Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Break Recap: Monday 3/13 through Friday 3/17, 2017

You know, I said I wouldn't blog this week, but that really meant that I wouldn't publish daily posts. I still typed recaps of my days but since I didn't have a schedule for the week,  I planned on publishing just one giant blog post on Sunday night.  The kids are still be on Spring Break technically on Monday 3/20, but it's time for me to return to normal.  I'm recapping the week through Friday and then will type a separate post for Saturday since Saturday was "abnormal" compared to the rest of my Spring Break!

This week was nice. I won't say "great" because nothing spectacular happened, but it was very nice.  I did nothing.  It truly was a "staycation" as we just stayed home.  I had plans to spend time with my kids and that didn't really happen as the weather, which I expected to be really nice and conducive to excursions, ended up being very cold!  We don't do "cold" here.  So we didn't go to St. Augustine (will go tomorrow) and we didn't really go anywhere else.  Youngest Son spent lots of time working on his miniatures, D&D plans and on his computer.  Daughter was either in her room all week or at her dad's (I barely saw her, much less spent time with her). Greg worked, of course, poor guy.  And I sat on the couch and read.  I read a couple of books, but I also mostly read a blog.

When thinking about this blog post and how boring it really was going to be to read and also lamenting the fact that I didn't take advantage of this week to reboot my diet, clean my house from top to bottom or work on my March goals, and running through what happened this week, I realized that I was being way too hard on myself by beating myself up for being "lazy".  It's really hard, when your occupation is being a housewife, to give yourself a break because you're always at work. And it's not like people who work from home either.  They have specific activities they can stop doing for their job or business.  We housewives are pretty much defined by housework so turned off work means nothing gets done at all.  And how many of you actually stop doing ALL chores when you're off and at home. I'll bet not one of you, whether you're a housewife or not.  So, despite the fact that my house isn't in tip top shape and I didn't exercise and seriously lounged around all day, I still did:

  • The laundry (but it's not been folded yet)
  • The dishes (OK, only twice during the week but they were done!)
  • The cooking (I cooked dinner every night)
  • The grocery shopping (I went last Monday)
  • The taking care of Greg (I got up with him every morning, packed his lunch, prepped his breakfast)
  • The taking care of friendships (I went to have coffee with my BFF and treated her to breakfast
  • The taking care of overseas family (I exchanged lengthy emails, information and advice with my brothers via email)
  • The taking care of my kids (I took Son to the Comic Book store to inquire about D&D and bought him D&D stuff, chatted with Middle Son about his interview, chatted with Daughter here and there when I did see her)
  • The taking care of pets (I fed all the cats every morning, played with them, cleaned the upstairs litter box)
  • Money saving activities: worked on the rewards programs every day (Swagbucks, Microsoft Rewards), entered codes for KFR, MCR, WGBRHC , requested samples, printed coupons, checked out the sales flyers...
  • Frugal entertainment: read library books, watched over the air TV, read blogs
  • Spent time with Greg in the evenings: we watched Seinfeld episodes together every evening after dinner.
  • Recapped my grocery shopping and entered my receipts into my spreadsheets.  It's important for me to keep doing this to remain accountable so I did do it, although the record keeping has only been done through Wednesday.

But yes, there are tons of things that I didn't do:
  • Replied to comments left on my previous posts. Sorry everyone!
  • Commented on other blogs.  I think I might have left 2 comments total and it was to encourage someone.  Otherwise, I didn't engage with the outside world
  • Sweep or vacuum. The house is quite filthy at this point. Oh well.
  • Make a menu. I cooked dinner every night but I flew by the seat of my pants and we didn't starve :)
  • Exercise or diet.  I read while sitting or lying down on the couch and I snacked.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors or even my back patio. Unless I was running an errand of some kind or I was checking the mail, I didn't set foot outside.  I would have spent the week on the patio but it was cold and we had the heat on so... 
  • Take pictures.  I took snapshots of the cats or this and that with my phone, but my camera largely remained unused.
  • Catch up on projects. Nope.
  • Consciously try to knock March goals off my list.  I didn't look at it, consider it, or felt guilty about it.

There are tons of other little things that I didn't do but that's the gist of it.  It was pretty nice, especially since there were no expectations from Greg that I would do more than that. He does want dinner every night, but probably wouldn't have batted an eye if I had ordered in each time. I love him :)

That's not to say that I don't have anything to write about as far as things that happened this week! 

Take Monday, for instance. I had a bad night, thought my BFF and her kids had been murdered by her husband, my travel mug full of coffee was robbed out of my car, I had to teach a Walmart cashier how to use Walmart gift cards, and direct traffic at Aldi because the snowbird husbands were confusing the entrance aisle with the parking lot or something.  Ready for a long explanation of all that?  Here we go...  Better go get yourself a cup of coffee and a snack!


I had another weird night when I couldn't get comfortable in my small bed upstairs and I was cursing the mattress, the pillows and the kitten who keeps on insisting on sleeping against my face or skull and probably causes me to not sleep well.  I was miserable and then at 4:30 a.m. I'd had enough and I went back to the couch where I slept pretty well until 7 a.m. when my alarm rang.  I was confused because it was darker than before the time change, not lighter as I had thought it would be (math isn't my forte!) and there was no noise coming from Greg's room (he usually wakes up at that time to go to work).

So I laid there, trying to figure out if my alarm had rang too early or if Greg had forgotten to set his alarm and in the meantime the kittens were awake and jumping everywhere and annoying me. So I woke up a grouch, thinking that I really didn't want to go meet my BFF for coffee.

I made Greg's breakfast, packed his lunch, fed the cats, brewed some coffee for me, and then it was 7:25 a.m. and Greg still wasn't up, so I went to his bedroom and called his name several times, louder each time, in the darkness. No answer, no movement, and I thought, for a moment "what if he died in the middle of the night of a heart attack or something?!".  That's a normal train of thought for me, I always expect the worst. Seriously.  So I turned on the light and he was fine and woke up thoroughly confused when I told him it was 7:25 a.m.  He usually leaves at about 7:30.  I guess he slept through his alarm.

I myself had to leave at 8 a.m.  I had texted my BFF in the early evening yesterday to confirm whether we were still on for coffee this morning at 8:30 a.m. (she had requested this day and time) but she never answered so I figured she was working a late shift and hadn't wanted to text me back late, as she knows I dislike being awakened by non-emergencies.

So I jumped in the shower as soon as Greg got out, got ready, packed a travel mug of fresh coffee for the road (it's a 30-minute trip to my BFF's house) and texted her that I was about to leave and not to have breakfast because I hadn't had breakfast and I wanted to take her out to celebrate Spring Break.  Then I left after leaving a note for my son telling him I was going to be at her house.  She never replied. I thought it was odd, she always replies when I tell her I'm on my way.

I remember drinking my coffee driving down my street, thinking that the top of my travel mug was dusty, but soon enough traffic was heavy and I forgot all about my coffee.

30 minutes later, I got to her house. Her car and her teen son's car were in the driveway.  I rang the doorbell and heard it ring inside the house.  No answer. I waited, checked my phone for messages or emails from her, nothing. I rang the doorbell again, repeatedly. Nothing.  I looked through the frosted glass door (some areas aren't frosted) and the house was dark.  From all accounts, she, her 18 year-old son and 12 year-old daughter were home. And she has 3 cats. There was no movement coming from the house. I started getting worried.  I tried calling her house phone. My phone said the call couldn't go through. I tried calling her cell phone. It went straight to voicemail and got a message that the user hadn't set up a voicemail box. Odd, since I had left her voicemails before.  I didn't have her husband's phone number and wasn't even sure where he worked so I couldn't try to contact him. I really started getting worried at this point.  I banged on the door repeatedly, worried that the neighbors were going to start wondering what was happening and come out. No answer.

