Goals and My Word for 2015

 

5281453002_ab257fec82_bphoto credit

I’m not one to make New Year resolutions, as I find that they just end up being dropped about midway into January.  Instead I like to think about the past year, what worked, what didn’t, what did we struggle with, and what do we need improve.  I do this for many areas of our life including our budget, travel, faith, homeschool, kids activities, goals, work schedules, home maintenance, long term goals and more. This is a great way to get started planning for the new year and figuring out what worked, what you would like to work on and what just didn’t work at all.  It’s also a great way to remind yourself of your long term goals.  Where you would like to see yourself, your family in the next few years.

As always I get out my handy little notebook and jot down some notes as I think about those areas of our life.  I also jot down the trips I know we have for the year, the extra expenses that may be coming up, and anything else that I can think of that needs my time and thought.

I like to then go through each of these areas and make a short list (2-3) of the most important things that need to change, be improved upon or maybe just remembered. These are my goals for the new year.  I limit these to a short list so that they will not become overwhelming.  If I have a few items I want to work on, I do my best to narrow it down to just 2 or 3.  Some of these things are a quick fix, but others will need to happen over time, and having them in my little notebook reminds me throughout the year.

You see, I am a planner by nature.  In order for things to happen, I need to plan for them.  I do not do well flying by the seat of my pants, but really does anyone?  Flying by the seat of my pants with a budget makes me incredibly nervous.  I think we would be lucky to have food on the table and a roof over our head.  Is this you?  Do you often find your life is frazzled and out of order?

The most successful people and businesses have plans.  That is how they got where they are.  They decide what works for them and what doesn’t.  They meet, they discuss and they make a list of things to change.  I feel like this is a great plan for everyone.  It will surely take some stress out of your life!

If you are one that always finds things popping up, has bills overdue, finds yourself without money right before a big trip, I encourage you to take some time to do a little planning.  Get yourself a notebook and think about the things that are always out of order and leave you feeling frazzled and distraught.

While your at it, pick a word to make as your focus for the year.  Choose one word to focus on for the year.  Something you want to remember, something that you want of focus on for the year.  For me this year it’s TIME.  I want to focus on giving more of my time to my girls, more of my time to my family.  I want to use my time more wisely, instead of wasting it on trivial things like the couch and tv.  I want to spend more time outdoors, because I love being outside.  Our time here is limited, so I want to make the most of it I can.  Make memories.

What would your word be for the year?

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Summer Trips: Where I Have Been and What I am Doing

I’m pretty sure by now many of you have realized that I have been absent from the blog for a couple weeks (at least I hope you noticed).  Our two weeks of summer trips combined with extra work to help fund said trips kept me pretty tied up.

I had full intentions of blogging while I was gone, but our hotel our first week had a very week internet connection which barely allowed us to get on the internet much.  Of course I had planned to put up posts during that time for the second week, during which I knew we would have no access to internet.  Obviously that neat little plan did not work out very well for me.

I’m back now and ready to talk about frugal living and more.  I have so many projects to get to work on (and share) and school gets started around here in less than a month, but first I must dig myself out of the after vacation laundry pile.  You know the one that just keeps on growing?

Everyone chipped in and we managed to put up most of the “other stuff” from around the house and the vacation unload pile.  It was a great feeling to get that done yesterday.

Now I am sure you are probably wondering where we went on our trip?

We spent the first week at Branson, Missouri.  K had a World Series to play in with her softball team.  They competed with 16 other teams from several states and won the whole tournament undefeated.  It was so very exciting.

We also did a little bit of sightseeing/attractions while we were there.

dixie stampede

Dixie Stampede is always so much fun and you can’t beat the generous portions of food.  I think this is a great show when you factor in the fact that you get a meal included.  The show is a must for the whole family.

ds family

Many of the team players/parents wanted to attend the show before the tournament started, so one mom was able to call and get great prices on the tickets by buying our tickets and attending as a group.

At the beginning of the show, they called out our group by name and welcomed us.  This was a big deal for the girls.

lamberts

If you have never been to Lambert’s, you must try it sometime (we have been to all three locations….. we love it that much).  Be prepared to wait a bit, as Lambert’s is a favorite of many.  Our girls got warmed up for the game by catching some rolls.

