Sunday, June 25, 2017

Diary of the Mother of Houdini Kittens ~ Sunday 6/25/17

I instructed the kittens last night to let me sleep in this morning.  However, at 5:45 a.m., I kept on hearing noises outside my bedroom and then a loud crash.  I kept a couple of brooms there because there's nowhere else to put them upstairs and I don't like traipsing back downstairs whenever I need to sweep something, and they're one of Tabby Kitty's favorite "toy". He loves to chew on the bristles.  So I guess he was bored at 5:45 a.m. and got started with that and then all 3 kittens were batting the brooms around.  I got up to reprimand them and they all scampered downstairs. I went back to bed.

At 6:20 a.m. I hear a noise by my nightstand: it's Explorer who's once again tormenting the mini blinds and now he's succeeded in breaking the 2nd one. Argh. I'm upset and carry him out of my bedroom. I find Princess laying down on the carpet in the hall so I push the two of them down the stairs and close the door on the landing.  We never close it but I've had enough.  I also push my bedroom door closed. There! I go back to sleep.

At some point, I feel movement on my mattress and I open my eyes and find myself face to face with Explorer!  WTH?!  I'm too tired to get up and see how he got back in so I tell myself that Greg probably got up and felt bad for him and let him back upstairs.  I fall back asleep.  Later on I vaguely hear a cat launching itself at a door and crying for me. It's Princess but I don't care, I want to sleep, damn it.  It stops and I fall back asleep

I wake up a while later with something on my chest: it's Princess, just sitting there, staring at me. She sees that my eyes are open, grabs my nose with her paw, and tries to bite it. Ouch!  Explorer is purring next to me and I pet him and tell him love words while trying to figure out how she got in!  I'm thinking Greg went fishing and left the door open and she probably just pushed my bedroom door open.  She gets jealous of Explorer and starts acting like she's about to swat him but ends up lying on my arm and they start giving each other a shower, each liking the other's head. Awww, I love it when they're so mellow :)

I finally decide to get up. Going to the bathroom, I notice that the landing door is still closed.  Greg is still in bed, sleeping.  I've mentioned before that in our old house, the doors have a pretty high clearance at the bottom, probably for ventilation before central AC was installed.  However, I didn't think the kittens could still fit in the gap, especially not Explorer who is huge, larger than New Kitty who is a year and a half older than him!  I decide to wait for Greg to get up and ask him if he let the cats in.  Later on,  I ask. No, he didn't.  We have Houdini kittens!

It's Sunday, yay!  I feed the kittens downstairs and since New Kitty is the only one of the older cats who really seems to want to eat right away, I decide to just feed her for now so the kittens won't eat Male Cat's and Mean Kitty's breakfast while my back is turned.

I brew a pot of coffee using another free K-cup from Starbucks, sigh at the sight of all those dirty dishes that I still haven't washed, and decide to go sit on the futon to drink my coffee and catch up on emails, the news, etc.

My ex and his wife are planning a European trip next year and he called me last night to ask my advice about Paris. I've never lived there so I really don't know anything about what the best and worst neighborhoods are, but he kept insisting that I must know. WTF, dude?  Google it.  I.have.never.lived.there!  However, I offer to contact my brother to find out if the neighborhood in which they're thinking of getting an airbnb is "safe".  A big part of me is thinking that he called me only to rub into my face that he's going to France with his wife, like I care. I suspect he'll next ask for my brother's contact info but I'll refuse because we've been divorced 16 years and he needs to not be involved with my family.  I don't mind remaining friendly but I have my limits. I was actually looking forward to our daughter turning 18 which meant I didn't need to co-parent with him anymore and we could finally completely go our own way (forgot about any potential grandkids, arrgh) so, nope.

This morning my brother had replied so I texted my ex with the info.  I told my daughter last night about her dad's call and she was all "he told me about needing to call you to ask you about Paris and I told him you wouldn't know anything because you never lived there but he kept on insisting that you had to know and it drove me nuts because it'd be like asking me about the boroughs of NYC!". She's funny and completely right :)

Today is another Bondathon on ION TV so I planned on having that playing in the background all day, but I check the TV listings online and they're playing the exact same line-up as last Sunday so I turned Pandora on instead and I'll just listen to the Vivaldi channel all day. It's nice and relaxing.

