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!
I think he likes it!
Snorkeler at our house, Train Conductor at Grandma’s: major score with the little boy!
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!
These were just the appetizers!
We hope you had a great holiday with family and friends. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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!
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.
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 on the ride down to PCB
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.
As part of our new eating-at-home regimen, Dan and I decided to make a small garden in our backyard this spring to help get us some healthy, fresh food options. Last year, we attempted to solve this issue by joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group where we bought a “share” of local farmers produce crops that we could pick up once a week. As noted in our post Julia Who?, we didn’t do too well with making use of the many unknown vegetables that ended up in our kitchen so we decided to try out our green thumbs this year.
We started by picking out a spot in our backyard and tilling it with a borrowed gas-powered tiller. A few things came to our attention pretty quickly. First, the soil in our backyard is amazingly rich and black, as in potting soil black. A neighbor told us later that our house used to be the “manor” on a large apple orchard that encompassed most of the neighborhood in years gone by. Because of this, we didn’t need to add any additional garden soil to our bed but just added some tasty cow manure fertilizer. (Carter kept telling me very seriously “there’s cow poop in there, Mommy.” I think he was concerned.) The other thing we noticed was that one side of the garden is almost certainly located over an old gravel driveway which we didn’t realize until after tilling the whole area. Now we have some nice white rock mixed in with that row. Oh well, you win some you lose some I guess.
Next, we attempted to shop the local greenhouse by bike to pick up our preferred crops but unfortunately had to defect to visiting Lowe’s when we couldn’t find much more than flowers. I mean, flowers are nice and everything, but I’m more of a practical girl myself. If I’m going to be down in the dirt, I’d better be getting something delicious out of it. We returned with 3 tomato plants, 1 red bell pepper plant, 1 cucumber plant, a bunch of red and yellow onions, broccoli, arugula, and seeds to grow lettuce, spinach, and cilantro. Being the gardening noobs that we are, we weren’t quite prepared for the amount of plants that 1 little tray actually buys you. We are going to be eating a lot of broccoli and onions in the coming months, that’s for sure!
This week we had a bit of a frost scare (in May, seriously?!) but luckily didn’t lose any plants. Our seedlings are all popping up on schedule and we are looking forward to some fantastic veggies in the near future. Last night we harvested our first small batch of arugula and it was certainly worth the effort! We’ll keep you posted on whether the rest continues to produce such excellent results.