It is a bit pricey, but the meal prices include the rolls, and pass around’s you get at the table.  You can find Lambert’s at Springfield, MO, Sikeston, MO, and Foley, AL.

bass pro shops

Bass Pro Shops is a great place to visit, and you don’t even have to spend any money.

bass pro bear

This bear is always a great photo spot at Bass Pro Shops.

k pitch

I didn’t take many pictures during the games, but here is one of K pitching.  The tournament had a photographer taking pictures which you could purchase for $4 a shot, so I opted to purchase a few good pictures and enjoy the games.  Oh yeah, and it was hot! Very hot, so trying to stay cool, drink enough water and keep the last princess hydrated was enough to do.

tournament family

The team got the big trophy on the ground for becoming USSSA 9 & under world series champions.  The team members each got the clear trophy that K is holding in her right hand.  K also got MVP for pitching (the silver frame).  This was a big deal to her since this was her first full year of pitching.  Last year we played on pitching machine.

The team did amazing and they all deserved an MVP for their performance and desire to compete.  Although my child got an MVP, I am not a real big fan of this.  Yes she was pretty much the only one that pitched for our team and her MVP was for pitching only, but of the other MVP awards that are often given, it’s too hard to pick out just one or two players.  It takes the whole team working together for a win.

rocky ridge farms

On the way out of town (on the way to our next destination) we rode by Rocky Ridge Farms.  This is the house Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in when she wrote the Little House books.  We didn’t stop and take the tour, as we needed to get on down the road, but we got to see where she lived.

mississippi river bridge

We took a really scenic route from Missouri where we crossed the Mississippi river…..

ohio river bridge

and the Ohio river within a couple minutes.

kentucky

On into Kentucky we went.  Such a beautiful state.

corn field

This picture reminds me of what I grew up looking at instead of trees.  Corn fields everywhere…..

ky hayfield

and pretty hay fields too.  Kentucky had obviously had much more rain than Arkansas, because things were still remotely green and not brown and dead.

tn sign

On into Tennessee we went.  Can you guess where we went?

I think that’s enough for today.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with our trip and tons of photos.

I’ll save the rest for another post.

Are you traveling this summer?  Can you guess where we went the second week?  Have any questions or comments about our travels or travel budget?

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Free 3 Month Membership Pink Palace Museum and Other Memphis Discounts

pink palace

If you’re planning a trip to Memphis this summer, or live within driving distance to Memphis, this free 3 month summer membership to Pink Palace Museum is a great deal.  You can sign up between now and May 31 with a working email account.  You must accept emails from them to get the deal.

There is no credit card required for this deal.  It is completely free.  If you even think you might go to Memphis, I would sign up.

You will also receive free admission to the historic homes and Lichterman Nature Center with this free summer admission.

pink palace 2

We visited the museum over spring break and it was really nice.  I highly recommend the visit.  In fact I highly recommend a visit to Memphis.  There are plenty of free and cheap things to do.

This free offer does not include admission to the Imax theatre, but you will get the discounted member pricing for the summer.

The planetarium is also not included, but with your free summer membership, you will get a $1 discount.

FAQ about the Pink Palace free summer membership.

Other Memphis Free or Discounted Attractions:

Memphis Zoo offers free Tuesdays from 2 pm-close for TN residents with ID.  You can read more about it here.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art offers Pay What You Can Wednesdays – presented by Target.  You can read more about this offer here.

Fire Museum of Memphis offers Two for Tuesdays, where you can get two admissions for the price of one.  You will pay for the higher priced admission.  You can read more about it here.

The National Civil Rights Museum offers free admission to TN residents on Mondays (except on holidays) from 3 pm – 5 pm  ( 6 pm from June to August) with a valid ID.  You can read more about it here.

Mud Island River Park is free for general admission and Skybridge access from April – October.  Be aware they are closed on Mondays!  You can get to the park by a footbridge instead of the monorail, which will make this trip free.  You will need to pay for parking if you cannot locate any free parking.  Bring the kids swimsuits as there are sprinklers for the kids to play in.  You can read more about the park here.  Keep in mind the the museum is not free.

Shelby Farms Park is 4,500 acres of green space.  It is one of the largest urban parks in the country.  Many of the attractions are free, but there are some things that cost (ex paintball, horseback riding etc).  There are trails, lakes, Buffalo, a playground and so much more.  You can read more about Shelby Farms here.

