Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer 2017 Road Trip ~ Day 10: Six Flags Over Georgia and Driving Back to Florida (Sunday 6/11/17)


Forget what I said about the bed being comfy. The mattress was bouncy like a waterbed! My daughter moved around a lot so that kept on waking me up, the room wasn't dark enough, the kids running in the room upstairs sounded like a pack of elephants until late.  Finally I put my sleep headphones and my Kindle on and listened to 2 episodes of Forensic Files before pulling the headband over my eyes and I fell asleep like that, but I woke up a lot.

Consequently, I'm tired again and cranky.  My daughter didn't sleep well either. We agreed that we were going to try our best to get home tonight as I really don't want to spend another $150 for a bad night at a hotel. We really were spoiled as we hadn't had any problems until a couple of nights ago (save for that hotel with the renovations).

We had a quick breakfast and are now waiting for 9:45 a.m. to go to Six Flags Over Georgia. For some reason, the park doesn't open until 10:30 a.m.

I forgot to take a picture of my breakfast... I guess photographer fatigue is starting!  I spent some time uploading coupons to my digital accounts since we had nothing to do until it was time to leave.

Greg is fishing at Lake Louisa State Park right now and just texted me a picture of a fish he caught. He's going to release it since he didn't bring a cooler.

We drove to Six Flags Over Georgia, which was only about 15 minutes away.  Once again, the traffic was heavy going the opposite way.

I paid the $25 for the parking and presented my tickets on the Six Flags app right after the Security Checkpoint. It worked very well and we were in!

The weather was overcast so my pictures didn't turn out. Also I took very few of them and only
with my cell phone. So I'll be borrowing official pictures from the Six Flags website too :)

I guess the reason why the app won't show the ride wait times until after noon is that it's never too crowded in the morning?  We really didn't stand in line at all!

My daughter, about to board a roller coaster on her own
We did have to rent a locker to put our fanny pack and purse so I decided to pay $5 for the unlimited locker rental throughout the day. I'll tell you, it would be very frightening to do this on my own as I had to leave my glasses in the locker too (or I would have lost them on the roller coaster) but then I couldn't read any of the locker numbers, or the keyboard to input our code to reopen the locker, etc.  Poor vision really becomes a disability in situations like these!

I can't remember the details of all that we rode but there was a cool one called the Superman where you end up riding suspended in the air with your belly to the ground, as if you were Superman flying though the air!  I'm sure I would have enjoyed it much more if my darn bangs had been shorter and didn't flop in my eyes the whole time, obscuring everything. Arrgh. Surprisingly, it was not an uncomfortable ride at all!

I'll tell you what is uncomfortable, though... a lot of the ride cars were made back when people weren't quite as fat as we are nowadays and in a few instances, I barely fit in the seats and guests in front of me had to exit the ride because they couldn't fit in the seats at all!    I was relieved that I was spared that embarrassment, and here is another reason why I need to lose weight!

I think we rode this one...

We took the "Sky Buckets"  at some point. I don't like heights but this doesn't bother me. However...

 This one terrified me!  It's called the SkyScreamer and it looks like fun since you're sitting on a swing. But then it rises 23 stories up!  I closed my eyes the whole time, I was so afraid!  Still, we rode it twice...

Picture borrowed from the Six Flags Over Georgia website
But the most scary rides, in my opinion, are the wooden rollercoasters, although I felt safer on them this time than back in 1993 when I visited with my ex-husband and my youngest brother, because they've made the cars themselves safer. Still, it's wood in humid Georgia and our wall had just crumbled back at home because the wood was all rotten, so we had that in the back of our mind when we went on those two:

The Georgia Cyclone (Picture borrowed from the Six Flags Over Georgia website)

And the Great American Scream Machine (Picture borrowed from the Six Flags Over Georgia website)
Oh yes, I screamed alright!

My daughter rode several rides on her own, but I rode 6 different rides, one of them twice.

We had lunch at the Panda Express place since my daughter loves Panda Express. However, you pay a premium for eating in a theme park and I thought that the food was very expensive. $10 for a bowl (rice, 1 meat) and another $4-5 for a soda!

By 1:00 p.m,, the crowds had started making their way around the park and I fired up the app to check on ride wait times. Only their app only refreshes the wait times once an hour, which pretty much makes the app useless for that purpose since it ends up being so inaccurate!

It was getting pretty hot, too. I would have stayed later if my daughter had wanted to, but she was getting uncomfortable in the heat.

I took this picture of the Batmobile for Middle Son who is a huge superhero fan.
 So she decided that she wanted to ride this ride below, the Joker.

I waited for her while she rode. When she got off, she said she had hurt her neck and couldn't move her head very much. Oh no!  She was having a hard time looking over her shoulder so I told her she wouldn't be able to drive if she couldn't check the blind spot, and that if I had to drive all the way back to Florida, we might end up stopping and spend another night in a hotel.

We rode that SkyScreamer for a 2nd time since she had really liked it and then she said she was ready to go. It was about 2:30, I think. I felt bad that she didn't get to ride all the rides that she had been interested in, so I bought us some funnel cake to make us feel better, ha. Diet be damned. It was our last day on our trip!

It was pretty small despite a $7.99 price tag! I also bought 2 bottles of water, at $6 for 2.
So it ended up being an expensive day, but we did get to ride more rides than we expected to and overall had a great time. The park is very nice, hilly, with trees and clean. I was very dirty when I had visited back in 1993, so I was glad to see all the improvements.

I also liked that they had many food choices in the park and not always the same menu at each location.

So we left Atlanta at about 3ish, I think. I'm typing this on June 21st, and I've already forgotten a lot of it!

Traffic was horrendous going the opposite way again, like completely stopped for several miles.  As we were going to get on I-75 in South Atlanta, my daughter got on Google Maps and found out that there was a 6 to 7 mile stretch of either very heavy or stopped traffic, so I instructed her to find me a side road parallel to I-75 that I could take instead. She did, right in time, and so we lost about 30 minutes because that was a road with lots of traffic lights. But as soon as the traffic cleared up on I-75, we got back on it and stayed on it until the Florida Turnpike.

We made good time and I felt fine so we decided to just drive on home that night.  We stopped to pick up dinner at a Bojangles at the border with Florida and I called Greg to update him on our progress. He said it had poured all day at our house but that the rain had just stopped so we should have a nice rest of our trip. Famous last words...

