Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Number 4

Violet and I went to Walmart this morning, and as we were bringing in the groceries, Violet said, "Marbles has a mouse in his mouth." After she repeated it about 4 times, I figured out that Marbles was sitting there with a mouse in his mouth! Sometimes adults are slow. I got him to drop it and it was dead. I didn't want him eating it on the carpeting, so I got the oatmeal container out and used an empty Poptarts box to scoot it into the container (okay, I'm fairly brave, but I don't touch dead mice if I don't have to) and took him outside. (What do you use your recycling for?) I put him in the corner of the yard and covered him with dried leaves. Marbles was pissed. That was his snack! And now someone else was going to get to eat it. Freakmom is so unfair!

Tonight I was upstairs and I heard Mr. Incredible yelling, "drop it!" and "hand me the oatmeal container!" Yep, Marbles had number 3. It was alive. When he captured it, Mr. I. noticed it had a broken back leg. I convinced him we couldn't help it, but if we could get it outside to someplace safe, maybe it would heal enough it the mouse could live a decent life. I know, but don't tell him. The mouse is outside instead of at a $300 after hours emergency vet visit or in a mouse cage dying a slow death while we watch.

Then a few minutes later, I say "Marbles has a mouse in his mouth!" After I say it 4 times, Mr. Incredible understands that Marbles has a mouse in his mouth and grabs the oatmeal container I'm holding out for him. (Are you seeing a pattern here? The oatmeal container is the preferred mouse transport system in the Freak Household.) It took 2 of us to catch it when Marbles dropped it. And of course, I wouldn't reach down with a bare hand to try to get the mouse to run into the container (which lead to some teasing later - hey, I try, but I'm a girly girl).

Lessons for today:

1. Adults need to hear, "Marbles has a mouse in his mouth," a minimum of 4 times for it to make sense as a sentence.

2. There must be a nest of mice in the house somewhere, numbers 2-4 have all been small.

3. Marbles is much better at catching mice than either me or Mr. Incredible.

4. Freakmom acts brave, but really isn't.

5. If you catch a mouse and want to eat it, don't bring it into the family room!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Of Mice and Flies

The last few days one of the cats (Marbles, the gigantic one) has sat staring under the couch. Last night a mouse ran out. Mr. Incredible was able to capture it before Marbles did, and took it outside. Still Marbles sits staring under the couch. I sat there in my jammies last night trying to read, but it was very difficult to concentrate with a cat's head darting back and forth like he was watching a very tiny tennis match.

And we have flies. Geesh, you'd think we were slovenly, but I swear I do clean. And since we set the more rigid Juliette schedule, I even clean fairly frequently. There is one fly in the kitchen. Blech. I really want him out of there. But oddly, we also have 2 upstairs in the master bathroom.

I don't know. Maybe we are slovenly.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break

But not for us. We're taking the next week. This week we are just enjoying the cancellation of a few activities for the public schools' breaks. I'm hoping the week will be quieter and we can stay home more.

Work was fine on Saturday. I got a couple of big things finished and shipped off. That was nice. They brought in pitas for lunch, not bad. I made the mistake of trying some leftover pasta as well. It did not heat up well and wasn't good.

Today we've been doing stuff around the house, and I've been working. I put in half a day. I also did more planning and prep work for Juliettes. Mr. Incredible helped (i.e. did all the work) set up a blog for the Cadettes so they could post some of the work they are doing. We're not going to have it searchable, so when it is ready I'll e-mail a few of you who I think will like to take a peek. If you (or your Girl Scouts) are interested in seeing it, drop me an e-mail.

Tomorrow we've got a field trip lined up. Some homeschool friends of ours opened an Italian restaurant last fall. We're going to go see it and the kids are doing a lot of the tour/demonstrations for us. I'm really excited about it. Then we have a few errands. Best of all, I can park in one lot and we can walk to it all! Always a plus when gas is pushing $4.50 a gallon. What is up with that anyway?!?

Have a good week!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Stinky Cheese Man

Today was The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. The link isn't to the theatre we saw it at, but rather to the touring company that performed it. We enjoyed. We always enjoy live theatre. This group did a really nice job. The actors all came on stage afterward and took some questions from the kids. They did that nicely too. I liked that they introduced the technical crew as well and told the kids how a play could never make it without the technical crew.

We went to the private homeschool garage sale after the show and came home with an armload of books and card games. Many things were picked over by the time we went, but we weren't looking for anything in particular anyway. And we managed to get enough stuff as it was.

