Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekly Review in Pictures: Saturday 5/13 through Friday 5/19, 2017

Warning: a lot of this is going to sound like a pity party. I'm sorry.  It was a week with highs, but also with lows, for me, and I don't want to lie about it and pretend that it was alright because that's not at all the way I feel and I do want to remember this.  That being said, nothing terrible happened (well, one thing has had me in tears at various times this week but I won't die from it), so I'll probably roll my eyes at my whining when I re-read this in the future, as you might do when you read it yourself.  Hopefully, because that would mean that my spirits got better after this week :)

Saturday 5/13/17

I had fallen asleep while watching a show on my Kindle, the previous night, with my sleep headphones that are so comfy.  I woke up to find... this nub attached to my Kindle, because a darn kitten chewed the wire up during the night :(  I ordered a new pair of the same headphones on Amazon, which were free to me since I used some Reward points.  Since then, the headphones have come in but I haven't dared using them because I'm afraid the same thing will happen again!  I could close my door so the kittens can't come in, but then Explorer is going to cry for me all night and wake Greg up.  I spoil them way too much.

The weather got cloudier and cloudier in the morning... do I dare dream of rain?!

Yes!  And the temperature went down quite a bit too, hooray!

The bottom of our driveway after one bout of rain. It ended up raining for 4 hours straight! Not enough for what we need
but much better than nothing.

I checked the rain barrel after it was over and it was 3/4 of the way full. Hooray!

Doesn't this rose look happy?

Now moving on to bad things that happened: Checkout 51 stopped the weekly $0.25 offer on produce. You now have to redeem $2 in offers each week to get a $0.25 offer on produce (that you might not redeem) the following week. The produce offer is pretty much the only one that I redeem most weeks since I shop at Aldi. I checked to see if I could cash out my account but I need $20 to cash out and I only have  $15.65.  So I'm PISSED because it feels like they're holding my $15.65 hostage, quite frankly.

I found my largest Pyrex baking dish (enchilada size) broken in pieces in my cupboard. I store other dishes in it so I guess it might have broken the last time I put the other dishes back in it but you'd think I would have heard it break... it was very thick glass!

Somehow the Windows 10 Creator update (which, from what I understand, is NOT an automatic update, you have to specifically download it?) somehow got downloaded to my laptop and I couldn't stop it. The "several minutes" turned into over an hour.  In the end, I won't be using ANY of the new features, it deleted some programs off my Start menu (I was able to put them back there) and my laptop stopped recognizing my Seagate GoFlex external drive which is a Wifi external drive where I have stored ALL my pictures (half a terrabyte's worth) and where my Memeo Instant Back-Up software sends the constant instant back-up files.  Also, the Memeo software stopped working altogether.

Without a laptop (while it was updating), I tried to read 3 different e-books on my Kindle and hated every single one of them. So, in desperation, I downloaded 3 Nora Roberts romance novels from the library, I used to love Nora Roberts but then I quit reading her because I don't like her newer books.  Come to find out, I no longer like her older books either. Her clichés that she repeats in every single freaking book really REALLY annoy me. So I gave up on that too.

Good thing that I had a kitten to cuddle with to take the frustration away!

New Kitty enjoyed looking at the rain fall from atop one of the cat trees.

Male cat took a nap. I just realized that the collar that is wearing (and that is falling apart) had the colors of UF.  Maybe Daughter should take the cat with her to school in August!

Mean kitty was taking a nap as well.

Princess was comfy in the other cat tree.

Youngest Son worked on some projects that were part of his final exams.

I don't remember what my daughter did that day... Greg and I started watching "Peep Show" all over again on Amazon Prime that weekend.  The show makes us laugh a lot.

Sunday 5/14/17
Mother's Day.

I don't know why people think it's acceptable to text someone before 10 a.m. on the weekend and after 10 p.m on ANY given day, if it's not an emergency. Texting is NOT email. Some of us keep our phones on all day and night and near us at all times.  A text is indeed a disturbance to whatever is happening. For me, it's sleep!

A friend texted me at 8 a.m. to wish me a Happy Mother's Day but really to ask if I needed a table and chairs or if I knew anyone else who did since she had gotten new furniture for her house.  The text woke me up, as I had planned on sleeping in, but I ignored it and went back to sleep.  I replied to her several hours later and wished her a Happy Mother's Day as well.

My BFF waited until a more reasonable time to wish me a Happy Mother's Day as well and also asked me to confirm that I was still OK with driving her and her kids to the airport the following Sunday. I replied Yes and wished her a Happy Mother's Day as well.

Then Middle Son texted me to wish me a Happy Mother's Day and ask if he could come over after work, in the evening. That one was really nice to get but I ignored it for a couple of hours as I went back to sleep.  Later on I told him I'd be happy to see him that evening.

When I got up, everyone else was still asleep. I fed the cats.  Youngest Son woke up and came to say good morning. Didn't mention Mother's Day.  I didn't say anything about it either. At 10 a.m. it became evident that no one had planned anything for breakfast so I had cereal.

