Monday, January 2, 2017

Christmas Adventures 2016 (for 2017 adventures)

For an explanation of our Christmas Adventures from last year check out this post, for the report of how the 2016 adventures went read this, and if you want to read about a specific adventure with the VIP experience at Universal Studios (including Harry Potter land) make sure to check out this post

And now that you have done some homework and read all that, I will tell you about the Christmas Adventures we opened on Christmas 2016 for adventures to be done in 2017. 

Before I do though, you should know that my husband has 3 weeks off this summer during the time the kids are out of school. We knew we would be planning vacations for those 3 week. We decided those 3 weeks (ie vacations) would be 3 of the adventures. We also wanted 2 more adventures so each of the 5 kids could open one adventure. This year each adventure had a large manila envelope attached to a small wrapped present. The kids were told to open the present, guess the adventure, then open the envelope to see if they had guessed right.

Adventure 1

The picture above shows the present/hint that came with this envelope. Can you guess what the adventure was (this one is pretty vague, so I bet no one will get it)? Here's the answer:

For this adventure, each of the 5 kids gets to plan a one on one "date" (thus the calander hint, full of dates) with mom and a one on one date with dad. This may seem like a small adventure, but it is a big deal. It tells our kids that we will make time for each of them individually. One of the dates has already happened. Our middle child and Wes went on a Poke-walk (playing Pokemon Go) for about an hour in the morning on Saturday (Wes used his phone and our son used my phone), then they went to breakfast together, then on another Poke-walk for about an hour. Planned by our son and he couldn't have been happier with it! I will update you on the upcoming 9 dates! 

Adventure 2

Based on the picture above did you guess the next adventure? Can you see that the hint was a book on Washington state? Here's the adventure to go along with it:

So, as I mentioned, we moved to a new city this year. So adventure 2 is a monthly family activity to discover a local adventure. These will include things like skiing and going to the local trampoline place. Maybe local fairs/carnivals, etc.

Adventure 3

Adventure 3 came with the book above as a hint. I bet you CAN guess this one:

I titled this one as "History has it's eyes on you". We plan to go to historical sites in Washington DC, and to visit my brother-in-law and his family. This adventure is one of our summer vacation adventures.

Adventure 4

Honestly this is a biggie. Can you guess what is is based on the hint above? It is one of the vacations for this summer, and it is combined as a gift to the kids AND to my parents and Wesley's parents. 

As pictured above, it is a "Big Fat Beach Family Fun". You can see we put that it will be a trip to California with my parents (XiaXia and Papou-that's Greek for grandma and grandpa) and Wesley's parents (Grandma and Grandpa). This is another one of the summer vacation weeks.

BUT I have to tell you something. On New years eve as Wes and I were planning this trip online, Wes had the idea to surprise everyone again and upgrade the trip to Hawaii! We found a great deal on a vacation package to the big island of Hawaii and we're going to take our kids and both sets of our parents there instead of California! 

As this was a Deals blog for many years, I want to share that part of the switch was because it was a deal. The accommodations (beach houses or hotels) were comparable between Hawaii and California. Air fare was more to Hawaii. However, if we went to southern Cal as planned, we were going to do Disneyland and Universal Studios, which are expensive. We found a vacation package at Costco Travel (great prices there by the way) for the Big Island of Hawaii that made it great! And Wes and I love the Big Island! So we are excited about that! 

Adventure 5

Can you guess this one?

If you guessed this one, congrats, you are awesome! I cannot find the picture that says what it is, but it's a "choose your own adventure". The kids get to pick the last summer vacation (within a set of rules pictured above of course, and pending approval of the parents that will be paying for it), Once they pick the destination, I will help them plan it, shop around for the best deals and get the whole thing ready to go. This one may or may not work. We shall see if the children can work together or not I guess! (If not I guess Wes and I take over). Here's to hoping it works!

