Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day

We weren't going to start school until after Labor Day. We had decided that before we realized how late Labor Day is this year. I was going to stick to that. I made a promise. I don't like to go back on things school related.

Then today Violet was bored out of her gourd. She drove me crazy. Which wasn't hard to do because I feel downright awful today. I've been having stomach pains, I'm achy and I'm tired. Could be the flu. Could be bad shrimp fried rice at the outlet mall on Saturday. Could be allergies, mold counts have been through the roof. Or could be fatigue.

Anyway, I ended up yelling at her this afternoon. Felt bad about that. We sat and read outloud later. That's what we always do when we get mad at each other. Cool off, then read together. On the drive to swim lessons I suggested we start school tomorrow, September 1st, instead of waiting. She agreed. That's how bored she was.

I told her it made sense that she was bored. She'd been off since before Memorial Day. Her best friend, Red went back 2 weeks ago and hasn't been around to play. The weather really cooled off so we're taking the pool down early (that and it turned green and we couldn't clear the darned thing up again). I promised a light week to start with.

So when we got home I made up her school list for the rest of the week. Instead of math books her math assignment this week is to do the Math Whiz Badge. Next week she can do the Puzzlers Badge. I didn't think we needed to start out crazy.

Cutting this short to get to bed. First I'm going to have a bowl of Cheerios. That sounds good to my stomach. Normally I'd have a glass of wine and some sort of nuts (honey roasted peanuts are my favorite, but cashews and mixed nuts are always good, also a cajun flavored trail mix - yum!) But tonight my stomach says plain and simple.

I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow. I hate plain and simple. I want my late night snackies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not as crabby

I'm better tonight. A few things have worked themselves out.

I forgot to tell you what I did at the Girl Scout dinner the other night. It was kind of cool. Remember Camp Icky and all the problems we had there? Well, at my table was a teenaged girl who'd been to that camp too. I asked if the camp director had gone around in flip flops while she was there. The girl hadn't noticed actually. But who was seated at my table and got to hear some of my stories about the poorly run camp at the Council we're merging with? Our long time Director of Programming. Who happens to have had started out as a camp director way back when. Now, her job is up in the air along with everyone else's there, but I'd say she was a pretty darned good person to have heard about it. Plus she likes me. I've put together a couple of badge workshops in a box for them.

Too bad the new CEO wasn't at my table too.

By the way, the other girl didn't care for camp either, but it sounded like she just didn't like resident camp all that much. She did do the rappelling wall while she was there. I told her I was impressed. I didn't even try.

So, people are still being morons, but I'm working behind the scenes to change things as always. I didn't actually kill any morons today, but I'm making no promises about tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


That is the only word that can be used to describe my mood today. Crabby. It isn't my fault. People are being especially annoying lately. And previously normal people have morphed into morons.

Last night was the training dinner for Girl Scout's Fall Product Sale (you know the one where I'll be hitting you all up for e-mail and snail mail addresses to get the magazine pitch sent to - the one where Violet earns patches for e-mails and mailings sent, in addition to sales). I was asked to arrive at 6, the dinner started at 7. I was to help set up. Fine. I'm looking at this year as my swan song in Girl Scout volunteering. The last year of anything major as a volunteer. Why not?

I get there at 6, everything is already set up. There is nothing to do for an hour. I stood around talking to one of the program specialists at council and got a bunch of great leads on where to rent kayaks and take lessons. (She says I don't need to bother with lessons if I'm experienced in a canoe.) Great info. Nice gal to talk to, really fun person. Worth getting there an hour early? Probably not. I think she's saying the same thing about me. Why were we there so early? We could have been home with our families.

Dinner is nice, it is a nice restaurant. Oh and I got to meet the new CEO of the realigned council. Seems nice enough, but I don't trust her. Not yet.

After dinner the guy from the magazine, candy/nut company does his thing. He covers everything I'm supposed to later in the evening. I get cut from the program. I'm not a Fall Product Chair person. The only sales I'll be involved in are Violet's. I don't need to be there. Three hours later, I'm home. The only good thing was that I snagged some magazines they had there. Not the current issues, but ones I didn't have and want to read. But, I could have gotten them at the library.

Can you say crabby?

I won't go into all the ways my family has been annoying me lately. You know how families are. Underfoot, in the way and doing it all wrong!

I keep feeling like I am going in circles with things because people are morons and can't figure it out the first time. It was rainy and dreary all day.

Another example: Violet wanted to do a science kit today. I told her to go pick one out (we have a small stockpile). I must remember to read the instructions first. We used most of the eggs in the house and ended up making brownies after one cracked prematurely in the experiment. I figured I could use the chocolate, the egg was perfectly good, just not for the experiment. Yes, next time I must read the instructions before signing on.

