9 Random Things On My Mind Or Going On – What’s New With You?

It’s a good thing that the days get longer in summer because you need every minute of light and then some.  It’s funny because I have found my ‘falling asleep before bedtime’ spot, which happens to be on one of the couches in the living room.  If you see me heading to that couch anytime in the evening, it’s a sure thing that I’m going to fall asleep.  Here are some random things on my mind that I wanted to share.  Let me know what you think and what’s going on with you.

  1. The mad rush of special events is coming to a close.

    -Starting with Mother’s Day, it’s one opportunity to celebrate after another, which doesn’t end until Father’s Day (which is often delayed from a celebration standpoint).  In between those two we have my wife’s birthday and both kid’s birthday, plus we also have a lot going on with the end of the school years, dance recitals, and everything else.  Don’t get me wrong, we love celebrating every single milestone, but when they come so fast and furious all at once, we have to remind
    ourselves to stop and take a breath so that we can really enjoy and make the most out of each special event.

  2. Orlando.

    What to say about the tragedy in Orlando that hasn’t already been said?  I think one thing that many people need to realize is that there’s not one thing to blame that we can grasp and use as a fix.  It’s not just an ISIS thing.  It’s not just a guns thing.  It isn’t just a mental health thing.  Shutting down the borders or taking away the guns or re-opening the institutions are not individual solutions.  In our complex world, there are so many variables with seemingly new ones popping up all the time.  And, what’s scary is that the ever growing polarization is not going to get us closer to figuring out how to stop these events from happening.  I’m dreading the day when we have to try to explain this to our kids.  So far we’ve been able to keep them insulated, but at 7 and 5, we’re running on borrowed time.  This thought gives me sadness on so many levels.

  3. The Costco credit card switch is almost upon us.I have never seen so much publicity over a credit card, but the days are nearly here.  We’re pretty much prepared.  I think there are just a couple of small automated payments that my wife needs to redirect, and I’m also thinking of creating a laminated cheat sheet that we can carry in our wallets to direct us on what card we should use to maximize our rewards.  We have a few different cash back cards, now it’s just a matter of maximizing our value!
  4. A possible culprit in my battle against eczema.

    -The other day I went to take a load of clothes out of the washer.  All would have been well except it never got ran.  When I reached in for the clothes my hands came in contact with Oxi Clean, which we use as a supplement for our clothes.  It wasn’t even five seconds in and I felt the familiar burn.  I’m thinking that maybe this is some pretty harsh stuff, and maybe even coming into contacts with clothes, sheets, and towels that have been washed in it have been aggravating my skin.  Perhaps it’s time for a ban?

  5. Amazon price matching policy

    Here’s a tip, if you want Amazon to adjust a price, don’t use their online chat capability.  Technically, Amazon does not have to match a deal if you find a better price after you make a purchase, but they often will as a courtesy.  No such luck when I found an item, on their own site, $20 cheaper less than a week after I made the purchase.  I had two online agents refuse to help and one even ‘hung up on me’ or whatever the equivalent would be for an online chat.  Not to be deterred, I initiated a phone conversation, and this went much better.  They didn’t give a refund, but we have a $20 credit on our next purchase.  That’s good enough for me!

  6. Basketball dreams

    Our son wanted a basketball hoop for his birthday.  These things are something else to put together.  I started, and am about 1.5 hours in.  I figure I have at least another 2-3 hours of work.  Then once we get it in place (it’s one of the portable models), we have to determine how to anchor it.  They want you to fill it either with sand or liquid (it’d be antifreeze in our case) but many people weigh it down by piling sand bags or something similar on top.  Filling it looks better, but piling stuff on it is easier, plus I’d think that emptying it would be a royal pain.  So, we’re not sure on the approach yet.  Any ideas?

  7. Homeowners association

    I served on our board for the last two years but declined to run again.  There’s a very cliquey group of people (think high school) that love to ‘run the show’ from a social standpoint, yet they refuse to run for the board.  It bugs me that they make many requests of the board, yet never include the board members in the social events, so I decided to take a break for at least a term.  I am still working on updating content on the website, which nobody else really knows well.  Since it’s WordPress based (like my blog) this is pretty easy.

  8. Anyone else nervous about the stock market?

    The market had a pretty nice run after the beginning of the year crash.  It seems like the market really loves the low interest rates that are seemingly now just standard policy.  But I’m a bit nervous, as I can’t imagine that will last forever.  Plus, the debt that all of the Central Banks are creating are injecting money that is being used to push the markets higher,mb-2015-06-fire but it’s still debt and what happens when that needs to be paid back?  Or does it? Who knows?  But in any case, it’s a bit scary to me.  It seems like we’re in a situation where everything is hunky dory….until one day it’s not.  I’m not going ‘bearish’ but I’m definitely keeping a watchful eye.

  9. Camping season is upon us.

    One thing that we’ve settled into is our routine for camping.  This is our fifth year with our trailer, and we now have a pretty good routine going.  We did one trip for Memorial Day, and we have another trip coming up this weekend.  After that we have two weeklong trips and a few more weekend trips.  Summer is short in Michigan so we try to pack it in!

Read more9 Random Things On My Mind Or Going On – What’s New With You?

8 Things Your Travel Agent Should Be Doing For You

Planning a trip can be a very exciting time.  Still, there can be a lot of stress to go along with it. Sometimes it’s OK to plan things yourself.  This applies if it’s a simple trip or if you have made arrangements before.  But, if you’re taking a trip that involves going somewhere new and/or has a lot of detailed planning, you might find value in using the services of a travel agent.

