This is an original CHICAGOMOMSBLOG post from February 2010. I’m re-posting today in honor of all of my friends heading to #Disneysmmoms this week; It will be magical, I know it! And to all of my friends who aren’t going to Disney; there’s always next year!
Ever since my daughter’s illness last year my family’s financial situation has been on life support. Paycheck to paycheck, there simply isn’t enough for living. We are scraping all sides of the barrel and underneath. (Not unlike a lot of families out there.) Trying to maintain some sense of normalcy for your kids in the midst of a financial nightmare is no small task. My kids are aware of the reality of our lives, but they are kids, so I don’t want to rob them of all the fantastical magic of childhood. That’s why when Disney came a knockin’ I answered the door.
As a blogger and “personality” I am fortunate enough to receive a number of different opportunities to participate in special events and campaigns. I work for them, but my children often get to enjoy the spoils. (It’s been particularly helpful during this precarious economic time, when as a mother I have to say “no” 99% of the time to my kids requests.) My kids are great marketing supporters too. They take pictures, make videos and occasionally write blog posts themselves. So they earn their keep. That’s why when I received an invitation last month to participate in the Disney Social Media Moms Conference I really couldn’t say, “No.” The question was, would I have to anyway?
You see, this was not a free gift. I would have to pay $350 for conference attendance for the four of us. A mere pittance for what we would be getting, but a mountain of dough in relation to my current revenue stream. I hemmed and hawed, but ultimately figured out a credit card that I could add this to. (Yes Suze Orman, I do know how wrong that is,)
Then there was the question of how we would get there, because that wasn’t included either. Well, luckily I still had over a 127,000 frequent flyer miles on United from flying, (and connecting my Chase business check card and my Dominick’s Fresh card to my United account). I found 4 saver award seats, but I would have to leave earlier than the official conference start. Where would we stay?
In steps my mother. There was no way her Grandbabies were going to see Disney World for the first time without her. She decide to bring my 16 year old niece and join us. Since they would need a place to stay for the week, I used my timeshare points to rent a week at the last open RCI resort in Orlando that week, Celebrity. (A tough call since they had a very low rating and only a studio space available. But beggars can’t be choosers.) My Mom covered the timeshare exchange fee and her own tickets to the conference.
We were set., at least with the foundation. but it takes money to travel. Especially with kids. They have to eat for goodness sake. So, when I packed us up I made sure that our clothes and necessities all fit into carry on bags, and then I packed one checked suitcase with food. Oh yes, I did. Healthy Choice mixers, Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice, apples, sweet potatoes, Turkey Jerkey, Easy Mac, bagels, carrots, raisins, Jello, Quaker oatmeal, Craisins, Sunland peanut butter, Propel and Gatorade mix, K-bars, Snyder’s pretzel sandwiches, and Cheez-its, I even put frozen cream cheese, Morning Star veggie bacon, Jimmy Dean turkey breakfast sausage, Healthy One’s turkey lunch meat and Uncrustables in cooler bags, since we were on a direct flight. I’m not too proud. It had to be done if this trip was really going to happen.
The scariest part of leaving wasn’t the torrential snowstorm that was canceling flights across the East Coast, but the impeding bills that are to come due during my absence. True they would come due no matter what state I was in, but guilt and anxiety is not a good traveling accessory. I did my level best to put things in order. That was all I could do. That’s all I can ever do these days.
When we got to town we encountered another speed bump. Since our flight had to be changed we were now arriving several hours earlier than my Mom. Which would mean that we would have to pay for transportation to the resort, twice. That’s about $65 per ride. To me it was going to be cheaper to rent a car for the week than pay for all of those taxis. Technically I was right, but this meant that I would have to exhaust all of the reserves I had for eating and non-essentials on the trip. My stomach was in knots, but I approved the Alamo transaction for the Toyota Highlander, because it had to be done.
When my mother arrived she took hold of finances and bought additional food at Walmart, So we are stocked. As far as I am concerned that’s all we can do. We have the ingredients to make all of our meals, including lunches to take with us to the parks. It’s going to be hard on the kids, since shopping seems to be a National pass-time here in Orlando. I’m going to have to keep saying “no,” (like I already did to a trip to Sea World, which would have cost us approximately $75 a person at the gate!) But I keep telling myself that there is still so much that they will be able to enjoy. Once the conference starts we’ll have park hopper passes to take advantage of, and evening parties to enjoy. There will be countless memories that won’t need to be purchased. And that’s why we are here with only pennies in our pockets and our backpacks full of food.
There’s an age old question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, the question here is, “If a vacation happens and you don’t buy any souvenirs does it make a memory?” The answer to both is a resounding. “YES!” At least I hope so.
*Level 13 The product or service mentioned was bought and paid for with Miss Lori’s own hard earned money that she doesn’t have a lot of, and thus doesn’t like to part with, so it must have been important.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com , YoungChicagonista , ChicagoMomsBlog , and ChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.