Thursday, March 17, 2016

Uninspired At First but Then... Totally Inspired! (Thursday 3/17/16)

I don't know what is wrong with me these days, and certainly I cannot blame the lack of sunshine for my lack of energy since it's been sunny and hot every day, but I have no energy and no desire to do anything.  I wake up tired every single day (I must toss and turn more than I'm aware).  This morning I didn't feel like drinking coffee, which is highly unusual for me, so I shared Greg's tea bag and I brewed myself a cup of black tea.  By 9 a.m. I was brewing coffee because I needed caffeine otherwise I would have headed back to bed!

I'm so uninspired that I'm ditching the usual "failures and successes" theme and the bullet point format. Today is going to be a stream of consciousness without the bullet points.

Happy St. Patrick's Day if you're Irish. We're not, so usually this is a non-event for us, but my youngest really likes all things Irish, for some reason, so I reminded him this morning to wear the "Ireland" T-shirt that I had bought him at Walmart a couple of weeks ago and off he went.  He's an Irish poser, lol.

The newspaper was delivered again this morning (it's a Thursday and Sunday subscription) and once again I had read 99% of the contents online already.  The only thing that I really learned is that poll workers (at least in Orange County in Florida) are paid and make from $160 to $275 a day.  Silly me, I always assumed that they were volunteers.  I asked Greg and he also always assumed that they were volunteers. I guess because they're usually elderly people?!  Anyhoo, I had resigned myself that, in our golden years, we'd probably have to step up and volunteer ourselves but the prospect of possibly getting paid for it made it a much more attractive proposition!  I wonder how one becomes a poll worker... last time I went to vote, the lady who was in charge of making me sign the register was clipping coupons.  I could definitely do that, lol.

It's just past 9 a.m., everyone's gone to school or work and I'm thinking that I don't have the energy to do anything.  I decided that I'd take it easy to start with and maybe do some reading while drinking that freshly brewed coffee.  Can you believe that I don't own one book by my favorite fiction author, John Sandford?!  I was sure that I owned several of them but I guess I've just been borrowing them from the library.  Sigh. I was looking forward to reading one of those today.  Oh well, I'll have to try the 2nd library book that I borrowed on Tuesday, "Blackout" by David Rosenfelt. I haven't read that author yet and there's a 90% chance that I won't like the book because yes, I'm that critical when it comes to books.  Which is why I really should just buy all the John Sandford books next time I see them at the thrift store.

Yesterday afternoon, I made myself some instant decaf coffee in the afternoon by boiling water in the kettle and then promptly dribbled it right on my... cleavage.  OUCH.  We're talking boiling water on sensitive skin, there!  I was sure that I would get blisters and texted Greg so he could commiserate with me.  Thankfully by dinnertime, I only had a little redness left (and coffee stains on my favorite white Tshirt, I hope the Shout will help get them off!), but Greg stopped by Publix on his way home and bought me 2 packages of Brookside chocolates to make me feel better.  Awwww.... I had been complaining for years that he needs to have a secret stash of chocolates for me somewhere so when I need chocolate, he can magically produce a bag of it, so that's the next best thing. Of course, I immediately thought that they're on BOGO at CVS this week (well, I think, I'm not sure!) and that I don't really like Brookside (it's not real fruit in there, it's some kind of fruit jelly covered in chocolate), but hey, I was ecstatic that he made the gesture.

But this morning my tummy wasn't ecstatic.  This stuff doesn't agree with me.  I'll still eat the rest of them, though :)

I've read blog posts over the past few days but haven't felt like writing up comments, sorry everyone. I feel slightly guilty but then realize that I don't get comments on every posts either (and really, that's fine!) so that helped assuage the guilt.  I'm going to try and go back to comment today. Update: I didn't get a chance to do that, sorry!

My daughter has her Optimist Club Essay and Oratorical Competition tonight so I'll be driving her to it so she can relax in the car. I'm under orders not to talk to her on the way up. It's an hour drive and I don't like being silent if someone else is in the car with me so it's going to be hard, folks!  We'll have dinner out afterwards so I'm going to cook dinner in the crockpot for Greg and our son.  I have a package of ground chicken that I had defrosted yesterday and found a recipe for Hamburger Crockpot Casserole on that I'm adapting by using ground chicken instead of ground beef. I also used a can of mixed vegetables instead of peeling carrots and onions and using a can of peas.  I did add 2 Klondike Gold potatoes.  I'll try to make them corn bread too.

