Today I am thankful for some extra time off from work. When I worked at the hospital, Veteran’s Day was not considered a holiday of any shape or fashion. At the school system today is definitely a holiday. I had some extra time today to spend at church preparing for the fundraiser this weekend. We all enjoyed a special treat with a lunch out. Matt and I made a grocery store trip. Finally haircuts for all of us!
I so enjoy the month of November. It is uplifting and inspiring to hear and express gratitude. I have tried and failed in the past with posting a thought each day of thankfulness both on line and on the blog. This year, I am going to keep it simple. Of course I am very thankful for my family and friends. I am thankful to see and spend time with my Mom on a regular basis. I really enjoy modern conveniences such as central air and heat. But this year, my goal is to post a thankful thought each Thursday of the month. And it can not be the simple things already listed above!
Today, I am thankful for the financial blessing that we have received and enjoyed over the past year. They have help us pay of debit expand our lifestyle a bit and find ways to spend quality time together. But today, I am thankful for these financial blessing because they have allowed us to face and work around an expected job loss with minimal changes to our lifestyle.
Matt’s last day of employment will be next Friday November 12th. The current plan is for him to start tackling a long list of task and repairs that need to be completed. He will also be looking for another job but he is not forced to accept anything and we fully anticipate his unemployment to last around a year. But of course our prayer is that God will direct our paths and present a job either today or a year from now that will be the perfect fit.
Thanksgiving is a very fluid holiday around our house. Many of our Thanksgivings have been spent travelling. We have travel to Michigan and Georgia to visit with family on most of these trips. We also have discovered that Thanksgiving is an awesome time to visit Disney World.
This year we are quarantined. Technically, Matt has been released but the kids and I are officially quarantined through Monday November 30th. The good news is that Matt is definitely better. I am starting to feel human again. I am positive that I have experienced COVID twice now but did not chose to test on either occasion. The kids all have not had any symptoms. I chose not to test this time because the kids would end up needing to quarantine another 14 days after my test. They have been really troopers and this really would benefit no one. We did end up cooking both the turkey and ham along with multiple side dishes. We have been enjoying and even packed some lunches for next week. Thanksgiving was not cancelled just quarantined.
Zach has been experiencing some stomach issues. After multiple discussion with his pediatrician’s office, we don’t feel they are COVID related. Instead, a food intolerance. We are going to watch his diet as well as complete some testing to try and get a handle on what is causing this.
The goals for the rest of the holiday are to get the Christmas decorations complete!
Did you ever think to yourself- why might could happen if you decided to buy a new car on Friday the 13th 2020? I am so glad I am not the only one and I do have the definitive answer- COVID!
- We decided to go ahead and trade the 2016 Honda CVR that I have been driving in for a 2019 Chevy Equinox on Friday November 13th. We actually were going to shop on Friday night and planned to purchase on Saturday but we ended up finishing up all the paperwork and driving away in the new to us car around 9pm.
- I am going to share the reasons we decided to trade cars just for future reference and so I can prove to myself that we did think this through and not regret the purchase. First- neither Matt nor I really enjoyed driving the Honda CVR, it was not a car that we would have purchased. It was under powered and although the gas mileage was better than the van, not enjoyable to drive. Next- the payment was extremely high. I actually had to split the payment in half in order to make it fit our budget. After doing the research, I realized that we could likely reduce our payment by trading even with our upside down status. Finally- Matt has been employed at his job for over a year. Which allowed us to improve both of our credit scores at the same time. By trading and placing the new Equinox in Matt’s name, we reduced my debt ratio and improved his rating with consistent payments. We have accomplished all we set out to do. Car payment is $100 less, Equinox is a car we both enjoy driving and credit will improve in the next six months.
- Sunday, the kids arrived home from spending the weekend with Haley and we took them for a drive in the new car. We ended up eating outside at the Salisbury Cracker Barrel. Matt and I had skipped church that morning because he was not feeling well and we did not want to expose any one to our germs. After eating on Sunday, Zach became sick and threw up. It was a one time thing so I did not worry about it as this can happen.
- Monday- Matt says he is staying home from work so I decided to take Zach to school. He does not have a fever at home or at school. I honestly thought he had a case of the “Mondays”. I dropped him off at school and headed to work where I was schedule to see 3 kids back to back a 30 minute break and another 5 kids back to back. I get a call from Matt that his boss suggest he go test for Covid, because he is positive and has exposed the whole office all week. I finish the third kid and as I am checking my phone to call Matt back, Zach school is calling he threw up!
- Matt did test positive. By Friday (today) his symptoms are very light and he is only taking medicine at night. We suspect that Zach had food poisoning – I ate some of the spinach dip that he had on Sunday and it was bad. I threw it out after one bite and had a horrible stomach ache. By Friday, Zach is completely better! I have had what feels like sinus stuff to me. I have not had a fever, but runny nose and wet cough. Lily has had a sore throat but feels much better today. Kendall ended up with a headache. Everyone is currently on quarantine. We have not left the house since Monday. We are praying for two specific things- no one else get COVID and we can have a small family Thanksgiving. We have been told that 3-4 days without symptoms can end Matt’s quarantine and if no one else has symptoms especially a fever before then. We should be safe. the health department is suppose to call on either Thursday or Wednesday to officially release us as well.
Our family tends to travel a lot. Some of this travel is by choice and some is by necessity. Most of our travels are planned well in advance which allows us plenty of time to save. However this was not the case for our Thanksgiving trip to Michigan. We decided that this was an important trip on November 3rd, two week before we needed to travel. Here are the ways we used to save money on this short notice trip.
