Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our Staycation Thoughts, Benefits & Tips

Overall the Staycation was the perfect way for us to take a break from normal life, spend quality time as a family and do some new yes, we would recommend it!

Benefits of a Staycation:

Cheaper: It is less expensive overall then most vacations that involve traveling! You at least eliminate the cost of gas or plane tickets, hotel rooms, and extra food.

Easier: When you have young children, traveling is very tiring and a lot of work. I did not have to worry about packing everything for the girls and figuring what we would need to bring. It was easy to buy the groceries I needed for the meals we planned to make at home and have the refrigerator stocked.

ZZZZs: David and I always sleep better in our own bed and so do our girls! It was nice for them to still get most of their normal naps and to go to bed in their own beds, it was more enjoyable doing fun activities when we were all rested!

Our Tips:

Clear your Schedule: We did not make any other plans the week of our staycation, and we did not attend our normal weekly Bible studies. We did go to church on Sunday which was a nice benefit of staying home. Normally we would have had to miss church!

Plan in Advance: We made a list of all the possible activities we might want to do. We did research on those activities (opening times, costs, what days are best etc...). Then we planned out which of those activities we really wanted to do with the amount of days we had and the reasonable amount of time we would have each day to be out doing things. 
  • David and I had a planning session where we narrowed down what we really would like to do from the list of possibilities. I printed out a calendar that we could write on each day what we wanted to do. 
  • The next thing I did was plan meals. We made a list of possible restaurants and then planned some easy, fun meals to make at home. I printed a meal-planning worksheet where I could write-in our breakfast, lunch and dinner plans for each day.
At the end of all the planning, we had an activities calendar and a meals calendar that we hung on our frig. This removed the added stress of figuring out what to do each day or what to eat. Doing this made the week much more relaxing.

Scrub-A-Dub-Dub: Make sure the home is clean and all the major chores are done, especially things like the bathrooms and floors. If you are like me, it will be hard to relax and be on vacation with housework looming. Get the laundry done too so you all have plenty of clean clothes for the week. Remember, you will be on vacation!! Once your staycation officially begins, resist the temptation to do too much housework. Obviously some things will need to still be done (i.e. dishes), but try to keep it to the bare minimum. 

Flex 'N Roll: There were a few changes we made to our plans during the week, but they worked out for the better. Don't be too rigid on the schedule!

Get Alone with your Spouse: Since you are staying home, hopefully you have some friends or relatives who you could call upon for some babysitting while you and your spouse have a little "couple time". David and I enjoyed getting to go see a movie and have lunch one day because my mom came over and stayed with our girls. On Friday night, we also had a relaxing dinner alone since we dropped the girl's off at David's parent's house. So if you are staying home, take advantage of some child-care too!

A note about our hotel stay: As you know, we spent one night at Embassy Suites. We enjoy this hotel because it has a great breakfast in the morning, a nice pool, hot tub and a Manager's Reception at night. We decided to keep the girl's with us since Lydia is still nursing, and that was fun. We got to take them swimming, and overall they did really well staying there. However, we decided that if we were to do it again in the future, we would rather go alone if we are going to pay for a hotel. I think we would have enjoyed our stay there much more and been more free to take advantage of the hotel amenities.

I hope this information is helpful to those who are thinking about trying it for themselves. Below I listed our activity list.

Thanks for reading about our 2012 Staycation!!

Our Activity List:

  • Reid Park Zoo
  • Brandi Fenton Park Splash Zone
  • Pump it Up
  • Embassy Suites Hotel
  • Date Night
  • Birthday Party for the Girls
Other Ideas that we did not end up doing:

  • Mt. Lemmon  
  • Sabino Canyon   
  • The Tucson Children's Museum downtown
  • YMCA swimming pool

Monday, June 25, 2012

Days 5-6 of the Ellingson Staycation!

Our Staycation is officially over. Today was our first day back to "real life" again. I think that is why this afternoon felt like an eternity from 6:00p.m. I really enjoyed David being home and doing fun things with the girls, so today seemed quite slow.