The weather, at 9:30 a.m., is cloudy and gray. I wish it would rain!  As I watered the garden yesterday, I noticed that my Bibb lettuce seeds had sprouted (those were seeds I had harvested last summer), and ONE of the pole bean seeds seemed to be struggling out of the ground. I have a suspicion that the damn squirrels probably are the other ones.  Otherwise, nothing else seems to be growing.  I didn't plant anything yesterday, but I do want to plant green pepper and jalapeƱo seeds soon. Probably this weekend.  Indoors, my spinach and thyme seeds have definitely sprouted in their little seed nursery. I haven't touched it since I set it up last week.  The Cling Wrap creates the greenhouse effect so the same water has been re-moistening the seedlings ever since I set it up.  Maybe I should wrap my outdoor beds in Cling Wrap too!

I have dishes to be done this morning so it's going to be the perfect opportunity for me to try out my new bluetooth portable speaker that I got off Amazon.  I paired it with my Kindle Fire a couple of days ago and it seemed to work just fine.  I hope it's loud enough so I can hear it over the running water and/or dishwasher.  It uses a rechargeable battery which is a plus because the portable speaker that I used to borrow from my son uses regular batteries and it seemed like I was replacing those every week, even though he never seems to be using it and I only used it once in a blue moon.

Speaking of wonky technology, I spent a whole episode of Game of Thrones last night researching Blu Ray players on Amazon (I had already seen the episodes so I was listening with one ear).  I can't bring myself to pick a model to buy. Every single one seems to be prone to problems, according to commenters. I don't care about it playing Netflix, etc. I just need it to play Blu Rays and DVDs.  I was tempted to get an older corded model (i.e. non wifi connected) in order to keep it simple, but then I worried that it wouldn't play those newer Blu Ray discs that we have that seem to need to connect to the wifi.  So before I do anything else, I'm going to see if I can update the firmware on the thrifted player that we have. Maybe it'll do the trick.  What's maddening is that it played 1.5 blu ray discs just fine this week, started having problems with the 2nd episode on the 2nd disc (slipping, pixelating) even though the disc is fine, and wouldn't load the 3rd disc at all last night. The disc played just fine on the Xbox One so I definitely know that it's not the disc.  It's so frustrating.  I don't want to pay $60 to $80 for a machine that allows me to play those darn discs!  I just have just stuck with DVDs, we didn't have all those problems with the DVD player, darn it. Let me know if you have a recommendation for a specific model of blu ray player. Thanks!

So I decided to look into redeeming those free Ultraviolet codes that came in the GoT packages.  You have to go through HBO and then choose a provider.  Arrgh, which provider is the best?!?  In the end, I decided to use Google Play since I have a Google account that I'm not planning on changing and we already had the app installed on the Roku.  Only, when i went to redeem the code, Google Play confirmed my method of payment, which had expired (actually it was the credit card that had been compromised last month) so I had to figure out how to change that... and ran into problem after problem. Long story short, I had to do an online chat with a Google Wallet specialist (good thing there was such option!) who did tell me what the problem was and I fixed it.

So now we can watch Seasons 4 and 5 of GoT via Google Play.  However, my codes for Season 1 and 3 have expired.  So I emailed HBO to explain the situation and ask if they could be re-issued but I'm not holding my breath. Stupidly, it seems that I had bought Season 2 on DVD only so we're out of luck for this one.

I emailed Greg that I was sick and tired of having several formats within a same series (we did the same thing with Lord of the Rings, originally!) and now the Blu Ray player will only play some BR but all DVDs while the Xbox One will play all BR but not the DVDs, etc.  At the same time, he was typing an email to me saying that he wanted to buy a new gaming PC, that the company he wanted to buy it from was having a St Patrick's Day sale so he could save a couple hundred dollars but was sending me the link to check whether I could earn SB first. How sweet... NOT!  First off, he rarely plays PC games anymore, he's on the Xbox One constantly.  Secondly, the PC he wants is almost $1,200 (including the darn $200 discount).  TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. For something he'll use once in a while.  Thirdly, he wants to buy it from the same company that made the PC that he is using now... that used to be our son's gaming PC that we bought through Amazon and that stopped playing the newer games barely 3 months after we got it.  And when I contacted them, they refused to do anything for us and Greg said he would never use that company again. Yeah, until today when he's about to give them another $1,200 on top of the $700-800 we gave them a year and a half ago. So I'm not a happy camper. Because you know he's gonna do whatever he wants, anyway. Maybe I should buy that Blu Ray player that costs $1,800 and that has stellar reviews on Amazon, right?  Ugh.