We entered Florida and it started sprinkling...

... which very soon became a huge rainstorm!  It poured the whole way home, pretty much! But there must have been more people who wanted to get home than us because everyone was driving very fast, including the trucks, and we ended up making up the 30 minutes that we had lost in Georgia!  I hadn't drank too much so I didn't need to stop to use the bathroom as much as I had during the rest of the trip.

My daughter's neck was hurting a bit and I figured she had gotten whiplash. I gave her my sweater to fashion a cushion for her neck, which helped.  We played our favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs on Spotify and sang along. We had a great time!

At some point we passed an SUV that had "Just Married 6-10-17" on their back window so I honked at them while we passed them and my daughter flashed them the thumbs up but she said they looked at her like we were crazy?!  Maybe they were in the middle of their first married fight on their way to their honeymoon at Walt Disney World!

Anyhoo, thankfully the rain didn't cause any accidents and we got home at about 9:30 p.m. We were very happy to see Greg, Youngest Son and the cats, who acted like they didn't know who we were, of course. That's what cats do!

So that's it... the conclusion to our 2017 Summer Road Trip.  We had such a great time!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kittens! ~ Friday 6/23/17

I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. last night because I was so tired and, for once, Princess settled on the bed right away and slept with me all night (usually she comes up with me, eats a little snack, and goes back downstairs for a few hours).

I had an usually long and detailed dream about moving to Brazil with Greg, some kids, and his mother, because he'd been transferred there, and for once I remembered everything about my dream so I was able to tell him about it. We were laughing because it was all so ridiculous.

When the alarm rang, I felt exhausted!  I stayed in bed until I heard Greg get into the shower, Princess liking my forehead and chewing my hair in the meantime. I let her, I had no energy to wave her off!  Then Explorer came to cuddle a bit too.

This morning didn't start according to my grand plans of following my routine as I didn't get into the shower but instead came down still in my PJs. Is it still a routine if I don't follow it for a few days? Probably not.  I have dishes to do that I should do ASAP so I don't stress about it, but right now?  I don't feel like dealing with it. I just want to sit on my futon, watch the Law and Order marathon (although by now they've replayed the same episodes a number of times so I mostly don't pay attention) and continue reading my book about becoming wealthier.

You might be wondering why I titled my post "Kittens!"... well, I noticed two of my kittens looking intently behind a fogged up window and I thought there were birds at the feeder so I went to investigate and I saw... two little kittens on my patio!  They are undoubtedly their siblings and two of the kittens that I had found in the tree a few weeks ago (and left there).  Arrrgh! They are so cute!  Arrgh!  My heart melted. Again.  I called Greg and he was laughing at me while telling me we didn't need anymore cats but I went on the patio regardless to try to befriend them and they ran off as soon as I opened the door. Well, that's settled then, they're definitely not the kind who will come out crawling from the bushes, meowing for our attention!  But it means 2 more feral cats out there, of course.  They're so small still that predators will probably get them...  I'm going to need to come clean to Youngest Son about the whole story since he's bound to see them at some point. I've confessed to it to my daughter during the trip. It's going to be even harder to resist trying to befriend them (and adopt them!) if the kids see them because we all love cats so very much. So I guess we need to steel ourselves. Arrgh.  I didn't get a picture of them since they ran off so fast. But, a bit later on I saw one of them in the road with his mom so I was able to snap two pictures through my window (we have screens on the windows so that doesn't help the quality of the picture, though...).

Peanut and Explorer look just like their mom, Tabby Kitten looks a lot like this little one here, his stepbrother or sister.
Daughter is driving to Busch Gardens with her BFF today to meet an online friend for the first time.  The online friend is bringing her brother so I'm grateful that my daughter's BFF is willing to go with her because in this day and age, you never know if she's been fooled by some predator or something. And I say that as someone who met my husband online and who drove, by myself, to meet an online friend (hi Pixel!) back in April, lol.  I hope is all turns out to be OK.  That girl is also going to UF in the Fall and happens to have secured a job in the apartment complex where my daughter will be living.  Paranoid me thinks it's too big of a coincidence.  Yes, I am paranoid.

I think they're taking the BFF's car, so I should be able to take Youngest Son practice his "stick shift" driving. I told my daughter I'd pay for their parking ($20). They each have the Busch Gardens season pass so they don't have to pay for admission.  Meals are on them, though.

  • Plan my food intake for the day   DONE
  • Exercise 
  • Do the dishes
  • Post trip pictures on French blog
  • Write and mail postcards to my mom and great aunt
  • Back up all pictures to my external drive
  • Figure out where I was in the process of backing up my external drive!
  • Clip cats' claws DONE
  • Pull weeds 
  • Make hummingbird nectar
  • Find two books to donate to The Little Library when I go to the eye doctor
  • Check to see if I need to purchase more Prevident toothpaste
  • Balance the checkbook
  • Track Greg's latest paycheck in my Tax Worksheet DONE
  • Confirm the after tax amount of his raise and transfer the money to New Car Savings DONE
  • Wash Youngest Son's bedding with mine
  • Cut up Greg's old sheet for rags
  • Iron Greg's business clothes
  • Vacuum the downstairs
  • Mop kitchen
  • Find a bed for me (IKEA?)
  • Clean upstairs litterbox DONE
  • Bake banana bread
  • Figure out what to do with other egg yolks
  • Water the plants on the front porch
  • Water plants on patio?
  • Mend some items from the mending basket
  • Draft an email reply re: daughter's FL Prepaid/Scholarship ongoing saga
  • Take Wawa survey DONE
  • Make more salt-free garlic herb seasoning
  • Take Youngest Son driving DONE

  • I lost more weight, yay!

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • I saw two young kittens in the backyard but they ran away. Not sure to count this as a success or a failure, lol.

  • I'm running SB videos to try and reach my first goal of 50 SB.  I've already earned the MS Rewards on my laptop and I'll do the mobile part on my phone while I'm biking later on.

  • I've been thinking about bloggers who haven't blogged in a while, like Laura from All That Junk in my Trunk, Dawn from Blessed Beyond Measure, Jess from Rebuilding Life, Daisy from Dirt Road Daisy and Tara from Daily Delight. If any of you are reading this, I hope you're OK.  I did "talk" to Tara briefly a few days ago via comments on MFP but we just said hi and supported each other in getting healthier.

