Back to the grind, which means that my Mondays are once again Domestic Mondays, to some extent. Since I did the dishes last night, it was very nice to start the week with a clean kitchen this morning and not have to get depressed at the sight of a mountain of dirty dishes to tackle today. I have resolved to follow Susan's lead and unload the dishwasher every morning and start reloading it as the day goes on. We'll see how long my good intentions last!
I stayed up to wait for my daughter to come home last night, which she did as about 12:15 p.m. The kittens were all keyed up and I caught Explorer on my baking island, chewing on my Christmas cactus! I had to put it on top of the fridge for night. The kitten is still alive this morning so I guess the cactus wasn't poisonous (it doesn't have spikes). Then my daughter told me about recognizing some family that's famous on Vine for their videos (seriously, anyone is a celebrity nowadays) and getting all excited about that. But she also told me about a party who was very rude to her and yelled at her for quite some time (the main culprit came back later to apologize) and while I was very proud of her for keeping her calm and not dissolving into tears, I went to bed thinking about that situation and my heart was pounding because I started to get so mad for her! Nowadays, I don't think I could keep my calm and I'd probably get fired. But I finally was able to calm down and go to sleep. The kittens calmed down as soon as I turned off the lights, but a couple of them came to wake me up at 5:15 a.m. and let's just say that I was NOT ready to be up. I need a face mask so they can't lick my nose because they are very persistent. I got a little mad and then they settled down and we all went back to sleep. My alarm rang at 6:30 a..m. and, despite my good intentions of getting up so I could bid my son a good day when he left for school, I went right back to sleep and didn't hear him leave :( Greg came down the stairs at 6:55 a.m. and that's what woke me up.
I saw that my son was still waiting for the school bus so I rushed upstairs to get dressed in case I had to drive him to school (that's what happened last Monday) but by the time I was ready, the bus had come and gone already. Phew!
I cooked Greg's breakfast, packed his lunch, and set some bread dough to rise. I don't feel like putting up my very long to-do list (mostly because I haven't done any of it in the month-long break!) so I'll just jot down some things that I need to do today to help me stay focused:
- Write a menu for the week, using what I have in the fridge
Write a check to St Jude's Hospital
- Enter receipts in my spreadsheets
Do the laundry and dry it outdoors Clean the kitten litterboxes, wash the upstairs litterbox and the one from the Cat Room Dust the living room
- Dust the Cat Room
- Sweep or vacuum the Cat Room
- Clean the windows in the Cat Room
Sweep or vacuum the main stairs Sweep or vacuum the stairs to my daughter's room Put away the Fall decorations Get a few Christmas decorations down Get St Nicolas stuff ready
- Fold the laundry
- Put away the laundry
Clean the downstairs bathroom sink
- Clean the downstairs bathroom toilet bowl
- Ask my son to help me put the futon cover back on the futon
- Make a list of what I need to buy when I go in town (Christmas)
Put Drano down the kitchen sink for maintenance Put bleach in the furnace drain for maintenance Clean out my coupon organizer of expired coupons Sort the new coupons
- Dehydrate apples
Bake Grape Nuts
Well, I'd better get to it!
- I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch.
- Our son packed his lunch and rode the school bus (yippee!)
- I'm grateful that Greg isn't pickier than he is (he's actually not picky, there are just a lot of foods that he avoids) because I toasted 2 heels of bread for his breakfast and he didn't mind.
- I'm airing out the house and keeping the AC turned off while it's still cool outside.
- I ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom, which definitely cuts down on the amount of mold and mildew growing in there, which saves me money on sponges and bleach and ruined clothes (because I always end up with bleach stains!) and also saves me aggravation and time in the long-run.
- As I put my donation check in the envelope provided by St Jude's Children Research Hospital, I noticed that not only had they sent me a small notepad, but also holiday-themed address labels. Yay for free address labels, I don't use them much these days but I also hadn't received any in a while. Also, the envelope was postage-paid, which I appreciated.
- Due to the kittens' destructive nature, I'm putting up very few Christmas decorations this year and NO tree. So far, I have decided not to string lights outside. It's a PITA since we don't have an outdoor outlet on the front of the house so I'm not going to bother. It'll save us money and save me lots of time. I have strung up the 2 LED light strands in the living room: one on the mantelpiece and a white one that's hanging on a wall decoration behind the TV. It'll probably be too bright for me though so it might never get lit up. Oh well. I got the Bath & Body Works holiday-scented candles on the mantelpiece and a few snowmen and angels figurines. And that's pretty much it. I'm sad about the Christmas tree but it'll also save me lots of time.
