Thursday, August 4, 2016

Finally Some Rain (and an Expensive Day) ~ Thursday 8/4/16

It rained early last evening, enough that my rain barrel is almost 1/4 full and everything was wet this morning. I wasnt going to sit outside at all, but I changed my mind and I've been sitting on the patio for 45 minutes. It's nice and cool, the frogs are croaking, and I'm glad I'm making time to appreciate it all.

I woke up from a dream about an expense report (!), thinking it was Friday and feeling terribly guilty that I hadn't texted my daughter to congratulate her on graduating from the Girls Who Code camp. So it was a relief when I realized that it was only Thursday. I haven't seen any information about the ceremony being livestreamed though. I really wanted to see it since they will be presenting their group projects.

I have errands to run today. Not as many as yesterday, but I will need to drive to Clermont so I will be gone a while. I also have a lot of chores to do. Greg wil! be working from home tomorrow and I never seem to be able to be productive when he does, through no fault of his.

I'm getting more anxious about the start of the school year and it's solely due to having to get up earlier and having my routine disturbed by the school drop off and pick up, lol. Also I need to get back into the habit of avoiding certain streets at certain times, as we have the middle school down the street and the elementary school just a mile or so away. Traffic is about to get "ugly" again but it's certainly not on the scale of a large city.

My daughter will have to park on the grass between our driveway and the neighbor's since she'll mostly be gone in the middle of the day and I want to drive the SUV in the mornings: I need all the visibility I can to get out of the school parking lot safely in the mornings while the juniors have to pass the entrance/exit to get into their parking lot and the locals stuck in traffic are pissed and speed up as much as they can. I have suggested to the police department that the city coffers would be replete (and everyone safer!) should they post officers near the high school in the mornings and the afternoons, but they don't listen.

I didn't get to post my to-do list today... and I didn't get to accomplish anything save running errands and more errands and dealing with things that were breaking down or not functioning. Ugh.  I'll post it tomorrow.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.

  • SavingStar and Ibotta credited my accounts for the rebates I had submitted yesterday. 

  • I brewed a pot of free coffee from Wawa and enjoyed my morning coffee with the birds and the damn squirrels. Breathe, Nathalie, breathe. 

  •  I earned the Bing Rewards credits for the day and a few Swagbucks. 

  • The AC didn't kick in until 9:35 am!

  • Greg brought me the newspaper that had been delivered to our driveway this morning, before he left for work (thanks, honey!) and in it I found a brochure for Ace Hardware, full of coupons. Woohoo!  I need to see what I can buy this month.

  • I unlocked new offers on Ibotta. 

  • I went to run my errands:
    • Took the Focus for better gas mileage. It didn't seem to be firing on all cylinders when I left the driveway but I thought it was just me not being fully awake yet.
    • Save A Lot: 
      • Deals: got 2 lbs of unsalted butter at $2.00/lb and a small papaya at $0.99/lb. OOP was $5.86 and I charged it to Discover for 2% back in Rewards.

    • RaceTrac:
      • Deals:  got a Monterey Chicken roll on a bun for my son's lunch with a survey reward code and an apple with the coupon from my RaceTrac app. Cost: FREE!

    • CVS:
      • Deals:  they had the BodyArmor drinks in stock, woohoo. I priced the Clearasil Ultra 5-in-1 wash that I wanted but it was more expensive than at Walgreens.  I was tempted to get it anyway since it would count towards my Beauty Club requirements for a $5 ECB and I'm supposed to get it for free after rebate anyway, but then I decided to just play it safe and pay less for it OOP in case the rebate didn't work.  So I paid $3.21 for the drinks (taxable... boo!) but they were FREE to me with the CVS gift card earned with American Express Rewards and I got $3.00 back in ECBs.
      • Gratitude: my favorite cashier was busy when I walked in to the store but she saw me later walking to the beauty aisle and flagged me down to tell me that they BodyArmor was in stock today, lol. She's so sweet.
      • Frustration: the Focus had a hard time getting started.  Uh oh.

    • Pharmacy: 
      • Deal: no real deal there since the OOP for the 1 prescription  was $75.
      • Gratitude: 
        • friendly staff
        • the cost would actually be much higher had the pharmacy not automatically applied a manufacturer coupon
        • I paid with my Health FSA Visa card with tax-free funds that were already put aside in that account through Greg's employer
        • The car seemed to start without any problems.  Huh.

