Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner with an author

We had Thanksgiving dinner with the author of Dancing in the Dew, the journal of a man's quest to live closer to nature. Harvey, the author, lives in a sod house he built himself. He has a root cellar, a sweat lodge (instead of a bathtub), a barn with a sod roof, 4 goats, many chickens (the chickens snuck off and laid their eggs in the woods, then came back one day with the babies following them), 3 horses, a dog and a barn cat. We visited his house on Friday and got to meet all the animals and tour the house and grounds.

It was fascinating. He has no electricity or running water. The house was quite warm and was heated by wood burning stoves. He has 3 rooms, but only uses 2. He decided the third was just more space than he needed, so he closed it off with blankets to conserve the heat. His "refrigerator" was a hole in the sod that was kept cool by the dirt. In the summer it becomes his oven. He gave Violet a bunch of dried apple pieces that he'd made himself by drying the sliced apples in a basket in the rafters of his house. They were better than anything we've ever bought at Trader Joe's. Harvey also showed Violet how to feed the goats "goat potato chips" which were actually dried oak leaves. The goats loved them.

He also has a tipi and we sat in there for a long time where he'd built a fire. He said his grandkids like to visit and play in there and camp out. He and his former wife lived in a similar tipi for several years, until changing diapers with no heat got to be a bit of a pain the, well, diaper. It was a nice toasty place to talk, out of the 30 degree Wisconsin afternoon. Wouldn't it be cool to spend the weekend in your grandpa's tipi?

How did we come to spend Thanksgiving with this man of the earth? He is a friend of my father-in-law. They live in the same small town and shortly after my inlaws moved there (couple of years ago) they met him. My father-in-law actually convinced him to turn his handwritten journal into the book. Dad-in-law edited it, Mr. Incredible did the layout work. This was the first time we'd met Harvey.

Violet is looking forward to returning to Harvey's farm to visit him again. She liked playing with the dog and the barn cat. Watching the chickens chase each other and feed the goats. I am actually going to read his book now. Although they'd talked about it for months while working on it, I never paid much attention to what it was about. And we are all hoping he'll join us again for another holiday meal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble, Gobble

Have a nice Thanksgiving everyone! Beware of flying dinner rolls. Don't drink too much (unless you have a designated driver). Don't eat too much (ah, go ahead and eat too much). And remember to be happy for what you've got. No matter how crappy it is. It could be a lot crappier.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The sock from beyond

Today I did a load of laundry. Not eventful, I'm sure many of you washed clothes today too. But I found the strangest thing in the washer when I moved the clothes to the dryer: a very old sock of Violet's. I didn't recognize it, but Violet did. Apparently its mate had been waiting for it on top of her dresser for more than a year. Our best guess is that the missing sock went to The Place Where Socks Go When They Get Lost in the Wash, and came back again. It came back very dingy gray, not bright white like its partner. I wish it could tell us about its travels.

Mystical experiences aside, it has been a very routine few days. The birthday party was a success. We barely talked about Juliette Low, but did do a big Thanksgiving service project. I think that would have been fine with her. The girls also played Thanksgiving themed bingo. As a group, we love bingo.

Work has been so busy. At least I'm keeping up my hours. I've talked to Violet and Mr. I and asked for more help around the house. I'm finding if I just leave things, eventually they get taken care. I just have to have a higher tolerance for dirty dishes in the sink.

Tomorrow morning I have a bunch of phone calls to try to make for work. I expect to leave a bunch of messages for people who won't call me back. In the evening is swim class. We'll try to get some school work done in between. We aren't doing a new list for this week, instead we will try to finish up last week's list. We never actually finish a list. I guess instead of calling them school lists I should call them school guidelines.

The weather is holding out here, and it hasn't become winter quite yet. It is predicted to hit the first week in December. I could skip it.

I've been asked by my service unit manager (the Girl Scout volunteer in our area who is in charge of all of us other volunteers) to write up my negative experiences with registration and the realignment. Apparently other volunteers are also unhappy with the way we've been treated lately and she's going to give council some constructive criticism. I like her. She's got moxie and doesn't take crap from anyone.

