Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Optimist Trip to Gainesville ~ Saturday 4/23/16

While in the throes of a coughing fit last night, I texted my daughter that I might not be able to make it to her Optimist Club Regional Oratorical Competition today, after all, because I didn't want to distract her if I was going to be coughing through her speech.

However, I feel much better this morning and no coughing (fingers crossed) so I'm going.  I think it was post-nasal drip-induced coughing.

Not much else going on today... Greg declined to come along as I had predicted. I wanted to bring my youngest son with me but he told me he has a lot of homework to do (the teachers have been piling it on since end of year exams and also standardized testing are on the horizon). So I guess it'll be just me.

I'm a little conflicted about whether I want my daughter to win today or not... if she wins, I believe the prize is $1,000 however, she would also qualify to go to the "World Championships" in St Louis, MO at the end of June (there isn't a state level, apparently?), where she would be eligible to win up to $22,500 in scholarships!  However #2, she will be in California attending her summer immersion coding camp at that time, so I think she would have to forfeit her place. I guess we'll cross that bridge if she wins today.  After all, I need to be optimistic, no? Update: I just talked to my daughter via text and she was told she would be able to send a video of her speech or livestream it if she can't be there.  She will be kicked out of the camp if she misses 2 days of camp. At least she would still have the option to send in a video.

I hope she takes to heart the advice she received from the Speech college professor last week.  She refused to rehearse with me this week (same reason, I'm assuming, why she is reluctant to speak French with me, she feels self-conscious and I wish she'd let that go!) so I have no idea what her chances are today.  Her speech is excellent and she's eloquent, but there is a certain measure of showmanship and theatricals that they're counting on too, which runs completely contrary to the way FFA trained her in public speaking.  With FFA, there are rules and expectations as to the tone of voice (monotone and drone-like) and even cadence (doesn't sound natural at all) that the students use when making declarations and presentations. She knows that and noticed that last year's regionals winner used a lot of body language, but it's still hard for her.  I did see that the room isn't going to be very large, as the largest meeting room at the library where the event is taking place only sits about 112 people.  I think that's about the double the size of the room where they held the district competition, if that.

I plan on going to Trader Joe's while I'm in Gainesville, to get some Stilton cheese and chocolate-covered ginger. Yum!

While it did rain last night, our area only got some very light rain, unlike all the other areas around us who got 1+ inch of water.  So I guess I might have to water the garden either tonight or tomorrow morning.

I fed the cats this morning as, despite "all the homework", my 14 year-old will probably be sleeping until noon!  His days of lounging about are coming to a close since he'll be busy this summer with volunteering several days a week, so I'm loathe to force him to get up earlier right now.

Bing Rewards still doesn't have the $5 Amazon gift card back in stock.  Grrr.  Also, I've noticed that since the bribe to upgrade to Windows 10 came up, the number of my daily credits has been lowered by 1... I used to be able to earn 28 credits per day, but now I'm down to 27 credits. Jess? what does your experience look like?  I'm a very contrary person so all those shenanigans, far from inspiring me to upgrade to Windows 10 or using Bing more, are turning me off it altogether.  I can do without the $5 Amazon gift cards, honestly.  They're nice to get but don't significantly alter my lifestyle and I hate the games Microsoft is playing with this.  So I'm guessing they'll be getting fewer and fewer of my "clicks".

I did the minimum amount of effort for Swagbucks (daily poll, NOSO path, using their engine for searches).

In preparation for dinner tonight, I put a loaf of light rye bread to bake in the bread maker.  Greg will be in charge of unplugging it and opening the chamber as I will be in Gainesville when it's done cooking.

