Why Thursday Night Is Pizza Night (For Now)

Tonight is pizza night for us.  And Thursday nights will be for a while, at least the next couple of months.  And, it all has to do with….swim lessons!

How Swim Lessons Beget Pizza Night

Both of our kids have attended a not-for-profit co-op preschool during their age appropriate years.  In order to keep tuition low, they do various fundraisers, and the biggest one has always been a silent auction held in March.

One of the items that has always been donated is a month membership to a nearby swim school.  We have bid on it and been lucky enough to win every year.  It usually saves us a bit of money for at least the free month compared to the regular tuition, plus we get some accessories like goggles and such.

This year, we found ourselves with two month passes to use, as we won both last year and this year, and hadn’t yet used either one.

Both of our kids have had great times and learned a lot there, so we decided to enroll them each in swim lessons.  This worked out great because you can only use one month per child.

As it so happened, we were able to schedule their lessons at the same time, which is 4:30pm on Tuesday.  This means a pretty mad scramble to get ready and get there after our son gets off the bus at 4pm.

My wife and I both like to go and watch how they’re doing, plus at their ages (6 and 4), getting them cleaned up and changed afterward is definitely easier when you split the duties.

The lessons are about half hour, and by the time we’re done getting everything ready, often another half hour or so has passed.  This puts us squarely at dinner time.

The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza
The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza

My wife and I decided, in a pretty short conversation, that pizza would be a great fit for Thursday nights.

Simple Is Fine

We’re not fancy when it comes to pizza, so we have a few different options on the way home.  We like Little Caesar’s, either the $5 round or $8 deep dish pizza.  Last week Domino’s had a coupon code where we got 50% off, so that’s what we had.  We also have Papa Romano’s, Papa John’s, and Pizza Hut all on the way or not too far off the direct path.

If needed, we’ll order the pizza in advance and pick it up so that when we get home, all we do is throw together a salad.  Then, we’re eating in no time!  This is especially good with children who are hungry after their swimming!

The tradition won’t last forever.  We anticipate that we’ll run the lessons through May.  By that point we’ll start getting busy with camping trips or other summer activities.  Eventually,  so  the Thursday pizza night tradition will fade.  But, for now it’s definitely a fun little family tradition, and not too expensive at all!

Readers, do you have any ‘regular’ meals that stem from other things going on in life?   

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Things To Do With An Unexpected Snow Day

What do you do during an unexpected snow day?  For many, this wish just came true!  This past weekend saw one of the biggest snowstorms in history strike the East coast.  At times, watching TV and seeing the reports of snow piling up was as riveting of TV as there’s been lately (and, yes, this includes Making A Murderer).

Luckily, here in Michigan, we didn’t get even a flake of snow.  In fact, since we were right on the other side of the system, it was sunny for a good part of the weekend.  We’ve only had one major snowfall this season, and we were in Disney World for it, so it’s been very quiet for us.

There’s plenty of winter left this year, and chances are we’re still ripe for a storm, so I thought about some ways we’d handle things if we got snowed in by a major storm.

Do you wanna build a snowman?
Do you wanna build a snowman?

Play in the snow

If it’s really windy or really cold while it snows, this might not work, but sometimes all it does is just snow.  A lot.  And, when it does, it’s fun to go outside for a bit in the middle of the storm and watch the world transform into a winter blanket.

Movie and popcorn

There are few things better than taking some relaxing time.  When you know you can’t make it out, it makes it easier to take some well deserved TV time.  A little popcorn, a great movie, and your favorite people around will guarantee a great time.

Work on a long put-off project 

There are always small projects that need to be done around the house.  Provided that it’s not something where you might need to run out to the store for more supplies, you can sometimes get something crossed off your to-do list that’s been sitting there for a while.

Get your brain working

People can get restless pretty quick when they get cooped up.  So, it can be fun to get some exercise.  And I’m talking about exercising your brain!  Jigsaw puzzles aren’t just for kids anymore.  A challenging puzzle can be great ways to keep your brain stimulated.  Time will fly by.

