Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Cat Who Came for Christmas

I just started reading The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory again. I read it years ago. I thought I owned it, but a couple of times I went looking for it, I couldn't find it. I own the second book, The Cat and the Curmudgeon. Over Thanksgiving we went to a library book sale in my in-laws home town and I found there and bought a copy. I had hoped to start it earlier, say before Christmas, but one thing led to another.

Anyway, I remembered liking the book, but I had forgotten just how good the book is. If you love cats, or animal rescue stories (or curmudgeon old men for that matter) and have never read it, you really should. And (spoiler alert) don't worry, it has a happy ending and isn't sad. Always something to beware of when reading true animal stories.

In brief, it is the true story of how Cleveland Amory came to adopt a cat on Christmas Eve. Amory is an animal rights activist, so some of his personal beliefs come through. Not everyone will agree with them. But hey, it is his story and his book, if you don't agree, write your own book. :)

Another spoiler alert, I once named a parakeet Polar Bird after the name the cat eventually gets. Something else I had forgotten until today. I wonder how much else I've forgotten during my adult life. Hmm. Something to ponder at the end of yet another year. What happened this year that I won't be able to remember by next year, or heck, by tomorrow.

I guess I won't worry about that, but sink happily into another year, and try to only remember good things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Get this

You all know the company Mr. I worked for closed at the end of October. Last summer it was hanging on by a thread, but still hanging on. Then the vice-president suddenly quit to work for a major competitor. Within two weeks she had not only stolen some key employees (amounting to at least 20% of the workforce if not more, the company had gotten pretty small) and was calling clients and stealing them too. Mr. I feels she really put the final nail in the coffin.

Anyway, get this. She sent us a Christmas card. Can you believe the balls on her? Mr. I hasn't opened it yet. I'm encouraging him to write "refused, return to sender" on it and stick it back in the mail. He's also contacting the others who worked there until the bitter end to see if they got cards too and try to get them to return them too. I don't think any of them are remaining in the industry. Mr. I is a computer guy, there's nothing for him in that industry (I'm leaving out the exact industry just in case this somehow gets traced back). The others are so disgusted with the whole scenario they are making career changes. No one has anything to lose.

Would he get in trouble from the feds if he wrote, "refused, return to sender, you bitch" on it? Probably, huh.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Came back home

We did venture out. The roads were bad, even major roads with lots of cars traveling on them. We passed a Hummer in the ditch. We turned around and came back. We were traveling South, I don't think it was as bad there as it is up here. The snow is still coming down. We've gotten at least 6 inches of snow so far.

We made the right decision.

Boxing Day

We're supposed to be heading out to our last Christmas with family celebration. But we're waiting to see what the snow does. It is coming down hard and fast right now. We were supposed to get a total of 2-4 inches today. We've already gotten 4. Mr. I. went out to the barber shop (it was closed), post office and to get gas. He got back and immediately called his dad to report that the roads were not good, even the main highway through town. Neither of them can get in touch with Mr. I's Brother. They'll decide soon what we are doing.

We had a nice Christmas. Santa brought some good stuff. I got a thing for the Wii Fit that raises the step up 3 inches to give me a better workout. (I asked for it.) I also got a really nice blender (again, it was on my list). My old one will now be used to make recycled paper. Violet and her Girl Scout buddy Butterfly have been wanting to try that. Am I a good mom or what? Sacrifice my old blender for the greater good. And get a really nice new one out of the deal. I've named the new one Betty. She's Bertha's friend.

For dinner last night we had our fish. It turned out great. I also got a mandolin, one of those things that slices stuff really even. I used it to make fried potatoes to go with the fish and salads. It was a change in the menu, but I couldn't think of much else to slice. The potatoes were great.

Santa brought us Toy Story Mania for the Wii. Violet has been playing that all morning while waiting to go. She's getting quite good. I've played a few of the games too. It is really fun. Quite like the ride in Disney World. I'd definitely recommend the game for any Wii users out there. There are lots of games in it and it can be played by one to four players.

