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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┬áprivilege 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 Aug 14, 2013 | 0 comments

Good Things Happen at Night

Though we didn't take this picture, we did see this meteor ourselves. It was stunning!

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.

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