Thursday, December 8, 2016

Aaaand More Shopping Happened ~ Thursday 12/8/16



It's a little chillier this morning, about 56F (13C) just before 8 a.m.  Of course, I opened the windows and the kitties and I are going to enjoy a cool morning.



I stayed up too late last night. Greg and I had so much fun reminiscing while looking at pictures from 2004 and 2005 that I kept on looking at pictures until 2 hours after he went to bed!  I was exhausted when I finally stopped.  Sometimes you take photos and you wonder "why did I take a picture of this?!" but I was happy to see pictures of our backyard after we'd had a tree cut down because we'd been talking about how many trees we had had to take down since we'd bought the house and that picture proved that we used to have a tree...that neither of us ever remembered was in the backyard!  And it was a big old oak tree too! And it was in the backyard for a year and a half after we moved in! Wow. It's sad to be so forgetful but comforting that I'm not the only one losing my marbles since Greg could have sworn there hadn't been a tree there.  I guess whoever ground the stump did a very thorough job.

Also, since they're digital photos, a lot of them hadn't been viewed since probably the day I took them.  A ton of photos are new to Greg and he thanked me to taking them as he has lots of memories of him and our son.  There are some of me but not quite as many and if you don't count selfies, there probably aren't any of me in the past several years. He's not one to take pictures.



Anyhow, I want to look at more pictures now!  But there are things to be done... pesky things like chores, for instance. Bah humbug.



My daughter texted me last night from her BFF's, asking if she and the BFF and another girl that I have never met could drive to Lakeland today (an hour away) to go to the movies to see the latest Disney flick.  I asked why they had to drive to Lakeland when there's movie theater in Clermont, just 15 minutes away, and she replied that her BFF's parents love a certain restaurant in Lakeland and wanted the girls to pick them up some food on the way home. Hmm, well I think the parents can get their tushes down to Lakeland themselves. She was planning on driving (my car... with the gas that I'm not charging her for) with 2 teens (I don't like her chauffeuring other people around because of the risk involved with several teens being in the same car and getting distracted. I'm paranoid, I know...).  She also said that the teen that I don't know could possibly drive her own car if I didn't want her to drive my car there. Well, then I'd never heard of this girl, so I don't know if she seems like someone who has a good head on her shoulders and then there's still the problem of several teens in the same car getting distracted, and I don't even know if the girl is a good and reliable driver. Plus she's in the middle of finals this week.  So I said NO.  I rarely tell her no.  She might have ranted and raged at her friend's, but she was fine via text and didn't whine or try to get me to change my mind so I appreciated that.  I'll relax some as she continues to get older, and honestly, if it hadn't been finals, I might have caved.  But finals are very important and she needs to be studying and resting, not gallivanting all over Central Florida and going to see movies an hour away. lol.  Plus LAKELAND.  Who knows what goes on over there?!  (*winks to Pixel Peeper!).  We discussed it this afternoon and she said she wasn't upset with me because she totally understood where I was coming from. Her friend was confused but my daughter told her "that's the way my mom is and that's OK."  I love her.



My son is participating in a Computer Troubleshooting competition (or something along those lines) for FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) after school today so I'll need to go pick him up when he's done.  Honestly, he didn't seem to know much about it. I think he's the only one competing in that category at his school so I think it's just a computer-based quiz? I don't know. He didn't really know and no one else in his club knew either.  We live in a semi-rural area and things like FFA are huge. But not too many kids seem to be interested in computers or STEM-based activities and I guess the teachers either as there aren't any teacher-led clubs in those fields or anything.  So I don't think he'll go very far in the competition, especially as he faces off kids from other schools that have more resources.  I wish Greg would take interest in this and help him out, but when I mentioned it to him he said "Oh yeah?  That's great!" and asked our son a question about it but when our son wasn't able to provide a detailed answer, he lost interest. I love my husband but he's never been the kids' educational cheerleader. That's always fallen to me. Oh, he's proud of them and congratulates them on their grades and asks some questions if I mention a project or a class, but otherwise he is completely disengaged.  It's less pressure for the kids, to be sure, but in this case, Greg is a computer guy who builds his own computers.  You'd think he would have shown more interest in that activity and suggested study materials, for instance.



OK, enough moping and on to...

