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!
Though we didn’t take this picture, we did see this meteor ourselves. It was stunning!
As a teenager I remember hearing a statement by well-meaning adults that went something like “Nothing good ever happens after 10:00 PM.” Well, no offense to those people but this last weekend was yet another example of how there are always exceptions to every rule. (I’ve never really understood why adults feel the need to impart statements that only serve to elicit eye rolls and intentional contradictions from teenagers but that’s another issue entirely.) Last Friday and Saturday night were late ones for us but very rewarding in that we were able to spend some real quality time with Dan’s brother Kyle and his wife Becca.
Partially due to our influence Kyle and Becca have been putting a lot of thought into moving somewhere warmer with a better quality of life. Kyle has recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and has quickly come to the realization that the promises made by college recruiters a few years ago weren’t all that they were cracked up to be. Friday night at around 10, he called us up and they came over to get some advice on budgeting and planning for their future goals. (After we got out of bed… yes we are the 20-something, old people who are in bed on Friday night at 9:30.) We talked with them at our kitchen table until 1:30 in the morning about dreams and goals that they have and how to figure out where to start. They left with plans to come back the next night and start by finding their baseline…where are they now? where do they want to be? and what to they need to do to get there?
After dinner together on Saturday night of the fabulous grouper that Kyle speared in Panama City (remember the Most Beautiful Beaches?) we jumped right in and started sorting through the last six months of bills, bank statements, and credit card purchases to find a complete understanding of their current spending and to build a good budget that will let them save the kind of money that they hope will get them where they want to go. For anyone who has never done this before, you should because it can be eye opening to see how just rearranging your spending a bit can significantly impact your goals. I have no doubts that if Dan and I hadn’t done the exact same thing 2 years ago at the start of all of this that we would be nowhere close to the financial situation we are now in. It was immensely gratifying for both of us to see Kyle and Becca getting that same kind of focus and understanding together that we have shared.
After working hard and getting to a good stopping point, we decided to reward ourselves with a night of spectacular star gazing. Every year at the beginning of August is the Perseids meteor shower, the most active one of the year. We bundled up the sleeping baby into the car with the four of us and plenty of blankets to lay on and headed out of town to a camp about half an hour away. The sky was free of so much light pollution and with no moon to hide them, the stars were out in force. We trekked down to a small valley with just the five of us in the large prairie and spread our blankets out to watch the show. Nothing can compare to watching shooting stars with people you love.
Carter at the store with his green bouncy ball
As you may have noticed, we have a two year old little boy in our house. And like pretty much all little boys, he loves to play with balls of all kinds. We also have a terrier named Winston who loves to play with balls of all kinds, and who believes that every ball in existence belongs to him. I think you may begin to see the conflict arising. A couple of days ago, Carter found a light up bouncy ball in one of our cars that he had dropped months ago and was very excited to play with it. So, he started playing with his newly rediscovered ball and then left it on the floor abandoned a few minutes later.
Abandoned balls quickly get claimed by Winston. And so it was that when Carter and I returned to the room some time later, the big green bouncy ball had been reduced to a plastic ball surrounded by a pile of green rubber. I almost started crying when I saw the heartbroken look on Carter’s face as we went to pick up his ball and showed it to me. “Mommy, my ball broten.” (that’s broken) All I could think to respond was, “I’m sorry honey, Winston ruined it.”
As I began to clean up the remnants of the sparkly rubber, I noticed that Carter had started pulling the last pieces off of the plastic light-up center. When he had finished picking them all off, he held the ball up to me and said, “Look Mommy, now it’s a rolly ball”, and proceeded to roll it around the room just as happy as he had been a few minutes ago watching it bounce off the walls. I was completely amazed and to be honest a little ashamed of myself. My 2 year old had a lot more imagination then I did when faced with a problem that hadn’t gone the way he wanted. All it took was a little perspective.
I don’t think that smile could be any bigger.
