Thursday, February 6, 2014


Freakmom applauds CVS for their announcement to stop selling cigarettes.  I think this move is long overdue, but I would never had expected to see it.  We have "come a long way baby" in the anti-tobacco movement.

Remember when cigarette ads were prevalent?  Joe Camel and the Marlboro man.  Those days are gone.  Both are dead and buried from lung cancer and emphysema.

How about smoking in offices?  I once turned down a job because I would have had to share an unventilated basement office with 2 smokers.  Well, there were other unappealing parts of the job as well, but I really didn't want to sit in that office all day with them puffing away.  I wrote a position paper in college once about banning smoking in the workplace.  While I got an A on the paper, the smoking teacher said "yeah, that will never happen."  Her reason, smoking was as addictive as heroin.  My response?  I don't want my employees doing heroin in the office either.  (Boy, am I a smart mouth or what?)

Now there's no smoking in most public buildings (depending on what state you live in, your mileage may vary).  Some places have no smoking anywhere on the grounds.

Yes, CVS has made a giant step forward for public health.  Every little step gets us closer to being a healthier society. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Oh Willie, Say It Isn't So

Yep, Woodstock Willie saw his shadow this morning.  Six more weeks of winter.  What are the odds that the first sunny day we have in weeks is on Groundhog Day!  Guess we're in for more freezing, ice, snow (lather, rinse, repeat). 

I did hear that February is supposed to be worse than December or January were.

Today is the Puppy Bowl, so we'll be watching.  I think there's some other sports event going on, but I'm not sure.  I don't care.  The puppies are so darned cute!

Speaking of puppies, we need kitty food.  We're really, really low.  I know Monday and Tuesday are going to be busy days for me, and Violet has art both nights, so unless Mr. I can go one of those days, I need to run to Walmart today.  Joy. 

I do want to pick up some stuff for our Valentine's Day Juliette meeting.  We're going to attempt to make chocolate pizza and peanut butter cups.  I like these recipes because both are supposed to set up before you eat them.  Which means they'll need to take them home first.  Which means I don't have to hear "can we eat them now?"  And have them all eat a ton of chocolate right before lunch. 

I looked at the sock bunny Violet made at the library, it is super simple!  I found a bunch of polka dot socks online and ordered them with the dues money.  We'll make them later in the month.  I'll post a photo blog of how they are done when I do my sample.

Mr. I and were just talking about 2 years ago.  We had a blizzard, more than 2 feet of snow on Groundhog Day.  They canceled Willie completely.  It isn't an all bad gig to be the groundhog.  Sometimes you do get to take a snow day.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Groundhog Eve

My long time readers will know, Groundhog Day is a big deal around here.  The movie Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock, just down the road.  (I like say we're from Woodstock, we just live a little outside the city limits - about 10 miles within the city limits of another town.)  Mr. I's business is in Woodstock, on the Square - which played the part of Punxsutawney in the film.  Today is Groundhog Eve and there's tons to do to prepare for Woodstock Willie's appearance tomorrow morning.  (Who's the Phil guy people talk about?  Willie is the true groundhog.)

All weekend the movie is playing at the local theater for free.  Where else can you go to see a movie that's more than 20 years old?  Expect a crowd.  There was a bowling event benefiting a group Mr. I is involved with.  You could go on the walking tour of the sites - but I wouldn't recommend it.  It snowed all day and is cold.  You can do the same tour in the summer.

Want to see more Woodstock?  Check out the Wikipedia link.  The store Sewing Concepts in one of the photos? That's where Violet learned to sew a couple of summers ago.

Other movies have been filmed here (well, one or two at least, parts of them) but none have captured the hearts of the locals like Groundhog Day. 

So set your alarm clock, you don't want to miss it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


No, we're not getting more of it (at least not right now).  It is the mounds of it I'm complaining about.  The temperature got up to zero this afternoon, and the roads weren't snow or ice covered, so I decided to run some needed errands (because who knows when this opportunity will present itself again).  I had more trouble seeing around of 10 foot plus high mounds of snow in parking lots.  One entrance I tried to pull into (to get to a Walgreens) was completely inaccessible due to the snow.  I had already passed the other entry, not anticipating the second one wouldn't be plowed.  Grr.  Luckily there's a Walgreens approximately every 50 feet, so I went to a different one.  (I think there's a whole blog post just in the number of Walgreens within a couple of miles of my house.)

