Sunday, December 26, 2010

My End of the Year's Resolution

First a confession: I've got a magazine problem. I subscribe to quite few. I love them. My mom is an enabler, we trade magazines when we're done with them. She has her addiction under control, she actually reads and keeps up with them. I have stacks around the house. The stacks tip over. I say a bad word.

I go on a business trip and stick a couple in my suitcase for reading in the hotel room. I get about half way through, the magazine gets bookmarked and set aside. In a pile. That tips over. I say another bad word.

I counted this morning. I have 48 unfinished magazines in the house (47 actually, I finished the September-October 2009 issue of Home Education Magazine just before I sat down to write this post.) That's actually not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I have read quite a few in the last 2 days.

So back to my resolution. I resolve to get completely caught up in my magazines by the end of the year. I can even use January 1st and 2nd if need be, since they are the holiday weekend. I think it is doable. I just have to read 6 magazines a day. Work is really slow, we have no family plans, homeschool is on break. I should be able to do it.

I'll let you know how it goes. But I can't stick around online all day, I have magazines to read.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The knitting is improving

I finished my first project: a cozy for my new GPS (an early Christmas present - I'm constantly getting lost!). I didn't want to put it straight into the glove compartment, so I figured out a way to make a cozy for it. I made a long rectangle, sewed it into a pocket with a flap and added a long string to loosely tie it.

Whadda think?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Violet and I just finished reading The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum and highly recommend it for your family holiday reading list. It tells the story of Santa Claus and how he came to be who he is. Do I need to mention it is completely secular? I would classify it in the mythology category, although I'm not Dewey Decimal expert and it may be a folk tale.

L. Frank Baum is the author of The Wizard of Oz and the next 13 Oz books. We've been working our way through all the Oz books, and are now in the second set, those written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Santa Claus is of one Baum's non-Oz books that I really wanted to read. Violet consented that we could step out of the world of Oz briefly to read this book as the holiday approaches. I think she is glad we read it, as it does answer some age-old questions, such as how does he get down those skinny chimneys? She's long wanted to know that.

The book was written in 1902 and like the Oz books written by Baum, it has really stood the test of time. The book is easy to read. Hidden throughout the book are good morals about being a good person. Actually the Oz books are filled with good morals that are rarely "in your face." Baum was a man ahead of his time. He wrote of diversity and acceptance in the early 1900's, topics that still plague us today.

So if you've tired of A Christmas Carol or want something besides Olive the Other Reindeer to read for the two thousandth time (or heck, in addition to), check your library and see if they have a copy. It was re-released in 2003, so if you find that version you'll get to see Michael Hague's awesome illustrations.

My commercial is over. You may now resume your regularly scheduled reading.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now for some good craft work

Ever wonder what Violet does when I'm tied up with work? She goes through the craft books and makes awesome projects. Like these spool people. We couldn't find any wooden spools, but her grandfather came to the rescue with dowel rod:

Those are umbrellas that they are holding. The brown coil is an umbrella stand.

Isn't she talented? I should leave her without adult supervision more often.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I learned to knit yesterday. Well, "learned" is probably too strong of a word. Violet and I had our first knitting lesson. An aunt of some homeschool friends of Violet taught us during their book club meeting. They read the historical American Girl series. Knitting fit right in with the books. I don't usually sit in on book club, but I wanted to learn to knit too.

As you can see from my first finished piece I need to practice.

I gave it to Violet to be used as a blanket for her dolls (The McDoll Family). I think the McDoll's are going to donate it to a homeless shelter who will then donate it to the pet rescue. The dogs might deem it worthy to sleep on. Maybe not. There are a lot of holes in it.

Anyone know why I'm getting holes? I know I added stitches as I went and that is why it isn't rectangular.

I left all the imperfections in it instead of trying to fix my mistakes. (Don't tell our instructor, she recommended ripping out rows and starting over. I will eventually but not yet.) For one, it cracks me up to see what a state it ended up in! And for two, it was just a practice piece and is supposed to look like I'm just learning.

I'll keep practicing. But so far, it is the best knitting I've ever done. Can't beat that!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Behind What?

I can't keep up with life at the moment. I'm working full time, running the house, and homeschooling. I decided at least through thanksgiving, and probably until January the only subjects we are doing will be: math, grammar, spelling, history and thinking skills (a Critical Thinking Company workbook Violet loves). She can special request other subjects, but they won't be planned. So far she has opted for open swim (which I am all in favor of because it is the only exercise I get), cooking and lots of art projects she does on her own (all over the kitchen, dining room and family room!).

Good thing I'm pretty experienced at this homeschool thing or I would be worrying that she's going to fall behind in science, Latin, logic and anything else we're skipping. But other than science, they don't even DO those subjects in public school 6th grade. Say it with me Homeschool Moms, "behind what?"

So while she thinks she's getting off easy, she's actually still likely doing more academics than her peers. Homeschool moms can be evil, can't we?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sales are Through the Roof

This is the last week for the Girl Scout fall product sale. Violet's sales are once again amazing. So many parents don't have their girls participate in the sale because it is too similar to the schools' fall fund raisers. Just another example of the bully tactics used by the schools. We don't use the schools and yet I have a real estate tax bill that shows I support them. Boy howdy, do I support them. To the tune of a couple thousand dollars each and every year. Yet Girl Scouts charge a mere $12 per year, and only for those joining. I wonder who needs my magazine subscription dollars more?

Anyway, the fall sale is always her big selling time. Try as we might we just can't generate cookie sales. In a good year she'll sell around 150 boxes. To be part of the "good" sales and get invited to the cookie party and get the good prizes, girls have to sell 300 boxes. Some girls sell over 1,000 boxes. I don't know how they do it. We've tried the form in the office, door-to-door sales, family and friends. All she gets is a frozen butt from trudging through the ice and snow and a handful of orders.

Juliettes aren't allowed to do booth sales (the sales outside stores). For the first time this year troops will get to count those sales towards the girls' total sales. They can divide it up however the leader chooses, evenly or just to those girls who show up. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that. Since I don't have a troop I don't think I can question the girls getting the extra credit too much. They are working and selling, if they go.

I don't like that the incentive prizes will be delayed a month or two because of the booth sales. It is my current understanding that Juliettes will have to wait for booth sales to end before their incentives are even ordered. It is sounding like it will be May before they see their little stuffed animals and flimsy necklaces. I hope they at least get their GS Credits earlier. In our council (or at least I hope it is still the case after the completion of the merger) the independent girls get credits to be used for camp, programs, in the GS store for the equivalent of the troop proceeds for the cookies they sell. The problem is, the credits expire in mid-September. If they don't get them until May, that cuts back on their spending time considerably.

Oh well. Not like anyone can change Girl Scouts, Inc. They do what is best for their corporate positioning. The girls are a secondary consideration (actually probably a tertiary or whatever the equivalent word is for fourth or fifth).

But for now, Violet has met her personal goals, earned the big and little stuffed monkeys and will have a nice pile of credits to use in the store on fun little things. She also earned all the patches, so they will make a nice little picture. Thanks to all of you who helped out. Just one little e-mail address or snail mailing really does make a big difference! Thanks!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Goat Snot and Other Adventures

We had a busy weekend. We went to my in-laws house which is in the Wisconsin Dells area. The plan was to go up on Friday afternoon. But Mr. I. had a client who wanted him to come out on Friday afternoon. And Violet and were really busy anyway and didn't want to miss our regular open swim time. So we drove up Saturday morning.

