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Tag: frugal living

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

Gardening Update 6.14.2020

This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means […]

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Three Year Blogiversary and Reflections on the Past Year

Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I […]

Victoria Part 2: Miniatures, Petting Zoo and More!

Victoria Part 2: Miniatures, Petting Zoo and More!

Out last post detailed the first half of our Victoria, B.C. trip last year when we went to Butchart Gardens. June was definitely a great time to go and see all of the flowers in bloom and it seemed far less crowded that it would be in mid-summer. Since we had the kids with us we tried to find kid friendly activities that weren’t too expensive. There are a lot of things to do in Victoria including the Wax Museum, Butchart Gardens, The Seawall, Whale Watching, Beacon Hill Park, The B.C Parliament Building, Fancy Tea, The Royal B.C Museum, Craigdarroch Castle, numerous beaches, and hiking  just to name a few but we only had a couple of days and shorter attention spans to think about so we settled on Butchart Gardens, Miniature World, Beacon Hill Park and Spiral Beach (which is part of Beacon Hill Park) for our three day trip.

 

Fish in the hotel.

One of our requirements for a hotel is now that it has a pool so that we can take the kids for a quick swim when they need to get some energy out but the timing doesn’t really work for any longer activities. Our kids are early risers and sometimes it works out to have breakfast in our room and go swimming before we leave for the day’s activities at around 9:00 am (and usually for second breakfast!). Other times we take a quick swim after dinner before heading to our room for movie night. We did go swimming on our Victoria trip this year but our favorite part of the hotel was the gigantic Koi pond in the lobby. Our kids loved looking at the Koi and even got to help out with feeding time! I am sure when they are a little bit older this will be less cool but for now it was awesome free entertainment.

 

Goats at the Children’s Farm.

The second day we headed to Beacon Hill park to wander around and check out the Children’s Farm located on the property. The Children’s Farm has a suggested donation of $4.00 per person for entry and we ended up donating $20.00 for our family of four. I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a good cause!  The Children’s Farm is famous for its goat stampede so we made sure to get there in time for the morning one it did not disappoint us. The goats were super cute running down the path to their daytime pen and afterwards the kids got to go in the enclosure with the goats and pet them. There were many other animals at the farm that our kids liked to watch and pet and overall we had a good time. The farm was on the small side but it was a great way to spend some of our time at the park.

 

Peacock at Beacon Hill park.

One of the cool things about having the farm at the park was the peacocks running around. They were everywhere around the farm and we even saw them across the street grazing with the ducks. I did wonder though how great it was for the local wildlife to have these gigantic birds hanging around but they seemed to stay really close to the farm so it was probably ok. Our kids had fun looking for them and got really excited when they spread their tail feathers out.

 

Hiking in Beacon Hill park.

One of the activities we love to do on our vacations is explore the local parks and at Beacon Hill park we spent some time walking around. There was a fabulous playground that we spent some time at and several ponds with different waterfowl grazing in the grass nearby. We saw a deer wandering through a meadow and looked at the different types of trees that we found. We also spent some time talking about how different the trees were from our home even though we weren’t that far away.  I try to incorporate talking about the landscape of the places we visit to teach the kids to look around them a little bit more and to highlight the differences in what grows with different types of environments. So far my kids are still pretty excited to hear about it and since we have been doing more traveling lately they have begun to notice similarities and differences between the places we have visited so at least some of it has stuck!

 

View from Beacon Hill Park

Part of our wandering around the park to us up to the top of Beacon Hill where we saw this gorgeous view! We spent as much time as we could here looking around, reading the plaque and looking for more deer but the kids were impatient for more exciting things and we headed back into the park to explore.

 

Miniature World.

After the park we headed back for lunch and then checked out Miniature World. I didn’t get a picture of our lunch but I wanted to give a quick shout out to the place we went to because the food was fabulous and had a dedicated fryer for gluten-free people and that is really hard to find. We ate at The Fish Store and the food was delicious! I highly recommend going there even if you aren’t gluten-free!

 

Outer Space section of Miniature World

Miniature World was somewhere that we were a little bit hesitant to go because it was kind of expensive and we weren’t sure if it would be worth it. We had a great time though and the kids loved looking at all of the little people and pushing all of the buttons to make things move. The one caveat I have about the place is that I had to explain a lot of historical events to my small children and that was kid of difficult to keep it appropriate. Our daughter is a pretty good reader and there were some very accurate descriptions of what was taking place in the scenes that I had to fudge explanations a bit for. It would probably be better to take older kids in the 7-10 range versus my 3 and 5 year old but we had a great time!