Greg got up, said good morning, and went to see Youngest Son.  Youngest Son came to wish me a Happy Mother's Day.  Somehow, I don't appreciate it quite as much when someone has to be told to come wish my a Happy Mother's Day.  Greg called his mom to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.  Then he called his daughter to do the same.  That really annoyed me since he purposefully does not wish me a Happy Mother's Day because "you're not my mother!".  I went upstairs to make my bed and feel sorry for myself.  He came up to ask if I wanted to go walking. By then it was past noon and I hadn't had lunch, but I decided that it would be nice to go on a walk. That's what we had done last Mother's Day as well. He suggested we walk by Lake Minneola and have lunch at Lily's on the Lake. But I declined because I felt that it was going to be busy because of Mother's Day and I didn't feel like being around people. So I asked to go walk on the Van Fleet Trail. Again, a repeat from last Mother's Day. My daughter got up right before we left and wished me a Happy Mother's Day.  I didn't see her again the rest of the day.  To be honest, she had mentioned, the previous day, that "she didn't know where she should take me for Mother's Day, maybe Mount Dora?" but I had told her that I didn't think I'd want to go anywhere with people around.  Secretly I was hoping that we'd just spend the day at home, doing an activity together with Youngest Son, even if it was just watching a movie or playing a game.  Something like that.  But I guess she took it as "I don't want to spend time with you?". I don't know and I wasn't about to force my kids to spend time with me on Mother's Day, you know? Neither of the kids expressed any interest in coming walking with us.

I was really blue and decided that since it was so hot and everything was burned, there probably wasn't anything to photograph on the trail so I left my camera and fanny pack at home. I just had my phone, not even a bottle of water.  My phone used to get 1 to 2 bars of AT&T service on the trail but now we get NO SERVICE at all so my RunMeter app wasn't working. We used the distance markers painted on the trail to estimate that we walked for 4.5 miles. It was hot but mostly cloudy so it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be.

Right before we started walking.

We saw so many gopher tortoises!  At least 20, we lost count. It was the most gopher tortoises
we had ever seen on a walk!  We saw the baby alligators again. Their pond is even shallower than the last time.
Most of them were hidden in the water, under the algae, so we weren't able to count them. I didn't
bother taking a picture.

On our way back, I spotted owls on a tree. I thought it was just 2, but Greg noticed that there
was a 3rd one down on a lower branch, a little bit above the post in the middle of the picture.
Wow!  That's when I wished I had brought the camera, darn it!  I took this picture with Greg's phone
since his camera is better than mine, but it still doesn't zoom very far and so you can't really see anything :(

On the way home, we took a different road than we usually take and spotted these cows with
the hugest horns (like African buffaloes!) that we had ever seen. Again, his camera didn't
really picture them well.
 It was about 3 p.m. when we were done walking and we really hadn't had lunch so we decided to go to Lily's, after all, and have a Tropical Lemonade and some appetizers. As always, my condition was that we had to be able to sit outside on their deck, facing the lake.  We lucked out!

There was a small breeze so it was perfect.

We ended up ordering lunch.  Our food took forever to get to us, it was 4 p.m. by the time we ate. We called it dinner too and decided to tell the kids to fend for themselves that evening.  Greg had a burger, and I had the Island Basket (coconut fried shrimp and fried mahi mahi with a mango orange dipping sauce).  Yum.

While we waited for our food, we each enjoyed a Tropical Lemonade. Greg usually doesn't like "fruity" drinks but
he really liked it!  I wanted another one but I didn't.

On the way home, we got our free Sodapalooza refills and I found
a penny in the RaceTrac parking lot.

When we got home, Youngest Son gave me 4 of these coupons that he had made for me while Greg
and I were out.  I laughed.  I've been complaining that he never smiles and is always gloomy :) He made
sure that the "applicable" hours did NOT include the drive to school in the morning as I drop him off
at 6:57 a.m, LOL. He's not a morning person.

More cuddling with kittens to distract me that that whole day had felt crappy to me from a Mother's Day point-of view.  Somehow, after being away for several hours, no kid of mine thought that maybe doing the dishes would be a nice thing to
do for their mom on Mother's Day.
Middle Son came to visit after work. He has a big mouth and let it slip that he hadn't planned on coming but that his dad had
pretty much told him he needed to come.  I resent my ex's controlling ways and, as I mentioned, knowing that someone had to be told to come wish my a Happy Mother's Day pretty much takes all the enjoyment out of it for me.  In other news, he signed a lease to rent a house with 2 other friends and was moving in later on this week. Disney Fine Arts Photography reached out to him after he didn't get a position for which he had applied, asking if he would be interested in being trained for cross-u shifts (cross utilization, where he could get shifts with that department, in addition to his shift with his own Photography department at ESPN) so of course he said yes, and was very excited. He's supposed to be talking to the manager of that department in a couple of weeks.  Since he's no longer a student at Daytona State College (he'll be a Valencia State College student this summer, to complete his gen ed credits), he can no longer rent a camera from their Photography department, and still hasn't bought a new one since he now has a loan payment for his car and he had to save to be able to move out of his dad's house.  So I offered to give him back the very old dSLR camera that I had first given him a few years back and that he had given me as a birthday present/rent when he had moved back here for a few months.  I'm never going to use it since I now have my Panasonic hybrid camera.  He was hesitant, because it's not a great camera, (an old Canon) but it's still better than nothing and he's missed taking pictures for himself, so he accepted. I gave him the bag that I had bought at the thrift store and the extra lens that I had bought used on Amazon, as well. and told him to just keep the whole thing.  I guess now I can recycle the 120+ pages manual that I had printed but never read!

Middle Son played with the cats.