Bake something fun

If it’s snowing then that means it’s cold enough to where turning on the oven.  Filling your house with the smell of freshly baked cookies is always a good thing.  So, have at it!

Keep in touch with your family, friends, and neighbors

While hopefully everybody is staying inside where it’s nice and safe, you want to make sure that your loved ones or those around you are weathering the storm OK. While it’s easy to get lost with the people with you in your house, make sure to keep tabs on the world outside.

Readers, how did you hunker down and make it through your most recent storm?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Disney World Problems: Unplanned And Unavoidable Issues

As I’ve outlined with my series of posts, our Disney World trip last November was an incredible experience.  It was made more so this way because of all the plans that my wife put into the trip. She spent hours and hours and it definitely paid off.  However, on a week long trip, it’s inevitable that you’ll have issues that no amount of planning could have avoided.  As much as they try to prevent them, Disney World problems exist.

Here are a couple of things that threw us for a loop and how we responded to them.

The Late Snack Delivery

I’m a frugal guy.  I know how expensive Disney World is for just about everything.  That said, we looked at various ways to save money while we were there.  One money saver was trying to get a good deal on all the snacks I knew that we’d need.

We had just recently joined Amazon Prime.  I looked into what they could offer.  It urns out that as Prime members, we have access to the Amazon Pantry.  This is a service  where you can order lots of things like snacks and water.  You do pay a nominal shipping fee, but it’s charged by the box, not by the item.  You also don’t get 2-day shipping, but it is normally pretty quick nonetheless.

We decided to use this. We even called Disney to find out the specifics about whether our hotel would handle this.  It turns out it’s a pretty common thing.  Theygave us the details we needed.  We also got a tip that we can have the shipment show up before we arrived.

Our arrival was on a Saturday, and when we placed the order, it was set for a Thursday delivery.  Perfect, right?

When Wednesday morning rolled around, I figured it was a bit odd that it was still preparing for shipment.  Since it was our first time with Prime, I assumed it was OK.  After all, it’s Amazon, right?

Amazon Isn’t Immune To Problems

Well, it turns out that Amazon had problems too!

Our shipment went out but with a new arrival date of the following Tuesday.  Yikes

We were shocked and very disappointed.  After all, the stuff arriving that late meant that we would have several days without the snacks and water, and we’d have way too much of it given that we’d have a few days less than planned to use it.  Since it’d already shipped, we couldn’t even cancel the order.

We ended up dealing with the issue with a two step approach:

  • My wife spoke to someone at Amazon and explained the situation. They explained that there had been a glitch in the Pantry system, and the problem that we had experienced was pretty widespread.  Basically anybody that used the system over the day or two period that we had was going to see delays.  There was no way they could re-ship the items to arrive sooner, and of course they couldn’t cancel it.  But, they did refund the full order amount, provide an additional $5 credit, and they had no problem with us keeping the order.  So, essentially we got the entire order for free.  Plus $5!
  • We doubled up. My wife was part of a number of Facebook groups where people talked about the trip and shared ideas.  One thing that she’d found was a local grocer that would deliver to your hotel.  We had looked into them prior to Amazon but they were more expensive, so we went with Amazon instead.  After we realized we’d be a few days with no snacks, we revisited them.  We ended up placing an order, and even had a code for free delivery, which was normally around $10 or so on top of the higher price.

In the end we ended up with a ton of snacks and water.  We ended up taking a lot of the snacks home (we still have a few pouches of Goldfish crackers, some applesauce pouches, and some other odds and ends), and left the remaining bottled water in the hallway before checkout.

About That Free Backpack

When we were packing for the trip, we realized that we would need something to carry stuff around to the parks for snacks, things to wipe off with, autograph books, and other various stuff.  We found a backpack that my wife had received for free, and I was assigned the task of wearing it around the parks.

For the first couple of days, all went well and there were no issues.  On the third day, after we got back to the room, I was changing my shirt, and my wife pointed out that I had some weird marks.  I looked in the mirror and saw that it looked like a rash on my right shoulder and under my armpit, in the area where the backpack was.

Strange.  But it didn’t hurt or bother me in any way so I kind of forgot about it.