The Next Iron Chef finale will be starting soon, and the Freak Family will be gathering around the TV to root on our favorite chefs. Go Chef Garces!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Juliette Low birthday party

Today Violet and I are hosting a birthday party for Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scout. Two families of Juliettes are coming over. We have Thanksgiving bingo, a memory game, snacks, and a service project planned. Plus snacks and cupcakes. It was originally scheduled for when Violet was sick, but we postponed it. We cleaned the house, mostly, last night. Today we just have to get everything out and make sure we have everything (and can remember what we planned to do). The others are all bringing stuff too. Should be fun.

I took the day off work so we could do this. The morning will be filled with preparation, the afternoon is the party and clean up, and tonight is the Girl Scout service unit meeting. I've got a ton of stuff to do for work before the Thanksgiving break, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

It is another rainy, gloomy day here. Winter is definitely on its way. Blech.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My horoscope is mocking me today

I get up this morning, a million things on my list and what does my horoscope tell me?

See if you can give a little thought to how you might be able to increase your income at this time. You might be inclined to want to throw your money around a bit today, but just try to avoid engaging in too much impulsive spending right now if you can help it. A few promising developments could be bringing a pleasant relief to an otherwise busy day.

How I can increase my INCOME right now? I have been working non-freaking stop and I'm supposed to increase my work? Yeah, I'll get right on it. I don't need that 6 hours sleep I'm managing to get in between nightmares. I'll take on another job. No problem. Maybe I can sell an organ while I'm at it.

Seriously. What the hell are the stars thinking?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What happens to the time?

I feel like all I do is go, go, go. By dinner time I'm falling asleep. Then I stay up another 5 hours and next thing you know I'm waking up early and starting all over.

Got good results back on my mammogram. Thought you'd all want to know. Well, you know now whether you wanted to or not.

Spent a day in my company's main office. I always feel so out of place there. I don't have a desk or a cubicle. I don't have a drawer there. For the longest time I had one that I could keep stuff in. Now, I don't even have an inbox. So I sat at an empty desk when I wasn't in meetings. I was glad to find out my key card still works and I could get into the ladies' room without asking for a key.

I used to have a company mug with my name on it. I couldn't find it in the kitchen. Wonder what they did with it.

This week Violet and Butterfly will do a bunch of recycled material craft projects. And later in the week we are throwing the Juliette Low birthday party, rescheduled from when Violet was sick. Swim lessons move to their new permanent location. They've been renting pool space while they built their own building. I wouldn't mind squeezing in a make up lesson this week, she still has 3 make ups to do.

Going to the inlaws for Thanksgiving. I said we could bring an appetizer and a dessert. Mr. I immediately offered to make them with Violet. I don't know how to break it to him that I was really looking forward to cooking Thanksgiving dinner at home and now I don't even get to make our dishes to take with us. I'm bummed. I know he's only trying to help. But I wish he'd jump to clean the bathroom or vacuum instead. Maybe I'll get to cook again at Christmas.

Right now I feel like I've lost my old life and I don't like the one I've been given instead.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Let's talk homeschool tonight

I have so much on my mind. Unemployment, the mammogram, a big issue at work that blew up today and could be potentially bad, insomnia. If I think about bad things I'll cry. I'm thinking about homeschool.

By the way, the mammogram isn't a bad thing. I was just thinking about the markers they use that are like a cross between a band-aid and a pasty. They use it to mark a particular place that I don't want the search engines to pick up the word for but it rhymes with ripples. Anyway, how the worst part of the whole thing is removing them afterward. Didn't want anyone to worry, I have no to reason to suspect I'll get anything but an all clear letter in a week. I am curious though, does anyone else's radiologist use those things? It is so weird.