I start the Swagbucks videos (my first goal has shot up to 96 SB!) and after an hour or so nGage is over but luckily the automatic nCraves appear in my line-up, woohoo!  I also realize that I think I completely forgot to earn the Microsoft Rewards yesterday so I make sure to earn them today.  I've reached the 5,250 credits needed for a $5 Amazon gift card so I redeem my credits and the card arrives in my inbox almost instantaneously.  Yay!

My daughter is up early for a Sunday and ready to drive to her dad's house at 9 a.m. She'll be gone through dinner tomorrow night so I don't have to feed her at all for 48 hours. However, we're paying for the gas and tolls to get there. An hour later she texts me to confirm she got there safely. I love that she's so on the ball with this, without complaining about it.  Meanwhile, I turned up the thermostat to 75F in the kitchen for the next 2 days since her room doesn't need to be that cool while she's gone.

Greg gets up in the meantime. He's all sleepy and confirms he didn't deal with the cats at all last night.  He sits in his chair and tries to wake up and after a while mentions that he really wants the Belgian waffle at Johnny's Flapjacks.  I offer to make him breakfast (he declines) so I offer to take him to Johnny's Flapjacks. He refuses since "I've already had breakfast" but I point out that, actually, I haven't had breakfast yet. Now I'm craving a breakfast date!  However, just as quick, he's decided to make himself a peanut butter, jelly and sliced strawberries sandwich and asks if he can drink the rest of my coffee.  MY strawberries and MY coffee?!  That's a bit much, Greg!  But I reluctantly agree.  Grrr. I'll be short on strawberries before Wednesdays.  However, he decides there's not enough coffee left and he doesn't want it. Yay!

He eats his sandwich while I'm cuddling with Princess who came to lie next to me on the futon, and I'm catching up on more news. Then I go make my usual breakfast and while it's cooking, I cut up another zucchini for the next few breakfasts. I go back to the living room to eat my breakfast on the futon.  Before that, I also fed Male Cat who was now looking for his breakfast. Mean Kitty isn't making any moves to show me that she's hungry so I leave her alone.

Greg's groaning and I can tell he's kind of cranky, which stresses me. However, he denies it and then decides to drive to RaceTrac to get his Sodapalooza refills. Since I'm dressed, I decide to go with him so I can get myself a caffeine free Diet Coke and a lemonade for our son with our Sodapalooza cups. I cover my breakfast so the kittens don't eat it while I'm gone.   I vaguely think to leave a note for Youngest Son in case he wakes up and finds himself alone, but don't because we'll be gone 10 minutes tops and he can always text us.

We come back from RaceTrac to find him up and wondering where we were! I tell him which cats I've fed and hand him his lemonade. He goes to sit at his PC and a cat jumps on his lap immediately. A bunch of neighbors are all mowing their lawns and Greg reminds our son that it's supposed to rain at 1 p.m. so if needs to mow the backyard before then. He and I playfully argue about whether or not the yard actually needs to be mowed (it hasn't rained in 3 days, it really doesn't need it) but I shrug.  Youngest Son eventually gets going and starts mowing.  Greg is working on the porch, today he wants to replace the 2nd original post with a newer post that he bought and will match the first one that he replaced.  I think he could have just left the original one in place and painted it white, who cares if they don't match perfectly, it was close enough. Oh well. He's forgotten to buy a large bolt so he heads on over to Ace Hardware. I remind him to use the Discover Card since we get 5% back in bonus Rewards at home improvement stores this summer, I hope he remembers to.  I just got the email alert from Discover that a charge was made (I signed up for all kinds of email alerts from all of our credits cards last year and I love it!) so he DID remember. Yay honey!  He spent a little over $8.

Our kitchen sink has a large window over it that gives me a view of the front porch. I really don't want to do the dishes while they're banging going on in front of me because I was going to re-watch an old episode of mellow "Great British Baking Show" while I did them, so now I'll just wait until he's done with the porch.  I read a couple more "Money Diaries" on Refinary29 dot com and the latest posts on Reddit Personal Finance. I love reading about people and how they handle/mishandle their money!

Earlier today I told Greg that I wished it wasn't so hot so we could go on a hike and he said that the heat was "all in my head". What? It's 86F and humid today and I don't want to get heatstroke again so my head is telling me to not go hiking. I should get on the bike though because I haven't biked in a couple of days and my weight was back up 0.2 lbs this morning. I was ready to blame it on the over-salted chicken dish last night but I checked my sodium intake on MFP and while it was over my goal, it really wasn't over by that much.

