YMCA Camp Lake Wenatchee – Family Camp

Our last camping trip for 2022 was spent at YMCA Lake Wenatchee Campgrounds for the Labor Day Family Camp. We spent 3 nights and 4 days in the campground. We booked a tent site for the long weekend which cost $175. We also added an all inclusive meal, which includes 8 meals for 2 adults for $170. Kids under 5 gets free meals with paying adults and our boys, age 5 and 2 got the free meals.

Getting There

It takes just under 3 hours for us to get to the Campground. We always break our drive halfway to have lunch in a playground and let the boys get their wiggles out. This time, we spent about an hour in Osperay Park, in Sultan WA, just off highway 2. The playground seems fairly new and have a zip line. We had our packed lunch and let the kids burn off their energy before another hour on the road.

Checking In

We got to the campground fairly early. The folks were still preparing for our arrival and don’t have our names on the site yet. We met Erin, the camp director and she checked us in. She was also super nice to the boys. After checking in, one of the camp counselor lead us to our camp site. I really liked our campsite. It was huge and have a long driveway, so the kids can run around. We set up our tent on the flattest spot that we could find. Once all settled, we checked out the campgrounds. I always like to visit the nearest bathroom and was nicely surprised to see that it was spotless, has a couple of showers and have A/C on.

The campground map – tons of cabins but we chose to tent camp

First Day

We checked out the lodge, the basketball courts and the tennis court. There wasn’t any plan activities for the day and I was hoping that we could swim. Unfortunately, we can’t swim on the lake unless it is designated swim time because it requires a lifeguard. We could go and walk to the state park if we really want to. It’s a bummer because our first day was the hottest part of the day.

Dinner was served at 5 PM with an ice cream social at 7PM. It was spaghetti with a choice between red or white sauce and a garlic bread. There weren’t a lot of campers at this time yet. After dinner we spent some time in first floor of the lodge and found some toy building straws that the kids played with. We went back for the ice cream social, which wasn’t really social and then signed up for some activities for the weekend.

I woke up a few times at night because I heard some howling/barking. Thoughts came to mind and let’s just say that I wasn’t able to sleep.

Second Day

Activities in the morning included boating and archery. Boating was cancelled due to wind. It was ok since we didn’t signed up for it. MBP was signed up for archery and we spent the morning there. I also found out that I wasn’t the only one who heard howling. Apparently it was wolves. Or at least some campers thought it was wolves. AHP got bored and just want to walk back and forth on the trails.

After archery, I found a bite on my right hand that got super swollen. At lunch I started to get dizzy and I took some children’s Benadryl. After lunch, we drove to the closest emergency room in Leavenworth. At this point the swelling seems to stop. The nurse saw me in the reception and look at my hand. She told me that she had the same reaction and that it should go away in a week. I signed a note to not be treated (thank goodness) and off we went to Safeway to got a Benadryl Ointment. We also got some sneakers for the boys.

Some Archery

We went back onsite and at this point the kids made some arts and crafts and made some friends with other kids. Dinner was pizza. I was hungry since I missed lunch, so I ate a ton. Good thing is there were enough pizza for everyone.

Showing off their Sun Catchers

There was a campfire for the night (though there wasn’t any “fire” because of the burn ban). We can hear it from our tent and MBP and AHP just won’t sleep. I let MBP go in the last 10 minutes just so he can see it.

Third Day

After pancake breakfast, we went boating. I wasn’t really sure what we signed up for. I thought it was electric boat, but it was a good old fashion canoe. I didn’t seat properly and my husband ended up paddling a lot. It got windy and one of the campers boat tipped over. We heard “help” and my husband tried to paddle there as fast as he can. Good thing another camper were already there and the kids in the tipped boat were “rescued” and were in another boat. At this point, the wind really started to picked up and I was even scared that our boat might tip as well. MBP though was having a lot of fun singing row row row your boat. AHP was sitting on my lap and I tried to position him so that I can also paddle. It took a while but we finally ended back on the shore. Whew – not sure what we’re thinking there. Next time we will definitely stay close.

We had lunch of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. The kids played with their friends after lunch and then it was swim time. At swimming, AHP was just so so tired. He already missed 2 days of naps and wasn’t really sleeping well at night. He went back with my husband in the tent and finally napped! MBP and I stayed in the lake. It was rocky and I was glad that we have our crocs on. We really just played on the water since it was cold. MBP made some friend and I was very entertained watching the wind surfer. The lifeguards (Erin) told us that swim time is over. Back in the tent, AHP and my husband were napping. MBP and I took a shower and I gave him 15 minutes of iPad at the lodge. After that, he made some crafts – turtle from a paper plate. He then met his friends again who gave him ice cream. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who visited the ER. A 4 year old kid got bitten by a bee under her eyes and it got swollen. It looks bad, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. MBP didn’t really finish the ice cream. The kids went to the lodge and they all played. I was actually able to sit for a bit. AHP arrived, refreshed from his nap. The happy boy played until dinner time. For dinner they had some beef roast and mashed potatoes. They ran out of beef roast that they started bringing left over food. Yikes. The kids played after dinner and then we got ready for bed before the camp fire. The campfire was a big hit for the kids. MBP sang “Luna” while AHP sang the “chocolate” man. Before this, their friends visit our site and they were singing the song. The kids were loud and I can hear them from the bathroom.

