Tuesday Thoughts/Catch Up

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!

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.

5 Things Friday- 11/18/2017

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  1. We leave for Disney next week! I am so excited. This will be our longest vacation ever!
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. December is a 3 paycheck month! This is awesome timing as it gives up spending money for our vacation!
  5. 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.

Thursday Thoughts- 11/09/2017

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!

 

Thankful Tuesday Thoughts 10/24/2017

I am reminded today that we start in November next week, so I need to be thankful for even the small things.

First Matt was able to design and create some really cool shirts for our Disney Trip. The best part is that we purchased both the shirts and the vinyl using gift cards earned from Swagbucks so total out of pocket equals ZERO.   IMG_0459 IMG_0460

Next the weather has finally started to feel like fall. In fact we are suppose to receive our first official frost this week. Because I was able to get off work earlier today, we picked the rest of the pepper and pimentos from the garden. I froze 4 cups of green peppers and saved enough for several omelets in the next week. 03AD7F7F-9B54-4174-8399-0994E8BD1729We have been searching for ways to save money. I am thankful to have discovered two. First Matt has been able to arrange Roku boxes in the house so that we have turned in 3 of our cable bill. I am thinking that this should reduce our total cable bill by around $30 a month. The best part is that it will not affect any of our viewing! Next, because we are attempting to eat out of  our freezers and pantry for the last couple months of the year, we are able to clean out and unplug one of our freezers. This will also allow it to be clean really well prior to our purchase of a cow next year.  I am also thinking that after our trip we should be able to turn off a refrigerator as well.  Finally, by watching the weather and opening and closing windows we are currently in our second full week of no heat or air.

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is one of my “extra” paychecks. I budget for 2 paychecks a month so on the 2 months a year that I receive 3 paychecks it allows a little bit of wiggle room. This time the majority of the check is going to travel. We are headed on two major week long trips this summer.
  2. Our garden is starting to produce. We are enjoying squash, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. I have also harvest and frozen basil and oregano. I have been disappointed so far with the cucumbers but there is still hope. I am most excited about the watermelon. We already have one that is soft ball size with lots of blooms and other small one starting to form.
  3. The first week out of school has been just as crazy busy as the weeks before school ended. Monday night was swim team practice. Tuesday night was suppose to be Swim Meet but a storm cancelled that so we headed to Costco. Wednesday night- I got confused and we ended up relaxing at the pool for an hour. Thursday- make up swim meet. Friday- yard work.
  4. We recently lost a close friend who was the spouse of our piano teacher. The girls got a 5 week break from lessons but I am thankful they resume this week. Zach will be attending a reading camp in July so as you can see we are staying busy.
  5. Extra earning this month have been awesome. The current goal is to purchase Zachary’s birthday present with these earns in addition to adding to our Disney fund.

Saturday Update 5/27/2017

As predicted, this past week has been busy. I have struggled this week and realized that I NEED to “Count my Blessing” more than I need to worry. So my plan for this update is to “Count my blessing, name them one by one, to PROVE what God has done.”

  1. The extra hours at work do mean extra pay. We are slow regaining financial ground and extra pay is always helpful.
  2. We scheduled a trip to Disney World for this November. I actually booked the trip almost a year ago. Because of the struggles we have been experiencing, I was considering changing/postponing the trip. However, God has provided a very unexpected but concrete method to ensure we can pay for  this trip. In the morning, I will be making dinning reservation.
  3. We are very blessed to be able to travel to Michigian this June to celebrate Matt’s father 90th birthday. This blessing is so much more real and important with the lost of my dad.
  4. Our square foot garden is growing and thriving, I have frozen several packs of broccli, made a squash side dish and the kids enjoyed a handful of snap peas. The plants all appear healthy and relatively bug free. I anticipate a good squash harvest this week and we should actually start with cucumbers in two weeks or less.
  5. The kids and I got to spend 6 hours at the pool today. We really enjoyed the time with friends and I was able to just sit for several hours.
  6. I somehow got a screw in my tire last Saturday. My brother was able to patch it on Sunday. The patch worked until Wednesday and then Matt was able to take to the dealship to have fixed.
  7. I will NOT be working on Monday. Instead the plan is to spend most of the afternoon/evening at the pool just enjoying life.

Seven is the perfect number and the number of completion so I will stop there. Do you have any blessing to share?

5 Things Friday- Christmas Edition

  1. With my ever changing crazy schedule at work, I ended up having a half day off on Monday and another half day off today. I did enjoy the extra time with the kids today!
  2. I am actually head of schedule with our preparation for Christmas Day. I should only have a few hours of work tomorrow and then be able to enjoy the entire day off Sunday! Here is a list of my original plan, I have been able to go ahead and prepare all three of the casseroles today. I let each of the little kids help with one so it took twice as long but really was nice to spend extra time with them.
  3. The insurance company has already settled with me in regards to my fender bender last Friday. I am have really amazed and happy with how smooth it has been. After discussion with Matt, we are not going to have the van repaired, instead that money will go to pay on our planned Disney World trip.
  4. December has been an awesome month for extra money coming in. So far we have cashed in $200 for Swagbucks and at least 50 via Mplaces.
  5. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE EVE