My first baby, Ivy, turned 18 last weekend! She chose to have her family birthday dinner at Bonefish Grill in Crescent Springs, Kentucky. This was our first time eating here. It was the perfect combo for our family and it was close to her Grandpa so he didn’t have to drive too far. Ivy wanted a steak and seafood. This place really delivered. There were seven of us and we called ahead for reservations. They seated us as soon as we arrived and had a highchair ready if we wanted one. We did and were very appreciative.
We Started with Awesome Appetizers
They start off with unlimited free bread with butter and olive oil on the side. We chose to do two appetizers. We wanted a seafood option and a non-seafood option. Ivy loves Calamari so we got that as our first appetizer. It was perfectly cooked and very tasty. We went with the Wagyu Beef + Ginger Potstickers as our second option. There weren’t many non-seafood options. I love Potstickers and these didn’t disappoint. There are six in an order which was perfect for us. Octavia, 2, doesn’t like beef so she skipped this.
I celebrated with a glass of Sangria!
Only Pappaw Tom and I had an alcoholic beverage. I had a fabulous sangria and he had a draft beer. Everyone else had a soft drink, iced tea, or water.
The Steak was Amazing!
Ivy went all out for her birthday! She had a Filet Mignon and Lump Crab Cake with au gratin potatoes and green beans. Also, she added on grilled shrimp. She was unhappy with the shrimp because they were overcooked. I had Filet Mignon and Crab Cake with garlic mashed potatoes and a mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigarette. Both of our steaks were cooked as ordered. Michael had the special. It was Red Snapper with au gratin potatoes and green beans. He loved his fish but wasn’t a huge fan of the au gratin potatoes. My sister, Cassie, had Blackened Baja Fish Tacos with rice and green beans on the side. My dad (AKA Pappaw Tom) had a Half-Pound Wagyu Beef Burger and fries. The two little girls ordered grilled chicken and fries off the children’s menu.
We Finished with Two Mouthwatering Desserts!
Ivy ordered the Caramel Apple Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was one of the special. Ivy said this was her favorite thing. The little girls and I had Chocolate Crème Brulee. They were both amazing.
The total for all seven of us including tip was $242. That included two alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages for everyone, two appetizers, five adult entrees including two steak dinners, two children’s meals, and two desserts. The only items we would have skipped were the grilled shrimp and au gratin potatoes.
We are currently preparing for long-term family travel. We plan to begin our trip in 2020. Many people have been asking for a list of exactly what we’re working on right now. I want to say upfront that not all of these things would be necessary for every family and most of it could be done much faster. There are parts of this that we could (and very well still may) completely do on the fly. There are parts of our plan that require time to complete and that is why we are able to take our time with other things that could be done quicker. Having ample time to research and prepare has made this whole endeavor much less stressful. Now on to our checklist.
1.) Paying off Debt – We had a lot of debt when we decided that we wanted to go on this adventure. We didn’t want to have all of that debt and crazy amounts of payments hanging over us when we left. Also, we felt like saving for a trip and spending excessive amounts of money while traveling would be irresponsible knowing we had loads of debt. We made out our “Hit List” for the first debts that we would tackle. We started by paying off one credit card and loan at a time. After we paid off a few things, we made out our priority list that we are still working our way through. It was like we needed to pay off a couple of things and know we were serious before we were willing to make out that whole list. If you are interested in our priority list, you can find it here.
2.) Education – Education and homeschool research has been a huge focus for me right now. We have three daughters, all in different age groups. The main reason for our timeframe is that our oldest daughter, Ivy, will graduate from high school in 2020. Since she was in high school, we decided it was best for her to finish. She plans to take a gap year to go with us and to think about what she wants to do. If she wants to take any college classes while we are gone there are many online options.
Our middle daughter, Isabella, will be starting fifth grade when we leave. I’ve been reading everything I can about homeschooling. I looked into the laws. I’m researching curriculum, reading lists, online programs, historical places we could visit, and homeschool record keeping. There is so much available that it can be a little overwhelming. I just wanted to get a good overview so I didn’t feel completely unprepared when the time came. We are trying to decide between her staying in her school for the fourth grade or doing a year of homeschooling before we leave. Our youngest, Octavia, will be four when we leave. Our state doesn’t require children to be officially enrolled as a homeschooler until age six. We plan to begin preschool at home before we leave and continue on the road.
