Monday, November 28, 2011

Kicking Chef Butt!

Yes, our gal Elizabeth Faulkner is really kicking chef butt on The Next Iron Chef competition. You may remember that we met her at a book signing while on vacation. She's made it to the top 5! And is still going strong. The toasted bagel and cream cheese ice cream she made on the episode that aired last night was very similar to the dessert she made (and we sampled) at the culinary demonstration. When she started to the ice cream machine we knew she'd survive! We've had her bread based ice cream - it is delicious. For us (yeah, I know, it wasn't like we went to her house and she made it just for us, don't worry, I'm a fan, not a stalker) she made a reconstructed pb&j sandwich in an ice cream sundae. I mean really, how can that lose?

Keep kicking chef butt, Elizabeth! We're rooting for you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Belated Thanksgiving wishes

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! We had a nice holiday and a good trip to the in laws. We got home last night so we could have a little time before heading back to work and school. Today Violet and I went out to Walmart, mainly to look for a winter coat for her. We found one she really liked, with a price tag I liked. Plus, the sleeves are long enough - unlike her old one. :)

Then this afternoon the three of us did something we almost never do...went to the movies. I really wanted to see The Muppets. I am a huge Muppet fan. Almost as big a fan as Walter from the movie, but not quite. It was really good. We have a great small town theater (not in our town, but in the next town over where Mr. I's office is). Matinee prices are $4. It isn't a big theater, but the sound and picture are pretty good and what more do you need?

Tomorrow, I'm going to start back to work. I know this will be a busy week between work, school and activities, so I'm going to try to get a jump start with one part before the craziness hits.

I started a new knitting experiment, knitting with 2 strands of yarn at once. Boy, does it make it nice and thick and squishy. I have some color combos in mind to try. And I want to do a hat with the round loom with 2 strands. The single strand hats are a little thin in the cold winter wind.

And in final news, remember when I took Violet off to the Teen Advisory Board at the our library, only to find that several of the "kids" on it were 19 and 20 and in college? Maybe I didn't post about it. Anyway, I let the librarian (who can't be over 25 herself) know that Violet wasn't going to be coming back because we weren't comfortable with a 12 year old hanging out with 20 year olds, no matter how nice they are...which I am sure they are, they wouldn't be library volunteers if they weren't. But it still wasn't right for us. And yes, I was nice about it. I told her I didn't want Violet to not show up without having told her why. It is a small library and they all know us.

Well, starting in December, they are splitting the group up into middle school ages and high school ages. They meet the same day, back to back. I'm going to sign Violet up to give it another try. I'm much more comfortable with this split. I'm guessing we weren't the only ones not comfortable with the huge age range. Everyone I mentioned it to (not connected with the group, since I didn't know any of the other parents) shuddered and shook their heads no. It is just too big of an age gap and Violet wasn't comfortable with it either. Maybe the library got enough kids interested to justify 2 separate groups. Whatever happened, I'm happy they are doing this.

I'm off to enjoy the last of my vacation. Hope you all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Most Popular

Blatantly stealing an idea from Mental (blatantly stealing is the most sincere form of flattery), I added a most popular posts gadget to my blog. I was curious as to which, if any, of my ramblings equate to popularity.

It seems to be those posts where I write about homeschool projects that make the top 10. I must come up in searches for ideas. Here are the director's notes on some of my top posts:

Why is there an expiration date on soap?: This has to be one of my shortest posts ever. I guess there are a lot of people curious about expiring soap. Too bad I have no insight to offer.

Hopscotch Cake: This cake looked better than it tasted. We never got the knack of making cake from scratch, we stick to box mixes.

Formal Pajamas
: I do like this post. I still think formal pajamas are a good idea. And I have thought about Mom #1's comment about flip flops with glitter being formal wear a hundred times as I've gotten dressed to go out. I have worn fancy flip flops to evening events at conferences for work. I figure if anyone ever comments, I'd tell them that Mom #1 says it is okay.

