- My garden has survived. I am very surprised and excited to see that the majority of my plants have decided to grow this week. I did lose about half my cucumbers and have replaced 6 green pepper plants but my tomatoes are looking awesome!
- Today is the last business day of May which means I received my final paycheck of the school year. I have an account set up that I do receive a check at the end of June and July. I was able to pay monthly bills for June and get a good picture of our debit and spending.
- Disney World announced several changes that are going to affect our upcoming trips. We did learn that we will most likely be required to wear mask in August. This is the change that I am most unhappy about. I am going to remain optimistic that lower attendance and the chance to enjoy more variety will still make our trip special and unique. We are also currently hearing that both the Halloween party and the Christmas party may be cancelled. I am again trying to remain optimistic as this is the whole reason for the two short trips!
- Today, all the kids unofficially finish up the school year. I am still working until June 15th. The sad part is next Monday and Tuesday are definitely the busiest two days of the last several months for me.
- Our plans for a yard sale have been postponed due to the weather. I am really doubtful at this point that we have a yard sale until the fall. I don’t do well in the heat and I am afraid that once the rain stops the heat and humility will be unbearable.
I have not had the opportunity to blog about our very big adventure as a family of five this year. As you can probably tell, we as a family love Disney. We were fortunate enough in the past to make a trip every 18 months to 2 years. However we have not been to Disney World since 2017, almost three full years. Matt andI had some conversations and then present an idea to Lily, Kendall and Zach. They were immediately on board. Today, I am going to share with you the plan and the process.
The plan!!! Instead of birthday parties, large Easter baskets and a huge Christmas celebration, we are planning 3 separate and unique trips to Disney World over the next year. The kids also suggested that we not do our annual beach trip in order to use that money toward Disney as well.
In August, we will fly in on a Saturday, spend Saturday evening in a park, probably Hollywood Studios, Spend all day Sunday at Magic Kingdom and enjoy breakfast at Ohana’s with Stitch on Monday morning before flying home. We are planning to use a gift card to purchase food on this trip with only one character meal. Originally, we had wanted to attend a Halloween party during this trip but I was able to book flights at a very low rate prior to the Halloween party dates so we thought just make the best of it. It is always fun at Disney!
In December, we will again fly out on a Saturday. This trip should include the Christmas party, Christmas around the World via Epcot and the Christmas tree trail at Disney springs and at least one additional fun day at a park. We are planning to return on Wednesday but I have not booked flights yet in order to make sure we get to attend a Christmas party. We have purchased the Dinning plan that includes two meals per day. So I am sure we will have at least 4 character meal if not more!
Our final and biggest trip will be in April 2021. We are going to drive to Disney on Thursday and spend 10 days enjoying all that Disney has to offer. We are considering a split stay which would mean 2 seperate hotels. We are also looking at which dinning plan will be the most beneficial to us.
Currently, we have purchased and paid for airline tickets, hotel and tickets for the kids in August. Matt and I are considering annual passes so this will be purchased separately. A gift card with $780 will be purchased with Matt’s third paycheck in July. This is the amount that the Disney Dinning Plan would cost. I am anxious to see if we have any money left. This will include $210 for our meal at Ohana’s. If we have any left from this gift card it will be used to help pay for the December trip or will be used in April for the food or sounievers.
We have paid the deposit for our December trip. Birthday money and Christmas money will be used to pay for this trip along with extra work for me in Guam. The goal is to use airline miles to cover our flights as well.
April Trip- We are currently working on selling items that are no longer being used in our house. The goal is to also have a yard sale in May that will cover the deposit and also apply any remaining amount to this balance. We will be using our Tax return for this trip as well. Matt’s third check in December will also be directed to this trip.
We are all so excited. We currently have two separate count downs going on. One for the August trip and a second for the April trip. Stay tuned and help use on the journey!