 

Miniature World

There were tons of displays at Miniature World depicting different historical periods, storybook scenes and imaginary places. Our son loved the cars and anything that moved and our daughter liked the fairies and the trains. There was a little bit for everyone and although it was a little bit on the expensive side it was worth going to for us. I probably wouldn’t go there every year but maybe every other since the kids would get more out of it as they got older.

 

Cheeky captions on some of the displays.

I could tell that someone that created the displays at Miniature World had a sense of humor because there were a few cheeky captions for some of the displays. This one about grandma and grandpa was pretty far up and too tall for little kids to see which was probably deliberate. I wonder how many of these we missed but it was great to see them spread out. I am not a huge history person so looking at battles was not really my thing but I did love looking at the miniatures. They were very detailed and the quality was excellent.

 

Spiral Beach – Look! America!

Our daughter loves going to the beach so the last day we went back to Beacon Hill park and checked out Spiral Beach. There were tons of tide pools for us to explore and we got in a very long walk. We loved looking across the water at America and it was fun for the kids when we pulled up the map and showed them where we were and where in America we were looking at. It was great perspective for them to see where we were in relation to places they know. I think next year if we go back to Victoria I might plan a trip to the Washington Peninsula and find somewhere in America across the water from Victoria and show them what it looks like from the other side. It would be fun and an important lesson in Geography.

 

Tide Pools at Spiral Beach.

The tide pools at Spiral Beach were some of the best ones we have visited. Haystack rock in Cannon Beach is pretty close but we saw lots of animals at Spiral Beach and they were pretty close to the surface and we didn’t have to go very far to see them. Our kids love looking for crabs and snails which we saw many of. We also worked on walking so that we weren’t hurting the animals and talked about where they live and how they hide from us. We spent a lot of time looking at everything and the views were gorgeous!

 

Long walk back.

We walked most of the way down the beach on the upper trail, looked at the tide pools and then walked back up the beach to the famous spiral staircase which I apparently did not get a picture of. Oops! The beach was a rocky beach and we had a great time throwing rocks into the water. Our daughter also loves rocks (we bring them home daily from the playground…) and we spent quite a bit of time looking at them and trying to figure out what kinds they were. I should probably buy her a guide so that she can look them up and see what kinds they are. I am sure she would be an expert before long. Our kids did great on the long walk and I believe it was almost two miles which made our son luckily sleep for most of the car ride home. I am really grateful for that because we got stuck at the border and he was seasick from the ferry ride back but luckily he didn’t get sick in the middle of the crossing. We are now two for two for our son getting sick in the car on the way home from Canada just past the border an I am hoping that it isn’t a constant thing!

 

Rose
Native Roses

One of the surprises we found at Spiral Beach was the gorgeous rose bushes along the upper path. the flowers were beautiful and smelled lovely. I love these flowers and I am always excited when I see them!

 

Awesome tree in Beacon Hill Park.

Overall we had a fabulous time in Victoria. I would love to go back every June just to see the gardens. Maybe next year we will go to the castle and see what that is about. Our kids will be a little bit older and might be ready for some hikes by then so I will probably have to do some research and see which ones are good for kids up there. We will be avoiding the wax museum for quite a while though, since one of our kids is genuinely terrified of that sort of thing. We saw a wax figure of a football player in San Francisco and it did not go well so I can’t imaging a whole museum of terror would go over very well. I do however want to take my daughter to one of the tea rooms. I think she would love it and it would be great mother-daughter bonding time. We will have to find something for the guys to do that is special for them as well.

 

Have you been to Victoria, B.C. before? Where did you visit?

 

If you go:

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Children’s Farm

Butchart Gardens

Miniature World

 

 

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

Victoria Part 1: Butchart Gardens

This past June as soon as school got out we took a weekend trip up to Victoria, B.C. with the younger kids. One of our goals this year is to increase our travel and since Victoria is so close to us we decided to take […]

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

How “Sleeping in” Until 5:30 Costs us $300 a Month

I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]

Our Not-So-Frugal San Francisco Trip February 2019

Our Not-So-Frugal San Francisco Trip February 2019

Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off mind you) we heard about a screaming deal on plane tickets out of the newly opening Paine Field in our area. Our little kids had never been on a plane before and we figured that leaving from a smaller, much less crowded airport would be a good introduction and test of air travel. Our kids get overwhelmed in crowds and with all of the new experiences they would have with flying we thought taking off from a small airport with less people would help them get used to the idea. Unfortunately the government shut down at the beginning of 2019 and some of the airport permits did not go through in time so we ended up flying in and out of the much busier Sea-Tac and it ended up working out. Our kids were very excited and even though security lines were so long we almost missed our outbound flight, there were no dreaded airport meltdowns and our first plane rides were a success!