There's no place like camp:
This post probably gets hits because I mention Seasonale in it. But it is a good post. I enjoyed rereading our adventures at camp. I have to say, that weekend made us both stronger people. One time at a camp after that the mom in our tent curled up with her daughter in her bunk, rather apologetically. I could look her in the eye and say, "go for it. Its what she needs now. We've done the same." And we had taken glow bracelets with us which Violet shared with her scared tent mate. We still travel with glow bracelets all the time. We never did see the snotty tent mates again, I'm sure they washed out of the GS program years ago. But we still run into other fellow campers from time to time and enjoy seeing them. We didn't go to camp this summer. I missed it.

Enjoy some oldies but goodies over the holiday if you'd like. Freakmom is going to the inlaws and not taking her computer. I'll be back with tales of Wisconsin. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I must say, I am thankful for my blogging buddies, you guys are the best!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Can you tell which of us is which?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a week!

Gosh, everything fell on this week. I felt like I was never home. I had both my yearly mammogram and my semi-annual teeth cleaning (squish and scrape). Violet had an orthodontist appointment. Her bonded retainer on her bottom teeth felt odd, so we had them check it out. They didn't find anything, but did scrape some extra glue off. Still, I'm glad she spoke up and we went in. She's had problems with that bottom retainer coming lose and needing regluing.

We had the Juliette Low birthday party with one group of Girl Scouts. A meeting with another group. And a big service project I was coordinating finished this week. I think I already posted about the party. The meeting was good, they made cute little turkeys out of Oreo cookies. I tried teaching some songs, it didn't go over super well. The girls were inhibited and didn't want to sing. Except Violet. The quietest girl in the group and she sang the loudest. She shares my love of Girl Scout camp songs.

I talked to the lead Cadette mom afterward, and we decided to try songs again. Two girls were absent. They are cousins and the silliest of the bunch. We think they'll get into singing. And the three who didn't sing this time, are likely to be pulled in if the other three are signing. If that doesn't work, I told Violet I'm defecting to the Brownies. They'll sing with me.

The service project was collecting food for a local food pantry. Every year the Girl Scouts in our area put together boxes of food for "Operation Thanksgiving." The food pantry puts together a list of what each should contain (2 cans of corn, 2 cans of yams, marshmallows, flour, sugar, on and on, it is a great collection!) We sort the food into copy paper boxes, decorate them and deliver them to Village Hall. There they get produce, juice, a turkey and more added and are then taken to local families in need.

The homeschool Juliettes put together 4 complete boxes of food and a box of "extras." It was amazing. I opened it up to both the park district group and our original group. Violet and her friend "Butterfly" helped a lot with sorting and decorating. Every year Mr. I tells me to get as much as I want for it, and to even fill a full box if I want. I waited until the last minute, then went out and got the stuff to finish off the fourth box. Butterfly had brought over enough for a full box as well. She really gets into too. Not to diminish the efforts of any of the families involved. I left it completely open for families to bring as much or as little as they wanted. Several families signed up for items, brought them the next week and signed up for more. Everyone brought what they signed up for and many brought extra. We'll definitely do this again next year. It is just a very satisfying project. It feels personal, because even though we don't know the family that will receive it, packing and decorating the boxes and imagining how they'll prepare it all just really makes a connection.

Here are our boxes:

You can tell the last one that got "decorated." It was the morning of the delivery. Butterfly wasn't over, and Violet had done a lot. So I just threw a "Happy Thanksgiving" on it and called it good.

On a less exciting note, several things had to be done for work and could not be put off or pawned off. I finished work about 3:30 this afternoon and shut that computer down. I won't turn it back on for a week. I'm also not going to answer the phone line that work calls come in on. I set my vacation message and took forwarding off my official work phone number. But some people, mainly my boss, calls my direct home office line. I'll check for messages, but I won't get caught answering.