    • Walgreens:
      • Deals: 
        • I bought the Clearasil wash that was $2.50 cheaper than at CVS. I charged it to my Amazon Visa card for 2% in Rewards.
        • I also bought a bottle of the new Alka Seltzer Heartburn+Gas Chewables for After coupons my OOP was $3.99 and I also charged it to my Amazon Visa for 2% back in Rewards.
      • Gratitude: My favorite Walgreens cashier checked me out, she's the sweetest woman. She told me how great those Alka-Seltzer chews were, pointed out coupons and even went to get them for me!
      • Frustration: the Focus has trouble getting started again!

    • Advance Auto Parts:
      • Deal: 
        • so I went to Advance Auto Parts near my house and asked them to check my battery.  They do that for free.
        • there was a lot of corrosion on one of the terminals so it was determined that the battery was leaking acid and needed to be replaced. The saleslady took a long time to clear out the corrosion and disconnect the battery properly.
        • I had my choice of batteries but given that the car has relatively low mileage despite its age (it's a 2007 but it has less than 60K miles on it), I decided to splurge and get the Gold, 3-year guarantee battery, priced at $119.99. After tax and a $1.50 fee for the products that had to be used to dissolve all the corrosion, my OOP was $130.  I should have been charged $20 for the core recycling, but the saleslady didn't charge me, woohoo!
        • I charged it to my Amex for 1% back in Rewards.
        • The saleslady pointed out that I was already enrolled in their SpeedPerks program, which I thought I was, but since I didn't have a plastic card for it, the last few times I had bought something there, I had neglected to tell them that I was because I thought I had dreamed it!  Come to find out, they don't issue cards, you just give your email address at the register. Well, darn it, I missed out on accumulating rewards all those months!
      • Gratitude: Erika, my saleslady was awesome!  She was very knowledgeable and friendly. We chatted while she was working and discovered that her youngest brother and my son were classmates and knew the same people. They will be in 9th grade together. I promoted my son's Dungeons & Dragons club, lol. Also, she was very very careful with my car, making sure that she took her time and didn't damage anything, trying to retrieving the old battery that was almost soldered to the connectors because of the corrosion.  So it took a while and a lot of patience.  I tipped her $10 for her trouble. She protested, but I told her that we tip when someone brings us our food in the restaurant but that she did much more than just bring me my food!  My car started so well, it actually made a big difference, lol.
      • A little frustration:  the battery disconnection caused my trip odometer to reset itself to zero. I track the miles driven in between fill-ups to calculate the mileage so it's annoying.  However, nothing else had to be reset... not the clock, not the radio stations. Huh.
All that stuff was the corrosion from the acid that was leaking!
  • As soon as I got home, I gave my son his free Monterey Chicken grill item and one of the free BodyArmor drinks for his lunch.

  • I was still putting things away when he announced that we didn't have an internet connection.  I tried rebooting the modem and router and plugging the modem directly into Greg's computer but we didn't have a connection.  When Brighthouse announced that they were going to be charging $5 a month to rent the modem, we had thought about buying our own. However, we have had several modem and connection problems in the past and the deal with buying your own modem is that Brighthouse will not provide any technical assistance if your modem doesn't work. So we decided to just keep paying the $5 a month so we could exchange it for free if it died (it had died already twice in the past) and receive technical assistance. So I called them, didn't have to wait at all, and got a very friendly English-speaking tech who was able to reset my modem and make it work again. Woohoo!  However... see splurges and failures!

  • I had lunch at home and relaxed by watching an episode of L&O: CI before going back on more errands.  I had leftover frittata from last night.

  • At Target, I had them price match their own website to get the router for $20 cheaper. Also, I found a Coke bottle cap in the parking space next to mine :)

  • My son rode my bike to the library for his Dungeons & Dragons Club. 

  • My son's AP Human Geography teacher sent an email with some information about the class, the supplies needed, a review book she recommends for the AP exam and a donation request via so she can get atlases for the class.  I ordered a used copy of the AP review guide in "like new" condition from Amazon for about $2.00 less than a brand new copy. I applied my $5 gift card from Bing Rewards to the purchase.  We already have all the supplies that the teacher is requesting.

  • For dinner I cooked burgers, corn on the cob, and I stir fried collard greens in some bacon fat that I keep in the fridge.  I cooked indoors since it was raining outside.

  • I squeezed all of the Clearasil Ultra 5-in-1 acne wash into an upcycled liquid soap bottle from my stash because I need the original UPC from the package to mail with the rebate form (the rebate has to be mailed within 3 months of purchase but my son will only use the soap on his shoulders so who knows how long it will last him!).  However, it's going to be hard getting the soap out of the bottle after a while!  Arrgh.

  • It rained again!  Not a lot, but some. Yay!