Let me back up to Friday and tell you how we finished our week.  We went out to lunch and then we packed up to go stay at the Embassy Suites on Skyline and Campbell. We took the girls over to David's parent's house (about 3 min from the hotel), and then we tried a new restaurant for dinner called Blanco at La Encantata Mall. We considered this to be our anniversary dinner date. We had some yummy fish tacos and taquitos, and we got a free dessert for David's birthday, so we tried their Flan, which was delicious! The food was really good, but it was a bit loud since it was during their Happy Hour, so we headed over to Embassy Suites and visited together during their "Manager's Reception", which is basically free drinks and snacks for the hotel guests. We enjoyed some good conversation and lots of eye contact...which is always a plus!

The girls had a great time with their "Grandpops" and "Granzie" while we were out and didn't seem too interested in us taking them away. After we got the girls settled to bed back at the hotel, we enjoyed reading the Word for a while and then we popped popcorn and watched a movie.

So now for the low point of the trip... I could NOT sleep that night! I don't know if it was caffeine, if I was nervous about the girl's waking up, or because I was hot, or in a different bed....maybe all of thee above! All I know is I ended up sleeping in the living room and I didn't crash until around 2:30a.m. Lydia was up at 5:30 crying and I grabbed her so she wouldn't wake up Izzy. So I was pretty tired Saturday morning! David really didn't sleep much either, so we were both struggling.  But we enjoyed the hot breakfast, with cooked-to-order omelets and then we took the girls down to the pool! We had fun spinning the girls, splashing and all that fun stuff you do with kids in the pool! Izzy liked sitting on the top step of the Jacuzzi a lot too!

That was a busy day because we had lunch with David's parents and then that evening we celebrated June birthdays and Father's Day at my parent's house! What fun!

We really had a wonderful week overall even though we were all struggling with colds by the end of it. I want to write some more about how we planned our staycation and give my recommendations/advice if anyone else is interested in doing one. This was our first year trying it, so I'll share my thoughts about it overall. I think that will be my next post.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 4 of the Ellingson Staycation

Today was Pump it Up Thursday! Since Izzy just turned 2, we decided to take her to Pump It Up as a birthday present, just her, Mommy and Daddy! Boy was it fun! There were obstacle courses, jumping castles, and huge slides! David and I had a great time, oh and Izzy did too! She was fearless when it came to the slides, she would go right down them without hesitation! We are very glad we decided to take her, we had a blast! Let me know if you have questions about going, we would love to go again or tell others about our experience.

We broke from our normal routine of doing Family Worship before bed and did it this afternoon before we went to dinner. It went really well and the girls were very focused, which was nice since that is not always the case. For dinner we went to one of our favorite eating spots, Pei Wei! And after dinner we headed over to Frost for some Gelato. Izzy, David and I were all shoveling the yummy goodness as fast as we could since we were all eating out of one bowl. Lydia didn't want to miss the action, so she started scooping it out with her hand, which then turned into finger paints on the got a little messy, but we didn't care! I just wish I had my camera!

Funny story time! So we were enjoying our Gelato at Frost this evening, the girls fingers are sticky and their white shirts are getting messier by the second and David and I are chatting away. David makes a comment about his cool pants that he bought in Norway back in High School. They were a strange mustard-yellow color when he used to wear them to youth group. Later he found out that they were actually a different color when he purchased them, but when his mom washed them in the Norwegian washing machine somehow the color changed. I think she did the wrong temperature of water since she couldn't read Norwegian? Not sure. Since David's vision is considered "color deficient" he never realized that his pants changed color. OK, that was really background information to the rest of my story. So David tells me tonight that his pants that he used to wear from Norway were, and I quote, "a stylish yellow",and I replied loudly, "Is there really such a thing as a 'stylish yellow'".  I thought my response would be funny. As soon as the words left my mouth, David says, "look to your left", I turn and look in disbelief. The man sitting with his wife at the next table, maybe 5 feet away (definitely in earshot) is wearing a YELLOW polo shirt! His shirt was all yellow, without even a stripe...just a pure bright yellow polo. Of course I felt bad about the comment I had just made, however the moment was also extremely humorous, and I couldn't help but break out in uncontrollable laughter! The situation struck David the same way and he lost it too, almost spitting out his water. The next thing he said was, "you have to tell this story in your blog". So there you have it....done.