 

Sea Lions on the Pier.

We stay fairly close to the waterfront and were able to walk to a lot of destinations. Since we were close to everything the hotel was a little bit pricey but we continued our tradition of finding a place to stay with a kitchen and after stopping at Trader Joe’s we had some pretty inexpensive meals ready to go. Our kids get up at 5:00 in the morning and not many places are open at that time so we bought some milk and cereal for them to eat before we left in the morning. We also bought snacks and some bacon and spent about $30 total for 6 days worth of breakfast and snacks.

 

Bay Bridge San Francisco

The plane ride and following shuttle went smoothly but I was pretty disappointed that the kids were not more interested in watching the plane take off. They were too busy watching Octonauts…which I am grateful kept them busy during the flight. The first place we stopped was the Ferry Building where we ate the most delicious gluten-free pastries ever and walked around seeing the sites. We walked out onto a pier and got a beautiful view of the Bay Bridge. The kids were very excited and walking around got most of their wiggles out. One of the ways we saved money was by buying a Citi-Pass. With that we got into the California Academy of Science, bus/cable-car rides, a cruise of the San Francisco bay, into the Aquarium of the Bay, and into the Exploratorium. Our son is three and he was free at most of those places so we only needed three Citi-Passes for all four of us and it ended up being a good deal.

 

Aquarium Fish
Aquarium at the California Academy of Science

The second day we spent most of our time at the California Academy of Science. We loved the aquarium on the lower floor. It was so big we had to stop mid-way for lunch! Our kids love fish and the way the aquarium was organized it was easy for even my three year old to understand that they came from different places around the globe. We learned a lot about our oceans on this trip for sure!

 

Amazon Rainforest Exhibit

My absolute favorite area was the underwater Amazon Rainforest area. You can’t tell from this picture but these fish are seriously 8 feet long and it was amazing to watch them swim around overhead. I had no idea that freshwater fish could get that big!

 

Rainforest Exhibit

Part of the gigantic Rainforest Exhibit was a sphere similar to the Amazon Spheres we visited last fall only with way more plants and animals. It was much cooler and we got to see so many things with great displays that taught my kids about how coffee grows, where in the canopy different animals live and how we can protect the rainforests for the future. I am a plant person so I loved looking at the plants and got some ideas for how to lay out a garden.

 

The roof of the California Academy of Sciences.

We spent most of the day and explored a large chunk of the California Academy of Sciences, including the amazing roof but we still did not see the whole thing. We definitely want to go back next time we are in San Francisco!

 

Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island

Our second full day we took a boat tour of the bay. This was something that was out of my comfort zone and honestly if we hadn’t bought the Citi-Pass we never would have gone on it. I get really seasick and boats are something I usually avoid but the water ended up being pretty calm and besides being a little bit cold we ended up having a great time. Our kids loved looking out at everything and seeing where we had been from the water. We went under the Golden Gate bridge and it was eye opening to see how big it actually is up close. We also went past Alcatraz and got some great views.

 

Aquarium of the Bay

After the boat tour we went to Aquarium of the Bay which was right next door to the boat dock. Although it is a little bit small (you can do it in about an hour) it was jam packed with fun and we ended up going through the entire Aquarium twice because we loved it so much. Our favorite part was these two long tunnels that went under different types of fish. The coolest one was the shark tank! You can see sharks up close and they are swimming all around you which the kids loved. They also had a great area where you could feed rays and our daughter got to feed one which was super cool. We would definitely go back here next time we are in San Francisco!

 

Ghirardelli
Ghirardelli Square

We made a stop in the evening at Ghirardelli for some ice cream. The kids loved it! They got to eat sugary treats and we picked up some chocolate as gifts. There were shops to explore and most importantly a fountain to jump around.

