Thursday, February 23, 2012

Road trip on the cheap side..

This weekend we took advantage of the 4 day weekend and the fact that soon but not soon enough we are leaving El Paso and needed to check out the surrounding area before we were done. So a trip to Albuquerque and White Sands was in the cards. That is the only thing I wanted to do before I left here, I have now done, so time please hurry up and get me the hell out of here ;)

Moving on, when road tripping with kids doesn't have to be expensive. I make sure I always take snacks, and plan our meals. Eating out 3 times a day, plus snacks can get expensive and totally unhealthy. Through out all our moves and trips, I have learned a few tips, that will hopefully help you guys out.

1. Purchase a small cooler. That way you can fill it up with ice, take some sandwiches for the first meal of the trip, cheese strings, fruit, or whatever else tickles your fancy.

2. ziplock bags with snacks and sandwiches are a must. Usually we leave early in the morning after feeding the kids breakfast, then they eat the bags of snacks I have prepared, and by lunch we eat the sandwiches. We are not that far away from home anyways to want to eat anywhere that we want to check it out, so the sandwiches are easy and handy. Also before your trip, make sure you purchase some bottles for your kids and yourself. Dh and I have this one : Water bottle and the kids have these: Water bottle
But honestly, there are so many different kinds in the market, you will find one that suits your needs.

That way we can purchase big bottles of juice/tea or gatorade (whatever is your families favorite) (which is cheaper) or add canned soda (the hubby) to it and some ice from the cooler and you got drinks for way cheaper. If you were to buy drinks every single time you stop, you will spend a lot more and more than likely not drink anything healthy. I can't even tell you how many gas stations we stopped at had absolutely no horizon chocolate milk containers or diet ice tea. And since you are stopping to pee anyways, they are easy to wash in the bathroom sink.

3. Buying big containers of goldfish, pretzels, nuts, or whatever else you like to snack on is a lot cheaper than buying individual packages and separating them into little ziplock bags is a breeze. You can even go green and get the reusable ones or get little bowls like these ones : bowls

By dinner time you should be further enough away from home that there is a cool new restaurant you want to check it out go ahead. You have earned it.

Now if you are doing a trip in which you will be staying in a hotel for a couple days or longer, or during a PCS, a little preparation can save you not only money but also calories. So for that all you need to do is just pack some plates, bowls, silverwares to take with you and book a hotel that carries a fridge/microwave in the room. They are usually not more expensive at all and can save you money.

By the time you arrive in town, make a pit stop at walmart, and get some soups or steamable meals. Walmart or any grocery store is now carrying steamable meals. Everything from veggies, to rice and cheese, to rigatoni. They are usually lower in calories and a couple of minutes in the microwave means you have a decent meal for way less than what it would cost you to go out to eat. Also with a fridge, getting a quart of milk and cereal means you got breakfast for the duration of your trip.

So its absolutely possible to save money/calories during a road trip. Just takes a little imagination and some planning.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hey right answer, stop running away from me. Please!!

Sometimes in life there is no right answer. No easy decision. No matter how much you think about it and try to figure things out, write out pros and cons lists, nothing happens and you are left even more confused than before.

My husband is gearing up to deploy for a whole year. I have to decide where to live. Currently we are in El Paso. Staying here is out of the question. I don't care for this place at all and can't wait to see it in my rearview mirror and never come back.

If I didn't have kids, the decision would be easy, I would throw everything in storage, pack it up and go home. I would rent a condo in Rio and be dotted on and cared for by my family. I would have people to hang out with 24/7, help out and feel less alone. But because I have kids things seems harder. The traffic in Brazil sucks. I don't know if I would be comfortable driving there and I am too Americanized to lugging 2 kids in a bus. And its another language that unfortunately my kids don't know it. While they could learn it easily, its my son's first year of kinder. It scares me to throw him in that.

My 2nd option would be to go to S Florida either buy or rent and live close to my parents. While its a wonderful time to buy, I feel horrible buying our first house alone. Its something the husband and wife should be doing together. Its a magical time and I am not comfortable doing it alone. So I could rent it a place and live there for a year. My parents would be close by, we could hang out the weekends, they help out with the kids often, and it would be just like last deployment. Except even though they helped out, I was still alone. They have their own life's their own tastes, and etc. I already did this option last year, and while it wasn't horrible, it wasn't perfect, hence why I am not jumping to go back.

My 3rd option would be to go live with my best friend in VA. We are like sisters, I love her with all my heart, we can spend 365 days talking and never run out of things to talk. She is my children's godmother, love them like their own, she has 2 kids of her own and they all get alone fine. Her husband is getting ready to get out of the Army and he might even go contracting with my dh, if he does, she will also be alone, but even if he does, she can't leave VA because she can't rent or sell her house for 3 years. Even if he doesn't deploy, he will get a new job, work during the day, and she is a housewife like me, so during the day we would be able to hang out. The con is that I have only visited VA. I never lived there before, but then again when I moved to Killeen, TX, NC and here, I hadn't even visited before, the only difference would be that this time I would be doing "alone", with no husband. Also it snows. But I would have her support and someone to hang out with all the time. I wouldn't be alone at all.
The bad thing about going there : It snows!!!! I have never really lived in a place that gets harsh winters. While its nothing like Alaska its definitely colder than Rio, Fl, NC or TX.

So you see where I am coming from?? There is pros and cons to every situation, there is really no wrong answer and no right answer. Just where I would think I would feel less lonely while we gear up for this 3rd deployment and what would be best for the kids.

Why does being a grown up sucks??

Love A