So I walked around the back of the house and tried the pool enclosure to see if maybe I could access the house through there or at least peak in the windows and see if I could see anything. I was starting to wonder if I should call the police.  She and her husband have been having marital difficulties and Greg and I watched way too many episodes of "Snapped" a few months back.  But both the doors to the pool enclosure were locked. Crap, crap, crap.  Then I remembered which window was her master bedroom window so I banged on the window and called her name repeatedly. Finally, I heard a groan so I called out her name again, thinking maybe she was hurt, and she looked through the blinds while saying in a very pissed off voice "WHAT?!?" so then I knew she was OK. She saw me and looked dumbfounded and then very apologetic. She went to unlock the front door and by the time I had gone around the corner of the house and reached the front door, she was apologizing like crazy because she had completely forgotten about our date and I was crying from relief because she wasn't dead after all.  Can you just picture this?!

Well, when she saw I was crying and confessed that I thought her husband had killed the lot of them, then she started sobbing, but so violently, I really thought something was wrong for sure. But it was just the culmination of stress from her life and being tired and waking up scared when she heard me banging on the window and soon neither of us were crying anymore and I apologized for thinking he had murdered them and explained that I watch way too many crime shows.

So it turns out, she had changed her home phone when she bundled up her internet and phone service  and hadn't told me (so my call couldn't go through) and also AT&T hasn't worked at her house in several days (she and I both use AT&T for our cell phones) so I couldn't get through to her cell phone although I could place calls standing in front of her front door (with one tiny bar) but my phone said "no service" once I was inside her house. So she never got my texts or calls. Her kids weren't dead either, they're just teens who didn't hear my banging on the door and ringing the doorbell. And her cats were locked in a back bathroom for the night.  So glad I didn't call the police to take down the front door and ruin her husband's reputation!

She took a shower and we went to Wawa where I bought us breakfast and we spent a couple of hours chatting about our kids and crazy families.  I was super hungry so I had a panini and coffee, and then I went back and got OJ and a chocolate croissant, that we split.

Then I took her home so she could get ready to go to work and I drove to Clermont to go do my grocery shopping. Yes, I know it's not my grocery shopping day, but I figured that I might as well make this long trip count for something and also it would save me time later on in the week, even though I hadn't made a menu for the week yet.  I called my son to warn him I was going to go shopping at Aldi, but then I remembered that I had said I'd go to Walmart to use my Swagbucks gift cards so I did that instead.

I had to pee but I figured I'd be in and out (of Walmart?! Am I crazy?!) so I didn't use the restroom first. Big mistake.  I did get most of what I wanted to buy this week from Walmart. It hurt me to pay (with the gift cards) their higher prices, but I can't wait forever for them to try to beat Aldi's prices, dang it!  I got a 4-lb bag of tilapia, some roast beef, found cold rotisserie chickens discounted at 50% so I bought FOUR (I'll pluck the meat and freeze it), found the bakery clearance rack (they put it back near the milk, instead of right by the bakery, like they'd had it for years) and bought a loaf of Hawaiian bread on clearance, and then odds and ends.

By the time I reached the registers, I had to pee so badly... and of course every single cashier had a long line and there was a long line at the self-checkout counters as well. I elected to use a lane with a cashier. I was number 5 in line and the line didn't move at all the whole time I waited because the cashier was ancient and taking forever.  Seriously, Aldi needs to train the Walmart cashiers!  I changed lanes and was #3. I was considering asking the people behind me to keep pushing my cart forward for me while I ran to the bathroom but then it started moving fine.  When it was my turn, I didn't use any coupons but when I went to pay with the Swagbucks gift cards, the cashier, who had an assistant manager name tag but clearly didn't know what he was doing, started adding $25 to my gift card (so charged me $25!) instead of using it as a method of payment. I kept on asking him if he was selected "Walmart gc" as means of payment because when I do that at the self check counter, I just scan the card and it deducts the amount automatically, I don't have to input anything. He kept on assuring me that he was doing it right and the amount that I "owed" kept on going up!  Finally he called another cashier over who showed him how to do it. The people behind me were sighing but that was not my problem. So my $58.68 OOP was entirely free to me thanks to Swagbucks.

I still had to pee so badly but now I had a cart full of groceries that had been paid for so I just went to my car and loaded it.  Then I figured I'd just go at Aldi, which is almost next door.

So I drove to Aldi, hoping that the one-stall bathroom would be available, and it was. Phew! But Aldi itself was crowded. Oh my.  And everyone seemed to be 80+. And all the old husbands came shopping with their wives and they were all standing at a standstill in the one lane that leads to the rest of the store, presumably because all the wives were checking out the milk and the eggs at the end of the lane.  The rest of us couldn't get through.  I felt like I was on I-4!  I was like the 8th person in line, seriously.  So I very loudly announced "If you're not buying anything in this aisle, would you please move your carts out of the way so the rest of us can get by?!" and, like by magic, the line moved incredibly fast as suddenly all the husbands decided to go wait for their wives a little bit further down.  Yes!  This middle-aged woman with kids looked at me with reproach but come at me, lady, I'm not in the mood, I don't have all day to wait until 7 people in front of me decide what milk to get with their Wheaties.

As we rounded the corner, the old guy in front of me hooked his cart into the cardboard box on the endcap that contained large containers of coffee and I warned him to stop but he didn't and soon all the containers fell all over the floor. He was old so I told him not to move, freed his cart, and started picking up the coffee containers and piling them back up. He was mortified and now I was holding up the line behind me!  His wife tried to help but she was also old so I told her to just let me do it and soon enough we were moving and they were very thankful and apologetic.

Honestly, by then I'd had enough of Aldi for today so I just grabbed one container of strawberries and 2 jugs of cat litter and added them to my cart where I had already thrown a bag of tortilla chips and a bag of tropical fruit mix (because after all this excitement, I needed comfort food!).  Thankfully the checkout line wasn't very long and I was able to get out quickly. I'll spare you the story about parking there as an old guy with the pick-up truck that had decided to load his groceries in his back seat so he was in essence taking 2 spots in a very crowded parking lot, and I had to squeeze into that spot despite his cart being in it because there was a line behind me and I was blocking traffic the other way as well. So when I had gotten into the spot, squeezed close to the car to my right, temporarily, I waited until he was done loading and took his cart back to the corral so I could back out again and center my own SUV into its spot so the people to my right could get into their car. Only he stayed behind my SUV, with his cart, for quite a while, I even thought he might have decided to leave it there, and in the meantime, the old people who owned the car next to mine came back and the driver had a hard time getting into his car and was giving me looks while I was trying to move to give him space but I couldn't crush the other old guy who was standing behind my car. It's a miracle I didn't kill anyone. Also, I said I was going to spare you the story but I didn't. Sorry!

So after all that, I decided to go to RaceTrac to gas up since we're driving to St Augustine tomorrow and I was down to just half a tank... and also, gas has gone down to $2.12/gallon.  Since my day was going so well, I, of course, managed to pick a pump that was pumping very slowly. Oh well, it gave me time to catch up on my email.  I did go inside to redeem a survey reward code for a free blueberry muffin for my son's snack since I hadn't baked anything.

I called my son from the road again to warn him that I'd be later than I thought, but that I was coming home with rotisserie chicken and Hawaiian bread so to wait to have lunch.

On the way home, I stopped by Ace Hardware and picked up the Pantry Moth traps that I had ordered online last night. It was a quick store pick-up.

Then I stopped by our library to get one of the books that I had put on hold last night and see what else they might have. I ended up getting two Bill Bryson books since Live & Learn had recommended him as an author and a book on Offbeat Places to visit in Florida.  I warned the librarian that my son wasn't going to volunteer today since it was Spring Break and she was fine with it.