 

Exploratorium

Our last full day we had coffee with a friend, went to the Exploratorium and rode the cable car. The Exploratorium is basically a gigantic warehouse with tons of science experiments. It was a lot to take in and we let the kids wander and look at what they were interested in. There was no way we would be able to do the entire thing in one day. It seemed to be geared towards a little bit older children. Our 5yo had a great time but there was a ton of reading to do to be able to do the experiments and although our 3yo had a great time I think he would have gotten more out of it if he had been a couple years older. Our favorite part was the outside exhibits where the kids could run around. The inside was pretty crowded and echoey which my kids had a hard time with. There also wasn’t a lot of room to run around since it was packed with experiments. We would definitely go back but probably not until the kids are older. ‘

That evening we rode the cable car and it was fun but we were super tired from a long week and we ended up cutting it short and heading back to the hotel to sleep. We packed a lot into our trip and even though we took naps every day we were pretty exhausted by the end of our trip.

Golden Gate Bridge
A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the beach.

Our last day we had some time in the morning so we went to the beach and hung out for a while before driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. Our kids are early risers so we were able to get there early enough that we had the beach to ourselves.  We walked around, looked at the bridge from another angle and then drove over and looked at the city from across the bay. It was a nice way to end our trip reflecting on where we had been and what we had seen.

Hanging out on the beach.

 

We had a great time in San Francisco and I am really glad we decided to rip the bandaid of air travel off with our kids. We are excited for more plane rides in the future and we are already talking about going back to San Francisco possibly next year. It is definitely one of our favorite places to go!

 

I don’t have any affiliations with the places listed below but here are links if you are curious:

 

San Francisco Citi-Pass

California Academy of Science

Aquarium of the Bay

Exploratorium

 

A not so Brief Hiatus…Part 2

A not so Brief Hiatus…Part 2

A few months back I wrote my first post after going back to work (A not so Brief Hiatus) about the gap in blogging while I went back to work. I didn’t blog for eight months last time which was almost the entire length of […]

The Importance of Walking in the Wood With Kids

The Importance of Walking in the Wood With Kids

Since being laid off I have been trying to spend time with family and friends. My Dad is nearing retirement and has some free time as well so I have been trying to get the kids out to see him on the family property out […]

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Fun Times with Mr. Oscoey

Mr. Oscoey and I took some time a little bit ago to spend some time together since I have so much more free time now that I have been laid off. We had a great time exploring the Amazon Spheres, Pike Place Market and just wandering about in downtown Seattle. Mr. Oscoey was able to obtain passes to the Spheres through his work so we only spent money on lunch and on some gluten-free muffins I couldn’t resist from Pike Place Market. Spending time alone with your spouse even if you have been together a long time is very important. It is something we have been working on lately and I must say it is nice to spend time with Mr. Oscoey without the constant needs of our children being priority. Our kids love to talk and we take great delight in what they have to say but it does not leave any room for more meaningful grownup conversations!

 

Amazon Spheres
The gigantic center piece tree.

I am a huge lover of plants and since I had not seen the Amazon Spheres yet we decided to go down for the day to check them out.

 

Waterfall
Waterfall with a stream.

We saw so many beautiful plants and it was nice to spend some time in a warm tropical environment on a cold day.

 

Corpse flower.

Although we missed the gigantic corpse flower in full bloom it was definitely really cool to see. I had no idea it would be so tall!

 

One of the many smaller plants I was fascinated with.

 

I love these ones because I think they are the same ones that are frog homes in the rainforest which is super cool!

 

I loved these beautiful flower bouquets featuring cabbage plants at Pike Place Market. We did not buy any but they were stunning!

 

A look at the downtown Seattle waterfront.

We had an awesome time and I am really glad we got to hang out together! We are trying to make these adults only excursions happen more often but I am struggling to find things for us to do that are frugal and won’t make us feel guilty about not bringing the kids along. I have been having trouble with my knee so hiking is out (doctor’s orders boo!) but I am sure there are tons of free events coming up for the holidays and we can find something.

 

It is really important for couples with kids to find time to “date” each other, even if that date is only going to the grocery store by yourselves for an hour. Too many people let life and kids get in the way and one day you wake up 5, 10, or even 20 years later and you and your spouse don’t know each other any more. I have seen it happen to so many of our friends and we are determined not to let it happen to us. So my advice for the day will be to spend time with your spouse (and not just watching tv) and have a real uninterrupted conversation with them at least once a week!

 

What kinds of frugal activities do you do with your significant other? (Without the kids if you have any!)

 

 

The Dreaded Lay-off…

The Dreaded Lay-off…

A little bit ago I was laid off from the job I started last spring. It was very sudden and shocking to me but the job was not going that great and if I had not had the most dreadfully awful week I probably would […]