Have I mentioned I'm ready for spring?

How about that I'm sick of Girl Scouts. Have I mentioned that?  I'm finishing up my last volunteer job (because if I back out at this point I'd only hurt my fellow volunteers and the girls, the two groups I'd never want to leave high and dry).  Finally we got the date for the cookie pickup:  February 12th.  Is it just me, or is barely 2 weeks notice to drop everything and get cookies loaded into your car a bit short notice?  Previously we had a 5 day period we were supposed to just "hold" for pickup.  What kind of craziness is that?  It is perfectly fine if you are one of the "spoiled self absorbed yuppie pukes" (as Mental so accurately put it) and it is your job.  But for the rest of us, it is unacceptable.  I can't hold 5 days like this.  They got a little bent out of shape when I asked if they could narrow it down for me.  Guess that wasn't self absorbed enough for them!  (Mental you are a wordsmith!  I love you!)

Mark your calendars, it will snow and ice on February 12th.

Never...even...eating...another...Girl Scout cookie...ever...again.

Speaking of which, I got a FitBit!  (Trail of thought: no cookies, fewer calories, weight loss, fitness, FitBit).  I am just figuring out how to use it.  If you have one and would like to be FitBit buddies with me, let me know!  I need all the support (and eyes watching my steps) I can get!

p.s. Okay, it wasn't that I didn't anticipate that the second entrance into Walgreens wouldn't be plowed, it was actually that I forgot I needed to stop there until I was already past the first entrance.  Sigh.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Maybe we're getting used to it

Shortly after I posted yesterday, all the schools in the area started announcing that they would also be closed on Tuesday.  But businesses don't seem to be reacting this time.  Maybe because of the downtime this winter due to weather, both cold and snow, they are getting less sympathetic to it.

My company sent out messages "work from home or in the down town office if it is more convenient", "work it out with your supervisor", etc. the first deep freeze.  This time, nothing.  Two women in my department did work from home today.  Both have kids in schools which were closed.  But that was it (besides those of us who normally work remotely).  Not a single message about using your judgement.  Hmm, the fact that "busy season" is well under way for most of the firm doesn't have anything to do with it, does it?

Mr. I is on the board of directors for a not-for-profit in town.  Their board meeting is scheduled for 7:00 am tomorrow.  The wind chill is predicted to be minus 24 at that time.  The organizer sent out a message, "should we postpone?"  Mr. I replied back, that's a good idea.  But others said no, they'd already planned their weeks.  I said if those who wouldn't change aren't there, there should be consequences.  Funny, he hasn't told me who they are.  I think he's afraid of what my "consequences" might be.  Smart man.

No delivery delay notices this time.  The garbage didn't pick up though.  At least they weren't making the guys go out in the cold.  Wonder about tomorrow though. 

So for once, it looks like the schools might have it right.  Violet plans on sitting outside with a book and lemonade, her feet up, relaxing, watching the kids trudge home in June when they are making up their days.  She'll be "bwahaha-ing" the whole time!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More freezing

The wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped.  The wind chill is currently 6, but is going down, way down below zero.  All the schools, libraries and universities in the area have already announced they are closed tomorrow.  So is the art studio and the swim club.  At this rate the schools are going to use up all their snow days for the year.  In recent years they've rarely closed at all.  Definitely an unusual winter.

Mr. I. went out and got us milk and a few other supplies.  He said the north-south roads were in bad shape with blowing snow.  The towels are still crammed in most of the windows to keep out drafts.  Mr. I is probably going to work from home tomorrow so his car won't have to sit out in the cold and wind all day in the parking lot.

I can't wait for spring.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - The Encore

After reading through and thinking about Oliver DeMille's questions and listening to the debriefing recording, I find I have a few more things to write about Dumbing Us Down.  Since you seemed to enjoy my other rambles about the book, I thought I'd put these here too as my encore.

DeMille cited the following quote from Gatto:  “School is a 12-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned. I teach school and win awards doing it. I should know.” and asked our thoughts.

I think high school especially felt like a jail.  I knew how to work the system and get good grades without learning anything.  I could have (and in some cases did) learned more studying on my own than in the classroom.  I counted down the days until I could get out and move on to college where I hoped to actually learn something.  When I got my college acceptance letter in December, I just phoned it in through the end of the school year.

I learned how to skim through things.  How to memorize what would be on the test.  How to parrot back what the teacher wanted to hear.  All bad habits.