I just checked the Yahoo! Weather app and we have a 100% chance of rain at 3 p.m. so I won't water the flowers.  I do hope it rains because they're parched.

Zinio sent me an email to alert me that the latest digital issue of Kiplinger's mag is available to read for free via my library system. But I also get a free printed subscription so I'll wait for the real magazine to come in and read through it while I'm biking.  However, this reminds me that I brought my Kindle down with me this morning so I could start reading my book again. I need to get off the laptop and do that.

Another set of reminder emails came in from my Google Calendar to tell me to print coupons since it's Sunday, so I print a few new coupons via Swagbucks and clip them, along with the coupons from the free insert I got yesterday. I always use my non-wifi laser printer to print the coupons as toner is cheaper than ink cartridges.  The paper continues to be paper I once got for free or almost free after rebate from Staples.  I still have many reams of it.  I also upload new digital coupons to my Publix digital wallet and digital CVS store coupons to my app.

I was going to cook the tilapia for dinner tonight that I had defrosted for last night's dinner but Greg didn't seem too enthused so I'm defrosting a 1-lb chub of ground beef instead (I'll cook the tilapia tomorrow) and I'll make burgers for the men tonight. There's still turkey and beans chili left over from earlier in the week, so I think I'll have that.

Speaking of food, I just planned my food intake in my journal. I looked back and the first day I started on this new way of eating was May 23 so it's been a little over a month and so far 15 lbs lost, woohoo!  Thanks again, Bonnie, for inspiring me to do this!

What is NOT inspiring me, though, are the dirty dishes in the kitchen. Greg is still working on the porch, in my direct line of view, so I still can't go do them (I don't want to be distracted by the noise and the action going on...). Maybe I'll go make lunch since it's close to 1:30 now and pick up my e-book.

As I was making my lunch, I realized that I'd had a package of on-the-bone, skin-on chicken breasts in the fridge since the day I bought it, over a week ago, so I decided to roast them in the oven.  I paid $0.99 a lb for them and they're more like turkey breasts because two of them are that huge!  I use my favorite seasoning that I baptized Ten Things Farm seasoning after the blog where I found the recipe. Since we don't eat the skin, I pull it away from the meat and rub the seasoning directly onto the breast before pulling the skin back in place. Since they're larger than usual, I'll cook them at least 15 minutes longer.

As for my lunch, it's the same as yesterday but today I get 2 oz of turkey.  The cucumber was starting to get watery so I'm glad I'm finishing it today.    I also brewed myself another pot of coffee, but caffeine free this time.

A confession: I still haven't used the egg yolks that I have been collecting from my morning omelets so I think I'm going to dump them. I dumped the ones from this morning. I feel guilty about it, it's such a waste. I should just make scrambled eggs with them and offer them to the first kid who wakes up!  I'll try to remember that moving forward. I don't want to buy the fake egg stuff because it's so much more expensive than just buying regular eggs!

I continued reading "The Simple Path to Wealth" on my Kindle and drinking my mug of decaf.  I had Princess and Explorer on each side of me, relaxing.

Suddenly, there was a noise in the fireplace and they both freaked out and went to investigate: it was a swift that had fallen in, again.

I called Youngest Son who rounded up all 3 kittens and locked them up in the bathroom (the one room that doesn't have a gap under its door!) and I grabbed a bath towel and opened the front door that we never use, in case the bird flew through the house, so it could escape.  Youngest Son was ready with the camera. I was able to grab the bird awkwardly and the little thing was really fighting to get itself free so he snapped a quick picture and then I let it go and it flew off very fast.  We closed the door and released the kittens, who are now in disbelief that the bird is gone!  Another successful rescue :)

Greg and our son then drove to RaceTrac to get more Sodapalooza refills for us all, since I had the chicken baking in the oven.  I suppose that I am now free to go do the dishes... but I think I'll keep on reading my book for now...

I really like this book!  I discussed it with Greg and it led to my calculating how much of a budget we would be looking at when there's just the two of us if Greg didn't work and come up with a number whereby our yearly expenses would equal to 4% of that number.  Wow, it means we would still need to accumulate the same amount that we already have as net worth just to live very simply, even with having paid of the house. It seems like a tough proposition, but it also helps to realize that we should be saving every penny toward that goal!  The big unknown is how much we'd have to pay in medical insurance costs and who knows with the kerfuffle going on over that very issue right now. But I'm excited to have a precise goal on which to focus once our house is paid off.

