Vacations are About the Laughs

family campingWhen I think about vacations as a child I do not remember how much money we spent or lavish hotel where we stayed. Instead I remember the things that went wrong and how funny it was to us. It seems like a holiday could not go past without something going wrong. Even as an adult I look back on those moments and am thankful that my parents were able to turn what could have been a disaster into something funny and memorable for us kids. To illustrate my point here are a couple of the stories that we laugh at today:

Two Dogs, Three People, One Tent

I remember one vacation in which my brother, my mother, our two dogs and I went camping. This was a last minute trip and we were ill prepared. With little to go on but our three man tent, an extension cord and a small fan we camped out in the woods of Texas in the middle of summer. To say it was hot and humid is an understatement. You have never felt humid until you have felt South Texas in August. Anyway, we set up our tent just as the sun was going down. We also had a small television with a built in VCR along for the ride. We all settled in to watch a horror movie (a bad choice for a dark night) and fell asleep soon after. Of course, three man tents really only sleep two so we were snuggled in very close with the dogs panting at our heels. The roots of the tree dug into our back as we discovered we were lying on an incline and slowly squishing towards the side of the tent. Then in the middle of the night as the quiet hoots of owls and chirping of crickets faded to an eerie silence we head the howling cry of an animal and the ferocious barking of a large dog in the not too far distance. After a few minutes of this raucous there was a gunshot and then silence. We all sat up and looked at each other as the night sounds began again. Who was shot? The dog or the animal? We were not going to stick around to find out. As soon as it got light out we had the tent packed away and were ready to move on to a nice, safe hotel.

Attack of the Mosquitoes

Another camping adventure gone wrong on that trip happened in Florida. A lovely park on a beach island turned sour when night fell. We stayed in the back of the minivan we drove to avoid having to put up tents. However we covered the windows with mesh netting to keep out mosquitoes and get circulation. One night it seemed like the mosquitoes would not stop coming. We swatted and killed until the roof of the van was splattered with black and red. I was near tears and wondered how they kept getting in. It was then that my mother discovered we had left the back vent open on the window and as soon as we shut it we were okay again. Then it was the journey to the bathroom that got us. As we crept through the darkness with our flashlights, snakes slithered out of our way, warming themselves on the stone paths. The bathroom itself was covered in Daddy Long Legs and spider webs. Needless to say I learned to hold it while we were there.

Family vacations do not have to be perfect to give kids great memories. Sometimes it is about treasuring the things that go wrong as well. I remember all these stories that have been told and retold in my family with many laughs. We enjoy remembering our misadventures ad relish the time we have to spend together. Make your own memories and do not worry about making everything perfect. It is the mistakes that make things really memorable.

Author Bio:

This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from housekeeping.org. She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @ gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips For Becoming A Frugal Homemaker

cashBeing a homemaker is a lot like running a business. You have to manage other people and their schedules, keep the place well stocked on supplies, and maintain a balanced budget. You are responsible for what comes into the house as well as what goes out. You are in charge of keeping everything and everyone safe from accidents and when something goes wrong, the unhappy parties come to you. Yes, being a homemaker requires a lot of thought, planning, and skills. Especially in this struggling economy, many homemakers are also tasked with keeping the house running on a lower budget than it may have in the past. There are a number of ways for homemakers to save money, below are just a few to get you started.

 

Save on your heating and cooling bills by setting a thermostat. One very easy way to cut your costs is to save money on your heating and cooling bills. There are a number of ways to save money on these costs but the easiest one can also have the biggest impact. Most thermostats these days come with timers in them, but a lot of people forget to set them. There is no reason to keep your house heated or cooled when you are not there. Using a timer will turn these utilities off automatically, saving you time, money, and energy.

 

Start cooking at home instead of eating out or ordering in. A lot of people get into the habit of ordering in takeout – whether it’s pizza, Chinese food, or even health foods – or dining out, largely because it’s convenient and saves time. But it also costs a lot of money to do this. Cooking will cut your food costs and your calories. It is almost always healthier to dine in than to eat out!

 

Cut your water use. Another bill where you can save money is your water bill. Small changes can make a big impact. The Nest provides the following advice, “Fix a dripping faucet, which can leak as much as 100 gallons per day, or 3,000 gallons per month. Check to see if your municipality offers a rebate on low-flow toilets. If you can’t afford one, take a liter soda bottle, fill it with water and place it in your tank to reduce water use each flush. Run the dishwasher and do laundry only with full loads.”