Fourth Day

We had our usual routine to pack up before breakfast. I took care of all the sleeping pads and sleeping bags while my husband took care of the things outside and ready the car. Once things are packed up, we headed for breakfast. We had bacon and potatoes for breakfast which was a hit. After breakfast, our kids said goodbyes to their friends and we head back home.

What I like and don’t like about the camp

The campground is nice, specifically our campsite is huge. I also liked the activities. Archery, boating and the arts and crafts were hit for the kids. The camp is definitely built with kids in mind and most (if not all) families have kids. Our boys had a lot of fun making friends.

The camp can do better on meals, though. To do this, they probably need to charge more. I do feel bad because there were times that they ran out of food. I think they should charge for kids. I mean, even my 2 years old is eating just as much as me and I’m more than happy to pay. That said, if we do this again, we will definitely bring more snack or might even opt out to have our meals included and just eat in our campsite.

Overall, it was a great weekend to wrap our Summer!

Washington Kite Festival – Camping with Kids in Long Beach, WA

We visited Long Beach, WA to see the Annual Kite Festival. We didn’t have any plans in August and when I saw that the Annual Kite Festival is going to happen this year, I figure that it is a good camping trip for the family.

We stayed 3 nights at The Lamp Camp, about 4 miles from the main town. It is a private camp site and has some amenities, including an outdoor kitchen, sink, shower and a clubhouse. The trail leading to the beach is wonderful. We also spent quite a bit of time inside the clubhouse. The kids love the board games and we were able to complete a 300 puzzle pieces. The hosts were wonderful. My kid broke one of the jar inside the clubhouse. I called the host and she was there right away. I offered to pay or replace it but they refuse.

For our first day, we just stayed in the campsite and went to the beach. There were very few people at the beach and we let Leela off leash. She was very popular and made some friends. We saw a lot of birds diving for food and some dead crabs on the shore. MBP also flew a kite. It was windy and I was afraid that it will break, but it made it. When we got back, we stayed in the clubhouse while my husband grilled some brats for dinner. We then just stayed in the clubhouse and played some board games. MBP learned to play Uno.

The next day, we went to town for the actual festival. The festival has some programs for kids but it was definitely weather dependent. They gave away 200 handmade kites for the kids, but they were not able to fly it. It was so windy. The sand was getting into AHP’s eye and he doesn’t like. The kids still got kites. I asked for a direction to the kite museum and one of the guys giving away the kites suggested to walk the boardwalk all the way to the kite museum. MBP walked all the way and I only have to carry AHP on a small section of the walk.

The kite museum cost $6 per adult and $4 for kids 3 and up. It was only one level. It was ok. I mean there were good kites, but there were very few of them. The kids did well on not touching anything, or perhaps we just told them not to touch anything 1000 times. Well, we took some pictures and my husband walked back to get our car. We just went back to the campsite for lunch and had a little bit of quiet time, before dinner. My husband grilled some burgers for dinner. We went to town after and the kids played some arcades. The boys had a lot of fun. It was basically bed time once we got back to our campsite. The kids had an “easier” time sleeping.

The next day, the kids were able to fly their kites. It was actually really cool to see all different kites up in the air. There were some big ones too. We had our picnic lunch in town and got some ice cream for the kids. The ice cream was delicious and I’m a big fan. We went back to the campsite for some down time and went back to town for dinner.

It drizzled a bit at night, so we put up the rainfly for our tent. Once the kids settled in, I put all our camp chairs, shoes and everything outside inside the car so it won’t get wet.

It was wet on our last day, so we decided to pack up and have breakfast at McDonalds.

Another successful camping trip and I was glad to see the Kite Festival!

KOA Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside Camping with Kids

We spent 3 nights, camping at KOA in Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside, OR. KOA stands for Kamp of America (KOA) Campgrounds and have numerous locations in the US and Canada. This is our second year camping here. Last year we stayed at the tent site. This year, we booked a rustic “camping cabin”. The cabin has 2 bunk beds. The cabin has no kitchen and no bathroom and we brought our own linens. There’s a cute rocking chair in the porch and a table and a fire pit outside. The campsites have two camping kitchens with grills and stove available to use. It also has a full size sink so it was easy to wash the dishes.

The campsites is across Fort Stevens State Park and about 20 minute drive to Seaside, OR and a 15 minute drive to Astoria.

Of all the campsites we visited last year, this one stand out to MBP and he was excited to go back. This is definitely glamping for us, having electric and a “kitchen” available. MBP remembers the area and know the “fun zone” in general. We got there in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring the campsites. The fun zone has a mini golf, a jump pillow, basketball and volleyball courts and the lifesize chess and checker sets.

MBP’s favorite, however are the video games, which in all honesty is falling apart. Regardless, he likes playing his pac man. There were also movie nights every night and the kids even get to watch an entire movie, AHP included.

On our second day, the kids enjoyed the campgrounds until it got too hot for me. I was able to convince the kids to leave the campsite and go to the beach, at Fort Stevens. We’ve been here before. The breeze was a nice reprieve. Once we were beached out, we went back to the campsites. My husband grill some brats for dinner and we head out to watch the movie – “How to train a dragon”.