  • A comment by Nan about lilacs and scented candles got me excited about lighting up my lilac-scented candle... but I guess I had already burned it. Rats. And I can't buy any more because... well, because... oh, just look:
My candle stash. Kindly ignore the shameful layer of dust on my shelf. I really should have dusted before taking the
picture but that would have been very disingenuous, wouldn't it have been? Sigh, I'll need to add "dusting" to my to do list.
  • The Neufchatel cheese that I bought a couple of weeks ago at Aldi and that has a September 2017 sell-by date was spoiled when I opened it last night. It's the 3rd time that it's happened with Neufchatel cheese from Aldi so I need to remember not to get it from there again.  If I were going to Aldi, I'd bring it back to use their satisfaction guarantee, but I have no plans to be in the vicinity of Aldi this week. If I still have it by Wednesday, I'll bring it back then.

  • I planned my food intake for the day in my homemade Diabetic Exchange Journal.  When I was time to figure out the exchanges for a pita bread, I use the calculations that I found in a forum comment from a dietician, somewhere:
    • Step one: begin by looking at the total grams of carb, protein and fat in one serving of the food you are eating.
    • Step two: divide the total grams of carbs, protein and fat by the number of grams per exchange per serving (carb is 15 grams per exchange, protein is 7 grams per exchange, fat is 5 grams per exchange)
    • To determine whether the carb exchanges come from fruits, vegetables, milk or starches, you will need to make an estimate based on the ingredients
    • So in the case of my pita, one pita as 37 gr of carbs, 6 gr of protein and 0.5 grams of fat.
      • Carbs: 37/15 = 2 (so 2 starches since it's bread)
      • Protein: 6/7 = 0.85 (so 1 meat if you round up)
      • Fat: 0.5/5 = 0.1 (so no fat, basically)

  • I printed Greg's new paystub, tracked it in my Tax Worksheet.  After figuring out the net dollar amount of his 2017 raise, I transferred money corresponding to his 2016+2017 raise+amount that used to be deducted for FICA to our "New Car Savings" account, and also scheduled an automatic transfer for each pay period through the end of the year.  I like to avoid "lifestyle creep" and automatize our savings so there's less temptation to just spend it all.
I found this infographic on millennials and the lifestyle creep on the SunTrustEnEspañol website
  • Princess got really comfy on my hand while I was trying to type, LOL.   I need to go cook my breakfast, though.
Little Miss Needy
  • McDonald's has a new offer for free medium fries with any purchase in their app. I might treat Youngest Son to a cheeseburger and fries... we'll see. Oh wait, he has spaghetti leftovers to eat so never mind!

  • I was awarded 21 SB for a search, so that put me over my 1st goal. After that, nCrave automatic videos were available so I'll be playing them until they run out or the day ends, whichever comes first! I'm at 1,953 SB as of 11 a.m.

  • I forgot that I had the free coffee from Wawa in the fridge (both the 24 oz and the sample size) and I brewed a new pot of coffee! I guess I'll be drinking coffee all day?

  • I'm almost out of Mrs Dash salt-free garlic and herbs seasoning but I found a recipe that I had saved in a notebook so I'll be making some of this instead of buying it. as I have all the ingredients on hand.

  • I input my weight into WGBRHC and earned 20 BR points. Inching my way to a $5 merchandise credit!

  • So my daughter's BFF waited until the last possible minute to try to earn the volunteer hours she needs to qualify for Bright Futures. In her defense, she's had a lot of serious health problems during high school. Anyhoo, in the past couple of weeks she's been volunteering at the local animal league shelter and at a local library too.  One of the ways she can earn additional volunteer hours at the animal shelter is by bringing donations of food, cleaning products, etc.  She doesn't have a lot of money so my daughter asked me for suggestions on how she could minimize her cost to make donations. I told her about the PETCO Pals Rewards coupons and also to print pet coupons and wait for BOGO sales at Publix, especially if there was a BOGO coupon because then you get the food for free (or tax only, I think).  Well, this morning there is a BOGO coupon for a brand of dog food and a corresponding BOGO sale going on at Publix at the same time!  So I emailed the details to my daughter and explained how it works and rain checks (if Publix runs out of the food).  My daughter and I are conflicted about the fact that you can buy your volunteer hours (my daughter actually volunteered more than 100 hours herself and Youngest Son volunteers at the library every week) but the shelter does need the food and of course we want the best for her BFF...

  • And then I printed 2 of the BOGO coupons for the BFF and some coupons for me since they had reset since Sunday.

  • I checked the ad previews for CVS and Walgreens next week and updated my shopping list. I'll be getting some candy at Walgreens because I'll get Register Rewards for them, making them essentially "free". I'll redeem the RR the following week for some groceries.  The candy will be given to Youngest Son.

  • After taking a shower, I took Youngest Son on a driving lesson with the Ford Focus (stick shift). This time I had him drive all the way to the Van Fleet Trail where Greg and I go walking. I knew he wouldn't want to go walking and it was hot anyway so then I had him drive home.The road doesn't have a lot of traffic but has a lot of curves and is narrow with lots of pot holes to avoid. The speed limit is also 55 MPH for half of it so it was good practice for a lot of things. However, today he was having trouble with the car stalling when he tried to drive in 1st gear (like at a stop sign) or stalling when he got to a stop sign because he forgot to put it in neutral. So he needs to practice this more before I feel comfortable taking him on a busier highway and I had him drive home. So he got about 40 minutes of driving done today. We talked about practicing the same route at night and also in the rain, so we might go out again tonight. We'll see.

  • Then I drove us to RaceTrac to get our free Sodapalooza refills. I redeemed a survey reward code for a free Monterey Chicken hot grill roller item for his lunch.  So glad we didn't go to McDonald's!

  • It was already 1:30 p.m. when we got home, so I made my lunch and got back to my Law & Order marathon on ION TV :)  I had to throw away about 2 oz of chicken because I had cooked the breast last week and the bottom part of it had become slimy and smelled a little. The top was fine so that's what I used for my lunch.

  • While I was gone, nCrave automatic videos allowed me to reach my 2nd Daily Goal. Yes! I'm now at 2, 010 SB so I should be able to get a new gift card soon. I'm thinking about getting something else than a Walmart gift card this time, though. Maybe Amazon, we'll see.

