Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Where did the first half of the week go?

Man, oh man, life just keep flying on by.

On Monday I was consumed with Girl Scout cookies. I had been, shall we say, frustrated, by the lack of communication between our service unit cookie volunteer and me. It was her first year, and yes Juliettes aren't normal. I was spoiled from the past three years when our volunteer was a mom of a Juliette. Well, I talked to two of the council professionals (not my friend by the way, she was tied up). When we pooled our information we came to the conclusion that the volunteer really needed some assistants. It is a lot of work, we're a huge service unit, and she didn't have much transition from the previous people.

So, I e-mailed her and our service unit manager and asked if it would help if I acted like "troop leader" for all the Juliettes selling cookies next year. Contact them, get them their info, take and input their orders, get them their cookies, generally be their point person. I said I couldn't do much more than that, tax season and all (I play the CPA card whenever possible - heck, I studied my brains out for that exam, I should reap the benefits!), but I could help out with the Juliettes. I got back a very happy, yes that would be great. I wish I had thought to offer earlier this year. But with the "do over" trip, it actually would have been hard. There won't be a trip next cookie season. Remind me how excited I am about this next cookie season when I'm saying "why oh why?" Honestly, I'm not sure how it could be any worse than this year. I got myself so stressed out with not knowing things. Next year my control freak will be happy.

This afternoon Violet had her first jewelry class. I was stressed about it too. It was at an art studio we'd never been to, I didn't know where parking was, I didn't know if there was any place where parents could wait or if we had to be outside (on the website and when I called they just talked about where to drop off and pick up the kids). It turned out not to be so bad. It was closer to our house than I thought. There was enough parking for today at least. Violet's class was on the second floor and there was an adjoining room that the instructor said we were welcome to stay in. I did go out and run some errands, but didn't worry when I went back early. Violet seemed to enjoy the class, but didn't say a lot about it. Hopefully she liked it 7 more weeks' worth at least.

Speaking of errands, the weather took a really goofy turn while I was out shopping. It had been sunny and 50 earlier this afternoon. By the time we left it was windy and cloudy. It was snowing sideways by the time I was putting the groceries in the car! I can't wait for February to be over!

Tomorrow is orthodontist. That worry is if Violet will need phase 2 of braces. Mr. I. doesn't think she will need them (read: he doesn't want to spend the money on them). I say if Dr. K says she does, it will much better to do it now, rather than as an adult. But can we afford it? We had dental insurance and two incomes when she had phase 1. Now we just have my income.

In the afternoon we have a tour of a bank set up. No worries about that one.

Hey, what do you know? One thing this week that DOESN'T worry me! I worry too much.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Where did the weekend go?

All of a sudden it is Sunday night! I have no idea how the weekend slipped by like that. Well, yes, I do know, I was too busy.

My father-in-law stayed with us Friday night. He helped Mr. Incredible mount a large display in his office. His landlords gave it to him. They didn't want it in their office any more. It will be wonderful when Mr. I has clients over and they are looking at a website he is designing for them. There were complications and delays, but the monitor is mounted!

I worked all day Saturday. Left before anyone was up. Well, Mr. I was getting up as I took off. Work was smooth. Don't tell anyone, but my to do list is manageable right now. They brought in bagels for breakfast and pasta for lunch. I don't know where the pasta was from but the lasagna was really good! Catered meals is a definite perk of working on the weekend.

Saturday evening Violet went to a birthday party. She had a great time. It was small, quiet, laid back, casual. Exactly her kind of gathering! The birthday girl had another friend there that Violet had never met. We were bummed to learn the other friend lives quite far away. She and Violet hit it off and we would have liked to add her to the Juliettes who meet at our house. Well, you never know when paths will cross again.

Today I did our taxes. We're getting refunds! Hooray! That will help a lot. I filed electronically. Cross your fingers the State of Illinois has money to pay out their refunds. Not that they've said they won't. But they don't pay a lot of their bills. Certainly not timely. The state is in a fiscal mess. Up a fiscal creek without a paddle or a canoe. Heck, I don't even think we have a river any more. The crooked politicians probably sold them just before they were carted off to prison.

I don't have much faith in my home state, do I? Sadly, I'm not alone. Even non-cynical people have lost hope.

Where was I before I went on an Illinois bash? Yes, the weekend. Taxes took up most of the day, then it was cleaning and prep for the school week. I tried to get a little done for Girl Scouts, but I didn't get too far. I'm trying to come up with some suggestions for the Cadette group's 100th anniversary party. I did decide to have my Juliette group (I swear it is so confusing having 2 groups!) make t-shirt tote bags. I like that this set of instructions was made by a Girl Scout as part of her Gold Award project.