- For my breakfast, mid morning, I had a bowl of generic crispy rice from Aldi in which I added a very very brown banana.
- I set aside 3 wrinkly apples that I plan on dehydrating.
- I did two super loads of laundry in cold/cold, and I used vinegar as softener. Even though I didn't feel like it, I made myself hang most of the clothes outdoors on my racks from IKEA. However, I dried the bath towels and Greg's cotton clothing in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting.
- I drove to Subway to get my daughter her comfort food. She wanted a 6" meal but I got her the footlong so she can use the 2nd half for dinner tonight as she is working late. I paid with one of the gift cards that I had bought from her earlier this year so there was no OOP expense today. I wasn't going to get myself anything but then I saw the big sign advertising the corned beef Reuben and I started craving it (I love corned beef!) so I ordered a foot-long. The attendant then informed me, after she had already cut the bread, that they were out of corned beef until Thursday. Why they don't take the signs down or at least add a warning that they're out, I don't know but it irked me. She suggested the turkey Reuben but I have turkey at home and I had just baked bread so I told her "sorry, never mind, I won't get another sandwich" and saved myself another $9.00.
- On my way home, I stopped by RaceTrac. I checked my app and noticed that the free coupon for the monthly 32 oz drink had appeared in my app for December so I texted Greg and my daughter to let them know so they could check their apps too, and I redeemed my coupon for a free caffeine free Diet Coke for myself. I also redeemed a paper coupon that the Customer Care team had sent me when I emailed them to point out that the app kept on deducting the wrong coupons. The coupon was for a free donut so I grabbed an apple fritter for my son's after-school snack. At the register, the coupon wouldn't deduct anything. The back-up cashier, who is never very pleasant, said it was because it was for a donut not for an apple fritter. I pointed out that an apple fritter IS a donut. Thankfully, the manager intervened and told the cashier just to deduct the cost of the apple fritter and to write the full price on the back of the coupon and with that, I was on my way with my 2 freebies.
- I called the vet's office to order 2 more bags of kitten food so I don't have to worry about running out during the holidays. The order will be in tomorrow and I have an appointment on Friday for the kittens so I'll pick it up then and it'll save me a trip. Greg joked last night that since the kitten's annual check-ups will most likely be in December from now on since they're getting their rabies shot this month, I will probably be nicknamed "Christmas Bonus!" at the vet's because of the huge bill we will have every December. No kidding! I need to price the kitten food at Petco or online to see if it would be cheaper to get it somewhere else and I might take them to the cheap mobile vet for their shots once they're past a year old, I think, since (if) they don't have any other issues.
- I priced the Royal Canin kitten food on Petco.com. They don't sell the exact same one as the vet's and I wonder if there are more differences than just the packaging (mine refers to "veterinary care") but the 3.5 lb bag is $14.44 if I order it as a repeat order, plus shipping, I assume, which would put it at about the same price as my vet's. The vet's is not that far from my house and I pass it every week when I go grocery shopping so for now I'll keep ordering it from the vet's and when they switch to adult food, I might just buy Royal Canin from Petco or order pet store.
- At about noon, the temp throughout the house had risen to 77F and it felt humid so I closed the windows and turned the AC back on. Oops, just realized that the windows are still open upstairs so I'm running to close them.
- While I was upstairs, I grabbed what I plan to give the kids for St Nicolas tomorrow. Nothing exciting, I'm afraid: a multi pack of colorful ankle socks for my daughter and some chocolate she wanted from World Market, and Youngest Son will get a 24-pack box of Trolli sour worms that I had bought from Boxed.com. They'll each get an ornament as well for the Christmas tree (which we're not putting up this year!). I got Greg a bottle of boozy eggnog, which I need to find so I can give it to him.
- I printed some coupons from the CVS website, including 2 coupons that should allow me to get 2 tubes of Arm & Hammer Radiant Toothpaste for free if I go there this week (and they have it in stock!).
- The kittens have been driving me crazy this morning so I've been yelling at them at lot (climbing on the table, climbing up the drapes, climbing up the screened door, chewing on cords again, among other things) and consequently they're taking their naps away from me today. The truth? I love them but today I'm appreciating the freedom of them staying away from me.
- I took a break from chores from noon to 1 p.m. to eat my lunch and catch up on the news and some blogs. I've greatly culled the amount of blogs that I read these days, which frees up some time. Now I'm going to go unload the dishwasher and reload it with the few dirty dishes from this morning. After that, I shall check on the laundry and vacuum the steps to my daughter's bedroom.