We met them in Baraboo and then drove to a Big Cat Rescue organization. The not-for-profit has rescued over 20 lions, tigers and panthers from owners who didn't care for them, or could no longer keep them. It was really neat. We did the self-guided tour.

When we got to my in-laws house we walked into town, checked out the new resale shop, went to Ben Franklin and got ice cream at the local Quik Mart. Real tourist-y stuff, huh? We had a great time. The weather was unseasonably warm so we grilled out and had dinner on their back deck.

The next morning we went to visit a good friend of theirs, Harvey. He lives on an organic farm in a house he made himself of mud and other found materials. He lives close to the land, almost off the grid completely, and has really found the simple life. Well, as simple as it can get and still be raising 4 or 5 horses, 4 goats, 2 mules, a gaggle of chickens and a dog. He's busy. Really busy. Check out the link on his name. He published his journal as a book.

We've met him before and were looking forward to seeing him again and hanging out on the farm. It was a real treat this time because one of the goats had just had babies. When we got there he brought the goats and the kids up to graze on the grass and clover. No fences, no leashes, the goats just follow him when he opens up the barn doors. Violet and I and Harvey all plopped right down on the ground to play with the goats. The babies were just like little puppies, bouncing around and playing. Sadie the dog was immensely jealous of the babies and wanted her fair share of petting and scratching too.

The goats played, ate, got lots of scritching, and one sneezed all over me. A wet sneeze. With no warning. And guess what? When goat snot dries, it is a yellowish orange. I had goat snot all over me the rest of the day. I told the goat that next time I sneezed it was going to be on her. Unfortunately I didn't sneeze before we left the farm.

After the goats went back in the barn we built a fire and made hot dogs and s'mores that my mother-in-law had brought with. Well, after Violet and I poured hand sanitizer from the car all over us. I at least got the snot off my hands and arm. My father-in-law had brought Harvey a bottle of wine which he opened. That's day camping in my book. Sitting in Harvey's backyard, with a hotdog, a s'more and a glass of Cabernet. (The link is to the winery the wine was from. Mother-in-law's niece is married to one of the sons.)

We got back to the in-laws a couple of hours before we had to leave. I was dirty, sweaty, smelled like camp fire and had goat snot on me. I pulled out my shirt that I had worn on Saturday. It was dirty and smelly and dusty from hiking around in the heat and the sun. I decided that if I showered I'd be putting on dirty clothes anyway. So I didn't shower until we got home at 10:00 that night and had gotten Violet showered and ready for bed. When I did, my clothes walked from the bathroom to the laundry room on their own.

Recapping the lessons I learned over the weekend:

1. Big cats eat 15 pounds of meat a day, sleep 20 hours, and ticks don't land on them.
2. Big cats are just like little cats when they've been abused. Many at the sanctuary were afraid of men or shovels due to their past experiences.
3. Goat snot is yellow-orange.
4. It is just as important to keep an eye on the front of the goat as it is the back side when you are sitting in the clover playing with them. While they are likely to pee or poop suddenly, they are just as likely to sneeze or chew on your clothing. Never let your guard down around goats.
5. Baby goats are the cutest things! My mother-in-law was practically stuffing one in her purse to sneak home.
6. When I go to visit my in-laws, bring an extra change of clothes. Because if we go to Harvey's house I'm going to play with the goats, follow the chickens, stand in the campfire smoke and basically have a great time. But I'm going to want to shower and change when I return to civilization.

Hope you all had a great time and that you were able to wash the goat snot off you quicker than I was.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Better keep my day job

Tonight Mr. I. had a chamber of commerce meeting and dinner so Violet and I were on our own to eat. We decided to make omelets. Mr. I doesn't care for eggs. It is one of his many weird eating things. It is best not to try to understand him.

Violet learned to make omelets in one of her summer culinary classes. We made turkey bacon to go with them, and had onion, green pepper, ham and cheese to go in them. Following Chef's recipe Violet made a beautiful omelet:

This was it on the plate:

It was actually the second omelet we made. I tried to help with the first one. If you look at the photo of my omelet, you'll see why Violet wanted to do the second one herself:

Not quite as beautiful, huh? But it tasted fantastic! So I definitely won't be hired by a diner anytime soon, although Violet just might be. And if you ever spend the night at our house, ask Violet to make you an omelet in the morning, not me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Magazine Sales Time of Year Again

Just a warning to those of you who have let me use your e-mail or snail mail addresses in the past, it is magazine sales time again for Girl Scouts. I'll plan on using your addresses again unless I hear that you'd rather I didn't. And it is absolutely 100% A-OK to say, "please take me off the list this year."

As a reminder, or for anyone new, Violet has to send 12 e-mails and 12 snail mail addresses to earn (stupid) little patches for the Girl Scout magazine sale. They really get you because all the patches neatly fit together so of course she wants to get them all. It is such a scam. But they really do only send the sales pitch once (and let me know if they don't because they are not supposed to and Council needs to know if QSP violates that). Extra sales from the e-mail are very nice (Violet gets credit for magazines ordered online by October 23rd), but I am mainly trolling all my blogging buddies for the addresses.

Let me know in the next week or so if you participated in the past but would rather not this year. E-mails will be coming out around October 9th. The catalogs don't get mailed until a few months later. And if you'd like to be included this year, but weren't in the past, let me know.

Thanks so much for your help! You guys are the best!

Friday, September 3, 2010

A new blog

I cordially invite all my regular blog buddies to join me at a new blog I am starting. I am keeping it by invitation only, so if you'd like to come over, just let me know and I'll send you an invite. If you aren't interested at this time, no worries.

Frequently asked questions:

Freak Mom, will you keep this blog? Say it ain't so that Freakmom's Space will be no more! Never fear, Freakmom's space isn't going anywhere. I just wanted a new blog to explore new things and keep it separate from this blog.

What are you talking about? I am taking a classics course and will be reading several classics this year. The other blog will be my insights into my own personal growth and leadership education, plus some ramblings about our books. The good stuff will still be here. I'm going to invite the other moms in my class to read the other blog, but I wasn't quite ready to share this one with them just year. Maybe someday.

I got an invite from you, but I'd rather it be in a different e-mail account. Just let me know and I'll send a new one and delete the old. The same goes if you change accounts.

Have you gone off your rocker? No, but I may be hanging over the side. No more so than usual.

Is everything okay? Yes, it is fine. I'm just sorting through my own brain. And you all know, that is a scary place. But yes, we're fine. Mr. Incredible is getting some business. My job is keeping me busier than ever. And Violet is doing awesome.

Will you be upset if I read your new blog a few times and decide it isn't my cup of tea? Not at all. You guys will always be my bestest blog buddies.

Um, Freakmom, you know no one has actually asked you a question so none of these are actually "frequently" asked. I know. I've never had a very firm grip on reality, but I at least still have the same old fingerhold I've always had.

Drop me an e-mail at freakmom at gmail dot com if you'd like to follow me into this other realm. But I promise, I'm really not going anywhere.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Violet has decided to retire from formal swim lessons. She's been taking classes for a year and a half and she is an excellent swimmer. About a year ago, she passed the goals I had for her in taking the classes.