Then we stopped at JoAnn and bought fleece. The Juliettes are going to make Linus blankets at their next meeting. Or possibly at the next 2 meetings. I'm not sure how long they will take and we may need to take a break from them and finish them later.

Tomorrow I'm off to the office. I have a huge list of work to do. Starting with 6 power point presentations to write, edit, proofread or otherwise work on. Who says my life isn't glamorous? Okay, everyone says that and they are completely correct!

Violet is thinking of starting a book club for her friends next year. I think that could be really fun. We'll decide over the summer and see how busy we'll be. But she certainly loves to read and so do all of her friends.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day off

There was no Cadette meeting today, so we had our only day off this week. We relaxed. We read. We did minimal school work. It was nice. I also worked too much, but this is a really busy week and it was good to get things done.

Tomorrow is the Stinky Cheese Man show. After that we are going to a homeschool only garage sale. A local homeschool family advertised on a local Yahoo group about it. They want to give homeschoolers a chance to get their good curricula, books and manipulatives before the general riff raff has at it. Isn't that a great idea! They will have it inside, so you have to be in the know to find it. They said they were moving, so I'd like to go to find out where they are moving. I hope it isn't too far away. They are a really nice family.

We are getting a rain storm now, which promises to bring with it cooler weather. Still above normal for this time of year, but gosh it is going to seem cold by comparison!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Old

On Wednesday afternoons Violet takes a jewelry class at an art studio. Mr. Incredible encouraged me to take that time for me. So after I drop her off, I go to a nearby Caribou Coffee, get a cup and set up my computer and write. I've been working on some short essays based on the Little Britches series. It was something I felt compelled to do. If you want to read them, you can. You'll find it at From Little Britches to Bud.

In fact that is where I am posting from today. (Too bad I can get a sponsorship for this post and a free scone!) I'm sitting here thinking, man they need better lighting in here. I can't see anything and I purposely chose a table near a light fixture. But maybe it isn't Caribou's fault my 45 year old eyes can't see anything even with my reading glasses.

And I'm not necessarily their target market. 45 year old working homeschooling mom with one hour a week to sit here and type, for 8 weeks, then bye until there's another class who knows when? Yeah, I'm a nice customer to have, but probably not going to make those Christmas bonuses for them. They probably would rather have the young kids with more spending money and more free time and who can see just fine in this light.

Anyway, do you think they'd mind if I brought in my own desk lamp?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Busy week

We have a busier week than usual. Today was Juliettes. Tomorrow is dentist for Violet and election day for me. Wednesday is Jewelry class. Thursday is Cadettes. And Friday is "The Stinky Cheese Man" at the theater. So what are a couple of girls to do when things are really busy? If you're us, cancel most academic subjects and go to the pool.

Our theory is that we do better getting there if we are already out anyway. So tomorrow after the dentist we'll go to the bank, then stop to vote, treat ourselves to lunch out, then head to the pool. If all things remain as planned, we'll do something similar on Friday after the theater. We have punch passes to the pool that expire June 1st. I'd love to get a bunch more punches used before they expire. So even if we decide to only swim/play/float for 30 or 40 minutes, we're going to go. (Being an accountant, I've calculated what we've spent on all the passes we've gotten, how many times we went, and figured that even if we don't go again our pool admission average is less than if we had just walked in off the street and paid the daily rate. Walk in rate is $6 a person, we've spent $4. If we use all our punches we'll have it down to $2.77 a person per swim. Sometimes being an accountant is a curse.)

Juliettes was fun today. We painted cupcake banks for the 100th birthday. We also played "Kim's Game" a traditional Girl Scout game. And I had altered a cookie bingo game I have into a GS birthday bingo game. Cadettes stayed after and worked on their Couch Potato badge. They made homemade potato chips in the microwave, learned some couch aerobics exercises and started working on their Turn off the TV campaign.

In case any of you have been wondering, we loved Clifford last Friday. Clifford as a puppy was a puppet. Then when he grew big he was 2 people in a dog suit. (Well, we assume people in a dog suit, we didn't actually see people.) Clifford's friends were puppets held by actors in black. Violet was probably twice as old as the average student in attendance. But we don't care. We've been going to school day performances since she was in first grade, this is our 7th season. We plan to keep on going all through high school.

This week's show is "The Stinky Cheese Man" based on the fractured fairy tales by Jon Scieszka. It will be a little older crowd.

