Breaking Down Our Madeira Beach Vacation

A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying life a little bit more.  As they say, life is always better at the beach!  We took a family trip down to Florida.  Here are some things I thought I’d share about our Madeira Beach vacation.

Familiarity Helps

We rented a condo that worked out great for us.  What really helped is that we’ve stayed in this condo complex before.  Back in 2010 we took a trip, also with my in-laws and stayed in a different unit.  On top of that, this area was where my wife and her family vacationed when she was a girl.  So, knowing so much about the area in general was a big help too.  Familiarity definitely helped improve our Madeira Beach vacation.

We Saved On Travel But Added Stress

Originally we were planning to drive, but ended up flying.  However, since all public schools in Michigan are off at the same time, the airlines all jacked up their prices flying out of Detroit.  We found some great fares out of Columbus, Ohio, which was about a four hour drive.  Saving money was great, but the added stress of driving kept me on edge.  After all, it would only take one accident along the way to take away our cushion.  Luckily, we were fine, but I was nervous.

Walking Distance

Because of our familiarity with the area, we knew that we could survive without a car.  And we did just fine!  We

Madeira Beach Vacation 2017

ended up taking Uber rides wherever we needed to go. All told, our Uber rides added up to about $125 plus tips, which was a significant saving over renting a car to drive while there.

Pool And The Ocean Added Up To Fun

We had warm, sunny weather for most of the trip, which was great.  However, a good portion of our trip was very windy.  This made being near the water very difficult with blowing sand.  But, having a pool right there definitely kept us exactly where we needed to be.  Having both options was great.

Renting A Condo Was Great

We had a really great condo that we found.  It was two bedrooms.  Each bedroom had a TV.  Having a TV in the kids room was great because they could have some down time after coming back tired from being at the water.  It was also fully furnished and had lots of supplies needed for the pool and water.

Supplies When Renting A Condo

The condo had just about everything we needed, but we ended up forgetting a few things on our shopping trip.  Paper plates, napkins, and salt and pepper were all things we would have liked but didn’t think of.  There was nothing we didn’t have but lots of things we would have loved to have had.  We made a list!

Eating In And Eating Out

We ate at a lot of different restaurants, but also made quite a few meals in.  This mix kept our costs down a bit, and made a good mix of ‘on the go’ versus enjoying the moments.  We ate all of our breakfasts in, and then would generally have lunch or dinner out.  It still wasn’t exactly cheap but it kept things in check.

We Loved Our Madeira Beach Vacation

If you can’t tell we loved our vacation.  All of us came back tan.  We all came back tired. Our son came back with a sore ear from all the swimming.  All told, those are all signs that we had lots and lots of fun.  And we did.  So much so that we already put a deposit on the same unit for next year! And did I mention that repeat visitors get a 10% discount?  Woo-hoo!

Readers, do you have any great family spring break stories?  Please let me know what you did in the comments below.  Thanks so much for reading!

Perspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

Our son is finishing up a round of pediatric physical therapy.  He has been a ‘toe walker’ ever since he took his first steps.  While this doesn’t stop him from getting around, his pediatrician advised we take him to therapy after his last check up.  The reason for this is because toe walkers often don’t stretch out muscles and tendons in their foot.  This appeared to be the case for my son.  By having him go through therapy, we would all learn methods to stretch these out.  The hope is that it would lead to better walking habits.

The Results

So far, we’re one for two on the  goals noted above.  He has improved the mobility in his foot, meaning that it stretches out better.  This is a good thing.  Unfortunately, he still often walks on his toes.  We always tell him when we catch him, and he’ll drop down while he walks, but it’s just a habit that he’s not ready to break yet.  This isn’t ideal, but it means we’ll have to keep him engaged in the stretching exercises.  The good news is that he doesn’t have to go to therapy indefinitely. His movement will be measured by the pediatrician, and if needed, he might need to go back to therapy occasionally.

Read morePerspective: Attending Pediatric Physical Therapy

7 Affordable Spring Break Activities For Kids

It’s almost getting to be that time of year again.  The kids will be off school for a week.  You’ll want to keep them occupied so that they don’t go crazy.  Plus, you don’t want to go crazy in the process.  Here are some affordable spring break activities for kids to consider this year.

Play Dates

If your kids have made friends, now is a perfect time to get them together.  A few kids together might not be the quietest of time, but they will burn off energy and have fun.  Plus, they can make some great memories and reinforce bonds.

Read more7 Affordable Spring Break Activities For Kids

Should Kids Have Homework In Early Grades?

