It's foggy this morning and very overcast. Bleh. The good news is that it feels cool-ish so I have been able to open the windows. It's now 7:32 a.m.
Tonight is when Youngest Son will compete in our district's Optimist Club Oratorical Contest. I'm sure he's anxious to put that behind him as I'm forcing him to compete. As I have mentioned previously, this is a contest that doesn't draw a lot of applicants so the odds of him winning a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place are very good. The prizes are Amazon gift cards (or were, the previous 2 years when my daughter competed and won) and last year one young men who completely fumbled his speech still won 3rd place and $80, as there were only 3 contestants. I expect he'll be back this year. He had shown amazing poise and I wish him well! I hope Youngest Son will do well. He is reading his speech and speaks too fast, but it's also a timed event so having him slow down means he needs to rephrase some sentences so they're not so verbose and, at this point, he doesn't want to change anything. As I said, he just wants it to be over :) If he won, he would go on to regionals. Am I a bad mom to think he's not going to win? LOL. Anyhoo, he and I will be headed to The Villages tonight. That's where the contest is taking place. If you're not aware, The Villages is a huge retirement community in North Lake County/South Marion County. It's very conservative, for the most part, and a frequent campaign stop for various conservative politicians. It's also pretty wealthy. None of this has a bearing on the contest itself, the Optimist Club does commendable charitable work and everyone I've met from the club was very friendly and supportive of the kids entering the contests. It's just background information to explain why I'm talking about "The Villages" as if you knew what I was talking about.
After he's done with this contest, it'll be time to get Youngest Son registered to start taking French I via Florida Virtual School. FLVS, as it's known, is free to Florida residents. It allows kids who can't make it to school, or homeschooled kids, or kids who want to take classes not offered at their own school (like French at our high school, for instance), online and have it counted as an official high school credit. He will complete 2 years as most colleges require 2 consecutive years of foreign language classes. Note to self: I probably should contact the Guidance department to find out which AP classes are available to him as a sophomore next year and when the deadline is to apply to take the PERT test to see if he qualifies for dual enrollment. Or have him go to Guidance to discuss that. I should just do that and stop hovering over him. It's just hard because Greg's daughter and my daughter were both very self-motivated in finding out the information they needed whereas my boys have been just content to not do it unless they were "strongly encouraged" to and even then, I had to step in otherwise nothing would have been done about certain things. Youngest Son is a mix of the two. I think he definitely would make the appointment with Guidance, but I do need to tell him to do that and then check on the progress and outcome.
I took my library book to bed with me last night, inspired by a comment Nan had left about reading before bedtime. I was tired but felt that I could benefit from a little reading. However, as soon as I got into bed and settled, I realized that I was far more tired than I thought, and didn't read one word!
I slept well, but not enough. The overcast weather this morning is further making me sleepy. I don't know if I'll do much at all today! I was standing in line at RaceTrac earlier this morning and my eyes saw a package of bacon jerky, which my brain read as "dragon jerky" and it took me a few seconds to think "wait, dragon jerky?! what?!" and look at the package again. Sigh. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going senile.
I just realized that there aren't any birds chirping outside right now. That's unusual.
I'm supposed to get an Amazon package from UPS today. I'm curious to see if I'll get it or if they'll pretend, once again, that they couldn't find my house.
Time to see what is on my plate for today!
TO DO LIST
Fold the laundryDONE Put the laundry awayDONE Research state park for a hike this weekendDONE
- Give a driving lesson to my son with the stick shift
- Clean bathroom ceiling
Make my bedDONE Earn Microsoft Rewards creditsDONE Input weight into WHBRHCDONE
- Set 15 minute timer and try to accomplish as many chores as possible in that time
Do last night's dishesDONE
- Do the dishes by hand, drain/dry in the dishwasher (AFTER DINNER)
Watch "Spy in the Wild"DONE Sweep/mop the downstairs bathroomDONE Vacuum Greg's bedroomSwept it
- Vacuum Youngest Son's bedroom
- Make a dermatologist appointment for Youngest Son
- Back up external drive to its own external drive!
- Start a list of the electric outlets that I want to get replaced
- Do my foot exercises 2X
- Exercise at least 35 minutes on my bike (weekdays only)
- Read one of the library books in progress
Clean upstairs litter boxdidn't need to be cleaned
- Add Osmocote plant food to rose and hibiscus bushes
- Put away the clipped articles from Kiplinger's magazine
- Read new issue of Kiplinger's in progress
- Wash kitchen windows
- Inventory the pantry
- Inventory the freezers
- Purge the top drawer of the file cabinet
- Take RaceTrac surveys
- Take my measurements
Look into transplanting hyacinths in garden- I composted them
- Scrub patio pavers with bleach (wear old clothes and shoes, gloves and goggles)
- Finish decluttering exercise room shelves
- Move coffee table back to living room
- Call my bank to consolidate my IRA accounts
- Schedule an outing to P.E.A.R. Park and ask them about the trees from my backyard or look at the Audubon site that Pixel shared.