The snow hasn't slowed down since I started blogging. While I'd hate to miss out on the family Christmas, I'd also hate to be hit by some idiot going too fast or take three times as long to get there. Mr. I. is most worried about driving home in the dark. If I were a betting gal, I'd be putting my money on us not going.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

The stockings are laid out by the fireplace with care. We don't hang them anymore. They always fell down and left tape marks on the mantle. The cookies are plated for the Big Guy. And Violet laid out carrot and celery sticks for the reindeer. Mr. Incredible will pour the milk just before he goes to bed so that it doesn't sour. We had our Christmas Eve feast: super nachos. The presents are wrapped and under the tree. We might actually be ready for the holiday.

We had a bit of a scare this morning. Red's mom called and asked if we'd be home for a few minutes, Red wanted to bring Violet's present over to her. Crap, we'd forgotten to get her something! Luckily we had an extra sparkle lava lamp in the basement we'd gotten several years ago as an extra gift. One of those things you don't really have anyone in mind for but you pick up because the price is too right to pass up. Good thing we did. We stalled Red about a half an hour, wrapped the lamp quickly, then invited her over to play for a while and have lunch with Violet. Whew. Red declared the lamp cool when she opened it. The girls had fun playing and eating make your own mini pizzas for lunch. Just like we had the whole thing planned all along. I saw a blue glow from her bedroom window earlier tonight. (Her room faces our side of the street - the girls could signal each other from their rooms, but I don't think they've figured out to do that yet.)

We did get our ice storm. It warmed up enough for Mr. I. to hit the stores this afternoon without hitting the ditch as he drove. There is still snow on the ground tonight. I hope it doesn't all melt by morning. That would stink. It would be a waste to have about a foot of snow melt just before Christmas.

Tomorrow night's Christmas dinner feast will be talapia with a browned butter and balsamic sauce. It is Rachel Ray's recipe. We usually grill fish out on the grill, it will be our first time pan frying it. Heck, we only started grilling fish about a year ago. In our landlocked, middle of a corn field there really isn't much in the way of fresh fish to cook. Neither of us grew up eating much fish except fish sticks. My mom grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Trucked in fish grosses her out. If she can't smell the salt water it just swam it, it doesn't seem fresh enough to eat to her. To go with the fish we're going to have spinach salads and green beans. Maybe baked potatoes too. And we are surrounded by cookies and a bunch of goodies from Henry and David that my boss had shipped to us as a gift. Yum! Dessert is ready.

The chocolate snowball cookies changed into chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. Not sure why but Violet didn't feel like trying a new recipe today. Fine by me. I can't get enough homemade chocolate chippers. If I'm not careful around them I'll have to borrow's Santa's fat pants to wear!

Off to relax for a bit before tucking in for the night. Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Big Bertha's Been Busy

Yes, I named my stand mixer Big Bertha. And let me tell you, she's the best sous chef anyone could ask for. I don't know how I ever cooked without her. And she's bright red, just like in the picture. She's beautiful!

Yesterday Violet and I made chocolate spritz cookies. The kind you make with a cookie press. I think it was the third time ever either one of us had used the cookie press. Big Bertha helped us make the dough. The cookies came out pretty good.

Today was the second in our Christmas cookie trilogy, we made oatmeal raisin. I don't think there will be any of those left to take with us to our last family Christmas gathering on Saturday. Violet set some aside for Santa. Good thing, or he wouldn't get any either. The recipe is really good, but it didn't make many. Again, I have to sing Bertha's praises. She did a great job mixing in the oats. What an exhausting job and she never complains.

Tomorrow we will wrap up our trilogy with a new cookie, chocolate snowballs. Chocolate cookie balls rolled in powdered sugar. How can that possibly be bad. We found the recipe in Food Network Magazine.

This afternoon we were getting a heavy snow that has since turned to an ice storm. What can you do but cook more? We got Big Bertha back out (I put the old gal away less than 30 minutes before we decided we weren't done). This time we made homemade bread. It was the first time we'd used her to do some of the bread kneading. The bread turned out great. I made our family's new favorite potato soup recipe to go with it. Yum. Too bad Bertha can't peel potatoes and stir soup.

