Travel: Does Disney Penalize Large Families?

Does Disney Penalize

I was recently doing some travel research on hotels at Disney World and I noticed something. Almost all the reasonable priced Disney properties only accommodated 4 people.

To be more specific, I was searching for a family of 4 and seeing what the top hotels were in the area and what the prices were. I was excited to see that the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a low as $203 per night. Wow. This is one place I would want to stay if I ever get to go with my family (maybe in a few years). But then I saw that, even though rooms had two queen beds, it only accommodated 4 people. If I want to accommodate 6 people, I have to spend $400 per night.

Yet, if I stay at a property outside Disney (like Hampton Suites, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, etc…), I can get a room with two queen beds that will allow us to put 6 in the room – not that we would want to unless they had a roll-away bed or a pull out sofa bed (which some do), but still, they allow me to accommodate my whole family, in one room, for around $100 per night.

Then I discovered something really startling – When I changed my search from a family of 4 (what I was doing the research for) to my family of 6 (soon), the prices of most of the Disney Properties went up. Before, I was seeing prices around $300 to $500 per night, now they were $500 to $700 per night. Wow! $200 – $300 per night increase, just because I have two more children. And there are NO discounts that I am aware of on tickets, food, etc… if you have lots of children.

If I go to do some local activities, I see people giving large families a break. Our local water park, Roaring Springs, offers an annual family pass and it is a flat rate for up to a certain amount of people in the family. Our local YMCA and Rec Center have the same thing, family passes that do not matter if there is 4, 6 or 8 in the family. I have seen places that are kind enough to discount 10% or 20% off of activities / attractions after paying full price for the first couple of children.

It seems most business have found ways to be affordable to large families and still make a profit. So, why doesn’t Disney embrace this concept? Leave me you thoughts!

Homeschool Review: Animal Lapbook Studies From Classic Homeschool

Homeschool Review Wolves Lapbook

Recently, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Jen Elgin of Classic Homeschool and getting an opportunity to review a couple of her Homeschool Lapbook Unit Studies. In the case of this review, we selected one of the animal studies: Wolves.

Overview Of The Wolves Lapbook / Unit Study

The Wolves Lapbook is available for purchase through Jen’s Etsy Shop, Created4Fun, as a digital download. After receiving the download in PDF format, we opened the document and scanned through it. The study includes:

  • Intro / cover
  • A sample photo of what the finished lapbook could look like
  • What subjects will be covered (i.e. Biology / Zoology, language arts, art, etc…)
  • A book list (fiction and non-fiction)
  • A movie list
  • An internet resource list
  • A vocabulary list
  • A set of lapbook pieces and the corresponding actions and activities

We then printed up each of the activity pages, picked up books from the library, then scanned through the books to find the answers or resource for each activity. After all the activity pieces were filled out, we then cut them out and glued them into our lapbook (folder).

Feedback on the Lapbook

My children were very happy to take a few days off from our regular workbook studies to do a unit study. There is something about this format that generates real interest in the subject at hand. The girls spent a few hours going through the books to find out where wolves lived, what they liked to eat, what their lifecycle was, and much more. They have also spent a few hours during the week reading some of the fiction books (“Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”) and watching a couple of videos involving wolves.

My only criticism for the study is I would have liked a little more… maybe a few more cutouts and activities or even some non-lapbook specific activity suggestions would have made the study fuller and made me feel like I was getting a complete value out of the study.

How You Can Engage Classic Homeschool

If you would like to see what other studies are available from Classic Homeschool, visit their Created4Fun Etsy Shop. They have American Girls studies (which we are reviewing one of next), lots of animals, Magic Tree House book studies, and more.

Their blog, Classic Homeschool, has more about their lapbooks and unit studies, homeschool information, and homeschool freebies.

Using Your Homeschool Budget Wisely + A Special Offer and Giveaway Link

Classes By Beth Homeschool BudgetAs many homeschool families survive on a single income, it’s vital to make the most of your homeschool budget. Yet, the old adage “You get what you pay for” also applies in most cases. Where does a mom draw the line between the two? Having homeschooled through high school and most often on a very limited budget, I’ve learned a few lessons about stretching those homeschool dollars.

