Sunday, December 25, 2016

Santa Had The Afternoon Shift ~ 12/25/16

It's hard to feel very Christmas-y without a Christmas tree, in my opinion.  I don't regret not putting ours up because it would have been a huge stressor with the way the kittens are still carrying on, but I can't deny that I miss it a lot.

I was all set to fall asleep on the couch last night: I was tired, had lied down, and all three kittens had come to join me. I had Explorer curled up on the back of my left shoulder, with his purring little head resting on my shoulder, Princess stretched along side my right arm, nestled between my body and the back of the couch, her head on my right shoulder, and she was purring as well; and Tabby Kitty had just rejoined us and was settling nicely on my sternum, having finally stopped trying to bite my fingertips.  And then... Greg came down the stairs because he needed some Advil.  Instantly, all 3 kittens dashed off and ran up with him back to his room.  Arrrgh.

So I decided to go sleep in my bed as well, seeing as Greg was probably going to be up and down the whole night.  As soon as I got in there, all three kittens showed up and decided to start  chewing on everything. Seriously!  Tabby Kitty decided he was going to try and take a big mouthful off the soft leather recliner that Greg had brought back from his parents' RV. I stopped him before he could do too much damage but I was so ticked off that I yelled at him pretty hard and he ran into Greg's bedroom and never came back.  The other two finally settled down and we shared the bed the rest of the night, but not as comfortably as the previous night. I was hot as well so I turned the pedestal fan on and the small fan that's blowing on my face and I was STILL hot!  What the what?!  I must have the same virus as Greg but in a milder form.  My throat is still swollen this morning so there's definitely something going on. Thankfully, that's my only symptom so far.

Poor Greg, though, is still sweating a lot and now has abdominal discomfort too because of all the food he indulged in last night.  He was up at 4 a.m., apparently.  I got up to use the bathroom at 7:30 a.m. and intended on going back to bed, but he came up to ask me for kitten food since he doesn't know where I keep it, so I decided to just get up.

My daughter works until 2 or 3 p.m. today and we had decided to wait for her to come home to open presents. Without a tree and with destructive kittens, we don't even have our regular display of lots of presents in the living room, so there's less anticipation.  It just doesn't feel like Christmas!  I even had to turn on the Christmas lights and put on Christmas music because Greg didn't even bother.

My brother and sister-in-law from Paris sent me emails to wish us a Merry Christmas.  They're heading over to her parents' (who also live in Paris) to celebrate with her family since her brother, his wife and kids came over from Munich, Germany. I hope they're all safe as they're traveling on the subway and I know the terrorists would like nothing better than to kill some people today more than any other day, I suppose.  I'm also a little worried about my daughter working at Walt Disney World and Middle Son working at Universal Studios today, two big targets as well, although, as the latest attacks showed, it looks like they might change their focus to just hit groups of people at random now.  Ugh.

My little 11-year-old nephew sent me a cute email to thank me for his Amazon gift card and ask how we're doing. I sent him a reply with some questions although I know he probably won't follow through as he was just sending me the email to obey his mom, lol. He's a cutie, though. His brother, the teen, won't bother thanking me at all. HOLD THE PRESSES! I GOT A THANK YOU EMAIL FROM MY TEEN NEPHEW! Wow, 2016 is turning out to be a year full of surprises indeed. But this one is a good one, for a change.

For breakfast this morning I had coffee and mini eclairs (yum!) but then I remembered that I had bought mini croissants and pains au chocolat from Aldi, as if we were going to have a big family brunch... but we're not. Sigh. Still I had a croissant with raspberry preserves (from the Dollar Tree) and pretended that I was in France.  Not the same thing at all, but one can dream.

Oh wow, I'm quite a downer this morning, aren't I?!

Swagbucks credited me with 60 SB for the coupon promo that they bungled!  Since they had already credited me with 5 SB, I made a slight profit. And it counts towards today's goals so I've already reached my 2nd goal for the day and will get a tiny bonus. Yay.