And now it is 9:00 pm. Maybe next weekend there will be extra time.

We have some exciting things this week: Violet has the first of an 8 week Jewelry class and a tour of a bank. And some chores: tomorrow we turn in the cookie money and the cookies donated to soldiers at the council office. I'm hoping to run into my friend, Director of Product Sales, to complain about our lack of communication from our service unit. And of course, we'll browse the shop!

Finally, in cold news. I'm barely coughing. Violet has a few coughs now and then. Mr. Incredible is starting to lose his voice. Did I mention laundry, dishes and more bathroom cleaning that was done this weekend? Ugh. March can't get here soon enough!

Friday, February 24, 2012

8th Grade History

We're going to be finishing up "A History of US" by Joy Hakim, which we loved, loved, loved. So next year, we'll need to find something new. Anyone have any recommendations?

I think we'll end up using the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History and just searching the library for additional books on areas that spark an interest. But I'd rather find a real program that we can use instead. I know me, and if we use the "figure it out as we go" plan I'll have great intentions but not so good follow up. So all history suggestions will be considered.

In other news, I'm down to a lingering cough. Violet is almost over the cold too. She did make it to Cadettes yesterday. Tomorrow night a friend is a having a birthday dinner at her house, so she'll get to go to that too. Mr. Incredible's cough started yesterday. You knew it would happen, didn't you? I bet there was even a pool going on when he'd get sick.

Today I took some time to clean the house, but probably not enough. My father-in-law is staying with us tonight. I wanted to at least try to get the cold germs out of here. I hope he doesn't get it.

I'm off to the office tomorrow. I got to see a preview of our ad for an upcoming trade show brochure. Guess what? My name and contact info is included in the ad! I've never been in one our ads before. It is for Michigan where I do a lot of speaking. Funny, I've worked in our industry in Illinois for almost 17 years and I'm better known in Michigan than here. I find that hilarious. I spent a lot of years hibernating and coasting along, then when I was ready to emerge again, they needed someone to join in the Michigan marketing. Right place at the right time I guess.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Emma McChesney

I found this post in my drafts folder. I don't know why I never posted it.  I'm sure I meant to.  Maybe Blogger decided against posting it for me.  I wrote it back in November.  Enjoy it now if you'd like.

The Emma McChesney books are a trilogy by Edna Ferber. They are all quite short, I think the three together would make a regular-sized book. I stumbled across them this summer and really loved them. But I can't find anyone else who has read them and will talk to me about them, so I am pouring my thoughts into my blog. If you are interested, enjoy, if not, I understand. You have your own book list that you want to read.

I am a huge Edna Ferber fan. I thought I had read almost all her books when I was in high school. I don't know how I missed these. Emma McChesney is a divorced woman with a 17 year old son. The first book was published in 1913, I can't get over how ahead of her time both Edna Ferber and Emma McChesney were. Emma works as a traveling salesman at the beginning of the book series. Note she is a "salesman" not a "saleswoman," no one would have thought to call her that in 1913.  She travels 6 months of the year with the men, staying in hotels, taking trains from city to city, lugging her sample case and eating in restaurants by herself. She's almost the only woman on the road. She stands up to the men and often bests them.

One thing I wasn't sure about was where her son, Jock, was while she traveled. I think he was in boarding school, then the two of them lived together in a hotel in New York City when she wasn't on the road.

I liked that Emma loved her job, and as we see towards the end doesn't want to give it up, but that she longs for a house to be her own home. She wants a kitchen to cook in. She wants it all. Something many women still struggle with.

In Roast Beef, Medium, the first book, Emma teaches us many of the lessons of being on the road. Don't take crap from hotel clerks. Make friends. And don't eat the fancy foods, stick with roast beef, medium well to avoid the pains of stomach problems (something I didn't do on our recent vacation). I travel from time to time for work now, I'm gone about 15 nights per year, and I have to say her lessons hold true today. You can't be a woman on the road and let the men push you around. You have to make friends to make it bearable. But it is still an old boy's club out there. I work in a very female dominated profession, long term care. But the men on the road hang out in the bars, smoking cigars, and go off to the strip clubs. There they network. I don't know if we women are invited, but I for one am not going. I've been known to sit in the hotel bar with people I know, sipping beer, for hours, but it is always them mixed group, primarily women. I do enough networking there.

I also like Emma's maternal instinct. She loves Jock and she doesn't let him get away with anything. Even though she's been gone a lot, she expects him to follow her example and rules. But there is a lot of mom guilt flowing too. She's quick to blame herself when Jock messes up, because she wasn't there. I can relate to that too. I think we all can, no matter why we think our kids' mistakes are due to something we did or didn't do.