Explorer likes to observe from a perch.
Middle Son mentioned that he wanted to stop by Donut King on his way back home because he missed their donuts. I started wanting donuts too so we decided to drive there together.  When we got there, I discovered that he conveniently had left his wallet in his car back in my driveway so I had to buy my own donuts AND his on Mother's Day.  Also, before he left, I asked if he had any gas in his car (as I always do) and he said no and paused.  I wasn't sure why he was pausing and he confessed that usually when he replies "no" to this question, "people give me money".  It was my turn to pause as I considered whether telling him to "F off" on Mother's Day would be appropriate. I replied that I already had had to buy HIM donuts on Mother's Day... and he laughed and said he was kidding and hugged me. Whatever.  I still had to buy him donuts on Mother's Day, you know?  Well, I guess I didn't have to. But I bought them for everyone else too.

Oldest Son never contacted me.  I had hoped that by my sending him a gift for his birthday last month (and Christmas back in December, and wishing him good luck for an important audition he had a couple months back AND wishing his GF's a happy birthday) and him replying by saying he really appreciated it, it would mean that perhaps we were on the way to mending our relationship. But I guess not.  I'm completely and utterly heartbroken. I miss my son.

It ended up being a very shitty Mother's Day, my friends.  I guess I need to adjust my expectations to just not expect anything in the future.  Easier said than done. I was and I'm still, a week later, very hurt.

Monday 5/15/17

Domestic Monday means that I did some chores on that day.  

Laundry and dried most of it outdoors...

Refilled 16 cat litter jugs with rainwater from the barrel.  17 left to go!  

I baked a loaf of bread in the breadmaker for snacks.

There was something wrong with Tabby Kitten's left eye so I called the vet's who had an appointment in the afternoon. Here
he is in the examining room. See how he kept his eye closed?  Not all of the time, but most of the time. I had a hard time putting him in the cat carrier to get there, as he did NOT want to go in, hissing and spitting at me. He never acts that way!

At the vet's, there were a lot of dogs that were howling and it stressed him. He started shedding
hair all over the place!  The vet examined him with special drops under a black light but couldn't find
any scratches on the surface of his eyeball (good news), However, he had slight conjunctivitis,
"which could be due to an infection, a virus or allergies". Geez, thanks doc, I hadn't figured that out
myself!  She gave me an antibiotic ointment to put in his eye 3 times a day. Not drops, gooey ointment.
Let me tell know, it hasn't been fun at all. Today his eye is better but he still keeps it closed at times,
according to Greg. Thankfully, none of the other cats seem to have eye problems.  Visit cost us a total of $76, including the ointment.
For a bit of good news, I checked Discover Deals and didn't find a Kohl's offer in my account but did find one in Greg's so I got $10 in free Kohl's cash when I input it in my app.

My daughter had mentioned that she needed a new hamper to take to college so I found the 30% off discount and free shipping codes on Slickdeals and ordered a pop hamper that was on clearance. I paid $1.49 total.

I had asked Middle Son how his and his friends' movie had fared at the Orlando 48-hour Film competition the previous weekend, but he'd been working a lot and didn't know the results. So I checked the website that day and found out they had placed in 2nd place!  I texted him some congratulations, which took him by surprise since he hadn't heard the good news...  No prize, but still, I think it's great.
I did more chores that I didn't photograph (quite a bit more, actually!) and also watched some Game of Thrones episodes with my daughter.

In the evening, I re-watched "Enemy of the State" with Will Smith and Gene Hackman and was speechless in how prescient that whole movie was. It's like we live in a bad sci-fi, apocalyptic movie, these days...

Tuesday 5/16/17

In the morning I started watching a show on Netflix called "Life in Pieces", while I did other tasks. I didn't like it at first, as I thought everyone was overacting, and kept it on just for curiosity because Colin Hanks and James Brolin are in it and I like them both.  But I ended up warming it to it so much that I watched all the episodes in one day!  Well, to be honest, I had it on
but didn't pay real attention to probably 3/4 of the episodes, so I'll have to rewatch them :)

My daughter got up and chatted with me for a bit. In the middle of talking to her, I noticed this announcement on her high school's webpage, so we decided to go out to lunch to celebrate her graduation, later on this week.  

She picked Cracker Barrel.

She had breakfast and I had a chicken tenders sandwich.  It was very busy and the manager is actually the one who took our order. We saw that other tables were getting the free biscuits but we never got ours so when our server brought our food, I enquired. She said that they had stopped bringing them automatically because they were losing too much money so now you
have to specifically request them. She asked if we wanted some but, with our food already there and plentiful, we regretfully
said "No". So she offered to give them to us to go. I never think of that!  In the end, my daughter couldn't finish her eggs so
we brought them home along with the FIVE biscuits that our very nice server had given us. We had some for snack in the afternoon, and I had the eggs and the last biscuit for breakfast the next day.

In the afternoon, I tried again to access my external drive and couldn't.  Aaargh.  The drive had a USB port but I needed a male to male USB cable and, despite having tons of cables at home, we didn't seem to that specific one :(

So I used more Reward points to order a cable on Amazon because, at that point, I couldn't access my external drive at all. Come to find out, you need the Seagate software to work to access the drive via WiFi. The Windows 10 Creator Update is preventing the software from working. Seagate has discontinued those drives and the software and will no longer update it :(  Have I mentioned how stressed I was NOT to be able to access ANY of my pictures?  Pictures of my and my kids' childhoods, videos, any files that I had saved to that drive?  I was very upset.
In "good news", Swagbucks will be awarding me ONE Swagbuck for my Kohl's purchase. I had to laugh.
And I got a free protein bar in the mail from SampleSource. I was supposed to get 4 other samples but they weren't in the box.  The "waffle" flavor was intriguing but I hate butter on my waffles or pancakes, it makes me want to throw up just to
look at the picture, so I gave it to Greg, who looooves butter on his waffles. Yuck.

