Sunday, September 25, 2011

I want an alpaca!

We went to two alpaca farms today. My mom, my dad, Mr. Incredible, Violet and I. All 5 of us left wanting to be alpaca farmers. They are so cute! They are soft, and mild mannered and gentle. Mr. I would like one to mow the backyard. My dad liked that benefit too. Mom and I let the alpacas at the first farm eat from our hands (I think they had Purina Alpaca Chow). Violet preferred to just pet them.

At the second farm my mom bought alpaca wool socks for me, Violet and herself. Violet is wearing hers as I type.

It was definitely a good afternoon. When we got home, Violet asked me to e-mail the Cadette Mom from her GS group to see if she could bring her socks to show the girls and tell them about the farms. A huge step for her! (I'll wash her socks before she takes them.)

So if you are looking for just the perfect Christmas gift for me, an alpaca would fit the bill. I wonder what our Village Board would say about it? I don't think alpacas are addressed in the Village ordinances.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

School: Week 1

This was our first full week of 7th grade and I think it went well. It was certainly a success academically. The subjects we started on were a good mix of fun and challenging. A few things are outside of her comfort zone, which is good. One in particular is You Decide! by The Thinking Company. But she was game and we read through the first lesson together and she actually expressed an opinion. I was pleased.

Violet was definitely willing and eager to do school work. She was ready before I was most days. I think we need to work towards more subjects being independent. I've been struggling to keep up with work, the house, family, and now school. I don't know how I'll make it through the semester.

Her Girl Scout group is still going okay. The Journey they are working on is also outside her comfort zone. I've told her she should stick with them, once they get through this, the next things they tackle will have to be easier. We decided to lead a service project with the group. I checked with the group leaders to make sure it fit with their vision and goals for the group. I didn't want to jump in mid-stream and find out it wasn't their cup of tea. We're collecting used blankets and towels for the greyhound rescue. I'm hoping that will also give Violet a better sense of belonging with the group.

Today I have dinner with my ladies' group from work. Tomorrow we are going to an alpaca open house. It is National Alpaca Farm Days, and we've found 2 farms near us with open houses. My folks are going with us. It was my mom's idea and she was really happy when we all said we'd like to go.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again

Yes, it is almost here, the Girl Scout fall product sale. The time of year I ask my dear readers to lend me your e-mail address and/or snail mail address so that Violet can earn the stupid patch for soliciting magazine sales both online and via the mail. Several of you have allowed me to use your addresses for several years, and unless I hear differently, I'll go ahead and do it again this year (you know who you are).

If you are new and wouldn't mind getting an e-mail and/or mail advertisement for magazines from us, I'd love it if you'd e-mail and let me know where to send it (janetp1 @ You are under absolutely no obligation to make a purchase. She needs 12 e-mail addresses for one patch, and 11 snail mail addresses for the other. Simply providing your e-mail or snail mail address helps Violet out. You should not be added to any mailing lists, just the one ad from QSP.

E-mails go out on October 14th. The snail-mailing is done in January, I think.

Thanks for considering it. I really appreciate the support!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Home again, home again

And home for a while now. No more long work trips until next May! Hooray!! I love going on the trips, but it puts a strain on life at home. Mr. I and Violet are good about it all, but it is just so much more routine to be here.

The trip was good. Definitely less stressful than the last one. It really helped that there were so many of us from the office there. And lots of others that we know.

Most nights I slept pretty good. I never used to be able to sleep well on the road, but I must be getting used to it. The worst night was the night before I had to speak. Of course! I woke up several times during the night. The worst was at 5:30 in the morning. I heard sirens outside. Then the thermostat in my room started to make a hissing noise. Only I didn't know it was the thermostat at first, I had to turn on the light and figure it out. THEN I started thinking it must be hissing because the hotel must be on fire and that's what the sirens were. I was mentally laying out my shoes, coat and purse to take with me when the fire alarms would go off any second. I finally figured out that by changing the heat/cool setting on the thermostat the hissing would stop. Still no fire alarms, so I went back to bed, but didn't sleep for a while.

Turns out that the thermostats frequently hiss. It is a really old hotel and it shows. But no evacuation. No fire. And the conference went on. But I continued to hear a lot of sirens on the stay. What on earth do they do in downtown Peoria all night long?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What a difference 350 miles makes

That is how much less I'll be traveling this week, versus my last trip for work. About half the distance. Same amount of time gone. Yet, this trip feels like it will be so much shorter and easier.