I have found out from my research that we are “relaxed, eclectic” homeschoolers. This seems fitting because we are pretty relaxed people. Our middle daughter is very independent and self-directed. Having the time to fully research this has been very helpful. It has given me the opportunity to think about what I want to cover and how best to cover it. I feel much more comfortable than I did when I first started looking into it.
3.) Medical/Dental – We had a few things that we wanted and needed to get taken care of before we leave. Our oldest had oral surgery to have her wisdom teeth taken out. She needs to do a set of x-rays and a check-up on her back before we leave. Our middle daughter has food allergies to seafood and shellfish. She was diagnosed when she was three. She had a reaction to shrimp but the others were found on a scratch test and with blood work. We were told that most young kids grow out of their allergies. She has an appointment soon to find out if and what allergies remain. I’m very hopeful that she has outgrown it for multiple reasons. It would make traveling much easier. I’m terrified that we will be somewhere that we don’t understand the language and accidentally feed her shrimp.
We have to visit a travel clinic closer to when we leave so we can receive any needed vaccinations and medications for our trip. We have been getting anything we can from our regular doctors that our insurance will cover. I work in healthcare so there are some extra things that I have been lucky enough to have covered by employee health services. We have found a travel clinic and looked into the process.
4.) Preparing our Kids – We are talking about traveling, reading books, and watching videos. They are working on needed skills like swimming and hiking. We have been introducing them to new foods. We know this is going to be a huge transition and we are doing everything we can to make it easier for them.
5.) Our Belongings – We have been slowly decluttering and using up our belongings. We have been narrowing down what is truly important to us. We plan to rent a small storage bin for the sentimental items and to store off-season things while traveling. We have decided to find a place near my mom so that she can check on things for us and put stuff in if we ship anything home. I will be scanning all of our photos and taking pictures of sentimental items just in case anything is ruined in the storage bin. I plan to put everything on a portable hard drive. We will store this and a small number of valuable keepsakes in a safe deposit box.
6.) Packing/What are we taking – We have been researching suitcases/backpacks, suggested packing lists, reviews for various travel gear, and looking at the weather in areas that we want to go to. We have been looking at our current favorite items to see how best to accommodate our personal styles into our travel wardrobes. We will be spending part of our trip working and slow traveling in the United States. We will have a large vehicle during that time and be taking considerably more with us. We will have kitchen stuff and clothing for multiple seasons. We have been discussing how much stuff we will need to homeschool. We will have very little with us when we are flying. We plan to take a milk crate sized box with us for homeschooling items when we are in the US. We plan to allow one small bag for toys when flying and a bigger bag or box when driving.
7.) Blogging/Vlogging – I plan to continue blogging when we leave. I hope to inspire others to live their dreams, especially families. We are considering doing Vlogs on Youtube but we’re not sure if this is for us. We are going to make a few and see how it goes. We want to at least try filming and editing before we leave to see if it’s something that we would enjoy doing.
8.) Trip Planning/Travel Research – Where are we going? We don’t know exactly but we have been researching areas and getting together our bucket-lists. We looked at the best times of year to visit, must see places, and estimated daily budgets. This is really helping us to prioritize.
9.) Work – I plan to work as a travel nurse. I’m not sure if we will travel for a while before I do a travel nurse contract or if I will do a contract first to get a feel for it. I’ve been looking into different companies and talking to people who do this. My husband doesn’t know if he wants to continue with what he does now or if he’s going to try a new line of work. He has considered temporary work and online options too.
10.) Physical – We are working on being in good shape so that we don’t feel like we’re going to die when we leave. We still will not be used to walking all day, every day. I want to finish losing the weight I gained with Octavia. I am walking and hiking more with the kids so that they are better prepared for what’s coming. My husband, Michael, has a very sedentary job currently. He is working out and trying to eat better. He is considering taking a more active job again before we leave. Unfortunately, he is still smoking occasionally and really needs to quit. He has tried many times but he hasn’t had the willpower to make it stick.