Well that is all I have for you today.  Just writing this article makes me ready for another trip to Memphis!

What do you like to do in Memphis?  Have anything to add?  Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.  

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Spring Break Week at Practicing Frugal: Part 2

Day two of our trip to Memphis included a visit to the Pink Palace Museum and Imax. There is also a planetarium at the museum, but we didn’t pay the extra fee to see it.

The Pink Palace Museum is located in and around a mansion originally built by Clarence Sunders, founder of the Piggly Wiggly stores.

pink palace Saunders named the house that was faced with pink marble, Cla-Le-Clare after his three children, but the residents of Memphis helped it get the name “Pink Palace” as they took drives to get a site of the big pink mansion.

pink palace 2The actual house is 36,500 feet and was to include a huge entryway, a ballroom, a bowling alley, eight bedrooms and much more.

The Saunders family never got to live in the mansion.  Saunders lost the house to creditors after losing his fortune to the New York Stock Exchange.

The company that ended up with the property eventually donated it to the city for use as a museum or library.

In 1930 it opened for the first time as a museum and over the years it eventually got the name “Pink Palace”.

I only wish you could tour more of the actual mansion.  We were able to see the east wing, entryway, west wing and the sun room.  These rooms are massive, but lack furniture from the period.  I think it would greatly add to the experience to see more of the mansion and furniture from the time period.

The actual museum and exhibits, Imax and planetarium are large add on buildings attached to the actual mansion.

tornado alley imaxWe chose Tornado Alley for our Imax film.  The Imax experience added a little bit to the museum admission cost, but it was well worth it.  Tornado Alley was an amazing Imax experience.  You can also see how huge the film reels are as you enter the Imax theatre, passing a glass area that lets you view the film equipment.

circus The Clyde Parke circus exhibit was amazing.  It’s a small scale model of an actual circus that apparently operates at some times.  It was not in operation wile we were there, but it was still amazing to see.

circus 2It looks so real.  It was here that my two youngest realized they haven’t been to a circus. We were able to tell K that she actually has been to see Ringling Brothers Circus, but she was probably to young to remember it.

Mental note made to see circus at some point in time.

circus 3The detail was amazing.

circus 4Adjacent to the circus exhibit you will find a walk through replica of the first self serve grocery store in the country.

piggly wigglyThe girls enjoyed seeing some of the same products you see today, but they were most interested by the low prices of the time period.

piggly wiggly 2This was a really neat exhibit.  it was fun to get to walk through a replica of an original Piggly Wiggly.

piggly wiggly 3The museum is well worth the visit.  My family kept giving me props for planning such a good trip and including this museum.  I will not lie.  I love it when I do good!

IMG_6491[1]I have always loved amethyst.

IMG_6492[1]The last princess tried on a cute hat in the gift shop.  Dakota chose not to buy anything in this gift shop.  She wanted to save her money for the next day.  K spent a couple dollars and got a postcard the size of a bookmark and a neat rock.  I apparently forgot to get a picture of her purchases.

IMG_6495[1]These pictures don’t even come close to the amount of exhibits in the museum.  There are exhibits with dinosaurs, skeletons, geology, mammals, Indians and so much more.

To see all the museum has to offer you can go here.

IMG_6498[1]I hope you enjoyed this picture post about Day 2 of our trip.  If you are near Memphis, or are ever in the area, you should stop by the Pink Palace Museum.  We really enjoyed our visit.  While I highly recommend an Imax experience, those on a tight budget can get free admission to the museum only on Tuesday’s from 1pm -5 pm.

Did you enjoy this small tour?  Have you been to the Pink Palace?  What did you like best?  

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Spring Break Week at Practicing Frugal: Part 1

I guess by now you all know that I went missing last week.  We took our spring break a week earlier than the schools in the state of Arkansas.  It’s one of the benefits of homeschooling!

I spent a little bit of time planning a week full of fun activities that didn’t break the bank too terribly bad.  You can read more on how I save money on travel in a post next week, but today I wanted to show you some of the fun things we did our first day.

Maybe you are pretty close to this area or maybe this post will spark some ideas for a future trip for your family.

Let’s see if you can figure out where we went in the first couple of pictures?

northeast arkansasNortheast Arkansas

I love this picture with all the springy green color!

city view 2

Any idea yet?