  • Use literature-based curriculum for teaching literature and history. I even used whole books to teach science through middle school. I also used literature and other whole books to teach my children about writing and spelling skills. By using literature and whole books, you can utilize your library which means your core books are free!  Train Up a Child Publishing has well developed, reasonably priced literature based units and lesson plans. Full Disclosure: Beth is one of the authors of some of the TUACP materials, but I don’t receive any sort of compensation for curriculum sales.
  • Check out interlibrary loan. The reference department of your library can provide the details. Did you know you can often get textbooks from libraries all over the country? It takes a bit of planning ahead (some interlibrary loans take several weeks), but you can often extend your borrowing time by telling them you’re an educator.
  • If you know you or your child have a weak area, prioritize your budget to cover that weakness. This is most important in high school, where your child will receive credit, to make sure you have someone covering bases that you can’t. Many parents are finding that “free” high school classes offered by colleges and other organizations don’t actually teach their high school children, but just offer instructional information. Having a real teacher is essential in those tough areas. Accountability definitely matters when you share the responsibility of educating your children with another organization or teacher.
  • Use your gifts to barter with other educators. At Classes by Beth, we currently have one of our teachers and another member of our support staff who work for tuition. It’s a win-win and allows those moms to use their budget in a more creative way. It can never hurt to ask when you’re considering using a specific company’s materials or services. You may have gifts that they can’t afford to purchase.
  • Avoid impulse buying of non-essentials. I really struggled with attending homeschool conventions because I found myself wanting to buy “fun” or creative items for our schooling. Even smaller, less expensive items add up when you buy a few of them. I quickly learned to make sure I had covered all of my essentials before even considering those types of purchases. I also found that the fun items were often put aside quickly, while the essentials provided what my children truly needed.
  • Check out referral opportunities for educational companies that you utilize. For example, with Classes by Beth, we provide direct tuition credit for moms who refer their friends and those friends register for class. It’s a great way to support a company you appreciate and help your family benefit as well.
  • Share curriculum. If you have friends whose children are different ages than yours, consider purchasing curriculum together to share. This worked well for me with foreign language. When all of the children have finished using the curriculum, sell it and split the income. One suggestion: if you split the curriculum cost, the other mom will be less likely to decide to use something else later and leave you footing the bill.

A Special Offer For A Simple Life Too Readers

As a special offer for readers of this post, Classes by Beth will give any reader who registers for at least one 2015-16 CBB class 5 free Momshops (online live workshops covering a variety of topics). Readers who register for more than one class will receive all 10 of our Momshops  for free! Just use the code simplelife in the Referral box on the CBB registration form. Remember to choose courses that will take pressure off of you and allow your child to grow by being taught by an instructor passionate about teaching. That way you’re using your homeschool budget wisely!Classes By Beth WorkshopsTo participate in another free course giveaway, subscribe to the CBB blog by June 30th and you’ll be entered in our giveaway of seven different gifts, including two free classes.

Disclosure: This guest post is from Beth of Classes By Beth. Subscribe to her blog and check out her Middle and High-school Homeschool classes today!

5 Ways To Earn $500 Or More Per Month Working Part Time From Home – Part 3

Make $500 A Month Or More Working From Home - Part 3

Be encouraged, if you want to work from home, there are many, many opportunities out there. This is the 3rd post in the Ways To Make Money Working From Home series! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not yet. Also, join my FB Group – Work At Home Moms Who Want More Than Spam – to network with other women, learn about more opportunities, or share your existing business with others.




Mystery Shopping

Last year, I made a couple hundred dollars a month Mystery Shopping. I really liked it and was able to generally find Shops that I could fit into the routine with my children and our usual outings. For example, one shop was at a grocery store that I shopped at a couple of times per month. So, with a little extra work and time, I was able to get my shopping done and complete a Mystery Shop – I got paid $25.00 for it.