- Write letter to my great aunt, with pictures
- Mail letter to my great aunt
- Update French blog
- Mend sliding door window screen
- Finalize and mail letter to UPS CEO (add Amazon's comparison)
- Plant and water the tree
- Purge the coupon organizer I'll do it this weekend as I realized I have quite a few coupons expiring on 3/3 and I want to make sure I don't purge something that I might need between now and then.
- Make sure I get answer from the Educational Foundation director re: Daughter's scholarship after what paperwork to fill out she'll probably answer next week since they have a big event his weekend
- Finish calculating our Net Worth in progress, waiting for new mortgage statement
- Track my and Greg's IRAs for the IRS
- Do the shredding
- Download all February pictures from phone, Canon camera, and Panasonic camera to external drive
- Trim cats' nails
Clean the downstairs bathroomDONE Make Greg's bedDONE
- Mail Boxtops to former elementary school
- Get the hummingbird feeders out of storage
- Make hummingbird nectar
Input location of contest into my GPSDONE
- Youngest Son packed a lunch to take to school.
- He finished a box of cereal at breakfast so I saved the inner bag to reuse it as a freezer bag and clipped the Boxtop for Education. I need to mail those to our former elementary school as I think the Spring Drive is going on right now.
- I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.
- Despite the fog and a lot more traffic than usual, school drop-off went well.
- I stopped by RaceTrac to redeem a survey reward code for a free caramel salted frosting filled muffin for Youngest Son's after-school snack. The station manager was my cashier and he's always super friendly, which is appreciated.
- I took advantage of a cool morning to open the windows downstairs. I'm still not opening the sliding door since the kittens damaged the screen, so I'm opening the curtains and the large window in the exercise room instead. There is a window seat there and a clear view of the bird feeder so the kitties like that spot. Our high today will be 82F/27.7C. Woah, I just looked at the weather app's prediction for the next 10 days and the high 80s temps have disappeared and now we're looking at temperatures in the 70s and low 80s for the next 10 days, woohoo!
- I'm running some Swagbucks videos. My 1st goal is 90 SB. Af of 8 a.m., I'm at 1569 SB so I only need about 700 more to qualify for a $25 gift card. You can do it, Nathalie! The January bonuses should be released soon but I don't think I'll get much.
- I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits (Edge bonus!) and entered my weight into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices (20 BR points).
- I folded the laundry while watching episode 3 of "Spy in the Wild" on PBS and, as usual, the kittens "helped".
- Tabby Kitty was particularly interested in the "Spy in the Wild" show.
- I've identified a new state park that I'd like to go visit, since Greg leaves me in charge of organizing our visits. We've visited pretty much most of the closest state parks so now we're going to have to venture a little further. This one is an hour and 20 minutes away, in Hillsborough County, Alafia River State Park. It promises very interesting terrain since it used to be a phosphate mine, especially for mountain bikers. The maps posted on the site didn't make it very clear which trails were suitable for hikers so I called the Ranger Station. Yes, I, Nathalie, made a phone call. It's almost unheard of, these days! The ranger was very friendly and advised me to stop by the Ranger Station when we go and the ranger on duty will be happy to point out which trails are more suitable for hiking.
- Yesterday, I asked Greg whether he still wanted to go back to Hillsborough River State Park this weekend to go fishing because we'd have to leave very early (he wants to fish "early" in the morning and the park opens at 8 a.m.) but he said we might buy the kayaks and then go practice first. By that, he means practicing fishing from the kayaks as he's not sure how he would maneuver the fishing rod and equipment while sitting in a kayak without falling over. So we might do that on Saturday and then go fishing on Sunday, I guess, in which case we wouldn't go to Alafia River State Park until a couple of weeks from now since next weekend he wanted to go back to Fort Cooper for the Second Seminole War Skirmish Reenactment.
- I was starved at 11 a.m. (PBJs for breakfast have too many calories but they do allow me to wait until noon to have lunch!) so I had... carbs: the leftover spaghetti from 2 nights ago with the rest of the free jar of Barilla pesto, and the last 2 slices of free garlic bread. So it was a very frugal, if not healthy, meal. I don't care, my period should have started by now and I want carbs all the darn time. Arrgh.
- The McDonald's coupon for a free McCafé item with any purchase is back in my app but expiring in 3 days so I guess we'll be getting Greg another free Shamrock Shake on Saturday and I'll get a Diet Coke :)
- The UPS package was delivered today as UPS seems to have miraculously decided that they can find my house, after all.
- I didn't put on a timer but did several domestic chores back to back as I had a surge of energy. I still haven't done the dishes, though.
- I printed a couple of coupons that Betty Crocker emailed me.
- For dinner, I precooked chipotle chicken sausages and corn on the cob. It's not a great dinner but Greg and my daughter will only have to reheat it. I think I'll take my son out after the competition, probably drive-through though.
- My son won 3rd place at the Oratorical contest tonight! Granted, there were only 3 participants, but this is why I pushed him to do it, lol. He won $100 and got tons of great compliments from people who couldn't believe he is only a freshman. The other 2 candidates were seniors (both female). Everybody encouraged him to return next year. I sat next to an older lady who was wonderfully nice and we had a good time chatting in between performances. She had just moved this past year from Oregon with her husband, who, unfortunately, was just diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer :(
- We were encouraged to take some cake home so my son bought a couple of pieces in the car with him.
