Monday, June 29, 2015

Stay-at-Home Money Maker

Last year, I wrote an entry titled, "The Gift of Fun Dollars." In that entry I discussed how I hand-rolled $65.00 worth of coins from our Fun Dollars change jar. I took the rolls to the bank for cash and presented the money to Corey. I was so proud to be able to give my husband, who earns 99% of our income, a monetary gift that he did not have to work for. That was over a year ago. This year, I did things a little differently with our change jar.

Just as a reminder, when Corey or I spend our Fun Dollars, we always round up to the next dollar. The change always goes into a change jar. We empty it out periodically and use the cash inside.
We have not emptied the jar since I cashed in the coins last year. We now have an entire year's worth of coins saved up once more. This time around, I did not roll all of them, just $53.00 worth. I took $43.00 to the bank to cash in this past Wednesday. I asked for $1.00 and $5.00 bills. I kept a $10.00 roll of quarters for change. I needed the cash for a yard sale.

I have been sorting and decluttering for a month now, ever since school let out on the 22nd of May. I started organizing in the garage. I moved into the toy room after the garage was entirely sorted, boxed and labeled. I have dug through closets and cabinets, and literally pulled everything out, room by room in our house. My general method of decluttering involved a large Sterilite tub, a trash can and a diaper box (150 count).

As I began in a new area of mess and junk, I would just dump everything out onto the floor. Sitting on the edge of the junk pile on a pillow, I would move through the junk pile, sorting my way through the mound. Items were tossed into one of the three recepticles. Items were either for saving (in the Sterilite), for getting rid of (in the diaper box, which would then go to the garage for cleaning and pricing), or in the trash. Some items I would pile on the floor next to the Sterilite. Those were things that I knew where they should live. These piles consisted of dishes, laundry, shoes, or certain toys.

Week after week I spent time with this project, and finally, after a month of attention, I was finally ready to host a yard sale. I started with $53.00. After taking out the starter money, and paying my friend who added some of her stuff to the mix, I was left with $96! I was shooting for $100, so not too bad! I gave Carrick $5.00 for his "help" (keeping Lily entertained during the garage sale hours.) I also gave Lily $1.00 for whatever she did to "help" (mostly she saw Carrick get money, so she needed some too.) I split the rest between Corey and Me. $45 each. Then I handed Corey the wad of starter money that I originally extracted. "Happy Birthday a few days early," I said as I handed him the money.

I took coins that were otherwise useless in such a massive quantity, used them to bankroll a garage sale, and ended up almost tripling my money! Talk about being savvy with Fun Dollars! I now have a little extra to take with me on my trip, Corey has a birthday present, and the kids learned about turning a small bit of money into a little more money.

Castles and Coasters visit- $35.00
Eating out with the kids all week while Corey was in Phoenix- $60.00
Add in cash from Garage Sale- +$45.00
Balance this pay cycle- $50.00

Happy Spending!

****I will be on hiatus in the month of July. We will be visiting family and travelling. See you all in August!!!***

Saturday, June 20, 2015

This One's for You, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Thanks, dad, for believing in me.

In 1992, I had just finished 4th grade, and the world was my oyster. 4th grade was life-changing. I had found a stronger voice in my ten-year-old self.  I emerged from the 4th grade with a very strong "feminist" attitude, and I had a new passion for reading. Earlier that year I inherited a collection of vintage Nancy Drew books from my father.
They were his when he was my age. They came in a box mixed up with mostly Hardy Boys Mysteries, but I didn't keep those. I was only interested in about the strong female character catching bad guys.

I remember sitting in my front yard beneath the honey locust tree that summer, lost in the pages of my new mystery collection. It felt like magic. The world was quiet save for a warm breeze and the occasional cardinal. The garden walls seemed to enclose me. The dappled sunlight from the leaves of the honey locust would bounce across the pages. I blazed through all of my father's books that summer as there were just over a dozen. I had to check out other Nancy Drew books I did not yet own at the library. My need to read about the young, female detective was insatiable. I literally wanted to be her!

My collection of Nancy Drew books more than doubled during our family vacation that year. We drove south to Florida to visit my mother's parents at their retirement community. We also made a stop at Disney World. While we stayed with my grandparents, grandpa saw me reading a Nancy Drew book. So, he dug out my mother's old Nancy Drew collection, which was quite extensive, upwards of 20 books. I barely remember Disneyworld from that family vacation, but I vividly remember receiving these books.

