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Posted on Feb 14, 2014 | 0 comments

The Most Magical Place on Earth

In the midst of all of our recent planning and prepping, Dan, Carter and I had the opportunity to go to Disney World with my parents for 4 days in January. Even though we are generally not “big crowd” kind of people, we all had a ton of fun at Disney, especially the little guy. Between 3 straight days of meeting Mickey Mouse, going on safaris, roller coasters, and Carter’s excursion as a member of the Pirates’ League we got the full Disney experience!

Carter looking out of the bus window

He can’t wait to get to the park!

The first night we were in Orlando, we visited Downtown Disney just a short ferry ride from our hotel at the Old Key West Resort.

Downtown Disney at night

Carter and Michele with Lego Woody and Buzz Lightyear

Day 1: Epcot. Still the least fun for little kids, regardless of Disney marketing promising otherwise. The wildlife was certainly friendly enough though!

Epcot golf ball over the lake

Female Mallard Stare Down Very Close

This duck followed us around for a while looking for food. No fear here!

Dan and Carter in a Great White Shark

The Living Seas area was definitely the best part of the park for kids.

Day 2: Animal Kingdom. We hadn’t been to this park before, but this was the favorite day for Dan and I. Probably because of the more “natural” feel of everything.

The family in front of the Lion King Tree of Life

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Day 3: The Magic Kingdom. You can’t quite beat it for sheer magic factor.

The whole family with Mickey Mouse

We visited Mickey all three days at Disney, but the one at the Magic Kingdom was the best. He really talked and his mouth even moved naturally! Carter was literally freaked out and had to have Dan for backup before he would talk back. You can see he is still giving Mickey the eye: I’m watching you, mouse.

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We took Carter to a special experience called The Pirates League. Above is him pre-pirate, and below you see him as Roger Bloodshot the Fierce.

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Carter in face paint pretending to sleep.

That is one happy pirate.

*Don’t forget to check out our flickr page to see the rest of our Disney pictures.

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Posted on Jan 8, 2014 | 0 comments

To All a Good Night

Christmas isn’t about the gifts, it’s about the people giving them. Knowing that this holiday season could be the last we spend at home with family for a while, we made a particularly strong effort this year to try to get to as many events as we could. Although we weren’t able to get everywhere, we did have a great Christmas with both sides of our family.

This is the first year Carter has had a full understanding of Christmas and man was it fun!

Opening the First Present

Excited Carter

I think he likes it!

Little Snorkel Boy

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Snorkeler at our house, Train Conductor at Grandma’s: major score with the little boy!

Cookie Decorating

 

Christmas cookies

 

This year we also had the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s with some new friends of ours, Daler and Marta. They moved to the US only a few years ago from Tajikistan, but they feel like family after only knowing them for a few months. They were able to join us for Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Penning house and then put on a fabulous party for New Year’s in Tajik style!

Dinner at Daler and Marta\'s

These were just the appetizers!

Party getting started

 

Stephanie at the table

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Marta

 

We hope you had a great holiday with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Posted on Nov 27, 2013 | 0 comments

When Did That Happen?

Carter and his number 3 candle

He was definitely more concerned with the cupcake than the candle!

Something about time changes when you have a child. As soon as we started telling people that I was pregnant, other parents began the warnings: “Watch out, he’ll be graduating high school before you know it” and “My baby just had a baby” and “Don’t blink, you might miss it.” While we did believe those people and tried to take their advice to heart, I don’t think that anyone can truly appreciate the speed at which a child changes until you have experienced it for yourself.

Carter turned three years old today and it has taken me somewhat by surprise. Suddenly, I don’t have a baby any more but a little boy with an active imagination, active feet, and a very active opinion. I truly don’t miss the “baby stage” (especially the diapers, yay for potty training!) but I have a much greater appreciation for what a precious commodity his childhood truly is for us. It also gives me a stronger sense of urgency to get out of the daily grind so Dan and I can fully experience this time with Carter. Not many families will have the opportunity to have both parents home full time with their child and it is a privilege we are working very hard toward.