Back to that winter storm I mentioned, it is quickly becoming a frozen icy mess out there. A good night not to go anywhere (like I was thinking of going out!). It is supposed to continue through the night. I hope all our snow doesn't melt. It would be much nicer to have a white Christmas than a mud brown Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


We've gotten about 4 inches of snow today. We're supposed to get more tomorrow before it turns to ice and sleet. Mr. I. is taking the train downtown tomorrow. He still has to get to the train station and home. I'm glad he has a Jeep. He was going to drive downtown with my dad today to bring home more stuff. I'm glad they changed their minds.

I am done shopping for Christmas. We still need to wrap presents. Not sure when that will happen. I think Mr. I. still needs to go out. He usually enjoys his Christmas Eve trip out to several stores. I think he's nuts. Especially since the ice and sleet and freezing rain isn't supposed to have ended by then. Oh well. What can you do. He'll do whatever he wants.

Violet did a little math today, to try to take her mind off of waiting for Christmas. It didn't help. But she did get excited when she understood exponents a little.

We made our first batch of Christmas cookies. We did chocolate cookies with the cookie press. Tomorrow we plan to do oatmeal raisin. Then we have another chocolate cookie on tap for Thursday. I feel the pounds piling on.

Violet is outside playing in the snow in her snow suit. We haven't gotten the snow shoes out yet but should. And to answer Mom #1's question from a few weeks ago, yep, you just walk around in the snow with them on. That's about it. It is pretty and quiet out. You do get a good workout in, so maybe we should consider exercise rather than a fun activity.

I'd better get the hot cocoa mix ready. Violet will want a mug when she comes in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday all week

Since I went to the office on Monday, and I usually go on Thursday (hah, usually, like I go very often!), I've felt like it was Friday all week long. Today was my third Friday, I have one more to go.

Saturday (or tomorrow all week) we are doing Christmas with my parents. They are coming here. I'm making a pot of home made minestrone soup, and we'll have salad fixin's. We are sending the men folk out to hunt and gather the wild Subway sandwiches to go with it. We are unassuming folks. My mom is bringing a cherry pie (provided the grocer's bakery made one for her) or something else from the bakery if not. Violet and I are going to make banana bread. We've also got vanilla yogurt and frozen fruit for dessert. Should be a nice, easy visit.

You probably figured out, on the schedule tomorrow is make banana bread. We're also doing a lot of school. Mr. I. has been going to his office a lot, clearing it out, taking down systems, and other end of business activities. So while the house is quiet we're studying.

We have lots of snow in the forecast. Don't know if we will actually get lots of snow. I probably should have phrased it "we have lots of days with possible snow in the forecast." Not looking forward to it. Violet is though.

I'm still working on my Linked In account. I connected with an old college friend today. That was nice.

I'm getting closer to being ready for Christmas. If it weren't for online shopping, I'd be in big trouble!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Linked In

Is anyone else on Linked In? I recently joined. If you are and would like to link to a Freak Healthcare Consultant, let me know.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whew, the tough week is over

Yes, I realize it is Monday. I was talking about the last 5 days, rather than calendar week. In the last 5 days I have driven into the office 3 times. Thirty-three miles each way, averaging an hour and twenty minutes of driving (each way that is). I hate that much driving. I hate that much traffic. And we've had northern Illinois weather for it: icy roads, snow covered roads, and today fog with the threat of ice. I'm so glad that is over.

I haven't done much on the home front, I haven't been on the home front. Violet and Mr. I have gotten out the Christmas tree and decorations, it looks really nice. They did a lot of science together. And Violet prepared an awesome poster of the rain forest.

I think she is glad we are getting back to normal. I know I am. I was worried if I kept going into the office like that someone would assign me a desk. Yikes. We can't let that happen. I haven't had a desk or cubicle in years. For a while I had a drawer. Now I don't even have an inbox. One of the administrative assistants gets my rare pieces of mail and she lets know what I need to know. I like it that way. If I get a place to sit they'll expect me to sit there!