For a bit of a laugh, I saw Tabby Kitten drag Greg's "arctic fur hat" down the stairs and into the living room in the afternoon. I guess he's done with socks?!  The hat was as big as him, LOL. When he saw that I was grabbing my camera. he went to hide under one of the futons with the hat :)

Youngest Son had his last driver's ed lesson that day. We should get his certificate in the mail soon.

Middle Son stopped by again out of the blue to return the analog phone and a sleeping bag that he had borrowed from us when he was filming his movie. He only stayed a minute.

Wednesday 5/17/17
Wednesday was an emotional day for me as it was the 14th anniversary of my beloved grandmother's death. She passed away from ovarian cancer in 2003.

This is my beloved grandmother and me, when I was about 10.  I miss her so very much.
Wednesday was also my Shopping and Errands Day.  I started by researching what needed to be done on my SUV since the last check-up (50K miles ago!) so I could stop by my garage, discuss it with the mechanic, and make an appointment to have it done before my daughter and I leave for our summer trip.  He looked at the information, informed me that I didn't have a timing belt (as I thought I had and that it needed to be replaced) and called me back later on with an estimate for everything: SUVs are expensive vehicles to buy, operate, and maintain, but again, aside from oil changes and the occasional repairs, I hadn't had any maintenance done on it in several years. The estimate is for $1,150, before any actual repairs.  Well, it's 10 years old but I hope to keep it several more years! I made the appointment for next week, when Daughter can get me there and back again to pick it up.

Then I stopped by the vet's to pick up the extra cat food that I had ordered: double order to cover our regular needs AND for Hurricane Season.  Cost?  Almost $300, I kid you not: (2) 17-lb bags of the Urinary SO Moderate Calories for the older cats, and 8 smaller bags of the kitten food (since they don't sell it in large size).  However, I will have to reorder more this summer as I want to keep 1 large bag and 4 small bags in stock in case we have a hurricane and the supply chain is disturbed.

I picked up a free muffin from RaceTrac (after survey reward code) that I gave to Youngest Son for his snack.

I noticed that the Bravo supermarket (that caters to hispanics) had opened, so I stopped by to check out their prices. I was
disappointed to find that it was more expensive than the stores I frequent. I had hoped that their produce prices would be lower. Not.  Save A Lot is cheaper.  I did buy a canister of Spanish Rice for $4.99 on sale, cheaper than getting the boxes at Aldi ($0.99 for a box that's kind of small), some sweet bread that my daughter had raved about (her stepmom buys it) and a package of smoked herring fillets because I love smoked herring. However, that ended up being not only VERY pungent (I had to put it in a Pyrex covered container in my fridge!) but also extremely salty. I ate one fillet and it was like chewing on a stick of salt!  I don't remember smoked herring being so salty!  So now I don't know what to do with the rest. I might have to throw it away :(

At CVS I bought milk and some fluoride rinse for Youngest Son that he needed and that gave me $1 back in ECB.  Not pictured, but I also bought their whole stock of CVS-branded chocolate covered pretzel bites because they were on clearance at $0.74 a bag (down from $2.99 a bag) and I was putting together two goodie bags to give to my daughter and her BFF for celebrating their graduation.  So I ended up with 10 bags of the pretzels, 2 bags of chocolate-covered espresso beans (also on clearance, for me), and some Gatorade and hot Cheetos (for the BFF''s goodie bag), and two $25 gift card to Cheesecake Factory, one for each of the girls since it's their favorite restaurant.  I paid for the food items with my CVS gift card so it was all free to me, and I paid for the gc and the rinse with my Amazon Chase Visa for 2% back in Rewards.

Then I went to Aldi. I stocked up on some stuff (meat on clearance, low sodium taco seasoning, diced mild chiles, pumpkin puree...) and got the usual stuff needed for the week, including 3 chocolate bars for me.  I needed chocolate this week with all the stress of stuff not working, Mother's Day lingering sadness feelings...  not pictured but I also got more snacks for my daughter's goodie bag and also for another bag that I'm putting together for Youngest Son to celebrate his last day at school next week (gummy worms, Churros, generic Chex Mix) and also 3 greeting cards for the graduates: daughter and her BFF (I put the Cheesecake Factory gcs in them) and one for my BFF's son who also graduated from high school last week (I put $20 in his card and mailed it, I hope he gets it today since he's leaving for Canada tomorrow!).  I also stocked up on more cat litter (4 more jugs) to keep in stock for Hurricane season (I don't want to have to go to the store right before a hurricane if I can help it), as well as 18 extra rolls of toilet paper and a box of 80 trash bags for Hurricane Supplies stock as well. My OOP was close to $100 and I charged it to Amex for 3% back in Rewards.

I was excited to score chicken drumsticks and skinless, boneless chicken thighs on clearance :)

I got Sodapalooza refills for Youngest Son and myself on my way home.

RaceTrac keeps on adding free drink coupons to my app. Greg only has one but I have FOUR!  I need to remember to use them up before they expire...

I found another penny in the RaceTrac parking lot!
 My daughter and her BFF spent the morning at the Graduation Rehearsal. They were fed breakfast and lunch so that made up a little for the waste of time.  Then she texted me this:
Like mother, like daughter, right?  Can you believe that they wanted the kids who qualified for an Honors Sash to BUY it for $15?!  For what?!  She's NEVER going to look at it again. This morning she texted me that she hadn't picked up her diploma after graduation so she would go to Guidance on Monday to get it. I reminded her to return the sash (they refused to take it back after graduation after all) and to also donate her gown since she was never going to use it again.  Such a waste of money.  They won't reuse the cap since it has this year's bauble on it.  Arrgh.
 In the afternoon, she and I watched another episode of Game of Thrones with the kittens.