In the next few months we are planning to wrap up our loose ends at home and start the very serious business of finding a boat for our adventure. We are hoping to be ready for full time cruising by the end of next year’s hurricane season and while 11-12 months sounds like a long time to some, we know better. We have a relatively short time to get a lot done, but we are so ready for the challenge. The wait is finally nearing an end and for that we are truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and a Happy Birthday to our little boy!

 

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Posted on Aug 22, 2013 | 0 comments

Please Hold

A lot can change in a year.

A lot can change in a year.

We are stuck in a moment of anticipation. Wound tight like a spring preparing to release and just waiting for the trigger to be pulled. The jetliner full of people sitting on the tarmac while someone changes out the light bulb. The senior class two weeks before graduation. We are so ready to start our new life that we ache with the tension of waiting. And yet here we sit in our holding pattern, day after day after day wondering what are we still doing here?

At our current rate of savings, Dan and I will be preparing to quit our jobs in just about one year from now. One more year of rolling out of bed every morning knowing that this is not where we want to be. One more year of watching Carter change from a toddler into a little boy. While logically we know that one year will move so quickly that we will feel rushed and surprised when it finally comes time to take the plunge, right now every day is an internal struggle between “we have a great plan” and “just do it, we’ll survive”.

In the meantime, we’re trying to keep busy and check items off of our to-do lists. Home repairs, SCUBA certifications, and potty training are all on the docket for the next few months. We’re doing our best to savor the things that we won’t have when we leave, while also slowly untying the lines that hold us here. Each day that passes brings us ever closer to our dream and we want to be ready when the time comes. That being said, if anyone out there has a fully stocked cruising boat for 3 that you’d like to get rid of for $10,000 or less just let us know, I’m sure we could find someone to take it off of your hands.

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Posted on Jun 12, 2013 | 0 comments

The Most Beautiful Beaches

Tom and Laura were the best hosts ever!

Tom and Laura were the best hosts ever!

For the week before Memorial Day this year, Dan, Carter and I went on a family vacation to Panama City Beach (“Home of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”) with Dan’s whole immediate family. Starting out at a bleary 2:00AM we had a 14 hour drive with a 2 year old ahead and wanted to maximize our “sleeping baby time”. Luckily, we made the drive with no problems, baby or car related, but we did eat dinner at an interesting little BBQ place in Montgomery, Alabama. Considering the looks we got when we pulled in and the handwritten sign on the door reading “No Masks, No Hoods, No Weapons”, we may have been the first white customers to come in quite some time. That was okay with us though because man they had some good barbecue.

Our evil plan seemed to work

Our evil plan seemed to work on the ride down to PCB

Don't judge a book by its cover...or a restaurant by the sign out front!

Don’t judge a book by its cover…or a restaurant by the sign out front!

When we got to PCB, we were immediately amazed at how beautiful the house and community was that our hosts, Dan’s second cousin Tom (or is it first cousin once removed?) and his wife Laura, lived in. They had renovated a burned out shell of a house that they nursed back to health in spectacular fashion and lovingly renamed “Creme Brule”. It was definitely nicer than any hotel we’ve ever stayed at, with much better company! Tom and Laura wasted no time in getting us down to the beautiful beach only a few blocks from the house and taking us on a tour of some of the famous 30A beach communities nearby. The most famous of which, Seaside, is where the Jim Carey movie The Truman Show was filmed.

Our introduction that first night was a preview of what most of our vacation would be, time on the beach followed by some fun sight seeing. In addition, we were able to do diving twice while we were there and had a great time! Dan and Kyle brought along their new pole-spears for the trip as spear fishing is fairly popular in the PCB community and we were not disappointed with their great catch that we brought home. (Anyone have a good recipe for grouper?)

It’s amazing what one week on the beach has done to our perspective. Thanks to our gracious hosts we had an amazing time in (and on!) Panama City Beach. We got a serious taste of what early retirement could look like outside of and in conjunction with our cruising plans and let me tell you, it tasted pretty darn delicious. We certainly were sad to leave and had some major cognitive dissonance going on as we drove north away from the warm weather and beautiful ocean.

On the Beach Black silhouettes

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