This year, we also drove a bit south to visit Seaside. It has a great small beach town vibe. We spent some time in the arcade, and had lunch at Mo’s. We hang out at the beach a bit, but it was so windy. We went ahead and walk around the town. The kids rode the carousel and had ice cream before we head back to the campsites. AHP was tired and slept on the ride back. For dinner, we ordered Pizza from Fultano’s and they delivered. Yes, we are definitely glamping. We had dinner inside the game room since it was drizzling outside. After dinner, the kids tried to watch Jumanji. AHP wasn’t able to seat still so we left and just hanged out in the fun zone.

Overall, it was a good trip. The kids definitely enjoyed the amenities. I prefer camping that has more nature activities like hiking or swimming. It is something that we could have done as well, but it’s hard to convince the kids to leave the campsite.

Kalaloch at Olympic National Park Camping with Kids

We spent 2 nights camping at Kalaloch Campground at Olympic National Park. I’ve read and watch great things about the Olympic National Park but I haven’t made a visit. When I found a campground opening for 2 days at recreation.gov, I snag it.

The campground is 3 hours from us. We took a short lunch break in Montesano by the playground and let the kids and dog run around before getting back in the car. We stayed at campsite A16, overlooking the ocean. The campsite is small and barely fit our 6 person Core Block Out Tent, but the view is pretty amazing. We made sure to put the rainfly on the tent since we know that it will rain through out the day.

Ocean Front View

After setting up the tent, we walked towards the ocean. It was very sandy. The Kalaloch tree of life is within a short walk. It was interesting to see all the roots hanging between the rocks, but the kids were not that impressed. We went back to our campsite when we felt the drizzle coming in. We are hoping to be able to have dinner before it pour down.

Sandy Beach
Kalaloch Tree of Life

We had the same dinner of red pasta with bread. This time we made sure that we have marshmallows, chocolate and crackers for our “s’mores”. MBP asked for it from our last camping trip in Deception Pass. AHP just ate chocolates. We then “hike” around the campsite, and play by the amphitheater.

It started raining, so we just hang out inside the tent and play MBP’s story time chess, until we start our bed time routine. MBP slept well, but AHP still struggled. This time he didn’t want his sleeping bag. It was actually easier since I just put it on top of him instead of zipping him up. It rained through the night. When it stopped raining, I opened the tent door window for a bit, to get more insulation inside.

The next morning, we had cereal for breakfast, as requested by MBP, and then we headed back to the beach. We then head back to the campsite for lunch which was mac and cheese. The boys and I walk around the campsites until lunch was ready.

The trail from the beach

After lunch we drove 1.5 hour to Hoh Rainforest. The park was busy even during the weekday. We missed the Ranger led walk, but we ended up hiking 3/4 of a mile on the Hall of Mosses. It was awesome. MBP did it all by himself and AHP goes back and forth from walking to his carrier. We were lucky because it only drizzle during the hike, but pour down rain on the end of our hike.

Little hikers. MBP walked the entire 3/4 of a mile

The boys napped on our drive back to the campsite. I can tell that they were exhausted from the hike. It was cloudy the rest of the day so we were able to hang around the campgrounds. The kids love playing in the amphitheater until we start our bed time routine.

The next morning, we packed up and was able to get out by 9:30AM.

Overall, it was a good trip. It could be better if it didn’t rain on us, but it was our first time camping in the rain and we survived. I would say, if we ever go back, I would stay longer. There’s just so much to see. I would have love to see the Ruby beach (which was close), do more hikes and go to the hot springs.

Maybe next year?

Deception Pass State Park Camping with Kids

We spent 3 days camping at Deception Pass State Park to start the summer of 2022. This camping trip was booked 9 months ahead because camp sites tend to fill out. The campsite cost us $32/night + $8 of reservation fee, which totals to $72. My parents and my sisters were supposed to come, but my parents got COVID. So it was my husband and I and our 5 and 2.5 boys along with our corgi.

We totally lucked out of the weather while camping. We arrived on Sunday around 2PM. We booked two side by side campsites, but since my parents and my sisters can’t come, we have the entire campsites ourselves. Mr. MMD and I set up tent and the kids “helped”. They took turns staking down the tents. Our sites are very close to the bathroom and water, which I definitely appreciate.

Tent set up

We spent the rest of the afternoon at Cranberry Lake. Deception Pass State Park is a huge state park, with about 4 main campsites. We chose the one closest to Cranberry Lake since the lake gets warm enough to swim in.

Busy Sunday at Cranberry Lake

We head back to the campsite to prepare dinner. Mr. MMD prepared our meal ahead of time at home. This way, he just need to heat up our food and we only need to bring one pot. We had pasta with red sauce and mushroom. The kids surprisingly ate more, especially MBP. We tried to keep the bed time routine the same, but AHP and MBP still didn’t sleep until 9PM. AHP had a difficult first night since he also missed his nap. Surprisingly, he was his normal self in the morning. Once the kids were in bed, I did some camping chore and cleaned up the dishes. I also went to the West Beach and captured the gorgeous sunset.

Capturing the sunset at West Beach

We explored the North Beach the next day, and found the Amphitheater, which was overlooking North beach and has a view of the bridge. It was a great sight. The boys and Leela, our furbaby, spent the morning in the tides, throwing rocks. We saw a washed up crab as well. MBP tried to throw the bigger rocks. I stacked some rocks, which the boys dubbed as stone man.