 

Make your own cleaning supplies instead of buying them at the store. Like cutting your water use and your heating and cooling bills, making your own cleaning supplies is not just good for your budget but it also beneficial to the planet. Mixing together some baking soda and vinegar creates an effective cleaning solution and it works on almost all household surfaces. Got some scrubbing to do? Mix baking powder with just enough water to create a paste and use it for the scrubbing. Just test an area first – the abrasive scrub can damage some surfaces.

 

Replace meat with other high protein alternatives. If you and your family eat a lot of meat, you are not only shorting yourselves on nutrients and other health benefits found in other protein sources, but you are also upping your grocery bills. You do not have to make a full switch to vegetarianism. Start by replacing one normally meat meal a week with something else, like a bean or egg dish. These foods also have a lot of protein. Veggie chili is another great option for a hearty vegetarian dish.

 

Use cloth diapers on your infant. If your baby is wearing disposable diapers, then you know that it creates a lot of waste. It also costs a lot of money. Consider using cloth diapers instead. Although they cost more on the front end, they will save you a lot of money later down the road. According to HowStuffWorks, “One case study showed that a family with a newborn spent around $600 total on cloth diapers, compared to $1,500 to $2,500 that families tend to spend on disposables over three years [source: Jackson]. If you have more than one child the cost is even lower, since you can use those same cloth diapers for baby number two (and three!) And you aren’t contributing to the landfill.”

 

These are just a few ways to start saving money on your household costs. There are always more out there. The key is to find cost cutting tips that work for you and your family and to stick with them.

 

 

 

 

 

Tips on How to Survive Back-to-School Shopping

JanSport Big Student BookbagWhere in the world did the summer go? It seems like just yesterday, kids were just getting out for of school for the summer and now they are getting ready to go back. I

f you are like me, you are probably feeling a little stressed about getting your kids ready for school. There’s the time issue and the money issue, and I well remember how glad I was when it was over.

Here are some tips to help you cope with back to school shopping.

Make a list for each child of what they will need. I know our schools send out a list when they mail out the school schedule of what the kids will need to bring so add those items to the list. If you didn’t get a list or lost yours, the office supply stores have them.

Also we found as the kids got older, that the individual teachers would have their own list of things separate from the “official” list sent out, so put aside a little money for after school starts when you will have to buy those things.

Go through your child’s closets and drawers and pull out everything they can no longer wear. Give the clothes to a charity or if you have a younger child of the same gender, hand it down to them. Throw away things that are stained, torn or look too worn out.

After you have gone through everything, now you can see what your kid really needs. This will help you from buying duplicates. Add the clothes items needed to the list.

If there are some things needed but not right away, such as winter coats and heavy winter clothes, you can put these purchases off for awhile, specially if money is an issue. You could always put these type of items on lay-away. I know K-Mart still has layaway.

Discuss with your child the budget you have to buy their things. If they want expensive, designer items, then they have to be aware that will cut into how much they can get.

Kids really need to learn the value of money. In fact, once my kids got into early adolescence, they really didn’t want me to go shopping with them anymore. So after we made their lists, I would give them the cash and drop them off to where they wanted to go shopping. They always had to have a friend or sibling with them and often, I would sit in the car or on a bench in the mall and read a book while they did their shopping.

They learned very quickly how fast money goes and how to make wise shopping choices. Once or twice, one of them would over spend on something and then not have enough of something else. But being the meany I am (and the fact that I really just didn’t have more money to give them then) I didn’t go out and buy the item needed. They had the option of doing without it until Christmas when they would receive it as a gift, or they could return something (preferably the thing they over spent on) and buy what they needed.

Some other tips on school shopping:

  • Check out the store circulars that come in the mail and newspaper for sales.
  • Shop during the morning and on a week day if possible to avoid the crowds.
  • Try to shop several weeks before school. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Shop online. Amazon is my favorite place to shop but you can find lots of specialty online retailers for just about everything you need.
  • Set an amount to spend and stick to it. Bring a calculator and notepad to keep track if you need to.

What is your best tip for school shopping? I’d love to add some more to the list above.

Cathy