The drive back from Florida to Illinois took the better part of two days to navigate. My dad drove most of the way home listening to the Andrews Sisters or the Beach Boys. My sister and I would amuse ourselves in the way back seat of the station wagon singing and making up dance moves to the songs.  At some point on this ride home, while I was reading one of my new books, dad asked me from the front seat, "You've read so many of those Nancy Drew Books that you must know the characters and plot lines pretty well. Have you ever considered writing your own Nancy Drew Book?" (Keep in mind, this was in the days before the concept of "fan fiction".)

I took his words to heart, and started writing as soon as we were home.

I worked on it the rest of the summer and on into the new school year. My teacher caught wind of what I was doing, and asked me if I wanted to type out a manuscript. She would send me to the computer lab during free times and study halls to work on my story. I think that's where I fell in love with writing. Just me alone at a computer. It took me quite a while to type it all out. (Remember, I was a fifth-grader. I would not take Keyboarding Class for another three years.)

After many months of typing, editing, and assembling the manuscript, I had it laminated and bound. I was going to attend the Illinois Young Authors Workshop at Illinois State University with my creation.

My passion for writing bubbled over all that year in fifth grade. With my father's encouragement and my bounding imagination, I developed myself as a budding author. With my writings, I attended two different young writer's conferences, as well as won the local Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest.

My father's words, taken seed, blossomed.

...and now I write Fun Dollars.

I love you dad. Happy Father's Day. Writing is just one of the many areas in life where I have received your words of love and encouragement. Thank you for being my dad, and for always believing in me.

Beets, red-leaf lettuce and pecans at the farmer's market- $9.00
Balance this pay cycle- $1.00
Happy Spending!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Our Days and Nights in Phoenix

I saved receipts all week after our new installment of Fun Dollars on Monday, but I still feel like I just blew through my Fun Dollars. We took a family trip to Phoenix this week while Corey was needed at the main office. His company paid for him to stay at a Motel 6 Extended Stay, so I took the kids down to the valley to stay there with him. We were able to have breakfast and dinner together as a family, and I was able to do different things with the kids during the day than what I normally would do in Sedona.

We started our trip south by stopping at The Outlets in Anthem. I was in need of some new shorts, and they have a play area for the kids there, so everybody wins. It always makes a nice pit-stop too. It breaks up the two-hour trip if we are going any further into the city than Scottsdale.

I took a risk, and decided I needed the shorts badly enough to go shopping without a stroller, and hope the kids stay with me. After a quick breeze through Gap and Banana Republic, I had found what I was looking for. Banana Republic had linen shorts on sale, just like the ones I bought there last year. They are comfy and colorful. (I have decided I do not like wearing denim shorts in the summer. It's linen all the way, baby!) Since the kids were so well-behaved while I shopped, I decided to reward them with something they beg me for every time we are at The Outlets...Auntie Annie's. I spent $7.00 on cinnamon-sugar pretzel bites and a lemon slushie. With treats in hand, we headed out to the play yard for the kids to blow off some energy before heading back on the road.

That night, we all went to Taco and Tequila Tuesday at Dos Gringos in Tempe. We had been to the one in Old Town Scottsdale the last time we all stayed in the Valley for Corey's work. We tried this other location because it was close to where we were staying. Corey and I each had a margarita and a "happy shot" with dinner. We all ate for $20.00, including the drinks!!! We were there for a while, letting the kids run around in the pit with the bean bag game (cornhole is it called???) while Corey and I talked. Even though the music was loud, it was still enjoyable to have the kids occupied while we lingered over dinner.

The next day, I ran the kids around the city with gusto. We played at McCormick-Stillman Railroad park. I took them to IKEA so that I could research dining room chairs. (Carrick loved the play place and Lily rode in the shopping cart.) I found what I was looking for to replace our old IKEA dining chairs that have seen better days. As I prepare for our upcoming garage sale, I want the old chairs to be included in the inventory. The new chairs I found are meant to be temporary, so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on them. At $25.00 a pop, I decided they would be the best replacement chair; inexpensive, match our table, comfortable to sit in, and stackable. I treated the kids (again) with a box of IKEA cinnamon rolls.

That night, we headed to Castles and Coasters after we picked up Corey from work. This time, we tried their mini-golf. Carrick has never actually been mini-golfing since becoming a "big kid" (I think we took him once when he was two to a different facility.) He really enjoyed it. So did I, since I finally found something at which I could beat Corey! Lily just ran around with her golf club, jumping off little path edgers, and talking to anyone who would listen to her.