I did not learn to think for myself.  I did not learn to read and comprehend.  I did not learn to study for the joy of studying, rather than to pass the test.  I did not learn to pay attention in lectures.  I had to learn those good habits later in life and am still struggling to learn them now.

DeMille also asked about comments on this quote:   “It is possible that compelling people to do something guarantees that they will do it poorly, with a bad will, or indifferently…”?

I totally agree with Gatto on that one!  Making someone do something, especially when they don't know the reason behind it or see any value in it, won't lead to good results.  It will be done half-heartedly at best.  We see this at work all the time.  Assignments are done so poorly they have to be completely redone.  What a waste of time. 

How many books were you required to read in high school that you didn't want to read?  Did you remember anything from them?  I sure don't, except that I hated them and maybe that the teacher was stupid!  What a waste of time.

During the debrief there was a discussion on how the American family has lost their intellectual life.  People hardly ever think together.  They live together, eat together, etc.  We don't learn together or think together.  Even in our homeschool environment, we don't do enough of this.  Once in a while we have discussions with a book we're reading, but the three of us rarely read the same book: combinations of 2 of us do.  The only thing the three of us tend to discuss in depth are various Food Network competition series (Next Iron Chef, Rachel versus Guy, etc.)  Perhaps that should change.

Another idea that stuck with me:  You don't need to worry about what works or doesn't work for anyone else's family, only yours.  Their education isn't your problem.

Exactly!  And I wish others who chose a different path for their children would also know that.  I don't have to defend my decision to homeschool to anyone else.  And I don't care that you choose to send your kids to public schools.  It isn't my business.  I have never liked being the poster child for homeschooling.  I don't want to recruit anyone.  I don't want to spend hours while someone agonizes over the decision or not.  I suppose I should want to, but I don't.  They need to decide for themselves.  They need to answer for their decision, not me. 

And finally, DeMille threw out the question of what the "hidden curriculum" is in the subtitle of the book.  I don't really agree with the panel in the recording.  I think the hidden curriculum just refers to what actually goes on in schools.  People don't want to believe it, or don't see it.  They are so brainwashed to into believe that teachers know best, we don't know anything, and we can't possibly do it better.  The hidden curriculum is the power that the schools have over those who don't think for themselves.

Great book!  Great mentoring series, check it out if you think you are interested:  mentoring the classics.  The introductory price is available through the end of January only.

Next month:  Gifts from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  I plan to post my thoughts here on that one too.

Friday, January 24, 2014


More stress....gone!  I haven't been happy with our bank for a while, (honestly, we're talking years here) but it is such a pain in the ass to switch banks.  You've got to get all the direct debits and credits switched over, new signature cards signed, new checks ordered, wait for all the checks to clear, close out the old account, deal with the "please don't leave us we'll make it better" bull (if you had done it in the first place, I wouldn't have been unhappy here).

Today I closed the old accounts, and deposited the remainder of the money in our new accounts.  The process has taken almost exactly two months.  The main delay was making sure the direct debits were debiting from the new account. 

I am so thrilled with our new bank.  They are so nice.  They have no minimum balances, no fees, they even give us free checks!  They remember us.  Mr. Incredible's business account is with them too.  And it isn't like we're a big account, that was the problem with the old account: I couldn't feel secure that I could keep their required minimums at all times to avoid their fees.  The old bank wouldn't even talk to Mr. I when he went in there about a business account with no money to flash around.  He would have spent all the meager start up money we had on their fees!  New bank gave him a totally free, no minimum balance business account with debit and credit cards both! 

I probably shouldn't let this sort of thing stress me out, but it does.  And it took a lot of time.  I did a happy dance when I got home today and it was all done!

Now if only I had better health insurance options.  That's still stressful.  Maybe something will change with that.  Until then, I'll look at my checkbook and think happy thoughts about banks and pretend insurance and the "Affordable" Care Act doesn't exist.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Finishing Early

Today Violet discovered that she could pretty much finish school for the week today (Thursday) and have Friday off.  I've mentioned it to her in the past, but I think she's always been too far behind in her weekly schedule that it didn't seem possible.  Today was department meetings day, which meant I was on the phone much of the day.  When I finally got off from meeting number one, she showed me her work and was pretty much done for the day.  I suggested if she wanted she could do Friday's, and by the time I was done with meeting number two, she was done.  She has some free writing and literature to read tomorrow.  Both easy and fun.  I think we've finally got a good mix of the right amount of work on the list, and the right work. She's learning, enjoying it, and neither of us are stressing.