  • Write a menu for the rest of the week, using what I have in the fridge - planned dinner for tonight and the next 2 nights so I'm almost done with the whole week.
  • Dust the Cat Room
  • Sweep or vacuum the Cat Room
  • Clean the windows in the Cat Room
  • Fold the laundry
  • Put away the laundry
  • Clean the downstairs bathroom toilet bowl
  • Ask my son to help me put the futon cover back on the futon - never mind, I think I'll keep using the comforter for now.
  • Dehydrate apples
  • Wrap some presents
  • Unload and reload dishwasher
  • Refill pineapple jars and water indoor seedlings
  • Make Dr appointment for son's annual check-up
  • Check his back and make dermatologist appointment if needed
  • Make vet appointment for New Kitty's annual check-up (will do it when I'm there on Friday)
  • Take batteries out of fans and store them until next hurricane season
  • Make appointment for son to take permit test
  • Replace solar rechargeable batteries in lights in front planter
  • Take out battery of the 3rd solar light on berm to see if it'll "fix" it
  • Vacuum fridge coils
  • Declutter the printer stand
  • Bake cookies for library staff (some time this week)
  • Go through receipt bucket and archive what needs to be archived, file what needs to be filed
  • Take RaceTrac surveys
  • Post November grocery totals
  • Make chocolate-covered pretzel sticks
  • Take a shower!

(Hmmm. I haven't done much again today!)


  • Our son packed a lunch and rode the school bus. I was afraid that the bus wasn't coming because it was late this morning, so once again I ran upstairs and got dressed really quickly and it came while I was doing that. So now I'm dressed but not showered, which is why I added "take a shower!" to my To-Do List.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work, although he said the turkey jalapeño sausage hurt his stomach last night and I had packed him another for lunch so we'll see if he eats it.

  • I aired out the house and turned off the AC. Woohoo!

  • I cut up the 3 wrinkly apples on my counter and put them in the dehydrator for the day. I'll add them to my morning cereal in the future. So yummy and yay for no food waste.

  • I'm defrosting some boneless skinless chicken breasts and I plan on making Cranberry Almond Chicken for dinner tonight.  I have one small bag of Minute Rice Mixed Rice Mix left so I'll cook that as a side but it definitely won't be enough for 4 so I'll also warm up a can of green peas.  Now that hurricane season is over, I need to start using up all those canned veggies that I bought for my emergency stash. I'm also using up the gallons of water that I had bought instead of filtering it with the Brita filter.

  • Looking at all the pictures of the kids when they were little and all the activities we did  made me very sentimental. We did so much in just a few months, oh my! aquarium and zoo visits, Disney World, SeaWorld, Blizzard Beach, playgrounds with friend, Chuck E Cheese's, Civil War reenactments, I even did a treasure hunt for my daughter's 7th birthday! Plus starting homeschooling with my youngest when he was 3... we did tons of stuff!  So this morning I selected my "I'm a Mom. What's your superpower?" mug for my morning coffee. Middle Son gave it to me for Mother's Day several years ago and it's the one that had a chip on the lip that I have superglued back on a couple of times now :)  It's weird to feel like a Superwoman and a total slacker at the same time. Also, back then my house looked clean. What?!  We had 6 kids at home!  But no cats. Yeah, I'm blaming the cats.  I have one of them curled up on my chest as I type this and I'm glad we have cats. But my house was clean! Also, we had real lawn and tons of shade in the front yard because of all the trees.  I really, really miss that.  Our house looked so awesome back then. No wonder we bought it with stars in our eyes. 


  • I uploaded a $5 CVS coupon to my ExtraCare card that came via email.

  • So I ordered a new laptop (see Splurges).  I charged it to Discover for 5% back in Rewards (so about $25) and did NOT elect to purchase an additional warranty. They always lure you in telling you "it covers spills and electrical failures and drops!" but then, once you get the actual terms, there are a whole bunch of exclusions and conditions and nothing is ever covered. So I saved myself the $112 that they wanted for 3 year-coverage.  I found my receipt for my current laptop, I had spent just $10 less for it than for this new one but the new one has double the RAM and hard drive space plus Bluetooth.  It lasted me 4 years so far so it cost me $0.32 per day. I'm on the darn thing all day long so it's definitely worth it. Plus, it's not completely dead yet so the daily cost will keep going down, hahaha.

  • My laptop came with a free year of  Amazon unlimited storage (worth $60). I'd rather they gave me $60 back, ha.  

  • I mixed an equal amount of water to whole milk to stretch it.

