Family vacations for less and how our family of 5 ( two adults and three littles) vacationed at South Lake Tahoe for under $300.00 this summer.
We haven’t been on very many vacations as a family since we started having kids. In fact up until this trip the only ones we’ve gone on all together included extended family! So, for the first time just the 5 of us packed up and headed out of town! Living on a budget means we needed to figure out how to have a family vacation for less, so here’s what we did!
Sidenote: after this first experience as the mom on vacation I really think we should come up with a new word for it. Because the role of “vacationing mom” is a lot of work and certainly doesn’t have the same calm, relaxing feelings as vacation without the family!
Anyways, it is totally worth all the work and we made wonderful memories! And actually I can’t wait to go again!
For this trip we went to Lake Tahoe! It was a nice break from the valley heat and I just love that beautiful lake surrounded by trees and mountains!
We started by searching for hotels. There are lots of travel sites that help you find a good deal. A few of our favorite to search through are…
Airbnb is fun because you can rent a whole house (or even just a room if that’s all you need) watch out for added fees though.
Vacations Made Easy is nice because you can build a whole vacation package while booking your rooms!
There are soooo many sites to help plan a budget friendly trip. Travel zoo, Groupon, Living social, home away, and so many more, are all great!
* When looking through these sites be sure to look for any added taxes or fees. Also, to get more of a value for your money look for deals that include meal coupons, drink coupons and other extras!!
For this trip we chose Lakeside Inn and casino ( I liked that the rooms and the casino part were completely separate so our kids never even went through the gaming area!) It wasn’t fancy or anything but it was clean and we were able to get a room with two full size beds!
This trip we were trying to not leave to big of a mark on our budget, and this is how we managed to keep the cost really low:
These deals are early access deals and are only available for a limited time, there’s an extra 30 minutes of shopping for Prime members!! these are being released throughout the day! ( all of the following links were live and in stock at time of posting but hurry they won’t last long) All of this excitment just leading up to the amazing prime day deals tonight and tomorrow!
Don’t miss out… get a free 30 days of prime membership and enjoy all these great sale prices.. so many releasing in the next two days!! Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
61% off 61% off This is a heating lunch box! WHAT?!?
39% off 31% 0ff
58% off 20% off 20% off
Seriously this is only a very small sample of what is on sale right now… check out this listing here!
Prime Day is July 11, are you ready? There are a couple of things you should do so you are ready to take advantage of the amazing deals that are coming this year!
The post may contain affiliate links. If you shop through our links I could get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
First of all and Most important: If you do not have a PRIME membership with Amazon you’ll need it before you can order any of the Prime Day special sales. But don’t worry. You can sign up for a free 30 days! Enjoy the benefits of the sales prices and all that Prime membership has to offer. If you don’t won’t to continue your membership you can cancel anytime!!
It may be a good idea to start your wishlist and have a talk with your husband/wife about a budget?! (only if you want to avoid problems at the next budget meeting!! ?)
Last year there were lots of appliances… Amazon sold 215,000 Instant Pots alone during last years Prime Day. If you are in the market for one or even a 2nd one (wouldn’t that be amazing???!!) I expect they will have another great deal this year! I also expect to see a lot of big play items like trampolines, play sets for the back yard, toys of all kinds so think Christmas and Birthday stock piling! Electronics were a big sales category last year as well! Even household things like robotic vacuums… really it’s going to be a ton of different things, big and small!
Something new this year, Amazon has started selling IKEA Items… so maybe we’ll see some deals there too?!!
If you can’t tell already, I’m really excited!! It’s fun to see all the deals and I’d love to help you all get what you are wishing for! 🙂 So leave a comment or send a message and let me know what you will be looking for so I can keep an eye out for you!
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Let me just pause right here and say, I never really expected to get into this kind of “everything” home-made kind of home making… and this project intimidated me a lot! but now that I’ve made it once, and wrote down some notes for next time, I am so beyond excited!
It is pretty fun to provide home-made goodies for my family, and it’s especially nice when you can find recipes and methods that have already been ironed out!
I wouldn’t have even attempted to make yogurt if it wasn’t for my amazing Instant Pot! Man, I love this thing! Best Christmas present ever! (Thanks Babe!) From applesauce, to a freezer full of dinners, making my lunches a breeze and now even making yogurt… The Instant Pot has been (dare I say it?) life-changing! If you aren’t familiar with this miracle appliance ? You can read my previous posts about it here.
I was nervous to take on yogurt. So, I’ve been looking into it for a while now and preparing myself for the task.
Its February! yay! We have less than a month until our due date! And boy am I feeling pregnant these days!! Can’t wait to meet this growing boy and to be done being pregnant! haha It’s truly amazing what our bodies can do, and being a part of this miracle is incredible!
I loved not cooking last month! I had a freezer stocked of 30 meals and didn’t have to worry about much when it came time to getting food on the table each night. No matter how busy we were or tired I was!
So, we did it again for this month! This time I chose to create my own menu from scratch, searching through so many wonderful recipes at Once a Month Meals! I mixed it up with different serving day options, mostly using my Instant Pot but also my oven!