Our son Carter has had an obsession with toothbrushes since he was six months old. Not trucks, helicoptors, or trains…toothbrushes. He wants to hold them and brush his teeth, carry them around the house, and he knows exactly which brush belongs to which person. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say, “That kid is going to be a dentist someday.” Being a dentist would certainly not be a bad career path for my son to aspire to in the future, but my real hope would be not just that Carter would find a profession he wanted to be, but find something he loves to do.
I believe that our culture is a little too stuck on this idea of being. I am a Mom, Engineer, Waitress, Police Officer. I want to be a Ballerina, Teacher, or Baseball Player. What if instead of aspiring to be someone, we aspire to do something instead? What do you want to do? Teach, scuba dive, sail, help people, save lives, play baseball, dance…you name it. Now, instead of trying to fit your actions into your label, just forget the label and do the actions. When you are doing what you love, who you are to other people becomes a lot less important all of the sudden.
That’s all nice and fluffy to think about, I know. What about food, and house payments, and my student loans to get that label, you say. Well, the beauty is that usually the people who are really loving what they do are the ones who are the most successful at it. And, unless what you want to do is own a fancy sports car and million dollar yacht, you probably need a lot less money than you think. So let me ask you, what do you want to do? Then go do it.
Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.
Whoever first started scheduling Strictly Sail Chicago in the middle of January was a genius. Winter has never been our favorite part of the year (hello, planning to move to the Tropics for more than just the piña coladas) but this year has been doubly hard with the knowledge that we could have moved to Florida instead of staying here to pad our purse a little more. This past Saturday we were able to leave winter behind for a few hours and spur the excitement we’ve been missing for the last couple months. Just one day of being able to talk openly with people about our dream of cruising does wonders for our attitudes.
Three Cruising Budgets, Snapshots from the Life of Jimmy Cornell, and Perspectives from a Cruising Couple seminars filled our schedule. These seminars weren’t really intended as fact finding for us, in fact we hardly learned any really new information at all. What they lacked in new information, they made up for in validation and motivation. It’s one thing to read a bunch of cruising blogs and forums and compile a $1000-$1500/month budget that we think is realistic; it reaches the next level to hear the founder of Blue Water Sailing confirm that for us in his Three Cruising Budgets seminar. (He actually described four budgets, but the highest was labeled “Silly and Unnecessary” aka why are you even in this seminar, just go hire a 5 man crew for your million dollar yacht.)
The boats were what we really wanted to see. We won’t be buying a new boat when we leave, of course, and we probably won’t even be looking at buying a used version of any of the brands available to tour due to quality and dependability recommendations; what we wanted was to feel the size of the living space. Last year, we hadn’t done a lot of research into boats when we came and toured all of the boats. We left that day saying, “yeah, the smaller ones are okay, but I think we should look at boats in the 40-45′ range.” And look I did…at the price tag. There are hardly any good boats on the used market in the 40-45′ range that are under $50,000, and especially not ones that are close to being ready for ocean voyaging.
This year we needed to go in with the question “what can we do” instead of “what do we want to do”. It’s amazing how much that question changes your perspective, because we quickly realized that 30-35′ boats would probably do just fine for us and one little boy. (Depending on the boat, of course.) We are now looking for boats in that range with one cabin/quarter berth layout or two cabin layout (which is much harder to find in older boats that size). To be honest, I was a bit shocked to see how much that downsize of 5-10 feet slashed the price tremendously. If you search yachtworld.com for boats 38-45′ in the US between $30k-$50k, you get 197 boats boats to choose from. And let me tell you, they aren’t exactly the cream of the crop most of the time. If you search 30-38′ instead, you get 757. That’s a significant difference in selection, making it much more likely for us to be able to find what we are looking for in our budget.
While we had intended to stay for 2 days of the show, winter fought back and forced us to return home early with a nasty ice storm that came through Chicago on Sunday. We didn’t want to brave the ice in my mom’s car that she let us borrow – Thanks Mom! – because my brakes went out just as we were getting to their house Friday night. (Whole story in itself.) It seems that we will have to wait until next year to get a good second day, since last year Dan spent most of the day on his back on the floor outside of the bathroom of Navy Pier or puking his guts out inside of said bathroom. Even just one day though was enough to refuel our systems until the end of the dreariness when we can start sailing and diving again.