One drawback to a theater full of preschoolers is that most of them went to the theater by car driving by chaperones, not by bus. Our theater is downtown and parking is really limited. The small public lot by the theater was full when we got there. The street parking was full by the lot. We went around the corner and lucked onto a great spot on the street. It was a beautiful day so we didn't mind walking. We were close to heading over to the pay lot by the train station. Most groups will be going by bus this week, so it will be the normal crowded parking, not the completely insane parking. But we did decide next time we go to a primarily preschool show, we'll go really early and grab coffee/hot chocolate at the Starbucks by the theater.

Have a great week everyone! I'll update about the week as soon as I can.

Friday, March 16, 2012

What happened to Spring?

Yet another post about the odd weather we're having. We barely had a winter. Not that I'm complaining. And at least for the time being we seem to have gone straight to summer. Temperatures in the 70s. The daffodils aren't even blooming yet (although I did see some crocuses in bloom). It isn't even Easter. Crazy. I bet it snows again before June.

Today we have a school day performance of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Primarily we are going to see the costuming. Will Clifford be a giant dog? Will he be a regular sized actor that everyone pretends is huge? Violet has always loved seeing how they do the costuming and set the stage. And figuring out which actors are playing multiple characters. We love the theater. (As audience members only, I mentioned acting classes from time to time to Violet and have gotten a resounding "no, thank you".)

This week has been nice, quiet week. Next week will be crazy though. The school list will be pared down next week and we'll just get to what we get to.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Girl Scouts on Cupcake Wars

Last Sunday night, Food Network aired an episode of Cupcake Wars with the theme of the Girl Scout's 100th anniversary celebration. If you haven't seen the show before here's the premise in a nutshell (I guess I should say in a cupcake wrapper). Four cupcake makers compete to have their cupcake display at a big event. There are three rounds and one cupcake maker is eliminated after each round. The producers usually prescribe some ingredients that must be used and the theme for decoration.

We love the show anyway, so we were excited to see this episode. We liked it. It was fun. I've read some criticism of it, but overall the GS volunteer community seems to have liked it also. More thoughts from us:

Violet and I were really glad to see that the guest judge was a Girl Scout, and not some muckied-muck from Council or worse Corporate in New York. The girl was an Ambassador, likely a graduating senior. She was poised and well spoken. She was obviously hand picked by her Council, and she did a great job. Very inspiring to young girls and a great role model. I bet she does well in life.

One cupcake maker uses beer in all her cupcakes at her bakery. I think it was unfortunate that the producers had her on this particular episode. The Girl Scouts are "honest and fair" and frankly it wasn't fair of the show to book her for that week. Have her on for a sporting event, not an event for girls. She opted to stick with beer in her cupcakes and was (rightly) eliminated in the first round. Sure she could have changed her approach, but sticking to her way of baking is a quality that Girl Scouts (should) admire. But you can't serve young girls cupcakes that were made with beer, whether all the alcohol cooks off or not. It isn't right. It doesn't promote the organization's values. Shame on Food Network for booking her that episode.

In the first round the cupcake makers were supposed to copy a Girl Scout cookie in their cupcake. Why cupcake makers chose to add other flavors to "enhance" the cookie flavor is beyond me. While a peach lemonade cupcake sounds really delicious to me, it isn't the flavor of the cookie. (Man, a peach lemonade cupcake sounds really, really good. I could snarf a few of those down right now.) And a few of the winning flavors really didn't seem right for girls. I can't imagine serving lemon basil cupcakes to my Juliettes. Maybe a peach lemonade one though. But not claiming it is a Girl Scout cookie flavor.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Girl Scouts

We had nothing special planned for today, the actual 100th birthday of Girl Scouts. But Violet and I did wear green. We've done some other celebrations with our small groups, but chose to skip all the big area events. It was more fun doing things with our friends, not with big groups that the only thing we have in common with is membership in a national organization. Maybe we are just introverts.

What would Juliette Low think of the changes to her program over the years. I know she was in favor of the program evolving as girls did. So the fact that it has changed wouldn't bother her. But I wonder about the diminished focus on girls doing things for girls being leaders. The new badges and journeys sure do have a lot of sitting around and talking involved. Yawn. That's a far cry from the controversy of girls playing basketball and hiking in dresses!

And cookie sales. Let's get real for a minute. Do we really think that girls learn leadership and business skills from selling cookies? Are we that naive? The parents take the forms to the office and hit up their co-workers. Or the girls sit at tables outside of businesses and harass shoppers. The leaders and adults handle the money and the paperwork. The adults often steer the girls into how to spend the money. Not that I'm against that. I don't think a 6 year should be in charge of cookie sales and as the adult who has to do all the paper work and driving, you bet your thin mint I want a say in what they do with their earnings. But let's call it what it raising.