So in the meantime, I started wondering what had happened to my travel coffee mug.  It wasn't in my car!  I distinctly remembered drinking out of it as I drove away this morning, and I remembered NOT having it in my hands when I finally got my BFF to open the door because I was just picking her up to go to Wawa so I wouldn't have grabbed the coffee and I was patting her back as she sobbed into my arms so a coffee cup would have been in the way.  So I have no idea what happened to my coffee cup!  Did someone rob my SUV and just took my coffee cup? I don't seem to be missing anything else. It's just so strange!  I texted her to ask her to look for my mug at her house, but with the phone problems, she might never get my message.  It's just been a long, weird day already.

I got home at about 1 p.m. and put the groceries away and then had lunch.  The kittens were bugging me and I'm out of patience with them, especially after last night, so I've been yelling at them and swatting their butts. They probably think I don't love them anymore :(

It's now 2:30 p.m.  The weather is very overcast. I have opened the windows. My son just walked to the park to get some exercise. I feel tired and I have a huge pile of dirty dishes waiting for me. Ugh. I haven't started the laundry. I think I'm just going to grab my library book and gnaw on tropical trail mix for a while...

Well, I didn't do that. I just caught up on the news online and on blogs. The weather is making me sleepy.  It started drizzling but never turned into a proper rain.

I mailed a check for the equivalent of our tax refund + $1 to round it up to $5,700, to our mortgage company this morning, to be applied to the principal. Yay!

True to my word (at least this one I can keep!) I only earned the minimum of Swagbucks today (with the Daily Poll, checking out the Deal of the Day, clicking on any inbox offers that would credit without me doing anything, and by doing my regular searches).  However, I did earn all the Microsoft Rewards daily credits.  I'm getting closer to a $5 Amazon gift card.

I don't want to face my new weight, but I did enter it in Walgreens' BRHC and earned 20 BR points.  I also entered bonus code VOTEFORYOURFAVES  in Kellogg's Family Rewards and earned 25 KFR points.  Lastly, I entered 2 MCR codes in MyCokeRewards and earned 6 more MCR points that won't give me anything.  I guess I might donate my points to charity.

Ha, tomorrow is Pi Day. I usually bake a pie, but we'll be in St Augustine tomorrow and I'm too tired today so I guess we won't celebrate it, at least not with pie.

Productivity-wise this afternoon, I checked which rebates I could redeem (only 1, for 10 cents!) and submitted my receipt, I cleaned the upstairs litter box and I got the laundry done. Since it's drizzling outside, I used the dryer.

I haven't made a menu, per se, but I jotted down some ideas in an email I sent myself. I'll probably work on a more formal menu on Wednesday, but by then it'll already be mid-week, hahaha.  Still, I have 3.5 pre-cooked chickens in the fridge right now, so I'm not scrambling to find something to cook :)

Also, I went to check the mail and I found my check to the mortgage company back in my mailbox because... I had forgotten to put a stamp on the envelope. Arrgh.

I also found a check from Upromise for $54. That is the partial balance from my SavingStar rebates that I had transferred to Upromise in late 2016 so I could request a check instead of giving them my banking info for them to transfer it.  They're still holding 40 cents of my money.  I deposited the check to my checking account.

Ooh, KFR sent me a 400 KFR point code to celebrate my 4th anniversary as a member!

And PinchMe sent me an invitation to claim samples early so I did and they offered me samples of dog food (goes to show you it doesn't matter what you say on your profile since I clearly indicated that we have cats, no dogs!) and other things that I might not use so I'll just donate all of that.

I found a magazine called "Toy Soldier" that Youngest Son might be interested in. It's kind of pricey though, but they did offer an (old) issue online for free so I sent him the link.

I was so exhausted (weather, DST, perimenopause, bad sleep, emotions from this morning) that I didn't want to cook dinner so I ended up heating up one of the clearanced rotisserie chickens and nuking 3 potatoes into baked potatoes and I heated up a can of green peas for veggies.  I didn't feel like eating a potato so I packed it for Greg's lunch tomorrow with a chicken drumstick and the rest of the peas. Do I dare?  OK... "easy-peasy". I'm easily amused.

And no, the dishes haven't been done and have I mentioned that I'm exhausted?  So they'll get done tomorrow because...

When I was reading the news this afternoon, I saw a story about rains and a major cold front coming to Orlando so I checked my weather app and it'll be raining all day and 65F in St Augustine tomorrow so we decided to postpone our trip and we'll mostly stay home. So, provided that I can get some shut-eye tonight, I'll have plenty of time to do the dishes tomorrow.


It must have rained all night because there is tree debris on our vehicles and the driveway is covered in it too.  Another cloudy day as of 9:35 a.m. and it's cool outside, I haven't bothered opening the windows yet.

"Plenty of time to do the dishes" I said yesterday.  That didn't take into account that my daughter came back from her dad's completely exhausted, so she's going to be sleeping all morning, and her room is directly above the kitchen (with her bed behind directly above the sink) and I like to watch a TV show while I do the dishes, with the sound turned up quite high so I can hear over the noise.  Soooooo.... I guess now I have to wait until the afternoon to do the dishes.  Bah.

I slept OK, not great, but better than the previous night, and woke up at 7 a.m.  Greg complained that his alarm hadn't rang again so I suggested he reboot his phone, which he never thinks to do. For a computer professional, you'd think the famous IT Crowd advice "Turn it off, turn if on again!" advice would be the first thing that comes to his mind, but it never does :)

I packed his lunch and prepped his breakfast and off he went to work.  My brother from Marseille, who is in the process of trying to obtain a mortgage for the house they want to buy, had emailed me overnight so we started emailing back and forth for a couple of hours.  Even though the process of buying a house is different than here, some advice still holds and he knows close to nothing.  I ended up finding a great site that, sadly, is in English only, that advises foreigners who want to buy homes in France and explains the whole process but almost all of it is actually applicable to my brother, and it's explained pretty well. I sent it to him and suggested he uses Google Translate.

Then I saw they had a section on French Inheritance Laws, which helped understand what my brothers and I might be "entitled to" (Gosh, I hate the word "entitled")  when our father dies (my sister has a different father and our mother and stepdad don't have much in assets). It might sound unbelievable, as it sounded to me when I first found out back when my dad and stepmom sat my brothers and me down to discuss their succession back in 2014, but a French person who had children is forbidden from disinheriting her/his children. Indeed, since my dad has 3 children, he is required to preserve 3/4 of his estate for his children and can only dispose of the remaining 1/4 as he sees fit.  Of course, if he decides to spend it all while he's alive, I don't see how they could insure that he keeps 3/4 of it for his kids... debt also is inherited though. So I really hope he won't try to screw us up with that.  My brothers and I get along reasonably well, but reality is that when money comes into play, even the closest siblings might fight.

My brothers aren't people who are particularly savvy about money so I anticipate that, when my dad dies, we will have many disagreements, as we would have to agree on everything to sell the house, etc.  None of us live close to our dad's.  My brothers have government jobs that are quite inflexible with being able to take time off to travel to his neck of the woods to deal with such things. I don't have a job but I don't live in France, barely understand the language anymore (I'm exaggerating but I never was an adult in France so all the legal stuff is unchartered territory and would be a major learning curve) and with the current administration here and their arbitrary rulings as to who is allowed in the country and our rights as citizens being trampled in many more ways than I can count, I would be extremely hesitant to leave the USA at all.