Spoiler alert!

When Emma marries T.A. Buck, she remains true to herself. She tried to be someone else for a while, but neither she nor T.A. were happy with that. T.A. loved her for who she was when he married her. Not someone else.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Home Alone

Violet stayed at home by herself today for the first time ever. She's been here when Mr. I or I were tied up on the phone with work, but never completely by herself. It was about 20 minutes. I went to the library and got the holds. She never moved from the couch because she was so busy reading. I don't think she's ready for a long weekend alone, but this was definitely a success.

My cold is pretty much gone. I think I'll still have a mildly runny nose and slight cough for a few more days. Violet's is a lot better too. But she was coughing strong enough that I didn't want her going in the library. And the wind was rather bitter today, I'm glad she wasn't out in it.

I think I've solved my dilemma about what to do with the Juliette Juniors next year. No, I won't duct tape them to a tree (my go to camp punishment threat) and I won't quit doing programming for them. I found someone in one of the GS Yahoo groups I'm on with some extra Junior badges for sale. I contacted her and am ordering 2 each of 4 badges. I can tie them in to some Cadette things I had planned. And for what I can't, the Cadettes can get fun patches (and vice versa with the Cadette stuff I can't match up). The topics are all things I know all the girls will love doing, even if there isn't a badge for them.

Violet is staying in the other Cadette group as well, and is fine with the fact that some of the badge work may overlap. She just loves both groups and doesn't mind some overlap. I'm happy this looks like it will work out. For a girl who didn't want to join anything or do anything more social than just a playdate with one friend at a time until last fall, this is huge for her!

I'm still getting caught up on blog entries. I'm up to how you all spent Valentine's Day. Yep, I really fell behind!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 13

And the cold is finally almost gone. I've felt much better the last 2 days. I still cough once in a while and have a runny nose, but nothing like I had a week ago.

Which is exactly what Violet has now. I thought she was doing better today, but then this afternoon we realized she had a slight fever. Grr. More staying in and resting for her. We put a bunch of books on hold for her at the library. If they are all pulled and ready for pick up after dinner I'll run over and get them. Otherwise she'll probably ride with me tomorrow and wait in the car while I get them.

We had the Juliette Thinking Day party planned for today. That was cancelled yesterday. I rescheduled it for March 6th. I want plenty of time to recuperate.

She also has her other Cadette group on Thursday. Playing that one by ear.

Cookies came in on Friday. By Sunday afternoon they'd (almost) all been delivered, and all the money (except $8) has been collected. That is a record. The non-delivered cookies are the ones to my parents and my dad's buddy. And the donation cookies need to be dropped off. The $8 due is from a woman at work whose mom died suddenly Friday night. She won't be in a for awhile and obviously I can't chase her down right now. I left her cookies for her safely in her desk for when she returns.

Of course, I don't know where to turn the cookie money in. The volunteer thought it went to the Council office. Maybe, but I don't think so. It never has before. I've got an e-mail out to the Council product sales director with a cc to the volunteer (nicely worded, don't worry, I didn't go all freak on them - maybe the volunteer is right, policies change).

I need to catch up with all of your blogs, I'm behind again. I miss you all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Robitussin Shots

Yes, I'm still sick. I really don't feel bad, just horribly tired. And I can't stop coughing. Needless to say, I did not go into the office today. I cancelled yesterday afternoon. It has to be over soon. I haven't been to the doctor. For one, because our health insurance won't cover it. And For two, because I really think it is just a classic cold and there isn't anything the doctor can do besides bill me out of pocket for an office visit. If I were getting worse, I'd call. But I'm not.

Violet had a book club meeting today, I dropped her off and Mr. I. picked her up. Usually I stay, but the family that hosts didn't need me coughing all over their family room. Violet likes to be dropped off anyway.

Violet has also signed up for a jewelry making class at a nearby art studio. One of her new Cadette friends told us about it. All four of the Cadettes are taking it. When I spoke with the lady who runs the place today, she said there were 3 girls signed up (Violet's registration went out in the mail this morning), so at the moment, I think the 4 are the only ones in the class. It starts in a few weeks.

Did I tell you I finally got notified of when and where to get the cookies? I did. I am happy with the time and place (not that I would have argued if I didn't like it).

