.

The birthday party had been the last scheduled event of the summer. Of course more things come up, but I'm hoping to keep it to a minimum. Violet has a girlfriend coming over on Tuesday. Wednesday she is going to my folks while I see the eye doctor for my year contact prescription update. I'll visit there too before and after, so it will be a full day. And of course, Monday night is her first night at her new swim lesson level.

Tonight? I'm taking it easy for a change.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Spirits lifted

I've been dragging around. I haven't felt super good. Work has held a lot of icky projects for me. The neighbor kid has been visiting a lot. Then yesterday, I made a mistake at work that will haunt me for a while. I said something snarky about a client in e-mail. The e-mail was then forwarded to someone in her organization. It likely won't get back to her, and if it does I have my cover story of what "meant" to say and well, we all know how things get misinterpreted in writing, etc. But I still felt awful about it. I know better. I'd like to be made at the person who forwarded it, but still it falls to me I wrote the comment in the first place and know better.

Sidebar: The snarky comment was true. Most people in her organization would probably agree with it. Hopefully the guy won't even read that far down and if he does not think anything of it.

Anyway, I was on hold this morning with a government agency, waiting for what I knew would be no help at all, but for what was a necessary hoop to jump through, when I got the best IM ever! My dear friend Mother Mayhem popped up and said her trucker hubby had recently had a trip to my town. And the best part, he might have to come back again. And if/when he does, she and Sweetums will ride with so we can all meet up for lunch/visiting/chatting/hugging!

I'm so excited! Just the prospect of it is delightful! I so hope it comes off!

And it lifted my spirits so much! Just the thought that a friend would travel 700 or 800 miles (I'm guessing here, don't want to look it up, let's say an even "lot" of miles) just to have lunch with me and family! Well, I'm all dancing in the clouds now!!!

Happy dancing all the day through....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tie dye photos

I don't know how well my photos will post. If you can't get a good enough view, well, you'll just have to stop over for some coffee (or iced tea or wine, your pick) and see them in person!

Here's the front, Violet's is on the left, mine is on the right:

And the backs (same order):

I like the look of the tie dye on the light yellow. Violet isn't quite sure yet. We don't know any fancy methods. I just randomly twist and rubber band. Violet did a lot of dribbling and splattering dye on the untied shirt. My next one will be light blue.

I guess I'm in a tie dye sort of mood. I volunteered to set up a Sharpie marker and rubbing alcohol faux tie dye station at our company picnic. I didn't really want to go to the picnic. But I figure in this economy, being seen is important. And if Mr. I. wants to market his new company with any of my coworkers, what better opportunity will there be.

Well, this year the picnic is on a budget. We're all being asked to volunteer to either arrive early and set up, stay late and clean up or help with activities. I don't want to go early. I don't want to be stuck there. So I offered to do a craft with the kids and suggested the aforementioned faux tie dye. I have the supplies, people would just need to bring something to do it on. I'll try to have some plain white material cut into neat squares on hand in case any of the kids want to try but don't have a shirt or bandana or pillow case to use. Best not to make a partner's kid or grandkid cry you know.

But the committee might not like my idea. The first year I worked there I was on the picnic committee. I suggested horse shoes as an activity. I was told no one plays horse shoes. Every picnic I'd ever been to had tons of people playing horse shoes. "Well, these people don't play horse shoes." I guess "these people" are North Suburban Chicagoans. Or maybe accountants. I don't know. All I know is when they disbanded the picnic committee and had just one person take over the whole thing (the one who said they don't play horse shoes, by the way) I wasn't sad. And every time since I've been to a picnic and seen people playing horse shoes I've felt a little sad for those poor Northsiders (or maybe accountants) who've never gotten to play this fun game.

Let me tell you that did nothing for my feeling like a fish out of water at that company. I'd moved to the suburbs from small, country towns for the first time and I was constantly getting lost and not understanding things. You'd never guess what a difference 90 miles can make but boy oh boy the Northern Chicago Suburbs are nothing like Northern Illinois small towns.

This is the first year we've had a picnic in a while. And the first picnic committee in years (how things come full circle). For the last few summers they've gone to Arlington Race Track to bet on the horses. You had to dress up and there were separate activities located elsewhere for the kids. We said no thank you. We'd like Violet to stay with us and we don't gamble. In the years before that we had the picnic at a zoo (the best!) and a wild west town enactment place. We also had the picnic at a park and had use of the pool before it opened. I was bummed there was no pool this year. Budget Picnic. Back to us planning it.

I'll do a craft with the kids (preferable to making small talk with the partners and their spouses). But I won't join the picnic committee again.

No horse shoes? Really?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camp photos

I know you've all been dying to see our camp photos, so I'm posting a few tonight. I think I still haven't recovered from camp. I'm tired, achy, have a bit of a headache. I wonder if it is West Nile from all those mosquitoes. Or Lyme disease from the ticks at Camp Icky (we didn't actually see any ticks, they just kept screaming at us to wear our hats at all times because the place practically rained ticks). Maybe I can sue Camp Icky.