Yes, I'm crabby. Maybe a glass of wine and a good night's sleep will help. Maybe I'll go moron hunting in the morning.

Or maybe I should just go out and rent a kayak tomorrow afternoon and paddle my cares away.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planning 5th Grade

We'll be starting school in just a few short weeks (and sneaking in some learning between now and then) so it was time this weekend to get planning.

First our subjects are divided into "core classes" and "enhancement classes" (title groupings lovingly stolen from Wendy).

Core classes:

  • Math - Key to series
  • Science - Young Scientist Kits, and various other books
  • Grammar - Editor in Chief
  • Writing Assignments that we make up
  • Literature - reading on her own and out loud, plus Novel Thinking Charlotte's Web and Reading Detective
  • Spelling - to be determined, probably just with the writing assignments
  • Building Thinking Skills
  • A History of US
  • Magic Tree House studies (made up by us, she reads the book, the research guide, another book on the subject, then does a project of her choosing)
Enhancement classes:

  • Latin - Latin Minimus, followed by Secondus
  • Cooking and other life skills
  • Art - various art projects and studies of artists
  • Music - listening to music and studies of composers
  • Girl Scout badges, etc.
  • Which Way USA books - since we still have some lying around
  • PE - swim lessons and other
  • Camera Skills - she and Mr. I. plan to study their cameras and the instruction manuals and learn lots of cool things about photography

Each Sunday Violet will be given the week's list of work. She can schedule it however she'd like (except of course things outside our control like swim lessons). She'll have until the following Saturday to complete it. She'll have a set amount of core classes to complete (x pages of math, y chapters in history, etc.) and a suggested amount of enhancement work (for example, pick 3 of the following 5 activities).

Most stuff we'll work together on still, leaning towards more independent work. Magic Tree House studies will be more independent. She'll read the books on her own, Mr. I or I will help her choose a project (art project, writing assignment, science experiment, etc.) and she will do it as independently as possible. For the book about volcanoes (Vacation Under the Volcano) she's already said she wants to build a volcano since she hasn't done that in a long time.

I'm pretty excited about the new school year. I think it will be a good one. We have a lot planned, but not so overwhelmingly much like I've tried to do in the past. I think the lean towards independence will be a good one.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eyes on Management

For the first time in my career, I am setting my sights on a promotion. I was moving along in my career at the normal rate when I had Violet and went part time. That put the brakes on things. I didn't want a promotion. I didn't want to be a manager or have more responsibility. I could barely handle everything I was doing as it was.

Then the last 2 weeks happened. I've been thrown into the supervisory and mentoring fray due to some recent resignations. As I was doing it all (some willingly, some because I had to), I got to thinking, why aren't I a manager? I'm doing all this anyway?

This morning I was talking to my boss and told her I'd like to set up a meeting with her and our HR person and whoever else should be involved and discuss what I need to do to get that promotion. What would the company expect from me, 1. to be promoted and 2. to keep that position.

My boss said she was very excited that I was interested in pursuing this path. I think that is a very good sign. She's traveling next week (Violet is petsitting her cat), but when she gets back she is going to talk to HR and the other partners in our department then set up a meeting with me in early September.

Now this could be a long process. The partners all have to approve anything as big as a promotion to manager. It is a big deal at my firm. And they announce promotions in January to be effective the following July. I am probably way too late to make the cut for next year. But at least I'm getting the ball rolling.

And it could very well be, I sit down with them and hear what is needed and say WHOA, I can't do that! Not right now at least. But at least I'll know.

And yes, I'd still be working part-time and mostly from home. In my version anyway, that's what I'd need to see about. There have been other part-time managers. They haven't all worked out that well, but I've impressed most with my work-from-home capabilities so I am hopeful. And my company is big on workplace flexibility, so I think I stand a chance.

So keep your fingers crossed for me. I'd love to be able to fast track this for next year. But I'm not counting on it at all.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

They did it to me again!

Some of my long time readers will remember me complaining about the not-for-profit theater we go to for school day performances not properly crediting my payments to my account. Well, they did it again this year. Three years in a row I've been notified that I haven't paid. Three years in a row, I have paid. I sent them the listing of shows, amounts, and the check number that I included with my check. With it I told them the date my check cleared my account: nearly 2 months ago!

The general manager will pass the information along to the business office and confirm back to me that my account has been corrected.

This time when she does, she's getting the sales pitch. I want to have one of the partners from my firm put in a bid to fully review their business office procedures. They are required to have external auditors file the financial statements every year, but obviously they aren't getting any internal business office problems fixed. If they are even finding any. And obviously they have problems.

They've messed with the wrong homeschool mom for three years running.