11.) Spending Time with Family and Friends – We are spending as much time as possible with friends and family. Also, we are trying to help them understand why we are doing what we are doing, that we will miss them, and that we do plan to visit.
12.) Passports & Visas – We need to get all of our passports in order when we get closer to leaving. We have been looking into Visas and any rules that we need to know for visiting different countries.
13.) Banking and Credit Cards – We need to figure out which bank we want to use when we leave and which credit cards offer the best perks. We need to make sure that we are able to access our money regardless of where we are. We will likely have multiple different accounts including checking, savings, and credit cards.
14.) Insurance – We will need medical, travel, and car insurance.
15.) Cell Phone and Internet – We will want/need cell phones and internet access while on the road. These will both change based on where we are and where we plan to go.
16.) Post Office Box – We will likely set up a post office box before we leave so we know where our mail will go. I have been switching everything possible over to email.
17.) Kindle – We will need one of these for both homeschool and reading for enjoyment. Isabella (9) and I are avid readers. We both prefer paper books but we have to take weight and space into account. We have decided to purchase one Kindle to share and see if we need another later.
18.) Laptops, Chromebook, Tablet – We are trying to decide which options best fit our needs. We will be working a little online. I plan to continue with the blog. We will be homeschooling our youngest two girls. Our oldest does digital art. We will be taking our two current laptops (Ivy’s and mine) with us while we are in the United States. They are way too big to fly with so we may get a smaller laptop to take with us. Isabella has a fire tablet now that we’ll take because we already own it.
19.) Photography – I am continuing to improve my photography and videography skills. I am learning how to best use my cameras and equipment. I’m figuring out which items I will take with me and picking out the best tech/camera bag options for that equipment.
20.) Money/Budget – We are trying to decide on a daily budget and an app or way to track it. I’m a total nerd and enjoy doing this kind of stuff. It can make all the difference in keeping us on the road longer and allowing us to enjoy our trip without constantly worrying about money.
It’s quite a list! I’m very thankful that I have the time to do it all at my own pace and even more thankful that we will be able to take this trip. Do you have any suggestions about anything on this list? Did we miss anything that you think we need to consider? Please leave us a comment below.
We are currently on the path to becoming debt-free and working on minimizing our belongings in preparation for long-term family travel with our three children. When I first started to go through our belongings I noted that we had an excess of many things. We are also working towards becoming debt-free so simply throwing things out or giving things away that we would eventually use felt like a waste. This left me in a weird spot and I just sat those items aside to deal with later.
After starting the Pantry Challenge, I began to look into other areas of our home in the same manner. I started to go through things before I bought anything. I used to buy craft items, beauty supplies, and cleaning products on a whim. We often bought things that were very similar or identical to things that we already owned. After I began to go through everything, I realized that we had a major excess of certain items.
I would like to start this by stating that we didn’t have an intentional stockpile of goods. We just had a habit of overbuying and things would get shoved to the back of closets and cabinets. We have a linen closet that was hiding most of the bath and beauty products that we had inadvertently acquired. It was always so full that you could never find what you were looking for. I didn’t expect to find as much stuff as I did. We had over 20 bottles of lotion and tubes of hand creams. We had loads of bars of soap. We had extra bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Our back-up items had their own back-up items for things like toothpaste and toothbrushes.
We have a large closet in our laundry room that we used for board games, toys, cleaning supply overflow, kitchen overflow, and art/craft supplies. We had an entire plastic shoebox sized bin of crayons once we consolidated all of the boxes. We had about 80 pencils and even more pens. We had enough cleaning supplies to last us six months or more. This was a complete waste of space.
We decided to gather all of our nail polish into one area. Ivy and I both had decent sized collections. We had many colors that were almost identical. We found additional bottles in the linen closet. Isabella had a few bottles. We were shocked to find that we had more than 150 bottles of nail polish in the house. If we painted our nails twice a week for the next year and a half, we still would have loads left.