Honestly, being oblivious of French law and estranged from my dad for many years (before reconnecting for a couple of years when my stepmom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and helping them through the end of that tragic journey and then disconnecting again when my dad returned to being the total toxic asshole that I've always known he was when my kids and I went to visit him back in 2015), I've never counted on an inheritance from either of my parents.  The subject of French Inheritance Laws also came up after my stepmom's death, when my paternal grandmother died.  My dad was estranged from his mom and siblings and my brothers and I never wanted to have anything to do with that part of my family. They weren't bad people, far from, but we were never close to them and they felt like strangers and we didn't feel the need to continue having any kind of relationship with them.  The "notaire" in charge of distributing her estate wanted tons of information about my brothers and me and our kids because part of her estate went to my dad regardless of the fact that they were at odds with one another, and also in preparation for my aunt's eventual passing who isn't married and doesn't have any children (she has mental problems and my grandmother was her caretaker and part of my grandmother estate went to her)... part of her estate will automatically go to my dad and if he has died before then, then it'll have to come to my brothers and me (and my cousins through their own parents).  The "notaire" was trying to make a succession chart.  I'm very private and really trying to disengage myself from France altogether, so I told the cousin who contacted me that I didn't want anyone to know anything about me or my kids. I pick up pennies but I'd rather not get an inheritance than to be forced to deal with people I don't want to deal with. It might sound nuts, but there it is.  Greed is a terrible thing, IMO, and no one is immune to it. Anyhoo, I never heard back from my cousin after that, and I guess my aunt is still alive.

So the fact that we siblings all know that money creates bad will amongst family members, is why I didn't  want to count on getting anything from my dad. He's never supported us beyond paying the child support ($50 a month for 3 children!) that my mom had to get enforced by the court system, and we never seeked to get anything from him despite having considerable money problems of our own at one point or another, something that we pointed out to him when we had the talk about their succession and that he admitted my stepmom and him were always very grateful for.  My brothers agreed and we all encouraged our dad and stepmom to divest of their possessions by donating them to family and friends as they were telling us about their supposedly pricey artwork and other possessions and admonishing us that we should try to sell them to get the most money possible, promising us hundreds of thousands of euros in value, and yet refusing to draw a list of what they considered valuable along with the supposed value.  I can't even muster the energy to do the dishes every night, do you really think I'm going to be playing "Antiques Roadshow" with the content of their house when I live in the USA?  My brother from Marseille said he'd rather cart away the whole thing to a thrift store and let them deal with it.  I have a feeling, however, that this is where everyone would start fighting.

My brother from Paris and his wife don't have kids and, being in their 40s and living in a small apartment in Paris, it is unlikely they'll ever have any. Plus he doesn't want to be a dad.

My brother from Marseille has a daughter from whom he's been estranged for most of her life, though not by choice. His ex-girlfriend has kept him from their daughter for years, and I believe that there is mental illness involved with both the mother and the daughter. I don't know, I've never met my niece, who is 21 now. He's been ordered to pay child support until "she can support herself" so that might be for the rest of her life, as the court has consistently refused to specify how long that might be.

With him buying a house now, he's concerned that he would have to pass it down to her, an almost complete stranger who has been very much in conflict with him whenever he's tried to reconnect.  I guess I should send him the link to the page that details French Inheritance Laws, as a reminder that he might not like it, but he'll still have to leave her something.  If he dies and doesn't do a will, his girlfriend will not be protected and will have to sell the house because the totality of his estate would have to be given to his daughter. However, if he does draw a will, then he has to put 1/2 his estate into reserve for his daughter, and then can dispose of the other 1/2 as he wishes. His GF doesn't have any children so her share of the estate, barring a will, would have to go back to her family in Russia.

Money really complicates everything, doesn't it?! Add that to complicated and adversarial family relationships, it can really create tons of tensions.  It's really nice to have money, but it really is not so nice at the same time, I don't know how to explain.  I'd like to think that I don't care if we get money since we're lucky that Greg has a good income and hopefully we'll pay off our house within 2 years, but it would be nice, as a spouse who hasn't worked 12 of the almost 16 years we've been married, to add something to our retirement fund. And also it would be nice to set some money aside to help my kids. And I'd really love to be able to keep my dad's chalet in the Alps, it's such an awesome house.  So I'm not immune to greed, you see.

I really wish Greg would agree to draft a will. I might have to see if I can draft a will on my own, regardless of whether he wants to be involved or not, if in fact all our assets resulted from our marriage. If I do inherit anything from my dad, I will definitely draft one so as to direct that what's remaining of it should go to my 3 older kids and our son in the event of my passing.

As for my mom and stepdad, as I said they don't have many assets, save their house that isn't worth much, I can't imagine, but at least it's paid off.  They had my half-sister when I was 11 and she lives nearby with her husband, 2 kids, and the oldest son's GF, and they struggle. My brothers and I agreed, back in 2014, that we would want our mom and stepdad to leave their entire estate to our sister, but once again, the French Law won't let that happen even if we all agreed, I guess. What a pain.

Here is what I'm coming to: your money is YOUR money. No one should be able to dictate what you do with it (well, the part that you're allowed to keep, I should say. I'm not against taxes but I'm against paying a lot of taxes) and if you don't want to leave it to your kids, why should you have to?  This really, really irks me.  In the French example, you could have a kid who takes care of you in old age, goes through tons of crap, and yet in the end they'll inherit the same share as their siblings who did absolutely nothing. And if the kids are abusive to their parents, they'll still inherit the estate. And if the person doesn't draft a will, their spouse won't be protected... in our case, my dad had to specify in his will that if he died first (as he expected to, he's the one with major health problems, my stepmom was in perfect health up to being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and dying of it a year and a half later), we had to let our stepmom live in their house until she passed away and would have been responsible for paying all taxes and repairs on the house until she passed herself.  As you can imagine, that sent my brothers (who don't have money) and me (who doesn't have an income of her own and doesn't live in France!) in a tizzy.  Without this will, we would have been within our right to kick our stepmom out of the house, the house that belonged to both her and my dad.  That's nuts!!!  It was also somewhat insulting that they would think that we would do that, but I understood. You gotta do what you gotta do to protect yourself. Money makes people ugly.  After all, who's the ugliest person in the land right now?  Yeah. So anyway, my stepmom ended up passing before my dad, so this all became very moot.  My dad took my brothers and my advice as far as divesting himself of several jewelry pieces of hers that had been passed down from her parents, and returned them to her family who still lived in Hungary. (we're a pretty international family, I guess!) as she never had any children of her own.

Knowing that you might have money coming from your parents can be comforting, I see it as a huge pain in the butt and I'm dreading it.  In Greg's parents' case, I'm not worried about it because he'll have to deal with it and all the associated headaches. I can guarantee I won't have any say in what is going on with that.  I'm estranged from his whole family and they all hate me.  But in my parents' case, I'll be the one stuck having to deal with it, providing documentation from overseas, dealing with getting the money back to the States, etc.  It won't be easy. Hence why, last year, part of my resolution was to find an accountant that would have experience dealing with overseas inheritances because I'm sure that there are many implications that I don't even know about.  But I still haven't done anything about it.

So speaking of money, I need to mail the check to the mortgage company again this morning. This time I did remember to put a stamp on the envelope :)

And, MobiSave credited my account with 10 cents for the clementines that I bought yesterday. It was weird that it took "so long" as they usually credit my account within minutes of my submission, but it's there. The beginning of my own fortune, right?  LOL.

Well, it's 11 a.m. and I'm still in my PJs. I have about 8 hours to do the dishes before Greg gets home.  Scratch that, it's 12:15 p.m. and I'm still in my PJs.  Yay for Spring Break!  The dishes still haven't been done.  I don't think my daughter is up yet.  It's kind of sunny now but still overcast.  I've caught up on the news and on blogs.    Daisy from Dirt Road Daisy published an interesting post about her and her husband's emergency preparedness philosophy and asked the readers to share theirs, so I posted a long list of what I do to prepare for emergencies. This led me to start a list of what I do need to do by June 1st to get ready for this year's hurricane season so that was good. I'll need to put a reminder on my To Do List to get started soon.

I guess I'll get dressed and grab lunch.  I had told Youngest Son that we'd go to the local comic book store to inquire about the Saturday D&D game so we'll do that and I also need to pick up the kitten food that I had ordered from the vet's. We may also stop by Publix to get more cheap Nutella if I have the number of coupons required, I need to check.

Oh, and the library emailed to say that I have yet another books ready for me to pick up. I had forgotten I had put one on hold from another branch.  Wow, I really need to get going on my reading too!

