Monday, April 25, 2011

Disney-Arrival day and the Figures.

The house we stayed in. We had paid for early check-in(11am) but when we arrive it was not unlocked. We ended up waiting outside for about 30 minutes but the house was awesome. It was 6 bedrooms. Haley and Andrea shared a room downstairs. Amanda had a room to herself with the window facing out. Kendall also had a room to herself. Lily and Izzy shared a room "like high school roommates". Zach ended up in our huge closet. He slept very well.

My goal over the next week is to post as many pictures and writings as I can think of about our Disney Vacation. The reason I am sure you know is to record and in the future print and pass on to the kids. First I am going to start with the major failure of the trip- the budget.

I am sharing this part of our trip to help others if they want to plan a trip and need to stay on a tight strict budget. If you don't care just skip and enjoy the picture of our van at the bottom.

Overall, I am placing us at around $400 over-budget. I can easily pinpoint several of the reasons that this occurred. The first reason was gas. We ended up spending $400 on gas, which is a full one hundred over what I budgeted. The second budget buster was our meal at "Hollywood and Vine" with the characters. I have to say I would do this meal again, if my kids were the same ages. They LOVED the character interaction and the food was the best on property we ate. However the final cost was $190. This included gratuity that was around $30. Gratuity was also added at the Bip boppity boutique that I had not planned on. The final budget buster for us was the desire and ability to stay later at the parks than I expect. We ended up eating one meal a day out which was not planned for 3 of the days.

Here is the van we traveled in along with the signs that Matt placed that say "Mouse Bound". I was not a fan at first but we needed them because you would be amazed at how many large vans are in each parking section.


We spent Easter Sunday with Matt's sister Deanna in Atlanta Ga. We arrived on Saturday evening after our vacation at Disney World. Kendall was not in a picture mood as you can see.

The church service was short and very good. We headed home after lunch exhausted but this was a awesome ending to our vacation. Lots of pictures and stories to follow!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Morning Thoughts

7 days- till we leave for Disney. I am so excited. Today is all about getting ready for the trip. My plan for today is to pack all three of the little ones as well as get a good start on my own packing. Our church Easter Egg hunt is at 3pm this afternoon. I am planning on taking the kids. Matt is currently driving a group of quizzers to Raliegh for practice. He should be home around 6pm this evening. I have several topic for blogging in my head this morning. They include "why I blog" including the idea that my blog allows me to read other very quickly, "my unplanned trip to CVS" where I saved a bunch (probably get this one put together today or tommorow), and lastly and the least likely to ever get written, "why Zac is running around the house naked this morning." Our schedule for the next week is as busy as I can ever remember it. Monday-Zac has an appointment at Brenners. Wednesday-Lily has the school readiness person coming, Thursday-Matt has Angel food ordering and Friday- School readiness Easter party. I am not working on Monday so I have two long day Wednesday and Tuesday. I am working half a day Thursday and Friday-I have a continuing Education class from 8:30 to 3:30. We also have our small group on Friday night, which I need to finish the "gifts survey" prior to this. Tuesday night is church night and Wednesday night is Cheerleading for Lily. So I seriously need to get packing!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I know I have talked about how important sleep is to me in the past but what a better day to post about it again. We thought we have solved most of the sleep issues when we moved Kendall in the room with Lily, which in turn left Zach in his room alone. But over the last few weeks, sleep has become an issue again. Zach is starting to wake himself up in the middle of the night on a regular basis. Last night after being awake twice prior to one am, he was again awake. Zach ended up calling every name he could think off including the cats, followed by an all out tratum that ended with him completely silent for aobut 5 minutes before starting the snobs again. It took almost 2 hours for him to go completely back asleep. But at 6:05am he was wide awake and in one of his best moods. Matt and I are hoping that after one or two night of completely ignoring him that he will stop waking up for attention at night. Kendall and Lily have decided that they are going to advoid naps if at all possible. It is honestly to the point that in order for one or both to be quiet for 30 minutes you have to spank, and/or separate and spank again. Today I moved Kendall to my bed thinking Lily would be quiet, no she actually is much worse than Kendall crying and whining. I just want to sleep!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Disney Budget

I have been asked several times "how in the world can we afford to take a family of seven to Disney World?" In fact, I had one person tell me that I must be rich. The truth is quite the opposite, we are not rich but we make choices based on what is best for our family based on what we think is biblical.