North Beach

After lunch, we spent the afternoon cooling off by the lake. It wasn’t as crowded as the Sunday crowd. By this time, I can tell that AHP is tired and yawning a lot. He pushed through though. We left to attend the first ranger program and learned about elephant seals. It was actually pretty interesting. The boys made some elephant seals craft after the presentation. The boys had a lot of fun.

I took the boys for a quick shower while my husband prepared dinner. It was beef stew that was prepared at home and was frozen. We put it in the cooler frozen, just in time to thaw for the next day dinner. It taste just as good. The boys were eating more than normal, which was great but we definitely to need to pack more food next time. We had some down time inside the tent after dinner while my husband showered. MBP was busy looking through his junior ranger activity book and AHP just roll around inside the tent from one sleeping pad to the next. We attended another junior ranger program / activity craft. The kids made a Vulture Turkey followed by a ranger talk. AHP won’t seat through it, but MBP was into it. He was raising his hand, asking some questions. I learned something new, like the length of their wings spanned 6ft. So they are long around 12 ft in total. But what’s really interesting is that they are scavengers. They feed through dead animals. They don’t get infected by rabies or any diseases from the dead animals.

The Amphitheater, overlooking North Beach

It was basically bed time when we got back. We tried to put the kids a little early but they still didn’t sleep until 9. The good news – they both slept through the night. It was a little cold though and my husband and I were both worried that the kids were cold. MBP was good at sleeping inside his sleeping bag but AHP was not. We have to reposition him to make sure he was inside. I was also worried that their sleeping mat wasn’t insulated from the ground. It didn’t seem to affect them though and was still upbeat the next day.

For our final day, I put 4 sleeping pads and 4 sleeping bags back to its sacks, while my husband prepared breakfast. The boys were “helping” me on the chore. I find it is easier to pack up and keep the kids contain inside the tent while packing up everything inside the tent. We had breakfast and gave MBP some screen time so we can pack up. Thankfully, 2 adults, 2 kids and one corgi fits and we got out at 10:30 right before the 11AM check out.

We definitely enjoyed our stay here. It’s a great mix of water activities, like swimming in the lake and playing with the tide pools. It was also the kids first ranger program and they definitely enjoyed it. We’ll plan to go back next year and perhaps mix in a little hike.

Everything We Spent In 2021

We finally reviewed our annual spending for our second year of retirement. In total, we spent $52,061.21. This is 23% more than our spending in 2020, up from $39,955.36. The increase was primary driven by our health insurance. We sold our rental condo in 2020 and we paid the full amount of health insurance through marketplace.

We started to seriously consider early retirement back in 2018. We thought about it, shortly after MBP was born in 2017. In early 2018, we assessed our assets and current spending. My husband came up with a monthly spending budget of $4,618 or $55,416 annualized. We never reviewed our spending on this initial budget once we retired in 2019, but successfully spent below that in the last two years.

So where did our money went?

Food – $10.189.79

I wasn’t surprised that this was our biggest expense. The biggest chunk of this spending were for groceries. We followed a plant based diet, for majority of our meals and we think that there can be some room to decrease it. We will not limit ourselves, but will be more cognizant of the prices.

We also ate out this year or ordered a to go meal. We can easily spend $100+ on one restaurant meal for a family of 4. So this was probably acceptable. I do want to limit our fast food visit. It’s just not healthy. Alcohols and bars, were just alcohol from groceries that I categorized separately, similar with junk food. And I apparently went to Starbucks last year.

Groceries 8,528.07
Restaurants 993.70
Fast Food 428.27
Alcohol & Bars 121.92
Junk Food 101.40
Coffee Shops 16.43
Total 10,189.79

Housing – $10,133.08

We do not have a mortgage, but housing is still expensive. We spent over $6k on property taxes last year and I expect this to go up once the county completed there assessment. We’ve been thinking about moving somewhere closer to MBP’s school to an area that do not have an HOA, but the housing market is so nuts! The house prices there are comparable to where we live so we’re not necessarily saving. We’ll see if we can do it this year.

We also added a new mattress and a new to us couch for the kids playroom. We hired someone to clean our roof and gutters, our home insurance went up and we bought some things from Home Depot or Lowes that were accounted as Home Improvement.

Property Tax 6,244.80
Furnishings 1,183.57
HOA Dues 876.00
Home Services 834.83
Home Insurance 707.22
Home Improvement 286.66

Kids – $5,297.31

In theory this could be lower because we included our 529 Plan contribution as an expense. We are adding this contribution because we are hoping that there will be no significant increases in our spending 12-13 years from now (or at least nothing more than the adjusted inflation) Both kids have their own plan and we only contribute $200 each account. This should be $4800/year going forward since we just automated AHP’s contribution.

I’m also expecting an increase in preschool tuition next year. AHP will start his toddler class in our Coop and MBP will go to a different preschool in preparation to kindergarten. MBP’s tuition will more than double for the year because he will no longer be in a coop.

The rest were small items that may or may not be needed. We just didn’t pay enough attention to this. But hey, maybe next year, we will no longer Baby Supplies, because those were all disposable diapers that the boys still uses at night. One can dream, right?

