Planning and Budgeting a Family Summer Vacation

Planning and budgeting are definitely the keywords to having a successful family summer vacation. During times when money has been tight it can be hard to wrap my mind around actually being able to take a vacation. We are lucky enough to have family to visit that live a few steps away from the beach…and to actually live close to the beach ourselves.

Taking drives up the coast and stopping anywhere that we want to explore a new beach or just drive has been the closest thing to a vacation that we have had lately. Our last trip up the coast was to Santa Barbara which is one of the towns that Brett and I just adore! It is so beautiful and relaxing. Even if we don’t stay the night–a day trip is all the fix we need to make us feel like we “got away.”

I remember as a child we would take road trips to destinations thousands of miles away. We took a plane maybe once or twice–it was always by car. As a child I never thought about the planning and the saving that my parents had to do in order for us to have a great summer vacation.

Since budgeting and planning are both one of my weaknesses I decided to search for some ways to learn how to budget for a vacation (in case we get to take one!). What I found was an excellent article that covers everything you need to know about vacation budgeting. My family and I have sacrificed a lot and we deserve to take a vacation. Vacations are times to rejuvenate, relax and enjoy each other without the distractions of every day life.

It all starts with deciding what you really want and planning for savings…

What I really want is at least three days where my family and I can enjoy each other. My ideal vacation would be camping in a lodge near a lake. For my in-laws 40th anniversary we stayed at Cypress Springs Lake in Texas and I loved it! The planning part should be done at least 6-8 months in advance. We probable wouldn’t need to worry about plane tickets because we live driving distance away from national parks.

I found this helpful planning chart on a credit counseling site. It covers all the expenses of a great family vacation; transportation, lodging, food, and activities. This was a perfect find because I need things laid out in an orderly way.

The most important thing about taking a family vacation is not going into debt over it or slacking on other monetary responsibilities in order to travel. It was really interesting that I found this information on a credit counseling website because I have actually used credit counseling before, but never thought about using them for tips on planning a vacation. It makes sense though because when you are free of debt it makes it a whole lot easier to budget and plan with a clear mind.

Hopefully, my family and I will be able to take a vacation really soon. But for now we will just enjoy the amazingly free beaches that we are blessed to live near. Take our walks through the wildlife preserve and continue to take our drives up (or down) the coast.

I would love to hear some of the ways that you save money or plan for a family vacation that doesn’t “break the bank”!

Kalisha

I Want One!

Mommies Angels reviewed and is giving away a really cool Flip Ultra!!! The giveaway ends July 3rd! Here is what Mommies Angels had to say:

The Flip Video Ultra will capture 120 minutes of full-VGA-quality video on 4GB of built-in memory – there are no tapes of memory cards required. I love how easy it is to upload the videos to the computer to share with family and friends and burn to DVD too!

Bucket List

Written by: Kalisha

It has been so dead around here that Mommy Lounge probably seems like we are on our way to kickin’ the bucket! I had just finished writing the Wordless/Word-full Wednesday post over at UV Skinz when I decided to blog surf a little and I found this bucket list at I’m Just Beachy. BTW, UV Skinz is offering a 15% coupon code off of all online orders during the month of June!!

(Man! I hate it when I write and don’t hit save and then when I try to publish the dang WordPress tries to act like I wasn’t signed in and then some of my work doesn’t get saved and then I end up rambling in a huge run on sentence because I don’t have the time or the patience to re-write what had been wrongfully erased and it’s kind of fun, but probably really annoying to someone out there so I will stop.  Wheew! Ok, let’s just move on–to the Bucket List!)

Here we go!…

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band (if Junior High counts)

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower (I’ve seen shooting stars, though!)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyworld-On my list since I live in FLA!

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language (I took French in High School. Does that count?)

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing- (On my short list)

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Short listed)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie (Only on the set).

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasman

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades-short listed

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Read an entire book in one day

National Work At Home Week

Did you know that this week is National Work at Home Week? Recently I partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger. Author, Speaker Mary Byer’s created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof,  to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, “I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!” I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement. If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.

Why are you working?

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who don’t know why they are working. Most assume that they are working for money. But when I talk to people about the topic, I hear a lot of different reasons for work. Some work for the mental stimulation. Some to keep their skills up to date. Others work to support their scrapbooking habit or to be able to purchase cosmetics at a discount.

There’s a big difference between working to put food on the table vs. working for the “extras” such as summer camp or a vacation. Both are legitimate but it’s essential to be honest about your motivation. Knowing what drives you will help you keep your priorities in order.

