Wednesday, September 29, 2010

National Parks Annual Pass

Recently we have been thinking about going ahead and getting the annual pass for the National Park Service. We so enjoyed the Ft. McHenry Trip and we are looking at focusing our next few trips around the National Parks and Historic Sites around the areas we will be visiting. So it makes sense to go ahead and purchase the annual pass.

This is a great deal if you know you will be visiting some of these places in the year.

If you are a senior citizen then you get the motherload of deals. It is a $10 lifetime pass. You can bring in up to 3 more adults with you and kids are free anyway. You can visit any national park or historic site or seashore you want free of charge.

If you are not a senior citizen then you get the regular annual pass for $80. This is good for a full twelve months from the time of purchase.

This pass gets you:
• Per Vehicle Fee Areas - The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a noncommercial
• Per Person Fee Areas – The pass admits the pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4
adults (children under 16 are admitted free).

And it does not cover:
• Overnight Camping
• Developed Boat Launches
• Swimming Sites
• Specialized Interpretive Services
• Concessioner Service (Concessioners may honor the Senior/Access passes if included
in the terms of their current permit)
• Facility or equipment Rental Fees
• Cabins
• Lookouts
• Day/Overnight Group Sites
• Special Conservation Programs

We have already spent $14 to go to Ft. McHenry and upcoming trips will be to Ft. Raleigh and to The Wright Brothers' Memorial in North Carolina. Ft. Raleigh is free but The Wright Brother's Memorial will cost us $8.

Another future trip will be to Jamestown and to Yorktown. These two are a bit more spendy at $10 a person. We are now up to $42. With the pass though, I think we will use it more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oceana Air Show

The boys went to the Oceana Naval Base Annual Air Show. They had a great time and was there from Friday through Sunday. They went with my son's Boy Scout Troop.

The Blue Angels.

A fun plane with The Pickle in front

Another cool plane.

In the helicopter...

The girls and I stayed home and held down the fort. We would have enjoyed ourselves if we went but for us, planes are just, well, planes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 we know it.

A couple weeks ago my husband went in for a routine yearly physical. He had bloodwork done, a chest x-ray, etc. The normal stuff as you get a bit older. Last week he got his results back. Everything looked great except for his cholesterol. It was a bit high. Well not sure "a bit" is the right wording. High but not high enough to freak out and start the roto-rooter meds. The doc said that he could bring it down with diet.

Now this is a guy. A man. A man who likes his meat. A man who likes his midnight chocolate snacking. A man who, well, doesn't like to be told he needs to eat rabbit food and granola. He was a bit upset about this at first, but we both started diving into research on the internet, talking to friends, etc., trying to figure out what he can eat, what he can't eat, how to raise good cholesterol, and how to lower bad all at the same time.

At first it was looking like rabbit food and granola but now we have found eggs, meats, and other items that help lower cholesterol. We have learned about Omega-3's and Omega-6's. We have changed our diet.

First changes were that we are no longer (well once we finish eating what we already own) eating meats and veggies that are not organic, if we can help it. We are eating much more fruits and veggies, and we are limiting our red meats. Not getting rid of red meats all together but limiting them. We are eating whole grains, trying new foods, and loving it.

A few weeks ago I accidentally grabbed the wrong box of blueberry muffin mix. I got the whole grain mix not the "regular" ones. Last night I made them. The kids were so excited to have these with our chicken last night. They could smell them baking and I think their mouths were watering when they sat down to the table. I never said anything about them being different, and one of the bonuses was that we hadn't had them in a long while. I made them with our omega-3 rich eggs and I used canola oil. The didn't puff up as much as the ones with white flour and they were much more dense. But the kids raved over them and they each at two and asked if they could take one for snack today. So I think they went over well. I will be purchasing these again.

For the most part the kids won't see any real difference in their eating habits changing. We already eat a lot of veggies and fruits. We already try to not have too much in the way of processed, packaged foods. But these little changes will be good for all of us.

This weekend I am off to the farmer's market to price purchasing 1/8 cow.

For a while we have talked about moving towards a healthier diet and shopping more organic but we planned to start this "on our big trip" we would say. We wanted to move to more fruits and veggies, healthier cuts of meat and more local produce. But now with the test results, we begin now. Now is better than never and now is better than later. I like our switch.

As for the husband-he thought at first we would starve to death but in the last night he commented that he was full but not stuffed and he was starting to feel better through the day with more energy. I think he is already seeing some of the benefits of this diet. He hasn't cut out his midnight snacking but has switched the Hostess Cupcakes with trail mix. A bit of chocolate but lots of protein.