These are in no particular order, that seems to hard tonight.

Here's Violet painting rocks. She loves to paint rocks. Or anything for that matter, except walls. I've tried. Sorry Fatcat, if she'd do walls, I'd loan her to you for a weekend.

This camp has a cool corn maze, it was pretty tall at points. We found our way out in about 25 minutes. That was about average.

Here's Violet in our tent with all her toys. She loves to have lots of company in bed. Funny story, in the middle of the night she wakes me up, "Mama, I'm ready to go back to the tent." Um, we are in the tent. "I want to go back to the tent now." We can't get any more in the tent than we are. Then silence. I asked her about it the next day. She said she was dreaming that we were sleeping out under the stars. Not sure where she got that from, she's never done that yet.

Outside our tent. We had the whole thing to ourselves. I think it was bigger than an apartment Mr. Incredible and I had in college.

Here's me at the tent.

Me hiking around camp.

And Violet being artsy.

She took a lot of artsy photos this time. There are shadows and trees and sunbeams. I need to find her a photography contest to enter. She's pretty good. When I try to be artsy I get weird. She gets cool.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We went to swim lesson as usual tonight. When we got there the nice lady that runs the office stopped us and said that after tonight they were promoting Violet to level 4! In her next level she'll learn flip turns, dolphin kicks, butterfly arms, and even start diving! I'm probably more excited that she is. Actually, I'm sure I am, she will have to switch to a new instructor. We asked and her current teacher doesn't have any level 4 classes. But I think she'll like the new girl a lot, she's also young and enthusiastic and seems very nice.

I am happy that we were able to keep the lessons on Monday nights, she'll just go an hour later. I'm actually happy about that too. Her classes had been during the same time as the baby class. Which was fine, but it made for a more crowded pool and locker room with all the babies and the moms in there. (There are a few dads too, but they didn't fill up the ladies' locker room, tee hee.)

Violet has just made incredible strides in her swimming. She could barely doggy paddle when she started in early March and now she's swimming like a fish. And next week she'll start swimming like a dolphin!

In other news, yes I did download the pictures from the camera. No, I haven't posted them. I will, I will. And a shout out thanks to Ami Mental who I turned to today for tie dye advice. I couldn't remember what to do with our shirts once we rinsed out the dye. I'll get photos of those taken and posted too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Finally, we have a winner!

Violet and I returned home from camp this evening. Exhausted but excited. We had a wonderful time. To recap, two weeks ago we went to a Girls Weekend Out at a camp over two hours away. The staff hated the weekend and hated us being there. Practically ruined camp for Violet forever. She was talking of never going again after this last trip we were signed up for.

This time we were at camp only one night, for Family Night. There were moms, dads, grandparents, brothers, and even a baby brother there. It was at the camp I grew up going to. The camp was about an hour and fifteen minutes away (only half as far as Camp Icky), on a route I'm very familiar with. It rained all morning Friday and threatened to keep it up. We were a bit worried.

But it didn't rain or storm. The sky cleared up and we had wonderful weather. There were some showers overnight long after we were tucked snugly in our cots in our platform tent. There were about 50 campers there and probably 15 staff members. We had our own tent and lots of room it in.

The staff was all working over the weekend (not understaffed like the previous experience because they'd miscounted how many of us would be there). Plus they had six CITs (counselors-in-training, high school girls who've attended camp many years and were spending two weeks there shadowing the counselors and learning what it really takes to be a counselor). All the staff from the camp director on down to the CITs were so warm and welcoming. They seemed excited that we were there. A few counselors had their families there (a pair of brothers drove one poor counselor batty the whole time). Even the camp director's parents were there.

There were so many activities to choose from, we couldn't possibly do it all. Violet was in the pool 3 times, did arts and crafts, tie dyed, went on the "adventure hike" (proclaimed her favorite thing in our evaluation), visited the trading post, did the corn maze and even had her finger nails painted.

Side note: remember the last camp when we were told the only thing we moms want to do at camp was shop and have our nails done? Well, it turns out we do enjoy those things (I'm currently typing with purple fingernails), but when we can choose to do it and have a ton of other options as well.

Violet had a blast. Sure, she was nervous last night in the tent. And she got a bit overwhelmed just after lunch when she wanted to call it quits. But she did great and it paid off. It is a really great camp and really well run and a super program. I think we'll be back again next year.

We took a bunch of photos and I'll post some tomorrow. But I wanted to let you all know we were back and we're camping again! Violet is even thinking more about trying a short trip on her own. She hasn't done much in the way of sleepovers yet, she's just not ready, so we'll see about camp. But there's no rush. There are always older girls at the family style weekends. Violet can go on her own if and when she's ready. And honestly, she isn't quite ready yet. But that just means I get to go a while longer.