My BFF just sent me a very sweet text, awww. I was waiting for an appropriate time to text her too (didn't want to interrupt the present opening!) so she beat me to it. I'm so thankful for her friendship. She's a darling person.

I texted my 3 older kids and Oldest Son's girlfriend to wish them a Merry Christmas.  Middle Son texted me late last night to say that he'll be working most of this week and on his days off he'll be dealing with his move (from his apartment back to his dad's house) so we'll plan on meeting for "Christmas lunch" after the 1st of the year.  I guess I should have sent his presents with my daughter as well, but I love seeing people open my presents so I'm not sorry, LOL.

I also texted my friend who wants me to work for her after the first of the year, to wish her a Merry Christmas.  She's going on a cruise today, apparently, with her family.  Fun! Well, I hope they have fun. Cruises are not for me, I dislike being confined to a ship and don't care for any of the activities. My ex and I took our 2 sons on a Disney Cruise when they were toddlers and aside from the shows that toddlers enjoyed, I had the worst time.

I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits (double credit day again today).  I'm already almost halfway up to my goal to get a $5 Amazon gift card!  As I did last year, I'll be reporting on my "Found Money" for 2016 a little bit later on this year.  Other blogs (those from people who write from a personal finance perspective) call that "snowflakes". I suppose I should call mine "Grains of Sand". Not very catchy, though.

I sent new CVS offers to my ExtraCare app via my CVS app.  The $5 ECB from the Beauty Club came in!  I need to remember to spend it.

It was time to try and feel a little more holiday spirit so I got dressed in the red skirt that I had bought at a thrift store recently and... a long sleeved pajama top!  Why? Because it's red and matches the red of my skirt pretty well, and it has a Christmas ornament on the front of it :)

My son and I started looking at pictures of New Kitty from last Christmas since today is the one year anniversary that she has been living with us. Soon enough, I was trying to view videos of Male Cat when we first got him in 2008 and realized that I could view the videos but not hear any sound. What?  They're .mov files and play just fine in Windows 7.  I was especially upset that it seemed to mean that we had lost the audio for all the videos that my son recorded himself when he was little and I was homeschooling him!  Some research online reveals that, even though Windows 10 supposedly had the codec files for .mov files, it actually doesn't!  .mov files are Quicktime files and the codec comes with Quicktime. Well in April this year Homeland Security issued a warning that all PC users should uninstall Quicktime because of security issues. Apple has also stopped supporting it.  Well I'm only using it to watch movies that I filmed myself, so I reinstalled Quicktime and this seems to be doing the trick. However, I also redownloaded Handbrake and I might have to spend time converting all my old .mov files to something else. Still, all my current movies taken with either my Kodak camera or my iPhone 5s are .mov files, without any way to change the format from creation so it's going to be a PITA moving forward. Why wouldn't Apple just fix their stupid software?!  Update: Well, it was kind of bothering me to have to worry about the safety of Quicktime (in case I visited a site that took advantage of the vulnerabilities) so I did some more research and found an article that suggested downloading VLC, an open source media player. So I did and it plays the files with audio just fine so I uninstalled Quicktime and defaulted the .mov file association to VLC.  Phew!  It much fun to watch old videos and see how little both the cats and our son were and hear all the voices, sounds, etc :) Actually, I wasn't filming much back in the days and now I really regret it.

It's past 2 p.m. and I really hope that my daughter is on her way home from work because I'd really like to get started opening presents, lol.

I've been reading some personal finance blogs where the authors post everything they spend every day, and I'm thinking that I'm going to start doing this in the new year.  Maybe it'll help me be even more frugal?  I feel that certainly, I could spend less. Right now a lot of times I buy something because we do have the money. But as I want us to be able to save more for retirement and other things, I need to keep the daily spending in check. For instance, I spent way too much on Bath & Body Works candles this year. I love them but we don't need them. I could just get one a trimester, for instance. I'm a private person so I'm a little nervous to be disclosing so much, but again... I want to cut back and this might be the motivation that I need. Just like when we try to meet my "No Drive Days" goal for the year.