On a side note, switching to working only on my work issue computer is the best thing I ever did. Since I made the switch, they even changed the URL for checking e-mail via the web, I never updated it on my personal computer. So there is no temptation to just take a peek.

Tomorrow we're going to visit my folks. Then we'll start getting ready for Thanksgiving. Let the relaxing begin!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Breathing again

Thank you all for your support and encouragement! I know I can always whine here and find a shoulder to cry on.

I am feeling better tonight. We had our Juliette day and it went very well. The girls loved the projects. We got through everything. I stayed calm throughout it. No paint or glue or icing got on anything it shouldn't.

I shouldn't feel obligated to do so much. The other families don't expect it. But they are going to accept invitations when offered. Unless things change, I think I'll just do Cadette programming next year, and invite the Juniors to join us when appropriate. But they'll have to figure out themselves if they apply to any of their badges/journeys. The younger girls really are too young to bump up to Cadettes (one should technically still be a Brownie this year, but I knew enough not to do 3 levels so we bridged her early.)

For the other group this week I'm bringing a package of Oreos for an edible craft project (the other mom is planning the project, making turkeys I think), and coming prepared to teach a song if there is extra time. I can do that easy peasy. Honestly, finding time to run in the store to buy the Oreos is harder than the song. I love Girl Scout songs. (I'm planning on doing "Great Big Moose" - There was a great big moose, he liked to drink a lot of juice... It is a good one, complete with arm movements. Because really, what's the point in singing if you aren't dancing around too.)

Work is work and I can't let them take over my life. I need to shut down my work computer when I've reached my work limit and leave it off. I'm getting better at that.

So, thanks and big hugs back to all of you!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some day

My list of things to do "some day" just gets longer and longer. And I don't mean my bucket list of wishful things to do before I die. I mean stuff that really needs to be taken care of that I just can't find the hours in the day to do.

Inventory the fridge and pantry and make a real shopping list and go get groceries. We never have anything to cook with so I don't end up making good meals but instead throw in yet another frozen pizza.

Fix my grandmother's rug. I have 5 rag rugs my grandmother made. I think they may very well be the last remaining rugs out of the thousands she made on her loom. I used to sit and watch her weave on the loom as a little girl. The thread holding the rugs together is wearing from age. One was coming apart, then a few weeks ago it got caught as Mr. I was walking over it and it ripped half way across. I'm sure I could mend it. I even have a vague idea of how to do it. But I just don't have the time to sit down and concentrate on it. I know I won't be able to sit still enough and be patient enough in my current frenzy state.

Take Violet to play tennis, go ice skating, bowling, and about 25 other sports/right of passages that she's never tried. She needs a little extra time to tackle sports that other kids just jump right in with both feet and do. She needs privacy and not everyone she knows watching and yelling "come on, Violet" at her. She needs help to learn how. It makes me want to cry to think that I haven't even successfully taught her how to ride a bike yet. I just can't do it all.

The house needs a super deep cleaning. We've lived here over 12 years and some of the rooms still aren't painted. I never got a garden in this year. Houseplants sit dead in their pots. I haven't taught Violet to sew although she asks for help all the time.

I can't do it all. I try. I really do. There's so much I'd love to do for me, that I know I won't get to do again until she's in college. Like exercise and take care of myself and get a good night's sleep.

Sorry, I'm feeling extra whiny tonight. I just don't know what else I can give up in order to be able to do everything that needs to be done.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Okay, before I start my post I have to say that Blogger just freaked out on me. I must have hit the wrong key, but it successfully posted my entry before I even started it! Boy, someone switch Blogger to decaf! It is too hyper!

Anyway, I was going to tell you about my day, so here we go.

First, I know you've all be on the edge of your seats wondering, but Mr. Incredible did not win any meat last night at the wheel of meat. He left before the end when they did the second chance drawings with the losing tickets, so maybe one of his tickets won for that. He left them among his table mates. He had 30 tickets in the first round of drawing and didn't even win a hot dog. Just as well.