Mr. I. got me a sweet Valentine and a big box of chocolates. Violet made us all Shrinky Dink Valentines. Mr. I. got Violet a bag filled with chocolates and plush stuffed cuties. I got them both a bag of assorted chocolates and little candy heart boxes. (I bought bags of Valentine hearts in various chocolate flavors and "stole" 2 of Violet's goodie bags to fill. I told her after I gave it to her that I couldn't ask to use the goodie bags, but I should have. She thought it was funny.) It was a chocorific Valentine's Day!

This will be yet another early night for me.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Freakmom's day off

I took it easy today.
  • I did a load of laundry.
  • Unloaded the dishwasher.
  • Taught Violet how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. (Can you believe I hadn't taught her?)
  • Cleaned all the sinks.
  • Sewed button eyes on the caterpillars I knitted earlier this year.
  • Helped Violet with her cookie thank yous, including personalized receipts for those who were donating their cookies and notes to go on the boxes being donated to the soldiers.
  • Finished reading Little Britches
  • Took a nap

I also coughed and blew my nose a lot. I think I've been doing that less the last couple of hours. Could I be on the mend? Fingers crossed.

I talked to my mom, who is also sick. She doesn't have the stuffy, runny nose, so we have something different. I didn't get this from her when I saw her last weekend like she thought a first.

Now to shower and read until I fall asleep. Thanks for all the good wishes! I love my blogging buddies! (But from a distance, I don't want to breath on you and infect your computers.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Still Coughing

I woke up last night feeling like my chest muscles had been ripped from my chest. I finally got up and took some Tylenol and more cough syrup. The Tylenol helped and by morning my chest only hurt when I coughed not all the time. Still coughing tonight. We were supposed to go to Madison tomorrow to meet my in-laws for the day. Mr. Incredible called and postponed. He said I had no business going, and he didn't want to spend 5 hours with me in the car. Besides, we were supposed to go to the zoo and it is going to be COLD tomorrow.

I hope I am better by Tuesday. I'm supposed to go the office and really don't want to cancel. I missed the last round of department meetings while we were on vacation. It is best to be at those things and not get assigned stuff you don't want. And I'm supposed to do a training session for the department. I've already had to cancel it once because of snow, and I just want to get them trained. And I need to check the cookie money envelope to see who left checks in it before I send out the notices that cookies are coming. Then I can say in the e-mail who still owes and how much.

Have I mentioned I hate cookie sales? 5 more years. That is the most I'll have to do this. Then I'm never eating another Girl Scout cookie again. Certainly not collecting for and delivering them.

I don't have to work tomorrow. No school. I should clean the house. But I'm sick. I'm not doing much but sleep and read.

Friday, February 10, 2012

RIP Almond

Violet's goldfish, Almond, died yesterday. She was 3 years old. Her best friend and tank mate, Peanut, had died last year. Almond had an accident with the filter and got caught behind it. We think it injured her swim bladder. She held on for a week, but didn't recover. The last couple of days, Mr. I., in his best Dr.Doolittle impersonation, gently held her in his hand (in the water) and tried to get her to eat. Good bye, Almond, you were a good fish.

In other news.

I'm sick. I've got the cough/cold thing that is going around. I am really tired and really crabby. The only thing I've gotten to take off from has been the Cadette group meeting. I had Mr. I. drive Violet there, along with the craft I had for them that week. I didn't want to cough all over them and in the Cadette Mom's kitchen. They had their Valentine's party and Violet had a blast. I think she enjoys it a little more when I'm not there anyway. She made angel food cake cupcakes with pink frosting for her pink snack to share. And they did the Shrinky Dinks I sent with her.

In the last 3 days busy season arrived for me at work. I have a lot to do. My plan is as much as possible not to go over my paid hours each week. No problem this week, I still have to work 5 hours tomorrow to get there. Nothing is so urgent that it can't wait if I don't get it done in 5 hours, so we're good.

But the way requests were coming at me this afternoon, you would have thought they were urgent. I think it just seemed that way because I'm sick, and Violet was needing more attention. And the network is down tonight for routine maintenance so I can't work. Have I mentioned that this cough is making me tired and crabby?

I've been rereading Little Britches by Ralph Moody for Classic Moms. I adore that book. Violet and I read the whole series last year. I think I've decided I want to do a full blown study of the series. Reread them all. Take notes. Make character analysis and comparisons. The whole bit. Maybe it is the cough talking. But I don't feel like I'm done with the books yet.

Part of it is when I read a book out loud, I don't feel like I get as much out of it as when I read it myself. It is the same as when I listen to a book rather than read it. I think I need to read the books again.

But for now, I'm off to bed early again. Good night.

Friday, February 3, 2012


Here's a joke for you:

What is worse than finding a dead mouse in your family room?

Answer: Finding half a dead mouse in your family room.