Thursday was our bittersweet day. Our car was having troubles and I didn't want to drive the kids too far away from the hotel, just in case we got stranded in the city. I took the kids to Goodwill and to Denny's since they were both within safe driving distance. We shared a plate of cheese fries, an appetizer sampler plate and their first ever banana split. Sitting between two children gobbling up melting ice cream definitely made me laugh and forget the fact that I was "stuck" with them at the hotel all day. That night our family went back to Dos Gringos for another round of tequila and tacos.

After a breakfast at Waffle House, I packed up the hotel room and drove with the kids to an auto mechanic's garage to have the car checked out. The garage was the same place we took our Prius two months ago for a issue it was having. They gave me their company van to drive around all day while they fixed the problem. It was close to 5 hours of work they did in all. Thank goodness for the van. It would have been quite a challenge to keep the kids happy in their waiting room for that long. While we were waiting, I made a trip back to IKEA to claim the chairs I had researched two days earlier. By 4:00 we were leaving the garage, and an hour later, we were out of Phoenix heading back home.

Despite the slow traffic on I-17 heading northward, I was still in good spirits. Lily had fallen asleep, as Carrick and I delighted in the clouds over the mountains. It made me remember my dearly departed mother-in-law, as if she were smiling at us on our ride home.

Our trip down to Phoenix was not as refreshing as our recent trip to Mexico, but it was till a welcome break from Sedona. With Corey working down there this month to cover new-hire training, it broke up our time away from him while he's getting through this phase at work. Part of what we talked about in Mexico was how we could carve out more time together as a family, and this trip was a direct result of that. Seeing him for lunch and dinner, and having some family fun time refills my tank long enough to get me through the other days when we are apart. Just taking it one day at a time.

Auntie Annies's at The Outlets- $7.00
Tickets at the train park- $10.00
Cinnamon Rolls at IKEA- $4.00
Snacks at Denny's- $22.00 (with tip)
Snacks at Target while they fixed the car- $5.00
Lunch at IKEA- $10.00
Doritos for the car ride home at Circle K- $5.00

Balance this pay cycle- $10.00 (I don't know if this all adds up, but that is all that's left in my wallet after this trip. I night not have saved a receipt or recorded a purchase with all the running around we did.)

Happy Spending!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Blue Monday

We are in our third week of Summer vacation at this point, and it's pretty hard to believe. This break is flying by much faster than in years past. I'm not sure if it's because we have zero concrete plans or if it's because I now have two mobile and communicative children to keep me busy. Whatever the reason, we are now in a beautiful flow of having no schedule to adhere to. Creating our days as we go along, and rolling with all the surprises thrown at us with grace has become the norm at Casa Sheridan.

Yesterday I took the kids to the pool for the first time. (We all swam at the pool in Mexico, but this is our first trip to a pool in town this summer.) I had planned a library trip with our "to do" bulletin board, but when a friend called for a playdate, we all agreed the pool would be the best place to meet up.

Two hours of play at the Sedona Public Pool kept Carrick engaged and smiling. There were five other children from his class at the pool when we arrived! He was beyond thrilled to see everyone. (One of them was a child who transferred to the other Sedona School mid-year, and Carrick has not played with this boy in about three months. He was especially happy to see his old friend.) I splashed with Lily for about thirty minutes until she was too cold to stay in. Even though I only swam for half an hour, it was worth the $3.00 admission (and $2.00 for Carrick) to be at a pool where there are lifeguards to watch him, and other moms to talk to.

I sat with Lily on my lap and chatted away with two other mom friends of mine, catching up on how their summer was going, and what their plans are for the next few weeks. Knowing that Carrick had passed his swim test for playing in the deep end, I just relaxed and enjoyed my social time with my friends.

After the pool closed at 4:30, I took the kids home and made Carrick a snack bag for his jui-jitsu class. He attends the kids' class right before Corey's adult class, and they have "guy time". Meanwhile, I stay with Lily and enjoy our "girl time".

Lily and I went to share some pizza slices at Famous Pizza, then took a stroller walk around the neighborhood. We finished the night by sitting on the couch watching Friends on Netflix, (my favorite activity while Corey is out of the house.)

I feel like I am expertly navigating the summer break, as well as making my Fun Dollars count for something with my purchases. Whether I am funding an inexpensive activity with the kids, or enjoying a night on the couch, I can safely say there is nothing to be blue about other than the color of the pool.

Pool admission- $5.00
Pizza slices at Famous Pizza -$6.00 with tip.