I doubt anything will come of this, but it would be cool if it did. I could be up for a commission. But I know it won't. But I'm still going to try.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I did not drink the Kool-Aid

Last night I was supposed to go to a Girl Scout Delegate meeting at the Council office. I didn't go. Officially, I had to work late. And I did. I've been working non-stop since Sunday. I've already worked 30 hours this week, and I'm not done yet. And I'm part-time.

Anyway, about the meeting. It is the meeting where the volunteer delegates go and vote on whatever the board of directors has already decided. Doesn't matter what we think, we aren't given a choice. We vote yes. I didn't need to deal with that on top of the other stuff I had going on. And you know what? The Girl Scout police didn't show up at my door.

We are just starting our realignment. It isn't looking to be pretty. For those of you who don't have green blood, realignment is the merging together of councils by an order from GSUSA in New York. We have 4 councils merging. So far, I haven't liked anything I've seen. If I don't see some items appear in the "pro" column by spring I will be resigning all my volunteer positions and just be Violet's Juliette adviser.

For 3 years I've been a delegate and listened to the board of directors blow smoke up their skirts about how "seamless" realignment would be to the girls and volunteers. We don't officially merge until October 1 and it isn't seamless yet. I'm tired of their smokescreens.

I will fulfill my year that I've committed to. And I'm glad I've already stepped down from 2 positions. The last one will go too unless things get drastically better.

I guess this just goes to show what a wonderful council we had before. All the changes are because of the new council or concessions to the 3 we are joining.

I'm not feeling the green fuzzies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nicest Day

We had the nicest day today. We went to a lake in Wisconsin with some homeschool friends. It started out as a tour of Dairy Queen, but before that got scheduled it had morphed into swimming at the lake and getting Girl Scout Blizzards at Dairy Queen on the way home.

The lake was so nice, there was mostly grassy areas with picnic tables, then some gravelly sand (hey, its Wisconsin, not Hawaii, whatcha going do, you take what you can get), then a really clear lake. The deepest point in the swimming area went up to my waist. There were two other girls with us and their mom. Actually we were with them. They drove and they were the ones who knew about the place.

Violet had a blast swimming in the lake. We took lunches. We had beautiful weather. We made plans to go up once a month next summer. And Violet and I are trying to figure out when we can go back with Mr. I. and Red if we can get her for the day.

The Blizzards were good too. I had a Tagalong, yummy! The other family all had Thin Mint and raved about it. Violet is more of an ice cream purist and prefers not to have things mixed into hers. She did like her dipped cone.

The other mom is also a work from home, homeschooling mom. It was really nice to have someone in person to discuss issues like, staying professional on the phone while being handed chewed up cookie (okay I made that scenario up, buy you get my drift) and sacrificing some advancement while being part-time. I don't know any others locally who homeschool and still work in their careers.

It was nice to talk with someone else who gets it. I get tired of hearing "you're so lucky" from people. Yes, I am lucky that I work somewhere that is so flexible. But, I've also worked my butt off to have established myself there before I became part-time and worked it off even more to define a role for myself that they didn't even know they needed. I didn't just open up the mailbox one day and have a stay at home job in it.

Anyway, leave it to me to turn a nice little post about what a good day we had into a rant about work. I blame it on too much sun.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Picnic time

Gosh, what happened? Every single family event seemed to have been scheduled for last weekend. We had 2 things on Saturday and my company picnic on Sunday. Everyone I talked to had events to go to. I guess it is the last minute, cram in all the fun you can, so you can collapse exhausted into Fall, time of year.

I got to see my aunt from Wisconsin on Saturday. Mr. Incredible went to our niece's graduation party at his brother's house. There was no way to do both. Families weren't 100% happy, but too bad. We did our best. I was so happy to see my aunt. I was very close to her and my uncle growing up. We've drifted apart in the last few years. My uncle passed away when Violet was still a baby and I'd like her to know my aunt at least.

The company picnic was really fun, as corporate events go. Ami.Mental's faux tie dye project was a HUGE hit with both kids and their parents. It is the one where you use Sharpie markers to make designs and rubbing alcohol to make it spread out and look like tie dye. I'm going to be hitting her up for another good picnic project idea next summer. I liked hanging out with the kids 10,000 times better than playing volleyball or chit chatting.

This week I'm still neck deep in a project for work. We're making progress, but there is a long way to go. Thursday I'm taking off and heading for the beach! Violet and I were invited to go to a lake in Wisconsin with some homeschool friends. We said, "You bet! We'd love to go!" Work can wait.