Yep, this morning we awoke to find the back half of a mouse on the family room rug. None of the 3 cats were admitting to it, but we suspect Marbles.

This isn't a recent photo of the suspect, as you can tell by the green grass outside. He is the most likely to have made a kill and actually eaten part of it. The other two are too soft. They are true kitty pets.

We asked Marbles to please either finish his snacks, or find a better place to store them. He should, Mr. Incredible got rid of the back half of the mouse. If Marbles went back for it later it was gone. "Hey, where's my mouse butt? I was going to eat that after lunch!"

The mice that live in the basement (in the cage, I've told you about them, right?) were all accounted for. They are the field mice (or possible descendants of them) that moved into the birdseed in the garage and eventually into the basement in a nice little cage. They love their wheel. All field mice should have one. Here's the story of Mr. I first meeting the mice. I can't find any posts where they moved in. Mr. I is a little nutty, have I mentioned that?

The worst part of the whole ordeal is that Mr. I and I both walked right past the half mouse at least once, assuming it was a mousie toy on the floor. It wasn't. Well, not a catnip one. I think we need to be a little more observant.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Midway Through the Week

We've survived to Wednesday, always a good sign. We had no events, no meetings, no nothing to go to this week. It has been bliss. Violet has been enjoying life on the simpler side. I'd tried to set something up for the Juliettes this week. After several e-mails and long silences, and "I'll get back to you soon", I finally heard from the very nice lady yesterday late afternoon. Could we come to her event on Thursday or Friday? Um, no. Homeschoolers don't organize themselves that quickly. We need at minimum a week to plan anything that involves more than one family. I politely let her know I passed her event information on to the other families and we'd all try to make it at the times that would work for us. She was really nice, just didn't really "get" homeschoolers I think. Well, who does until they are one? One family was going to stop by the event, the rest of us just shrugged and said probably not. Did I mention that us coming to the event was her idea? I had just asked if she could talk to the kids about her not-for-profit organization. She's nice, it just didn't work out. Despite my rambling paragraph, there really are no grudges about it. And I am usually the Queen of Grudges.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. A very big deal in our neck of the woods (and what the above mentioned event was related to). A nearby town (where Mr. I has his office) is where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed. We've all adopted the holiday as our favorite. Last year the blizzard struck and Woodstock Willie, our local groundhog, couldn't make it out of his hole and to the festivities (or more likely he didn't bother because he knew with 3 feet of snow on the streets, no one was going to make it to see him unless they went on a dog sled and I doubt Willie is a fan of dogs). A year without Willie was like a year with Santa Claus. Just wrong.

After the mild winter we've had so far if that groundhog ends up predicting 6 more weeks of winter, I may strangle him. We've had the best, snow and ice free winter of my life (well, we were out of town during the one big snow. I loved that we missed it. Violet is miffed.) I don't want to start now with winter.

Anyone going to watch the Puppy Bowl this Sunday on Animal Planet? It is Violet's favorite sporting event of the year.

She's got to get going on her Valentine's. She bought some prepackaged Valentines but wants to enhance them and make them semi-homemade. She's also going to make Rice Krispie treats and we'll try topping them with sprinkles. If you have any advice on that, I'd love to hear it. I've only made Rice Krispie treats once before in my life. We never had them growing up. I remember once in high school I was invited to a party and asked to bring them. I had to ask the hostess for something else because we didn't make them at our house (you'd think after being my best friend for 12 plus years maybe it would have dawned on her that she'd never had them at my house, at her house they made them all the time. Instead she got mad. Sorry. I had no clue how to make them and my parents spent most of the late 70s and early 80s in a health food kick. If she'd asked for carob brownies I could have delivered.)

I suppose I should have titled this post "the one where Freakmom rambles on and confesses strange things".

Work isn't going bad this week. I had a big deadline but had most of it taken care of early and just had to tie up loose ends. I'm trying to lay low and enjoy the break.

Multiplication caused some tears Monday. And division did the same yesterday. Finally I told Violet that it was okay not to finish a whole math lesson in one day. That helped. If she would learn her math facts, she wouldn't have these problems. She gets how to multiply and divide, she just can't remember the times tables. Mr. I says he never learned his either.

Do you ever go to type a word, are thinking it, and a totally different word appears on the screen? Like "that" instead of "sort"? Always the same number of letters. Often not very close to the original word. No? Okay, maybe I am having a stroke.

So to summarize: no event and trying not to burn the bridges with the nice lady, Woodstock Willie had better have a good prediction, attempting to help Violet make Rice Krispie treats, and I may be having a stroke.

I think I'll go get some wine while I can still use a corkscrew. Priorities, you know.