Understanding why you are working makes it easier to make tough work-related decisions. Will you work on the weekends? Stay up late to get it all done? If you’re working to put food on the table, the answer will more likely be yes. But if you’re working for the fun of it, you may choose not to compromise family time by late night or weekend work. When you know why you are working, it gets easier to decide what kind of boundaries you’ll adhere to.

My biggest priority is my children and family. I have been so blessed to be able to stay-at-home and to learn to take care of my household. At times it seemed that it would be easier to just go to work than have to change diapers, smell like puke, wipe butts, diffuse tantrums and still have all meals made nutritiously and served hot! Despite all of that I really wouldn’t have traded the time I have had to nurture, laugh, and learn with my children.

If you would have asked me a few months ago if I was a WAHM or SAHM I probably would’ve said just SAHM, even though I have a  blogging job. I work blog because it’s fun to me. I enjoy reading other blogs, connecting with other Mother’s and educating and influencing other people’s lives.
My husband has given me “the talk” to make me really understand the kind of reach a Mom blogger can have and that it is a business. I have a hard time calling myself a WAHM because I don’t put work or blogging first. I don’t blog in a business suit, I don’t have a cell phone with Internet access. I am only on the computer at certain times and usually no longer than an hour or two. I write when I feel I have something to say and when the inspiration strikes me, usually during nap time.  Blogging for UV Skinz ha allowed me to really learn the blogging in an entirely different way than what Reneca and I envisioned it to be like.
It’s fun for me, but it is definitely a business. I’m on the road to acceptance. I am a WAHM, but I know that title won’t change the most precious title to me. Mommy.  I love giving my girl’s my undivided attention; playing Lego’s on the floor, dressing Barbie for the ball, or drawing silly faces with markers. It’s really amazing to have the freedom to maintain my family lifestyle, flexibility in my daily schedule and still bring home some of the bacon.

In Memory of Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

April ’00-May ’09

Sterling Beck aka Bubba,Turtle, Love of our lives!…

Yesterday we sent our 10-year-old Great Dane, Sterling, to Doggy Heaven. We found out Easter weekend that he was in the late stages of stomach and liver cancer. The vet suggested that we put him down immediately and that he only had five days to live.

I began to explain to Journey and Faith that Sterling was very old and sick (he had become very skinny and would barely eat) and that we needed to help Sterling get to Doggy Heaven. Days after our talk I started to notice Journey and Faith giving Sterling extra hugs and attention. dsc08605

It has always been a rule that he wasn’t allowed in the playroom or the girl’s bedroom. Selfish on my part because I didn’t want to clean dog hair from two more rooms in the house. But towards the end there were times when he laid in their room and I didn’t stop him. I just wanted him to rest and be comfortable where ever he wanted. One day Journey came to me and said that Sterling’s feet were cold and she covered him up. When I saw this I was so touched!

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There were only two times when Sterling broke my “no-going-in-the-girl’s-room-rule”, when Journey was a baby and another time when Faith was born. He refused to leave and even growled at me, which he never done before. Each time there were reports of tremors and an earthquake on the news. We couldn’t believe it!

He was more than just a dog. He was my Brett’s life-saver. Our protector. Journey and Faith’s playmate and my teacher. Sterling showed so much patience, strength, understanding, and always showed unconditional love.

Sterling had always had a big appetite; even after wolfing down his dog food he would always sit and wait for someone to share their dinner with him. That was one of the first reasons we knew something was wrong because he just stopped eating as regularly, but whenever Journey had a cookie to share he wouldn’t turn it down.He always enjoyed cookies, doughnuts, popsicles, and his all time favorite was pizza crusts!

sterling-and-journeyHe was always admired everywhere he went, mostly being mistaken for a huge Dalmatian or a small pony. Sterling loved to play hide and seek, ran like a stallion, and was always gentle. He never picked a fight with other dogs, unless he felt they were a threat to us. He loved small dogs and children so much that I feel he never knew just how big he was.

Saying Good-bye to Sterling was hard. When Journey and Faith gave him hugs and kisses Brett saw that Sterling had begun to cry. It made him too emotional and he had to leave the room. I looked Sterling in the eye and told him that I always loved him, that he had a been an amazing dog and we would see him again someday.

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Our family will always miss Sterling, but we know he will always be in our hearts. The house feels really quiet now, even with two crazy girl’s running around. We miss the sound of his bark and the clickity-clack of his feet. We miss him, but I feel comforted knowing that his suffering is over. I imagine that Sterling is healthy, happy, and young again; running and chasing after frogs and squirrels in the creek where he grew up.