I liked all the alternate wheel suggestions you all gave. Wheel of Cheetos really has some potential. How about Wheel of Oreos?

So today I worked on cleaning the house and preparing for the Juliette Low birthday party on Monday. I made a sample of a craft project I'm going to have them do: Halloween themed recycled picture frames. There was some doubt among the dads (Mr. I and the sisters' dad) about whether it would work. They were wrong, it turned out pretty good:

You use 2 pieces of cardboard, one with a hole in the center, glued together. Paint it. Then when it is dry, decoupage on candy wrappers. Add your favorite Halloween photo. The basic idea was from the Zoom! website. I came up with the paint and candy wrappers. (The dads were pessimistic that the candy wrappers would stick.) Violet drew a picture for me to put in my sample. Isn't her cat cute?

I didn't want to, but I went to the bank this morning. I couldn't pull in to the bank branch right by our house. The main road in our town has been under major construction for the last 2 years. (It is finally finishing this year!) They were working this morning and blocking the bank entrance from the direction I was coming from. I'm a little afraid we won't be able to turn in from our direction at all when they are done.

So I went to the other end of town. At the drive through she gave me 3 suckers. They had one of those video cameras, so Mr. I and Violet think I must have looked stressed. Since I was on the other end of town, I figured I might as well stop at Walmart on my way home. I called to have them read me the list. Bought the stuff and came home. Several hours later I realized the peanut butter I bought wasn't here. I called customer service and she said yes it was there, was I missing spaghetti noodles too? Crap.

Mr. Incredible drove out to get them while I started dinner. I think he was afraid I'd be mean to the people there. See, I was complaining that the lady who rang me up didn't pull the bags off the spinny thing for me. She handed me my receipt and just started on the next customer. I must have missed one in the back trying to find my bags. So yes, it was my fault, but it is a step I never have to take. And I didn't have my reusable bags with me since I wasn't planning on going, so there were more plastic bags than if I'd had my bags with. I know, no excuse. But they make me feel less foolish.

And to end this post on something completely unrelated. Here's a photo of a recent omelet I made (I found the photo when I took the frame photo off the camera):

I've been practicing them, and they are starting to look pretty decent. That one was just cheese. I never seem to have anything in the house to go in them. To see how far I've come, check out my original omelet post. Be sure to look at my omelet, not Violet's.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Recycling and meat

Don't worry, the title contains 2 different thoughts.

We went on our recycle tour today. It was really good. If you live in an area by a Waste Management facility, give them a call and see if they have an EduCenter in your area. It was well worth the almost hour drive for our visit (keep in mind though, in our area, everything is at least a 30 or 45 minute drive. We're in the middle of everywhere, just not close to anything). We saw a video, watched the recycling process through a big window, and had an educator talk with the kids about recycling. Another small group was with us. That was actually good. Our group doesn't like to answer questions and participate much. The other group did that for us.

The worst part was the drive home. The roads were just packed. They always are. We had to stop to get the cookie forms and it was so busy on the streets near where the cookie coordinator lives. I was frazzled by the time we got home. I told Violet I couldn't do any school work with her. Ugh, it was awful, just bumper to bumper cars.

In other news...

Mr. Incredible just left to attend a "wheel of meat" fundraiser. The family of one of the men in his chamber of commerce networking group is undergoing a terrible health situation and horrific medical bills. There are quite a few fundraisers planned for them. We want to help, but funds are limited, we'll do what we can. Tonight is "wheel of meat." Ever heard of one? We hadn't either. What we found out is that local businesses donate meat and people buy raffle tickets to win it. Mr. Incredible hasn't eaten beef, pork or a whole list of other meat in almost 20 years. He does eat chicken, turkey and fish, but not even much of that. So he's obligated by the business associates to go try to win meat. Yeah, he wasn't too excited.