They're pretending they're not watching, but they were :)
Youngest Son went to the library to attend his Teen program and picked up some travel books that I had put on hold.  Daughter and I think we'll visit NC and VA during our trip so I ought to read up on those to figure out where we might go.

Greg and I watched more episodes of "Peep Show" together in the evening.

I emailed my cop brother from Marseille to ask about the status of his wedding and his vacation home buying. He replied that he and his GF won't get married until after they've completed the purchase of the house, on which they're supposed to close in mid-June, if they can get the bank to lock in their rate and all the different players to get their shit together. He's frustrated, as is everyone who's ever bought a house, lol.

Thursday 5/18/17
It hasn't rained since last Saturday so on Thursday morning I figured I should water the garden, which I did. Only I forgot about the rain water in the jugs and I used the hose instead. Doh!

I have a couple of Ichiban eggplants forming.

The pineapples are coming along and I harvested some more jalapeños and serrano peppers. I used them
on my pizza slices, yum.

The basil babies have grown with all the rain we got!

And my little volunteer tomato plant as well (the rest is weeds that I need to pull).

The milkweed pops have burst and the seeds are flying away... I wish they would grow wild in the yard but with Greg mowing, they never do :(

The oregano is flowering.

The impatiens didn't like the heat at all but the plants look healthy. However, the marigolds are
doing very well!  I deadheaded them last week and this week, I only needed to take away 2 heads.

The fuchsia is almost completely dead! 

I cut all the dead branches and only kept those that still had some green leaves, soaked it, and put it
on the front porch near the begonias. Maybe it'll come back to life in that spot?

The begonias are doing extremely well there!

Later on I put up some graduation decorations in the kitchen...

which entertained the kittens quite a lot!  I thought I had bought a banner but they were dangling thingies.

I replied to some blog comments that Susan had left me. One of them was asking me if I had ever made a Memory Book for my daughter since she and I had discussed, last year, that I might make one to give her at Graduation.  Darn her very good memory and my crappy one because I had completely forgotten about it!  Another of her comment was encouraging me to do something creative, but I replied that I'm not creative, I don't enjoy being creative and having to be creative stresses me. It just NOT a stress reliever for me, far from.
Well, after I wrote my replies, I remembered that the whole conversation about the Memory Book had started last year when I had mentioned that I had kept a journal for each kid as soon as they were born, and had planned on giving it to them when they turned 18 or graduated. As I added more kids to my arsenal, my good intentions petered out, and instead of updating the journals very often, I ended up updating them once a year... and then skipping years altogether :(  However, I still had a pretty substantial journal to give to Oldest Son when he turned 18 and he had LOVED it.  I never gave Middle Son his because he was my toughest kid and that was reflected in some comments that I had written. Plus he's very pragmatic and also messy and uncaring in some ways, so I didn't want it to end up in the trash. I'll wait until he's more mature to give it to him. My daughter turned 18 at the beginning of her senior year (since she was born a couple of days after the school cut-off date of 9/1 she's always been the oldest in her class!) but I had decided to give her hers on Graduation.  Well, and then I completely forgot about it.  Yikes!

So I went to get the journal and re-read it and got all emotional and regretful that I hadn't kept up with it very well. But then I also remembered that several years ago I had kept a blog diary that wasn't about frugality at all but about what was happening in our lives.  At some point, Blogger messed up my Picasa settings and all the pictures disappeared from the blog and I was never able to recover them. They were in my Picasa albums but they wouldn't display in my posts. I was very upset and started recreating my entries in Powerpoint by copying and pasting the text and then reinserting my pictures one by one and adding clip art to make it look a little more attractive.   I figured I would print the sections about my daughter and insert them into the Journal! The picture above is of the 2009 pages that I printed in color and of my working on new pages from the years that were missing.  I don't want to give it to her as a file on a thumb drive, but as a printout. There will be a lot of pages, so I need to think of the best way to display them. Maybe I can go to Staples and have those turned into spiral books?  I'm not sure.  Maybe I'll just hole punch them and put them in some attractive binders but since I had meant them for me to keep them on my computer and not really thought to print them, I lined up all the text and pictures so the very edge of the paper so I'm afraid that binding them in any way will ruin the pages. I really didn't think this through at all!

Thankfully, when I had gotten this new laptop in December, I had copied those Powerpoint documents from the old one to the new one and not to the external drive!  So I went back to the documents and printed all the pages that mentioned my daughter, in color, on my inkjet printer. Good thing I keep a stock of printer paper and ink cartridges because I had to replace every single cartridge.  In doing so, I realized that I had never finished the 2013 and 2014 "books" and that I was either missing or hadn't made a book for 2012.  I think I must have forgotten to copy it from the old laptop as I had one for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014!

Coincidentally, that was also the day when I received the USB cable that I had ordered in hopes of being able to connect to my external drive with it.  If I wanted to complete the missing sections and create a book for 2012, I had to have access to my pictures!