First, I'm not leaving the state. And I'll be traveling to a city, hotel and conference center I've been to several times before. Last time I had to go to Michigan, to a city I'd never been to. This time I know right where I'm going. I know how to find the parking garage. I know where the conference center is and what the layout will be. I know where my room will be (at least where the elevator is that will take me to it) and where to find food, coffee, all the essentials.

I'll be just as busy at the conference this time, but will have far less pressure on me. Last time my boss had to cancel at the last minute due to a death in her family. I spent the weekend before making phone calls and rearranging schedules to get someone to come with me. Granted that someone was WONDERFUL and I couldn't have done it without her, but I was the senior on the trip because I'd been to this conference before and knew the people. My substitute, who outranks me in the firm, was a newbie in this situation and looking to me for details on protocol, etc.

This time I share one speaking 90-minute session with someone who really knows our material. He's been speaking on it all summer long. I realized yesterday I haven't spoken on this material in probably 4 years. I've gotten up to speed, and except for a few small details I want to go over with him, feel confident about my part. And I know he can cover for me if I can't answer a question. Last time I was speaking for 4 hours and was the lead since my wonderful substitute wasn't as familiar with all of our topics. (But she did a fantastic job, better than I could have done on my own - thank goodness she came with me. Are you sensing a pattern? I'm really glad she was with.)

This time I'm attending more educational sessions, acting as room monitor for more as well. There will be more time in the trade show booth. But there's just none of that pressure of the Michigan trip.

So bon voyage for a few days. I look forward to getting caught up with you after my short trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A blog award

Mel at Night Owl Mom just awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. Liebster is a German word which means favorite or beloved. The recipient of this award should link back to the one who gave it to her and pass it along to 5 bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Here are some of my favorite bloggers who definitely deserve this award:

Mother Mayhem, three words "I miss you." And a few more, we've got to chat more! (Hugs)

Fatcat at Home*School*Home always inspires me with their plans and schedules. And provides great resource tips. Just when I think I know about every homeschool resource out there, she posts another great one!

Mom #1 at Two Moms' Homeschool makes me laugh and makes me cry, sometimes in the same post. But mostly I love hearing their family adventures which now include college.

Ami.Mental, if you've read her blog, then you know. With Mental you get honesty, craziness and warmth all in one.

Gail of Tales of Homeschool. Another great place for ideas and inspiration on all things homeschool and extracurricular! If we could transport your girls in, I would so love to add you guys to our Juliette groups!

Thanks Mel for finding my blog a favorite or beloved. And thanks to all the mom-bloggers I read for sharing and letting us into your lives. When I fall behind on my blog reading I find myself wondering what happened next. How is Sweetums? Which kid has caused Mental to turn blue trying not to laugh at their fart joke in front of them. And all the other crazy, quirky, fun things that go on daily in the lives of homeschoolers (retired or active - you never really leave the world of homeschooling once you are in it).

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

Violet went to her first meeting of the new Juliette group yesterday. She seemed to have enjoyed it. Mr. I was a little worried when he picked her up and she was just sitting there with the other girls, but not talking or eating her snack. But she did tell me several things they did, and things she said during the discussions. She said she likes the other girls and the Cadette mom is really nice. She had an assignment, which luckily she remembered to tell me about today before I left on my trip, and she did it (she needed to find a picture of something she wants to be when she grows up, a children's librarian in her case).

She took her sash with and said she did show it to the other girls (none of them wear them at most meetings per the moms who run it - typical of most troops too). And she wants to keep taking her sash with her.

So I am cautiously optimistic that this will work out for her. Those of you who've known us a long time will know that she's very quiet, shy and prone to being overly sensitive. Those qualities don't really lend themselves to big group activities with kids, so we've avoided them. (Or tried them to have them fail miserably.) She's been showing more and more signs of maturity and it would be so nice for her to come more out of her shell. So far so good.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Slow motion and fast forward

I feel like my life is going in both slow motion and fast forward at the same time. Slow motion because I can't get anything done. I start on things and never get back to them to finish. And fast forward because time is just flying by.