Last Monday she didn't want to go to class. She'd gotten up early for Greek Mythology. She was tired. It had been a horribly busy month. On the way to class she started crying. I suggested she get through a few more classes, wait to make the decision until things had settled down to normal. She was okay with that, or so I thought, but half way through class she was crying again. She said afterward she was sick to her stomach. After she changed we stopped at the front desk and gave notice that she's taking a "swim break."

The place where she swims doesn't have sessions. It is open ended. You can start any time. You can quit anytime, but with a one month notice. Her last lesson is in a few weeks.

Tonight I made her go to do a make up from a class she'd missed. I was feeling awful about it, but the classes are quite pricey. I wanted her to go since we'd paid for it. The make up was supposed to be with the instructor she'd had at the last level. We got there and found it the instructor was off, and the aquatic director was actually running the class. Violet is a little afraid of her. Mom guilt levels were sky high.

I watched her class from the lobby, and low and behold, Violet was having fun. The AD had them try pull buoys. Check out the link if you don't know what they are. You hold them between your legs to float and just swim with your arms. Violet really got the hang of them right away. The other two kids in the class, not so much. The AD also gave her some pointers on her butterfly stroke. It was the best class she'd had in a long time.

We discussed it on the way home. The pressure is now off. It doesn't matter if she advances to another level or not. She's retiring to move on to recreational lap swimming. We already have our open swim pass and plan to start going to open swim once school starts up and most of the little urchins are back in prison. I told Violet how I loved to use pull buoys too, and we ordered the one in the link to take with us to our open swim workouts. Violet even suggested we spend about a half an hour working towards improving our endurance each time we go to the pool.

Obviously, the time was right for her to retire. I had been worried that she made the decision when she was too tired. But I can see now, that was part of what was tiring her out. If she decides she wants to start up again, we can do so at any time. But I don't think she will. She made it a lot farther in formal lessons than I ever did. I flunked minnow three times and quit. She's almost graduating from stingray to turtle. She has 4 more lessons to take. And she's actually looking forward to them as she counts down.

Mom Guilt can take the night off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We Have Tried it Their Way, We Don't Like it

This week Violet has been taking a class on Greek Mythology at our local community college's Kids and College program. She's taken several culinary classes this summer, but this class is giving us a glimpse into the world of the public school family. We are certain it isn't for us.

The class starts bright and early every morning at 9:00 a.m. We have to leave a little before 8:30 to get there, park and get into the class. We never leave that early for anything. Well, Violet never does. She gets up around 9:00, leisurely reads in bed for 30 or 40 minutes. Feeds her fish. Wanders down for some breakfast. Reads some more. By 11:00 sharp she's finally dressed. Most days.

On Tuesday she had a homework assignment. She had to complete a worksheet on the development of a Greek myth of her own creation, write the myth and draw a picture. I think most kids completed the task in class. She had her basic idea, but wasn't sure where she wanted to go from there and needed time to think about it.

She didn't mention the assignment until the middle of the afternoon. Her class is out at noon. Um, we'd better get going on it. I helped her with it. Mostly helping her flush out her own ideas and getting it on to paper. I used open ended questions, so she could come up with her own story. And helped her focus. She had invented a goddess of pets, but needed to narrow it down to one story about the goddess. I think in her head she had an entire volume of stories.

So here we were, the night before it was due, doing homework. We don't do homework. We don't have deadlines. We let our creativity take its own sweet time. We certainly don't fill out story worksheets first. (And don't tell her teacher, but we actually filled in his worksheet after her story was done.) In our homeschool if you want to write a story, you write it and see where it takes you. Would that past muster in a professional writing class? Of course not. But we don't mind. Usually the stories written develop over months. Pictures and sketches are drawn. Parts are acted out by Barbies or Littlest Pet Shop characters. More pictures are drawn. Once in a while the story is actually written out. I guess we are more into the verbal story telling.

The man who teaches her class teaches fourth grade during the school year. I don't think he's used to dealing with us laid back, do our own thing, homeschoolers. But he seems nice anyway.

I asked Violet yesterday if she'd like to be in public school, get up early every morning and have homework every night. She rolled her eyes at me and made some sort of grunting noise. I think I have created a homeschooler for life.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Last night I watched "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. It is hosted by one of my favorite writers, Anthony Bourdain. The episode I watched was his look back at how he got from New York City chef, to writer, to television host. It reminded me of the opening chapters of his newest book (which I haven't finished yet due to my insanely busy summer).

In the episode he talked about how he is a writer, he always has been, it is just in him. That got my brain spinning. I think of myself as a writer as well. Bourdain inspired me last night to let out that writer and just write. Write, write, write.

Sure I write all the time for work. But client bulletins, power point presentations, white papers, and guest articles for industry journals just aren't fulfilling, you know? Sometimes I write so much for work, that by the end of the day, I am tired of looking at my little MacBook screen. Yet, I am inspired to start doing just that again.

I need to find some sort of fulfillment. Like I mentioned, work isn't doing it for me. I'm not unhappy with my job, but I do think of it more as a job than I did a year ago. A year ago I had a career, a profession, a position in a well-respected company. I thought that even though I was part-time I was going somewhere. Keeping my foot in the water. Keeping the dream alive.

Now I know that in order to advance any further than I am right now will take a lot more sacrifice than at 43 I am willing to give. My career goals have sailed and I didn't get on the ship. I chose another path, that of homeschool mom and "hands on, home most of the time when she needs me" mom. I took the right path. But now what?

I've been struggling with this all summer. It is part of my absence from the internet. That and the 45 hour work weeks on top of all my mom responsibilities. I didn't know what to do. I can't quit my job. It is our only income right now besides unemployment checks. Honestly, I don't think I'd want to. I've worked so hard to get where I am, even if I can't go any further. But I feel like something is missing. Or that there is an opportunity out there for me, but I just can't see it.

So I am inspired to write. I love to write. I like to write non-fiction. I always have. I'm not interested in creating fiction. The real world is too interesting and unbelievable, I see no need to make anything up. So I pledge to start writing. Maybe somehow it will lead to something bigger, something just around the corner is waiting for me.

Until I figure out what form my writing should take, you Dear Blog readers, will be stuck with my ramblings. I must practice my craft. Hone my skills. Let out my anger and frustration with the world. Try to figure out what might be out there lurking in the shadows for me. And hopefully find fulfillment in the process.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Puffer Fish Bites, and other things I've learned lately

What I have learned so far this summer:

1. The Puffer Fish bites. I don't know if all puffer fish bite, but the one that lives in the tank in the lobby at the pool where Violet swims bites. The ladies working there had to do a big production of distracting Dolly, the puffer fish, while another fished out part of the tank lid that accidentally fell in while the fish were being fed. Don't worry, Dolly never swims in the pool with the kids. And they don't swim with her either.

2. In Illinois you cannot touch a deli slicer unless you are 18 years old. Violet learned that today in her culinary class. She's taking an appetizers class through Kids and College at our local community college. Her class is taught by one of the instructors in their culinary program. The kids call the instructor "chef" and use the equipment in a real professional kitchen. But not the deli slicer, they are all 10-12 years old and have a few years to go before that. They made "taco boats" today and I got some samples. They were good. Can't wait for the BLT Canapies tomorrow.