- I decided to use the plastic holiday-themed platters that I use for the Christmas buffet to "decorate" the kitchen by leaning them against the large window. It'll make the kitchen a little more festive without having to get extra stuff down from storage. I used the old "carrots for the reindeer" platter above my sink.
- Since the kittens are older now and can hold their pee a little longer, I've removed the litter box from the living room and stored it. We now have 4 litter boxes (3 downstairs and 1 upstairs) and once they're too big to fit under the doors, I'll remove the upstairs litter box too. I completely cleaned out 4 of them today, including the one I put in storage, and put a strip of masking tape with today's date on it on the lip of each box, so I know when the last time was that I completely washed it out. My son tends to re-add fresh litter to the box and mix it with the old, whereas I'd rather just completely change it out. With 6 cats now, it smells much faster than it used to!
- I reused pages from a catalog to wrap the Fall-themed glasses before storing them for a year.
- My daughter went to get gas for the Focus at RaceTrac and turned the receipt in to me so I will earn yet another freebie.
- I reused an old toothbrush to scrub the downstairs bathroom drain that all all gunked up. I sprayed generic Scrubbing Bubbles from Dollar Tree to clean the sink and make it smell good. I scrubbed the shower stall with some Bon Ami powder that I had gotten for free several years ago.
- When I bought my new Hoover vacuum cleaner this year, I kept my old vacuum because I liked that I could break it down into a canister vacuum. I keep that part upstairs so if I decide that I should vacuum, I don't have the excuse of not wanting to carry the very heavy Hoover up the stairs. I used that canister today to vacuum the 2 sets of stairs in our house. It was pretty easy and better than sweeping and seeing all that dust just flying around. The brush part of that vacuum doesn't vacuum well but the hand-held part vacuums just fine.
- My son came home dejected from school. I had asked him to check why he got a 25% on an AP Human Geography assignment and he discovered that instead of picking from 4 different projects, he was supposed to have completed all 4 projects. However, the teacher told him that she would give him until 12/16 (the end of the term) to turn in the other 3 projects (he's a great student so teachers usually are forgiving when he messes up). So he's disappointed that he has to do the work, but we were discussing one of the project, which is to cook something from another country so I told him he could make crêpes (which he's made before) and bring them to his D&D club so he can research his friend's reactions for the paper that he has to write. He liked the idea so we will make crêpes (I will supervise) on Wednesday after his dentist appointment and he will bring them to his D&D club on Thursday. I have plenty of paper plates and plastic forks that he can use and I'll have him bring some generic hazelnut spread and plain sugar too.
- Last night my cheap (from Dollar Tree) plastic pasta spoon cracked. I might be able to strengthen it with some duct tape, but in the meantime, I added one to my thrift store wishlist and also to my Dollar Tree shopping list. I've had that one for several years and I always run it through the dishwasher, so I'm not surprised that it started to crack. I'm hoping to find a sturdier one at a thrift store, though.
- I had forgotten to bake Grape Nuts for Greg this morning (because I forgot to add it to my To Do List!) so I baked some late this afternoon and since the oven was already hot, I baked the turkey tenderloins from Aldi in there right after it. Once they're cooked, I'll have to process the Grape Nuts and then keep on baking them for an hour at a much lower temp. I mixed water with milk to stretch it and then used some mixed with white vinegar to make buttermilk for the recipe.
- I tried replacing the batteries in the two solar lights that stopped working on the berm (the ones Greg gave me for Christmas last year), but they take one AAA battery each and I just purchased AA batteries. Tomorrow, I'll try the AA batteries in the solar lights in front of the house. Those I know for a fact that they take AA batteries.
- I purged my coupons organizer of expired coupons, clipped the ones that I had printed recently, and filed them in my organizer.
- The Fit & Active Black Pepper Turkey tenderloin was delicious. I ended up steaming the 4 ears of sweet corn that I had bought at Aldi yesterday to go with it and it was very good as well. Since my daughter wasn't home for dinner, I saved her dinner portion for Greg's lunch tomorrow.
- I loaded the dinner dishes in the dishwasher but it's far from being full so I'll run it tomorrow morning after everybody has had breakfast.