I'm two-thirds of the way through Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, I'm confident I'll finish in time for class. I renewed Drowned Hopes, a Dortmunder novel by Donald Westlake because I couldn't finish it in time. (Haven't read Dortmunder? I highly recommend it. He's a criminal. He and his gang try to carry out capers. Comedy ensues.) And I'd really like to get back to reading Roast Beef, Medium by Edna Ferber. Maybe I wouldn't be in such slow motion if I didn't read more than one book at a time. Hmmm.

I want to get Juliettes underway. But I just have so few free dates coming up that I want to offer up to the other families. In fact, tonight I just admitted potential defeat and asked if we could postpone the planned Juliette Low birthday party. I had it scheduled for 2 days after we return from vacation in October. That's just too quick. I know I won't be ready. Juliettes is in slow motion too.

Fast forward to work. There's so much to be done, and the time flies by. I'm going to a conference next week, but only have one presentation to make. Yay!! And double yay, my co-speaker told me today that he's been speaking on our topic so much the last couple of weeks that he's comfortable with any part of the handout. I need to look at it tomorrow to see if there is a half I'd rather do. That's pressure off.

Did I tell you about the second group of Girl Scouts Violet is joining? A couple of moms from our local unschooling group also run a co-op through a local park district. They started up a Juliette group. Kinda like what I do, but on a bigger scale. I have 3 other families involved and we meet haphazardly, about twice a month if I ever get going. This year they will have 18 girls (Daisies, Brownies and Cadettes) and meet weekly. Shhh, don't tell council, they'd probably try to make them into a troop and from what I've seen, this group works just fine they way they are, thank you very much.

We found out there would be other Cadettes this year (they are all a year younger than Violet and were Juniors last year), and Violet said yes, she'd like to join them for a while. Our main goal is for her to meet other girls. And homeschooled Girl Scouts sure seems like a good place to look for potential friends. They start this week. One mom is taking over the Cadettes, and guess what? It isn't me!!! I think that's what Violet likes best about this group, I'm not involved.

In fact, I can't even take her to the first 3 meetings, due to work commitments. Mr. I will handle her transportation needs. They are tackling the journey, AMaze. I wouldn't have picked that one myself, but I'm not doing it. It is about stereotypes, and bullies, and cliques. Things that will be good for Violet to know how to deal with, but that she hasn't run into much. There's been discussion among the Cadette moms about where the girls all are with the subject and I think it will be kept low key.

The sessions run for 6 weeks at a time. I've told Violet it is 100% up to her if she stays in it or not. And for once, it really is. The weekly meetings are more than I typically like, but if she hits it off with the group - we'll make it work. If she decides it isn't for her, no biggie. We'll look for something else for her.

I'm crossing my fingers it works out for her. Violet would really like to be among other girls more often than she is now. And at the fast forward pace of weekly, she sure will have more time with girls!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The problem with homeschooling

We're starting out 8th year of homeschooling and I finally found one problem with it. Since we weren't going back to school, we didn't buy back-to-school clothes, which is when families buy fall/winter clothes. The temperature dropped 20 degrees in the last 2 days and left Violet with no long pants that fit her. I suppose you could argue that wasn't homeschooling's fault, it was parental error, but I don't. :)

So off we went to Wally World today. We found her 3 pairs of jeans and one pair of denim capris. Hopefully that will tide her over for a bit. I was relieved that girl's size 16 jeans fit her. I am dreading the switch to junior's for jeans. The price, the styles, trying to find ones that are long enough but still skinny enough, it all scares me. For now, I've avoided it.

Although it was technically a holiday today, we did a little school work. We played with the prepared slides we bought at American Science and Surplus yesterday. Violet started her next book club book, "The Shakespeare Stealer." And we started some reading and watched a DVD on the Dewey Decimal system, a requested elective of Violet's. I'm expecting tomorrow to be busy for me with work, so I don't think we'll get much done.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Caught up

In some aspects of life at least. I have finally gotten through all my e-mails and all the posts in my blog reader! I totally enjoy all the blogs I subscribe to, so I really didn't want to skip anything. Most of my e-mails that got backed up were digests from various yahoo groups. I can skip a lot of those. But not the blogs. :)

We made our trip to American Science and Surplus today. We got prepared slides and blanks and covers to make our own. Plus some crafty items. I figured out a few more things to do for Juliettes this year, so I'm happy about that. We found those little metal ball key chains which we'll use for the jewelry badge. And these awesome purple foam boxes that they can decorate for jewelry boxes.