For the past few years, I've really enjoyed working on genealogy, both on my and Greg's sides.  It's been harder for me to research my own family since half of it came to France from Poland right before WWII, but researching Greg's family has been pretty easy, (well, all the branches EXCEPT the one that bears our family name, grrr). Why?  Several factors: on his mom's side of the family, several branches were well-documented with genealogical research books having been published by various family members in the 19th century. Also, one branch ended up being Mormon so of course there is tons of research already done by that branch. The small Utah town where some of his ancestors lived has a Pioneer Museum who maintains a blog and routinely publishes information from primary sources, such as his great great grandmother's diary!  I found it by chance and since I am now following it on Feedly, I don't miss anything. Yesterday they published the obituary of a 1st cousin once removed who passed away in January. I use Rootsmagic for my genealogical database so it's easy to add those facts as I uncover them.  On his dad's side, most of his ancestors lived in West Virginia before and after the Civil War.  People like to make fun of West Virginia, but that state has been AWESOME for genealogists because they have put their public record databases online for free.  I've been able to investigate and download many birth, death, and marriage certificates thanks to them.  However, the branch that I cannot investigate is a branch who lived in Pennsylvania. No one seems to have published any genealogical research about them and Pennsylvania didn't require any kind of certificates for a long time so I'm afraid that unless I become much more cognizant in the art of genealogical research and can go to Pennsylvania in person to research whatever archives they might have, we're out of luck. Anyhoo, as I was saying, several articles have been published regarding some relatives on Greg's mom's side recently, so I got plunged into genealogy again. It is so much fun, I love it.  However, it can very quickly become an obsession with me, and I will spend countless hours immersed in it, typically in the summer time.  I can feel the twinge of wanting to get back to it in the back of my brain right now, lol.  Greg is happy for me to share what I find out with him, but it's not as interested as I am.  I know more about his family than he does, hahaha.  The best part of all of this is that aside from buying the Rootsmagic program (and I waited until they had a sale on the older version when the newer one came out to snag it at a great discount), I didn't pay for any of the research.  I used a 1-month trial period and then went to use it at my library (they have a library subscription but they won't let you use it from home), but most of my research was done on public databases published online or via remote access via with my library card,,, and other such free sources.  The internet is wonderful!

I was hungry at 10:45 a.m. so since noon will find me (us?  My son just got up and said he "might" come with me) on the road to Gainesville, I decided to have lunch early: a ham sandwich and some potato salad left from the Publix chicken dinner last night. Update: my son changed his mind again so now he's not coming.

So I left by myself.  Traffic was heavy on I-75,  but I made it by 1:40 and met my daughter, my ex and his wife there.  There were 6 girls and 4 boys competing and the room ended up being 4 times smaller than the one where our club's competition had been held! My daughter wasn't "feeling it" today. Her performance was good, but she stumbled a little at some point and I knew then she wouldn't win.  The other contestants were all from mildly more dramatic to wayyyy more dramatic, with varying results, but all their speeches were outstanding. Everyone had to speak on the same subject "How My Best Brings Out the Best In Others", and thankfully they all had a different story to tell.  The judges took a long time to deliberate and chose a girl and a boy winner who each won $2,500.Then the girl was crowned the overall winner and is going to the "World Championship" in St Louis in June to compete for the "up to $25,000 prize".  There were no 2nd or 3rd prizes so no one got anything else than a plaque. Honestly, my daughter wasn't disappointed so we were OK with it too.  However, of all the speeches we heard today (and they were truly all excellent), none of us agreed with the winners but I guess this is why were weren't judges, right? lol.  Two of the judges were from Toastmasters International so they obviously knew what to look for. I only wish they had shared with us what made those 2 speeches special, because I'm still harboring the hope to be able to talk my 14 year-old into participating since the odds, at least at our club level, are pretty excellent.

Since I was sitting next to my ex, we were able to discuss our daughter's trip to CA this summer. He confirmed that his brother and wife will be able to host our daughter, and actually their son is planning on mostly staying with friends so she won't have to sleep on the couch all that much after all.  Also, she told me that she will be taking 3 online college classes (Economics, Philosophy, and Humanities) but I think 2 are during Summer "A" and one during Summer "B".

After the competition I went to Trader Joe's to pick up some cheese and chocolate-covered ginger and then headed home. Traffic was light driving home, thankfully, so I was able to set the cruise control and save gas that way.

While I was gone, Greg installed the last baffle in the air vent under the roof so hopefully we will no longer have water leaks in our entry room when the rain falls sideways. He also installed my new rain barrel, although the location where I wanted it didn't work so I had to move the roses a little closer together so the rain barrel would fit in near them.  He also mowed the whole yard and rake leaves! He was exhausted when I got home.