- For dinner he didn't want to go to a sit-down restaurant and we couldn't find a fast-food place, so we stopped by Publix and got yourselves a couple of sandwiches and drinks. My OOP was about $10 and I charged it to Amex for 3% back in Rewards.
|This was a nice Publix. And it was also empty. We were pretty much the only customers there!|
- to drive my son to school
- and tolls for Greg to commute
- for my daughter to attend her college classes
- and tolls to drive my son to The Villages and back for the oratorical contest
- I went back indoors at 1:30 p.m. and had to turn the AC on because it was 78F in the house.
- Dinner from Publix for my son and myself
- I really confused SavingStar by submitting my Aldi receipt when I had selected a Publix rebate and now they keep on asking me to resubmit it and I do and every time they reject it. Arrgh. It looks like I'm going to miss out on the $1.50 off the bar soap after all, which pisses me off because I wouldn't have bought it without the rebate. I need to see if I can email them without going through their system that doesn't let me attach a picture AND explanations.
- I had to throw away this morning's paper plastic sleeve without using it to clean a litter box because, ironically, it smelled very strongly of animal pee and I didn't need to clean up any litter boxes.
- It's only a failure because I had hoped that I could replant my hyacinths for next year, and indeed you can... if you live in an area that experiences winter! As for Florida, here is what I found about this issue on the Farmer's Almanac website: "There is no guarantee that it will bloom again, but you can cut off the dead foliage and plant the bulb about 6 inches deep and see what, if anything, happens next spring. BTW, if you do not live in an area that experiences winter, nothing will happen; hyacinths need a cold spell to bloom. So it’s best to enjoy it now…and buy a new plant when it passes." So that settles it, I'll be composting the old plants...
- Wow. Blogger is screwing up with our pictures again! I was re-reading posts from March 2016 and several posts are missing pictures here and there. Obviously I uploaded them to Blogger so they should be there. I didn't change the settings of the blog or anything. That really pisses me off .
MONEY SPENT TODAY
- Publix: $10-ish (I don't have my receipt in front of me)
- A muffin from RaceTrac, with redemption of survey reward code
- I received a coupon for a free whey Powerbar
- My son won $100!
- Made my bed
- Fed the kittens
- Packed a lunch for Greg
- Prepped his breakfast
- Drove my son to school
- Stopped by RaceTrac to get him a snack
- Aired out the downstairs
- Chased the kittens off the kitchen table... twice!
- Replied to my younger brother's email
- Programmed GPS for tonight
- Folded the laundry while watching Spy in the Wild
- Cuddled with kittens
- Researched our next state park
- Called the ranger station to get info on hiking trails
- Sat on the patio to visit with the birds
- Put the laundry away
- Cleaned the downstairs bathroom
- Spot cleaned the kitchen floor
- Washed the top of the kitchen trashcan
- Made Greg's bed
- Checked to see if I needed to clean the upstairs litter box
- Dusted the Cat room, breezeway, exercise room, hallway, living room, Greg's room, upstairs landing
- Read some blogs
- Made a copy of my son's passport for tonight's competition
- Did last night's dishes
- Precooked dinner for Greg and my daughter
- Drove my son to the Optimist Club Competition and back
- For being able to spend time on my patio today!
- For my son winning $100 at the oratorical contest
- For meeting extremely nice people at the contest tonight
- This is for Pixel: if we ever make it to Africa, we need to try to photograph a mongoose on a warthog!
- I put "get the hummingbird feeders out of storage and make nectar" on my To Do List this morning out of the blue and a few hours later, I saw that hummingbirds have returned to the Gulf Coast on the Birds and Blooms blog so I guess my instincts were right!
- At close to 10 a.m. I could hear birds singing around the backyard (i.e. in the neighbors' backyard because they don't seem to be in mine!) so I grabbed my camera and laptop and went to settle myself on the patio. Yes I have dishes to do and lots of other chores to work on, but the weather is nice and cool and there's a breeze and honestly, I don't care about the chores all that much! But as soon as I got settled, the clouds came back and now the birds have stopped singing. Argh..... aaaaaand the neighbors have just let their dogs out so of course they're just barking nonstop. Ah never mind, this neighbor must be nicer than the others because he or she got the dog to go back inside and stop barking almost as soon as I typed this sentence :) And the birds started singing again! I wish I could recognize their calls, darn it, but I'm too forgetful. I can tell however, when there's a cardinal nearby because they just squeak nonstop. There's a very skittish one coming to the feeder right now but every time I raise my camera, he gets spooked and flies off :( But a few minutes later, I saw several cardinals.
- And then another bird showed up that I hadn't seen at my feeder before! I'll have to look it up in my book. It stayed there for a long time! I hope my pictures come out clearly, I can't tell when the sun is shining if I'm focusing properly or not. I tried the autofocus and the manual focus.
- The potted plant were very parched so I reused rainwater collected in my rain barrel to water them.
I've been thinking about several bloggers who haven't been around for a while: Susan, Tara, Jess. I hope you're all doing well, ladies, and I miss reading about your days.