So can cleaning the house, the other thing I need to do this week. I'm having my ladies group over for lunch on Saturday. This place needs a bulldozer to come through it first. For the menu I'm going vegetarian. I'm making ratatouille, asparagus, rolls, and a cold cantaloupe-peach soup. (Mr. I. thinks the soup sounds awful. But he said soup should be hot and not made from fruit. Good, I said, he won't eat it all before the girls get here.) I'm also going to try making sangria. I found 2 recipes that I think I'll do. One is a red wine with fruit and fruit juice, no extra brandy or anything (we never drink hard liquor so I didn't want to buy a bottle of brandy or rum to use 1/2 cup in sangria). The other is a white wine based, peach-lemonade. Actually, the recipe is for raspberry lemonade white wine sangria but I forgot to buy raspberries and I have extra peaches.

So Saturday is out for working. I'll be drinking leftover sangria all night. Better cancel Sunday morning too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Excuses, excuses

First before anyone tries to jump through the internet to see the tie dye socks in person, since I seem to have a camera issue, here they are:

Aren't they the coolest! I love them. Thank you so much Mental!

So, why has Freakmom been so awol lately? Well, I have a bunch of excuses. For one, I have been working more hours. They have me doing some mentoring of a junior staffer, so I'm tied up during the day more than I'd care to be.

Also, since it has been nice, Violet has been in the pool in the backyard a lot lately. And our house rule is, there must be a grown up outside with you at all times when you are in the pool. That means me. I have made a great dent in my magazine pile, and have been tending the garden, but not much else.

Finally, I am making a concerted effort to stay offline more. I have to be at my computer for 95% of what I do for work (the other 5% I'm on the phone). One day a couple of weeks ago, I was taking a break, goofing off online, reading blogs and forums and such. Violet came over to me and asked if when I was done working would I help her. She said she hated bothering me. And I don't remember exactly what she needed, but it was big. Something big enough that a 10 year old should haven't to ask her mom to please help when she wasn't too busy.

That was a wake up call. So when I'm not working, I've been trying to spend more time away from my computer. I'm still at it a lot (and have the sore back to prove it), but I am more available to Violet.

So what have I been doing? Lots of things. None of them productive. I've been reading the Goldy the Caterer series by Diane Mott Davidson. They are "culinary mysteries." I've been cooking. I haven't been cleaning the house (I may be a freak, but I'm not crazy!). And I've been doing this:

I find it very relaxing. Almost zen like to find the pieces and put it together. 1000 pieces, mostly edges (it is like concentric frames going into the middle, that's why I don't have the whole edge done - I can't find the actual outside.) Spike helps me. He came home with us from my aunt's house when we went for her memorial.

And that's where Freakmom has been hiding.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Still here

I think I've used that title before. I seem to be going awol a lot lately. Guess we've been out having fun.

I was waiting to post until I'd taken pictures of the tie dye socks. Well, I haven't gotten the picture taken yet (have I mentioned how bad I am about photographing?). But the socks are reminding me every day to do it. They are waiting to be a star on my blog.

I think I spent the weekend at my computer. And most of the last week. I've been crazy busy with work. But crazy busy means nice paycheck, so no complaints. Other than my back is pretty stiff in the mornings.

We've had unseasonably cool weather and Violet is quite bummed that it is cutting into her pool time. We've even had days where it didn't hit 70. That's crazy too. But nice.

Next weekend is my office picnic. They did take me up on the faux tie dye offer. I'm going to have an hour or two timeslot to have kids come by to do to the craft if they choose. I'm waiting to get a list of t-shirt sizes from them so I can go out and buy them. (I'll get reimbursed.) I hope it comes soon, I really don't want to be rushing around last minute, but I'm expecting I will be. The preliminary count was only 13 kids signed up for the picnic. That didn't sound like many, but I was talking to some co-workers and it doesn't sound like there are many kids at the firm anymore. Many are now grown. And a lot of the younger people aren't married or don't have kids yet. Gotta get Violet's Girl Scout cookie form in the kitchen this year so she can net some sales from those childless accountants. I also have to remember that I need to take a dessert or side dish to pass as well as the craft supplies.

In two weekends I'm hosting the girls for gossip and vegetarian dining. I'm making ratatouille. I have to figure out the rest of the menu. There is usually a signature drink offered as well. I'm thinking of trying my hand at sangria. Any tips or recipes would be appreciated.

Gosh I can't think of anything else exciting going on. Violet's been busy working on Girl Scout badges this summer. Her current one is Stress Less. If your kids have any great ideas for reducing their stress and generally becoming human beings fit to be in the same room as their parents, please share. She tried deep breathing (hated it), playing in the pool (big hit) and baking chocolate chip cookies (baking was stressful but eating warm chocolate chip cookies got a big approval rating). She's got bubble bath on her list to try yet. She needs a couple more.

I'll try to get those socks photographed soon!