So I tried the cable... it didn't work. Windows wouldn't recognize my external drive at all. Did I cry of frustration? Yes, yes I did.  And then I don't know what I did, but in moving the external drive on Greg's desk and unplugging it from the router and the electric outlet and then replugging it in, suddenly, it was available as a drive on my laptop again via wifi and the software needed to access it was working again (whaaaaaaat?!?  I have no idea how that happened!).  In the meantime, I had remembered that last year, I had bought an additional external drive, but not a wifi one, as I meant for it to be the back-up drive to that external drive exactly for the same reason: in case one day I couldn't access the wifi drive!  I has started, in fact, copying all my pictures over but I had stopped in May 2016 and I had never copied the rest. Phew, at least I could access those. So I spent the rest of the afternoon copying all my pictures from May 2016 to the end of April 2017 from the Wifi external drive to the cabled external drive, in case the wifi connection thing/software stopped working again , and I also copied all my financial spreadsheets and other documents that I want to back-up. I put a reminder to do this once a week now (I also need to back up my Genealogy database and picture catalog to it!).

Anyhoo, with the pictures copied I used that "new" external drive to access the pictures I needed to complete the 2013 book before going to bed.  It was obvious that this project wouldn't be done by graduation, the next night, so now I aim to give it to her before she leaves for College.

Speaking of my daughter, Middle Son offered to take her to Epcot on Friday before Graduation, and between that and her dad and family going to graduation and having to find easy places to park, it was decided that she would drive to her dad's on Thursday night and spend the night there, and then spend the day with her dad and brother at Epcot on Friday. She promised me that I would still be able to see her on Friday before graduation.

Friday 5/19/17

In the morning, I found more graduation decorations that I had never used for Oldest Son's graduation back in 2012! (I had done other things, as I had completely forgotten, but rediscovered when I recreated the 2012 Powerpoint document during the day!). I cut out the "12" from the signs and hung them around the house for a more "festive" look.  I also had two "congratulations, Graduate!" signs that I planted in the front yard.

The plan for the day was that Daughter would be at Epcot with Middle Son and their dad.  They would take 2 vehicles and my ex would go back to his house mid-day as he had to pick up his wife from the airport.  Middle Son and Daughter would come back here before Graduation so she could get ready.  She would then drive to graduation and Middle Son would hang out here since he couldn't be there that early.  The overflow parking lot is actually at the middle school down the street from my house, so he would walk to the Middle School, meet his dad and other family members there, they would ride the bus to the high school. Then my Daughter told me she'd come back here for a short while after Graduation with her BFF since I had told her I had hoped to see the both of them on Graduation Day (so I could give them their secret goodie bags!), before she would drive back to Orlando to have dinner with her dad and extended family and then spend the weekend at her dad's.

I spent the day recreating the 2012 book from my old blog records. I reinserted all the pictures but didn't have time to embellish anything with clipart so I'll still need to do that.

Right after lunch, I started thinking that if my daughter had to be at the high school by 5:30 p.m. but wasn't going to have dinner until 10ish, she and Middle Son were going to be hungry.  So I drove to Publix and got some graduation cupcakes, several deli subs that I ended up cutting in thirds, some Pringles and potato salad, so I could assemble a quick buffet for them.  I texted her to let her know. She said they would be leaving Epcot "soon". It was just before 2 p.m.

Cupcakes in the colors of her school

At 4:30 p.m., I still hadn't heard from them and started wondering if something had happened.  I texted her and Middle Son replied that they were on the Turnpike and would soon be here.  They got here at 4:55 p.m.  She needed to leave for the high school no later than 5:15 p.m.  She was tired from her day, her hair was all filthy and she was sweaty.  I forced her to take a shower and wash her hair, as she insisted that she was "fine". Uh, no.  Before going to the bathroom, she came down with her graduation gown all bundled up and asked her brother to iron her gown!  Seriously?!  She had the whole week to take care of that and it wasn't done?!  Things like these really irk me.  I grabbed the gown, told Middle Son to get out of my way, and ironed the gown for her. Meanwhile Middle Son played with the kittens and filled me in on their day.  They had eaten at Epcot so Daughter wasn't hungry and she was in a rush so she didn't notice the decorations at all.  She left with her hair wet, said it was hot and it would dry before graduation started at 7 p.m.  True.  I told her not to worry about coming back here after Graduation with her BFF, I don't like being in a rush like this (as she would still have to drive back to Orlando to attend dinner with her dad and his family), so I would see them next week when we had more time to discuss their ceremony and I could give them their surprise goodies.

So Middle Son and I chatted after she had left. Come to find out, they had been late coming home because of him. He had forgotten to bring an outfit to change into so they had had to drive all the way back to East Orlando and then back to West Orlando (where I live) again.  Typical.  Also typical?  He hadn't done his laundry so his clothes needed to be washed. It was now 5:30 p.m. with graduation starting at 7 p.m. and he had to walk a few blocks and then take a bus to get there.  I washed his clothes and set a timer to put them in the dryer.  By the time he said "I should see about moving my clothes to the dryer" they had been in there for 5 minutes already.  At some point, I realized that he smelled pretty rank too so I sent him to take a shower while his clothes finished drying. He ended up with slightly moist clothes but he didn't care.  His dad and family had already taken the bus to the high school. I had heard thunder and it had indeed sprinkled earlier in the afternoon so it was muggy, so Youngest Son and I drove him to the Middle School where a bus was conveniently waiting right at that moment, and he got there in time.  I had asked if he was going to take pictures for us but he had only brought his iPhone. He asked to borrow my hybrid camera but I wouldn't let him take it. Oh well if I don't have pictures. Yes, my ex and his family took some, I'm sure, but I won't ask for any and he probably won't offer any (which is why I won't ask for any).  I'll probably be able to get some from my daughter later on this year, I'm thinking. (update: she just posted some on Instagram so I took screenshots of some of them).