We’ve used a travel agent twice in planning trips.  Both of them fit the criteria above, as the first was for our honeymoon trip to Hawaii back in 2007, and the second was for our family trip to Disney World last fall.

How Our Travel Agents Earned Money

In both cases, our travel agents worked for us and we got the same pricing for the services or goods that we purchased as we would have had we gotten them on our own.  (Trust me, I checked!)

Read more8 Things Your Travel Agent Should Be Doing For You

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.

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Our Disney World Experience: This And That

I’ve spent a few posts over the last few weeks going over our amazing Disney World trip that our family took back in November.  All in all, the trip was great, and past posts have talked about the theme park, our resort, and dining option.

Here are a few categories that really didn’t fit anywhere else but are worth mentioning.  If you have any questions about any of the items below, please let me know and I’d be happy to provide more info!

Read moreOur Disney World Experience: This And That

Our Disney World Experience: Disney World Dining

This is the 4th post in my series on our recent trip (November 2015) to Disney World.  This was a huge trip for our family, one that we consider ‘once in a lifetime’ and that my wife planned out to give us the most magical and memorable experiences.  I’ve already talked about our visits to the parks as well as our hotel, so I wanted to concentrate on Disney World Dining.  It’s definitely worth a post of its own.

Meal Plan

We decided to dine at Disney with the standard meal plan.  With that plan, you get one full service meal, one quick service meal, and one snack per day.  You can divide how you use up your dining credits over the course of your trip. Our plan ended up technically being ‘free’ because we upgraded to a deluxe hotel during our stay, and Disney offered the ‘free dining’ option to entice visitors.  And, it did as things were hopping!

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Our Disney World Experience: Animal Kingdom Lodge

This is part 3 of what I think will be around a 6 part series on our Disney World trip.  We took our trip in November 2015.  The first two posts talked about the park experiences, and since this was the centerpiece of the trip, that was split into two posts.

This is a review of our hotel, and we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Disney’s Options

Disney breaks their on site lodging options into three different options: Budget, Moderate, and Deluxe.

  • Budget – With these rooms, you get the basics.  When my wife and I did a quick trip to Disney World in 2008, we stayed at a budget resort.  That lived up to its name.  It was no frills, small, and really is a place to sleep.  It was not somewhere where you’d plan on spending a lot of time otherwise.
  • Moderate – Never having stayed at a moderate resort, I can only go by the description that they are for the value minded who want more amenities and some additional room, and would have to be the most ideal choice when you have more than two people to a room if you don’t want to be too cramped.
  • Deluxe – These are the higher end properties where Disney tries to go beyond giving you a place to stay, and making it a true ‘experience’.  Bigger rooms, more perks, and great attention to detail are the themes throughout.

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Our Disney World Experience: Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

Here’s my second post about our recent Disney World trip.  Our first post talked about two of the four parks, Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and since there was so much to talk about there, I decided to write another post about the other two parks, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom

I’ve got a few more posts coming about many of the other elements of the trip, with thoughts on our hotel, dining, transportation, and a few more.

Hollywood Studios

This was the third park to open at Disney World, I think in the late 1980’s.  It doesn’t seem very big in comparison to the other parks, so it was pretty easy for us to complete most everything in under a day.  We spent a morning and afternoon here, and got back to the hotel for some pool time, and didn’t feel like we missed anything.  My wife and I did go back just by ourselves for one ride.

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Our Disney World Experience: Rides at Magic Kingdom and Epcot

We did it!  We finally completed our Disney World trip.  I had written about how we were planning a trip to Disney, along with some follow-ups along the way, and we finally completed our trip last month.

I want to share our experiences and thoughts, but since we did so much, I’ll do multiple posts.

Today is our first post.  Here I will talk about two of the four parks, concentrating on some of the rides and attractions. I’ll try to do a post every week over the next few weeks.  Hopefully this paints a full picture of our trip when all are complete.

Magic Kingdom

The original park and by far the most popular, Magic Kingdom remains the iconic experience of Disney World.  I checked some unofficial attendance history, and Magic Kingdom far exceeds that of any of the other four parks, and with good reason.

It’s awesome!

Read moreOur Disney World Experience: Rides at Magic Kingdom and Epcot

Disney World Planning. We’re Less Than 2 Months Away

A few months back I wrote about how we had made the decision to take a family trip to Disney World later this year.  Well, most of the year has passed and we’re now less than two months away from taking our trip.  I’ve been bad with updates (a whirlwind summer with mostly great weather has a way of doing that), but wanted to check in with some updates and observations!

So, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up!

We Splurged

The first thing that I have to admit is that we made a change of plans that increased our budget and is a big splurge.

Read moreDisney World Planning. We’re Less Than 2 Months Away

Lesson Learned: Not All Septic Safe Toilet Paper Is RV Compatible

Last year I went through some minor drama with regards to our camper’s black tank, which is the tank that the toilet empties into.  Don’t worry, there’s nothing too queasy here!

Essentially, we use our toilet mostly for number one only.  Since we camp at campgrounds, most other business is done at the campground bathrooms.  Unfortunately, it’s not 100%, but even so there’s toilet paper used anyway.

The Problem Arises

Last summer, we were on a week long trip around the 4th of July, and we ran into trouble. After every time using the toilet, well, the only way to put it, is that the camper stank.  Definitely a sewer stink.  (I promised it wouldn’t be too queasy, and that’s the most detail there is *lol*)

Read moreLesson Learned: Not All Septic Safe Toilet Paper Is RV Compatible