Time for a confession, we have already spent out entire grocery budget for the month of February, well actually we spent it all by last Sunday aka “Junk Food Sunday.” I actually do know where all of it went and I am ok with it. But I definitely need to make sure that we use up all the food we have so that I am not wasting and going out to buy more. This week I have really been focused on not have any food waste. Monday, everyone took left-overs for lunch. Kendall ended up taking 3 separate days of left-over from the veggie tray to dip. On Tuesday, I made sliders to use the Hawaiian Rolls and cheese from the cheese tray. Wednesday was a pick your own left-over. Thursday, I took the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower covered with cheese slices and baked. I also used the rest of the baby carrot to cook as a side dish.
For lunch on Saturday (today) I cut up the rest of the chicken from Costco last week and made chicken and cheese quesadillas with Taco Fries. I used up the rest of the Taco dip by placing on top of French fries! This was an awesome treat at lunch! Everyone liked the fries! I am also going to count our Taco fries as a new recipe this week! We still have about 2 cups of chicken that is cut up.
I found this morning a new recipe to try in the crockpot. It calls for 3 cooked chicken breast. Instead of cooking chicken breast, I am going to use the rest of the chicken from Costco and also throw in a couple of sticks of teriyaki chicken that is left-overs from Chinese on Friday! I made 16 cups of chicken broth from the bones and skin of the chicken so I am positive that we have gotten our monies worth from that chicken.
Another way I am saving this week is by using gift card earned via Swagbucks. We hit Walmart last night and purchased some needed personal hygiene items, filters for our heating and air system and even water flavor packets using a gift card!
I am also keeping an eye on the cost of flights for our August trip to Disney. It would appear that I may be able to get round trip flights for less than $200 each!
We survived the busiest six weeks that I can remember. During the month of October, all three kids were involved in one additional activity besides piano and church. This weekend, Lily had three performances of her play. I can honestly say that I was super excited and luck to have yesterday off from work just to catch up.
Income update- The really good news on this front is not only is Matt working a job that actually pays well but we both have part time jobs. This is a source of stress. We had a couple of different discussions regarding how we could or if we should even attempt this. We are at a point where the kids are pretty self sufficient so that allows us to have the ability to add not one but two part time jobs. I am working in Guam via teletherapy as an Occupational Therapist. This was a job that I initially applied for in February 2017. I have decided to limit by availability to Sunday night for a full 8 hours and Wednesday night to around 3 hours. Because of the 15 hour time difference this schedule works well. I will admit that the first week was a challenge but I also feel that once I get in the swing of things, I should be able to maintain a low level of stress. This job will continue until the end of May. At that time, we will again evaluate and decide if I want to attempt this for a second school year. Matt is working 10 hours a week as the marketing manger for the Humane Society of Davie County. We are currently unsure how long this job will last but God has a plan and a purpose so we need to simply obey. My plan is to use the extra money in November and December to get us on track. I will share an updated budget in December.
I took a day from work last Friday to catch up on grocery shopping. I was able to go to Costco, Aldi and Food Lion and restock our pantry. So far for the month of November, I have spent $750 on groceries. I would bet this number will end up closer to $800 but I am definitely ok with that. I will run numbers at the end of the year but I have a feeling that I need to increase our grocery budget instead of decrease this year.
We are currently driving a car that gets better gas mileage than either of the vans. This is a family decision that I don’t feel free to discuss but it should reduce our gas spending at least as long as we continue to drive it.
To close out our busy season, we had a family movie night on Monday. We watched Toy Story 4. It was much better than I anticipated, in fact it is my second favorite Disney movie now!
Disney was awesome!! I can honestly say it will be remembered as one of our best trips EVER!
I have been very vague about sharing a lot of details especially here (on the blog). One of the reason, was safety and the second was the overall expense. Since we are back I feel much more comfortable sharing in regards to safety. As far as expense, yes it was super expensive but it was a trip that Matt and I agreed to, a choice that we made and the only thing that matters is that we agreed! We also agreed that we will not be planning another trip until we have conquered out debit! But let me share some of the details. I will be sharing more pictures and such over the next couple of weeks as well.