He's planning on going and getting a few raffle tickets in an amount we feel comfortable with (this is the second fund raiser for this family we've participated in and there are at least 2 more planned), then leaving as soon as he can. He'd like to leave before he wins anything. I'm kind of interested in what will be there. I might like to win something. But I'm betting he'll be home shortly, meatless.

Why couldn't there be a wheel of squash? I love squash. Or a wheel of wine? I could really get into that as a fundraiser. I bet the raffle tickets would cost more for wine than squash though.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Look at me...I'm free!

Woo hoo! Tomorrow I am officially on PTO. I finished up my client loose ends. Took care of some administrative paperwork. I've set my away message. I've shut down my work computer. No checking e-mail, no answering the phone, no work. I think I like this even better than PTO while on vacation.

Not that we'll be home much tomorrow. We have our recycle facility tour in the afternoon. I knew it was a drive there, but Google Maps said it was a little farther than I remembered. I'm going to allow a little over an hour to get there. The worst part is we have to leave just before noon. That sure puts a damper on lunch. We always eat later rather than earlier. But waiting until 2 or 2:30 until we're done will make us crabby. Looks like it is sandwiches in the car.

On our way home we have to stop and pick up GS cookie order forms. They are always available way early around here because the service units like to take December off and not meet. Works for us. I coordinate cookie sales only for our small Juliette group, that's 4 girls these days. No way will I do it for the large group, which is over 20 girls. That's way too many for one cookie mom. I don't think many if any of the girls in the big group will sell. Since we're Juliettes the parents have to play the part of the leader. I doubt any of the other parents will step up to do that even for their own daughters. I could be wrong. But I don't think I am in most cases. Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging them for not wanting to do it. I'm the first to say that cookie sales is a big pain in the butt for the adults. Just saying that I don't think most will. Which is too bad because it leaves the girls missing out on a big part of Girl Scouting (you know the 3C's: crafts, cookies and camp).

But cookie sales has always been fun for Violet, so she'll do it again. She never has big sales but she's fine with that. I think her favorite part is sorting out the orders. And the other families who I help turn in their orders and pick up their cookies are so good and so easy to work with. I don't mind doing for our small group in the least.

Today the Cadettes in the park district group finished their Journey. Violet did such an amazing job. The whole journey (Amaze) was completely out of her comfort zone and she did it. They put on a puppet show and did a craft with the Brownies today. The Brownies really liked the puppet show and I think the craft, too. They definitely found the puppet show funny. (Of course, it was on a serious topic of what is a good way to solve an argument with a friend, but hey, they are 8 and 9. The Cadettes did do some funny ad libbing.)

We're hoping to move the Cadettes away from the Brownies and Daisies to another part of the building. We think the Cadettes would really benefit from a more quiet space without the distractions of the younger girls and the brothers who hang out there. I'm not getting my hopes up, but the option that is being explored right now would be a TERRIFIC solution. Fingers, toes and eyes all crossed.

By the way, no one called me on the odd title of my last post. I meant to go back and write a title once I wrote the post but forgot to. I decided to leave it after I'd published and realized it. Gives it character.

One more note - it was snowing here today. Some stuck to the ground for a while. It is all gone now. This is early for our first snow.

Time to enjoy my free time...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

name to be determined

Today it was cold and rainy. The good thing was, Violet and I had no where we had to go. No where. No where at all. We thoroughly enjoyed staying at home. Where do these people get the idea that homeschoolers stay at home all the time and don't see anyone? We're never home. None of us. And just try to schedule 2 or more families to get together. Good luck!

Anyway, we were home today. We did some school work. I pulled Story of Science, volume 2 back out. We read the first half last year and are going to finish it this year. Violet hasn't been too thrilled with it, she finds it boring. And I have to agree with her that volume 1 was a snooze-fest. It isn't Joy Hakim's fault, we just couldn't get into the ancient science. But today's chapter caught more of Violet's attention and I hope the rest of the volume will too. We'll start volume 3 next year.