There is one issue with Mystery Shopping: There are a lot of scams out there! Because I have personal experience with this, I wrote a post last year to help people find legitimate Mystery Shopping work.Also, Rat Race Rebellion has a great list of Mystery Shopping companies and I personally used a couple of them.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

Travel Agent

There are actually 3 ways to make a living as a Travel Agent, however, all require some training:

  1. Become an independent agent / run your own agency from home. Of the three options, this will take the most work. You have to get training, get licensed, join an association, get software to connect to all the available reservation systems, and then promote your business.
  2. Work for a Travel Agency from home / remotely. This can be a small, local agency or a large corporation like American Express or 1-800-Cruises. Some of the large agencies list jobs on Rat Race Rebellion. You may have to get some training first to get these jobs.
  3. There is a direct sales (MLM) business that sets you up as a travel agent, provides training, provides a web site, and gives support for a small start-up fee. I know a couple of people doing this, so contact me if you are interested. However, some in the Travel business do not consider these “real” travel businesses, so do your research before getting involved.

Up-cycle and Refurbish from garage sales and thrift stores

This idea came to me recently because I have a friend doing this. They peruse Craigslist and Facebook for stuff that people are giving away or selling really cheap (usually because it has a major issue, is broken, etc….). They then they fix the item(s), clean them up, paint them, etc… and then turn around and sell them at a profit. You can do this on a small scale (i.e. household items, toys, knickknacks, clothing) or a larger scale (furniture, automobiles, appliances).

You can also pickup stuff at Thrift Stores and garage sales and try to resell through Ebay and places like My Kids Threads.

Organizing people’s stuff / home

Another idea that came in the last week was from a friend who has started a personal organizing business. She posts ads on local FB groups (buy/sell or networking) and then helps people organize their “messes.” This could include: setting up or organizing a pantry, helping someone organize their home office, taking a pile of photos and making a scrapbook, organizing an old recipe collection, setting up shelving in a spare room to organize storage, and much more. If you are super organized and love to sort, color code, alphabetize, etc.. this could be  a great PT gig for you.

Organize It Kitchen Organization

House and/or Business Cleaning Service

I know a few people who have successfully started and worked for years doing their own cleaning service. Yes, it is hard work, but most find it easier to market, get and keep clients / customers than many of the other businesses I have mentioned to date. If you keep a clean home and have some great tricks that you use to make your house sparkle, you can make good money. I have known people to make anywhere from $10 an hour doing homes to $30 an hour cleaning offices and businesses.

If you do go the route of cleaning businesses, you will need to have more equipment than cleaning households.

10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10: #4 – Public Pool and/or Lake

10 Things Summer Swim
We love to swim!


So far this summer we have: started the summer reading program, played at the park, and done some arts and crafts during a rainy day. Now comes one of the best activities of summer – swimming.

Unfortunately, swimming can add up quickly – swim suites, floaties, the cost of lessons, etc… However, if you can get some inexpensive suites (think Walmart), or reuse what you have from last year or accept hand-me-downs (some people prefer not and I do understand), and not have to have all the other stuff, you can do summer swimming on a few dollars.

We have found for myself and our 3 children, it is $7 or $8 to take them to the local, public pool. If we add dad, then we come up to the $10 threshold. If you family is bigger, then the public pool could become expensive quickly.

Which brings me to the other option – public lakes. We have a couple of lakes within a 30 minute drive and it costs either $5 or $10 for day use for one vehicle (depending on the lake). Some are even free. We made it really frugal last year by going with another family in their cargo van. They paid gas and I paid the day use fee at our favorite lake.

We also know of a family who has built a pond on their property. They allow families to book a day or half day, for free, to swim there. What a blessing!

What is your most frugal way to go swimming?

Giveaway: Win a New Microsoft – Surface 3 Worth $499.99 !

Bing Surface Giveaway
Enter the giveaway to win a free Surface 3!