As you can see, we have a FUN 2017 to look forward to! In addition to these fun things, Wes has a few times this year he will be going to Continuing Medical Education conferences and I get to go with him (thanks to our moms who will be coming to Yakima and taking care of our kids), plus we are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary in May by going to NYC to see Hamilton (I bought the tickets last summer). 

This blog will probably look like a travel blog this year, but I will try to just keep letting you know what my deal is in other areas too! 

To sign off, I want to wish you all happy adventures in 2017! Happy New year! 


Christmas Adventures 2015 (for 2016)

I explained in this post about how we did Christmas adventures instead of tons of presents last year. Here's my post about what our adventures (which we experienced in 2016) were. 
Before I tell you about them, I want to mention that it was so much fun to have adventures to look forward to during the first part of 2016 from the Christmas presents. We loved that a lot. AND I want to note that the major way this saved us money was in the fact that instead of buying lots of stuff to mess up my house on Christmas, I bought far less stuff, and spent the money on adventures we would have through the year...adventures we were planning on anyway! By planning ahead and presenting them as Christmas Adventures, we paid once for twice the excitement! It was glorious!
For Christmas 2016, we did 4 adventures. Here's the 411 on each of them.

Adventure 1

This adventure was based on a wish of our middle child. He is both #TomBradysBiggestFan and #StephanCurrysBiggestFan. His wish was to see Tom Brady and/or Stephen Curry play live. I looked into it and found that Stephen Curry (and the rest of the Golden State Warriors) would be playing in Portland (a short 2-3 hour drive for us) on Jan 8, 2016. So, that became our first adventure. Tickets for the whole family to that game on January 8. Here are some pictures of that adventure:

Adventure 2
This one was based on my oldest child's wish to see the Broadway tour of Wicked. Sadly, we had just missed Wicked coming near us so we had to settle for another (family friendly) Broadway tour. I found that Newsies was going to be coming to both Seattle and Portland (both near us) and that the Portland one was on a weekend when my husband was off. So, adventure 2 was tickets for the whole family to go see Newsies in Portland on April 23. One hitch with that one. After buying the tickets we learned that kids under 6 were not allowed to go, and our youngest had JUST turned 5. So, he got to spend the day at his BFF's house and we took BFFs oldest sister with us to the show with us. Here are some pictures of that adventure:

Adventure 3
Our second child wanted to ski this year (as did his dad). Wes (my husband) and the kids had a long weekend off in February, after which Wes would start working in Yakima on his weeks off from his job in Aberdeen at the time (he officially started in Yakima full time in April, the kids and I followed him here when they got out of school in June). Adventure 3 became a ski trip to Leavenworth  where the kids got to take lessons and learn to ski after which we stopped for a day in Yakima for the kids to see where we would be moving. It was quite an adventure. All the kids loved it except our oldest. Skiing is not much her thing apparently (which I get). Here is picture overload from that adventure:

Adventure 4 
All 5 of our kids had heard that Harry Potter land was opening at Universal Studios in California in April 2016. They all wanted to go so badly. Adventure 4 simply stated that at some point during 2016 we would be going to Universal Studios and Harry Potter land, but the exact dates would be a surprise. That was a FUN adventure for us! We did not tell the kids when we were going. Remember how I said Wes moved to Yakima in April, and we were still in Aberdeen? Wes tried to come home on weekends, but it was about a 4 hour drive and got daunting, so sometimes we tried to go there. On this particular weekend in May, I told the kids we were meeting dad in Seattle (about 2 hours drive for each of us) to celebrate our 4th child's birthday. When we got to the hotel, we gave this cake to our daughter:
If you can't read it, it says "Happy Birthday Kindle, we're going to Disneyland" and, we added also to Harry Potter land for our final adventure. It was so fun to surprise them all over again! We splurged on or Harry Potter day and did the VIP pass at Universal Studios. It was AWESOME, but I won't go into detail as I posted about it here
We loved our adventures so much we decided to do it again this year! Stay tuned to see what we planned for 2017!