Speaking of which, I have no idea what our goal will be for 2017 in that regard.  Greg's been enjoying going fishing and we've enjoyed going on walks on the weekends, but that requires driving since the trails aren't in the neighborhood.  Our son is going to start learning how to drive. My daughter is still going to use the family car through the end of the school year and to go to work, but once she goes to college, I expect the car will remain here and it might just become my primary vehicle for errands and of course the vehicle for driving lessons for Youngest Son. So I'm at a loss. Our goal for 2016 was 7 days and we are at 11 days of actual no driving at all for our family, with the last day logged back in August!  With my daughter working every weekend now, there is much less of a chance of a No Drive Day.  I'm thinking we'll shoot for 7 days in 2017 as well since I'm thinking she won't have our car starting in August and our son won't be able to drive on his own yet.

My daughter finally got home at about 3:30 pm. and we opened our presents. We had so much fun, but not nearly as much as the kittens who absolutely loved running and wrestling through all the torn wrapping paper we were throwing on the floor!

We were all super happy with our presents and I got tons of stuff. My daughter spoiled me as she got me 6 gifts, almost everything I had pointed out to her at Target. And then what she didn't get me, she got Youngest Son or Greg to get for me.

Greg absolutely spoiled me. I knew about a lot of the gifts since we'd gone shopping together but there were surprises too.  My big gift was a KitchenAid Artisan Mini stand mixer, which I have been salivating about for YEARS but was always too frugal to purchase for myself. I'm still torn about how expensive this is for a kitchen appliance and one that won't be used nearly as much as it could have been back when we had lots of kids at home, but it looks so awesome in my kitchen! He got me the "junior" version (the 3.5 qt bowl one) in that cool retro blue color. My daughter wants to same one so she had a vested interest in me having one, hahaha.

I also got hiking boots and a new fanny pack for when we go on walks (I like to carry my point and shoot camera, extra batteries, my phone, etc. in it but my current one is ripped beyond repair), a BluRay player to replace the one from Goodwill that won't actually play blurays (I taped a note to that effect to it and it's going back to be donated, in case someone wants to use it as a DVD player because it works great as a DVD player). I got other stuff, too, mostly things I had bought for myself already like a new silver chain to replace the one that had broken, flavored coffee... I got lots of chocolate including this one bar because my daughter claims that I like all the "weird" chocolate:

Bacon and potato chip flavored chocolate, anyone?
She also gave me one of the fluffy birds that I had seen at Target and that I had fallen in love with. I might keep this one out on my mantlepiece year-round, he's just so cute!  I kind of wish I had the whole series!

Youngest Son gave me a new, metallic spaghetti spoon that I had pointed out to my daughter at Target, to replace the plastic one from Dollar Tree that I have and that is breaking. Good luck breaking this one!

Oldest Son and his GF (well, really, his GF, I think) sent me, via my daughter, a French Lavender bottle of B&BW handsoap and also of antibacterial gel, and some cool cat-shaped bag clips that are adorable :)

Greg was very surprised and excited by his Xbox One Elite controller as he thought, for sure, that I wasn't going to get it for him, ha! He was also over the moon with his present of 6 boxes of Grape Nuts from the kids, hahaha. And he loved his other gifts.

Our son is happy with his GoPro and learning to use all the accessories that came in the accessory pack that I bought him to go with it, and my daughter already knew about most of her presents but was extremely happy with them nonetheless.

After we finished opening presents and cleaning up all the torn wrapping paper, everyone retreated to play with their gadgets. I ate leftovers while watching the 1st episode of a French-language Belgian show on Netflix entitled "The Break".

I was excited because I thought I had found a $50 rebate for the KitchenAid Mixer on the KitchenAid website, but the rebate form specifies that it's not valid if you bought the mixer at, among other stores, Target. Greg bought mine at Target. Boo, hiss!

Well, it's past 8:30 p.m. now and a certain Princess is requiring my undivided attention for some cuddling so I'm going to stop here for tonight.

I hope you all had a nice Christmas/Festivus/or however you celebrated today... or not. A nice Sunday :)