Before we left, I decided to throw some food in the crock pot. I had these raw chicken tenders in the freezer from Trader Joe's. I found a great recipe for sesame honey chicken. But decided it would be MUCH easier to just use the TJ's Island Soyaki. So, two ingredients: chicken, and TJ's sauce (which, you know, is made of a bunch of ingredients. I realize this.)
Cook on low all day. Now, with small tenders, they got overcooked. But they were tasty (bone in or dark meat or larger pieces would be better).
When we got home, late, I got out the rice cooker. But our rice cooker, and brown rice = 1.5 hours. Instead, I pulled out my trusty Pressure Cooker cookbook from Lorna Sass. I toasted up the rice, added water, salt, and voila! 45 minutes later (including heat up and cool down) rice is done. Simple steamed broccoli finished the meal. The boys were SO HUNGRY they mowed through it, including the toddler - he was mostly into the rice and broccoli, opposite of normal for my little meat lover.
The total cost for the water park was about $100 for 5 people (we took a friend). Entry into the water park was $12/person, plus $10 for parking = $70. We picked up sandwiches on the way, took bottled water and snacks - that was about $30. It's a fairly pricey day.
As far as vacation days though, it's not too bad. I used to be a lover of great vacations - Hawaii was my friend! But with kids, it's different. I read recently that mothers don't take vacations, they take trips. So true.
When it comes to vacations, I now try to substitute cheaper options. I love Hawaii - why? Pool, beach, tropics. How do I get that cheaper? Go to the beach at home, in the summer. Water park will take the place of the pool. Or perhaps take a vacation to San Diego - save yourself the $800/person airfare.