I think the mystery of the missing coffee travel mug is close to being solved.  As I was recounting my "adventures" at BFF's house to Greg last night, I said "I didn't even go back to my car to get it,  once I got there!", only as I said that, a movie came into my head of me thinking that since I had to wait for her to take a shower, I was going to go get my coffee to keep me company. And then I remember her door alarm ringing as I opened the door... and then nothing.  So I think that I did go back to the car and fetched my coffee mug and then...?! Probably set it down somewhere.  She did reply to my text after her night shift as she had phone reception at work and said she would look and offered to try to call me from home to let me know, but it would have been past my bedtime so I asked her to just let me know when she was back at work.  I'm fairly confident it's at her house, now. I mean, where else could it be, right?! It's frightening that I don't remember what happened though.  Is it the beginning of dementia?  The lack of sleep and caffeine combined with the emotional upheaval of thinking I was going to find her murdered body?!  I hope it's the latter! Update: she confirmed that she found it on her desk, where it was camouflaged because it's black and the desk if black as well.  Woohoo!

So, after lunch, Youngest Son and I went to run errands.  First, we picked up the kitten food from the vet's.  Then, we took a leisurely drive to the comic book store.  My son asked about the D&D group (it does indeed meet there on Saturdays, yay!) and I bought him 2 sets of D&D miniatures, and a game called "Exploding Kittens" that we thought we might enjoy and that he might play with his dad when they're camping.  Only the only version they had was the "NSFW" version and when I asked the salesguy what that meant, he said there was a lot of very bad language.  Well, I figured that it probably was nothing that my son didn't hear in high school, so we bought it anyway.

Yeah, and we paid $35 for it but it would have been much cheaper online. Oh well.

From there, we decided to stop by Walmart to look at organizing cases that might work for the miniatures. We didn't find anything and left empty-handed, although I did spot very reasonable life vests for when we buy the kayaks.

So we went to Michael's instead. I looked for the 40% off coupon online and loaded it to my phone, and we found a plastic jewelry organizing case that worked great and was $12.99, minus the discount, it ended up being about $9.00. Woohoo!

Our last stop was Donut King, where we got 6 donuts for snacks.  Then we drove home and enjoyed our snacks and then I did the dishes while rewatching an episode of "The Great British Baking Show".

I'm defrosting tilapia fillets for dinner, and I make some couscous and steamed asparagus to go with that.

An offer flashed on my browser to say that for a limited time, I could earn 1 SB per PRINTED coupon (not redeemed) up to 60 SB and that it would credit on 4/12. So I printed 60 coupons via SB.  Speaking of coupons, I was credited with 20 SB for redeeming 2 coupons. Finally!

So I just read that we'll be having freeze warnings soon. Whaaaat?! It's going to be 39F on either Wednesday or Thursday night, I can't really tell. That's crazy!  The water parks are closing Wednesday and Thursday. I hope Nan and her family will still be having a good time at WDW!

I earned a few more SB and the daily Microsoft Rewards credits.

After dinner, Greg and I watched a few episodes of "Seinfeld" on the DVDs that we own, and then Youngest Son tried to get us to play D&D with him. Only Greg didn't want to. But we made him anyway.  We played for a little over an hour and we had fun!

Meanwhile, my daughter decided to take time off from her studies and bake the Nintendo game controller cookies that she'd been wanting to bake ever since I got the cookbook "Nerdy Nummies: Sweet Treats for The Geek in All of Us".

I don't have the patience to do this!
I went to bed with my library book, closed the door on the kittens so they would leave me alone and enjoyed some reading until Princess started scratching at the door so I let her in. She cuddled with me but wouldn't let me read in peace, so I ended up turning off the light and going to sleep.

Oh, before I went to bed, I turned on the heat in the house. In March, in Florida!


It was 44F when I got up at 7 a.m. and our high will only be 60F today.  I had another uncomfortable night and sharing the bed with two kittens who love me and want to cuddle non-stop didn't help. So I'm cranky this morning. It could also be that time of the month when I usually get cranky, I don't know since my period never came, over 2 weeks ago.

I have no plans for today save sit on the couch, keep warm, and read.  I did my grocery shopping on Monday and, if I had been smart, I would have waited to take Youngest Son to visit the Comic Book store until today since the new Aldi ad starts and they have the onions that I need and been waiting for on sale for $0.79/bag.  Aldi is just down the street from the Comic Book store.  Arrgh.  I didn't think that through.

I looked through the Aldi ads for this week and also the preview for next week. They'll have the canned herring fillets in flavored sauce in stock next week, woohoo!  The mango pineapple herring fillets were delicious, I'm going to stock up this time ($1.69).  I emailed Pixel Peeper to warn her since she loves those too.

Greg was disappointed that I hadn't baked a pie (or cake) or Pi Day yesterday. I explained that we had gotten donuts instead but since he had told me explicitly last time I had talked about getting donuts that he didn't really care for Donut King anymore and not to get him any the next time we went, I hadn't gotten him any. He denied he ever said any such things so that's IT. I'm going to commandeer my son's GoPro camera, strap it on permanently and buy myself the biggest capacity backup disk so I can store 6 months to a year's worth of videos. I'm sick and tired of him saying things and then denying that he ever said them!  Maybe I should just get a job with the government since I'm sure they're spying on everything we do and say already.

Speaking of which, I was reading, a couple of days ago, about Immigration and Border officials demanding that American citizens give them access to their phones as they re-entered the United States from being abroad.  Those people, naturalized and native American citizens (most of them, but not all, being Muslim) were threatened with "detention" if they refused to turn in their phones and passwords and, if they asked for legal representation, were told that it would amount to an admission of guilt.  Incensed?  Well, turns out there is a loophole in the law that states that you can't be compelled to give your phone to authorities that lets authorities at the borders do this legally. So if you leave the country and come home, ANY of us can be compelled to give up our privacy without any due process.  Lovely, isn't it?  Of course, who still believes that we have any privacy? Or any actual rights that won't be taken away? I don't.

Here is something totally uninteresting but somewhat related to my rant about privacy:  I was a member of Pinterest when it first started.  Then, about a year and a half into it, they started commercializing it and I quit.  Back then you couldn't delete your account, but you were told that if you didn't use it for "x" amount of time, it would be deleted.  So I didn't and presumed it had been deleted.

I rejoined Pinterest this year but created a new account with another email address, and only because I wanted to access a specific graphic.

This morning, I received an email from Pinterest telling me that one of my "pins" had to be deleted because of a copyright infringement complaint, and it showed which "pin".  Yeah, that was something I had pinned in my old account, several years ago, the account that supposedly was deleted.  I checked which email they used to address the warning, and sure enough, it's my old email address (which is still being forwarded to my new one, that's how I did get the message).  So, speaking of privacy, here is another reminder that nothing is ever deleted online.  What you type today could, one day, come back to bite you in the butt.  I fully expect to be sent to some type of gulag at some point if the current administration remains in power because they cannot tolerate dissent or anything that doesn't quack like them and I chose to have a blog in which I like to express myself, although not as much as I really feel I should.

Speaking about people who don't like anyone that doesn't confirm to their worldview, I watched a YouTube video featuring a presentation given by Nate Phelps, the son of the infamous founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, entitled "Leaving Hate Behind".  Someone on Reddit mentioned it in a thread I was reading and a lot of people agreed it was one of the best speeches they had heard, so I decided to watch it today.  It was OK, nothing more. Good for him to getting himself out of that environment, though, and no longer being a wacko. My sister did the same with the JW.

While the video was playing, I also entered my weight into Walgreens' BRHC and earned 20 BR points, earned the daily Microsoft Rewards credits, earned a few Swagbucks, and entered a Kellogg's Family Rewards bonus code into my account to earn 25 KFR points (BBALLFANFAVORITE). I also redeemed a bonus code they had sent me to get me to 5,000 points, which turned out to be a 200 KFR code. Sweet :)

Swagbucks sent me the $25 Walmart gift card I had ordered recently, woohoo. I've earned $125 on Swagbucks so far this year, but I'm now taking a break from it.