  • PBS sent me a reminder that they're airing a new (well, the 4th) season of The Great British Baking Show right now.  I emailed Greg to warn him that we'll watch it tonight, on the PBS app of our Roku.  We love that show!

  • Brighthouse is/was our cable internet provider but it got bought by Spectrum a few months back, who has now taken to calling my cell phone every day, probably to upsell me, so I blocked them on my cell phone. I've heard that they don't do contracts and were cheaper so I was wondering if I would pay less for our internet if I contacted them.  However, I just found a site with the following information that was updated last week and I'll stick with what we have right now. Our speed isn't as good but it's good enough and we pay less than the regular price will be after the 1 year promo. I hate those deals with small print, they're all so scammy. So we'll stick with our regular plan which hopefully will keep on being offered.  We're not under contract either and we don't need nor want home phone or cable TV.

  • I clipped all of the cats' nails. I had some trouble with a couple of them (Princess hates anyone holding her or even thinking of holding her and fights it with her all might!) so Youngest Son stepped in to help and distract them.  I only did the front paws for the kittens, all four paws for the more sedate older cats. It helps that I caught most of them while they had been napping!
  • To reward the kittens, I gave them each a Greenies treat from the bag I got at a steep discount yesterday (tuna flavor, I'm not sure how that's supposed to help their breath!) and got their favorite toy out: the long bendy stick that has a small bell and multicolored feathers at the end. They go c-r-a-z-y for it so I let them jump and run and pounce after and on it for a while before putting it away in its hiding place again.  I think Princess will soon forget about the ignominy of getting her front nails clipped and may return to cuddle before bedtime :) (update: it's 9:34 p.m. and she hasn't returned yet...)

  • But Explorer did come to cuddle instead of her!

  • It doesn't look like I'll be exercising today so I went ahead and earned the mobile MS Rewards.  I'm 4 credits away from being able to order a $5 Amazon gift card.

  • Tabby Kitty just brought down his 2nd sock of the day. I was hoping that he was over that since I hadn't noticed any new socks downstairs in a couple of day, but nope. At least he 's playing with it instead of just dropping it there and never touching it again (until I bring it back upstairs because he brings it back downstairs!). It's like he's feathering a nest with socks but his nest is my whole downstairs...
Sock #1

Sock #2 (also ignore the basket of ironing that I have to do!)

And here he is looking quite innocent.
  • Explorer is the mellowest cat but also very high strung. Is that possible?  Like here, he's relaxing near me while I'm scratching his chin and decides to start cleaning his back paw... he's completely relaxed. And then Tabby Kitty makes a little noise down on the ground and Explorer shoots out like an arrow (scratching my arm in the process) goes to hide!  He did that this morning too when we were cuddling in bed. Each time he scares the poop out of me because I'm pretty high strung myself, hahaha.
Very dignified position, isn't it?!
  • The flowers on the back patio really need to be watered because it hasn't rained in over 24 hours and it's been quite hot. But I'm hoping it'll rain overnight so I don't have to go out there and do it myself, lol.

  • I was reading something online and was reminded, again, that paying for stuff on Amazon with Amazon Rewards when you have an Amazon Visa card that pays 5% back in Rewards makes no financial sense. And yet that's what I do because I love seeing those "$0 due" when I place my orders!  But I should apply the points to my credit card balance and earn 5% back on ALL my orders instead.  Arrgh, I really need to do this, it's so stupid to focus on the "freebies" when it's actually costing me money in form of rewards that I'm NOT earning.

  • For dinner I made Mock Zuppa Toscana Soup.  I used the turkey andouille sausage from Aldi (4 links only, I froze the remaining 2 it was $2.49 for 6 links),  white wine from Aldi ($2.99 a bottle), collard greens bought on 50% off clearance at Save A Lot ($1.25 a 32 oz bag), Better Than Bouillon Reduced Sodium (I got it for free at Publix with a gift card I had won), minced garlic from Dollar Tree, 4 Yukon potatoes that had been in my pantry for several weeks.  Instead of cream, I used the 4 little pots of half and half I got with my free coffee at Wawa yesterday. To accompany the soup, I used 2 pitas from Aldi that I had bought several weeks ago on clearance and frozen. I cut them in halves.  The soup was very spicy, I think the next time I use that type of sausage, I will omit the red pepper flakes!

  • After dinner, Greg and I watched the 1st episode of the 4th season of The Great British Baking Show. They made Jaffa cakes! I looooove Jaffa cakes!  Now I want to make some!  Oooh, and I guess we're late to the party because episodes 2 and 3 have already aired so now we have dates for tomorrow night and Sunday nights (because I can't binge-watch this show while I'm on a diet, there's so much salivating I can do in one night without succumbing to temptation.)
You can also find those in the imported foods section of some supermarkets, they're called "Pims" and are made by Nabisco.  They come in Orange or Raspberry flavor. They're my very favorite cookies.  Publix usually carries them.

  • My daughter's BFF drove to Busch Gardens so I didn't have to pay for the gas (or wear and tear on the Focus)
  • A survey reward code from Wawa for a free drink
  • I told daughter about the BOGO sale on dog food coupled with the available BOGO coupon that will result in dog food freebies for her BFF to redeem at the shelter for volunteer hours toward a college scholarship
  • Two free Sodapalooza refills for my son and myself
  • I always forget to mention this but Greg gets 4 free Sodapalooza refills for himself every day now that he has my daughter's cup too and that there's a RaceTrac station near our home AND his office!
  • A free Monterey Chicken hot grill roller item from RaceTrac, with a survey reward code

  • I lost weight again, woohoo!
  • Breakfast was my usual egg white omelet with onion, zucchini, and spinach, and a cup of papaya.
  • I had my morning snack with lunch, my usual strawberry shake.
  • Lunch was a chicken wrap made with a whole wheat tortilla, 2 oz of grilled chicken breast, light mayo and spinach. I also had a side salad of Romaine lettuce and cucumber with some light balsamic vinaigrette, and a cup of papaya.
  • Afternoon snack was a slice of homemade whole wheat bread, toasted, with some Earth Balance with Olive Oil spread melted on top and 8 Thin Wheat crackers from Aldi.
  • Dinner was a full bowl of Mock Zuppa Toscana and half a pita. Later on, I had a Fit & Active yogurt.