Oh, and he has lost 5 pounds--the jerk! ;)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did your table look like this?

the night before the first day of school? Ours did. In the weeks leading up to this event we shopped with all the kids to pick out their school supplies for the year. We also stock up on things like filler paper, notebooks, crayons, pencils, extra markers, etc., because of the great deals you can get. You just can't beat a pencil box for a penny!

So in typical Sears form we wait till the last minute enjoying every second of our freedom of summer and waited to the night before to get us all organized. We had been at the river for the whole weekend and with the intent to come home just after breakfast on Labor Day we lazed around, talked with family more, and piddled a bit in cleanup before finally getting in the car around 5pm. This put us getting back to our house at 7 pm and then we had baths to take. Once all that was done we put the kids in bed and set out to getting names on all their items and packed in their bookbags for the next day.

As a child I used to love the first day of school.

Now as a mom, I hate it.

It reminds me that my kids are one year older.

It reminds me that my kids are growing up too quickly.

And most of all it reminds me that my summer days with them home all the time is again at an end. {sniffle}

The next morning we were up early and out the door in typical Sears fashion- rush rush rush...

So much that the kids and Dad rushed out of the house without even a first day of school photo. {double sniffle} What was he thinking???

But luckily he remembered that he had his cellphone in his pocket and snapped a quick photo of the kids just before the bus came to pick them up. {whew!}

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plan B, Plan C, Plan D

What if we don't sell the house? What if we don't sell the business? What if we use the money we were going to spend on our Disney Trip for a summer trip? What if we rent our house? What if we sell the house but don't go for a year? What if we have no money? What if something breaks down on us and we can't fix it? What if? What if? What if?

I don't know if this is panic or rational thinking at this point. I read so many blogs about families who up and sold it all and are now traveling. I have scoured their blogs looking for clues to how they pay for it all. There ARE expenses to living on the road and I want to know what their budget is and how they make their money while on the road OR if they have it in savings prior to being on the road.

One family sold their business and bought a big ole bus, gutted it and are now traveling. I know they are traveling on savings. Okay, I get it. But how much?

One family travels and then the dad will pick up a job here and there. The mom does photography. They work when they need to and travel about, but they tend to stay in one place a long time and they aren't out looking at the world like we would be so much. I love their family and I love their blog.

One family up and sold a lot but didn't sell their house yet so they traveled a bit and are now back home where the dad has his own business. I haven't been able to confirm but I think he just closed up "shop" and traveled and then opened back up when they returned. The are home and homeschooling and dad is working again. Not sure what happened.

One family up and sold a bunch, couldn't get their house sold and are now renting it out for a year while they travel. They started their trip in July. I assume they have savings? or something as there was mention that the dad lost his job a couple years ago. Hmmm....

One family (yeah I follow a bunch of them) sold it ALL including the house and the dad has a job doing something (don't know what yet) that involves travel so they travel with him and his job. Sounds fun, but limits you to where you can go.

I can only assume that these families have a bunch of money in savings. Plus I have also found that 3/4 of the families that I follow with kids have a motor home and not a travel trailer. I have found 2 with a travel trailer, no I lied, 3 families.

I know that expenses are actually cheaper on the road (believe it or not) and we are looking forward to that BUT....

there are just all these different facets to this project. We have come up with several plans to make this trip and they include the BIG Plan A which is sell it all and take off for a year and we have a Plan B and C which include taking off for a smaller amount of time and traveling only in the summer and keeping the house and our stuff.

Oh the options.....

But for now the boys are off at an air show having the boy time of their lives I am sure and the girls and I are heading to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The boys took the cameras but I have my phone so I will post photos of our trip soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Planning, planning, planning...

and more planning! We sat for an hour today and mapped out at least two do-able plans for "the big trip". There were lists of pros and cons, lists of priorities, and lists of to dos. The lists were good. Sometimes I need to write things down to "see" it in my brain. Also when I write things down I am able to get a better sense of what needs to be done first. We keep saying "sell the house" has to be done first but there are so many things to be done prior to selling the house. In order to sell the house we have to make some repairs to the house. That will cost a bit of money. Then we have to pay off the second mortgage to make our house price more marketable. To pay off the second mortgage we have to sell my car. See where I am going with this?

So really on top of the list of things to do is get supplies to repair the fence and clean up the car to take pictures of it so we can list the car for sale.

Oh the planning! This trip WILL happen. It will!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Organize, Organize, Organize!

