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!

Giving Up Facebook For Lent

Last month I wrote about how I gave up snacking at work.  I know my weaknesses and I finally accepted that occasional snacking leads to regular snacking.  So, I haven’t snacked since the beginning of the year.

Giving Up Facebook

I grew up Catholic, and one tradition that I’ve always had is to give up something for Lent.  The Lenten season runs between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a period of 46 days.  People are encouraged to give something up that’s important or difficult.  The idea is to give ourselves a small reminder of what Jesus gave up during his 40 days in the desert.

In the past I’ve given up a variety of things, including:

  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Candy
  • All Sweets
  • Alcohol.

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7 Rules Of Gym Etiquette

I’ve been going to the local Planet Fitness for quite a while.  I think it’s been almost three years.  Over time, I’ve sort of figured out some do’s and don’ts.  Of course, I’ve learned most of this by having someone bugging me!  So, what is proper gym etiquette?  Here’s a few tips.

Don’t Hog The Equipment

Whether you’re alone or part of a group, taking excessive time using something is inconsiderate.  Even if nobody is waiting, there might just be someone that would like to us it, but doesn’t feel comfortable asking.  Limit your time on the equipment so that everyone has an opportunity to use it.

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Books I Read In January & February 2017

I love to read.  I have loved it since I was a kid.  It’s something I try to do every day.  Here are some books I read during the first two months of the year.

Books I Read In January 2017

  • Monsters In Appalachia by Sheryl Monks.  I love a good set of short stories and this did not disappoint.  As you might guess, they’re centered around the region known as Appalachia, an area known already for many struggles.  The people here definitely fit the bill.  Rating: Four stars (out of five).
  • The Whistler by John Grisham.  I’ve read every book by Grisham since he started writing.  He’s been around for so long and has written so many books, that it’s now sort of hit or miss.  This one was definitely a
    Photo by EthanN77 courtesy of MorgueFile.

    miss for me.  It was about a whistle blower within the judicial system.  Not his best work.  Rating: Two-and-a-half stars.

  • The Unseen World by Liz Moore.  This was a really cool book.  It is a combination of a mystery, coming of age,  family history, with a touch of science fiction thrown in.  A girl sees her father start slipping away to Alzheimer’s, and as she grows up and into adulthood, she uncovers many secrets.  I love this book more than any other I’ve read so far this year. Rating: Five stars.

Read moreBooks I Read In January & February 2017

Why I Keep Bugging My Wife About My Fitness Goals

I’ve been driving my wife a little nutty, and she has no idea why. I’m not normally one for New Years resolutions, but I set one this year.  And it’s not really a resolution as it is a goal.  Here are my fitness goals and why I keep talking about them to my wife.

My 2016 Fitness Goals Fail

I’ve had a target weight for a number of years.  I’m about 5’8″ (or maybe a little smaller as my wife says I’m shrinking).  I’ve never been muscular and I’ve never been dramatically overweight.  I hover somewhere in the average range.  My ideal weight is 155 pounds, along with a 15% body fat percentage.  I’m normally closer to 160-165 pounds, and around 20% body fat.

Read moreWhy I Keep Bugging My Wife About My Fitness Goals

The End Of An Awesome Holiday Break

I just went back to work a few days ago and man, I need a break after the holiday break!  It was pretty much non-stop and it was fantastic.  Here are some of the day by day highlights.

December 22

Technically break hadn’t started yet, but we kicked things off from a ‘fun’ standpoint.  My wife and I both love the movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and got tickets to go on the giant movie screen.  We took the kids and made a whole night of it, going to dinner beforehand.  It was a great start.

Read moreThe End Of An Awesome Holiday Break

How To Complain And Get Results

We get new laptops at work about every 3-4 years.  I’ve had my current laptop for around a year and a half, and have hated it every single day.  The main reason was simple: It was slower than my last one.  Just about everything took forever.  Finally, I had enough and I mentioned it to one of the techs, and he advised that I should put in a request for a small upgrade and that it would take care of it.  He was right!  I now have a much better functioning laptop, all because I realized how to complain and get results.

Know Who To Talk To

The tech is a pro.  He takes care of two buildings and knows just about everything that everybody has and what they need.  I admire him because, back when I was a tech, I tried to be the same way.  Recognizing that he was knowledgeable was key.