Cookie order taking ended yesterday, so today I got the Juliette's orders.  It is only Violet and a pair of sisters selling.  I'll have to pick up just 16 cases of cookies.  But because of the stupid "full case" rule, we'll have another 31 boxes of cookies to find homes for.  I'll offer them up a few places, then see if I can get a troop to take them and sell them at a booth sale.  Independently registered girls aren't allowed to do booth sales except if they join a troop.  So finding a home for the extra cookies just becomes another step for the volunteer to have to do 

I had a dream last night that I was wrapping up cookie sales and Council presented me with like 20 other girls' order forms to include.  It wasn't the first bad dream I've had about cookie sales over the years.  It definitely means cookies stress me out way too much.  I am not volunteering next year.  I'm not even going to register as a Girl Scout.  I'm so tired of Council's treatment of volunteers and their policies.  I'm done.  I'll register Violet.  If she wants to sell again she can (this year she sold 12 boxes, enough for a patch - a friend is buying 5 boxes to be shipped to the soldiers, and we bought the rest for us).  But I'm done.  I have other things I want to spend my time on.  And other things to spend $15 on besides registration fees for the privilege of being minion to Council staff. 

It feels liberating to be done.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - Part 3 - The Last Part

I just have a few more favorite quotes from Dumbing Us Down that I want to write about.  Hope you haven't minded joining my journey through this book.  And heck, if you have minded, why didn't you just click "next blog" and come back later? 

From: We Need Less School, Not More

"Whatever an education is, it should make you a unique individual, not a conformist; it should furnish you with an original spirit with which to tackle big challenges; it should allow you to find value through life, it should make you spiritually rich, a person who loves whatever you are doing, wherever you are, whenever you are with; it should teach you what is important: how to live and how to die."

Boy, does that slap institutionalized schooling in the face or what?  Everything public schools aren't is right there.  Mr. Gatto, I'm not sure I can add anything. 

From: The Congregational Principle

I like Gatto's comparison of institutional schools to Procustes from Greek mythology.  Procustes cut or stretched travelers to fit his guest bed (and if you are a Percy Jackson fan, he did it in a water bed store in LA).  Schools take the individual out of the individual.  One could argue that it isn't schools that do that, but rather it is the nature of kids.  They use peer pressure and group think to make everyone fit in.  But anyone who argues that, hasn't spent time with homeschoolers.  I love spending time with homeschoolers, the kids revel in their uniqueness.  Want to wear stripes and plaid together one day?  No one will care, and many will say "what a cool choice!"  Like polka music?  That's neat!  Want to speak out that you hate the popular band that everyone else is saying they love?  That's okay, no one will stop liking you.  No one is going to cut you to fit the bed they have available, let your feet hang off the end.

"Monopoly schooling is the major cause of our loss of national and individual identity."

See the previous comments. 

"Don't be panicked by scare tactics into surrendering your children to experts."

This goes for everything in life, not just school.  If you don't like what the "experts" tell you find other experts, or better yet, become an expert yourself.  Don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.  Especially where your children are concerned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - Part 2

More thoughts from John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down

Tonight's quotes are from the essay, "Psychopathic School".

"Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent: nobody talks to them anymore."

I work in the nursing home industry and I do see a lot of dedicated professionals trying to change this for the old people in the equation.  But unfortunately it is an uphill battle.  There are too many people in institutions whose families never visit them, never join them for a meal in the dining room, never take them out for a drive and a stroll through the garden.  Take a few minutes and visit if you can (even if it isn't your family member - stop what you are doing for 5 minutes).  Doesn't matter if you can't understand what they say back, just hold their hand and listen.  It will mean the world to them.

(Note:  Day in, day out caregiving for a loved one is a different conversation altogether.  Please don't think I'm referring to those situations.  Caring for a loved one with any ailment is mentally and emotionally and physically exhausting.  You are the heroes of the world.  The rest of us can take 5 minutes to make someone's day.) 

Same for kids.  Stop, hold their hand and listen to them.  Whatever is making them cry may seem silly to you, but them it is very important.  Don't lock either age group away and ignore them.  Better yet, bring them together!

"We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that."