How do you handle lifestyle creep?  Do you send your raise amount to savings, increase your debt repayment accordingly, or do you just leave it in your checking account and spend it on everyday stuff?

Summer 2017 Road Trip ~ Day 9: Plymouth, NC to Atlanta, GA (Saturday, June 10, 2017)

Not much happened today, we drove all day.  We didn't really take any pictures. My daughter took one of the SC sign and that's it.

I had a bad night.  People across the hall from us kept on talking in the hallway and letting the doors slam.  I asked them to be quiet at about 10:30 p.m. and they looked at me as if I had 2 heads, and then they kept on letting the door(s) slam until 2:00 a.m.  I couldn't call the Front Desk on them because by the time I got up to see who had done that, the door had already closed, but I know it was the folks staying across from us and a few doors down.  I complained to the Front Desk about it this morning, more to vent than anything else.  It was the most expensive hotel night (aside from tonight's) so I was very annoyed.  The door slamming resumed at 7:45 a.m. so I went to get breakfast for my daughter and me and brought it back to the bedroom because if I had ran into the people making the noise in the breakfast area, blood was going to be shed!

We left Plymouth, NC at about 9:15ish this morning.  Looking back, I should have tried planning the weekend in advance, that would have avoided us driving so far East to then backtrack back to Atlanta!

She didn't take another picture of the Georgia sign since we had already taken one...
It was a long day today and we were tired when we got into Atlanta.  I drove for most of the way but my daughter drove for a couple of hours too.  We played Disney movie songs from Spotify almost the whole way and I think I cried for at least 80% of the trip because of the memories of singing the songs with Oldest Son when he was little (I still can't hear certain songs without tearing up immediately). Some songs just make me sob uncontrollably!  My daughter also cried during some songs that have special meaning for her so we were a pair of blubbering idiots today, also laughing a lot, though.   But tonight my eyes are doubly tired and I can't wait to go to sleep.

That being said, the hotel is full and they gave us the room right next to the side door to the pool and we share a wall with the staircase. There are kids running in the halls and the staircase, being loud, and letting the door slam!  I've already talked to the front desk to ask to be switched to another room but they said they were completely full and to let them know if there continues to be noise.  It's 9:30 p.m. and the pool is supposed to close at 9:00 p.m. so hopefully the noise will die down now.  It's just infuriating that I'm spending another $150 on a hotel room and we can't sleep.  But the bed is really comfy.

Traffic around Atlanta, even on a Saturday, was bad.  I'm so glad I don't live here. I would never want to live in a large city.

For lunch we stopped at Subway and then ate in the car, and for dinner, there is a Zaxby's right next door to the hotel and  we were too tired to drive anywhere else so we just walked over and ordered our food to go so we could eat it at the hotel.  I got a salad, but I hadn't calculated my food intake yet so I went over my calories by about 400 calories today (yikes) and I'm too tired to go exercise. Oh well.  Also I didn't drink my 8 cups. As a matter of fact, I have gotten close but no cigar for several days in a row. I'll have to be stricter with myself once I'm home.

Greg didn't go fishing after all. He slept in and went to Lowe's to get wood to finish the reparations on the front porch. He didn't get to seal or paint the wood, though, as it started raining so he hopes he'll be able to do that tomorrow.  Youngest Son mowed the backyard for him and will mow the front yard tomorrow.

Oldest Son texted me back tonight to ask if I wanted to go to Epcot on Tuesday, but a look at the weather predictions showed 60% chance of rain on Tuesday but only 30% on Wednesday so we agreed to go on Wednesday instead. He thinks he might be able to have them wave me into the parking lot if I drive right behind him so we'll meet at a gas station beforehand and will try that. It would save me $20.

Speaking of which, I have to pay $25 to park at Six Flags tomorrow.  What a ripoff!  I downloaded their free app so we can get updated on ride wait times, etc.  Just looking at the pictures of the roller coasters, I got a little nauseous and frightened. I used to loooooove roller coasters but now I'm a big chicken. The idea of riding a roller coaster is exciting until I get faced with actually doing it and now I'm thinking that I'll be holding my daughter's purse while she rides them on her own, lol. We'll see.  My plan is still to drive at least 3 hours after we leave the park so we're that much closer to being home so I hope we won't be too tired... and that I don't lose my eyeglasses. I'll need to remember to put them in a locker with my fanny pack and have my daughter guide me as if I were blind after that.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Groundhog Day ~ Thursday 6/22/17

Does anyone else feel like they're in the movie Groundhog Day and every day is starting to blend into the others?  I feel like that this morning. Probably an after-effect of having been on vacation with different plans every day.

It's Thursday but it feels like a Friday to me. All the same, I'm supposed to be going grocery shopping this morning but I don't feel like it. I do need to go though, we're out of yogurt, berries and a couple of other things. Bah.

I had planned on making Mock Zuppa Toscana for dinner tonight but my freezer is full and organized like a Tetris game and the sausages are... somewhere at the bottom, probably.  I think the easiest thing will be to buy a pack of sausages at Aldi today. But the uncertainty of what we'll be having for dinner now is preventing me from planning my food intake completely.  Maybe I should plan on just making spaghetti and meatballs for everybody and I'll have some leftover chili. Don't mind me, I'm thinking outloud.

It must be very humid outside because my windows are completely fogged up and I can't see outside. I guess it's a good thing that my walk with my friend got cancelled!

When I went outside later on, I realized that it had rained last night.
I saw a headline that someone is throwing rocks and other projectiles from an overpass over the 414 down onto cars, but I couldn't read the article since it was behind a paywall. Greg takes the 414 to work, but he couldn't think of an overpass on his route. Still, now I worry about that.   Sometimes I wish we had cameras and face detection technology everywhere so all the scoff-laws and scumbags could be apprehended and disposed of.  But that's the irrational me speaking.  I was telling Greg about it and telling him to be extra cautious and he relayed the story of his dad's station wagon getting hit by a bowling bowl back when he commuted to Detroit. Luckily it landed in the back of the station wagon, through the angled back window but if the time was better for the perpetrators, it would have killed him!