I just remembered that Wednesday is "Law & Order" marathon day on iON TV, an over-the-air channel, starting at 11 a.m. so I'll be having the TV on all day :) Ooh, and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" is on from 10 to 11 a.m. on a different O.T.A. channel, so I'll be watching that too :)

Now I'm going to go make pancakes for breakfast. Did I mention that my diet is on Spring Break too?!

I had sour milk in the fridge, so I made a batch of chocolate chip pancakes to use some of it up.

I also defrosted several cuts of meats for the next few dinners: ground beef, pork loin roast, smoked turkey sausage and then I decided to make turkey chili for tonight's dinner so I also defrosted ground turkey.  Lastly, I got a package of bacon out of the freezer as well, for breakfast, and a half load of lemon blueberry bread that I had made a month ago and hadn't been too successful with my family.

I partly defrosted the ground turkey in the microwave and threw it in the crockpot with several cans of beans (black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans), tomatoes (crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce) and green chilies. I skipped the onions for Greg.  As I poured the large can of crushed tomatoes into the crockpot, I wondered why it smelled so flavorful, and then realized that it was a can of crushed tomatoes with basil. Arrrgh!  I briefly considered not adding the chili powder to the crockpot, but then it wouldn't be chili, would it?!  So I added it anyway and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it won't taste gross.  I'll be baking corn bread later on too so I defrosted some more butter.

I reused a cereal bag to store the rest of the defrosted bacon. When my daughter got up a while later, she came to ask me what brand of bacon I used because she loved it.  Well, it's the cheap Save A Lot bacon that I bought on sale for $1.50 a package, I think, and that I cooked in the microwave a little too long so it was very crunchy but not quite burnt (as I was cooking it from its half-frozen state after sticking the whole frozen package in the microwave for 1 minute).  We laughed about the fact that every time my kids looooove something, it's always the generic or the cheapest brand I could find, haha. Even in blind tests :)

Meanwhile, Youngest Son was up and I told him that L&O was on all day since he had shown an interest in it last week after school, so he grabbed a plate of pancakes and bacon and joined me to watch it. Woohoo, more time spent "with" my kids :)  And a kitten joined him on the couch and is cuddling with him. My son is a cat magnet. He can never sit down without a cat jumping on him within seconds, lol.

I unlocked some new MobiSave and Ibotta offers while watching the show and then realized that there was an offer for $0.50 off Crystal Farms cheese, good at Walmart. I had bought CF string cheese on Monday so I figured I'd try to redeem the rebate since we usually have a week to redeem it.  I'm positive that rebate wasn't available on Monday and yet, it worked!  Ibotta credited my account within a minute. Woohoo!

I input this week's receipts into my spreadsheets, to track my purchases as well as hold myself accountable for everything I spent.

For lunch, I had a chicken sandwich with a breast from one of the rotisserie chickens I had bought on Monday and I made coleslaw with the rest of the cabbage I had bought several weeks ago and more of the Marie's coleslaw dressing that I had gotten for free. I also had 2 clementines. The coleslaw was so delicious (it's only cabbage and the dressing!) that I went to get a 2nd serving.

And then, as I checked Feedly, I saw that IHeartPublix had posted a link to a $1.00/1 Marie's dressing coupon that I could print twice and that the Marie's dressings will be on BOGO sale starting tomorrow. Woo! I'll buy more coleslaw dressing :)

Did I mention that I'm totally splurging by leaving the heat on all day?  It's set for 67F. It is, at of 1:20 p.m., 53F outside, but the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I'm starting to wonder if I should throw on a sweater and turn off the heat, but I'm comfy.

It's now just past 4 p.m., I'm still in my PJs, and I have been doing nothing else than listening to Law & Order playing in the background, snacking, and reading a blog. Yes, I should be reading my library book(s) and I will in a moment as I'm about to go take a bubble bath, but I really enjoy reading blogs :)  Daughter is studying, the kittens are playing, the older cats are sleeping in the sunshine. Youngest Son kept on coming and going to watch some L&O and then go back to his room to work on his miniatures, and he just walked to the library with his LARP'ing swords and his D&D minifigures to meet his teen friends there.

So, as I said, I'm going to take a bath now. With my library book and my cup of decaf coffee. And I've decided that I'm not going to be going the cheap decaf instant coffee at Aldi anymore because it's foul (I was hoping a new container would be better but it's not) so I might splurge for the expensive Nescafé at Publix if indeed it exists in decaf.  We'll see.

I took my bath and within 3 minutes of me soaking blissfully in perfumed water, Explorer started crying behind the door. Seriously?!  I tried to ignore it but it was really annoying so I decided to tape it to share with Greg and the kids later on.  When I was doing recording a short audio track, I replayed it and that seemed to have spooked him because he was quiet after that and I was able to read my book in peace for 45 minutes. I like staying in the bath for an hour, usually, but the water was getting cold fast. As soon as I started moving, I heard noise behind the noise and when I got out out of the bathroom, all 3 kittens were waiting for me behind the door and then followed me into the bedroom and stared at me accusingly as I was getting dressed. How dare I not remain on the futon where they can keep tabs on me, right? lol.

Dinner was a bed of tortilla chips covered in turkey chili and topped with grated cheddar and it was very popular.  Yes, I decided not to make corn bread since we had the tortilla chips and also I was lazy :)

After dinner Greg and I watched more episodes of Seinfeld, and then I read some more while he played video games. I fell asleep on the futon and when he tried to wake me up to go upstairs, I told him I'd just sleep on the couch. It wasn't a great night, what with getting up to use the bathroom, being cold (got a comforter), being hot (the heat came on, the kittens cuddling on me, stupid hot flashes), Explorer trying to wedge himself on my face, etc... but my shoulders and neck didn't hurt like when I sleep in my bedroom upstairs so there's that.

Also, this is love:

I fell asleep while cuddling with Explorer tonight.  Greg took the picture.


It was 40F when Greg left for work today, not as cold as we thought it would be (well, by 2 degrees only!) and our high is supposed to be 62F but back into the 70s tomorrow.   The pollen levels are pretty high, though. Good thing I'm staying indoors today!

Wrong date but the level was the same on Thursday

Once again we don't have plans. Well, I thought we'd bought the kayaks by now and that Youngest Son and I would have gone kayaking today but we didn't, it's cold and we'd rather stay home so that's the plan.

I do have to do the dishes again today but otherwise, I'm going to veg in my PJs and read. Yay!  I think Youngest Son has D&D at the library tonight so I'll probably have to get dressed and have him drive himself there and ask Greg to pick him up on his way home tonight.

Swagbucks acknowledged my Ace Hardware Shop & Earn so I'll get some SB in about a month.

I haven't shopped at Winn Dixie in ages but they emailed me a link to upgrade my Rewards card to their new Rewards+Plenti card and it looks like I might be able to use Plenti points at the register, which would be great because I do earn Plenti points with our AT&T monthly bill but I have few options to redeem them since we don't have RiteAid down here and I don't gas up at the gas stations that participate.  So I need to look into this. Maybe I can redeem the points towards Greg's whiskey when I buy it from their liquor store...  Update: so I tried re-linking the cards, as prompted (never mind that, according to my records, my Winn Dixie rewards card had already been linked to Plenti back in September 2015!) and of course nothing is working so I had to email them.  Ugh.

I caught up on the news, forwarded a couple of articles of local concern to Greg, earned a few Swagbucks and the Microsoft Rewards credits.  I'm within 40 credits of being able to order a $5 Amazon gift card, woohoo!  I also earned 20 BR points by entering my weight into Walgreens' BRHC, and 25 KFR points by entering bonus code GAMEWATCHINGEATS .