We left around 1pm on Thanksgiving Day and arrived to our room right around midnight. This did not stop us from begin up bright and early Friday morning for Epcot. This was a change from our previous trip as well. We stayed even the first night on site and it was so nice to arrive and know that we did not have to get back in the car for 10 days.
We spent 3 days in Magic Kingdom, which allowed up to ride EVERY ride and enjoy most shows and of course meet a lot of characters. Epcot was seen in two days with the first spent with our friends. We did accomplish our goal of eating around the world. We tasted at least one food item from every country. We watched Whoopi Goldberg narrate The Candlelight processional, which is truly an experience. We spent one day each at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We also scheduled a day for resort hopping and a second day for the pool and Disney Springs. My favorite show after the live production of Beauty and the Beast was the Hollywood Studio Christmas special “Jingle Bell Jingle Bam” It started at 8pm which allowed us to get back to our room at an average time. Of course, the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were awesome and lived up to everything!
Zach planned ahead and chose to celebrate his birthday at Animal Kingdom. He wore his birthday pin all day. We ate breakfast at Tusker House and he received a cupcake with Mickey sprinkles and a card signed by Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy. Lily chose to celebrate her birthday at Magic Kingdom. She wore her birthday hat, from 2 years ago, and a birthday pin. She was lucky enough to receive a signed card from Belle and Beast at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
We were fortunate enough to receive several free items including a funnel cake, a marshmallow Mickey and each of the kids received a Mickey ice cream bar on Lily’s birthday.
The resort was the only thing that did not live up to our expectations. The layout was confusing and especially hard to navigate at night. The housekeeping was slack. I ended up calling at least 4 night to request more towels and wash clothes. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside, which is considered a moderate resort but it was definitely not what we expected.
We ended up with the Dinning Plan which we used every last item! We actually brought home 3 additional bottles of water and 4 bottles of Diet Coke. I enjoyed not having to worry about the cost. The only down side to the dinning plan for us was that gratuity was not included, for table service meals. We tried several different table service meals this time. Tusker house was great at Breakfast and the Garden Grill was an great dinner. I was disappointed at the Cape May Café so we will not be returning there. My overall favorite was definitely Be Our Guest!
I just downloaded over 850 pictures from our memory maker and we probably have another 500 between our phones and IPAD. But I promise to share only 7 or less at a time.
We stayed at total of 10 nights and returned home on Sunday (12/3) around 8pm.
- We leave for Disney next week! I am so excited. This will be our longest vacation ever!
- All five of us at home will be part of our Church’s Christmas musical. I am not excited about this because I have a small speaking part at least no singing.
- I decided this year to be a “minimal” year for Christmas decoration. I have my snow village in my bedroom. Our huge Christmas tree in the living room and the girls both have small trees in their rooms. I am excited to be finished!
- December is a 3 paycheck month! This is awesome timing as it gives up spending money for our vacation!
- In addition to be a minimalist in regards to decorating, Christmas gifts are the same way. I am planning on 3 gifts from us and 1 from Santa. This is a HUGE change as my older girls remember the 12 days of Christmas, where we opened one gift each day and still have several for Christmas morning.
Our car insurance jumped by $40 and when I called to find out why, I was assured it was nothing that I had done but that rates in my state had increased that much. The second piece of “great” news was that Gieco will only insure in NC for six months at a time due to rates.
On a slightly better note, I have been seeing an advertised special for Sirus radio that included 30 days of free service. This is usually awesome for us as we are traveling to and from Florida. Matt checked into it today and it was actually a 60 day free trial. This is awesome and will make driving a little bit easier for all of us.
I am actually looking forward to the month of December because it provides an extra pay check! My goal is to end the year on a positive financial note!
We are fast approaching our Disney trip. Everyone is super excited. Which means they are also pretty eager to make money by extra chores. The benefit for me is that means I should have time to get my decorating done prior to the trip. This weekend, my plan is to put up the snow village.
All three kids had dentist appointments today, no cavities for anyone!