My lunch was leftovers from last night and a navel orange. I ate them while listening to most of an episode of "Finding Your Roots" on PBS. I used to love that show but lately it's been getting on my nerves. I think the host really stretches the truth sometimes, or at least he and his associates make great leaps that they can't prove but then his guests take those as truths and it bothers me.  Anyhoo, I had it on but I didn't pay that much attention. I have a headache and I need to take a pill because it's getting worse.

I checked Amazon Instant Video and the 1st episode of Season 4 of "The Americans" is available now that it's aired on FX last night so I went ahead and purchased the season is SD.  I had a $5 credit but I purchased the 1st episode by itself by mistake so I had to cancel that purchase but the credit will take 3-5 days to get back into my account so when I bought the season, only $3.01 remained to apply. Oh well, better than nothing, right?  I sent an obnoxious email to my brother in Marseille who has been watching the series with his Russian GF, to taunt him, lol.

I ended up watching 3 episodes of Finding your Roots and an episode of Antiques Roadshow while playing Mahjong on my Kindle Fire this afternoon...  I had a wicked headache the whole time (allergies, I think).  My son came home after school and left right away to go to the library to finish editing his video, and my daughter and I headed to The Villages for her Optimist Club Oratory and Essay competitions.

The drive was about 45 minutes long and I was trying not to stress her so we chatted about her friends and a million other things.  Then, when we were close to the Community Center where the competitions were taking place, we realized that we had to enter a gated community and... we hadn't been given the gate code!  Arrgh.  I made a U-turn just before the gate to avoid getting stuck (I had a line of cars behind me) and we found a place to park and called the competitions' organizer but got her voicemail. At that point, I wasn't even sure that we had the correct address because I couldn't imagine that they wouldn't have told us it was in a gated community.  While my daughter left a voicemail, I found the main phone number for the Community Center and thankfully someone answered and told me that he thought the gate might have a red button for guests to push that opened the gate. So we headed back (because we only had 15 minutes to get to the center!) and again, thankfully, there was indeed a red button that opened the gate (and then, why even have a gate at all?!).  But then, instead of taking us to a community center, the GPS took us to someone's house. What?!?!  I checked the GPS and the "house" number that was entered in there wasn't the house number that I had entered in the GPS and I was thoroughly confused. So I re-entered it and the GPS defaulted to a different house number by itself.  I have never seen my GPS do this!  Again, luckily, a gentleman on a golf cart happened to be passing by so I flagged him and asked him to direct me to the Community Center, which was just a couple of blocks down the street.  We got there right in time and found out that apparently they knew that Garmin GPS units have that specific problems with that address but no one thought to warn us.  Come to find out, we had to wait a little while because 2 other competitors hadn't arrived yet... and they never did make it either. I think they got stuck at the gate like we did but probably didn't think to call anyone or push that red button?!

Anyhoo, while we were waiting, I made small talk with a young man who was competing against my daughter in the oratorical competition. It was his first time.  He was practicing his speech and wondered aloud if it would be better for him to recite his speech from memory or read it.  I told him, and my daughter concurred, that it would be better if he recited his speech if indeed he had memorized it because the judges would like that he made that effort.  My daughter confirmed that last year, both she and the young man who had gotten 2nd place (she had won 1st place) had memorized their speeches and presented them from memory.  Then they and the 3rd competitor who had shown up had to draw "straws" to determine the order in which they were going to present their speeches. My daughter wanted to go first, but she drew 3rd place... which ended up being good for her.

The thing about the Optimist Club is that everybody is super friendly and encouraging.  They really put you at ease, which is very nice.  Our chapter, from The Villages, is mostly retired people, so it's like being in a room with a whole bunch of older people the age of your grandparents who all think you're awesome. Not a bad audience, eh?