Gosh, I guess that's it. I thought I'd come up with more. Well, it is still June, there's more time to learn I guess. I've been traveling for work again. I visited Lansing, Michigan this time. Nice city, what little I saw of it. Ate some good food. Stayed in a nice hotel. We're going to Detroit in August. I think I might take Mr. Incredible and Violet for that one.

I've been trying to get ready for 6th grade in the fall. And doing the reading for the Classic Moms class. I am really liking the Thomas Jefferson education model. Are we changing to it? No. But I think we do already use a lot of principles of it. And I think it is a really good fit for a highly sensitive child, which is Violet to a T.

Summer has been hot, humid and rainy. We've had a lot of storms, but nothing compared to Central Illinois. This is the first week with no rain predicted. Although it sure looked like it would rain this afternoon.

I missed the whole first round of the World Cup. I did see the second U.S. game, and the England v. Germany game. I sort of watched Argentina v. Mexico. Lots of bad calls, but honestly, I'm not sure I am for the use of instant replays for the calls. Soccer is a very traditional sport and doesn't like change. I could agree that no replay use would stick to the tradition.

Gotta go see if there are any taco boats left....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Honestly, not all it is cracked up to be

I had fun on my girl's getaway. But honestly, I missed my family. They went to my in-laws and did a bunch of stuff at the Dells. I'm glad they did and weren't bored. But a big part of me wished I were with them. I'm such a mom.

As for the weekend. We stayed up too late, got up too early, drank too much, ate too much (and way too much junk food) and spent too much money. I had a couple of benefactors helping pay my way (in exchange for computer help from Mr. Incredible), but still I felt out of my league. I'm not used to $35 a person dinners, which they all said was such a good deal. The 3 of us could go to our favorite pizza place for that, and we consider it a big splurge. I felt in over my head more than once.

But the pool was nice, we laughed so hard (I can't believe we didn't get kicked out of a couple of restaurants!), and it is nice to feel so loved by friends. I did relax and kick back and have fun. Even if I lost miserably at Uno!

p.s. the drinking too much happened only at the resort when we were in for the night. When we were out we had a designated driver who stuck faithfully to her Diet Coke.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Girls Getaway

I am leaving shortly for my first ever Girls Getaway Weekend! My ladies group from work has reservations at a resort in Wisconsin. We'll be eating, drinking, lounging by the pool, shopping in town and gossiping. There are 7 of us going. It promises to be a fun time. Even if it does rain and storm as they are predicting.

I'll post more later, we're meeting for lunch. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Afternoon in the park

This afternoon we met 2 other homeschool Juliette Girl Scout families at the park. We had a guest speaker join us, a woman I work with who also runs a not-for-profit that supplies teddy bears to police and fire departments. She explained about her work with the bears. How the police and firefighters keep the bears with them, and whenever they meet a child (or sometimes an adult) who is scared and in need of a friend, they give a bear. I'd give a link to her website, but she doesn't have one.

The kids were really impressed. I think it sunk in for some of them a little more what charitable work can be. It isn't always just collecting canned goods and dropping them in a box somewhere. Sometimes people are involved. (Yes, people are always involved, but the kids don't always seem to get that.)

Anyway, it was fun and educational. Afterward we stayed and played at the park. Violet and I took the short walk to the nature center that is on the same grounds. When we got home the Teddy Bear lady called me to say what a nice time she had and how nice our group was. I told her how much we appreciated her meeting up with us like that.

It was a nice afternoon in the park for us all.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Snails, Geese and other Adventures

Today the doorbell rang and there was Violet's best friend, Red, with a sandwich baggie of snails. Apparently Violet and Red had made arrangements for Violet to adopt some of the baby snails that were growing in Red's fish tank. I think Red bought them on purpose and they had babies. I told them they had to wait for Mr. Incredible to put them in Violet's tank.

When Mr. I got off the phone they put 3 snails in the big tank, and one in Violet's tank with her 2 goldfish, Peanut and Almond. I didn't want to take responsibility. When I was the girls' age we had a infestation of snails in our fish tank. We couldn't get rid of the buggers. When these 4 innocent looking little snails do the same thing, I want no part of it.

The girls didn't believe me when I told them the snails grew to 5 feet tall and ate our cat. Geesh, preteens these days, can't put anything past them.

We saw the geese on our walk tonight. Violet was bouncing around. She hadn't gotten outside enough. So the three of us put on our shoes, grabbed our umbrellas and went to walk through the subdivision. It has rained on and off all day, so we zig zagged a lot in case it started up again, like it is now complete with thunder and lightning.

I'm back, had to run off to close the windows for about the zillionith time today. I'm also now on battery power.

Anyway, there's a pond at the back of our subdivision (like every other subdivision in America), and when we went past it we had to walk in the street. There were 8 adult geese and countless goslings, mostly teenagers. They had taken over the sidewalk and grass near the pond. They were hissing up a storm at us and another family that was out walking. They did not like us. Mr. I. said they were especially hissing at my tie dye colored shirt, but I think they were equal opportunity hissers.

In other news.

We had an e-mail from our Girl Scout council just before Memorial Day. (I don't think I've gotten around to blogging about this, if I did sorry, skip to the end of the post and read backward till you get to the end of this.) We are changing to Little Brownie Bakers for our cookie sale next year. Most of the legacy councils were with ABC, like us, but they opted to go with Little Brownie.

I'm not so upset that we are changing. In fact, I'm kind of excited to try their cookies. Change can be good. I'm game to try it. But I am upset that the e-mail said the decision was made by a "volunteer-staff team". I am on the product sales committee from our legacy council and wasn't asked to participate. Neither were any of my fellow committee members (the e-mails began flying shortly after the e-mail blast went out). Our queries to council about who the volunteers on the "team" were and why we weren't able to participate have gone unanswered. One of my committee friends has been a GS volunteer for over 40 years and has been on the volunteer product sales committee since it was formed. Heck, she was a volunteer when most of us (including council staff) were Brownies making our first s'mores. She's not a happy camper.

It was a real slap in the face not just to have been left of our the decision process but to have found out such major news via an e-mail blast to all parents and volunteers in the new mega-council. If it had just been a staff decision, we would have been disappointed, but to specifically say volunteers were involved is just a slap in the face.

Chalk up another one to mega-councils sticking it to the volunteers. The sad part is that it isn't surprising and I'm sure no one reading this who is involved in Girl Scouting anywhere is shocked. Screwing volunteers has become the new normal.

Guess there isn't any other news, so if you skipped ahead, you just saved yourself some time. The current rain storm seems to have already passed so I'm back to reopen windows. At least I am getting my exercise in!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thomas Jefferson Education

Lately I have had an interest in the Thomas Jefferson Education method of homeschooling. Okay, I'm going to stop all the die hard Thomas Jefferson Educators right now. I haven't read the books yet. Just some articles. I've talked to a friend who is really into it. I don't know much about it yet, but intend to learn. If I say something wrong, do not jump down my throat. Your comment will not get posted. But if you wish to encourage me to learn more, please do so.

Can you say Freakmom is a little sensitive? What I can I say, I'm tired of people who don't give others a chance. I don't like being told I'm wrong all the time. Even when I am. I'm learning. I'm happy to admit when I'm wrong. But if you'll notice I don't usually go pointing out when you are wrong. Unless of course you are Mr. Incredible. I tell him all the time.

Sorry, I don't know where that all came from. I must have some repressed hostilities. Funny, I thought all my hostilities were pretty much out in the open.