Balance this pay cycle- $89.00
Happy Spending!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

A Very Smart Decision

I have saved my Fun Dollars for two pay cycles (one month) for a very special purchase. For ten years, I have been a loyal Mary Kay customer. I have also had multiple Mary Kay consultants from whom I have purchased. Many of them have approached me about becoming a consultant myself. I have never felt a draw to be a consultant. I just like someone else giving me excellent customer service...until now.

In early April, I received a facebook message from a long-time friend. She was the first person I ever babysat (as well as her two younger siblings.) I knew her from the church my father served from the time I was 6 to 14 years old. Before I left Illinois to life in Arizona, I bought some Mary Kay from her, because she was just starting out with her business. I have since made several other purchases  from her, even though I had a Mary Kay lady here in Arizona. I liked supporting someone I had known for so long, even if it wasn't exclusive.  She is now a newlywed, and seeing this young person grown into an adult with her own business has been so inspiring. (After all, it was because of her and her family that I made my first Fun Dollars for babysitting.)  In this facebook message from my old friend, she asked me if I would be interested in listening to a phone survey about Mary Kay and giving her some feedback. In return, she would send me a free hand crème.

Being a sucker for free product, I had no objections. I listened to the survey and contacted her. She asked me what I thought about what I heard on the phone call. She also asked me what my interest level was on becoming a consultant myself. On a scale of 1-10, I told her I was a 4.

"What makes you a 4?" she asked.
"Well, the idea of signing up just so I can get product at cost is really appealing. I have spent so much money on makeup over the past decade that it really makes sense.  However, I don't know if I can focus on a business right now."

She explained that I didn't have to order a certain amount each month, I only had to place one order for $200+ within a year to stay "active". That was what I needed to hear. If I saved up my Fun Dollars over the course of two pay cycles, I would have enough to buy a starter kit. Then I could order product for myself at half the cost, as well as have the tools to start my own business when I was ready for it!

I told her that I could commit to buying a starter kit at the end of May. I couldn't wait. Now all I had to do was be diligent with my Fun Dollars and make sure I held back enough to cover the cost of the kit. Out of all the women who have sold me Mary Kay in the past decade, this was the one woman I wanted to support by joining her team. I know her from so long ago and have such faith in her as a team leader that it seemed like a no-brainer.

Saving Fun Dollars in the long run because I am buying from myself, as well as creating a business funded by my own Fun Dollars is the smartest decision I have made with my Fun Dollars to date. I can't wait to get started. (I just received my starter kit this week, so there is still some training to do.)


I am now a proud member of the Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant Team!

Remainder of my balance this week plus $40.00 from last pay cycle to cover the cost of the Mary Kay Starter Kit- $108.00 (the rest of the shipping and handling was covered by our family's "Future Freedom" budget.)

Balance this pay cycle- $0.00
Happy Spending!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Sun-Soaked Saturday

We arrived at the border of Mexico at 9:30 that night. In our haste to leave for vacation, we did not pull cash out of the ATM at our bank (for free) so we ended up paying at least $20.00 in fees for our withdrawals. We also did not have the foresight until we were miles from the border to call our bank and let them know we were travelling. Nor did we think to call Verizon to ask about international data plans and cell coverage. (We both just assumed that Verizon would work automatically in Mexico.)

We had to stop to activate our phones through Verizon, but we needed a third-party phone to do it since we could not call internationally! A very nice C-store attendant let Corey use minutes on his flip phone to complete the transaction. After our short delay, and asking directions to make sure we were on the right road, (since our GPS wasn't working yet) we headed out of town.

The kids fell asleep very quickly after leaving the border town of Sonoyta behind. After getting slightly turned around when we reached Rocky Point (Punto Penasco), We arrived at 11 p.m. at the Playa Bonita Resort. Corey stepped out just long enough to get the keys from the front desk. He hopped back in and announced he had directions to the taco stands back in town. (We were on the beach slightly removed from the rest of the city.)

Carrick woke up unexpectedly as we left the parking lot. When we found the "taco district", he joined Corey on his food quest. There was loud techno/house music playing from a club down the street. People were walking, biking and driving as if it were the middle of the day. There was a man with an accordion playing on the corner, adding his notes to the thumpy music. We took our tacos back to our room, which was also thumping with the vibrations of music. There was a restaurant next door, a part of the hotel, which was hosting an outdoor reception on their patio. At this point, Lily was awake too.