The young man had drawn first place so he went to the podium first.  He took a few moments to compose himself and then came back into the audience and went to hug his mom and thanked her and then back to the podium and started his speech from memory.  The thing is... he hadn't memorized it and stumbled a few times and then completely blanked out.  I couldn't understand why he didn't just switch to reading it at this point, but I found out after the competition that he had left the speech on his chair.  So after a few awkward moments of silence, he just admitted that he didn't remember his speech and apologized and went back to sit down. I felt horrible because I had told him that he should recite it (which he should have anyway, but I guess he hadn't memorized it well enough) and was worried that this would distract my daughter, but she told me it actually made her even more confident.

The second speaker went on and she decided to read her speech. Her tone was very monotonous and she mumbled in the microphone so we couldn't hear anything (well, I couldn't, and I wasn't sure if the others could but no one told her that they couldn't hear).  At that point, I knew that my daughter would win if she didn't mess up.

So my daughter went up and presented her speech from memory.  As I said, she won that same competition last year.  She competes in parliamentary procedure with her FFA team so she is well versed in public speaking and really has a way with words.  She was the only person to step in front of the podium and hold the microphone in her hand while giving her speech, making hand gestures and being expressive in her delivery. Once again I was floored by how talented she is!  I know I'm her mom so I'm biased, but it's true :)  I filmed her performance (the theme was Inspiring Others by Being the Best You Can Be or something along these lines) and I was trying not to cry during her speech because I was so proud, lol.  I didn't cry but I could feel that my face was on fire because of all the emotion I was holding back :)

Then the organizer announced that the young man who had messed up had asked if he could still present his speech by reading it, as practice at this point, since he had already had his chance and blown it, and that they agreed that since he had put in the work in writing the speech, he should be allowed to present it. So he read his essay. This guy is a born politician!  His maneurism was very good and his tone was excellent, but he used a lot of big words in a convoluted style that failed to clearly convey his message, in my opinion.  Still, he had the guts to go back and present his essay after a pretty humiliating defeat, which showed a lot of gumption.

The judges took a few moments to score everyone, and in the meantime we moved on to the essay competition. My daughter was the only one who had entered both competitions. Only the top 3 finalists had been invited to read their essays tonight, but the judges had already decided who had won.  So they announced the winners starting with the 3rd place winner, who was another young man.  The topic of the essays was "Leading by Example".  He won $50 for his essay.  The 2nd place winner was on a Disney Cruise with her family so wasn't there to read her essay. I forget how much she won.  My daughter won the essay competition!  She read her essay, which was very good as well (of course!) and won $300!  Woohoo!

After that, the organizer was ready to announce the winners of the Oratorical Competition: the young man who had messed up had won everyone's respect for keeping his composure and insisting on reading his speech so they awarded him 3rd place anyway and allowed him to get the $80 prize. Not bad for pretty much just showing up, as my daughter said!  The mumbling girl got 2nd place (I think she won $150) and my daughter again took the 1st prize, a clean sweep, and won another $300!

So the next step is for her to present at the Regional Competition in April.  We think the grand prize there is a $2,500 scholarship. It's the same day as when she's scheduled the ACT so we're going to have to look into rescheduling this. It's also the same day as when the high school is holding AP seminars to prepare for the AP exams (she'll have to miss that), my oldest son's senior recital (I'm definitely attending that) and the day when we have free tickets to Universal Studios (my daughter was supposed to take her younger brother in the afternoon but now we don't know if she'll be able to do that so Greg might need to take him).  Arrggh, why is everything on the same day?!?

Anyhoo, was I a proud mama?!? You betcha!  After the obligatory pictures and congratulations from everyone, we were about to leave when several of the club members told us to please take all the snacks and drinks with us because they didn't want to take them home... they had had a whole buffet of sweets set up and the other candidates had already taken stuff with them... so when I went to grab some snacks (free snacks?! You don't have to tell me twice!), the club members kept on piling more stuff and gave me a box!  We left with a 2L bottle of Diet Coke, 2 boxes of mini cupcakes, a box of brownies, a box of chocolate covered cookies and some extra brownies thrown in... and the box had been an Easter-theme box so it had jellybeans in it.  I jokingly told the members that we'd be back next year just for the snacks, lol.