  • My son texted me that his backpack broke (the zippers, bane of our existence!) and asked if we had a spare one. I did find two that Greg had brought back from a Microsoft conference both in 2010 and 2011.  They don't look super sturdy but I hope one will do the trick.  I think I'm going to have to go buy him a new one and if I do, I'll get a JanSport as those last longer and I think they're guaranteed.  I might run to a thrift store tomorrow later on today or tomorrow to see if I can find one, because they tend to be expensive.


  • I wanted to listen to my Jim Gaffigan audiobook but I'll wait until my new laptop is in. Why?  Because it has Bluetooth and a disc drive. So I'll be able to play the CDs and pair the laptop with my Bluetooth speaker instead of having to burn the library discs to my current laptop's hard drive and then run iTunes to free up space on my phone, upload the book to my iPhone and then pair the iPhone to the Bluetooth speaker.  Yes, I could just play the CDs in the current laptop and use headphones to listen to it, but then I can't move around too much. I DO get off the couch, you know. Once in a while.

  • Lunch was leftovers from last night and it was yummy.

  • At about noon my daughter asked if she could drive to Michael's to do some shopping so I said yes but asked her if I could tag along because I wanted to go redeem my free bagel from Panera and Wawa freebie of the day rewards.  She said "sure!" so off we went. I love spending time with my daughter!  Today I was happy to let her drive since the Focus gets better gas mileage anyway.

  • She warned me she was going to spend "a long time" at Michael's so I asked her to drop me off at the other end of the plaza so I could go to Dollar Tree and then I met her back at Michael's.  Dollar Tree was packed!  I found 4 of the 8 x 10 picture frames that I like to have in stock for those reprint freebies from Walgreens, a couple of cans of cherry pie filling, one box of peppermint herbal tea (finally!), a box of wipes to leave in my car (for when I get dirty hands) and a bottle of foaming liquid soap because I'm getting to the end of my gallon of Dr. Bronner soap to make my own. I also got Christmas-themed paper plates and napkins because I don't want to have to do the dishes at Christmas.  I paid with my Amex for 1% back in Rewards.

  • At Michael's, she still hadn't put anything into her cart!  She was actually shopping for herself, which drives me nuts because here we are a couple of weeks before Christmas and everybody else is trying to think of what to get her and she wants to buy herself some stuff. I stopped her from spending over $50 on an item she wanted by texting pictures of it to her dad since he's still looking for gift ideas.  So in the end, we didn't buy anything.  We did see a cookbook that we both wanted but it was $35 and Amazon has it for $17.95 so I told her I'd order it when we were home.

  • I placed two orders for Rapid pick-up at Panera's, one for my free bagel (chocolate chip today!) and another for the free pastry with my birthday coupon (it wouldn't let me use both coupons on the same order) and said we'd be there in 10 minutes.

  • But first we stopped by Wawa to try to score the freebie of the day, which was a Slim Jim. Well, they were out of stock and didn't offer any substitution :(

  • Then we stopped by RaceTrac. My daughter doesn't drink coffee so she redeemed her free small coffee coupon for me (hazelnut with hazelnut creamers and sweetener today), and I gave her a reward code with which she got a free apple strudel muffin for her brother's snack.  I redeemed another reward code for a free fountain drink for myself.  So we left with our 3 freebies and didn't spend a cent!

  • We finally got to Panera 25 minute after I had placed my orders. My daughter had also ordered herself a cup of soup.  Every time we go there together, our orders are NEVER ready when they're supposed to be. Today we were even 15 minutes late and only my bagel had been set aside.  The other order, which had been placed right after it, wasn't ready.  There was a long line at the register but then an attendant came with my daughter's soup and a bag for another customer.  Still no pastry for me.  So I ran after her and asked her to check on my order. She apologized and said that "sometimes the pastry orders don't come through", whatever that means. I got an email confirmation so I'm not sure why it wouldn't have come through. All I know is that it's the 3rd time in a couple of weeks that I have to ask them for my order past the time when it was supposed to be ready and I'm really annoyed now. So I'm going to email them.

  • Our next stop was the South Lake Animal Clinic where, I just realized, I forgot to drop off my pet coupons!  I was looking for a Jan Sport backpack in case the one I found in storage didn't work for my son, but they didn't have any.  So we didn't buy anything there either.

  • Lastly, we stopped by RaceTrac near our house so my daughter could redeem a survey reward code for a free lemonade for herself.   The clerk gave her a receipt for that so I'll take the survey and earn another freebie. Woohoo!