So anyway, the books arrived today and I'm about to go start reading them. I've browsed through my friend's copies in the past. I like the idea of studying the classics. I've always considered our homeschool loosely classical. Not "The Well Trained Mind" classical, although I love that book. While we think the classics should be read and Latin and logic should be studied, Violet has subscriptions to several Archie Comics series and I read fluff novels every chance I get.

Boy, Freakmom sure is digressing tonight.

I am thinking about taking this class in the fall: Classic Moms. It sounds like fun. I like the on your own pace and the fact that if I don't do all the reading I can hide behind the internet. A couple of local friends are considering it as well. I told them they could pretend not to know me online if I fall behind and turn out to be the class classical dunce.

I think I need something just for me. This sounds promising. It sounds fun. We'll see. If it doesn't work, I'll be posting here in a few months about my next great idea for something just for me.

If you look over the link and decide you are interested, let me know. You can pretend not to know me too so I don't embarrass you if you want. I don't mind. I may pretend I don't know me too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm in love

Our town just got the best new business ever: our very own thrift store! I've had to go to other towns for my bargain fix, now I can stop in anytime I'm in town. It is maybe 5 minutes away. This could be dangerous.

It is more upscale than a lot of Salvation Army and Goodwill stores I've been in. Not to be a snob, but it is really nice not to have to sort through the "junk" to find the "good" stuff. It is clean. There's carpeting on the floor. The merchandise is in good shape. Ok, so the prices are maybe 25% more than in Salvation Army (maybe 50% on a few things), but the clothing was all stain free and things weren't broken. And by higher prices, I'm talking $1 each for the 2 shirts I bought Violet instead of 25 or 50 cents.

Violet and I stopped in and spent an hour browsing around. We had a blast. Besides her shirts, we each bought a dressy scarf ($1 each), a sock monkey (a present for my mom - what can I say, we're freaks), some knick knacks for my desk at work (I want my desk to look lived in, but I don't want to take anything and leave it there that really means anything to me), brand new slippers for Violet ($3), and a couple of knick-knacky things Violet picked out. Everything totaled less than $20. We're going back soon. I need a few more items to wear for work, you can bet I'm looking there first. In fact, we decided whenever we need anything, we're looking there first!

I'm so excited!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Long Weekend

We jam packed stuff into this weekend. I am beat.

We took the day off on Friday and went to a shopping mall about 45 minutes away. Violet had a $5 off any purchase coupon for Build-a-Bear and it is the closest one. She picked out an outfit and paid the difference. We had lunch at Rain Forest Cafe. I bought a blazer to wear when I speak in late June at an event for work. We also found some more shorts and a swimsuit for Violet. It was quite a day and we were beat when we got home.

On Saturday, Violet and Mr. Incredible went to a family picnic/birthday party. They picked up Mr. I's Dad on the way and he spent the night here Saturday night. He had been in the area for a few days and it was the only time Mr. I got to see him. He headed home to Wisconsin the next morning.

Where was I, you ask? Why didn't I go to the party? Because I stayed home and worked. I had gotten a huge project on Friday that had to be done by Tuesday morning. I thought about it a long time and figured that I had to miss out on something if I was going to finish. I decided that was what I would rather miss out on over spending time with just Violet and Mr. I. They did bring me home a goodie bag of cookies from the party, that was nice. I finished the project, plus did some extra work to help get me started for the week.

Sunday we went to see the Kane County Cougars, a Class A minor league baseball team, play the Clinton Lumber Kings. Our Cougars lost. It wasn't even a very good game. But it was fun, it always is at the Cougars. Ozzie, their mascot was entertaining the crowd, with special guest Birdzerk. It was Girl Scout night, so there were lots of girls in the stands. We couldn't get any of our Girl Scout friends to go with us, but their loss, we had fun. Didn't get home until after 10:30. We stayed for fireworks and to run the bases.

Side note, whoever thought up "run the bases" was a crowd control genius. Many of us lined up to go out on the field to run around the bases. It took just a couple of minutes for our run, 15 or 20 minutes to wait our turn. Meanwhile, other fans trickled out of the stadium and parking lot.

Another side note, I run like Kermit the Frog. Carrying a little pink purse. I'll probably be on You-Tube next week. Watch for me.

Today was our day off. I am so glad I got all the work done on Saturday (I'd rather have not had to work then either, but it was good for the old paycheck). I did an extra long workout with Wii Fit. I started some pre-reading for 6th grade next year (I'm reading ahead in science, history and mythology and making notes of extra activities we can do to spice up the reading - more about that in another post).

Violet and Mr. I installed his new rain barrel. We did a little bit of yard work and house work. And we grilled out. It was a nice day. Even the rain we had this morning really didn't interfere with anything we were doing.

Hope you all had a safe and good long weekend as well!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Company picnic activity ideas needed

You might remember last year I ran a craft project for kids at my company picnic. We did the faux tie dye with Sharpie markers and alcohol. It was a big success.

The company picnic is coming up again this summer, and I'd like to do another craft or maybe an activity. I'm looking to my wise and clever blog readers for ideas to float past the picnic committee. Do you have any ideas that would be:

1. Easy enough for pretty little kids, we had some as young as 3 and 4 participating last year (with lots of parent and/or grandparent help)

2. Not terribly messy, there isn't running water in the picnic shelter

3. Doesn't involve too much paint or glue, or if it does is fairly fast drying. The picnic isn't that long and I doubt my coworkers will be thrilled at having to transport dripping projects home in their fancy cars

I thought of maybe sand art, you know where you fill the bottles with colored sand. One person requested a repeat of last year's project, but that sounds boring. I want to look back through her blog posts, but I know Ami does some cool things with stomp rockets. That could be fun.

If you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oh, the ups and downs

Let me preface this with 2 things. One, I fully realize that what I am about to post as "downs" are not really "downs." Unfortunates if that. Things could be worse. A lot worse. I do know that. I just like to complain. Second, the usual, sorry I haven't been here. Man, I don't know where the days and weeks go. Let's get to the updating:

An up: we had our last day of 5th grade last week! Violet learned a lot this year and really started to show some independence. We have a lot of fun things planned for next year...I can't wait to start doing some pre-reading and planning.

A down: the state didn't come through for the funding for the program that does interlibrary loan. The funding ends June 1st, but our library system has pooled together to extend it until September 15th. No one knows what will happen after that. It has a lot of us homeschoolers biting our nails. We'll have to make some real changes in our library habits if that happens. I'm afraid we may even have to start making more use of e-books. Shudder!

An up: I saved $94 tonight. Well, sort of. I bought an open swim/lap swim punch pass at Violet's swim club. They had them on sale half price. We can go 12 times, for $50. (12 punches, one punch for the both of us when we go). If we paid the walk in off the street price of $6 each, 12 visits would cost $144. Now we just have to go. The pass expires in one year. I think we can do it.

A down: our Girl Scout camp family weekend got canceled due to low registration. We could have switched (maybe, if they were actually running) to one of 2 other mom and me sessions. But one was the awful camp we went to last summer. The other one, just didn't thrill me as much as the one we signed up for either. And since I had to convince Violet to go with me in the first place, I figured changing to a session she hadn't agreed to wasn't very fair. I'm much more bummed than she is.