Well on that cheery note, I need to think of my day ahead...  Daughter is mostly going to stay home today.  Youngest Son is volunteering this afternoon and the activity will take place in the next town over first so I'll drive him and pick him up (maybe I can get daughter to do it for me) and then he'll run his D&D Club at our library.

  • Go grocery shopping DONE
  • Pick up kitten food DONE
  • Stop by Petco to redeem free coupons DONE
  • Stop by Panera to have $10 bonus gift card problem remedied DONE
  • Plan my food intake for the day   DONE
  • Exercise 
  • Transfer money to New Car Savings (waiting for Greg's next check so I can confirm his raise amount)
  • Post trip pictures on French blog
  • Write and mail postcards to my mom and great aunt
  • Edit another Vacation post DONE LAST NIGHT
  • Back up all pictures to my external drive
  • Figure out where I was in the process of backing up my external drive!
  • Clip cats' claws
  • Pull weeds 
  • Make hummingbird nectar
  • Find two books to donate to The Little Library when I go to the eye doctor
  • Check to see if I need to purchase more Prevident toothpaste
  • Input all receipts into my spreadsheets DONE
  • Balance the checkbook
  • Wash Youngest Son's bedding with mine
  • Cut up Greg's old sheet for rags
  • Iron Greg's business clothes
  • Vacuum the downstairs
  • Mop kitchen
  • Find a bed for me (IKEA?)
  • Clean upstairs litterbox 
  • Bake banana bread
  • Figure out what to do with other egg yolks


  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • I started Swagbucks videos right away so I could try to meet my goal despite being away for a few hours today. My 1st goal is 60 SB.  I also earned the mobile Microsoft Rewards on my phone while my laptop was booting up!

  • Having cats isn't cheap but at least it's saving me money in exterminator fees... it seems that the heat and rain has awakened all the bugs that we hadn't seen for many months and every morning I find dead beetles in the kitchen that obviously the cats had been playing with.  This morning there also was a large palmetto bug that had a bite taken out of it. Ugh. That reminds me not to accept any kisses from the kittens today!

  • I'm thinking I might take the Focus to go shopping, that way I can fill up the tank at the cheaper Clermont station. My daughter is planning on going to Busch Gardens with a new friend tomorrow.  Taking the Focus will save me money since the gas mileage is so much better.

  • Hooray, the nCrave "All You Can Eat" videos are up so now I can earn SB automatically. I just need to remember NOT to close the laptop when I go shopping!  Yesterday they were still running when it was time to go to bed, I had earned a total of 250 SB for the day!  Update: they were still running when I came back from shopping and I reached my 2nd daily goal, yay! 

  • Back when the kittens were little, the vet had given me samples of Advantage II treatment for fleas for them. All my cats are indoor cats and I don't like putting chemicals on them if they don't need them, so I only use the flea treatment when we spot the occasional flea (we bring them in from the backyard, I guess).  Well, they grew too big for the dosage so I exchanged the samples for samples of the next size up. Now they're too big for that dosage too so I'm taking those samples back to the vet's this morning so they can give them to other people. We'll see if they have samples for 10+ lbs.  I was looking at New Kitty interact with Explorer this morning. Remember when she used to hiss at them so much when they were babies? Now Explorer is bigger than her and she was just touching noses with him and not making a noise when he came to see her. It would have been nice if she had been that chill when they were little, she who had just had kittens herself a year or so before, it would have saved us some stress! But now all is well, everyone is getting along splendidly.  As a matter of fact, I wish the older cats would kick some younger cat's butt instead of letting them eat their reduced-calorie food!  Sometimes I wonder what Mean Kitty survives on because she doesn't even bother getting up to eat anymore. She lets them eat her stuff and I guess eats what remains?  This morning I put her bowl next to her on the couch so she would at least have a chance!  She's not thin by any stretch of the imagination so she's getting nourishment from somewhere.

  • I should be exercising before I go shopping but right now I feel tired (not sure why, as I slept 8 hours) so I might skip that today. Or maybe I can make myself bike this afternoon...

  • I was checking the French news headlines and they said that yesterday had been the hottest day  in France since 1945! My mom's AC unit isn't supposed to get there until Wednesday.   And now I feel terrible not to have even given a thought to my great-aunt about this.  I hope she's OK.  Her son and DIL check in on her, but she's turning 90 this year and older people are at a highest risk during heatwaves.  School is still in session over there and most buildings don't have air conditioning so everyone is suffering. If I ever move out of Florida, I'm going to make sure we have AC even if we end up in Alaska, darn it.

  • I finished earned the rest of my Microsoft Rewards credits. I'm very close to being able to claim another $5 Amazon gift card!

  • The kittens have been naughty this morning.. eating the rest of a loaf of bread that Greg had left on the table!  Naughty kittens.  The bag was a waste as they chewed through it.

  • So I left for my shopping excursion at 9 a.m. and I was back by 11:45 a.m.  I took the Focus, as planned. Here is what I did:
    • Save A Lot: 
      • I wanted to get more whole wheat tortillas there since I'd gotten them for $1.49 for 10 the last time (50 cents cheaper than at Aldi's) but today they only had the more expensive Mission brand. Poop.  
      • I ended up getting a papaya (on sale at $0.79/lb), a dozen eggs ($0.79), a small jar of bay leaves ($1.39), a huge container of oregano ($2.79, I thought it was a very good deal seeing that my oregano plant cost me $3.99 and it's already flowering!), a pound of lentils for $0.99, and two containers of sugar cookies marked down 50% (so $1.25 each). 
      • My OOP was $11.40 and I charged it to Amazon Visa for 1% back in Rewards. I should have used one of those Visa prepaid cards that I've been buying from my son, but I always forget about them!

    • Vet's:
      • I returned the samples of flea medication and asked if they had any for the 10+ lb size but they didn't.
      • I picked up the 4 bags of kitten food that I had ordered. My OOP was $75.96 and I charged it to Amex for 1% back in Rewards.

    • RaceTrac:
      • I gassed up the Focus @ $2.149/gallon. Unfortunately, the mechanism that stops the pump when the tank is full didn't work and, once again, the car and I were splashed by gasoline!  Luckily I mostly jumped out of the way on time so only the back of my bare legs, my socks and my shoes were splashed.  Still, grrr because now I had to smell like gasoline and I paid for gas that ended up on the ground!
      • So I ran inside to let the attendant know. She was kind of apathetic and said she'd tell her manager and apologized but that was the extent of it.
      • Back in the car, I used baby wipes that I had given my daughter to keep in the car to wipe off my legs. I could have used the bathroom at the gas station but I didn't even think about it!
      • At least I earned rewards on my RaceTrac app and gained a receipt that I will redeem for a freebie once I've taken the survey.

