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Posted on Dec 12, 2014 | 1 comment

Finding Home

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

Our first apartment complex after the dorms at college.

In 10 years together, Dan and I have changed dwellings 9 times. If you don’t think that’s a lot, just ask Dan’s parents (a.k.a. the ones with the truck and trailer.) In fact, I would guess that it isn’t even much of a surprise to the extended family that they are asking once again, “So where do we send the Christmas cards this year?”

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

One of our apartments had a mirror wall in every room. It was quite bizarre!

They say “Home is where your Heart is,” but it’s hard to put your heart into a house that you see as just another financial transaction that happens to also be where you live. While I could be content living pretty much anywhere, the decision making process was always more about profitability than personal preference. We ended up with houses that were livable but never really appealed as a life-long home.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan's kitchen masterpiece.

Renovations are a continuous part of our life. One of my favorites was Dan’s kitchen masterpiece.

When we first started boat shopping, all of our old tendencies were at play. We made lists of attributes, scrutinized sea-worthy aspects, evaluated resale value, and estimated upgrade costs (boy were we naive! but that’s another story.) We spent hour after hour crunching numbers and looking at pictures; the boats all began to blur together. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but once we stepped onto our boat I knew. At lunch the day of our boat showings, I looked at Dan and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but that boat feels like home.”

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our bed.

We woke one morning to find Carter and Winston curled up together at the head of our v-berth.

Nine months later, I’m glad we made the decision to put up with our quirky bed that I can’t make properly and the ugly vinyl cushions. I’m glad because when the rain is hammering and I scramble down the companionway it’s like descending into a cozy cocoon of safety and warmth in the midst of the raging storm just above our heads. I’m thankful because each time we’ve moved, even though we are fighting through the mix of excitement and loneliness that comes with somewhere new, there is immense comfort in knowing that home has come with us. Finding home on a small moving object might be a little crazy, but maybe it just means we have found where we belong.

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Posted on Dec 6, 2014 | 0 comments

Far From Home for the Holidays


Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Carter still got plenty of presents from home, the start of a Lego collection!

Being away from home is one of the biggest costs of this lifestyle and one that we took very seriously before making the decision to move away from a close family. Never has the distance been felt more acutely than going into this holiday season. Not only do we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this Thanksgiving also marked Carter’s fourth birthday and the first one not celebrated surrounded by extended family.

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

A veggie tray fit for a boat!

Luckily, we were able to spend Thanksgiving in boat style with our friends and boat kids on Viatori as well as a full fledged birthday party. Leah and I made the executive decision to allow Publix to do most of the Thanksgiving cooking for us, since a microwave and small boat oven collectively would have been quite the challenge/hassle to provide a full turkey dinner for 8, but it still turned out fantastic! Leah also saved the day by making brownies for Carter’s birthday since we had a surprise visit from a host of ant friends who decided they would like a taste of the Spiderman cake that we purchased for the occasion.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together.

On Friday, we all went to a fun place called Cool-de-sac in Hallandale Beach. The kids all got to play for a few hours doing crafts, tumbling on gym equipment and playing video games while Leah, Richard, Dan and I were able to enjoy a nice adult dinner. Kid free dinners are a pretty hot commodity when babysitting on a boat is a logistical issue we haven’t quite been brave enough to face yet. Needless to say, we all had a great time and Carter had a fantastic birthday!

Christmas doesn't quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we'll survive somehow...

Christmas doesn’t quite feel normal without the cold weather, but we’ll survive somehow…

With the Viatori crew getting ready to head back to Canada before Christmas however, we’ll be on our own for the big day. Carter and I have taken up the banner of proper Christmas decorating on a boat: cheap, small, and fire-hazard free! We spent a whole day making construction paper garland, snowflakes for the ports and a homemade glitter Christmas tree. I even picked up a plug-in scented like spruce for a little extra cozy effect. Being away from family on Christmas won’t be easy, but we’re working on making it ours.

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Posted on Apr 29, 2014 | 2 comments

Ready for Liftoff

Mangrove hedges on the beach

We’re heading into unknown territory.

5…4…3…2…1…   We are now in the final week before moving to Florida. The stress and excitement are mingled into a crazy jumble of emotions as we prepare to leave our friends and family and also embark on the next stage of our adventure. I think the mix is the most evident in Carter, who asks every morning “are we going to the beach today Mommy?” but then has been in a rotten mood the last few days, overly concerned that we’ll forget his toys. We’ll be glad to have everything settle down again in a few weeks (hopefully!)

To be completely honest, I think all the hustle has obscured the reality of what’s happening. Knowing how hard and long we’ve worked towards this goal means that I logically see how great it’s going to be for our family, so I just keep telling myself that as I’m sorting through huge piles of junk that have accumulated after being together for 10 years.

We have tried to make a conscious effort to be present in the last few days we’re here, not just stressed, grateful for the path that has brought us this far. We know that everything will work itself out in time, but once these days are gone we can’t get them back. Because our families will be far away, this is most likely our true “sending off” even though we won’t be casting the dock lines for a few more months. We are blessed that our families are so supportive of our dream, even though we know they aren’t happy to see us leave.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes as we get ready to head South. We hope some of you will look us up the next time you are in Palm Beach!

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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



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.


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.


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


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





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




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