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We will always love you Sterling! This is for you…

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. :-(

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. 😦

Always in our hearts! Love, Kalisha, Brett, Journey and Faith

Help Save a Baby!

I want you to read about and participate in the “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Skin Cancer Awareness Month Campaign! I am so excited for May to begin because my goal is wrangle all of the bloggers I know (and the one’s you know!) to make this a huge success for UV Skinz and all of the lucky babies out there who have the chance to receive a FREE Baby UV Swim Shirt!

Read on to find out the scoop!…

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, UV Skinz is promoting awareness of sun protection and skin cancer prevention by donating up to 3000 Baby Skinz swim shirts; UV Skinz will ship a free Baby Skinz swim shirt with every order placed in May.
“The intent is for customers to ‘pay it forward,’” says Rhonda Sparks. “We hope clients will donate the Baby Skinz to a charitable cause of their choice such as a women’s shelter, YMCA or even a neighbor in need. We want to get as many children covered as we can and with each donation, we hope to raise the level of awareness that much more.” Each May shipment will contain a free UV Baby Skinz along with a flyer encouraging customers to pass along the Baby Skinz to a chosen cause. UV Skinz was able to give away about 1,850 swim shirts for the May 2008 Skin Cancer Awareness promotion. The company’s goal this year is to nearly double that as supplies allow.
Babies under age six months should not be in the sun at all. Most pediatricians recommend no direct sunlight exposure for infants within the first few years. However, most infants older than six months regularly spend some time outdoors, even if just for walks in a stroller, and should be sun protected from head to toe. Protecting babies’ skin, regardless of the season, is essential to good skin health and safe sun exposure into adulthood.

The National Cancer Institute reports that many common cancer rates are falling, but melanoma rates within the U.S. continue to grow at an alarming rate. Sparks implores parents to cover their children to prevent them from becoming the one in five Americans who will develop skin cancer. “I am doing all that I can to protect my children from suffering the same fate their Father suffered when we lost him to melanoma. I hope our Baby Skinz donation program will prevent more families from being impacted by this devastating disease.”

An important part of skin cancer prevention is creating awareness. Creating awareness is all about saving our children’s lives in the future. Over 90% of skin cancers are preventable with the right education and awareness. We need you to help us spread the word about Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” UV Skinz blog campaign!

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As a blogger and an influential part of the blog o’ sphere…How can you help spread the word?

  • Blog about the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign.You can see the full press release here. Feel free to include links to UV Skinz, the press release and/or UV Skinz blog! Remember the campaign starts May 1st.
  • Once you’ve posted come back to the UV Skinz blog and add your url link to our Mr. Linky–Let the blog o’sphere know you support Skin Cancer Awareness!
  • Add our button and/or banner to your blog! Let everyone know you support this campaign and encourage others to do the same!
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter and join in on the discussion by following the progress of “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign with twitter hashtag #UVSKINZ (Remember to use a “z” and not an “s”)
  • The official “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today!” Post will be live May 1st!
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What can I do if I don’t have a blog?
  • Print out the official “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Button and post it to your bulletin board at your home, home-office, or work.
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter!

So, what’s in it for you?!

Besides the warm feeling you get by helping to save a baby from potential skin cancer, UV Skinz is giving all bloggers a special discount code to use at our online store! At checkout enter the code: MOMBLOGS15 and  SAVE 15% through August 31, 2009 (as long as you are a participating blogger it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a Mom )

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Disturbing Satisfaction!

A special treat from Daddy…

dsc08624 The other day Brett brought a couple of those lollipops with the bug inside for Journey and Faith. Gross! I protested, but he said it was harmless and lucky for Journey she was awake when he brought them home. Faith wasn’t awake and doesn’t know she even got one of these nasty things! (BTW, nobody mention it!)

As you can see in the picture the sucker has a baby scorpion inside (minus the stinger)!

I let Journey have the rest of her lollipop while Faith was napping. She got some kind of disturbing satisfaction from trying to get me to take a lick, and then an even “bigger lick”  and  she basically tried to shove the lollipop down my throat! YUCK! It even has the nerve to taste like sweet strawberries too.

dsc08622Yes. That is the look of disturbing satisfaction. And the exact look she had when she ruthlessly forced the lollipop into my mouth!

Luckily, I wasn’t scarred by the incident, but I have this great black mail picture! HA! Mommy loves you, Journey!