I love how easy it is to find recipes your family will enjoy, and customize them for your family size!
This time along with the 30 meals for us, I also made a few dinners for my parent’s freezer and selected a few different recipes for lunches for myself. (Pizza stuffed sweet potatoes, turkey zucchini boats, and marinated chicken thighs, yum!)
I won’t deny that it was a lot of work and at the end of the day this time, I began to feel like I over did it… (at this point just trying to walk and breath is a workout though! ) AND the truly awesome thing is now I’m done cooking for a while and providing dinner for my family each night involves very minimal effort and hardly any mess! In fact looking at our schedule we will probably stretch these meals out through March as well!
I wanted to show you a few of the details and lists that I love about Once A Month Meals and why I wouldn’t do this without their wonderful help!
We started using the new service at Walmart a little over a month ago. And not to sound dramatic BUT it has changed everything about grocery shopping for our family!
How Our Family Uses This Service
I place an order through Walmart Grocery Pick up once a week! I still do a monthly stop by Winco Foods bulk section for the staples like flour, sugar, etc. And Monthly Sam’s club trip for our big things. But as for our weekly needs like produce, bread, snacks, breakfast, and other meal items. It’s all been coming from Walmart and I haven’t had to step inside a Walmart store in a long time! (insert happy dance here)
We have discovered (at least for our area) same-day order/pick up doesn’t work. Because they are just so busy, in fact one of the workers told Ryan they have had up to 70 orders in a day!!
So, I place my order the night before I want to reserve a pick up time and I’ve never had a hard time getting the time I want.
Because I can fill my cart anytime on the app I usually have a few items in there all the time. When I’m standing in the kitchen and we use up the last piece of foil, or Ryan is digging in the fridge and says, we are out of lunch meat.. Instead of writing it on a list somewhere, I just put it in the cart on the app and it’s there, ready for when I complete my order.
We have been reserving to pick up between 5-6pm and it’s works out so great for us. Ryan gets off at 5 and then heads over to pick up the order. We usually choose to have our own bags in the trunk and the workers just put all the groceries in them right there at the car.
What happens when Walmart is out of an item you have ordered?
Have you heard? Walmart now has a pick up program!
I just used it for the first time today! So let me share wit you my Walmart Grocery Pick Up Review!
It is simple to add items to your cart. Select your nearest store and choose your pick up time slot.
The instructions at the end of the order say
” At your designated time, go to your grocery pickup location. Tip: For fast service, check in using our Walmart Grocery app (Iphone) or Grocery Check-in App (Android). No smartphone? Call us 15 minutes prior to arrival, and again when you arrive.
Enter the Parking lot and drive to the front of the store.
Facing the entrance, proceed to the right side of the building, then head to the back. Look for the grocery pick up signs.
Park in a designated spot, your order will be out shortly.”
We also discovered that the phone number is a different one than the main number (which is impossible to get through to anyone) the pick up order number is a direct line to them and was a much better way to contact them about my order! (At Trinity store in Stockton the number is 209.371.7046)
We were told today that if they ever have to substitute an item for you, they always go bigger and better. The example the manager gave to me was, let’s say I order a 12 oz jar of Jiffy Peanut Butter. But they don’t have the 12 0z in stock.. they will bump it up to the 20 oz and yet still charge for the one I wanted!!
They give you a little sample bag of goodies at your first pick up, that’s fun!
This service is FREE!!! You really do get to order and purchase your walmart goods online and then drive up and they bring it out to your car and email you a receipt!! It’s CRAZY!! I am super excited about this! I think we just figured out how to make grocery shopping manageable even with kids, and preggo and all the other things that make Grocery shopping a difficult task. And seriously? walmart deals and prices without having to go inside walmart??!! You couldn’t sign me up fast enough!!
Walmart also has a great referral program. And if you use this code you can get $10 OFF your first order and I’ll get $10 OFF too! In turn, you also can get a referral code and refer your friends and family and you each get $10. up to ten times a year!
I love this month! My birthday of course helps kick it off pretty well 🙂
And we’ve already enjoyed a few cooler days this week! I love the changing seasons and made my first pot of stew for dinner tonight! YUM!
We officially started Home School this week! We did a little bit of preschool learning last year but didn’t really stick to a plan or schedule and honestly Mommy got a little lazy with it… but it was a freebie year since William was still only 3/4. 🙂
But this year is different. We are ready for Kindergarten in this house!! William is so excited! And after getting over the first bout of intimidation I’ll admit I’ve become pretty excited too! He is still only 4 (will turn 5 first part of January) But we really don’t think it’s to early to start him.. He has already mastered so many of the basics that you would expect to have him learn before kindergarten that I couldn’t imagine repeating them all again! So we are moving forward!
I am blessed in the fact that William does really love to learn. He wants to know how things work and why and would take everything a part in the process if he was allowed.
For this school year our main focus will be basic Math skills and learning to read! Along with Bible memorization and just learning from things around us.. we will be keeping things pretty laid back as we reach these goals.