Where was I? Ah yes, homeschool. (And thank you for sticking through that last paragraph.) Violet is in 5th grade this year and we are starting to see some real progress. A much more mature attitude towards school. She asked to pick up spelling again. And she's doing pretty darn good with it. We are using the word lists from Sequential Spelling, but only doing 10-15 words a week. We go through them and she writes them on the white board. Any she misses she writes in her notebook. We do that about 3 times in a week. We're also adding looking the words up in the dictionary for practice with that. If she nails a word, we do the Sequential Spelling thing of adding the "ing" or "ed" to it. If she's struggling with it, we don't. It is working really well.

In math we backed up and practiced addition. Now we're moving into some multiplication and division. Again the attitude is better than ever. She still freaks out sometimes. But I've noticed it is the workbook that makes her freak out, not the work itself. She's calmed down since I've been stressing not to immediately panic, but to take a look at what the question is.

We are loving The Story of Us for history. The Story of Science is starting to grow on Violet. It started out slow. And she's still loving Latin Minimus. We're almost ready to move into Secondus. I'm thinking of trying Critical Thinking's Root Words workbooks. I love their other products we've tried. Has anyone ever used them?

She's reading more books on her own. Partly because I've had a lot of work commitments and that is something she can work on by herself when Mr. I is around. It must be hard for him to jump in to a subject that we've always done together and have any idea of our methods. But they do well with making up their own stuff. When he doesn't have time to make up stuff, she's happy to read.

I have her reading a biography of Grace Hopper, the Mother of COBOL. My absolute favorite woman! I saw a really, really cool biography of her when I was in college and fell in love with her. I wish I could find it to show Violet.

We have some other subjects going here and there. Swimming class is her PE. We're reading a lot of things out loud. She is still working on grammar in Editor in Chief (also by the Critical Thinking Company).

In short, when we get around to having school, it has been going really well. Now if we could only get around to it a few more days a week...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I can't believe the weekend is over

What a waste. I feel like I didn't get anything done. There were technical difficulties at work so I couldn't do most of the stuff I needed to. I slept horribly and was a zombie during the day. I'm having one of those, "there's so much to do that I can't do any of it" times.

I did get a load of laundry done and the floor dust mopped. I put 4 new books on Violet's school reading list:

  1. James Herriott's Treasury for Children
  2. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat
  3. Cheaper by the Dozen
  4. The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Violet and Mr. Incredible chose to read Doctor Dolittle as their next read out loud book. That works for me.

I did manage to get Mr. I. to pick up another bag of cashews for me while he was out today.

Last night Violet threw up right before bed. Then she woke up during the night yarking again. We think it was a build up of mucus since she hadn't been coughing it out. Today we gave her the Musinex during the day to help thin out the mucus in the hopes that it will exit her body in a more pleasant manner. Judging by all the tissues she's been through, it is working.

The cats, the little hairball machines, were quite impressed with her last night.

Hope you weren't just eating your morning bagel while you read that. I apologize if you were. See, sleep deprivation has rendered my appropriate post-inappropriate post meter inoperable.

Tomorrow I go in for the BIG SQUISH. That's a mammogram for you youngsters who don't have to do it yet. So no caffeine for me. I do have a brand new box of white tea that doesn't have caffeine. I'm trying to convince myself that it will be a treat. I don't drink coffee anymore, but I do like my English Breakfast tea in the morning. Especially when I haven't slept well. Some days I just want to suck on the tea bag.

Here's hoping for a peaceful night for all of us.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do I look as old as I feel?

Judging from the comments I got while I was out tonight, I'd say the answer is yes. First at the grocery store, I bought wine. The lady at the checkout barely glanced my way before ringing it up. They are supposed to ask for your id if you look any where near 35. Huh, guess I don't look close. Then at Taco Bell (yes, it was a wild and crazy evening), two kids working there asked me if I need cup holders to carry 2 drinks to the car. I'm a mom, we can juggle 2 drinks, 2 bags of burritos, a purse, car keys and much more at once. No toddler in tow? That was a cakewalk. Then the old guy in line behind me asked me if I needed him to get the door for me. I thanked him, but no it opened out, I was good. All I needed was a Boy Scout trying to help me across the parking lot.