- I spent the evening discovering a new-to-me blog (one of my favorite things to do). Greg read his library book and also played video games. We had classical music playing on Pandora the whole evening. The kittens slept for a while (two of them slept on me for quite a while), and then had a snack and went crazy running around and playing, and now (10:30 p.m.), they're back to being asleep. So they'll probably be up all night after that. Greg offered to take them up to his room with him tonight but the BIG boss is coming to town tomorrow and Greg has a 1:1 with him for the first time and then staying late for a business dinner with him and a few other bigwigs so he needs his beauty sleep :)
- I noticed an email from Greg's benefits administrator so I was dreading that perhaps they needed me to provide proof of insurability since I upped my spouse life insurance policy this year, but once I logged into his account, I saw that it was just the confirmation that everything had checked out and a final chance to make any changes if there were mistakes. No mistakes so we're good to go for 2017. We are very lucky that we will only need to pay a few dollars extra every paycheck for the same coverage as this year, which I think is really good, and our 6 kids are all still covered too. The oldest 5 are also covered by their other parent or a spouse so they're in a good place. I just hope that none of us need to actually use the benefits, I'd really like us to not have any emergencies or illnesses :)
- My daughter came home from work at 10:30 p.m., which made me happy as I'll be able to fall asleep knowing that she's safe in her bed. A letter had come in for her from the high school today so she opened the envelope and found out that as a National Merit Semi-Finalist, she was selected as a top semi-finalist to compete for corporate-sponsored scholarships. The deadline is soon (as in 10 days from now) and there's an essay to write and other things to do to make sure she qualifies so it's a good thing that her finals are this week so she can have a couple of days to work on it early next week. If selected by the panel as an award recipient, the award could be anywhere from a one-time $500 award to a $5,000 annual award, from what it sounds. There are also need-based awards but there is no way she would qualify for those so I hope she's not going to waste her time running through hoops. It's exciting for her, though, and I'm very proud of her, of course! We should find out in March if she was awarded anything and in May if she wasn't. Wait, what? This makes no sense. But that's what it said in the letter...
- Moving the heavy Christmas decoration boxes in and out of the closet where I am storing them and all the bending over to vacuum the stairs and wash out the litter boxes resulted in my lower back being very tender tonight so I'm hoping that it rains tomorrow not only because my garden needs it, but also so that I have an excuse to just sit around and not do too much!
- Gas and tolls for Greg to go to work
- Gas for my daughter to go to work
- I donated $5 to Wikipedia. I do that every year. I use Wikipedia a lot and I appreciate it.
- I wrote a donation check to St Jude's Research Hospital
- My daughter wasn't feeling well so I went to pick her up lunch from Subway since she wanted a comfort-food sub :)
- I had to compost the asparagus that I was planning on cooking tonight since they finally went bad :(
CHORES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Fed the kittens
- Cooked Greg's breakfast
- Packed his lunch
- Set bread dough to rise
- Aired out the house
- Ran the dehumidifier
- Wrote donation check
- Made an online donation
- Cuddled with kittens
- Did 2 loads of laundry
- Sorted through Christmas decorations and picked the few things to display this year
- Brought them down along with holiday dishes
- Dusted living room
- Relocated the living room litter box
- Swept in front of fireplace
- Put tea lights in fake log display in fireplace
- Arranged a few decorations on mantelpiece
- Arranged a garland and a couple of light strands around living room
- Sprinkled very few decorations anywhere else
- Hung half of the laundry to dry outside, put the rest in the dryer
- Picked up lunch for my daughter
- Ordered kitten food
- Got the St Nicolas presents down and ready for tomorrow
- Priced kitten food from Petco
- Vacuumed the main stairs and the stairs to my daughter's room
- Vacuumed part of the kitchen
- Washed 4 cat litter boxes and refilled 3 of them
- Unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher
- Brought the hurricane season emergency canned foods out to the pantry
- Put away the everyday dishes in the back room
- Put the Christmas dishes out in the cabinets
- Put away the Fall-themed decorations
- Added some decorations to the kitchen
- Cleaned the downstairs bathroom sink
- Cleaned the shower stall
- Poured Drano down the shower drain and the kitchen sink drain, for maintenance
- Poured bleach down the heat pump's furnace drain pipe, for maintenance
- Swept leaves from the front porch and at the top of the driveway
- Retrieved my coupon organizer from the SUV
- Brought the dry laundry back indoors
- Discussed school projects with Youngest Son
- Baked Grape Nuts for Greg
- Baked turkey tenderloins for dinner
- Took the large trash bin down to the curb for tomorrow's collection and checked the mail
- Chatted with my next-door neighbor for a few minutes
- Cleaned out my coupon organizer
- Clipped coupons
- Reorganized coupons
- Processed Grape Nuts
- Continued baking Grape Nuts
- Prepped the corn for dinner
- Shredded junk mail
- Cuddled with a kitten
- Put the dinner dishes in the dishwasher
- Put leftovers in fridge for Greg's lunch
- Read a new blog while providing nap support for 2 kittens
- Chatted with daughter