Tennessee

I bet this helps you a little more!

pyramidDid you guess Memphis?  If you did, you are right!

We took a little trip to Memphis for a couple of nights.  The weather was very cooperative too!  I do think all of Tennessee was on spring break too!

Memphis Zoo

We spent our first day at the Memphis Zoo.  We have a great zoo in Little Rock that we are members of, but Memphis has some animals we don’t have, so it was a great trip.  The girls have been wanting to go for some time now.

girls and hubby

My creative hubby came up with and made his stirrups for his backpack for the last princess to catch a ride.

snow leopardsThe Snow Leopard is a beautiful creature!  They were quite playful too!

bird I thought this bird in the open air portion of the Tropical bird House was so pretty!

peguin

Penguins are the girls favorite at the Little Rock zoo.  I do believe the exhibit at our zoo is much bigger and allows you to see the penguins and watch them swim better, but it was still a great exhibit.

imitating penguinsThe girls were doing the penguin waddle.

IMG_6326[1]

You can pay a little extra and pet the Stingray’s at Stingray Bay.  The girls and their Daddy loved this.  I admit, it was pretty neat, but I most enjoyed watching their faces when they got to pet one or when one started splashing in the water.  K even pet the shark that was swimming around.

stingrayDragons LairKomodo Dragons!

komodo dragonSuch an amazing creature.  They are the largest lizard in the world and can live to up to 50 years old.

The Memphis Zoo is actively breeding Komodo Dragons in the event that the population declines due to natural disasters on the tiny islands that house Komodo Dragons.  The zoo is home to a few baby Komodo Dragons.

hippo

Just a few days after we were at the zoo, the zoo lost it’s beloved Hippo “Julie” at the age of 51.  I don’t think this is the Hippo that passed, but I believe this is her daughter.

Panda

At the China exhibit you will see this Panda and much more.  This is a really large exhibit at the zoo.  The Panda was not very active, so the girls were ready to move on.

zoo funFun jumping off the log benches.

quoteSomething to think about.

polar bearThis guy was a blast.  He played and played in the water and kept us entertained.

polar bear 2I think he’s giving the last princess a big kiss!

reflectionI love this picture I got of the last princess.  I was taking it for the reflection I got.  I was just trying to get the Polar Bear in the shot again, but the picture I got is just priceless! 

giraffeIsn’t this young giraffe adorable?  I had never seen one this small.

souvenirsThe girls spent their money they brought with very wisely on a souvenir of their trip to the zoo.  They also made a couple of smashed pennies for their collections.

The Memphis Zoo was fabulous and well worth the trip and was enjoyed by all.

When we travel a zoo is always a great stop.  The girls are animal lovers, besides who doesn’t like a trip to the zoo?

Have you been to the Memphis Zoo?  Does your family like visiting a particular zoo?  Tell us what you think.  

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A Vacation Post: Part 1 – Our Rental SUV

Part of our frugal adventures is driving our vehicles for as long as we can and buying used.
This makes vacationing a bit risky as the vehicles get older and get close to replacement time.  Since we are not ready to replace our family SUV, I started researching rates to rent a vehicle with unlimited mileage.

I researched all the providers in all cities close to me as well as discount travel sites.  I became familiar with the going rates for a rental similar to what I was wanting, which was an intermediate SUV.  I also became familiar with what location had the cheaper rates.  For me, it was our airport.

With this information I decided to use Priceline to rent our vacation SUV.  The first time I made my offer, I felt like my rate would be rejected and the site even told me my offer had a low chance of being accepted.  To my surprise it wasn’t.  I was able to rent our vehicle for 10 days with unlimited miles for $459 after daily rental cost and fees.  I saved a bit over $200 by using Priceline.

This is the brand new Jeep that Budget had ready for me when I went to pick the vehicle up at the airport.  It had a bit over 400 miles on it.

Not only did we save money by not having a breakdown 17 hours away from our home and trusted mechanic, but I also saved $250 in fuel expenses.  This vehicle averaged about 26 miles to the gallon versus our large SUV that gets about 12-13 miles to the gallon.

So for $209, we were able to drive a vehicle that was way less experienced than ours to Disney World.  To me it was money well spent.

Do you drive more experienced vehicles?  How do you handle taking long trips in an experienced vehicle?  Ever rent a vehicle for a vacation?

Making a habit out of living frugal …..