Could you use a new computer?

Well, Bing Rewards has offered A Simple Life Too and some other blogs the opportunity to host a giveaway of a Surface 3 Computer!

Have you seen the commercials for the Surface? Although I could contend that I am not stirred very often by media, I have been wanting a Surface since they came out! It is a very lightweight laptop and a tablet. It can run productivity apps and media. And, it is small and light, so very easy to transport.

Technical Details of the Surface:

10.8″ ClearType Full HD Plus Display – Makes navigation simple and presents media in rich detail.
Windows 8.1 – Allows you to stay connected and productive.
64GB storage capacity – Offers room for pictures, videos, music and more.
Quad-core processor – Intel® Atom™ processor with 1.6GHz processor speed, up to 2.4GHz Burst speed and 2GB RAM for efficient performance.
Wi-Fi – Allows you to connect to the Web while within range of an available wireless network.
Bluetooth interface – Lets you wirelessly link with compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices.
8.0MP rear-facing and 3.5MP front-facing cameras – Enable you to capture important moments to share with your loved ones.
USB 3.0 port – Makes it easy to connect peripheral devices.
Integrated kickstand – Allows you to prop up the tablet for a clear view of displayed content.
Magnesium body – Creates a lightweight, yet durable, design.

Enter The Giveaway!

Note: You do have to sign up for Bing Rewards to enter the giveaway. Bing rewards you for searching the internet and it is a free program. Here is a link to Bing Rewards if you want more info.

GUIDELINES/DISCLAIMER/RULES

“NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” 18+ US only! Contest starts 04/23/2015 and Ends 07/22/2015 11.59pm EASTERN. Entry options: Join Bing Rewards. Prize: Microsoft – Surface 3 – 10.8″ – Intel Atom – 64GB. “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.” Winners have 7 days to claim their prize. If potential Prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, at the advertisers sole discretion. All prizes will be awarded.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Bing Rewards and I am publishing it because Bing, the Surface, and the giveaway rock!

Travel: 10 Favorite Disney Travel Videos

10 Disney Travel Videos
Could you use a little Disney Travel divergence today?


I don’t know if you know what it is like to be laid up and wanting edifying things to do with your time, but I have been on partial bed rest and light activity for over 4 months now. It really is challenging to make good use of that time!

I ended up with a little divergence this week – I decided to watch some videos about travel to Disney – Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Lines, Disney’s Aulani, etc… and now I am sharing the favorite ones I found. Whether you just want a little virtual vacation or you are planning for the real thing, this should be helpful and fun. I also took the time to update my Disney Contest and Sweepstakes post.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Disney Aulani – Best Vacations TV Show – this is a complete 30 minute TV show visiting the Disney Aulani resort. I so want to go there someday!

Save big this summer on your trip to Hawaii with BookingBuddy!

Disney Cruise Line Fall 2016 Itinerary – just a quick 2 minute overview. For one cruise itinerary, lucky those who live in the NY area. They get to cruise from NY, go to Walt Disney World, then to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

Get Cheap Cruises and Compare Cruise Deals at BookingBuddy!

Tour Of Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship – Activities, Food, Accommodations, Entertainment – OK, this is technically more than one video, but it is about the same ship, so I just consider it episodes of one, longer video. There is something for everyone to enjoy on this ship and its ports, and gave me my first real look into a Disney Cruise.

Disney World Fantasy Land Overview – I actually tried to find longer videos to see more of the attractions, but it seemed like they just covered the same things, so this ended up being the best.

Save BIG on Walt Disney World Tickets!

Disney World – New Be Our Guest Restaurant in Fantasy Land – I really felt like I was getting to experience the restaurant during the video and it is a must visit when we go there in a few years.

Disney World Base Ticket: Buy 4 Days & get 5th Day Free!

Disney World Dining Plans – A fun overview of the 3 main dining plans for those staying at Walt Disney World resorts and what they do and don’t include.