Three new badges at each level for cookie sales!!! Come on, people. 'Nuff said.

The new badges are long overdue and incredibly disappointing. Gone are the days of working hard and learning something. So much for mastering a new skill.

Yep, the new Girl Scouts is definitely all about the corporate entity and the adults. They've totally adopted the public school formula (I once laughed out loud at a training session when the trainer tried to claim it had nothing to do with schools - come on, get real, it is completely public school-focused). And since we know public school has nothing to do with the children, why should Girl Scouts have anything to do with girls?

So why do I stay in it? Because I think you can work within their rules, embellish it, and make a nice little program for a group of friends to have fun together every other week. Sad that you have to change it to make it work. But maybe Juliette would want us tailoring it to the girls. When asked what the girls should do, Juliette responded "What do the girls WANT to do?" That's what we should all be asking ourselves before every meeting.

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts. May you survive the current corporate nonsense and live on for another 100 years!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Weekend

I went to work yesterday. It was pretty routine. I did collect the last of the GS cookie money. One of Violet's customers had been out due to a death in her family, poor thing. She found me to pay for the cookies I'd left at her desk. I did some mentoring with a new person in our department. And we had Italian beef and pasta for lunch. Oh, and they brought in chocolate cake in the afternoon. Not a bad day.

Today we went to my parents and delivered the last of the cookies. A old friend of the family (well, okay, he's retirement age, but I meant old as in we've known him forever) and his wife swung by to get their cookies while we were still at my folks. I hadn't seen them in ages, so it was nice. My mom also set Violet up with some herbs from her garden, so Violet can try to grow her own herbs. We're studying botany this semester. Honestly, my mom should be teaching her botany. I'm hopeless with plants.

Back at home I put some more Juliette stuff together. I made a GS history bingo game for our 100th anniversary party next week. I gathered up the other stuff we'll need too (still need to get more things together for the Cadettes). And I found the items for a Kim's game. The girls love that game. We play in pairs since we have 4 girls. We take 10 to 15 small objects. One pair leaves the room. The other pair hides 2 objects, and the other pair returns and has to guess what is missing. We like to play in pairs because then no one feels like they are on the spot if they can't remember. Yeah, we're touchy feely sort of Girl Scouts. We don't mind. We like it like that.

I also cleaned Squeaky's house (yes, I know, it just gets more and more glamorous, doesn't it?) Squeaky is an elderly hamster. In the last few weeks I've noticed he's been hoarding more and more seed. Should I worry when a hamster's behavior changes like that? It could be dementia setting in. But I'm afraid HGTV will show up to do a documentary on him. You know, Hamster and Gerbil TV. When Hamsters Hoard Too Much.

Okay, I lost an hour today, I've also lost a bit of my mind.

Tomorrow we were supposed to go on a sugar maple field trip, but the group sponsoring it screwed up our reservations. Thank goodness. Violet and I didn't want to go anyway, we've been before, several times. And now it is supposed to storm tomorrow. I didn't need to be hiking through the woods in a storm to see how they tap sugar maples for syrup.

So we have a free day! Yay! Gotta love those. And after our stress last week, gotta NEED those!

Have a good week!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Plan

I took your comments and talked with Violet more. She said she felt like she needed more time at home to just veg out. For now, day trips are crossed of the de-stress plan. That's fine with me, I feel like we are running around too much as well. And if she has more time at home without school work to do, that gives me more time to work and get my 25 hours in. (25 hours a week doesn't seem like much, but when I'm already working full time as a mom, homeschool mom, housekeeper, cook, well, you know the rest, they get hard to squeeze in and still have any time left for me!)

We sent Mr. Incredible off with a shopping list for stuff we need for banana splits and/or ice cream sundaes. And I added to it the stuff we need for super nachos, my favorite meal. Violet set out some microwave popcorn, her favorite snack that we never think about, so we can remember to make it this afternoon.

It looks like we de-stress with food!

We are on the right track. We are always open to other ideas, so if you think of others, let us know!

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Violet and I both seem to be stressing this week, for no real apparent reason. I think we've just been too busy. Not enough down time. She has more activities than she's had in a long time. We sat and talked for a while today and agreed, all her activities are really good, quality activities. Nothing we'd suggest giving up. So, I think we just need to be more efficient about our days. And super careful not to add anything else to them.