1. I spent around 4 hours or more trying to find a hotel on priceline and the other “cheap hotel sites”. I had two huge things working against me, first we were two weeks away from the trip and the second was this is a holiday weekend. I finally decided to call the hotel we usually stay at. I was able to get a room for all five of us and the dog and breakfast for less than $100 a night which is our good price. After having success calling the first hotel, I called the second with the same results. The average price per night was $100! Tip#1- Call the hotel direct and ask for pricing.
2. Gift Cards- We continue to attempt to use Swagbucks on a regular basis. Each month the first gift card is discounted to 2200 or $22 for a $25 card. Starbucks is always a favorite so we try and keep around $50 loaded to it at all times. I also took advantage of some promotions, and this helped our budget a great deal. We had around $150 in gift cards for this trip and even managed to combine with sales to stretch it a bit further. My suggestion is to purchase gift cards ahead of time an keep a stash for trips and other surprises.
3. Pack a Cooler- The average price of a soda is between $1.50 and $2.00. Just by packing drinks and water, we saved at least $100. I also packed sandwich items and frozen burritos in our cooler. We were able to eat breakfast in the hotels and then ate one meal from the cooler or even left-overs so we ended up eating an average of one meal a day out while traveling. Even if we would have eaten fast food for each meal we saved at least $40 a day by bring a cooler.
4. Pack snacks- We like to eat while driving and crunchy snacks help keep you awake. I have a snack bag that stays in each vehicle but for a trip we ended up making individual size bags of chips and popcorn. This worked well and was much easier than trying to carry large bags and eat from them.
5. Check gas prices and make a plan. We discovered that it was cheaper to buy gas ahead of time then waiting to fill when we had to.
There is no doubt in my mind how blessed we are as a society, a country, a family and even personally. I could list a million things that I am thankful for but does that make me any better of a person or blogger. I personally don’t think so. I know I am blessed and I need to use gratitude every day all day and not just one day a year. So instead of a list of things I am thankful for, I am going to tell you some special event and things that are happening in my life.
We are currently in Sandy Springs Georgia which is just outside of Atlanta. Both the older girls have work commitments so it is just Matt, myself and the not so little kids. We spent today with Matt’s sister, her family and Matt’s Dad. The kids had a truely special treat by going to “Legoland” with their two older cousins this morning. They really enjoyed it and I honestly could not be sure who had more fun the big or little kids. The rest of the day was spent enjoying conservation and tine with family that always loved not always close enough to share with.
I am also extremely grateful for a daily devotional given to me by my sister in law called “Daily Gratitude”. I can’t wait to start getting a daily reminder of who and why I am blessed.
The plans for tomorrow are very vague at this point but I do know that we have “Afternoon Tea ” schedule at the American Girl Bistrow, my girls are so excited and so am I.
Our Sunday School lesson this morning was from Priscilla Shirer, The Armor of God. I was reminded, ok slapped up side the head, with the truth about thanksgiving. I am so abundantly blessed, that I should never have to think about the things I am thankful for but they should bubble up all during the day. With all things, practice never hurt so here is a short list for today.
- The awesome ladies in my class, who are not afraid to be real and who share experience and the idea that we are all sisters of the King.
- My new van, which has a nail in the tire but is still driving without any weird movements.
- A husband, who is not only available to take the above van to get it fix bright and early Monday morning but who will also fill it with gas before exchanging it for his older van while I am working.
- A warm house with an abundance of food and drink. We talked about our first world problems at lunch today.
- A job, I enjoy and feel allows me to make a difference, hopefully a positive difference in at least one person’s life daily.
- An unexpected free weekend, which allowed me to catch up on several different items and still enjoy some downtime today.
- Friends both in real life and on social media who keep me accountable.
One of the things that I consider a real special treat/requirement when visiting Michigan is a trip to “Bronner’s”. This year, I was able to add several new pieces including a house to my snow village. I can’t wait to get home to add these pieces to the ones that I already have in place.
Matt choice one store to visit on Black Friday- it was a local sporting store called “Dunhams”. He purchased 3 Michigan State t-shirts and a pair of work boots for $48!
I am planning on adding a second tree to the house this year and decided it will be a “Disney” themed tree. I have slowly been collecting Disney ornaments over the years and purchased several new items including a tree topper today at the Disney Store outlet. If time permits, I am also going to check on line for any other awesome deals.
Zach is growing again, this time all his shirts are too short. I have purchased a couple of new shirts for him and a sweater to wear at Christmas, but am planning to switch out all his 4T shirt for the new 5T ones that I have been collecting over the past couple of months.
I have spent the most time ever shopping for clothes for myself this trip. I am excited to be able to purchase things several sizes smaller but also a little afraid that if I am not careful I will quickly outgrow these items. I guess this is motivation for me to keep working out on a regular basis.
After our last trip to Michigan, that you read about here, I will be the first to admit that I was not at all excited to plan or start out on a second this year. But I am very pleased to say that we have enjoyed this trip. We did have several bit of excitement on the trip up. The first of which was totally my fault, or I should say my lack of ability to back a vehicle. After checking gas prices, we stopped in Virginia to fill up. I did not check behind me as I had to quickly move the van to a different gas pump and managed to back into a very large green pole with two warning signs on it. The good news is that the only damage was to the brake light that never worked right any way but now will need to be replaced for a third time this year. The only excited on the OHIO turnpike came at the end when I tried to hand over a Canadian quarter, I am still trying to figure out where I got one to start with? The trip itself lasted about 15 hours which was not bad considering we stopped every two hours or so.
We spent Wednesday shopping, at Bronner’s and Birch Run so at least I enjoyed the day. I have been able to find some awesome deals that I may share in a separate post later. Thursday was spent playing in the hotel pool and with family, just the way it should be!