I plan to offer the Juliettes 3 badges, Jewelry (for both Juniors and Cadettes), Eco-Action (again for both) and GS in the USA for Juniors and Women through time for Cadettes. The Juniors will probably just do more than their badges require in order for the Cadettes to complete their badges. (For now we're just using the old badges, I already bought the badges to be sure to get them.)

In addition to the key chains and jewelry boxes, we're going to make Shrinky Dinks, yarn scarves (not actually jewelry, but definitely a cool accessory - I can't describe it well, so I'll post photos later), beaded necklaces, and pins. I'd like to set up a tour of a jewelry store. I have to find one that will have us. I'm hoping one of the other families might have a contact at one.

I need one more good idea for the Eco-Action badge. Anyone have any thoughts? I'm going to have them make solar ovens with pizza boxes and make an art piece from recycled materials. Then I have a bunch of tour possibilities I'm hoping to do at least 2 of: tour a recycle facility, tour an ecologically friendly dry cleaner, and meet with a lady who has a website of environmentally friendly businesses to hear why it is important to choose green businesses. Not exactly by the book requirements, but I feel like we've done the same sort of things over and over.

The Cadettes will be going to a local historical museum and working on their own on the women's history badge. Reading about women in various historical settings or who made a great impact on the world or a profession, and sharing it. The Juniors will do their GS in the USA badge by celebrating the 100th anniversary of GS and all the GS holidays.

Well, this has been a rambling post, but I think it all came together. I'm finally caught up in my plans for Juliettes. I have to set dates and arrange tours, but I have all year to do it. We have the historical museum trip set up and the Juliette Low birthday party date set. I think the rest of it will fall together. I'm just glad to have the basic plan finally in shape!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wagon Train

Remember our family friend Harvey? I wrote about him in the blog post Goat Snot and Other Adventures. With a title like that you know you want to read it again, go ahead. I wrote one other post about him too. I must confess, I never did read his book. They are working on a second one. Maybe I'll read them both when the sequel is published.

Anyway, I bring that up because we went to visit him last weekend. He's getting ready for a cross country trip. This is what he'll be driving:

He expects it will take 6 or 7 months to get out west and back. He and his friend Richard will be pulled by 2 mules. The wagon is equipped with 2 beds, a table, windows that open, a rear view mirror (it seems to serve no purpose other than it looks really cool in the "cab" of the wagon) and 2 seats from cars:

Traveling with Harvey and Richard is Harvey's faithful companion Sadie:

They'll have a cell phone with them, but no internet access. Richard plans to journal the trip but Harvey wasn't sure if he would or not. He says it is long, hard days and there is very little time to do it. And apparently when you come to a town, you can't just drive your wagon and mules up to the nearest Starbucks to use their wifi access.

Most of the animals on the farm have been sold pending the trip. The chickens are still there. Violet, who took most of the pictures I'm posting, had a heck of a time getting a chicken to stand still to take its picture. This turned out the best I think.

The cat isn't going. A cat would hate a wagon trip. Harvey offered to let us take the cat. But can you imagine a cat who is used to living on a farm with free range chickens, all the mice you can eat, lots of freedom, would hate living in a house in the suburbs with 3 other lazy housecats. The cat will board with another farm while Harvey's gone I'm sure. Doesn't she look happy on the farm?

A lot of us are hoping Richard finds a way to post his journal during the trip. He's been looking into various technologies, but money is a factor. If he does, I'll post about it here. Maybe they need commercial advertising to subsidize the trip? You know a big corporate logo on the wagon, photo stops along the way, "Harvey and Richard drink Gatorade to stay hydrated on the wagon trip." They'd hate that. We may have to wait to hear their adventures. Just like when the first wagons went West.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trying to squeeze it all in

First, thank you for the kind comments on my post last night. My blog buddies are the best! This post isn't nearly as deep.