We finished our tacos, and Corey decided he had not driven this far to stay inside when there was a beach 50 yards from his door. He took us all down the stairs from our patio and we strolled the beach by moonlight. It was a magical experience. I have been on beaches at night before, but never with my children. Their delight washed away my fatigue with the waves. The fact that loud music was playing at midnight, just added to the mystique of the gently rolling tide.

When we returned to the room, my attitude flipped completely. I was tired from being on the road, and irritated at the vibrations of the music. Finally, I put in my earbuds and listened to my night music. This did the trick, and I woke up the next morning to a sunny beach vacation.

We ate breakfast at the next-door restaurant, and to my surprise, they were still paying techno/house remixes! The difference from the night before was that the music played over the speakers in the establishment, and was not from the speakers of an excessively loud DJ.

The people there just liked to listen to energetic music....all the time! As I went through my day, it became more and more apparent just how important playing music was in this particular culture. The music is like the heartbeat of the people. They are a very happy and energetic; they love to dance, eat, be with family, and enjoy life. No one was yelling at their kids to behave. No one was in a foul mood of any kind. Whether is was a vacationer, or a local, everyone seemed to be joyful to be alive. It was incredibly refreshing.

I played with the kids on the beach. I sat in the "spa" and enjoyed a pedicure. I even watched Carrick swim while I sat on our patio while Lily napped on the other side of the glass door. I could watch both kids and relax at the same time! (I know what you're thinking, "You let your kid get in the pool without being in there with him?" My answer to you is this: There were about a dozen kids between the two pools, side by side, and at one point, there were NO adults in there! They were all seated around the sides under umbrellas, all of them keeping an eye on their kids by proxy. It was something that would never happen in the US, I don't think. Everyone was so chill, that it just wasn't a problem. The kids all played so nicely together that no one needed adult intervention. And if something did happen, 24 adults would be right there to help in a snap.)

That evening, we took a taxi to the other side of town for dinner. We had reservations on El Rey Del Mar (The King of the Sea) Pirate Dinner Cruise. Right after boarding the ship, Lily found the need to remove her shoes. Try as I might, I could not get her to keep them on. Finally, I just decided to "let it go" and allow the bare feet. If anyone said anything, I would of course put her shoes on, but no one did.

There was a group of cute young Mexican guys,
and one of them danced with Lily.
We set sail around the bay, and the music started up again. After several upbeat songs, the MC for the night called for some volunteers, and the entertainment began! She had two activities that required volunteers before calling all the children from the ship to come down. She had them play a game of musical chairs. The little boy (whose father was the pirate captain) led the kids around the ship, running in and out of tables and people while the music played. Then, when the music stopped, the kids had to dash to the middle of the boat and try to get a seat. Watching Lily run hap-hazardly wherever she wanted to with her baby cheeks bouncing made me laugh so hard I couldn't drink my margarita! Bare foot and all, she was the favorite of the onlookers. When she finally was eliminated, Corey ran up to get her, and said, "How about a hand for the little one?" and the entire boat cheered! So much for worrying about bare feet!

We headed back up to the second level where our seats were, and we enjoy another (very weak) margarita. Then Corey left me with the kids to go down to el bano. As soon as he left, the crew DJ started playing a Spanish version of Achy Breaky Heart. The little girl (daughter of the Pirate Captain) who was leading all the dances was down there, looking awkward shuffling around to the electric slide. I looked around for Corey, desperate to go down there and show everyone what a real electric slide should look like. When I realized he was nowhere close, I shouted out over the music, "Oh, Come on!!!! I'm from Illinois, this is what we DO!!!! I gotta represent!" This awesome lady we made friends with told me to get on down there to dance and she'd watch the kids. (After all, we were in the middle of the bay, so she couldn't just run off with the kids.)

I hopped down the stairs with my margarita and rocked out doing the electric slide! Go, 8th grade P.E. class!!!!!

The night ended with one of the crew dressing up like a ghost, and choosing "victims" from around the ship. I was chosen to sit with the other victims in the middle of the boat. We each had to dance with the ghost to a different song, each in turn. While I was getting ready to go up, the MC asked where Corey was, and I told her he was chasing Lily (out of sight of the dance floor). She made some comment in Spanish, and everyone made a sound like, "Woo!" I did my thang on the dance floor, and then returned to sit among the victims. It was time to vote.