Since I borrowed the e-book from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, and it's such a good reference book, I've decided to buy it. A new copy was the same as a used copy + shipping so I purchased it new and went ahead and applied the balance of my gift cards to it since I can't apply the gift cards to my Amazon Visa balance anyway. That left me with a $0.28 OOP which I then charged to Amazon Visa for 5% back in Rewards, lol.

All of this put me in the mood to pick up "The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing" again, that I had bought last year but never finished.  For now it's just sitting next to me...

Youngest Son walked to the park and got swinging done. Free exercise and entertainment!  I was joking with Greg that if we could just taking up the same hobby, we'd be fit and it'd be very frugal.  And that if he were a better fisherman, our cats could be eating fresh fish every day and we could forego the expensive vet food :)

Hey, I reached my 2nd Daily SB Goal thanks to nCrave automatic videos!  Yay!

It's dinner time for the birds as I spot a cardinal on one of my feeders and a dove on the bird bath.

I ended up making just 2 burgers, one for Greg's dinner and one for his lunch tomorrow and putting the rest of the ground beef back in the fridge.  Youngest Son prefers chicken so I cut up some of one of the huge breasts that I roasted earlier and made him a chicken sandwich. Then I steamed 2 ears of corn for them. As for me, I had leftover chili, as I had planned, and a whole wheat bun on the side. I treated myself to a little bit of reduced-fat shredded cheddar on my chili.

Greg and I watched episode 3 of the 4th season of The Great British Baking Show on the PBS app of our Roku.  We love this show so much!

Later on, I turn on an episode of Columbo on over the air TV. I have the whole collection on DVDs but it's just easier to play it on OTA TV.  I'll probably read more Money Diaries while it's on. It's rare nowadays that I don't do two things at once!  Ah, I just realized, however, that it's an episode that I watched on DVD just a few weeks ago and it was actually pretty terrible (one of the newer ones) so Columbo gets turned off.  ION TV is showing "Skyfall" and  Daniel Craig is pretty dreamy so I'm switching to that :)


  1. We have one cat who consistently escapes from the basement where they sleep at night and we can't figure out how he does it. We're thinking about setting up a camera to see what he's doing. Good luck with the kitties tonight. I hope they leave you alone.

    1. I'm convinced cats can reapparate or whatever the term is that they use in the Harry Potter books! Yes, do it, set up the camera and then let us know what you found out! It must be maddening!

  2. If you ever figure out how those kittens got into your room, let us know! By the way, I think I have the same fireplace screen as you! I recognize that grill pattern at the bottom edge! I've never lit a fire in my fireplace, though. Do you use your fireplace at all?

    1. Well, apparently they crawled under the door at the top of the stairs (there's a 3-inch gap under the door, which still makes me wonder how Explorer got his big fat head under there!) and then the latch on my bedroom door must not have caught on and if they launched themselves against the door (as they do to get into the upstairs bathroom when we're in there!), the door opened up. Old doors, old hardware, you know. I think it's original to 1930, when the house was built. And we don't have locks on the doors.

      No, we've never used the fireplace. When we had the house inspected prior to purchasing it, the inspector said that the flume needed to be fixed and the chimney cleaned. But we live in Central Florida so we don't see the point of having a fireplace, lol, and we've never gotten it done. Plus back then we didn't have the money since we got hit with huge plumbing bills as soon as we took ownership of the house. Do you use your fireplace?

  3. Those kitten's adventures are hilarious! I have a busy day and when I get home, I should roast a turkey breast. I defrosted it and it's thawed sooner than I expected. Weekend was OK- nothing exciting at all and we had a thunderstorm last night. At least the electricity stayed on. It's almost July!

    1. I hadn't realized that July 1st was this weekend until you mentioned it. Time is flying, only a little more than a month before school starts again (8/10 for us). I'm glad you got some rain yesterday, we've gotten nothing for the past 3 or 4 days now. I'm about to go outside and water my poor parched plants!

  4. I love those kitties. Great job on saving the bird, it sounds like this happens often. I lived in the old house once with big iron vents in the walls and I came home to a dead sparrow in my bathroom. We figured out it must've flown in through one of those iron events on the cat had a fun time.

    I'm going to try to find that book that you mentioned reading and share it on your Amazon order. I think it would be a beneficial read.