I'm trying to figure out how to fit everything in to the days that I want to do. I have a library book checked out, I'm never going to finish it on time, but want to. I'll have to renew it. I also want to reread Carry On, Mr. Bowditch before our next Classic Moms class. We did it as a read aloud last year, but I want to read it again with an adult eye and take notes before our discussion. Then there is school and work and housekeeping and everything else.

After next week I'm out of town again for a week. It is the last conference of the year. If I have to go out of town again after this, it will only be for a night or two. I think I'm just going to have to take time each day to read a few chapters of Mr. Bowditch. It should read faster because I have read it before. I get back from the conference the same day as our class. I'm hoping to get in a few hours before class, so I have time to see the family quickly before plugging in to my computer. I don't want to miss the discussion!

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary. Mr. I is working. Violet and I have errands to run. Tomorrow Violet and I are going to my parents' to celebrate my mom's birthday while Mr. I finishes up more work. Then Sunday we'll celebrate. We're going to American Science and Surplus to look for microscope supplies. We just got an awesome microscope for school. On our way home we'll go out to dinner. If you've ever read the American Science and Surplus catalog, you know what fun a trip to their store is. It is like the catalog, but in 3-D with all the neat toys and gadgets right there. We love going.

I have work to do, but I really want to take most of the weekend off. Some stuff may just not get done until next week. I think if I really want to squeeze everything in to my days, that's what I'm going to have to do. Besides, they put me on salary this year and I am consistently working more hours than I'm getting paid for. That isn't cutting it. Time to put my foot down, then put my feet up and read.

If you haven't read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, I really recommend it. Violet and I both loved it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The topic of tonight's Classic Moms class was transformation. Those of you who are taking Classic Moms with me will understand why I was inspired to post tonight. Those of you who aren't in the class, well, why the heck aren't you in it? Classic Moms from Abigail Adams Academy absolutely rocks! Well, your loss. Try to enjoy the blog post anyway.

Andrea introduced us to the idea of how truths transform us. How when we learn a new truth it takes us on a path and in the end we grow from it. There were middle steps, but I'm going into it here. You should have been in the class, you missed out. As she was talking I realized that I recently did learn a new truth, and wanted to share it. Caveat for those of you who aren't in the class, this was a spiritual related truth. What I learned is a truth to me, it may not be to you. I don't intend to try to try to make you believe the same things I do, we all have our own beliefs and we must be study within them and be true to them. (Those of you who study TJed with Andrea already know that.)

Background, last week I was out of town at a conference for work. One evening I had dinner with a co-worker who in the course of our wandering, non-work related conversations, said that she believes that there is only one God and that God presents himself (edited by me to include herself and/or itself) to each individual in the way that the individual can best understand and perceive him/her/it/etc. A light bulb came on in my head and after years of not being able to reconcile my own spiritual beliefs it made sense. Years of thinking and reading and wondering and it finally became clear to me over steak and salmon (we eat well when the company sends us out of town and picks up the check) who/what god is. I now know who my spiritual being is.

Even farther back, background: I was raised both in the United Church of Christ and with Native American spiritual beliefs. I could never get the two ideas to gel in my head because of the commandment about worshiping only one God. At home I was taught that there was not only the Great Spirit but other spirits watching over us and helping us find our way. It all makes sense now. There is just one God. But God presents him/her/itself (I haven't figured that part out yet) to me both as the Great Spirit and as my spirit guide and as other spirits. I don't have to completely throw Christianity out the window, I just have to accept both as the truth.

Okay, at this point let me remind you that I'm not saying that my truth has any grain of truth to you. I encourage you to have your own beliefs, I respect your beliefs, I will even fight for your right to believe what is true for you. I just will not stand for anyone to disparage my truth. (And for my new Classic Mom friends, I am addressing this to the blog spammers. My friends and blog buddies wouldn't leave nasty comments, whether they agree or disagree with me. That's why they are so cool. Freakmom, who often talks about herself in the third person, does not tolerate nasty comments from idiots with nothing better to do than wander cyberspace interfering in other people's blogs. Don't make me get out my spam swatter and smack you.)

Back to my new found truth. I learned tonight that my journey isn't over now that I know the answer. I have accepted it, but I must also work hard and grow from it. Perhaps that will be part of my classic moms path this year in learning who I will become.

Thank you for listening to my new truth and for respecting it. I have a long way to go, but gosh I feel like I've made huge strides already.