Read moreHow To Complain And Get Results

The Importance Of Positive Messages

I read a post by Eliza at Happy Simple Life and it absolutely made my day.  She talked about her ‘happy file’ that she started years ago.  Whenever she gets a thank you note or a nice message from a friend or something else that expresses a positive thought from someone else, she puts in her file.  She’s been doing it for years and her file is getting full!

I have never done this, and I imagine most people haven’t, but I have to say that I think it’s a pretty amazing idea.  Think about it.  Anytime you get discouraged or overwhelmed or when you start feeling sorry for yourself or feeling mb-2015-01smilelike you’re unappreciated or maybe even under qualified, guess what?  You have a whole bunch of history that can tell you otherwise.

I can’t imagine any better way to pull you out of a funk than looking back and seeing the different messages that have come your way.

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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?

Can One Bad Decision Cost You $450,000?

Bad decisions are inevitable.  Nobody is perfect.  But can one bad decision cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars?  The recent season finale of the TV show Big Brother has me wondering.

Note: The post below contains spoilers for the recent season of Big Brother (USA version), which ended on September 21, 2016.  You have been warned.

Big Brother: My Guilty Pleasure

Reality TV is not at all my thing, with one notable guilty pleasure, and that is watching Big Brother.  My wife got me into it over 10 years ago, and it’s something we enjoy.

Some might be familiar with the show, but for those who aren’t, here’s a very quick run-down: 16 ‘houseguests’ start off living together, and one houseguest per week is voted out by the other contestants.  There are a few mental and physical competitions each week, with the winners having the opportunity to pick who is up for vote, and everybody else getting to decide.  After roughly thirteen weeks, there are only 3 people left going into the finale.  The winner gets $500,000, second place gets $50,000 and third place gets nothing.

The whole show is pretty trashy, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

Finale Time

We watched the show all summer and when it got down to the finale, the three people remaining were:

  • Paul – A pretty strong player who won a lot of competitions but who had a hand in voting a lot of people out
  • Nicole – Another strong player who laid low for most of the summer and then kicked it into gear at the end
  • James – A weak player who is a lot of fun, but who won pretty much nothing all summer long.

Now, the way the finale works is that, first, the three get whittled down to two.  This is done by:

  • Competition 1: All three players compete and there is one winner.  They get a break in the next face-off.
  • Competition 2: The two ‘losers’ of competition 1 square off
  • Competition 3: The winners of the first two competitions compete.
Image via Morguefiles courtesy of Alvimann
Image via Morguefiles courtesy of Alvimann

The winner of Competition 3 is assured at least $50,000 and they also get to determine, of the remaining two players, which one stays and which one goes.

How The Competitions Were Won

The way it worked this year is that Paul won Competition 1 and Nicole won Competition 2.  Neither of these surprised me as everybody pretty much knew that James was a weak player and probably wasn’t going to win.   And he didn’t.

Now, the dynamic above has played out before in seasons past, where you have two strong players and one weak player.  See, it’s not an accident that a weaker player makes it.  Why?  Simple.  The strong players want a weaker player sitting next to them as that increases their odds of winning.

So, when Competition 3 started, I assumed that when Paul or Nicole won, that either of them would take James along.  This means that a strong player ends up with nothing, but it’s one of the quirks of Big Brother.

Competition 3 is done live during the finale, and I think that just about everybody was as shocked as I was when he picked James to leave, meaning that he would be facing off against Nicole.  Another strong player.

Well, since you read this far and you saw the title, you probably already guessed what happened.  He lost.  The way that it works is that the 9 most recent houseguests that are evicted (including James) get to cast the final vote.  Nicole got 5 votes and Paul got 4.

Did Paul Cost Himself $450,000?

I’m convinced that had Paul done the smart thing and brought James along that he would have won $500,000.  Paul said and did some mean things in the house, and that tipped the scales against him when he was against another strong player who wasn’t as mean, but I think against a weaker player, his better play would have trumped that.

Now he won $50,000.  That’s not too bad for 3 months or so worth of work.  But, after he has time to reflect, I’m sure that knowing that he potentially left $450,000 on the table by making one poor decision is going to eat at him.

Wwhile a bad decision isn’t going to cost most people $450,000,any decision has the potential to be a ‘game changer’.

Readers, what do you think about Paul’s decision?  What would you have done in his shoes?