    1. It usually happens 2 or 3 times every Spring as the baby swifts want to come out of the nest, I think. The woodpecker we had a couple of weeks ago was really unusual, as unusual as the baby flying squirrel that fell in last year! I'm an old hand at getting them out now, but it sure provides excitement for the various cats. Male Cat used to come running but now he doesn't bother. I think having the very active three kittens just exhausted him this past year, hahaha.

      Oh no, poor sparrow! At least it wasn't a bat. I'd prefer never having to handle bats (rabies, you know). They tell you not to touch them so I'd have to let it flounder in there and die... so I really hope we'll never get one. Our roof is very pitched, I don't want Greg to try getting up there (and he doesn't want to go either!). I should have asked the roofers to cover the opening to the chimney with chicken wire while they were up there and paid them extra back when we had the roof redone.

      If you have a Kindle, you can borrow "The Simple Path to Wealth" from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library for free. I think you'll enjoy it. It's nice to see someone who has good (in my opinion) advice that's not terribly complicated and makes sense. His premise, basically is: get out of debt, live simply, accumulate wealth by investing in just 2 mutual funds at Vanguard for both your taxable and non-taxable accounts and just hold down the fort despite all the storms out there because historically, the market has been very resilient and slow wins the race. He also outlines what to do once you stop working. I like simple and financial stuff makes my head hurts. I'd been thinking for a long time that we needed to consolidate all our investment accounts into Vanguard because we have so many of them all over the place and it makes it very complicated to track. Now I need to see how to transfer everything to Vanguard. I'm not savvy enough to know if that would trigger Capital Gains tax, etc. So I don't want to be stupid in doing that. I really need to find a tax accountant who knows about that and can advise us but where to find someone who is knowledgeable and that I can trust? That's the problem. I'll have to ask my real estate agent friend if she uses one...

    2. Nathalie,
      You could also call Vanguard and they might be able to advise you. I don't know if you have read "The Millionaire Teacher" But he gave great advice on opening index funds in Vanguard for saving and investing.

    3. We do already have a Vanguard account. I don't know if they could give us tax advice, though. I really want to make sure that, by transferring accounts from other companies to Vanguard, I don't trigger penalties and taxes that we could avoid by doing it differently or at different times. I've sent a text to my friend to ask if she might be able to recommend a CPA who could advise us. We'll see...

      No, I haven't read "The Millionaire Teacher". Maybe I'll check it out after I'm done with Bogleheads' Guide to Investing. Thanks!

  5. Congratulations on your terrific weight loss!!! Good for you ( :

    1. Thanks, Bonnie! I owe it all to you!

  6. My son's cat Brucie used to love chewing on the bristles of brooms, brushes and the like. He also loved chewing on the fake evergreen branches of the Christmas tree and evergreen garlands. Cats are very entertaining creatures.

    You talked about not wanting to find a bat in the house? You reminded me of the time that my son returned from school to find one attached to the wall of his bedroom. We have absolutely no idea how it got into the house. Rick was out of town for work, so it was up to me to get rid of this thing. I shoved a bucket over him trapping him on the wall, and then slid a piece of cardboard between the wall and the opening of the bucket to trap him inside. I took him outside and released him. I just remember that he flew away from the house, which pleased me no end; but it took me the rest of the evening to recover.

    1. LOL, I do that with lizards! I'd probably be squealing the whole time I'm trying to trap the bat. You're lucky it stayed in one spot like that! Maybe it had fallen asleep! I think Greg also had a bat that got into his room when he was little, back in Michigan. I need to ask him about it again...

      And yes, cats are AWESOME!

  7. You instructed the kittens to let you sleep in? That made me laugh...what were you thinking?

    15 lbs lost in a month is a fantastic weight loss! Congratulations! In response to your question on a previous post, I'm thinking of treating myself (well, me and my husband) to a weekend in St. Augustine once I reach the 10% lost goal. It's still a while away, so we'll see. What do you have planned? (You gotta reward yourself somehow, don't you?)

    Too funny about your ex asking your advice about Paris. Mine would probably do the same thing about a place in Germany - but only to rub in that he's going there.

    1. They DO listen to me... sometimes. I swear! Yeah, I think my ex asked me the questions ONLY to rub it in that he's going there with his wife, in case the kids didn't tell me.

      And he'll take you to eat at the nearby Bill Murray restaurant, right? My reward was perhaps going to be a bed but I just ordered one (well, a platform for my mattress). So I'm not sure what my reward might be now. I need to think about it. 10% of my weight in kittens sounds about right...


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