How many Facebook friends do you have?  If you know the number off the top of your head, I'd say you spend too much time on Facebook.  While on the surface social media seems to draw us together, there is no denying it is actually isolating us.  When was the last time you read someone's Facebook page?  Now when was the last time you went out for coffee with that friend or spoke on the phone?

We don't have true connections any more.  C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called "Membership" in which he says, "We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship."  We need to give up the pretend networks and actually connect with people. Turn off the devices and look around you for connections.

"When children are given whole lives instead of age graded ones in cell blocks they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if these things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them."

Another reason I love homeschooling.  There are no artificial timelines to worry about.  Having problems with spelling/math/reading/writing?  Just wait a while.  Sometimes the brain needs to catch up.  It always does.  And it can't do it if you keep cramming more in it.

"The children I teach are uneasy with genuine intimacy or candor."

Now I know where my own problems comes from: institutionalized schooling.  I'll save detail on that one for a more private forum.

I still have a few more quotes, so it looks like you are in for a Part 3.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dumbing Us Down - Part 1

I've signed up for the TJEd "Mentoring in the Classics" series, (details about which can be found here).  The January book is Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto.  Since I don't use Facebook which is where the official discussion takes place, I thought I'd write my own notes here. 

The first essay in the book is Taylor's, "Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher" which was a speech he gave to a group of teachers as he accepted a Teacher of the Year award.  I first read this essay about two years ago, but it reflects so many of the reasons we first decided to homeschool about ten years ago. 

"The first lesson I teach is confusion.  Everything I teach is out of order."

"I teach the unrelating of everything."

I was attracted to the idea of homeschooling because you could combine subjects as much as you want.  Learn about history by reading novels - awesome!  Study biographies of scientists then try some experiments.  Math in everyday life?  You betcha!  Everything relates to everything else, nothing is in a vacuum.  Unless you are sitting in an elementary school classroom.

"Nothing important is ever finished in my classroom nor in any class I know of."

I was so turned off public school by the description I was given of full day kindergarten by one mom I knew at the time:  "The kids are constantly changing subjects.  They spend 15 or 20 minutes on one thing, then they are up and off to the next thing."  She said it like it was the best thing ever.  I kept thinking: "can you say ADHD?"  And "But what if they aren't finished learning the first subject?"  Neither matters of course.  Just medicate the kids who can't sit still.  And we aren't going to do anything important so why bother being done with it.

"Curiosity has no important place in my work, only conformity."

Don't be different.  Don't ask questions.  Don't ask to learn something that isn't planned. 

The next two quotes mean more to me from a business office stand point.  I work in a large company of professionals, and I work a lot training and mentoring the new hires.  You can see such striking differences between the kids straight out of college and those who are coming to our firm from somewhere else in the industry.  The kids do what is asked of them, and do it well.  They don't take initiative.  They don't ask for more.  If they are done they just sit there and wait.  (There are some exceptions, in fact our current crop is fabulous!  We've got some real go-getters who you just wonder where they came from and where we can get more of them!  But most of them over the years, sadly haven't been like that.)  I don't blame them.  They are a product of the factory they came from: institutionalized schooling.  They don't know any better.  (I wonder if the few who do really stand out are influenced by family work ethic.  That's got to be it.  Work hard and get ahead.  You learn that from your parent and grandparents, not in school.)

"Good people wait for an expert to tell them what to do."

"We've built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don't know how to tell themselves what to do."

I think we are suffering in our society from too many cogs and not enough thinkers.  We've "schooled" the thinking out of people.  We can't do anything unless we're told do.  After all, what if it is wrong?

Gatto talks about "emotional dependency" in schools.  Students crave praise from the teachers, who are always right and know everything.  I see the same thing in the business world:  The boss is right.  The boss makes the rules.  The boss has the final say. 

Now yes, the boss does have the final say and makes the rules.  But there is a place (and I argue a need) for questioning the boss.  In the right time, place and manner (let's not get ourselves fired here).  But we don't have to stop and get the boss to answer everything.  We can learn from one past answer or instruction and move ahead and think things through.  Do we need to call the boss in?  Or can we handle it?  If we haven't learned to think, then no we can't handle it.  Sad.  And tiring if you are the boss.

I have notes on some of the other essays too, but this is long enough for now.  I'll make it a Part 1 and publish more tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Craft plans

Today I got the front room, where the Girl Scouts meet, cleared out and vacuumed.  Which allowed me to get out the bin of craft and other supplies I use with them.  Which allowed me to get the samples of Friday's craft projects out and photographed.  Which allows me to now post them.