This evening after we got home we enjoyed dancing in the living room to some fun kids music, David definitely won the dancing contest, Izzy came in a close second!
All ready to go with my new backpack on
Izzy nursing her baby tonight
Lydia on her new Rody she got for her birthday!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 3 of our Staycation

Today was really nice! It is Lydia's official 1 year old birthday! Amazing that 1 year ago today I was in labor for 13.5 hours, and now she is already a year old. Time flies when you have kids. David and I got to go see The Hunger Games this morning in the movie theater! We hadn't been to a movie in the theater in close to a year now, and we enjoyed it! I ate way too much movie theater popcorn....aaah, it was so yummy, but I should have stopped myself. I just loved the combination of buttery popcorn with Cherry Coke! Then we had lunch together at the mall and did a little bit of shopping all by ourselves. We came home and both girls were sleeping, so then we got to have our quiet times and read the Word.

For dinner we ate some delicious ribs that we put in the crockpot this morning! They were falling right off the bone and tasted scrumptious! We kept calling it a feast since we had baked potatoes, beans, garlic toast and salad with our ribs. What a wonderful week so far! Praising God for this blessed opportunity to enjoy this time as a family!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 2 of our Staycation

Today was Day #2: Today is our 8 Year Anniversary! We had a great time today! We took the girls to the Zoo for the first time! It was so much fun! We got there when the doors opened at 8:00a.m. and spent 3 hours enjoying all the animals! After that we had a delicious lunch at Chick-Fil-A...mmmm good. And we all took naps when we got home! For dinner we ate at our favorite Sushi place close by during their Happy Hour. We had a great dinner and we even got a free "Tempura Ice Cream Sundae" for all our birthdays and anniversary! Our waiter said that it is supposed to be only for the day of someone's birthday to get the free ice cream, but since we all have June birthdays and it was our anniversary, he said he's try to get us a sundae, and he was successful! And it was amazing!!

The Ellingson "Staycation" 2012

So this year my hubby had a moment of brilliance. "How about if I take a week off work and we stay home, but we pretend we are on vacation?" The more I thought about this idea, the more I liked it. We talked about fun things we could do as a family and places we wanted to go out to eat and fun food we could buy for at home. June is the Ellingson month of celebrations! My birthday, Isabella's birthday, our anniversary (today, 8 years), then Lydia's birthday (tomorrow), and then David's birthday! It is crazy, but June is the perfect month for us to take a week off and just have fun as a family! We had taken both girls to California in March and the trip really didn't leave me with an appetite to travel for a summer vacation. So we decided to stay home this summer, but still have a vacation! So this is the week, and so far it has been a success! We did a lot of planning ahead and figured out what we wanted to do each day and even planned out our meals.'

  Day 1 Monday: We went to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park's Splash Zone!! First we drove through Eegees and grabbed some yummy food and ice cold Eegee drinks and headed to the water zone! I packed some fruit to snack on and the girls had a great time! We spent about an hour playing in the water and then going down the playground slide a few times! Then we all came home and had a nice nap! For dinner we tried a new restaurant that brags of "gourmet pizza" called Boston's Pizza. It was good food, but a bit overpriced and the atmosphere was nothing to brag about. Overall it was a great day! And I loved that we all got to sleep in our own beds and in our own rooms!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Do you ever have one of those really productive days? I had one today. It felt so good to get lots of cleaning and organizing done. I was in the mood, I had that nesting juice flowing through my veins and I felt happy with every wipe of the dust cloth and paper that got thrown away. It was a blessed day because my children were happy and Izzy was being obedient, which really makes for a fun flowing day. I also spent some time outside with the girls playing in the water and the little blow up pool. Man was it hot!! The girls loved it though, and they took good naps afterward, which is always a plus.I find myself wanting to be more and more organized in my home so that I spend less time searching for things or buying something I already have. Now that I have two toddlers, I need things to be in order and I need to know where things are when I need them! But I praise God for days like today, because He doesn't always give me days like today. Many are discouraging and just plain tiring. But God is gracious to give me a happy day that is productive...I need those sometimes. Thank you Lord, You have been oh so kind. May You receive all the glory!