And since she had fun again, I won't have to borrow a kid to take with me next summer. I think she'll go back with me to Family Night again. But we won't go back to Camp Icky.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The week thus far

We've been keeping busy this week. I've had a lot going on at work. I'm glad, the hours are welcome. I just wish I could figure out a way to get paid for a lot of hours without actually working a lot of hours. (Insert your own teacher/civil servant/other profession joke here.)

One of the managers resigned on Monday. I'm sorry to see her go. She's good. She's nice. But....they will need someone to take over some of her assignments. There is a hiring freeze on, but I've heard that they will have to hire someone new for our department. But that's never very quick and who knows, depending on who they hire, they may still need me to pick up more hours.

Which has me I try to make the switch from part-time to full-time? See if they'll hire me? That would throw a huge wrench into homeschooling and probably not allow us to continue. (Yes, I know others work full-time and homeschool. But, I know my don't. I know my don't. Don't judge me without knowing the full situation.) With Mr. I. still working full-time and starting up his own company, he doesn't have much free time at all.

The timing is just off by about a year. Maybe less. That and I really don't want to. But the income potential is good. It is tempting.

Good news, sort of. Mr. I's company's lease is up at the end of this month. I've been figuring that might be when they fold. But he just said they were looking to sublet part of an office from another company. We may have a few more months of salary and health insurance.

Friday morning I have to leave early for an all-employee meeting at work. It is about an hour and a half drive. Then I have to come home, change, eat lunch, pack the car and Violet and drive an hour and a half the other direction to our second camping trip of the summer. It is going to be a long day.

This session is an overnight. We enjoyed it last year, except for the weather. Guess what is predicted for this year? The same: heat, humidity and storms. I told Violet the only thing I want to do at camp is tie dye our shirts. She can pick all other activities. If she wants she can pick to hang out at the pool the entire day Saturday. She just might.

We arrive Friday night, have dinner, s'mores, then a night swim. Then after breakfast the next morning we pick from a bunch of activities. We have lunch, then pick more activities. Then we head home. Nice, huh? We think so.

Relaxing by the pool all morning and afternoon certainly does have a certain appeal.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another week

I worked all weekend. Well, Saturday and Sunday. I took Friday off. It was Violet's birthday. She's 10, can you believe it? I can't.

We went to the zoo for her birthday. It was a madhouse there. We've never seen it so packed. We got to do some of the things we wanted to, but plan to go back in a couple of weeks to get the rest of it in. We have a zoo membership so we don't have to pay entrance fees.

After the zoo we stopped at Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner. Violet likes getting a table in the trolley car. We don't go there often because it is about 45 minutes away, but it is on the way to the zoo.

This week is moderately busy. Violet has her swim lesson tonight. Tomorrow we're meeting one of the other homeschool Juliettes and her mom so the girls can work on their Consumer Power badge. The other mom arranged a tour and talk at a locally owned bookstore. They are going to do a couple more comparison shopping requirements together afterward.

Friday I have to go to an all employee meeting in the morning (maybe they'll say something about bonuses). Then I need to get home, load the car, get Violet and head out for our second (and last) camping trip of the summer. This is just one night, much closer to our house and no nasty Big Wig.

There are a few other things here and there too, but hopefully the week will go smoothly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The economy still sucks

Got my bonus check today. It is half of what it was last year. I've worked at least as many hours, solved as many crises, pulled their butts out of the fan as many times, and got my bonus slashed in half. The letter said they were sorry that bonuses couldn't be as much as in the past.

How the hell is that my fault? You know, that's what really has been getting my knickers in a bunch. We waited to buy a house until we could afford one. We got a fixed rate mortgage and refinanced to another fixed rate mortgage. We've followed the rules and worked our asses off. And what do we get for it? Kicked in the balls.

Meanwhile the bigwigs who have screwed us all? Where are they? Are they wondering how they will pay for health insurance when they lose it? Are they wondering if their next paycheck will clear the bank and just how many more there will be?

What about those morons who bought houses they couldn't afford? Yes, I know the sleaze mortgage companies talked them into it, but guess what? You are grown ups and needed to take responsibility for yourself and your finances. I don't feel sorry for you if you've lost your house when your balloon payment came due or your interest rate suddenly shot up. You signed the paperwork and agreed to it. It isn't my fault, and yet here I am suffering the consequences.

Yes, I'm feeling sorry for myself today. And feeling pissed off. I've got a boat load of work to do this weekend, this holiday weekend, and now have to wonder why I bother. Why do I drop everything when they get themselves in a jam? Why do I go above and beyond? Why do I care? And how long will it take me to work my bonus back up to where it should have been? It got majorly cut when I went from full-time to part-time, but I worked harder and after about 8 years, was finally getting a decent bonus every year. Is this a one-time cut, or will it take me another 8 years to see a decent check again?

I know, I know, at least I still have a job. But dammit, I should still have a job, I've done nothing wrong.