That is the name of the game today. The kids are cleaning their rooms and we are finding we have too much stuff for the amount of storage bins we own. We are reducing our stuff and purchasing more storage bins at the same time. The kids I think will have the hardest time with the downsizing I think. Our son has one foot in childhood and one foot in tween time. He struggles with giving up stuffed animals, toys etc from when he was younger even though he knows he doesn't play with them. Our middle daughter, well I just haven't figured her out yet. Perhaps she likes a messy room as she doesn't seem interested at all in cleaning it up unless she has one of us adults in there with her doing most of the work. I have thought it was laziness but I just don't know. Our youngest though would rather just throw it all out. Give her a trash bag and she is the first to fill it up. We love that she does this, however, we have to go back through her trash to make sure there aren't toys in there that she will one day miss.

Everyday we think about our trip and what purchases we make today will either help us on the trip or we will have to sell it or give it away before the trip. It makes purchasing items much easier when you think, "well I can't take it with me so in 10 months I will just be getting rid of it. Can I last that long without it?" Usually the answer is yes, I can live without it and I don't purchase. Such a nice feeling!

Today we will be purchasing two things. Storage bins for the kids toys and such. These bins will serve double duty for us on our trip. They will either be storing things for us or they will be going with us and used as storage for clothing and such. The rules are that these bins must have a top that is attached so we don't lose the tops. The second thing we will be purchasing today is a new TV. Our old, analog one in our family room died this morning. We considered going without TV for a while and that is okay with us but we think we will be better off purchasing one today. We will be moving our other analog TV down from our bedroom and purchasing a smaller flat screen to put in our bedroom. We will take this smaller, new one on our trip. We are researching how big a space the TV space will be in the trailer so we don't purchase too large. But right now we are thinking somewhere in the 29-32" range.

This organization today will also help in the sale of our house. We have another yard sale coming up next week which I hope to have a ton of stuff out there that we just don't use or need anymore. The money from the yardsale will go towards paying off debt.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My New Ride

My New Cruiser!!!

Isn't she a beaut??? I love this bike. Kenneth has been looking at getting me a bike for quite a while now. I haven't pushed the issue. Okay. Let's get the whole story:

Kenneth and I have been together since August, 1992. That is a full 18 years. In this time he has NEVER known me to get on a bike. Everyone else in the family has a bike except for Mom. All the kids have two bikes each! Mom had none. I didn't push the issue for a couple reasons. One: I haven't ridden a bike in over 18 years. Would I remember? Could I balance myself on a bike? Would I fall? All these fears flooded my brain. Two: I am fat. Would I even fit on a bike? Would the bike hold my weight? Could I ride and balance on a bike with my weight?

I can talk myself out of a lot of things given some time. Well, we were at Walmart getting a few things we needed for the weekend: cokes, lemonade, hamburger buns, and stretchy string. Kenneth decided to look at bikes (a surprise for Mom he told the kids). He picked one out and asked me how I liked it. I realized that today I would be getting a bike. Really this is my FIRST bike. I don't remember having a child size bike as a kid. I do remember having an adult 10 speed as a teenager, but that bike was my mom's bike that she had. I didn't have one of my own. So officially this is my first bike that is MINE.

I decided not to try it out in the store because well, there were people around and they were looking at me. Plus my kids were in the way and I wouldn't be able to get a good feel of it going up and down the short aisle. So we paid for it and walked it out of the store, put it up on the top of the car and headed home.

Okay so here is where the sweaty palms start. First I have no tennis shoes at the river with me. I had forgotten to pack them. But that excuse didn't work on the kids. They said I would be fine with my hot pink crocs. They did insist that I wear a helmet and I agreed. If I was going to fall off this bike in front of everyone I didn't need my brains splat all over the road for all to see. Cause, honestly if I was going down everyone would feel it like an earthquake! ha ha. (but seriously)

I tried to get the kids to go do something else while I try out this bike. I could feel the pressure of all the little eyes watching me and couldn't handle it, but they weren't budging. We adjusted the seat, adjusted the handle bars, adjusted the nuts on every part of the bike. Okay, no more stalling. I have to do this. (and I am scared!)

Well, I have to tell you, I lived to see the next day! The old adage is right, you never forget how to ride a bike. I got on and peddled and peddled and peddled. The whole family was following me and I was out in front, wind in my hair, not a care in the world except for the fear of falling.

We rode all over the park that day and had a wonderful time. The whole family now has bikes and we can go places now.

Kenneth said that he didn't mind spending the money for it because it was an item that we would take on our "trip".

Now, I need a new cushy seat for my rear parts and a basket for the front and a little bell to ring a ling a ling.

PS: in the photo of just me and the bike, you can see our camper in the background and you can see our suburban in the background of the photo of me and the kids.