  • On the way home, we discussed baking Christmas cookies together.  We decided to do that the week before Christmas so we have some cookies left over for our Christmas celebration. We're going to have to pinpoint a date. My daughter, the artistic one, is into decorating cookies. I'm mostly into eating cookies. I have no patience for icing, cookie writing, etc.  LOL.

  • I did order the book from Amazon!  I charged it to Discover for 5% back in Rewards. It's not in stock right now so we won't get it until 12/19.

Believe me, the goodies in there look awesome!  My daughter can't wait to get started baking some :)
  • I earned the Bing Rewards credits for today and a few Swagbucks.

  • Good news: my son reports that the Microsoft backpack works fine.  I hope it lasts!  He refuses to use a locker at school so he carries all his stuff around.

  • I drove my son to the library since he was carrying his D&D stuff and the crêpes with all the toppings, paper plates, etc.  On the way over, we stopped by Redbox so I could return the "Finding Dory" DVD. No 2nd day charges for me, yippee!  Greg went to pick him up.

  • I realized that I had some white rice leftover from dinner a couple of nights ago so I heated that up for dinner as well.

  • As a member-owned credit union, USAA gives us back a "distribution" every year. I always forget about it so it's always a nice surprise when they send me the email in December to let me know that they have deposited it into the account that we had designated. This year, we're getting a little over $113.  I could have sworn that we had gotten $180 last year, I need to check on it. Maybe they didn't have a good year?  Shoot, we got $207 last year.  What the heck?! Usually it goes up every year, not down! So I sent them an email to inquire about that.

  • As we were chatting after dinner, I checked Feedly and saw a Slickdeals post that had just been published and said that MyCokeRewards members could order a 12-pack product coupon for just 30 points and that you could also order $10 Amazon gift cards!  So I remembered that Alison had done that last year and rushed to my laptop to place my orders. Thankfully, I did have enough points to order both!  The gc was worth 170 pts.  I had been bad about entering my codes recently because the points do expire and I didn't want them to expire before I had a chance to order those rewards.  So after I was done, I entered 74 points worth of codes (weekly limit is 75, which is dumb because I don't think it's a multiple of any codes that they offer!).  I won't be able to order another 12 pack though because it's only 2 per member and I had already ordered one in late November.  So I'm hoping I can get another Amazon gift card next week. (and thanks again to everyone who sent me codes this year!  Off the top of my head I know Michelle and Dawn did... and if I forgot someone, I apologize!  THANKS!)

  • Then I turned around and ordered a present on Amazon for myself from Greg for Christmas, so I could make sure that it got charged to the proper credit card (Discover!) to get 5% back. Greg doesn't mind.  I applied the $10 Amazon gift card that I had just received from MCR so my present was $32.50.  Woohoo! Look at what I'll be getting. Hopefully I can start taking good pictures indoors soon.




  • My laptop shut down by itself out of the blue even though it was plugged in and registering that it was, and it's been happening more and more frequently these days.  So I "pulled the plug" so to speak, and ordered the laptop from Amazon that I had put on my wish list several months ago. Another HP with a disc drive and a number keypad on the right. It has Windows 10 though. Grr. I don't plan on switching to using that one until this current one completely craps out on me but, as Greg said, at least I'll have the back-up on hand. I'll set it up the way I want it so when I have to switch, it should just be a matter of reinstalling the software like Office, my RootsMagic genealogy program and database, browsers... But hopefully I'll have time to do it a little bit at a time, but have to pull my hair out and do it all at once because my current laptop died and I need everything to be working right this absolute minute.  With tax, I spent close to $500.   Oh, I hate to spend the money but this is actually my birthday present from Greg though. Thanks, honey!  I tried going through Swagbucks but there were no rewards offered on the laptop category so I didn't bother.  I did charge it to my Discover card since I get 5% back in Rewards for Amazon purchases right now.  Should I bought it when I still had 10% back with USAA Visa. Oh well.  

  • So last night my Oldest Son's GF emailed me to ask what Youngest Son would like for Christmas. She said that she didn't want to come between my son and me and that it was awkward since he and I are not speaking so she didn't tell him she was emailing me. But she got Greg and myself a Christmas present and was wondering how we would handle the present exchange because she didn't want me to get upset if she sent it with my daughter.  I have to say, I really appreciated her email and I was flabbergasted that she was buying us a present when I was planning on not getting them anything since my son and I aren't speaking and it would have been awkward to send her something and not him. So she's a better person than I am, I guess. Anyhoo, I told her I was planning on sending them a gift card so they could buy something for the apartment and that I would send it with my daughter and the Christmas ornaments from my son's childhood.  So now I have to buy a gift card, although I'm waiting to hear from her as to which store(s) she prefers because I have no idea.