I printed some coupons that Betty Crocker had emailed me.  Now, the Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Boxtops4Education newsletters all offer the same coupons and all come from General Mills.  With their new coupon printing system, you have to first "authorize" their app to print by providing your home phone number, which is bullshit and really pisses me off.  However, this is why I do keep a home line. The phone is a cheap portable phone (former AT&T GoPhone that my son used to have) and it's turned OFF and if people are daring enough to want to leave a VM, they have to listen to my very long message telling them NOT to leave a message unless they've been asked to and that I'm on the Do Not Call List and that I'm not interested in anything they have to sell or propose. Anyhoo, since it's a cell phone, I can get texts on it. The annoyance is that each time I print the coupons, I have to give them the home phone number again if I happened to have printed them from a different newsletter the last time (they're all sent on different days and the prints of the coupons are limited so I print them from whichever newsletter sends them to me first!), and then go get the house phone, turn it on, wait for the text message to load, and then reinput the verification text each time.  My phone number never changes and I always print from home so why I have to do this every freaking time is yet another annoyance. The worst part of it is that I rarely use the coupons nowadays, lol. So it's really a waste of my energy, time, and resources.  I ought to not print them. I ought to unsubscribe from their newsletter. I might do that once Youngest Son moves out and I don't have to much so much cereal and snacks :)

I also printed a coupon from Kellogg's. They didn't need my home phone number. It was easy and quick. Kellogg's wins my loyalty :)

Chrome updated itself today. Supposedly the new version (57) is better as the inactive tabs won't be using as much memory so it won't slow down your PC so much. I don't know about that but what I do know is that Feedly, this morning, is taking for-ever to load the articles and blog posts that I subscribe to. So, so far, I haven't noticed any "improvement" in my productivity, quite the contrary.  (acknowledgment that "productivity" is a very ambitious word for what is actually happening!)

I turned off the heat at 11:15 a.m.  We'll have to "survive" with sweaters and blankets if we're cold. Youngest Son has been wearing a light down jacket even with the heat on, lol.

I saved a bread bag to clean the upstairs litter box (I reused one last night when I cleaned said litter box, btw).

I made a strawberry summer cake, reused a frozen margarine wrapper to butter my cake pan and froze a new one (could have saved myself some steps there!), used sour milk in the cake and margarine instead of butter. The margarine had been sitting in my fridge since before Christmas so it's a little rancid. Adding sugar to the top of the cake will take care of that.

In sad news, I had to compost the 2nd pumpkin left from last Fall. After months of being OK, it went bad overnight.  As in really bad. I might have been able to save half of it, but it wasn't a given and my kitchen is a mess right now anyway so I just composted it. This year, I'm only buying ONE pumpkin, promised!

I'm enjoying sitting on the couch in my PJs and reading blogs/Reddit so I brewed myself another pot of coffee. I'll be switching to my library book soon. My daughter is probably still asleep and Youngest Son seems to be typing a new D&D adventure for his club tonight... which reminds me that I'll need to get dressed at some point so we can drive to the library. I texted Greg to remind him to pick up our son from the library on his way home.

Dinner tonight... will be smoked turkey sausage and pasta and a side salad.  The box of pasta was between 30 and 80 cents depending on the kind I use, and the sausage links were $1.24.  So, not including the salad, dinner will cost 50 cents per person, not bad.

Argh, another library book is waiting for me at the library!  I can't keep up! LOL.

The kittens were chasing one another. They make a racket but it's so much fun to watch them play together!  I wonder if they'll still get along once they're grown up or if they'll annoy the crap out of one another.  Then Tabby Kitty found a shiny pompom to play with and kept on sending it under the same piece of furniture and trying to get it out so I found the laser pointer and gave the other two kittens quite a workout.  It's nice that we haven't put the coffee table back in the living room so there's a big carpeted open space and they showed me just how good they are at turning on a dime... on the carpet. The wooden floor is more problematic :)

The weather looks nice outside, sunny and bright blue sky. I should be taking a walk somewhere, but I'm comfy here at home and about to read my library book. I'm finishing "A Delicate Truth" by John Le Carré. It feels like I had already started it at one time and given up on it because the beginning sounded very familiar but I was wondering what type of weird spy story I was reading because not much made sense. That's probably why I gave up on it the first time. I'm glad I stuck with it this time because subsequent chapters reveal what really happen and how it came about and the consequences and I'm liking it much better now. It's not a great book, but not a bad one and certainly a better written spy novel than "Red Sparrow", the book by another author that I gave up on earlier in the week.

So I finished "A Delicate Truth" (I really liked it!) and started "Did You Ever Have A Family" by Bill Clegg, which I'm loving so far. What a great writer, he has had me in tears all afternoon.  Also, I remembered that there is a long list of John Le Carré books that I haven't read, so I think I might be reading spy novels for a while. I'm sure that'll do wonders for my paranoia tendencies, don't you think?  LOL.

At 5 p.m. I checked my email, as I was about to go do the dishes before Greg got home, and found an email from my brother in Marseille who had written to me and our other brother to say he had called our dad. Nonchalantly, in the middle of the email, he announces that he and his girlfriend are getting married, but neglects to include any information about the wedding, and then goes on to talk about our dad but nothing is new, it's all the same crap from 3 years ago (talking about my dad's funeral arrangements, what to do with his stuff once he's gone. etc.)  I swear, we've had the same conversation several times already and we only talk maybe twice a year at the most!  Anyway, he was saying that he didn't know anything about my dad's funeral arrangements or who the notary (i.e. lawyer) handling the will was so I had to find my notes from 2013/2014 when I went to help my dad as my stepmom was passing away and he had given me all that information (that I had then shared with my brothers... men!) and retype everything again.  Ugh. So that took me to 6 p.m. and then Greg called to say he was on his way home so I warned him the dishes hadn't been done. As a matter of fact, we're eating on paper plates because all the plates are dirty. Double Ugh.  I guess that's the first thing I'll do tomorrow morning because tonight... I'm finishing my book. Priorities, right?

Right as Greg was getting home, I watched a squirrel jump on one of the bird feeder poles and climb all the way up. Uh oh, time to grease the poles again!  So I got the tub of Vaseline and a rag to wipe my hands afterwards and took care of that.  Lest you think I'm being mean to the squirrels, may I remind you that our oak trees masted this winter and that there are literally TONS of acorns all over the place?!  They don't need bird seed as a chaser.

After dinner, Greg and I watched some more Seinfeld, and then I read more of the blog I've found through the author's comments on Live & Learn, Toss & Turn (The Eco Cat Lady Speaks). She's a really good writer who loves cats and lives in Denver.  I'm enjoying her blog and reading back several years. She hooked me with her story about how she escaped from the rat race (what a fascinating life!). Her posts tend to be longish and thought provoking so it's taking me a long time, and I'm certainly not complaining about that!

Then I finished "Did You Ever Have A Family" by Bill Clegg. I really liked it, because, as a mom and a daughter, I have experienced (and am experiencing currently) estrangement with a child and parent.  I was really in tears as I read June and Lydia's stories.  The book ended abruptly, though, and I wish it hadn't been so.  It's not a long book to start with so I'm not sure why it ended that way.  Anyhoo, I was looking for more books from Bill Clegg, but the only 2 other books he's written are memoirs about being a drug addict and his subsequent recovery and I just don't have any interest in the matter. Poop, but I'll have to keep an eye out for new books of his when they come out.