Walt Disney World (plus Islands of Adventure) in 25 minutes – Well done amateur video covering some of the major attractions in each park.

Cheap Orlando Vacations with BookingBuddy.

Disneyland Overview – A fun overview from a non-Disney production.

Disney California Adventure Overview – A quick, but inviting overview of California Adventure (a little old, not updated with the new Cars attraction).

Shop for the Best Prices on Vacation Packages at BookingBuddy!

25 Disney Park Secrets Every Fan Should Know – Did you know Epcot was originally designed to be a model society with 20,000 people living in it? and 24 other interesting facts.


Super Simple Homeschooling: 5 Books To Help You With Your Homeschool Vision and Planning

Top 5 Homeschool Books

I don’t know about you, but when I first started thinking about homeschooling my children, I went on the hunt for as much information about homeschooling as I could get. I mostly found myself being given books by friends, checking a few out from the library, and purchasing a couple. I also started to look over homeschool magazines, catalogs, and websites.

The following list is my top 5 books that helped me get started homeschooling and continue to help me plan my homeschool each year.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

1 – Mary Pride’s Complete Guide To Getting Started Homeschooling – Although a little outdated, this “tome” of everything homeschooling answers all the questions of a new homeschool parent and gives lots of resources useful for annual homeschool planning. It is still on our bookshelf and I will probably keep it as long as I homeschool.

2 – The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola – After getting an overview of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling from Mary’s book (see #1), I wanted to know more and this book, The Charlotte Mason Companion gave me the deeper understanding I wanted. Although our homeschool is eclectic vs. just Charlotte Mason style, this book was still useful to give me a foundation of what a quality home education could look like.

3 – Cathy Duffy 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum – Cathy Duffy helps you walk through a process of evaluating your family and children for vision, learning styles, etc… then helps you select curriculum based on those factors. Our family really needs to get a copy of this book for our permanent homeschool bookshelf as we re-evaluate our homeschool each year.

4 – Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach – As our family has an interest in Hebrew Roots of our faith and a desire to make our homeschool Bible-centric, a friend of ours shared this book. It is a philosophy of a Hebraic approach to homeschooling (which looks a lot like Charlotte Mason meets Unit Studies) and a how to create your own studies using the Bible and living books. Unfortunately, I am have not been in a position to create my own studies to date, so this book mostly just helped us create our homeschool philosophy. However, if you want to create your own delight directed or Biblical based unit studies, I recommend it!

5 – The Old Schoolhouse Annual Print Magazine – I understand, this is a magazine and not a book, but the fact that it only comes out once per year in print format and that it is nearly 300 pages in length, I consider it a book. A very current and useful book, full of articles to encourage and instruct, and lots of ads of new and old curriculum and other resources. We get a copy every year.

What is your favorite and/or most useful homeschool book? Or, if you are new to homeschoolig, what is one pressing question you need to have answered?

Saving 101: Saving Money On Big Ticket Items + A Bonus For Bloggers

Saving On Big Ticket ItemsI have stated before that I am not a fan or frequent user of grocery coupons. I mostly purchase base foods and find store brands a better deal (most of the time, not always) than a name brand, even with a coupon.

I Like Coupons For Big Ticket Items

However, to be very very transparent, there is a time that I do use coupons – whenever I purchase just about anything else! When we go out to dinner, the first thing I look for is a coupon for a couple of places we would like to go. Just recently, we went out to the Outback for my birthday. I manged to find a 15% off coupon for our meal!

If I need to get the oil changed, when it is time for my once per year mommy shopping spree, when we need a new item of furniture or housewares, I will be found on the internet and checking my files for coupons.

I am very happy to share a new site with you that I have discovered : AnnCoupons.com. They have a very easy to use interface. I was able to quickly find a set of Outback coupons. The one I had used earlier this month was expired, but you can also sign up to receive new coupons as they come out.