  • A new baking cookbook!  I know!  But it had so many cool cakes and cookies in there!  It was worth it just for the pictures!  I'll give it to my daughter when she has her own place.

  • A Christmas present for me from Santa Greg!

  • Gas to run errands, pick up my son from school, and then drive him to and from the library too.


  • So I was sitting on the couch this morning and feeling a little crampy, but I thought it was gas as my period wasn't due for another ELEVEN days.  So you know where this is going, right?  Mid morning I go to use the bathroom and realize that my period has started. And I mean, started. Ugh.  Good thing that it was at a time when I was at home and not out and about as I was wearing light tan capris.  I hope the stains come off, I sprayed it with Shout.  So I'm doing an extra load of laundry in the middle of the week and I'm going to have to do another to wash the comforter that I have been using as a futon cover until my son and I can put the futon cover back on.  Good thing that I didn't have him help me do it yesterday! It's a PITA and the last time he and I finally managed to put it on, something happened to it the very next day and I had to wash it all over again and this is why it hasn't been put back on again.  

  • I went to grab a fruit cup from the pantry and found a 4-pack of Dole Fruit Mixations that had gone rogue... 3 out of the 4 cups had little dome (like when food does bad) even though the sell-by date is March 2017.  None of my other Dole Fruit Mixations or other fruit cups are like that so it's definitely a bad batch. I threw it all away and filled out a form on their "Contact Us" page to explain the problem.


  • The bananas that I bought at Aldi on Sunday are still very green and very hard.  It's Thursday.  I guess I ought to find a paper bag to put them in. I wish they wouldn't sell fruit that's THAT unripe.


  • Not my failure and not even my son's, but he completely bombed that Computer Problem Solving competition. He said that out of 100 questions, he knew the answers to maybe 10.  The thing is, you have to already have prior knowledge of the subject but FBLA doesn't provide the instruction or even supporting materials!  It sounds to me like it's up to him to develop his own expertise in the subject in which he wants to compete, on his own (you know... like a business LEADER!) and take complete ownership of his own education in the subject matter. I did find a site that was created by an FBLA member and Eagle Scout who recognized the dearth of educational materials and/or information available to members, and uses his site to gather information for them. Under Computer Problem Solving, there is a list of competencies that the students should have and oh my, it's a doozy!  So I emailed all of that to my son. It's probably too late for this year but if he were to continue with it, maybe that can help him for next year. They do list some textbooks (college-level) in their bibliography so maybe I can get him a textbook or two and have him read that stuff. If anything, Computer Problem Solving is useful IRL.  I'll discuss that with him and Greg and see if we can come up with a plan of action.


  • Fed the kittens
  • Cooked Greg's breakfast
  • Packed his lunch
  • Dehydrated apples
  • Defrosted meat for dinner and thought of what to cook
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom
  • Aired out the house
  • Ordered a new laptop
  • Researched current's laptop extended warranty... it expired a year ago. But of course :)
  • Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher
  • Defrosted some meat for tomorrow or Saturday's dinner
  • Planned our next 2 dinners
  • Took a shower
  • Did two loads of laundry
  • Ran errand with my daughter
  • Went to pick up my son from school
  • Did research on FBLA and Computer Problem Solving and emailed my son with the results
  • Returned the DVD to Redbox
  • Dropped off my son at the library
  • Cooked dinner
  • Fed all the cats
  • Cuddled with kittens (if I were native American, I would want that to be my name!)
  • Loaded the dishwasher and ran it
  • Packed a lunch for Greg tomorrow
  • Ordered myself a Christmas present
  • Redeemed MCR points and entered more codes


  • For a relatively kitten-free night last night :)
  • But for lovely fuzzy cuddles and kittens giving me kisses this morning
  • For my husband's gift of a new laptop
  • For futons because it's easier to wash futon covers and comforters than to get stains off a couch
  • For freebies from several businesses
  • For my daughter to be OK with me not letting her go to Lakeland to watch a movie and willing to take my mom along when she went shopping
  • That I had the foresight to buy more capris from the thrift stores even though I was losing weight because I put all the weight back on and I wouldn't have had anything to wear, seeing as my previous capris were old and all developed unmendable tears!