So I had two books by Bill Bryson to read next and I decided to go with the one that had the earlier copyright, which ends up being "Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe".  Hmmm, so far I have yet to experience anything that really makes me love the style or the book and yet at the same time the author has managed to piss me off with his observation of the French :)  I may not like the French particularly myself (and, in case you didn't know, I'm French myself, but then again I don't like most people, no matter from where they are) but it's particularly irksome to hear yet another American complain that we (the French) aren't grateful enough for the United States rescuing us back in 1945 and mocking our French Army.  My grandfather was in the French Army (he wasn't given the choice) and spent time in a German war prisoner camp, so I'm not keen on someone who wasn't even alive then trying to give my people a history lesson. Maybe if Americans like him weren't as full of themselves and putting down other countries, the world would like them better?  Ugh. So I'm not sure if I'll stick with the book or not. I read chapters about other cities and countries he visited and it just wasn't my cup of tea. I just don't think his observations are very astute. Sorry if you love the author.  It would be very boring if we all liked the same things, right?

I spent the night on the couch again since we still needed the heat on last night and I just sleep better where it's cooler... and that's downstairs.  But oh boy, I had to strip down to my undies to be comfy (hot flashes + kittens) and wasn't very comfortable all night long.  Explorer decided to come wake me up at about 6:45 a.m. He tries to sit on my face, licks me, and now scrapes at the blanket that I keep bunched up under my chin because he wants to come under. So then I invite him in and in he goes, but he's restless and soon wants to come out.  Arrgh. I just wanted to sleep another 15 minutes! I didn't go to sleep until 1 a.m. last night (I'd drank 2 pots of coffee during the day) so I was a little cranky.


It's St Patrick's Day. I'm not Irish so I don't care. I'll probably have to remind my son that it's St Patrick's Day so he can wear the T-shirt that I had bought him. I'm not sure why he likes all things Irish so much, it's one of his quirks.

No plans for today save for the darn dishes.  I was thinking, last night, that my kitchen looks like a scene from The Sword in the Stone, one of my favorite Disney animated movies, but I can't find the right graphic to insert here. However, I do wish I could be Merlin this morning:

But I'll have to be Arthur (but probably without the smile on my face).  Who smiles as they do the dishes?!  That's so unrealistic.

The FBLA Club that Youngest Son belongs to has a fundraiser at Chipotle tonight but I don't eat at Chipotle and the teacher leading the club never ever replied to my emails about the state convention (I think he really didn't want to bother with my son's competition at all) so why should I support a club that really isn't doing diddly squat to support my son?  We're not going.

No replies from my brothers about the emails I sent them last night with the information about my dad's funeral plans, his estate lawyer, etc, or even about the impending wedding (and, as of Sunday morning as I finalize this post, still no peep from either of my brothers!)

We ate all the clementines and almost all the bananas so I might have to go out at some point and get more of those.  But, for now, coffee!  When I got into the kitchen this morning, Greg lunchbox was on the floor, one of the lower cabinet doors was open and I thought "well, I know what the kittens were up to last night, when they weren't harassing me!". That was confirmed when I found the last piece of strawberry summer cake with its top layer completely eaten. It's like we have rats, damn it!

Speaking of rats.... I was walking in the breezeway this morning, saw some movement at the bird feeder...  aaargh!

Oh nom, nom, nom!
Youngest Son got up at about 9:15 a.m. and we were cuddling on the couch and talking about our non-plans for today and I announced "Well, in 15 minutes, I'm doing the dishes!".  Fast forward 20 minutes (I got sucked in to the Eco Cat Lady blog again) and Explorer decided to come cuddle. Awww.  Well, I couldn't very well push him off, could I?

And then I wanted a 2nd pot of coffee so when he finally got off me, I went to make the coffee (which is when I saw the damn squirrel), looked at the piles of dirty dishes, sighed, turned around, and came back to the couch with my new cup of coffee to continue reading the darn blog (she has such an interesting life, I wish my blog were that interesting!).  What?  It's barely 10:30 a.m. now, I have plenty of time to do the dishes before Greg gets back. Plenty.

Hmm, 11:45 a.m. and still in my PJs reading the blog and dirty dishes still in the sink.  Sigh.  Hey!  Petco emailed me a coupon for a free bag of cat treats for Mean Kitty's birthday. Only my cats don't eat treats (I don't give it to them, when I do, one of them always throws them up) so I'll donate it to my BFF for her cats.  In other news, I'm about to start reading posts from December 2014 and there are only 5 and then I'm getting dressed and doing the dishes, promise!

Uh, for some reason I just remembered that I still haven't changed the clock in my SUV. Gotta remember to do that... soon.  Also, in other announcements, there'll be a Swagbucks Team Challenge next week.

OK I lied, I checked my email and Feedly after I was done with the December 2014 posts on Eco Cat Lady because... I really don't feel like going to do the dishes. But I've run out of excuses. Time to get dressed, grab my Kindle Fire and Bluetooth speakers, fire up Netflix and rewatch an episode (or 2 or 3... I have so many dirty dishes to wash!) of The Great British Baking Show... and then get ready to cook dinner and get the kitchen all dirty again because by then it'll surely be 6 p.m.  Arrrrrrgh.

2:07 p.m.  The dishes are done, and the meat from the 3 remaining rotisserie chickens, 2 of which had already been partly used, had been picked and frozen. I didn't keep the carcasses because I already have a bag of chicken bones to cook down and I have chicken broth/stock in the freezer as well.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading the blog and cuddling with my kittens.  Daughter left to go to her dad's for dinner and then they're all going to the Blue Man Group concert and then back to her dad's and then driving all the way back here. Oy.  Youngest Son walked to the park for a while in the late afternoon.

He checked the mail for me when he got home, and found a PinchMe box in the mailbox. Already?!? But no, it was the box from last month.  I thought I was going to get 3 to 5 samples, but I only had two: Oil of Olay body wash (which I left on my daughter's steps as I don't use body wash anymore) and a sample of Purina One cat food (which I'll give to my BFF since my cats are on prescription or vet food).  There was also a code for a "free" Shutterfly photo book that I won't use so let me know if you'd like the code.

For dinner, I made 3/4 of a bag of seasoned fries from Aldi (they came out kind of soggy though, I need to go back to buying Alexa fries) and burgers.

After dinner, we just left the TV on as one of the channels was having a "Green Acres" marathon and it's a pleasant show to have in the background while we both read.  I fell asleep on the couch again and actually had a good night! Explorer slept with me parts of the night, cuddling against my cheek, laying on my shoulder, and it didn't hurt my back.  Neither did I get up to use the bathroom past 1:30 .m. and the cats didn't wake me up until 7:45!

Since I had spent my day doing nothing, I had to scramble to earn the Microsoft Rewards at the end of the day but then I was able to order a $5 Amazon gift card, hooray!

So this ended up being a pretty good week at home, all in all.  Re-reading this, I'm glad I typed all of this because I ended up doing a lot more than I was giving myself credit for when I was thinking back on my week at home!


  1. All in all, it sounds like you had a great week! Sometimes, not going anywhere and just hanging out at home, relaxing, and not doing much is the best way to recharge your batteries!

    And thanks again for the heads up on Aldi's upcoming German week. I didn't make it to Aldi this weekend, but will stop there for sure during the upcoming weekend!

    Oh yeah, you definitely had a weird Monday...but I would have felt the same way if that had happened to me!

    1. You're welcome! I'm trying to decide how many cans of herring to buy. I really loved it. Greg wouldn't eat it because it's fruity and he doesn't like fruity stuff. Hmmm, maybe 10 cans?

  2. What a week! You need another week off just to recuperate!

    1. That's a great idea, Judy! I wonder how Greg will feel when I tell him that I need a week off to recuperate from my week off, hahaha.

  3. If it makes you feel any better, my husband does the same thing to me. Says he likes or dislikes something. I make sure to respect that and then later I am told he never said that and that I make conversations up. I.E. DONUTS. He likes chocolate frosted donuts. Once Dunkin only had the. With sprinkles. He threw them out and made me feel like I messed up. Months later we go through drive thru and they tell him only with sprinkles. No problem and he eats them. I bring up previous event and he tells me I am cuckoo. GOTTA LOVE EM!

    1. Yes, gotta love'em but don't gotta like IT! Goodness, what is it with those men? Do you think they do it on purpose to drive us bananas?!


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