I've changed my homeschool approach slightly. Instead of throwing every subject I can find at her at once, we are only doing a few: Key to Algebra, History of US, Editor in Chief, reading, Microscope study by Kim Wright, and Story of Science. I think this approach is working well. We'll do history, reading and algebra all year, but as we finish things, we'll add other things. We've been going in so many directions lately, it is hard to concentrate on even this much. But it is definitely the right way for right now. I'm hoping this winter we might have fewer activities and can add a few more subjects or workbooks.

Tomorrow we're going to open swim, and meeting up with Violet's best friend. After swimming she's coming back to our house for the afternoon and dinner. So not much time for formal school tomorrow.

I've been working on the Juliette plans today. Monday we're having our Juliette Low birthday party. We're going to decorate cupcakes and work on the Eco-Action badges (Junior and Cadette). The Cadettes made a mad lib for the Juniors to do, all about the life of Juliette Low. That should be fun. This Friday we're going on a tour of a local recycling facility, also for Eco-Action. I'm glad to be getting going with "our" group finally.

It has gotten difficult with getting involved with the park district group as well as "our" Juliette group. Trying to come up with 2 different programs (even in my limited capacity for the park district) for different levels is too much. If I hadn't already committed to "our" group this year, I'd definitely put them on hiatus. But I'm committed, and trying not to need to be "committed." The families in "our" group don't want to join the park district. We'll see how the park district group plays out the rest of the year. But next year I will only do one or the other. It will be hard to choose, I like them both and both are great for Violet. But too much is too much. And if I do too much it will all suffer and not be any fun for anyone. I'll make tough decisions that not everyone will be happy with if I have to. But first I want to see what changes come in the spring.

Violet and I just finished Anne of Green Gables. We both really enjoyed it. We're going to start the second Anne book next. But I am making her wait until Friday. We're discussing Anne in Classic Moms on Thursday. I'm frantically trying to read through it again so the early part is fresher in my mind. Did you know there is a real Green Gables in Canada? It is a national park. I'd love to go.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thoughts and Ramblings

Here I go again, about to promise to write more. I know, you've heard it all before. You didn't believe me then, you don't believe me now. I got inspired yet again during Classic Moms class this week. I am actually working on a post that is an essay about a book I recently read. My classmates were right, if you don't have someone to discuss a book with, write about it! I'm trying.

Speaking of trying, I'm going to whine for a minute. It is so hard to work, homeschool, volunteer for GS, run the house and help hubby with his new business. I am really tired all the time. Today we went to a school day theater performance: loud show, theater full of kids, great performance by the way, and I was nodding off during it! Sigh. I had to make Violet wait to help her with her math this afternoon because I had a big deadline today and I didn't think I'd get through it - I did, but right at the close of the business day. I just want some time to myself once in a while.

Okay, done with that whine, next stop wine. I'm usually a red drinker, but lately I've been branching out into white.

But first. For all of you who've been jealous of our Juliette groups we have around here, it isn't all roses. I don't want to say much, but too many moms involved and it doesn't work well, not enough moms involved and you do all the work yourself. I have managed to get myself into both situations as the same time. Violet loves both groups. They are both really good for her. The other moms are great, we just all have too many ideas for the available time - now that I think about it, that is a good problem. And I like doing the work to help keep them going. But some days it can be frustrating.

I seem to detect a pattern in my ramblings.

Tomorrow we're going to meet with the insurance agent. We think we can lower our health insurance rates. That would be awesome. His office is back in our old college town. We love to go back. I'd like to take a walk by the lagoon and go to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Not sure how quickly Mr. I. has to get back home though. I'm not working tomorrow. Woo hoo!

Here's some good news: I just realized this week that I have 12 vacation days I have to use by the end of the year! I miscalculated how much time I get. And with my promotion over the summer, I got more days. Nice problem to have, huh? I'm taking the week of Thanksgiving off. And the week before Christmas. And some random days. Maybe that will help me with my dozing off problems!