I decided not to use the top as a planter, though, because I want to be able to see how much water is in it.

For dinner, I heated up the brisket in the microwave and sliced the rye bread that I had baked and made Reuben sandwiches for dinner. Greg and I ate while watching a few Arrested Development episodes on Amazon Prime Instant while our son ate his while relaxing with the Colbert Report on YouTube.  We all had a good time.

After all the shows were over, I went into the kitchen to assess the amount of dishes to be done and decided to do them tomorrow morning. However something smelled off and I realized it was the red beans that I had been soaking for over 24 hours!  I had meant to cook them as chili in the pressure cooker yesterday since I had planned on making Fritos Pies for dinner tonight, only I didn't and then forgot to cook them this morning and tonight, I just threw them away. Big frugal failure and doubly so because, in my haste to get rid of them, I didn't even think to compost them. Arrgh.

However, I did reused a hamburger buns bag to store the leftover rye bread, and I put the leftover corned beef in a glass pyrex container in the fridge since there is enough left for one more sandwich. So not all was wasted.

I was able to order a free sample of Garnier Whole Blends shampoo from the Walmart website.


  1. I've not paid any attention so I went and checked and it is 27 credits, today anyways. I get my credits on an Android tablet, so there is no upgrading to Windows 10 for me. That does suck about not being able to get an Amazon card, I really hope that changes soon.

    1. I think they're punishing us for not having Windows 10.

  2. Sorry to hear your daughter didn't win, but hope she enjoyed being able to participate. It is so hard to tell what the judges are looking for, isn't it? When she was in high school, my daughter's English teacher had her enter a Shakespeare festival contest and emphasized being dramatic when she recited her sonnet. But the judges said she was too dramatic! LOL. The English teacher disagreed with the judges' decision, but daughter took it all in stride and just enjoyed the experience.

    1. To be honest with you, she was moody and I don't think she has such a good time. She's still a teen, so she gets like that once in a while. I'm not sure if something happened on the road there between her and her stepmom because the stepmom was a little moody/cranky too at first. So when I got there, my daughter told me "I don't want to do this", meaning the competition, and her heart wasn't into it. I tried to cheer her up and encourage her and reassure her that it was almost over, but it was obvious in her pinched face that she just wasn't "in the zone", although once she got going she started to come out of her shell, but the others were so much more expressive (a couple were VERY dramatic) so, at least to me, it was obvious she wasn't going to win. You know what? She won the first level and made $600 for writing a speech and an essay and she was fine with that and so am I. I think she might have felt more competitive if she hadn't been chosen for the Summer Immersion Program, in the meantime. We all have off days and today was one of them. Not the end of the world and I'm glad I didn't have to deal with a kid who was crushed and upset, you know?

      As for your daughter's Shakespeare competition, I wouldn't have understood either: obviously you have to be theatrical and dramatic when you recite a Shakespeare sonnet! I thought that they would pick the girl who had the most stage presence today but they didn't. It was kind of a relief too because she was over the top, as in over-coached, and it was a little off-putting and detracted from the speech itself, I thought. She'll have a good career as "Belle" at Walt Disney World in one of the many Disney character shows on Main Street, but in our little room, it was too much. The only thing I remember about the girl who won is that she spoke very slowly. But I couldn't tell you elements of her speech and don't even remember her presenting her speech at all. She was completely forgettable, IMO.

      I wish I had known the judges were going to be from Toastmasters because my BFF's husband is heavily involved in Toastmasters and I didn't even think to get him to coach my daughter at all. Darn it.

    2. Hi Nathalie, It sounds like your daughter really wasn't having the best day, bless her, and I think with something like that you really have to be up for it. She did so well to get to where she did and in all honesty at least she can concentrate on her California trip (I don't think I have congratulated you on that).

      Ha, the chocolate covered ginger reminded me of my Nan, she used to love that. I hope you enjoy it!

      My thirteen year old is exactly the same he rolls out of bed at 1pm some weekends. Boys!

      Have a lovely evening xxx

    3. Thanks Tara! I've been thinking about you and hoping everything was fine. Did you have a good weekend?


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