    • Petco:
      • I had a coupon for a free bag of cat treats, up to $4.00, that they had mailed me for New Kitty's birthday.  I was all set to get treats that I would then donate to my BFF, but then I spotted "Greenies" treats that clean teeth and supposedly help their breath too. Princess has very bad breath so I decided to spend a little money and keep the treats for her.  I paid for the $2.13 OOP with my Amex for 1% back in Rewards and earned some points on my Petco Pal Rewards program.
      • Then I purchased a pressed mint leaves treat that was on clearance for $3.48. It's also used to treat bad breath in cats. I figured Princess needs all the help she can, hahaha. But I bought it mostly because I had to buy *something* in order to be able to use the "free 2.5 lb of (I forget the brand) of cat food" coupon that I had printed from the Petco website.  Again, I'm going to be selfish and keep everything. I had considered buying a 60-cent can of wet cat food and then get the free bag and donate everything to my BFF, but as I said Princess needs help with her breath  and the dry cat food ended up not being crap ($9.99 a bag!) so I'm keeping it too as a back-up bag for hurricane season.  My OOP was $4.43 and I also charged it to Amex for 1% back in Rewards and presented my PetPals reward card to earn points.

      • While I was looking for the cat food, I realized that they sold 7 lb bags of Royal Canin kitten food for $31.99 and there was a coupon for $10 off $50 in Royal Canin cat food available too.  So It would have been cheaper to buy the kitten food at Petco. Royal Canin is the brand that I use!  Arrgh.

    • Panera's:
      • I needed to talk to a manager about the $10 bonus gift card that I had received back in May when I had purchased a $50 gift card during their promotion, since the cashier had actually failed to activate the $10 bonus gift card, as I found out when I tried to use it during our vacation!
      • The manager asked me if I was planning on ordering anything and I had already decided to order the full Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken (to go). which was $9.49 since it would have been over $10 with the tax and I would have just turned around and used that $10 gift card (it expires on 6/30!).  So I ordered that and he didn't charge me tax at all so I had no overage to pay. Woohoo!
      • I presented My Panera Rewards card to get the credit for my visit (to earn a Reward).

    • CVS:
      • The 12-ct cases of Diet Dr. Pepper were on sale at 3 for $9 this week and I was really hoping that my chat with the manager last week about them always running out of Diet Dr. Peppe eachr fast had produced results. You know what? It had!  I bought 6 cases.
      • Then I got a box of Very Berry Cheerios as it was on sale for $2.88 a box and I had a $1.00 printable manufacturer coupon and a $1.00 CVS coupon that had printed at the kiosk.
      • I also got a box of Fiber One cereal, on sale at $2.99 because the Betty Crocker diabetic cookbook that I ordered from Amazon has baked good recipes that are made with that cereal.
      • Lastly, I bought a 1/2 gallon of whole milk, on sale for $1.99.
      • Aside from the coupon for the Cheerios, I redeemed $20 in ECBs ($5.00 from my last shopping trip and $15.00 from the 2 CVS Advisory Panel surveys I took recently)
      • My OOP was $4.19 and I used my CVS gift card (earned via our American Express Rewards) to get it all for free. Woohoo!

      • As I was leaving, I noticed a flyer that contained CVS coupons so I grabbed a couple of copies.

    • Aldi:
      • I was very happy that most of my purchases were healthy, woohoo!
      • And excited that the strawberries were $1.19/lb so I bought 4 lbs and also 4 containers of blueberries.
      • Instead of buying whole wheat tortillas (10 for $1.99), I decided to try the Fit & Active Multi-Grain with Flax flatbread (6 for $2.29) because whole wheat is the main ingredient and they're 100 calories vs. 130 calories for the tortillas.
      • I stocked up on Fit & Active Light Balsamic Vinaigrette because I wasn't sure that they would always have it (I bought 2 bottles at $1.29 each) and the sugar free French Vanilla non-dairy creamer ($1.59 each, I also bought 2 containers)
      • I did buy sausages for the soup tonight, but I got the turkey andouille sausages that were 6 sausages for $2.49 instead of the Chicken Chipotle sausages that I was going to get (4 sausages for $2.99). The turkey sausages are cheaper and healthier!
      • I spent $70.12 total and I charged it to my Amex for 3% back in Rewards.
      • Food items were $54.53 and non food items (toilet paper, cat litter) were $15.59.

    • Wawa:
      • I went to redeem my survey reward coupon for a free any size coffee. I picked a 24 oz French Vanilla coffee. I also grabbed 4 cups of half and half (I will use them instead of cream in the soup tonight) and 4 packets of Equal.
      • I also got a free sample size cup of hazelnut coffee.

      • They had no cardboard sleeves for the coffee, which was extremely hot! By the time I got to the register, there thankfully was no line because my hands were burning something fierce!  I asked the cashier whether they had stopped providing the sleeves but she apologized and said they were probably just out of them. She suggested using napkins (there was a dispenser right there so I got a bunch) or a drink carrier that she kept at the register but I felt the napkins weren't as wasteful. She apologized again and gave me a survey card with which I'll be able to earn another drink freebie!  Woohoo! I will definitely take the survey as she was very pleasant.