The following day I went about my business and wore the backpack again.

HUGE MISTAKE!

This time when I got back to the hotel room and changed my shirt, I knew there was trouble.  The two or three small areas had turned into five or six big areas.  And now they were rubbed raw.

Then they started to hurt.mb-2016-01-bandage

Then the blisters started to form.

And that’s when it got really painful.

Many Days Left And I Was Hurting

The big problem wasn’t that we still had a few days left.  For that, it was no big deal not to wear the backpack.  I could just start carrying it around.  I also started thinking that maybe taking a free backpack wasn’t the best idea, especially when, after that, I noticed lots of other people wearing backpacks, but with better straps and additional straps to better spread out the weight, which presumably I didn’t have.

No, the big problem was that I had already inflicted the damage and because of the position of where all the wounds were, there was no possible way I could bandage them  or cover them up.  See, anywhere near your arm moves around a lot, and any type of band aid, gauze tape, or otherwise peels off right away after you start moving your arm around.

So the last couple of days of the trip were very uncomfortable.   Because some of the wounds were under my armpit, I was walking around with one arm a few inches away from my body.  I brought antibiotic cream and petroleum jelly to try to keep it from rubbing the shirt fabric anymore than it had to.

I had my Fitbit with me and we were walking between 15,000 and 18,000 steps per day, just about every day.  That’s a whole lot of rubbing.  By time time we left, I was raw, and the blisters were popping, and it was…ugly.

It was really only after I got back and was able to get back to work and minimize my movement that it was able to start healing.  Even then it took about two weeks before I could even go back to the gym (think about running and all the back and forth that each step takes…yikes).

I found it very strange that it only happened on one arm.  I figure I must carry more weight or handle things differently.  It also, I think, was the strap that I put on last and took off first anytime it went off or on.  Maybe that has something to do with.

It didn’t put too much of a damper on my vacation, but it definitely made things a bit more uncomfortable, that’s for sure!

Readers, what unexpected circumstances have thrown you for a loop on vacation, and how did you end up dealing with them?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

6 Low Cost Ways We Have Family Holiday Fun

Holidays can be a stressful time.  They’re certainly busy and full of many activities.  So,it’s good to have some ideas for family holiday fun. After all, family is really the most important part of the holidays.

For our family, there are a few different things we’ve established that we really enjoy or plan on adopting as traditions:

Decorating

Now that the kids are old enough, we make them part of the decorating process.  We put up multiple trees, and they help with the decorations as much as they can, and they also look forward to certain elements that they know are coming, like mini trees in their room or the little Snoopy piano that they can press to make music from the TV special play.

Advent Calendar

Each year, my mother-in-law gets each of our kids an Advent calendar.  They look forward to getting their piece of candy each day, and it’s fun to see them progress with finding numbers on their own corresponding to the day of the month.

Stories

We have a collection of books that we look forward to reading.  As the kids get older, we add new mb-201011villagebooks here and there, but there are already some favorites that we look forward to reading, and our reading of course culminates with me reading ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to close out the season on Christmas Eve.

Elf on the Shelf

I know people have mixed feelings on these, but we have definitely enjoyed our Elf, whose name is Figgy, and the kids love waking up and going together to look for him each day.

Movies and shows

We have a variety of Christmas and holiday TV shows and movies that the kids look forward to watching, such as Rudolph, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty, while the adults always look forward to some of the classics like Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and of course Elf.

Making cookies

For years, my wife has organized a Saturday as ‘Cookie Day’.  This brings together some of the ladies, moms, aunts, sisters, friends, to get together and bake cookies.  This year, they’re going to shift that get together to a non-cookie making event.  Even so, we’re going to bring the kids into it and do cookies with our family.  They love making them and we all love eating them!

These are great because they are pretty low or no cost activities.  Plus, they’re great ways for us to do things together as a family.  We hope that these things will leave long lasting memories for all of us.  After all, great memories are one of the best things that can come out of the holidays.

Readers, what are some of your holiday traditions or activities that don’t cost a lot but bring your family together for lots of fun?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.