The first is a trip album made from a road map.  I got the basic idea from Family Fun magazine.  I added the cover to it.  And I adjusted their pattern a bit so that the flaps open without unclasping the whole book.  Basically you use a road map of a place you've been to make little pockets for souvenirs (like ticket stubs) to create a trip album.  I've asked the girls to bring a road map.  I have extras for anyone who forgets.  I would have just gotten them for everyone (thank you AAA), but I thought it would be more meaningful if they could choose the state that they've been to.

The second craft is utilizing a bunch of craft foam that one of the girls gave me. She and her mom cleaned out their craft supplies and offered it all up for us to use.  In my sample I made mine smaller than what I'm going to have them do.  And I have some initial patterns (not initial as in starting, but initial as in first letter of their name), that if they choose they can use in it.  We've got a lot of little craft foam shapes (some sticky, some not) that they can bling their initials with.  Some of the girls really like to bling.  My sample was just playing around with it.  My initial isn't really X.  The dots were testing out how Sharpie marker worked on the foam (very well).

I thought I'd show them how to do both, have all the supplies out, and let them decide which they want to work on. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back in the swing of things

Guess we're getting used to being back in school and activities and everything else.  Using Khan Academy for algebra is working really well.  We started as an experiment for the chapter Violet struggled with.  But I think we'll finish up the subject with Khan.  Although sometimes the problem sets can be a bit much.  It doesn't think you've practiced enough until you get 5 right in a row.  So if you get 4 right, then miss one, you have to start all over on your count.  Annoying.  My worries that she wouldn't get enough practice are definitely gone.

Abigail Adams Academy classes are starting up again.  I've done the reading for Classic Moms (Great Expectations) but I'm behind in the Abigail Adams Colloquium.  I've also signed up for the TJEd Mentoring the Classic series that is just starting.  I know I'm trying to do too many online study programs, but gosh I really enjoy them.  I'll see if I can keep up for a little longer, then next year step back and do less.

Girl Scouts starts back up Friday.  We have two craft projects planned.  Well, I should say, I have them planned.  I am pretty sure this will be my last year of doing these meetings.  It is a lot of work.  Plus I have to clean my house (okay, I should be doing that anyway, but I don't) and put things away so we have space (ditto).  There are 7 more meeting days scheduled including Friday.  I'm thinking if I'm counting them down like that, maybe I really should stop.  

In other news, there really isn't other news.  I guess that is good.  It is no longer bitter cold.  Although it did snow this morning.  And it looks on the radar like we might be getting more.  Spring can't get here fast enough.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stressful day

Violet and I both had stressful days today, but they ended on good notes.  And tomorrow should be better.

I had a call with my boss and the head of HR.  Cleared up the policy change that looked to be a major cut in my benefits.  They way they plan to apply it to me won't change anything.  Just how my timesheet is completed.  Would have been nice to know that 2 weeks before I sat around angry about my cut.  While they were on vacation.

Violet got her braces tightened.  And found out she'll be getting them off in 12 weeks!  One more appointment for a final adjustment, then impressions for her retainer, then they come off!  I couldn't make the final appointments today because they didn't have April in the system yet.  But I can call back in a couple of weeks and get those last 2 appointments booked and we'll know the No More Braces day!  Should be the first week in April.  She's just glad it is before Easter.  The Bunny better bring lots of jelly beans, she really missed those last year!

Violet had her first art class of this session tonight.  I'd been hoping maybe the art studio would close since all the schools were closed again due to the weather.  But it was open.  One girl she really likes was back in the class.  And she liked the new kids who joined.  The roads weren't too bad, just snow covered, so I didn't have problems getting her there.  (I slid while trying to stop twice going to the orthodontist this morning.  And it isn't like I'm a fast driver.  I've been called "pokey" more than once.  Roads were just really slick from the bitter cold and being snow covered.)  Where the studio is located, I don't like going at night.  The streets aren't well lit.  It is residential so it isn't scary or anything, just not easy driving.  And there's hardly any parking.  I prefer going there in the daytime.  But since we've passed the solstice, it will only get lighter each week.

Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to be above zero all day!  And no snow or freezing rain!  Amazing how good 10 can look!  We don't have to go anywhere.  I have 2 short calls scheduled for work, but both will be good.  Just planning calls for tasks I like to do.  No one difficult on either call. 