Now, we check to see if we already have an item before buying it. I set up bins and boxes for different types of things so that we could find what we need easier. We have a bin for bath products. Instead of keeping our nail polish separately in our rooms, we consolidated them into two containers that are in the linen closet so that we can find the color we want and stop buying extras. I have decided that keeping more than one back-up for each item is unnecessary even in a family of our size. Now, I will add those items to my shopping list when we open the last one. We put a full spending freeze on nail polish, lotion, and hair products because we had so many of those items.
When it was back-to-school time, we “shopped” for supplies at home first. I have vowed not to buy any more kits or art supplies for us to use at home until we use up what we already have. I plan the girl’s quiet activities and rainy/cold day projects based on what we have on hand. Octavia is now home with me during the week so I need to find her stuff to do. She is only two and is quite entertained with a couple of markers and a coloring page. The girls did receive some things for Christmas that we added to the collection. They really do enjoy art, crafts, and science experiments so I know most of this will be used up by summer. We are just getting into our bad weather season. January to May is full of snow and rain in the Cincinnati area. A craft or science kit can be a real sanity saver during snow days or seemingly endless days of rain.
This whole experience has been quite eye-opening. It’s amazing how much stuff we had managed to obtain over the years. By making an effort to use up items before buying new, we are reducing the number of items in our home and saving money to be used on more important things. I was a little embarrassed by the amount of money that we had spent on these items over the years so that they could just sit in our closets unused. What do you have a ridiculous amount of? Have you done something like this? Tell me about it below.
We have some big financial goals that we plan to accomplish in 2019. The first of the goals is paying off all of our credit cards. We came just shy of paying off nine cards last year. We still owe $500 on card #9. We plan to pay that off in January before working on paying off credit card #10, also known as the last credit card! After that, we will pay off Ivy’s dental work. She had to have oral surgery in November. We have dental insurance and chose to take a loan with a 1.9% interest rate so we could continue our plan to pay off our credit cards. Next, we will pay off our loan from the AC/Furnace. Once we pay these off, we will only have student loans and our mortgage left.
The next thing on our financial priority list is to save $5,000 for a car down-payment. We intend to buy a minivan, van, or SUV for when we begin traveling. We haven’t decided on which one but we know that we need a bigger vehicle. Both of our current vehicles are acceptable for daily life but neither of them is ideal for our travel plans. We may not buy anything until 2020 but we want to know that we have a significant down-payment set aside in case we find something sooner. Our plan is to save the $5,000 and then continue to put $1,000 a month into savings for our car.
After putting $5,000 in savings, we will start working on paying off Michael’s student loans. Everything over the $1,000 a month (car savings account) will go toward his student loans. We hope to pay them off quickly. We are so sick of being in debt and desperately want to be done with all of it. We know that it is currently impossible to pay off my student loans this year unless something spectacular happens.
We want to continue working on decluttering our belongings. We are trying not to buy things that aren’t completely necessary. We will continue using up the excess items we have on hand. We are doing a spending freeze on certain items until we completely run out. Some of these items include lotion, soap, nail polish, hair products, make-up, and cleaning supplies. We are making an effort to use the craft supplies we have on hand before buying more. The girls have a ridiculous amount of coloring books, crayons, beads, and craft kits that we have been using for their daily arts and crafts time. Octavia likes to do 2-3 small crafts a day when we are home. I am trying to avoid throwing these types of things away because I know that they will be used eventually.
We are attempting to get and stay as organized as possible. As we have fewer possessions, it becomes easier to keep our items organized and our home clean.
I love blogging. I have set some huge goals for this blog in 2019. I want to get into a regular posting schedule. I’m thinking Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for now. I will reevaluate in a month or two to see how it’s going. I am researching and learning about things I don’t know as much about. As many of you likely know, I’m a research junkie and love learning about new things. I have learned a ton in the last year and have really enjoyed myself. There are still so many things that I don’t fully understand that I want to work on over the course of this year. We intend to take the blog on the road with us in 2020 and I want to be fully prepared.