I think the better weather will help a lot. Who can help but feel better when it is warmer and sunny than when it is grey with ice falling from the sky? And maybe we need to get over to the pool for some fun splashing and floating. Maybe we need a day off sometime soon. Like a trip to the mall to get the new 100th anniversary Girl Scout Build-a-Bear, which is supposed to be available starting on March 16th. Violet loves Build-a-Bear and has a $10 certificate to spend. The closest mall with BAB is about a 45 minute drive though. Several local museums also have special Girl Scout exhibits. We should try to hit a few. Getting away together, without plans with anyone else, tends to work for us. We can be early or late or get distracted by shiny things all we want if we aren't in a group.

Maybe an ice cream sundae afternoon? Or some baking?

Anyone have any good family destress ideas?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tax refunds came!

Yay! The federal refund arrived yesterday, the state came today. That helps the old savings account a lot! Real Estate taxes will be due before we know it and real estate tax in northern Illinois is HUGE. They are really outrageous. We'd sell our house and move somewhere smaller, but we can't sell without losing boatloads of money because the property values have decreased so much. You'd think that would mean the taxes would go down, but you'd be wrong. See the politicians have a way of making sure you pay your fair share while they just collect huge salaries, even bigger pensions, free health care, and what ever else they can sink their fangs into. The politicians don't give a rat's ass about the taxpayers. They only care about votes.

Now how did such a happy post turn so negative?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where were we?

Oh yes, I left off the captivating story of our lives on Wednesday, Leap Day. Thank goodness February is over. I hate that month. It is too busy with birthdays, holidays, Girl Scout cookies. The weather always stinks. And this year, we were all sick as dogs.

March is starting out much the same. Sigh.

I think we are pretty much all over the cold. Except now my dad has it. We were going to deliver their cookies today, but my mom thought it best if we waited. That was fine with me, I've had so much to get done!

We had another snow storm on Friday. It quickly dumped 4 inches of snow on us, then quit. Mr. I. got up early Saturday morning to shovel the driveway so I could get to the office. I've mentioned my 33 mile commute each way? Well, we had 4 inches of snow. There wasn't a flake on the ground at the office. It is snowing again now. I don't think this snow will amount to anything. It is supposed to be 50 degrees by Wednesday.

I've got school ready for this week. I've been trying to take things more seriously and less "by the seat of my pants." After all, she is in 7th grade. I think middle schoolers are supposed to be somewhat serious about their studies. Well, teachers expect them to be anyway.

The orthodontist was the shortest appointment we've ever had. We go back in 6 months and that's when he decides what else he might want to do to her teeth. And we decide if we're going to let him. I'll write more about that guilt/stress as it gets closer, so I won't bore you with that now.

The bank tour was awesome! It is a small community bank and they were so friendly. They gave the girls each a small basket loaded with goodies, all money themed like green nail polish (the color of money) and chocolate coins. They gave us moms travel mugs with the bank's logo on them. I've got a big piece of poster board folded into a thank you card and as we see all the girls this week we'll have them decorate and sign it.

Tuesday is our rescheduled Thinking Day party. We're ready to go with that. Well, I spent part of the afternoon getting us ready for it! I've decided our here and there Juliette schedule for our original group just isn't working for me. I contacted the other two moms and said I'd really like to make the rest of the year an every other week thing. It looks like, barring illness or sudden emergencies, everyone will be able to make it to the rest of the meetings! I'm excited! I started planning a lot of these projects last summer, I'm so glad to finally get the girls together to do them!

Last week Mr. Incredible bought me 2 shelving units to go inside my closet in my office. And on Saturday he moved all my stuff out and installed them. Then he put some of the stuff back in and gave me a bunch of nice boxes to fit things in. Well I could have just crammed everything in and said I'll deal with that later, but we know I'd never deal with it later. So last night and this morning, I sorted and rearranged and filled the closet neatly. I'm calling it Phase I. There are still several phases to go in the "Freakmom Cleans Out Her Office Once and For All and Makes it Usable Again" project. But it was a great start! I really hadn't planned on spending time this weekend on something like that, but gosh when someone buys you shelves and installs them you say "thanks, this is GREAT" and fill them! I am happy with the start I've made. And I can live with the rest of it for a while longer. My goal is to have it all done by the time school starts next fall. He's also going to get us some new shelves for the homeschool/guest room so we can organize in there too.

Hope you all have a good week! I finally caught up again with reading all of your blogs. Keep the posts coming, I love to know what you've been up to!