Youngest Son and I drove on to RaceTrac where we got our free Sodapalooza refills and I bought an extra sandwich, because Middle Son had eaten and Youngest Son and I had eaten 1 third of a sandwich each as a snack, and I hadn't planned anything for dinner. So Greg, Youngest Son and I dined on the graduation buffet food and had our own little celebration of sorts. I spent the evening finishing the 2012 book (still need to adorn it with clip art) while "Peep Show" was playing and I was half watching it with Greg.

I had told Middle Son to keep his dirty clothes that he had changed out of in a plastic bag on the front porch and get his dad to swing by after graduation to get his clothes back.  However, I had the good surprise to see my Daughter, along with Middle Son, after graduation, as she had wanted to come see me for a few minutes and show me her summa cum laude (free) sash.  I asked Middle Son to take pictures of us with my camera, but I'm sad to say that none of the pictures turned out, at least not well enough for me to be able to frame one.

I was very happy to see my daughter and got emotional.  She said the speeches had been "stupid" and that she spent the ceremony texting!  I said "well, you didn't text me!" and she replied she and her BFF has been texting back and forth since they were not seated next to one another.  Still, she was very excited and full of enthusiasm after the ceremony, and I was happy to see her in such good spirits.  She said she received a digital photo frame from the State College as a special graduation gift, and a card signed by a lot of her high school teachers, also she said she didn't know most of the teachers who signed the card.

Meanwhile, I forgot to mention that I had never heard back from the principal about the graduation being streamed. He had sound promising when I had first contacted him, but never replied to my follow-up inquiry sent on Wednesday. I'm not surprised, to tell you the truth.

Anyhoo, after we took pictures, my daughter changed back into her regular clothes and she and Middle Son (who did remember to grab his dirty clothes) drove back to East Orlando, where they apparently met, among other, Oldest Son and his GF, along with her dad and his and stepmom's extended families, for dinner at Chili's.  Daughter texted me this morning  and said she and her brothers and Oldest Son's GF had sat in a booth by themselves on purpose because none of them wanted to socialize with anyone else.  That must have been awkward for the other folks who had come to spend time with her, IMO.   Anyhoo.  She also mentioned that she had gotten about $600 in gifts and that she was going to put $500 in Savings.

She will come back on Friday.

Gratitude for the week

I don't want to end this post on a bitter note, so after all this whining, I'm practicing gratitude for the things that went right, namely:
  • It rained for several hours on Saturday last week
  • Greg took me out to walk and to lunch on Sunday
  • I saw Middle Son several times this week
  • I was able to access my pictures after all and copy them to another drive
  • I had forgotten that I had already put together Powerpoint documents based on my old blog, which can be used as Journals for my kids
  • I had forgotten that I had already copied the vast majority of my pictures to the other external drive, which will save me a lot of time
  • Youngest Son's sense of humor
  • Daughter's hard work paid off by being recognized at her Graduation and having a good time there even though she didn't want to attend
  • Time spent with my daughter this week and being able to see her in her cap and gown (and special sash!)
  • Cute kittens who still like to cuddle with me, at times
How are you all doing these days?


  1. (((HUGS))) Nathalie. You go all out to make things special for others to celebrate their special day and then, your special day is all but ignored. I'm sorry. Maybe you need to come right out and say, "I'd like us to spend time as a family doing something together at home"? If it makes you feel better, I, too, had to do dishes on Mother's Day! My daughter is of the opinion that the mothers should celebrate the children who made them mothers on Mother's Day! LOL! I'm sorry your oldest son didn't make contact with you after all the reaching out you've done.

    That's a very sweet picture of you and your grandmother. I haven't seen the adult Nathalie, of course, but the little girl Nathalie looks very cute.

    Congratulations to your daughter, again, for her graduating and with such excellent grades, too. Best wishes to her as she moves forward with her higher education and life.

    I'm glad you were able to look for and list the things for which to be grateful. I know it doesn't make up for much of what didn't go right, but, hopefully, it helped a little bit. Take care of yourself. (((HUGS)))

    1. Thanks, Bless. It is what it is, I know that, but that doesn't mean that it's not hurtful. However, mothers should celebrate the children who made them mothers on Mother's Day<--- isn't that what we mothers have been doing every darn day since they have been born?! Wait until she has her own kids and then you can remind her of that, lol. As far as telling them what I would have wanted to do, well then again, if I have to plan Mother's Day on my own, then where's the fun in that? I didn't want them to buy me anything or even take me anywhere, but something else than an afterthought would have been appreciated. Oh well, I'll get over it (mostly because my memory is terrible so I'll forget about it... until I re-read my post!).

      I can assure you that the grown-up Nathalie looks just like the 10-year-old Nathalie, blond hair and all, hahaha. NOT. Well, in my head I still look like I did when I was 18, because that's how old I was when I first came here. It's a rude awakening every single time I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or a mirror :)

  2. Congratulations to your daughter!
    I hear and feel you about Mother's Day. Awful, awful day. It was good catching up with you...I miss not reading your daily blog. Take care.

    1. Hi Judy, how nice to hear from you! Thank you so much.

      I hope your comment doesn't mean that you had an awful Mother's Day as well. You know, I was thinking, yesterday, that the lady we passed on the trail that day wished me a Happy Mother's Day, as well as someone else at the restaurant. I thought that was nice, on the spot. Then, yesterday, I started thinking "well, what if I had been someone who's struggling with infertility?" and then I started to wonder if people had thought I was pregnant since I was wearing my tight yoga capris and a tank top and I'm pretty rotund... Oh no!