Tonight was Violet's last swim class for the year, they are taking a break over the holidays. While she was changing I asked the swim instructor what Violet should be working on. She said mainly endurance, but also breast stroke a little. She also said she's strongly considering moving her up to the next level soon, maybe even before the next class. I am so relieved. I've been getting frustrated lately that Violet seems to be swimming circles around her classmates and isn't getting much out of the class. But, well, I'm her mom, it is my job to think she's light years above everyone else. Apparently I wasn't too far off because her instructor said she isn't learning as much in that class since she is ahead of them (she did start that level before any of them did - and she's a bit older, and definitely more mature). I did let Violet know. She knew exactly what she needs to work on in breast stroke. I don't think she's as excited as me that she'll soon be moving up. But then again, she isn't paying for the classes. I'm glad she's be challenged more soon.

Tomorrow we have some errands to run in the morning. Then we'll be home all day to try to get back into our old swing of things. Hooray for normalcy!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Title Comes to Mind

Consider this a ramble, not a blog.

I've taken most of the last 2 days off from work. I've caught up with Girl Scouts. I must pause to say, I cannot believe how incapable some adult volunteer leaders are at following simple registration instructions. Now, I'm not one to worry about rules. But it pisses me off, because when they disregard rules, I have to do extra volunteer work. I'm not taking crap from any Girl Scouts this year, volunteers, girls or council professionals. I sent more requests this weekend for leaders to complete their information and get it to me than ever before.

How did I get off on that topic? Well, I did warn you this was a ramble.

Violet just has one more week of swim class before there is a two week break. We just found out about that tonight. That's a little frustrating. She's making good progress, I hate to have her break stride. Not my problem if other families travel during some of the few days they have off from public school each year. I think I'm a little crabby tonight, do you?

The swim club did give all of us long time families a punch pass for 12 visits to open swim times. We got it on Saturday. It is only good through the end of the month. And we have a boat load of crap going on due to the job changes in Mr. I's present (no longer is it in his future). I've got to go into my office several times in the next week as well. Guess we'll be lucky to make it to open swim once. What a waste of a good free pass.

Still waiting to see if we get health insurance starting January 1st. I applied (with the help of my insurance agent's assistant) but we haven't heard back yet. Mr. Agent called them and they said it was in underwriting. If I understand correctly, that means they can still decide not to cover us.

Tonight we are on storm watch. Violet and I have plans to get up early and do our errands: grocery store and library. Hopefully before the snow hits. Then Violet has plans to play in the snow all afternoon. I'll likely sit inside and complain. :grin:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Catching up

I hope to catch up this weekend. Work is finally down to a manageable pile, as opposed to the mountain I've been facing lately. We have some major changes coming in our industry, and being the researcher, that means lots for me to do. But much of it is sorted out so maybe I can hit that personal to do list and even read a few blogs.

I think Violet needs a break. I don't think we're doing to much, I think we are doing too many different things. I think we need to take a break from all but the basics (with some fun thrown in) for a while. Now I just need to figure out what those basics are. To me she should be doing it all. Maybe we just need to some of it on alternating weeks. Can you tell I don't know what to do? I just know she's acting all stressed out. Maybe she just needs a more consistent schedule. That's the one thing that is hard for me to give her. Sigh.

We had snow on the ground this morning. It was the first time this winter. I'm so not ready for winter. Maybe I can stay in denial until Spring. Nothing like shoveling denial off the windshield so you can see to drive.

There has been no progress made towards Christmas here yet. Except Violet has 2 advent calendars going. One we got for her. It has Lego figures for each day. You actually build a little Lego scene by the 24th. The other has chocolates, her grandparents gave it to her at Thanksgiving. I don't think you could make her choose a favorite. Talk about causing her stress.

My father-in-law stayed with us on Tuesday night. He and Mr. Incredible drove to downtown Chicago (gosh, I should rename this post "the stress issue") and picked up a car load of stuff from the closed office. There are all kind of goodies. I got a new mouse for my computer and a bunch of empty binders. It is like Christmas came early. Can you say severance package? Mr. I has several more trips to go.

Hoping to have a nice weekend. Hoping you do too.