My daughter was starving so we went to have dinner at a local Perkins and she called her dad to give him the good news.  We got home at about 9:15 p.m. and were greeted by Greg who told us that our son had finished his Teen Video Challenge project and that we had to watch the video before going to bed because it was excellent.  So we put the flash drive into our Smart TV and watched it... and it was awesome. I can't believe how good it turned out for a project done in just 48 hours!  I hope he wins!  The library is actually entering 2 videos featuring him. The first one is just him and the librarian and had a chess theme, and the 2nd video is about football and features other teens as well.  It's good too but not as good as the first one.  I had to fill out more release forms so I'll drop them off at the library in the morning so they can be mailed out in time (the deadline for postage is tomorrow, yikes!).

Then I also found out that our son was accepted into the Junior National Honors Society. Yay!  Again, I'm was so proud!

So... a day that started by me being totally uninspired, ended with me completely inspired by my own kids. They are so awesome and I'm so proud of them I could burst :)  So tomorrow, I have to be worthy of them and do all those dishes that I didn't do today and motivate myself to do those things that I don't feel like doing at the present.

And yes, Greg did order his darn computer.  I don't even care anymore:)

PS: in other frugal news today, my daughter redeemed a survey reward code for a free bakery item at RaceTrac, and SavingStar credited me with the $0.99 from my Cadbury egg purchase on Tuesday.

I saved 2 mesh bags.  We drove the family car to the competition tonight so we saved a bundle on gas by not taking the SUV.  However, my daughter signaled that we have passed the 3,000 mile mark since we bought the car so it's due for an oil change. I'll have to take care of that next week.

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Nathalie, has anyone told you lately that you are wonderful? Because you really are.
    I find that I have periods of sluggishness and it is often my kiddos that pull me out of it. :)

    1. Awww, Dawn, thank you! Kids have so much energy, don't they?! What am I going to do when they're all gone from the nest?

  2. YEAH!!! Congrats to your daughter!! Sounds like a great program and to walk away with lots of $$$$ and snacks..WIN WIN :)

    1. Thank you, Alison! Yes, we ALL ended up winners, hahaha.

  3. Congratulations on your kids. And that young man sounds like a wonderful, smart, courageous boy.

    I don't always comment on everyone's blogs, but I do read them!

  4. Wow Nathalie it really did turn out to be an awesome day for you. No wonder you are proud I would be too. Congratulations to both your children for being such stars. I'm really pleased for you and them.

    Your house sound just like mine we always end up with tech we don't need. I'm sure half the time I'm the only one who cares about what we spend.

    Don't let it get you down just focus on the great stuff my dear friend xxx

    1. Thank you, Tara! Yes, there's no reason for me to be down. Greg has very few "vices" and his gaming is the main one. He makes all the money and doesn't really spend anything else so I really can't complain. Also we should be getting a refund on our tax return (which I didn't really expect) so the cost will be covered by that. Still, I can't fathom spending so much money on a piece of equipment just for entertainment... I wish he would just read blogs, lol.

  5. Congratulations to your daughter on her wins and to your son too, on what sounds like a winning project! And how nice that you were able to bring home the leftover snacks! :)

  6. Your title said it all. I couldn't believe the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day you were having. I would have gone back to bed and pulled the covers over my head. And then you still had to take your daughter to the competition to deliver her speech. You had to remain upbeat for her nerves...and you with a splitting headache. Then you talked about all the trouble you had finding the darned place, and I am thinking.."If this doesn't stress out both of them before the speeches, I don't know what else could go wrong."

    What a turn of events. Congratulations to your daughter for an excellent presentation. She worked hard for this and it certainly paid off. Congrats also to your son. He is a winner, regardless. What a sweet ending to the day. I know you can write, but it helps that you have material to write about.

    1. Thank you, Susan! GThe Optimist Club people are really nice but I guess they're a little too optimistic for me: it's a good thing we're resourceful and thought to call the Community Center to ask about the gate or she might have missed the whole thing. I still think that the other people who never showed up after confirming that they were coming had the same problem and just turned around.

      Since then we've found out that they've scrapped the District competition on 4/9 and will be sending her directly to Regionals although we don't know when or where this will be. I'm just hoping this means she has a chance at a larger prize :)

    2. Right as I was typing this, she was typing me an update that Regionals will be on 4/29 in Gainesville, about 90 minutes away from here. She's at her dad's that weekend so he'll drive her. I think I'll go too!


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