At the start of the school year, I saw a lot of talk about whether kids should have homework.  Increasingly, it seems that many educators feel that homework is no longer needed.  Some schools have backed off from assigning homework entirely.  Our two younger kids (2nd grade and kindergarten) are both in the same elementary school, but there is not a set policy.  We currently have one kid that has regular homework and one that does not.  After a few months, I have my opinion on the question of should kids have homework?

The Case For Homework

Many people will argue that homework is a good thing.  There are many different arguments in favor of regular homework, even in early grades.

Read moreShould Kids Have Homework In Early Grades?

Planning Our Spring Break Trip To Madeira Beach, FL

Our last big family trip was to Disney World in November 2015.  It was great and we had a great time.  As soon as we were done, we started thinking about our next trip.  We didn’t want to do anything as big as Disney, but we wanted to do another trip to Florida.  This time we were thinking Spring Break.  In order to give ourselves time to catch up financially, we targeted the spring of 2017 for our trip.

Well, spring break is almost here, and we’ve gone ahead and planned most of our trip.  Here are some of the details.

Picking Our Spring Break Destination

We knew that we wanted to do a beach trip.  Our family loves camping in the summer and most of our trips seem to be centered around the beach.  We both have had various trips in the past to Florida, so we initially looked at two locations.

Read morePlanning Our Spring Break Trip To Madeira Beach, FL

3 Ways We’re Streamlining And Saving On Christmas

The Christmas season is fully upon us.  We have finished our decorating and are getting ready for all the shopping, family gatherings, and seasonal activities.  A big part of Christmas has become gift giving.  This is true for us, especially with younger children.  Although we have our Christmas gift fully funded, we came up with some ideas to save us time and money.  Here are thee ways that we’re streamlining and saving on Christmas this year.

Saving Time And Money On A Gift Exchange

On my wife’s side, there are six adults that exchange gifts.  Traditionally, we had a budget and list for both of my in-laws, plus my sister-in-law, as well as her boyfriend.  That was four people to buy for.  This year, we all agreed to a system where we drew names and each person will buy for one other person out of the four people not in our household.  This means that between my wife and I, we’ll only have two people to shop for instead of four.  This is also less gifts to wrap.  We also put a cap on the budget, which will save us around $50 versus the budget we had previously in place to cover all four people.

Read more3 Ways We’re Streamlining And Saving On Christmas

10 Important Money Concepts For Kids & Where Ours Stand

Our children are growing right before our eyes.  At ages 7 (my son)  and 5 (my daughter), they are learning more and understanding how the world works and how they fit in.  It is important to my wife and I to teach them good money habits and knowledge.  It seemed like a good time to see where our kids stand.  Here are 10 important money concepts for kids, and where ours stand.

Knowing What Money Is

Both of our kids now recognize money, both paper and coins.  They both know how to recognize American money, and understand that money is represented differently in different places.

Read more10 Important Money Concepts For Kids & Where Ours Stand

Before Keeping Up With Them, Ask Who Are Your Joneses?

Keeping up with the Joneses.  We’ve all heard it.  We know what it means.  Hopefully we don’t do it.

Keeping Up With The Joneses: Who Are Your Joneses, Anyway?

But, since most people that you start comparing yourself to probably aren’t actually named Jones (though, some might be), I wonder who your Joneses are.  Meaning, who are the people that, when you see them, make you want to ‘keep up’?

For me, I don’t have actual people, but the people who fall into these groups are definitely my triggers.

Read moreBefore Keeping Up With Them, Ask Who Are Your Joneses?

The Money Blahs And Blessings

I’ve had the money blahs where everything with money and finances seems just meh.  That probably explains why I haven’t posted too much.

There’s nothing in particular that’s bumming me out, but just sort of a collective theme that is part boredom and part feeling like I’m spinning my wheels.

Why The Money Blahs?

I’m all about making progress.  Moving forward and getting things done are great!  I love making lists.   I love setting and reaching goals.  Lately it just feels like with regards to money, things are not really moving or moving too slow to see.

Read moreThe Money Blahs And Blessings

A Good Sales Pitch Makes All The Difference

We’ve lived in our house for nine years now, so I was at first a little surprised when, a few weeks ago, my wife told me that she wanted to learn how to cut the lawn.  There are very few hard and fast responsibilities on who does what in our house, but taking care of the lawn was one of few that existed, and I had no problem with that.

At first I was bewildered, though I quickly came to a conclusion about why she was asking: Her new Fitbit.  I’ve had a Fitbit for a while now, but my wife recently got one just several months back.  While we’re not cutthroat about it, there is a little bit of competitiveness between us as to who can get the most steps daily and over a running seven day period, both of which are readily available on the app.

Steps And Cutting Lawn

Cutting the lawn adds about 7,000 steps, so her cutting it instead of me could swing the difference a full 14,000 steps in her favor.

Read moreA Good Sales Pitch Makes All The Difference