We started talking and planning this trip about a year ago. This was a major help in I started thinking of ways to add to our money. One advantage to having such a long time to plan is that we were able to pay for some things way ahead of time. I was also able to "stock up" on things I knew we would need for the trip. Some examples of this include stocking up on soda when they were on sale in January, buying swim diaper end of season last year. We made reservation for Cinderella's Royal Table in October. I knew that we would be receiving a nice Tax Refund this year because of having all the kids at home. In fact this will probably be the last year that we receive a large refund because we have changed our dependents to increase our take home pay. We used our refund to buy tickets to both Sea World and Disney and to pay for our house. These were the major expenses besides transportation. We have debated for several month on whether we purchase an older van to use for traveling or rent. Finally we decided to rent based on up front cost as well as the idea of maintenance on 3 older vehicles on a regular basis. The van we purchased right after we were married was paid off in February so we used the "car payment " for March and April to rent the van.

Now on to the current budget, I am hoping this allows us plenty of "wiggle room"and will plan a post after our trip to confirm this. I am using a modified envelope system. I plan to carry cash and use except for the gas and the additional hotel. We currently are planning on 3 special meals at Disney; Monday- The Royal Table, Thursday- Dinner at Prime Time Cafe for Matt's birthday and Friday Lunch with Disney Junior characters. As I mentioned above the first has already been paid for. I am budgeting $150 a meal for the other two. Our plan is to have 4 evenings of meal at the house which we are sharing with another family. We also plan to take lunch with us everyday in the parks. I have planned $800 for all food. Currently at least $100 of that will be spent at Costco for convenience foods for lunch. This is the area with the most play since I have purchased alot of food and items on our regular budget to take with us. The girls have planned on going to the "Bipbopity Boutique". Haley will be paying for her own and I am paying for the girls. We have budgeted $300 for Gas which is based on 2 tanks each way and an additional tank in Fla. Our plan is to leave at 1 am on Saturday night and travel to our rental house, this eliminated one night in a hotel which is a huge expense when you have to purchase 2 rooms. We will be stopping in Atlanta on the trip home to spend some time with Matt's sister. Our budget is for $250 for the hotel. In addition, we have $300 for "spending" money and souvenirs. Amanda and Haley are responsbile for anything they purchase besides meals. I am planning on bringing in one soda a piece as well as water bottles will be available. Lily has saved some money and will probably purchase one or two souvenirs.
I am actually pleased to say that now that I have written it out it sounds very doable!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Disney Chain

April 1st, typically known as "April Fool's Day" had a way different feeling at our house this year. It marked for me the beginning of the countdown til our massive vacation to Fla. I am so excited, Haley is as well. The little girls and Zach have no idea what it means or how much fun it will be so I wanted to build some excitement. I decided that I would turn this into a family activity, I was going to make a "countdown" chain. We had, yesterday, 15 days until leaving for Fla. I asked Matt to take 2 sheets of construction paper and divide them into eight pieces with line. Lily practiced cutting on a pencil line and I help Kendall cut the other lines that I made larger using a marker. The rest is simple fold and staple. Zach tried to help by handing me the pieces. The chain is hanging on the kitchen curtain rod and each day we get to talk about the trip and cut off a link. This morning it was so cool to hear Kendall ask to take a chain off and then we all got excited about our trip. The countdown chain did inspire me to work on a packing list and budget (firm) for the trip. I am planning a more detailed post of this hopefully tomorrow.