  • Gas to run errands - twice!

  • $130 for a 3-year guaranteed Gold battery for the Focus. My kids need a dependable car to drive and the car has low mileage so I know it'll last at least another 3 years (the 2-year battery was only $7 cheaper!).

  • A new router.  I went for the top of the line (TP-LINK Google OnHub AC 1900) since Greg told me to get "the best damn router" I could find. So far it seems a little faster than the old one. I'm hoping my daughter will have a better signal up in her room too. I charged the $182.96 OOP to my Target Redcard so I saved $9.00 with it.

  • And an ethernet switch since my new router only has 2 ethernet ports.  A $200 router with only 2 ethernet ports?!  Surely, you must be joking. (and don't call me Shirley!). The switch cost $20 ('cuz the $10 switch apparently makes a very loud high pitch noise and that can never happen in my house, I'm very noise sensitive!) but there is a $10 rebate on it. But I have to wait until Tuesday for it to come in. 

  • I donated $20 for the set of encyclopedias for my son's classroom. Hopefully other parents will step up too.


  • I should have had Target match Amazon since the router was a little cheaper there at $173.54. Doh!

  • The new router only has 2 ethernet ports. Our old one had 4 or 5. This is a problem since both are used by the cables required to connect it, but I needed a spare one to connect my wi-fi connected external drive that backs up my laptop automatically. That is also the drive where I save all my pictures.  I had to order an ethernet switch separately. It won't get here until Tuesday. That's what Amazon calls 2-day shipping. It's Thursday night. It's more like 5-day shipping, if you ask me, grrr.

  • MyCokeRewards announced Double Points coming up soon. Guess who finally entered all of the Coke codes that super-sweet people had sent her all those months ago, just recently?! Arrgh. However, it's not as bad as I thought as almost none of the doubled codes were for products that are included in the promotion. Phew!

  • I somehow hurt my knee again so I'm wearing my knee brace. I was just thinking last night that my knee had been feeling fine for a long time, now. Arrgh. It only seems to hurt when I go up and down steps. Unfortunately, our house has a multi-level floor plan so I'm constantly going up and down steps :(  I think I'll take it easy tomorrow too.

Disclosure: I didn't expect to be gone pretty much most of the day and having to troubleshoot car and router problems!  Consequently, no chores were taken care of. I'll really need to be productive tomorrow.
  • Cooked Greg's breakfast
  • Packed his lunch
  • Refilled two of the hummingbird feeders
  • Made more hummingbird nectar
  • Made my bed
  • Ran errands
  • Tried to figure out the problem with the internet
  • Went to run more errands (grr)
  • Set up the new router
  • Placed an order on Amazon
  • Made a donation
  • Cooked dinner
  • Placed another Amazon order


  • For the rain we got last night and tonight

  • For cooler temperatures this morning
  • For bumbling Tufted Titmice, nagging hummingbirds and yes, cheeky squirrels!
  • For not getting stuck with a car that wouldn't start anywhere!
  • For friendly store staff again today


Just as I was thinking that Greg needed to mow the lawn this weekend because some weeds were getting tall, I spotted a bee gathering pollen from them!  It's frustrating that my camera wouldn't focus properly on the bee because I could see that its legs were plump with yellow pollen.

Argh, so blurry.
The hummingbird feeders evidently were empty this morning and the hummingbirds kept on coming to check if I had refilled them yet.  Well, no, I was relaxing with my coffee!   Eventually, I took pity on them because one of them even went to check out the blue songbird feeder (probably was wishing he had a real beak like all the other birds!), and one perched itself on the electric wire, seemingly waiting for me to get up and get to it already!  So I did. I didn't have much nectar left so I made another batch as well.

He really look like he's pouting.

So tiny on that cable!


The squirrels were out in force today. You squirrel lovers will be happy because I took lots of pictures!  It was like a scene from World War Z, at one point, with squirrels pouring over the back fence into my yard.  OK, ok, it was only 3 squirrels but it might as well have been thousands. 3 squirrels is 3 squirrels too many in my book.  The birds had to wait in line at the feeder because the darn squirrels were eating everything! That won't do at all!  So I had to move the bench away to make it a little harder for the rodents to reach the feeder.

"I'm getting tired of having to wait in line!"


(This is what we call Bitchy Resting Face)

"Is this where the line starts?!"

"What is taking so looooooooooooooooooooooooonnnnggggg?!"

"oh nom, nom, nom!"

There's another one waiting on the bench now...

It's... the Hunchback of Nathalie's Yard!

"Oh don't mind me, just taking an innocent little stroll..."