Special Deal For Bloggers

AnnCoupons.com is connected with Ann Media, a Blogger / Brand program with opportunities for: Giveaways, Sponsored Posts, Banner Rental, and Affiliate Programs. Sign up today to start getting advertiser opportunities for your blog.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post through AnnCoupons.com. I only choose to do sponsored posts from brands and companies that I do or would use.

What I Wish I Had Known When I Started Blogging And How You Can Avoid My Mistakes

Be a Better Blogger - Learn From Other's Mistakes

I am going to be blunt, I wasted two years blogging.

It wasn’t that the blogging was a waste, but how I did it, giving up and taking long breaks, and the things I was not willing to do to actually make it work and successful, that is what was a waste.

If you are starting blogging or even have been blogging for years, I want to share a few things with you that I WISH I had known a couple of years ago when I started blogging.

Disclosure: Some of these links are affiliate links. 

I Was Not Willing To Invest In Myself, I Was Not Teachable

I was convinced that I was so very smart and that I could figure out this blogging thing all on my own. I didn’t need any books, I rarely read site dedicated to teaching blogging, and I really just thought that I would do it my way and it would be great.

Well, it wasn’t great. My blog looked amateur, although there was a few good posts there was no real theme or order to my site, and I really did not know what I was trying to do with it or where I was going.

Once I was humbled and realized that I needed some help, I:

I learned a LOT in a very short time and I continue to learn now, it is part of my weekly blogging routine.

I Could Not Accept That I Would Need To Invest Some Money

I was convinced that I could build a business without investing one penny into it. Although starting a business on a shoestring or bootstrapping are good concepts, they don’t mean don’t invest a single penny. They just mean you might be able to start a business for $10 or $50 or $100 vs. $1000s.

Once I spent a few dollars on stock photos, useful books, getting my domain name and moving my blog to a host, I found my blog really started to grow and many more opportunities started to come my way.

I Wish I Had Purchased My Domain And Setup A Blog Host

I started my blog on WordPress.com because it was free. I won’t say it was a total mistake, but going back, I would have just started with a domain name and host from the beginning. The cost for a domain name can be as little as $2.00 and maybe as much as $20.00 per year. The cost for a host for a small blog is from $5.00 (which is all I am paying now) to $20 per month. A very small investment.

Most host companies will allow you to setup and purchase your domain also. I currently use A Small Orange as my host. A lot of people also use BlueHost, HostGator and GoDaddy.

I Wish I Had Learned To Use Graphics And Pinterest From The Beginning

I was so sure that I could grow my blog by sharing it with my friends on FB and they would share with all their friends and so on. Well, when crickets kept chirping when I shared on FB, I realized that there was a lot more I would need to do.

I joined some FB Groups, started participating and sharing my posts. I also finally go into Pinterest and saw the need for me to improve my graphics so that my posts would be “pinnable.” I started using a free online app called Canva to make my graphics, occasionally purchasing some quality stock photos from them. I have seen some amazing work done with Pic Monkey on other people’s blogs.


30 Days FREE $4.95 per month subscription after 30 days

I Wish I Hadn’t Spammed!

Unfortunately, when I got frustrated with my friends and family not really paying attention to my blog and not sharing much, I started spamming some blogs, groups, etc… My mindset was still focused on myself – come look at me – vs really caring about the people around me, what they needed, and if I was providing something useful for them. Changing my mindset changed how I approached promotion and I try to do it, in a real, organic way – but I probably haven’t perfected that yet.

Blogging Helps – Use Them Now!

There are so many sites, groups and resources out there to help bloggers. I wish I had taken the time to tap into these much sooner. I am still using many of them!

ProBlogger – As I mentioned about the book, the ProBlogger site is the ultimate how to blog site. 1000s of posts, lots of eBooks and courses to sign up for, a newsletter, etc… The Bloggers Guide To Online Marketing is on my wishlist!

Inspired Bloggers Network – The site includes lots of how to blogging tips and is a place to find some additional courses and the Inspired Bloggers University.

What else would you like to know about blogging? Or if you are a blogger, what mistake(s) would you be willing to share so others can learn?

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