      I hope you're doing well. Enjoy your week!

  3. I'm sorry you had such a lousy Mother's Day...I agree, it's not the same to hear "Happy Mother's Day" when someone has to be told or reminded to say it.

    I love that picture of you with your grandmother. I immediately recognized it was you - your facial features are still the same as in the photo of you as a 10-year old.

    I love smoked herring and pickled herring...yum! Too bad yours was so salty. I wonder if the excess salt could be rinsed off? Or if the salty stuff would hurt the kittens? They probably would love herring, just not sure if the salt would be bad for them.

    That picture of the kittens staring at the dangling graduation decorations is hilarious! They seem so fascinated and intrigued by them.

    I'm jealous of all the rain you got. Nothing, absolutely nothing here. They had rain showers all around us, but it missed us. We really need a good, long, soaking rain. Everything is parched and turning brown.

    Here's to hoping this coming week will be better for you!

    1. Ah, to be blond and slender again! I miss my grandmother so much, she was the best grandma ever.

      I got the herring because I ate it with my grandpa and then I used to enjoy it at the Norwegian Pavilion's buffet at Epcot back in the day, but it was never salty like the one I bought. Seriously, it's like they salted it like cod and then smoked it too. I'm not sure if rinsing it will improve it. It smells so bad that I'm hesitant to reopen the container, ha.

      The kittens had an excellent time with the decorations that first day. They were jumping on the table and the island to get to them and instead of yelling at them, I let them do it, which I guess worked since they stopped being interested after that first day :)

      I hope you get some rain this week! We have several rain chances in the forecast and it drizzles last night. I read this morning that "El Niño" is much less severe than forecasters had predicted, which is going to result in a much more active hurricane season this summer than they also had predicted. I'm hoping the hurricanes stay away but that we do resume getting those afternoon thunderstorms soon. I don't miss the oppressing humidity though :)

      Have a great week!

  4. So sorry you are still feeling blue. Did you go anywhere over the weekend? I have a lot to do today and need to start my list. Yesterday I made a scrumptious (I hardly ever use that word) dinner- creamy parmesan mushroom chicken and 3 bean salad. Of course, I'll be eating it for 3 days but it was tasty. I stopped at Aldi's after church and it was deserted- guess no one goes Sunday mornings. I've been using the Plenti card (Winn Dixie, Mobil) and have $25 in points yay. I'll probably use it on gas when the Prius gets low. Not much else going on- looks like I'm getting new neighbors. The man came over and introduced himself and said he was closing on the house Wednesday. I didn't even know it was for sale! Owner moved in 2 or 3 years ago, divorced and was hardly ever home. New owner look to be my age or older and snowbirds settling in Florida. I would have liked to see a family there- oh well. We got about 20 minutes of rain yesterday and like you, need more.

    1. Hi Nan! Sorry about the new neighbors... were you hoping there would be kids to play with your grandsons? I think I'd take retired people before a family, they'd likely be more quiet :)

      The only place I went this weekend was to the Orlando International Airport as my BFF and her kids were leaving for a couple of weeks in Canada and she had asked me for a ride so she wouldn't have to leave her car at the airport. Greg and I had planned to go walking on Saturday but I didn't feel up to it that morning so he went kayaking instead and I finished watching the 3rd season of "Bosch" on Amazon Prime.

      Well done on your Plenti points! I only have about 2,000 points. I should go to Winn Dixie but it's like Publix these days: I look at their ad and think "I can get this much cheaper at Aldi!" and then I don't go.

      Have a great week, I hope you get some rain!

  5. As for the neighbors, I like kids and seeing them play! Grandsons aren't here that much and they are more your youngest son's speed- even the 12 1/2 year old LOL. The girl across the street is 11 and when she sees me out she always yells Hi Nan...she's not a Southerner LOL. She has a new hoverboard and was telling me all about it- yes, they cost over $300. She got it for her recent birthday. I only buy the BOGO or pretty much wine at WD but they usually have triple gift card points and I give those to my clients. I watched Bosch too! My son texted me yesterday and is flying here soon- he gave me a few dates but hasn't purchased his ticket yet. I haven't seen him since my birthday in November!

    1. I'm glad you'll get to see your son :)

  6. Love those "enthusiasm coupons" by Youngest son. Don't be afraid to use them. Congrats to Middle son for winning second prize in his film festival. That must have been quite the honour. And of course, congratulations to your daughter for recognition of her hard work. You must be proud of your kids, and though they don't show appreciation right now, you will be receiving it in the future. It isn't until they are out on their own for a while that they "suddenly" realize how important you really are in their lives. Oldest son will come around. Just keep reaching out like you have been doing. It IS painful and heartbreaking. There is no denying it. I agree with Bless when she says that you put so much effort into celebrating THEM, and get no recognition in return. But it will come.

    I am so excited about the gift you are creating for your daughter. She will absolutely adore it. Don't feel regretful about not "keeping up with it". It sounds like you had everything you needed to complete the project, and some other good things came out of your efforts. You have access now to some things you thought were gone. Also, I am so glad that she was excited about her graduation and the celebrations.

    1. Thanks, Susan. Right now I'm thinking I'm going to stop reaching out to him (I know, I've said that before and then I cave) and let the chips fall where they may. I've tried. If he comes around, he comes around.

      I haven't done any work on the gift for my daughter since I posted that update, LOL! I got a little burnt-out. That's OK, I'll try to work on it this summer.


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