Yes, tomorrow should be a much less stressful day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Minus Twenty

That was the air temperature when I got up this morning. At 1:30 in the afternoon it has warmed to a balmy minus fifteen.  Wind chills between 40 and 50 below.  We put towels in the window sills and in front of the doors to help keep out the cold.  The thermometer on my alarm clock in our bedroom was reading 53 earlier.  The room does have high ceilings and a big window.  But still.  Gosh that's cold.  We've been keeping our thermostat at 68.  I dread seeing the heating bill when it comes.

The mail is still being delivered, but garbage pickup was suspended.  Schools have already started announcing that they will be closed tomorrow too.  Violet has an orthodontist appointment in the morning.  As far as I know he won't be closing.  And she has art class tomorrow evening.  Although it is supposed to warm up to around zero tomorrow, I'm really hoping the art studio stays closed tomorrow like it is today.

I got back on the treadmill today.  I did 1.5 miles (instead of 3) with a high speed of 3.0 (instead of 3.7).  Figured I shouldn't try to push it.  Violet is walking now, but she hasn't been sick so she's doing her full workout.  She is dreading school starting and so far hasn't done much today.  I can't blame her.  First day back after holiday break and other than a few homeschoolers no one studying today. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Oh Burr

Good news:  my bronchitis finally seems to be better today.  I'm coughing a little, but haven't taken any cough syrup.  We'll see at 8:00 tonight.  That's when it usually kicks in.  I'd like to work out, but a voice keeps telling me to wait another day or two.  Really, it isn't going to kill me to take more time and wait until I'm healthy again.  I am so glad I spent the money on a treadmill and not a gym membership.  I would have completely lost out on the gym this past month.  And Violet's still been able to work out, I wouldn't have driven her to a gym most days.

The temperature is down to 6 so far.  It is supposed to hit minus 13.  Then add on wind chill.  We're expecting it to be between 40 and 50 below with wind chill.  It is cold in the house, the wind is already blowing and you can feel it come through.  I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a less well built house, or worse no house.  We've probably gotten 6-7 inches of snow in the last day.  It has hard to tell.  Partly because we already had snow on the ground, and because it was blowing around. 

We have the world's most wonderful neighbor.  He has a snow blower and he loves to play with it!  I know he did at least 5 neighbor's driveways today.  Those are just the ones I saw.  He was out working on ours by 8:00 this morning. 

Most schools have announced that they will be closed tomorrow.  And the library.  Violet and I voted and since we don't have to go out, school will start up tomorrow as planned.  Mr. Incredible is going to work from home.  My office sent out a message that we should work with our department heads to work from home or out of the downtown office or the regular office, as is most convenient.  Since I work from home anyway, no changes there.

Did you see that Minnesota closed all schools tomorrow?  Go Minnesota.  What a smart move.  It is just too cold to send the kiddos out.  And you know that some would have no choice but to stand and wait for the bus or walk to school. 

So business as usual here tomorrow, except we're not venturing outside unless we absolutely have to.  May your blankets be warm and your slippers not have holes in them.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

150, bronchitis and snow

My weight goal was to be down to 150 by the end of the year.  That's losing 16 pounds since June.  Well, this morning I weighed 150.6.  That counts in my book!  I haven't been working out (see next topic) but I haven't had an appetite and have avoided almost all Christmas goodies and beverages with calories.  I still want to get down to 145, then maybe 140. 

Just before Christmas I started having sinus pain.  Felt like a knife was sticking in my sinuses.  Then it became a cold.  Now its bronchitis.  I mainly cough at night.  I've got some new night time cough medicine to try.  The doctor?  Nope, I'm not spending that much money to be told I have a cold and bronchitis and to rest and take cough syrup to try to sleep.  I wish the Affordable Care Act would have made healthcare affordable.  $75 for an office visit just isn't affordable in my book.  My costs have gone up, my care options have gone down, I've gotten so stressed out by it all that I've gotten sick.  That wasn't my idea of healthcare reform.  Pass the herbal tea.

Something's happened at work too.  Not a good something.  Not a horrible something.  But it has added more stress.  I can't talk about it online. 

We've gotten at least 7 inches of snow since yesterday.  And it is still coming down.  Once it stops the temperatures are supposed to drop. Goodbye balmy teens, hello below zero.  This is panning out to be one rough winter!