We have some things about our home that drive us crazy and we have quite a few projects that need to be completed before we put it on the market next year. We will be working on something each week/month depending on the length and cost of the project. We need a new fence in the backyard, some landscaping, indoor painting, kitchen countertops, to finish the basement ceiling, flooring, and some tile work. We will be doing almost all the work ourselves so we have to take time constraints into consideration when deciding on an order for accomplishing things. There are also some things I can easily do myself and others that Michael will need to do or that we will need to work on together. I will update as we go.
We want to eat better and exercise more to prepare for long-term family travel. We plan to do a lot of physical sightseeing including hiking with our kids. I’m concerned that if we don’t begin exercising more as a family that it will be a harder transition. I don’t want anything so simple to hold us back. We will continue to introduce our children to new foods. I stopped cooking as much while I was pregnant with Octavia and just started cooking a lot again last year. I want to continue to cook healthy meals for my family and myself. I have been slowly losing weight and hope to be back to my goal weight by summer.
We are researching schooling options for our daughters. We have a meeting soon for our oldest to start an online public school through her current district. Our middle daughter is gifted and three years ahead in math and English. She has the ability to understand complex mathematical and scientific concepts well beyond her years. She is currently in third grade and has recently begun expressing how bored she is during class. They allow her many freedoms during class. She is able to read a book of her choosing after she finishes her class work. She does the math and English programs online to challenge her. She has been taking Japanese since Kindergarten. We have decided to try homeschooling over the summer to see if she enjoys it. The whole thing is complicated but we will do whatever is needed for our children to have every opportunity to live up to their full potential. Octavia will begin preschool at home later this year. I will update you as things progress.
I have put it off many times and I need to stop. I am a few months from my BSN. It will make no difference in my current job and knowing this has made it hard to justify putting in the time and money needed. It may make a difference while travel nursing and when I want to find a regular job again so I’m going to just get it done this year. Also, I took a contract to work weekend option for a local hospital this year. This will give me more time to complete this goal.
That’s quite a list of goals! What are your goals for this year? Any thoughts on ours? Please, leave me a comment below.
We currently owe $500 on credit card #9. We plan to pay it off first. After we finish paying off that, we plan to start working on credit card #10. Credit card #10 is our final card! It has a balance of $3, 069.38. We plan to pay $500 on it this month. We wanted to do more this month originally but we have some financial obligations that we have to get out of the way first. Also, Michael had a lot of days off for the holidays and will have short checks at the beginning of this month. We saved money from the end of December to help keep us on track so we shouldn’t notice too much of a difference from those missing hours. Just a year ago we were struggling to pay our bills and feed our kids without using our credit cards for short weeks. Now we are fine and the concerns are about how much debt we can pay off. The difference in the amount of money we used to spend on debt payments that we now get to use for meeting our goals is astounding. A year can make a huge difference!
Our oldest daughter, Ivy, is turning 18. I know, I know. I’m not ready for this. She has chosen to have a house party on a Saturday night and a nice dinner with the family on Sunday Night. She decided on bright rainbow colors for her theme. A longtime family friend is making her cake. We need to take a trip to the party store to pick out her balloons, decorations, plates, napkins, and flatware. I haven’t figured out the menu yet. She still needs to make a playlist for the house party and where we are going for her family dinner. I’ll update you later about how it all goes.
Michael has a doctor’s appointment next week. He has been having back and hip pain. I’ll let you know what we find out.
I have some big blogging goals for 2019. I want to get a jump-start on some of them this month. I will be doing a little research to learn more about the things that I don’t know much about. I’m trying to find a posting schedule that fits my life and helps me to meet my goals.
We need to do some post-holiday cleaning starting with taking down our Christmas decorations today. We need to make sure it’s clean enough for the house party for Ivy’s birthday. The holiday gifts need to find homes. Everything could use a good scrub. We were so busy over the holidays that we also got behind on laundry. We’ll be getting that caught up this week. Octavia, 2, had a growth spurt recently and I need to sort out the clothing that no longer fits her.
It’s going to be a busy month as always but I hope that with a little effort you will be hearing from me more. What are your goals for this month? Leave me a comment below.