I certainly don’t want to come across as a “Homeschooler Blog” as in, you should come here for advice or anything.. but I do know that I’m not the only one just starting out, so maybe if I share some of the things I’m learning, it could help you too.. us newbies should stick together ( and read the real expert home school blogs too) 🙂
We start our day off with prayer and calendar time with this awesome calendar I made from pinterest!
Here is where I found this awesome idea and the FREE printable. This blog is pretty awesome so make sure you sign up to follow her for more tips and tools!
Also, I’m hoping to just fill our lives with great habits and more structure (something that I should have already been enforcing but we won’t dwell on that!) So, now we start our day off with teeth brushed, making beds, and actually getting dress which has been super hard for my boys to understand, they want to know where we are going! hahaha
For Math we went with Math-U-See curriculum. I really like how hands on it is with manipulative blocks and that it includes number recognition, writing numbers and geometry shapes all in one book! We are starting with the Primer
Now I do know that some people say this method is a little to close to “common Core” for their liking and that opinion is fine. But especially at this young age I don’t see us running into any issues. I find it to be a great method for solidifying our number recognitions and counting. Plus, I think the beauty of Home School is that you can find what works for you and your child.
For reading I decided to get Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons. Recommended by a friend. You really can’t beat the price and it’s a full reading/writing curriculum in one book. Even the teacher’s notes (which are nice and extensive) are in the one book! I really like how the lessons are planned and I’m excited to teach William how to read. I found a lot of fun printable to go along with these lessons. Including a number chart so William can put a sticker on each lesson as we complete it. Also there is an Ipad version so later we’ll be able to practice our sounds on the iPad!
For Bible we will be focusing on our Awana Club work! Our family has fallen in love with Awana!! I encourage you to find a group near you! Or even ask your church to start one!! Awana is so Christ-centered, gospel-focused. They concentrate on memorization of Scripture and Christ’s unspeakable love for every child! William is in cubbies this year and James is in puggles. William will be working through his honeycomb book. He has a memory verse and a story to read each week. Also, most weeks he’ll have some extra stuff we can do during school as well. Puggles offers some awesome parent cards to be able to reinforce what they are learning each week, here at home! They have awesome suggestions about bringing the gospel into everyday life and showing even little James how much He Is Loved!!
This Mamma loves that even at 2 years old James’ class is learning a lot!! They are going through Creation right now!! I love that they are taking the opportunities they have with even the youngest to share Jesus’ love for them. It isn’t just childcare while everyone else is in their classes!!
Side note: Ryan and I are volunteering too! We asked that we not be in our boys age group to give them and us a little space 🙂 so we get to work with the 8-10 year olds and we are having a blast!! Again it is so gospel-focused that these kids are memorizing verse after verse each week. And I love that I’m dwelling on them too as I help the kids! Anyways, all that to say we love Awana! 🙂
As for any other learning lessons.. I have a lot of products left over from our attempt last year and have been giving William little things to do because he loves them so much! So,it might be a page about same and different, mazes, just practicing writing numbers or letters, etc. I have lots of flash cards about space and animals. And some learning games. So in a round about way I think we’ll learn a little science, a little history, a little health, a little of everything!
My Mom will be gathering ideas for Art! And I’m so glad it’s her and not me! hahaha The boys will love it!
Daddy will be teaching sign language once a week too!
Reading aloud has not been our strength in the past… Getting the boys to sit for a story hasn’t happened up until a couple of months ago! So much so that I started reading aloud while they were playing and just hoped they were kind of listening. But things are getting better.
I read on a blog somewhere that suggested reading while the kids are eating their lunch and that has been fairly successful as long as I’ve had a chance to eat my lunch first! 🙂 Also, I’ve expanded our library some, to include books with a little more interest and a few more words than say your average Dr. Seuss… and the boys are really enjoying the stories a little more!
To keep myself accountable, organized and keep a record of what we’ve accomplished this year, I bought this planner from Amazon. I like how much space there is to write out each lesson! There is attendance and even report cards if you want to do that!
All in all I think we’ll enjoy this year. It has it’s challenges with James running around and Mommy feeling tired growing this baby. But, we are praying for a great year!
If you are also homeschooling I hope your year has begun smoothly! I’d love to know what blogs you like to follow or anything you’ve found to be helpful!
The day has finally arrived! I am soooo excited as we get ready for this huge day for the kitchen project! For this day we asked for a few more friends to help! We ended up with 5 guys for the concrete. And I think that was the perfect amount. And Tiffani and I were there for whatever we could help with! We rented a mixer from Home Depot and got to work!
DIY Concrete Countertops
We already had our formula for the color figured out. So the guys just had to follow it for each batch. I will say we had a few issues with consistency in the batches of cement. All of the blogs and youtube videos will say you want the concrete to be pretty think and that is true. But there seems to be a happy medium where it also needs to not be to dry! All in all most of the batches came out pretty well and with my Father in law and Jonathan at the finishing trowels it came out beautiful!
And a very important step was vibrating the edges.. to make sure to get as many air bubbles out as we could. ( After the forms came off you can really tell where we took time to make sure we vibrated really well and where we may have rushed a little bit)
It took us about 6 hours or so I would say to get it all in and smoothed out. And then the waiting game for it to set a bit to be able to run the trowel through it again…