    • I had planned on going to Publix but in the end, I skipped it as I didn't really need the things on my short list there.
    • My last stop was a doozy. I stopped at the RaceTrac station near my house to get Sodapalooza refills for Youngest Son and myself and also redeem an app coupon for a free medium fountain drink because it expired today.
      • So I was standing in line with 3 full drink cups in my arms and also my phone in hand to redeem my coupon.
      • There was an older guy in line in front of me, who didn't have anything in his hands at all.
      • In front of him was a lady who had her foot in a cast and had one of those little trolleys where your knee rests on the trolley so you don't put weight on your foot. She had a child with her and they were checking out.  Apparently either her child pulled the candy that was displayed under the counter down or her trolley got caught in it, I'm not sure, but suddenly the whole shelf of candy was coming down on the floor. Not just the candy boxes but the whole shelf actually detached itself from the display and was sliding down and spilling everything. The kid was trying to stem the flood and the lady, with her one knee in the wheeled trolley was trying to bend down to support the shelf until the store manager could come help, which was taking a while.  
      • Meanwhile the guy in front of me didn't budge. Looked at the whole thing, the lady precariously balanced on one leg while the other could have gone from under her at any time because it was on wheels, and didn't even make an attempt to help.
      • My hands and arms were full of my stuff and there was nowhere close by to put it down so I nudge him and said "can't you help her so she doesn't fall and reinjure her foot?" He didn't turn around or reply at all!  I thought that perhaps he didn't speak English but I nudged him again and said "could you please help her so she doesn't fall?!"
      • And that jerk turns to me and says in perfect English "Why don't YOU help her?!" so I showed him my armful and said "I can't, my hands are full!" so he said "Well, then put your stuff down!" so... I called him an ASSHOLE to his face. Meanwhile, an employee had helped the lady who straightened out and looked at me and we rolled our eyes at each other. The manager called the next person to the counter and everyone at the station acted as if nothing had happened.  The asshole asked for a pack of cigarettes (it figures!) but was told they don't carry that brand anymore so I snickered out loud. He didn't make eye contact after that and it's a good thing because I think I would have kneed him if he had said anything to me. That asshole. Ohh, I'm still so unbelievably pissed off about it!
      • As I left the station (before him since he was still waffling about what cigarettes to buy!), I held the door open with my elbow for another guy of about the same age who was just coming in to the station. He grabbed the door and said "Well you're being quite the good girl, aren't you?!". Let me tell you, usually that kind of talk (I'm going to be 50, I'm not a "girl"!) pisses me off but I could tell that guy was genuinely thankful so I smiled at him and said very loudly "Well, I AM, AREN'T I?!" and we smiled at each other and he thanked me again. Let me tell you, that really helped end my shopping trip on a better note.
      • However, you know that I soon as I walked in the door at home, I was recounting my encounter to my daughter, LOL.
      • I hope that asshole gets lung cancer and dies a painful and slow death.  I still can't believe the nerve of the guy. I mean, he could have said "I have a bad back" or something to that effect if there was a legitimate reason for his lack of action, but he was just an ass.  

  • Back home, the kids helped me unload the car and my daughter and I split the Panera salad for lunch.

  • I gave the mint chew to Princess, who licked it a couple of times and then abandoned it. Tabby Kitten, however, loved it!

I wonder if he ate the whole thing because I can't find it anywhere now...
  • Meanwhile, I had left my salad on the arm of the futon while I put something away. When I got back to the living room, I noticed Princess and Explorer huddled together over something on the ground and I figured that they had gotten into my salad and stolen the chicken. But no... they're truly French kittens and they had stolen my chunk of French bread and were busy chewing on it!  LOL.
Sleeping off the French bread...
  • I ate my salad and then it was time to take Youngest Son to his volunteering gig. I suggested he drives there to get some practice and he agreed. So I asked him if he wanted to try driving the Focus (stick shift but Greg gave him a couple of lessons while I was on my trip) and he wasn't sure so I had him drive it around the neighborhood first. He did fine but needs more practice with the clutch/accelerator magic before I feel comfortable taking him out on a highway so we drove home and got the SUV (automatic) and he drove us to the Civic Center.  The librarian wasn't there yet and the parking lot was empty so I had him practice parking the SUV into the narrow spaces. He needs more practice!  We agreed that we're going to try having him practice driving the stick shift at least once a day on the days the Focus is available.

  • Meanwhile, my daughter went to her BFF's to spend the afternoon there.

  • I submitted my receipts to Ibotta and MobiSave, which credited my accounts immediately. Only 35 cents, but better than nothing!

  • I started inputting my receipts in my spreadsheets.

  • When it was time to pick up Youngest Son from his volunteering gig, I drove the Expedition.  Everyone was already gone when I got there, but my friend the librarian had waited with my son. Awww. Her daughter was also there, she was in my daughter's graduating class, so we discussed what she is doing now.

  • I had my son drives us home and we took a back way that is much longer so he could get extra driving practice. He did great!

  • Twenty minutes later, I had him drive us to the library so he could attend his D&D Club. Greg will pick him up on his way home from work since he has a lot of things to carry.

  • I finished entering all my receipts into my spreadsheets. I spent $67.92 out of my $100 grocery budget for the week.

  • I entered my weight into WGBRHC and earned 20 BR points.

  • A 2.5 bag of Whole Earth Farms cat food (with any purchase) from Petco
  • A Strawberry Poppyseed salad with Chicken from Panera's (with $10 bonus gift card from a May promotion)
  • 2 boxes of cereal, 1/2 a gallon of milk and 6 cases of Diet Dr. Pepper from CVS, after sales, coupons, ECBs and CVS gift card earned with our American Express Rewards.
  • A 24-oz French Vanilla coffee from Wawa, with survey reward coupon
  • A sample size of Hazelnut coffee from Wawa
  • A survey card from Wawa which will earn me another free 24 oz coffee
  • A medium (24 oz) fountain soda from RaceTrac with app coupon
  • 2 Sodapalooza refills (free refills through 7/31)

  • I lost a tiny bit of weight between yesterday and today. I'll take it!

  • Breakfast was my usual egg whites with onions, zucchini and spinach and 1 cup of papaya chunks.

  • Lunch was 1/2 a Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken from Panera and 1/2 a chunk of French bread.

  • Afternoon snack was 8 Thin Wheat crackers from Aldi and my homemade strawberry shake.

  • I have entered this time of the month when I'm hungry all the time.  I'm surprised because I didn't have that problem last month but today I've been hungry.  So I treated myself to a stick of light string cheese. It's an extra exchange of meat, but oh well. I needed it!

  • Dinner was a cup of turkey chili with beans and a whole wheat hamburger bun and 3/4 cup of blueberries. Later on, I had a yogurt, 8 more Thin Wheat crackers and 2 tbsp Neufchatel cheese. No wonder I was feeling hungry, I still had a lot of food to eat for the day!


I didn't have either of my good cameras with me, so I had to content myself with my phone to take a picture of the pond with blooming lotus flowers right behind the vet's office.

What is your favorite flower?