529 College Fund 3,200.76
Preschool Tuition 1,228.04
Kids Activities371.68
Baby Supplies158.25
Kids Gadgets 149.43
preschool expenses 57.07
Entertainment 55.88
Toys 14.30
Total 5,297.31

Health and Fitness – $5,905.89

Major factor of our increase spending was our Health Insurance Premium. We didn’t get a subsidy in the beginning of 2021 and then CARES act provided some subsidy. I will need to check our tax bill this year to ensure that we didn’t overpay or underpay.

We also went back to the YMCA this summer. I enrolled MBP in a swim class last summer and the cost was similar to the monthly membership at the Y at $145/month. The monthly membership is for the entire family and includes swim classes for the boys, if we actually enroll them. So far, we’re just going as a family and I go by myself at least 2x a week.

My husband and I also pay for our dental cleaning out of pocket since we opt out of insurance. The cost was $140 per visit for cleaning and exam. I went once last year and my husband went twice. I also had my eye exam and purchased an annual supply of contact lenses. I also needed new glasses since my eye prescription changed.

Gifts – $5,901.33

Similar to last year, we gifted my parents some cash for Christmas. This was the big chunk of the gifts. The rest were for my immediate family and my godkids. There were also some gifts for birthdays.

Christmas Gifts 5,404.27
Gift 497.06

Utilities – $3,914.3

This price was consistent to last year. This year, I also started paying extra to offset my electric and gas or to purchase clean energy. Puget Sound Energy has an option for their consumer to pay more to use clean energy. For a month, it was only an extra $3-6 depending on our consumption. I reviewed some comparison of our home to other energy efficient, and we were pretty efficient.

Sewer was billed at a flat rate per single family home regardless of water consumption. Our water cost was also lower in comparison to other city. Our unincorporated county gets water from Tacoma and the cost are lower than the closest city we’re at. Internet was pretty normal, although I already received a letter suggesting that rates will increase next year. I also expect some increase in garbage next year. Cell phone was super low for $246.56 annually for 2 lines. We still uses Xfinity Mobile and uses about 1GB per month. There were only 4 months that we used 2 GBs.

Electric and Gas 1,248.37
Sewer 746.67
Water 620.50
Internet 556.34
Garbage 495.86
Mobile Phone 246.56

Shopping – $3,046.8

This cost was a catch all of every item we bought. Some stuff, we itemized, like my husband’s new desk. My husband also bought a new computer monitor and I bought a 1TB hard drive for my MacBook Air. I’m hoping that my laptop last another 5 years. The rest were just stuff. I think I have one purchase at Amazon that we didn’t use, which I think was a waste.

Electronics & Software849.38
Household Supplies311.73
Nick's Desk319.66
Home Supplies52.8
Books & Supplies5
Office Supplies4.94

Transportation – $2,716.91

Unlike 2019, we ventured out in 2020 and went camping for 8 nights. We visited 5 campsites last year – 4 in WA and 1 OR. This means that we drove quite a bit during the summer. My husband also went back volunteering to teach Computer Science at our “local” high school and I swim at least twice a week. We live far from these places so we drove often. Part of the reason we were thinking of moving was to lessen our commute. If we’re successful, maybe this will decrease. If not, this cost will probably be consistent, until our area is somewhat develop — maybe in 10 years.

Our auto registration and insurance increased. Our state based this on the value of the car and apparently our Prius was valued more in 2020 than in 2019. The rest were for new tires, a violation ticket, license renewal, car wash and oil change. We also paid for parking when we were in Seattle.

Gas & Fuel 1,015.23
Auto Insurance 539.00
Auto & Transport 440.23
Service & Parts 389.70
Auto Registration 326.25
Parking 6.50
Total 2,716.91

Disney – $1,369.45

Our trip to Disney was technically this year, but I purchase majority of the expense last year, including our tickets, car service and rental gear.

Entertainment – $1,354.04

My husband plays hockey and the education was for my annual subscription of CPE education for my CPA credentials. I might be able to get some free CPE credits this year, so this should decrease or perhaps be semi-annually. I also paid to rent the new 007 film and purchased 2 months worth of Apple TV subscription to watch Ted Lasso. The only thing that was valuable to add was the Music that MBP purchased from Alexa. We’re lucky he only purchased one.

Sporting Goods81.59
Movies & DVDs21.87

Pets – $852.35

Pet supplies and the cost of the annual exam for our Corgi. She’s almost 7 and is officially an adult dog. We’re lucky there were no emergency exam needed this year.

Camping – $814.7

This year was our first year tent camping. We purchased all our equipment including tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags and cooking gear. I tried to get some of it used and I might return some of our sleeping pads purchased from Costco. We spent 6 nights at state parks and 2 nights at Kamp of America Campground in Oregon. We went to KOA during their member appreciation day and we received the 2nd night for free. The rest are some foods / groceries / games that we consumed while at the campsite.

Camping Site250.01
Camping Gear409.52
Food & Dining100.00

Vacation – $218.62

We spent one night in Great Wolf Lodge before MBP’s school started last September. This was the cost of the night stay including the arcade games.

Misc – $335.72

Some miscellaneous items like bank fee. We opened 4 new credit cards this year in preparation for our trip to Disney. Christmas cards includes the Groupon photography session and cards ordered from Canva and my annual hair cut.