Did I really look at old and feeble tonight? Maybe. I haven't been sleeping well. I am really tired. In the last week I got my Wii Fit age twice. Once I was 22. The next time, 54. I'm going to forget the 54 ever happened and go with 22. Even if I feel 154.

In other news. Violet is much, much better. She's barely got a cough left. Just a little now and then. I'm so glad that appears to be over.

We are working on dictionary skills in homeschool. I'm going to be giving her lists of words to look up in the dictionary. Mostly for the practice with finding them. She struggles with alphabetizing. Adding a second or third letter just doesn't come naturally to her. So we're practicing. Besides, if she can get good at it, maybe I can hire her out as a file clerk. The world needs good file clerks. As long as the drawers aren't too high, she isn't that tall yet.

I figure we'll need the extra money. Apparently I'm going to need a walker soon. I'm going to get me a nice one with a fold down seat and tennis balls on the feet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Announcing the next read aloud

Thank you to everyone who posted comments about their favorite read alouds. Many, many of them have been written down on my list of books to read. The only reason others weren't written down is because we'd already read them. I did leave the final decision up to Violet, since she's the audience and she has chosen Sisters Grimm. I haven't read them, but everything I see suggests they are funny, not scary or spooky. A little suspense is fine. Terrifying at bedtime isn't. If we get part way in and she decides it isn't a night time book, we'll read them in the afternoon instead. We won't be starting until next week, we're still finishing up The Old Meadow, the last book by the author of The Cricket in Times Square.

Violet continues to feel better, but now has a cough. The Musinex seems to really help it. Yippee!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fever is down

Violet knew we were calling the doctor's office today. In fact I called in the morning and her regular physician wasn't going to be in until 1:00. The other doctor's staff said to call back then, but definitely she should come in. By 1:00 her fever was down. She willed it down I think.

I went through the whole list of symptoms with the nurse, yes fever, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat. No aches or body pains. They said to try Musinex for a day and see if that would relieve the sinus pain. Bring her in if the fever goes back up or the Musinex didn't help.

Fever is still down. The Musinex seems to help the sinus pressure. Looks like she might have dodged the doctor bullet this time.

I am glad she's feeling better. She's still going to have a quiet day tomorrow, she's not 100%. But at least we're not worrying as much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Still sick

Violet was up during the night last night, coughing. We found Mr. I's cough syrup from a few weeks ago and gave her some and more Tylenol. Her fever was up again. She woke me up about an hour later saying she woke up but couldn't get back to sleep. I sent her back to her room to read in bed (it was early). After dozing a bit I felt guilty and went to see if I could make her a cup of her favorite tea and found her fast asleep. I guess it was good I sent her back to bed.

She's definitely got a cold. But the fever worries me. We got her some cold medicine that better fit her symptoms. It put her to sleep on the couch this afternoon. She still says she doesn't feel that bad. Not achy, not overly tired (except when the sinus stuff kicks in). Just stuffy with a runny nose and a sore throat. And that darned fever.

I'm calling the doctor's office in the morning. In the past his nurse has been very good about going through her symptoms with me over the phone and saying "yes, bring her in" or "no, don't expose her to our waiting room, do this for now." Hopefully she'll do that tomorrow.

I've rescheduled the Girl Scout Journey day. I'll call the swim club in the morning to tell them she won't be there tomorrow night. And I've e-mailed my boss to reschedule our 8 am phone meeting until later and filled her in on why I may not be too available during the day.

In other news, tomorrow is Mr. I's first day with no job. Does it count as no job if he's still getting paid for 2 months? I'm not sure if they are going to stick with the regular paydays or just pay them the rest and get it over with. I heard the accountant wanted to do that to finish up his payroll reports. This whole unemployment thing is new to both of us.

I guess you could say we've had better days around here. But it could be a whole lot worse! I'm glad it isn't.