And yes, we could just go camping. But that isn't the same thing at all. At family weekend we sleep on cots in platform tents. Camping, we have to pitch our tent and sleep on the ground - don't get me started about the rain. At Girl Scout camp, most of our meals are in the dining hall and all are planned by someone else. Camping, we have to plan, purchase, transport and cook all our own food. At GS camp, there are lots of cool activities all being run by counselors: archery, swimming, a corn maze, arts and crafts, tie dying, hiking, and much more. Camping: I have to plan and carry out the activities and there certainly won't be archery. Anyway, you get the idea. GS camp is all the fun of the great outdoors, and none of the work. That's what I had signed on for.

An up: busy season at work is ending, but it looks like I'll be keeping my hours at a decent level. Thank you health care reform. It is a consultant's friend. Not my friend personally, but that is for another blog.

A down: I might have to work on Saturday (Memorial Day weekend) but won't know until Friday. There's a big deadline on June 1st. If the department goes in the office to work, I have to go in. They'll decide at the last minute.

Now that you are all dizzy from the roller coaster, I'll end here and promise (yet again) to not be so long before I return.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hey There

Just a real quick post to say "hey" everyone! I'm still here. We have 2 and a half weeks of school left. I went to a training for Girl Scouts tonight for our new registration procedures. I think the bigwig lady was from another planet, but was good and didn't say anything. I think my membership director (a Council staffer) was disappointed I didn't act up. :grin:

The weather has been nice.

Today the tore up the road in front of our house. That promises to be annoying for the next week or more. They replaced some chunks of sidewalk in front of our house. Needless to say we aren't getting a lot done for all the watching of the workers we're doing. The homeschool family across the street has been watching it all too. They've actually ventured out into the street on their bikes during the process. Violet and I just watch from the window. Different styles I guess.

Gotta go tuck Violet in. Hope you are all well. I've been trying to be better about visiting your blogs, even if I don't comment. Miss you all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day everyone! Today Violet worked on some nature and art projects. We started out with some ideas of what she would do, but we got sidetracked by the straw bale sitting in the garden. We had gotten it to protect the strawberry plants and berry bushes. But we had a lot of extra. So like they always say, when life gives you straw, make a ...


Aren't they both cute?

Violet also tried her hand at nature photography. I think she did a great job:

She took a bunch of other photos too, but I figured that would give you a good overview.

It was a fun day. Hope you all enjoyed your Earth Day too!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What a basket case

I am a mess. I've forgotten my password for my work voice mail. I can't change my status to out of the office. Last time I was in the office it insisted I change the password right then and there. I did. I jotted the new password down on a little piece of yellow paper, in yellow highlighter. It was the only thing handy. I don't remember the password. I can't find the paper. I'll have to ask IT to reset my password on Monday. Meantime I head to Michigan tomorrow for a conference. I'll have to call them when I get a chance.

About a month ago I had to have IT reset another of my work passwords.

I'm constantly forgetting internet passwords and having to have them e-mailed to me. I even have my computer remember them (whenever safe, not like the online banking one). And I still lose them. I also have a handy dandy little program that I can input them into. Still, I lose them or forget them or misplace them.

I'm hopeless.

I've been totally messed up on what day it is this week. I missed the Friday night homeschool chat because I didn't realize it was Friday night until the chat was over. Part of the problem was that I played hooky from work two days. I felt lousy. It was overload.

I am mostly looking forward to the conference. Three nights in my own hotel room. But I've never been gone from Violet for that long. We'll be fine. But it will be different. I am looking forward to a couple of the educational sessions.

Let's just hope I have a regular key to my room and not a passcode. I'll forget it for sure. Three nights sleeping in the hallway doesn't sound as appealing.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nature Art

On Earth Day, Violet is going to complete the Girl Scout badge, Outdoor Creativity. In a nutshell it is about being creative (art, poetry, writing, etc.) in and about the outdoors. She'd like to concentrate on art projects. We've thought of nature photography and painting or drawing what she sees outside. I was wondering if anyone had any not-too-difficult art projects that involve the outdoors or nature.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Holy cow, am I delinquent!

I knew it had been a while since I blogged, but I didn't realize how long. Sorry about that!

We're are still trudging along. Work is busy, but I just get done what I can each day and let everyone know how long it will take me to get to everything. I've got a lot of traveling coming up in the next two weeks, including a 3 night trip out of state. I can't wait until the end of April.

Homeschool is going well. Violet has been working hard on her multiplication facts and is really getting better. She's learned quite a few of them. She practices them while jumping and clapping in a circle. It seems to work. We've been a little lax with other subjects lately, but the weather has been nice. The Easter Bunny brought her a scooter and she's spent time outside learning to ride it. There are a few things we'd really like to get finished before the end of the school year, but for the most part, I'm not too worried about any of it. Mostly it keeps us on a schedule. The next two weeks will have a lot of extra days off.

I am coming into the home stretch for my volunteer duties with Girl Scouts. We don't have a registrar lined up yet for next year, but it isn't really my problem. I gave them plenty of notice. If no one steps up, Council will probably have to fill in. They've done it before with other service units. That's just how it goes. (And I'm guessing there isn't one Girl Scout volunteer reading this who feels the least bit sorry for Council if they have to fill in.)

Speaking of Girl Scouts, our little underground troop just completed a pottery class. It was two sessions over two weeks at a studio about an hour from here. Moms (and a couple of Grandmas and an aunt and even two brothers) participated with the girls. We made a pot on a pottery wheel and another dish formed by hand. Tuesday we painted them. The guy also showed us the kiln and talked about the whole clay process. It was a good class. The other moms are all thinking of taking more classes (and one grandma and an aunt). I'm not interested. It was fine, but honestly it wasn't my thing. I can't imagine sitting at a wheel making pot after pot. Painting was difficult because I'd forgotten my reading glasses, the lighting was poor and I could barely see the thing. (One of the other moms offered to hold it up across the six foot table for me if I did the same for her.) I'm making all these excuses because when we get our pots I plan to post photos of them. When you see me poor paint job you'll say, "Poor nearly blind Freakmom, couldn't see what she was doing."

The pottery experience led me to think about what I would like to take a class in. I couldn't come up with much, I think I'm too "thinked" out. I would love, love, love to learn to kayak. And I'd like to learn to snorkel and scuba dive. I also wouldn't mind signing up for a cooking class or two. Just causal ones. The community college near us just started a culinary program. Nothing that intense for me. On the 3-night trip, I'll get the chance to go to some programs for work. There were a few that interested me professionally (on the effects of healthcare reform and the future of continuing care retirement communities, not what I'd choose to study in my free time, but sort of interesting from a work standpoint.) But pottery, just doesn't get my enthusiasm up.

Yeah, I know there is something wrong with me, choosing healthcare reform over pottery. I'm a freak. But I'd choose cooking and kayaking long before the work topics, but if I'm stuck at a convention I might as well get some continuing education credit.

Now speaking of community college, Violet signed up for two Kids and College programs this summer: Greek Mythology and Filo clay. (I have no idea what Filo is, I really should Google it, but Violet knew and wanted to take the class right away.) The mythology is actually for kids going into 4th and 5th grades in the fall, and Violet will be 6th grade, but we contacted the program director and she said it was no problem for her to take it. I really hope they get enough kids to run the programs, we've had problems with cancellations in the past. Violet is considering two other classes, both Kids and College combined with the aforementioned new culinary program: an appetizer class and a baking class. I kind of hope she decides to take them so I can learn from what she learns.

