After holding onto my Fun Dollars for the entire first week of the pay cycle, I felt the weight of the money in my purse. Even though it was only five twenty-dollar bills, the psychological weight of having that much money was palpable. So, as we headed out on the road towards Chicago O'Hare on Monday, I had no qualms about buying lunch for everyone. I didn't want to be too picky or take up too much time since it's a four-hour trip (eight hours on the road for my father-in-law who was driving us) so I sprung for some Arby's. It was directly across the street from where we were filling up the van with gas. $21.00 covered it. I even remembered to leave a Fun Dollars business card on the counter top. (I bought a stack of cards before the trip and had been leaving them on tables, etc. during my trip.)
Three and a half hours later, my father-in-law dropped us off at Aloft, a modern-themed hotel across the highway from O'Hare. Our flight was scheduled to leave before noon the next day, and we had planned to spend the night at Aloft and take the shuttle bright and early. I was so grateful to get to spend time with my father-in-law, especially after the passing of his wife last August. This trip was such a blessing. Spending time with so much of our family really did my heart some good. I had really been struggling to accept my mother-in-law's passing, and being "back home" helped me move through some things. Even the simple act of eating at Arby's brought up memories of other family trips I took with her, almost always making a stop at Arby's while on the road.
So, as my father-in-law pulled away, I got a little teary-eyed. I half wished he had bought a night at the hotel so we could all hang out as a family some more. But I knew he had business as usual to return to after spending the week with us already. I love that the family Corey and I share is close enough to feel like a real family. His family is my family, my family is his. And that includes some close friends of ours too.
The sadness I felt seeing my father-in-law leave was quickly quelled when I learned that a dear friend of ours was coming to the hotel to hang out for the evening. She was a "groom's maid" in our wedding. As a long-time friend of my husband, he had her walk down the aisle and stand on his side at our wedding, right behind the best man, in fact. She now lives in a suburb of Chicago, so visiting with her was a no-brainer. We let the kids play in the courtyard while we all sipped drinks from the bar. Then we all went bowling at a "luxury bowling alley" called Kings and played a game. All the while, I kept wanting to use my Fun Dollars, but Corey insisted that it was still vacation, and she wanted to pay for part of our fun time as well.
I could feel the money "burning a hole in my pocket" as my father used to say when I was a kid getting my allowance. My opportunity to spend came again at breakfast the next day before our flight. Corey was getting the kids set up with their breakfast food while I paid. Since the tab came out to $20.00 even, I whipped out that twenty and felt the joyous surge of spending money.
|Waiting patiently at curbside check-in|
After our flight, we had all afternoon to make the two hour drive back to Sedona from Phoenix. We stopped at Olive Garden in Happy Valley for some soup and salad. After Corey had paid and left a tip in the little black book, he left for the restroom with Carrick. I took out another twenty and wrapped it in another business card and slipped it inside. The server was so sweet to us (especially the kids) and since we only had two soup and salads, plus a mac'n'cheese for Carrick, our tab didn't come out to all that much. I pretty much tipped her what our bill was. Even though we did not spend that much, she still gave us excellent service, and I wanted to reward that.
And now, we are home; back to our regular routines, eating habits, and familiar environment. While I still feel the weight of having left all of our family behind, I can look back on our two-week adventure and know that our time there was well spent, and so was my Fun Dollars.
Lunch at Arby's- $20.00 ($1.00 was from last pay cycle's cash.)
Breakfast at Aloft- $20.00
Tip at Olive Garden- $20.00
Balance this pay cycle- $40.00