The MC held her hand over the head of each victim and waited for the crowd to cheer. I was the last victim to be voted on, and surprisingly, I had one of the loudest cheers! She pulled me up to my feet as well as the only male victim, and she held her hand over each of us to see who had the loudest cheers. I don't know what I did that earned me the prize, but I was clearly the winner.

The pirate ship experience was better than going out to a club, and better than a fancy restaurant. It was a crazy-fun party that our entire family could enjoy together.

As the kids slept on the bed back at the hotel, Corey and I talked while a mariachi band had taken over from last night's DJ. It was a quincenera this time, and ended at midnight. As the thumping drums and blasting brass declared their joy to the ocean, we were able to share some adult discussion time. We talked about what we enjoyed about our vacation, what we want to do with the rest of our summer, and how we can carve out more time for family with Corey's job challenges.

The entire trip was filled with priceless moments that I will treasure forever.

(If you missed the link above, here are more pics from the trip.)

Cab fare to the Pirate Dinner cruise- $10.00
Balance this pay cycle-  $68.00
Happy  Spending!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Just Me and the Kids

Corey's work has slowed down a little from the spring rush. April and early May had back-to-back weddings, proms, and corporate events that required much of Corey's time and attention. We had made plans for a Memorial Day weekend getaway to Colorado after everything simmered down, but the folks we were planning to stay with had to cancel. We ended up taking a day trip to Out of Africa Wildlife Park instead. However, a day out with the kids is not the same as a vacation.

Then we made plans to head down to Phoenix for a few days while Corey worked at the head office. I would take the kids around Phoenix and have dinner with Corey in the evenings. It didn't sound the like the best vacation, but it would do for getting out of the house and doing new things. But even these plans came to naught when he told me he was just going to head down for an overnight. He wasn't needed for three days at the office like what was expected.

Earlier last week, Corey was talking to a coworker about his need for a real vacation, and she suggested Rocky Point, Mexico. She said that she takes her grandkids down there frequently. It's safe, and close enough to drive.

So the idea of a Mexico escape became our talking point. We knew we wouldn't all be going to Phoenix together, and the idea of driving to be beach became more and more enticing. Since Corey's work schedule is so erratic, though, he was not quite sure when he could just leave the country and not answer his phone for 48 hours. I was officially on 'standby'.

Corey left last Thursday for his overnight in Phoenix. I took the kids to Flagstaff for the day. I used my bulletin board and pinned up the "hiking" card. Carrick, Lily and I hiked the Griffith's Springs trail. It's broad and gently sloping, no steep cliffs to scale. I could take both of the kids on the trail with no problem. We did not hike the entire mile loop, but we did enjoy a leisurely nature walk.

We then headed to Target where I picked up some non-food grocery items and a few things for our trip (whenever that happened to be.) I bought some new beach towels, some sunscreen and some aloe vera gel. (I have been on too many family beach vacations as a kid to know that accidental sunburn is  the hallmark of going to the seaside.) We then headed to to the dollar store so that Carrick could spend the remainder of his Fun Dollars. I also bought Lily two little things with my Fun Dollars; a book of princess stickers to use for her potty chart and a small yellow ball she would not part with at the checkout.

Heading back home with our lunch bags that I diligently packed, we spent no money on food whilst in Flagstaff. Lily conked out before we even got out of town, so instead of heading straight home, I took a side street and headed for a park. I let Carrick play while I sat on a bench next to the car and could watch both kids from that vantage point. I called my grandmother and wished her a happy birthday while the kids were occupied. I told her we were planning on heading down to Mexico soon, but we didn't have a specific date in mind yet.

After Karate and dinner with friends, I was exhausted. It was a day well spent with the kiddos, but I was still pooped from all the running around. When we woke up on Friday, I decided we should have breakfast at Denny's. Corey was set to come home later that afternoon, and I really didn't feel like making breakfast. We ordered two "Slams" from the $4.00 section of the their menu, totaling $8.75 for our bill. I wanted to leave a generous tip for our server, a mother of three and a very patient person with my kiddos while dining. I left her a $5.00 bill on the table.

We headed home and I began searching for our passports and the birth certificates for the kids. Then I gathered together all our swimming gear and packed that bag "just in case". I took the kids on their promised playdate to the splash pad at 11. By 1 we were home and eating lunch, and by 2, Lily was napping and I was ready to do the same, except...


"Hi, babe, what's up?"
"Pack your bags and the kids, we're going to Mexico tonight..."

Toys at Dollar Tree- $2.00
Breakfast at Denny's- $13.00 (with tip)

Balance this pay cycle- $78.00

Happy Spending!