We also signed up for another Girl Scout camp family weekend. It will be in July at the camp we've really liked in the past. Just Violet and I. It will be our "girl's getaway weekend." Now, Girl Scout camp weekend, that interests me.

Well, I don't write often, but I seem to get chatty once I do sit down to write. I apologize for not being a better Blogging Buddy lately. I'll keep trying to be better.

In the meantime, what would you like to take a class in?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Freakmom, She'll Know

It would seem I have become the Heloise of my office. Remember Heloise, from the Hints from Heloise newspaper column in the 70s? She was the one you turned to if you spilled red wine on the carpet or needed to get onion stink out of your dish towel. On Saturday I was working in the office and one of the interns suggested one of the other young guys that he ask me something, that I'd know the answer. Was it work related? A complex HIPAA issue maybe? Or some obscure Medicare regulation? No, he needed help getting the tea stains out of his mug. Fill it with Coke (not Pepsi or another cola drink) and leave it overnight.

So which is worse?

1. That I knew the answer.

2. That they thought to ask me and not anyone else.

3. That the 25 year old didn't know to use Coke to get stains out. (Seriously, did he sleep through middle school science class?)

4. That none of them would have a clue who I meant by "Heloise".

I am a good 15 years older (yikes, more actually) than the vast majority of the other cubicle dwellers. Mr. Incredible said I've become the mom of the office. Sigh.

Tonight was Violet's new swim class. You'll never guess who was in it! One of the other homeschool Juliettes! I knew their family took lessons there. But last time we talked about it she had a different instructor, so I never thought she might be in this class. Turns out it was her second week in this level. She must be the one they created the class for, since it was at our old time slot and it didn't exist when Violet was promoted. (I'm a bit miffed that they didn't create the class at that time, but at least they have it now). Her little brother is in Violet's old class!

Violet liked the new instructor. Liked having her friend in the class. Didn't care much when both her instructor and the swim instructor supervisor both trying to correct her somersaults in the middle of the pool during her lesson (they need to learn them for flip turns). She got embarrassed and more than a bit flustered, there were tears involved. But I am proud to say by the end of the lesson she was turning straight and no longer flopping on her side each time!

Hopefully next week class will be smooth all the way through.

And if you need to know some weird housekeeping tip, just ask. I'll be the one trying to look professional while wearing an apron and pearls over in my cube. Snort.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rolling Along

Sorry I'm so AWOL. I think I start every post like that. I have a lot of post ideas, but by the end of the day, I'm just tired of being in front of my computer. I've been working a jigsaw puzzle. I really enjoy sitting there instead of here. But I miss you all. Wish you could all be at my puzzle with me.

Let's see, what's new.

I did go with Writing Strands. Thank you to both Ami and Gail for your other writing program recommendations. I've actually bookmarked them. I don't think Violet is quite ready for either of them. She started Writing Strands on Monday. We'll see what happens with it. I think the basic instruction and guidelines are what she needs now. But I'm far from a stickler with curriculum. If she wants to skip parts, that's fine. If she wants to do something different, that's fine. I use curriculum, it doesn't use me. After she gets some basic practice, I'll have her look at the two books your daughters recommended (recommendations from other homeschool kids is a big plus in her book) and see if she wants to try them. (And if Writing Strands turns out to be a miserable failure, it won't be the first curriculum failure we've had and moved on from).

We also got Word Roots from Critical Thinking. Violet is really liking that. She's been studying Latin, little by little, for a while and is enjoying it.

On the work front, I had a bit of a break this week and took full advantage of it. I did our taxes (we owe Federal but get a little more than we owe back from the state). I slept. I did the aforementioned jigsaw puzzle. I'm dreading Saturday. There's a big deadline looming and I'm afraid that if I'm in the office I'll be dragged into work I'd rather not do. I'd prefer to clean the bathrooms. Or clean out poison ivy from the trails. Or scrub the hallways with a toothbrush. But on the plus side, there's snow and icy mix in our forecast. I'm hoping for bad weather. Then I'll have an excuse to wig out and not go in. Hard to get as excited about work when they've dashed your hopes and dreams. I know. Welcome to the real world. Work sucks.

On Mr. Incredible's work front, he sent off his resume this morning for his dream job. He says he is underqualified for it. But it would be a perfect fit. So if you have it in a you to say a prayer, send a good vibe, rub your lucky rabbit's foot, or just lift a pint of Guinness and say a hearty, "Good luck, Man!" we'd appreciate it. It would involve moving out of state, but he would be so good at it and would really love it.

But, back to me. Did I tell you all I sent off my resume too? I applied for an instructor position at an online university. I was underqualified as well, but what they hey. Can't hurt.

More good news. I got Violet into a different swim class. She isn't completely sold on the idea. She did like her old class. But the date and time were in conflict with other activities and was stressing me out. This one is back to our old day and time, but with a new instructor. Violet has loved all the swim instructors she's had, so I'm sure she'll like this girl too. But if she doesn't, we'll move her back.

We have had beautiful weather the last few days (yes, I did say snow and ice predicted in two days, but warm and in the 60s today, welcome to the midwest in March). Violet and I went for walks yesterday and today. Then this afternoon she took Mr. I. out for a walk. She wanted to show him these weird mounds that are out along the edges of the pond near us. They look a little like beaver dams, but it is a pond not a river, and I don't think we get many beaver here. We do get raccoons and possums, but I don't think they build lodges like these. They are probably something man made to stop erosion or something. If I call the parks department and ask (they are on their property) it'll turn out they are composting Christmas trees or something and I'll look silly.

As always, I promise to be better about keeping up with my blogging buddies. For now, I'm off to my puzzle. Grab a glass of wine and meet there if you want!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Writing Strands

Does anyone have an opinion about Writing Strands they'd care to share? (Ha, homeschool moms not wanting to share an opinion, that'd be the hard thing to find!) I'm strongly considering getting book 3 for Violet for the fall. She'll be going into 6th grade. She's previously been very reluctant to write, but lately has shown an interest. She's very creative, but often needs a kick start. I think if I just give her writing assignments she'll roll her eyes at me and never do them. But she seems to like the idea of a book to guide her through it. I showed her the samples from their website today and she was interested.

Anyway, the price looks right. But I'd still like to know how others enjoyed it or didn't care for it. How you used it. That sort of thing. Thanks!

We're almost through our busiest of busy weeks. Mr. Furnace Guy said we also need a new igniter. $208 dollars for a little part, held in by one screw. And no, he couldn't just do it today and include it in the labor from today's work, although Mr. I. is certain he had the part out in his truck. Mr. I. searched online, found a place called the Igniter Store, that only sells igniters and gives a free "wine opener" which each purchase! What a deal. (I don't know how a "wine opener" differs from a corkscrew, but you know me and my merlot - I'm game to find out!) He hadn't researched to find out which igniter we needed but he said they range from $20 to $50 dollars. He's sure he can change one screw to install it himself.

When I write the blog entry entitled, "Today our house blew up," you'll know why.

We haven't completely decided yet, I think he's going to get some advice from either his dad or mine, both pretty skilled fellas when it comes to home repair and mechanical things. But $50 versus $208. He's thinking hard about that and doing more research.

Our snow is melting, it was sunny and our temperatures hit 40 today! You just can't help but feel better with weather like that.