"Pssst, Tony!  Ya think I can make it?!"

"Yeah, sure, boss!"

"Knock, knock, knock, who's in there?!"

"I don't understand what the hoopla is all about, there's no squirrel in here!"
"Hey! Shirley!  That woman is crazy, there's no squirrel in there!"

"Who? Nathalie?! Yeah, she's nuts. Don't pay attention to her."

"Nom, nom, nom!"

"Hey, Shirley!"
"Yes, honey?!"
"Quit your yapping already and let's go!"

"La di dum, dum, dum... I think I'll just... oh no!  She's chasing me!"

I did!  I chased it all the way to the back of the yard.

Watch him sauntering away!

But not 5 minutes later, guess who was back?!

But I had moved the bench away...

"OOH, that Nathalie!!  Foiled again!  But I'll be back!"  
"Yes, I'm sure you will... Bye now, don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

"That's all, folks!"
Did you ever have to replace your router?


  1. That lizard is smirking. Evil I tell you.

    All things tech was the ex's job, he was a lot more savvy on it than me. We had the same one for years. Routers is something I don't know much about.

    1. He was actually eating an ant at that moment. Not a roach, but I don't want ants on the patio so it works for me!

      I'm learning more about technology than I wish I had to. Why can't we buy something that will last for years without any problems?! That router that I replaced was only 2 or 3 years old!

  2. Aw, the poor, hungry squirrel!

    Glad you got the car battery replaced.

    I'm hopeless when it comes to computers. My daughter is the one who takes care of the computer-related stuff.

    1. Technology can be daunting. This is why I don't want to move to Windows 10 because I can pretty much figure out what's wrong and how to fix it in Windows 7 (well, at least where to find things) and the menus and options are familiar. When I was on Greg's PC yesterday, which runs Windows 10, even just the Wi-Fi connection screen was different and the choices were named something else than on my laptop. Not impossible to figure out but when you're in crisis mode, you don't want to have to figure out where they moved everything and what option might be the one you want!

  3. Looks like today was your day for putting out fires. Every plan you make goes flying out the window on days like that. Your list of gratitudes was something I could identify with today, especially the one about not having the car break down somewhere where you couldn't start it. That has happened to me a couple of times....not fun. Also, I am happy that you received rain and cooling temperatures. We are supposed to get that tonight and tomorrow. Hip, hip, hooray. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

    Liked your episode of backyard critters today. Cheeky little squirrels. Word has definitely got out that your backyard is THE place to be.

    1. Ha! I think you're right :)

      I'm so happy you'll be getting rain and cooler temps too! The only downside with the rain is that it seems to trigger migraines for Greg. He's been suffering today, poor guy.

  4. Wow, that was one heck of a day for you Nathalie. At least they should last. There's nothing worse than having more than one unexpected purchase in a day.

    I'm sorry to hear your knees playing up again, you need to take it easy.

    When does your daughter get home? I bet you cant wait to see her.

    1. Thanks Tara, my knee is better this morning. I'm about to go on my wildlife hike in soft sand terrain so I hope I don't hurt it again1

      My daughter is flying back tomorrow but spending the next day at her dad's. He should bring her back here Monday evening. Yep, I can't wait to see her and hear all about her summer!

      Have a great day!

  5. Love the animal commentary!! At least you entertain yourself :) I replaced my battery because it died when I was in the hospital delivering my son and then two years later...but I think that when I traded in the car I was on borrowed time with the last battery. It seems like a car part that should last longer then it does!!! We currently have a Verizon router and equipment because we have their equipment because they don't support anything else. Such a pain that you either have to go through a million or buy your own. We never had one die. Ours frequently needed to be restarted at the old house. If you have more problems, you might want to get it plugged into the surge protector with battery backup like an APC. It helped ours a lot!!!

    1. Our old router had to be restarted multiple times a day for several months because it needed an update (but Greg kept on telling me I was wrong and the Roku was causing the problem. Once he applied the update to the router, than it worked fine until this week.) It might have been caused to needing another update, but we'd had it with it! The one I bought, the Google OnHub, get automatic updates so we shouldn't have to worry about it. I was, however, having problems with the wifi scanner yesterday, which only started since we got the new router so I'm doubting the claims that it's stronger and faster and can penetrate thick walls (I don't notice an increase on speed but my son, whose computer is much farther away from the router, does). Arrgh.

  6. Your squirrel pics are hilarious!

    I think nowadays internet and router are not really splurges, they are a necessity! You know, like water and oxygen...LOL.

    1. I was thinking the same thing, funny you said that :)


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