Bank Fee199.25
Christmas Cards55.97
Personal Care40.00

Overall, 2021 was a great year. We enjoyed the outdoors and surprisingly enjoyed tent camping. Spending wise, we could probably be more efficient in terms of tracking our “shopping”. It’s so easy to just buy things online.

2022 started with great with our vacation. I’m already looking forward to more vacation and more things that we can do before MBP goes to kindergarten.

How was your 2021?

The Cost of a Disneyland Vacation ~ $2,000

I finally tallied our spending for Disneyland. We spent $2,011.90. This spending is for a family of four. We travelled from Seattle and spent 8 nights in Anaheim. We spent 3 days in Disneyland and 2 days in Disney California Adventure. Here are the cost breakdown:

Disney Tickets – $1,096.60

Disney have very few discounts on their tickets. A standard theme park ticket is $104 per day. It’s less the more days you purchase. Our family purchased a 5 day ticket which was about $76 per day. I purchased the ticket at Undercovertourist.com, which gave us $60 discount on our total purchase price. I opened a Chase Freedom Flex, which gave me a $200 cash back after a $500 purchase. I also paid the tickets via PayPal, which gave me 5x worth points. I paid $40 for Genie+ for 2 days to get the photo passes.

Our final night at Disney California Adventure

Restaurants – $254.07

We only had 2 seat down meals. The biggest expense was the character brunch at Storyteller Cafe, for the day that we didn’t go to the park. The second one was a dinner order for our last night at Disney California Adventure. The rest were treats, like beignets, cotton candy, churros and ice cream. If I were to do this again, I will skip the character dining all together. It was expensive and there was nothing special about the food.

Car Service – $234.25

Since we were flying from Seattle, we either needed to rent a car and haul 2 car seats (or rent a car seats) and pay for daily parking or use a car service that provides car seats. Luckily someone from our residential facebook page recommended Lansky. I was very impressed with the car service. The cars were big and clean and the drivers were on time and very was helpful. We saved money by using a car service since the cost of rental, parking at $25/per night and gas is easily more than $234.25

Souvenirs – $114.73

I’m surprised to see this low, considering that we spent 5 days in the theme parks. We let the boys have a couple of toys and I also bought a coin album for the penny press that we’ve been collecting through out the parks.

Every kids have this bubble wand

Groceries – $102.89

These were two deliveries from InstaCart. This cost was about our normal grocery spending for the week. We saved a ton in food by having breakfast and dinner in the hotel and packing our lunches and eating it in the park. We were able to have breakfast and dinner in the hotel by bringing our rice cooker. We cooked some oatmeal, pasta and rice with steam veggies in the rice cooker. For protein, we bought a couple of rotisserrie chicken, beans and lunch meats. Snacks were mostly fruits with crackers or peanut butter sandwiches. I have a bento box for kids and filled it with apples, strawberries, raisins and goldfish crackers. We prevented meltdowns by having snacks readily available in a backpack.

Stroller Rental – $85

We rented a double stroller and a bed rail. We have a double bob stroller at home that I got from our local buy nothing page. We didn’t bring it because it will not fit in our trunk along with our suitcase. Included in the rental was the bed rail so AHP can use the bottom bunk. I would definitely rent one again if we were to go back. Our stroller was waiting for us in the hotel when we checked in and we just dropped it at the same spot at check out. We used City Stroller and noticed that there were quite a few in the park with the same stroller rented from the same company. I highly recommend them if you are ever need to rent a stroller or other baby equipments.

Our stroller waiting in our hotel at check in

Air Travel – $63.60

I opened an Alaska Airline Credit Card and used 45k points to book 3 round trip tickets from Seattle to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. Santa Ana Airport is the closest airport to Anaheim and the cheapest flight from Seattle. I prefer flying to Santa Ana than Los Angeles. It is a smaller airport, which means less walking with our kids in tow. The car service rate was also cheaper from Santa Ana.

Entertainment – $20

These were for the arcade games that the boys played in Disney California Adventure. They won 2 star stuffy in exchange of $20 (yes, a rip off)

Hotel – $20

My husband opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred specifically for this trip and earned 100k sign up bonus. The points were enough to book 8 nights at Howard Johnson. The hotel is about 8 minutes from the main gate. Our room consists of a bunk bed and a queen bed. The set up worked out really well. The hotel also have a pool that we didn’t utilize, mainly because I forgot our swimwear and we also spent our days in the park or in downtown Disney. I like this hotel and I will book this again when we go back. The $20 was the tip we left for housekeeping.

Fast Food – $11.51

We had ice cream from McDonalds on our non Disney days and for some reason, our order of Churros was also classified as fast food.

Laundry – $9.25

We did our laundry twice. The hotel has a self serve laundry facility. I packed quite a bit less, knowing this.

We saved about $2,000 from travel hacking. This includes paying the flights and hotel via points. I didn’t include the cash back I received by using Chase Freedom Flex because the rewards was given via points and I haven’t cashed it.

This trip was definitely my favorite so far and I know that we will be back. It is so good to be able to travel again. In fact, I seriously considered upgrading our tickets to an annual pass and come back during spring break — well, maybe next year.

Have you been to Disneyland? What do you think is a reasonable budget for a 5 day theme park visit?