Oh, and the dentist thinks Violet will be ready for phase 2 of braces soon. We'll have another orthodontist visit in a month or two to find out for sure. I hope her last two baby teeth take their own sweet time coming out. I don't know how we'll swing phase two right now. We had dental insurance and two jobs for phase one. Mr. I. is likely to vote not to do the phase, but her teeth are so improved, I'd hate to not have them just right. I think if we don't it will lead to more problems down the road. My mom got braces at 60. She might lend us the money if we need to.

Drat, I lost that "good weather" good feeling thinking about this. I'd better get out a wine opener and open me some shiraz.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Busy week

Every week is busy around here at the Freak house, but this week is worse than usual. Violet had her normal swim lesson, plus a dentist appointment. We went to the Festival of the Sugar Maples to learn about the production of maple syrup. (Our county has a big population of sugar maple trees, we are one of the southern-most areas that can produce maple syrup). And we have seats for the school performance of Max & Ruby (not sure if it is a musical or play or what).

If that isn't enough I had a Girl Scout leader meeting tonight. And Mr. I. had the furnace guy out on Tuesday. We found out our furnace model is likely to leak carbon monoxide. We had it tested, and you guessed it. It leaks it. So he's coming back tomorrow to exchange a part of some sort. Because it is a flaw in the furnace, the part is free. We just pay for labor. That's bad enough, but better than death by carbon monoxide poisoning.

It was Girl Scout cookie week and we've been delivering cookies. I pick them up for the other homeschool Girl Scouts and they pick them up from here. It works out really well for us all. We've got most of Violet's orders delivered and paid for, there are a few more to go this weekend. And a few coworkers to catch up with on Saturday for payment.

Despite all this we are making good progress with school. Violet really enjoys having my full attention in the afternoons and is happy to study during it. We aren't doing any work that is too terribly taxing either, which helps.

It really helps having less pressure at work. I still have a lot to do. But I'm not going nuts over it all. Plus I'm not going to bust my butt to get something done, when they are just going to sit on it for a week anyway. I've been asking "when will you look at this" rather than "when do you want this by." Turns out the answers aren't always the same. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure things out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Change in plans

I am still quite busy with work, but I am no longer trying to get that promotion. I'm not comfortable going into details here, but let's just say I found out there were a lot of unwritten requirements that I didn't know about (no, nothing illegal or immoral, just stuff that would require more selling out than I thought there would be). If you want more of the ugly story, let me know and I'll tell you in e-mail. I love telling it. It is very therapeutic.

So, I am working as many hours as I can get in, but a little more on my terms. They don't know it yet. I'm not sure how to broach that with them. How do I say, never mind I figured out you were never going to promote me anyway because I wouldn't conform to your unreasonable expectations. I have someone in upper management who I can trust, I have to discuss things with her. She'll help me. It may not be resolved, but I've got to say there's a lot less pressure now.

Mr. I's birthday was Friday. We had seats for a school day performance of the Moscow Circus. We had gotten him a seat to go with Violet and me. We really enjoyed the show. It was interesting to see Mr. I.'s reaction to the theater full of school kids. He now gets some of the complaints I've had for the last 3 years that we've been attending. It was a sold out show, so he really got the full experience of crowds, noise and buses clogging the parking lot.

Afterward we took him out for pizza at his favorite pizza place. Then we went shopping at Target. Today he and Violet made his birthday brownies (he always wants those over a cake).

We are expecting a big snow Monday. Luckily we aren't going anywhere.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Yes, I'm still alive. Still breathing. But that's it.

I have been so busy with work. And I'm more stressed than ever by it. I'm trying to get a promotion. I didn't realize how much extra work that would be. If I'd known I don't think I would have done it. Now, if I back out, but want to try again in 3 years, they won't give me the chance. I have to stick it out and see if I get it. It isn't one particular job, it is a new level. They'll make the announcement in the summer. I have to work my butt off until then. Sigh.

I have a desk at work again. I've been trying to find stuff to put there, so it looks like I actually use it. I don't want to take anything that is really meaningful there, so I've been trying to find stuff that just "looks meaningful." I need to make a run to the thrift shop to buy a bunch of other people's discarded keepsakes to pose as my own. Violet and I went to the outlet mall and I got a place setting, mug and glass to take in. We get a lot of meals brought in. I didn't want to use paper plates every time. So now I'm the freak bringing my own plate to the company lunches. Sigh.

In the homeschool world, things are going well. Violet loves our new daily schedules. It does keep us on track. She's loving History of US, Latin, and even spelling! Can you believe it? Spelling! I think she just wasn't ready before. And she's been practicing handwriting too! I am so glad she hasn't been in prison, I mean institutionalized schooling, all this time and forced to work on both before she was ready.

Mr. I has his business started. He had a paying customer this week. The business run by a homeschool dad we are friends with. There's still so much work for him to do to really be running as a small business owner. The unemployment payments finally started coming in. Thank goodness.

Violet's big news....she was moved up to level 5 in swimming. She started in level 2 less than a year ago. Her instructor wasn't sure about moving her up. She said Violet was technically ready, but she wasn't sure if she had the endurance to do the next level. She had her try swimming 100 yards instead of their 50's they did and Violet could do it, although she was winded. She moved her.

Violet LOVED her first level 5 class. Her new instructor is the sister of her old instructor. And she knows a girl in her class from a previous class. Get her first class, Violet learned to do flip turns! She was pretty excited. She'd tried once or twice but couldn't do it. I am really glad it went so well, since I'd kinda been "that mom" and pushed her instructor to move her. I had to, Violet was bored in level 4. If she wasn't given the chance to challenge herself more, she would have wanted to quit.

I'll try to be better about updates. And I'm going to try to come by Ami's homeschool chat on Friday nights more often - that was really nice last week!

For now, I think I'll watch a little Olympics. I've earned a break.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Remember me?

Good golly, I've been busy this week. We started homeschool back up on Monday. In order to have some structure for Violet, we are devoting from around 1:00 in the afternoon until 4:00 ish every week day to school. She is loving it. We have a list of things to work on each day. There have been very few tears. She looks forward to (most of) it.

I guess what they say about kids wanting structure in their lives is true. With Mr. I. now unemployed, her previous structure crashed and burned before her very eyes. As long as she's happy with this arrangement, we plan to keep it up.

Meanwhile, I'm working more hours than ever. No, I'm not really sure where I'm fitting them all in. I am able to do some in the afternoons while Violet work independently on some subjects. This is the first time ever we've had that. She's been very hands on in the past. The timing couldn't be better.

Mr. I. is working on getting his business started up. And working on some side projects. He applied for unemployment benefits. They'll start arriving soon. It will be less than half of his previous pay. He's got to find out how much he can earn, if any, without reducing his benefits.

I'm still bitter and resentful. We've worked so hard all our adult lives. And what do we get for a reward. A kick in the pants. Mr. I spent his 2 month "severance" period working for the no longer existing company. Several of them did, getting lose ends tied up and equipment moved out. So much for their severance pay. Sounds like regular salary to me.

I think I'd better wrap up this entry before it turns even more sour.

Crap, I missed Mental's online chat again last night! I've got to get those on my calendar. Sorry, Mental. I really would like to suspend real life for a while and chat with others like a normal homeschool mom for a while.

Back to work for a few more minutes, then I'm calling it a night.