Disneyland Vacation, Day 7 – Route 66

January 11, 2022

We are back to Disneyland California Adventure Today. I was excited, but I also don’t want to pack a lot of things in the morning to cause the kids to be over tired. So we had our leisurely breakfast of oatmeal, brown sugar with raisins along with some fruits, packed our lunch (leftover pizza and ham sandwich) and headed to the park. 

We got to the security line just before the park opened and got through the main gate. MBP really wants to ride the Little Mermaid, but it was closed for refurbishment. We were lucky that it was open the last time we were here. We headed to Cars land first because I was hoping that I could convince MBP to ride the car race with me, but it was a 105 minutes wait – ridiculous, so I said no. We rode the Luigi ride with minimal wait. Afterwards, MBP wanted to ride Toy Story Mania again, so we headed towards there. On the way, we had our picture taken with the Pier in the backdrop. AHP and I went ahead in line while MBP and Dad went to the bathroom. We enjoyed the ride and I attempted to put in the 3D glasses for AHP, but I was not successful. They rode Jessie’s Carousel again and then we headed back to Hollywood. On our way, my husband spotted a Mexican restaurant in the Pacific Wharf. We are eating in the park on our last day, so we decided that we will mobile order our food for tonight. 

Once we’re back in Hollywood, we sat down on the bench close to the theatre to have snacks and lunch. We were waiting for the Jr Dance Party. Just before we finish our meal, the theatre opens. Luckily the lines were short and we were able to get in at the 11:15 party. This was really awesome. For about half an hour, the kids were dancing and there were some characters that joined in, with Mickey and Minnie being the last one. It also snowed again, and AHP, again, was worried about the snow on my head. After the dance party, we headed to the other side of the park, by Grizzly peak. We got our pictures taken with the airplane and then headed over to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. MBP was scared a bit but he managed to walk on those bridge ropes. There were some animal sculptures and he imagined it being a story. AHP enjoyed running back and forth the bridges and just running in general. We were here for a bit until nap time and we headed back.

My husband ordered our food and started laundry while I put AHP to nap. It didn’t take a while until the boys were napping. As always, MBP woke up before AHP and he had his iPad time. Once AHP wakes up, the kids watched some TV and then we headed back to the park. Our food should be ready by 5:30. It’s our first time doing a mobile order, so I’m not sure of the logistics. I opened the app once we’re at the Pacific Wharf. I got the notification a couple of minutes later that our food was ready. I’m glad that we ordered ahead because there lines were already forming. My husband picked up our order while the kids and I settled on our table. We ordered 4 different types of Tacos and a side of beans and rice. It was actually tasty. MBP ate 2 full tacos and AHP ate 1.5. As always, AHP really struggles to sit while eating. After half a taco, he just wants to run around. It’s dinner time, so there was more traffic in the dining area. I told them that they can run from one point back to our chair and that seems to work. AHP will run to that point, go back to us and take a bite and then run again. That happens until he finishes his tacos. Before we left, I mobile ordered some root beer float for a treat to be picked up around 7PM.

MBP wants to go back to Redwood Creek, but we want to do something that we can’t do at home, because we basically live in a forest and are surrounded by trails. We convinced him to watch the 3D Cinema with us. On our way, we had our pictures taken on Cars Land. MBP was so excited for the show, he even remembered how the doors would open. These are the things I just don’t pay attention to. We got in and AHP still didn’t want to put on his 3D glasses. MBP though was sooo into it. He was laughing, screaming (sometimes too loud) and very happy with the show. I had more fun watching him than the show. After the show, we went back to the Animation Studio to talk with Crush (the turtle from Finding Nemo). It was a funny bit and quite interactive. We headed back to Cars Land to get our Rootbeer float. On our way, we had our pictures taken in “Hollywood”. The kids liked the ice cream, but not the float. We then met Mater and had our pictures taken with him and also had our pictures taken on “Route 66”. My husband and MBP rode Mater again, while I changed AHP’s diaper. The lines were short and we were not able to catched them before they rode Mater. Instead, we rode Luigi again. At this point, I’m really enjoying the small crowds in the park. It’s almost closing time, and we probably have time for one more ride. MBP wants to ride Monster Inc again. This time, it was a 5 minute wait. There was absolutely no line that we roded it twice!! I’d say it’s a good wrap up of our trip to Disney.

We headed back to our hotel for one last night. After the normal night time routine, the boys went to bed. 

Total Money Spent for the day: $ 115.4

Genie+ : $20

Dinner at Cocina Cucamonga: $56.5

“Route” beer float: $12.9

Laundry: $6.00

Disneyland Vacation, Day 6 – May The Force Be With You

January 10, 2022

We are back in Disneyland. I woke up pretty excited that I didn’t even check the opening hours for Disney. On our first visit, Disney was open from 8AM – 12AM, but this time, they were only open from 9AM – 9PM. Off peak hours started. Well, we experienced our first “rope drop” since we were in the security line by 8:15 and inside the park by 8:40. Our plan was to be in Fantasyland and ride Peter Pan and get some family photos. I signed up for Genie+ once they scanned our tickets in. I just want some good family photos and we’re not good at asking folks to take one of all of us. When the park opened, there was already a line at Peter Pan. This is one of the many popular rides. We waited about 10 minutes in line. We then rode the Story Book Canal as requested by AHP. He likes to go to the Big Whale mouth which he dubbed as Baby Shark. We then rode Alice in Wonderland. We have a lot of time so we got some pictures taken at the Mad Tea Cups and rode the King Arthur Carousel again. We also had our pictures taken with the sword. MBP thought that it was a real sword and asked me to help me get it. He was putting a lot of effort. We explained to him that only Arthur can get it. We went to Bibbidi Bopp Boutique to get the boys some boutons and had our pictures taken at the castle. It was basically snack / lunch time after our photo was taken and we packed quite a bit in the morning.

Give me that sword!

I wanted to walk to all the way to Star Wars, which was probably not a good idea at the time because everyone was hungry. Anyway, we made it there and sat on a bench with some enclosure and the kids had their snacks and lunch. We stayed there for a bit and just let the kids run around. We walked around and had our pictures taken by the Millenium Falcon. It was huge! This area was also a nice open spot for the kids to run around. By the time we got there, the Millenium Falcon opened up. I convinced MBP to go with me. BAD Idea. The poor kid was so scared, I thought he will have a nightmare over it. Luckily he just brushed it off. We got out of there pretty fast and asked MBP which ride he wants to do again and he picked the Buzz Lightyear. There was a bit of  a line, but not bad. After that ride, he seems to have forgotten all about the Millenium Falcon. We went to the store so I can get some more bubble juice for the bubble wand. Turned out that the cast member just refilled it for free. MBP was happy. We tried to see if there were some arcades that the boys can play with – there were none. We watched the Lincoln show, instead. MBP is very into “The Secret Museum” these days, so he got a kicked out of the “museum” before the show. I was impressed. After this we head back for naps. 

Super Impressive!

AHP had a hard time napping today and was over tired. It took him about an hour. When the boys napped, I decided to go back to Disneyland and try some rides myself using the lightning lane that comes with the Genie+. I was able to ride the Star Wars Tours and Matterhorn. I was really impressed with the Star Wars Tours but the Matterhorn is just ehh. I’m expecting more longer drops but it’s more like short round drops. The kids were still napping when I got back and we let them rest.

Inside the Star Tours

They watched some TV while the adults prepared dinner and snacks and then we went back to Disney. The crowds were definitely a lot less. MBP requested to ride It’s a Small world again and then we rode the Mad Tea Cups, all less than a 5 minute wait. After the Tea cups there were some Light Up projections on the castle of It’s a small world. We got some good viewing sights and MBP and AHP thought of it as a concert. We went back to ride the Buzz Light Year and then just hang outside the store to eat our snack and let the kids run around until the park closed.

We got back home and did our normal night time routine. It didn’t take a while for the kids to sleep. That night, I made sure to check the time for Disneyland California Adventure. Tomorrow is our last theme park day. 

Total Money Spent for the day: $20

Genie+ : $20

Disneyland Vacation, Day 5 – Exploring Downtown Disney

January 9, 2022

This day was another non-Disney day. We were supposed to have another character dining brunch reservation for Goofy’s kitchen but I canceled it yesterday. After looking at the menu, my husband and I just didn’t think it’s worth it. We had a hard time with AHP sitting in a restaurant and it’s more of a hassle than an entertainment. Instead, we decided to go and shop for souvenirs in Downtown Disney. We packed our normal snacks and lunch and headed toward the park one more time.

Downtown Disney was actually entertaining in itself. There were a couple of fountains that the boys liked. I gave them coins to throw just for fun. At the same time, MBP enjoyed playing with his bubble wand. I have some balance on my Starbucks app from years ago and we decided to get a couple of muffins and coffee cake as a treat. Even the Starbucks here have a line! The boys were outside while I ordered. After our snacks, we went to shop for some souvenirs. The World of Disney is huge and have all the Disney items you’ll need. Max had an eye on one pet toy, but it was too big to haul in our luggage and we’re not a big fan of it. We convinced him to pick another item. He picked some magnets. I liked it because I was already looking to buy some fridge magnets. I collected fridge magnets on places I traveled, but I took it all out because the boys were slowly breaking them! We also got some postcards before heading to the cashier. While in line, MBP saw a Buzzlightyear car so we let him have it. We also picked up Woody for AHP and I got some albums for the coin press.

Bubbles and Fountain

We got out of the store and the boys were holding on to their cars. We sat on a bench close to the Star Wars store and had our picnic lunch. This time, ham sandwiches. The boys played with their cars while we were having lunch and watched the monorail pass by. It was definitely entertaining for them. We went to the Star Wars store and try to find something for my brother since he is a huge Star Wars fan. The only thing I can think of is a mug, but we already gave him a Yeti mug for Christmas so we left without getting anything.

Yay, another family pic!

 We stopped by the Lego Store and of course, MBP wants to get a lego. He will get out of a stroller and pick a box and put it under the chair. We definitely have to stop him and tell him that we need to pay for these things. We let him pick one and we got out of the store after paying.  

It was a pretty successful day and AHP was ready for his nap time. After naps, we just stayed in the hotel and prepared for the next day. This time I was excited to go back to Disneyland.

Total Money Spent for the day: $91.54

Souvenirs – 85.83

McDonalds Ice cream Sundae – $6.01