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!
Just one of the stunning views we enjoyed on our hike
If someone asked you what was the happiest day of your life, what would you answer? Most people would probably respond with things like “the day my child was born” or “my wedding day”. These days are very special to us as a culture and as individuals because they hold such precious meaning to the rest of our lives. But what if ordinary days could be filled with more joy than the ones surrounded by all the fanfare? Instead of our happiest days being milestones in the past, being able to look forward to them today.
Dan and I had such a day just a week or two ago. We both took a Friday off of work and had nothing planned. There is something amazingly refreshing about warm sunlight on your face gently calling you into consciousness and having time to talk to your spouse over morning coffee while the baby is still sleeping. When Carter finally woke up, we all had a delicious breakfast of omelets before heading out on a bike ride and walk at the park. Our “walk” on the park’s trail quickly turned into a beautiful hike through the woods taking us over hills and valleys where we saw a family of deer, a field of wildflowers, and some amazing views just a few miles from our home. The day was absolutely beautiful.
After miles of hiking and a visit to the local nature center, we finally made our way back to our bikes with our worn out toddler on our backs and made our way home after stopping for lunch. That afternoon, Carter napped for 3 hours during which we did nothing but relax. No housework, no yard work, no rentals, just total relaxation sitting in our backyard. We finished our lovely day with dinner and a movie at home, reading, playing with Carter, and all of us falling asleep together in our bed. Just a perfect day and certainly one of the happiest I’ve ever had.
I think it’s best said by this verse of “Happiness Is…” from the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown:
Happiness is being alone every now and then.
And happiness is coming home again.
Happiness is morning and evening,
Daytime and night time too.
For happiness is anyone and anything at all
That’s loved by you.
P.S. Thanks everyone for participating in our first contest! We will be emailing the winner today to get your shipping information, so keep an eye out for it! Once the winner has confirmed we will do a special post announcing the winner.
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.
Last Thursday Michele and I received the call that we had both hoped would come, but had nearly given up on… a legitimate offer on our house. The offer was over 9% less than our asking price but at least we had some action! Let me back up a bit… We had grown disheartened at the numerous showings, followed by exceptionally minimal second showings, followed by a complete lack of offers. “The street is too busy,” “loved the house,” “buyer showed interest,” “great kitchen!” were all followed by a noted lack of action on the buyers’ parts. With that in mind, you’ll understand why we were excited to get any offer (even one that was almost 10% lower than asking price). We had talked about the price and had settled on 93% as our lowest acceptable price, definitely in range for this buyer. Our goal was 97%, however. After a few tense rounds of negotiation we were able to come through with our exact goal… right on the dollar.
We now are faced with weeks of inspections, tests, and (hopefully not) the possibility of more negotiations over any requested repairs. Our house is in exceptionally good condition so any requested repairs are most likely nit-picky (that doesn’t sound biased, does it?). Thankfully we were able to get the buyer to agree that no repairs would be made as a result of these inspections.
We looked at each other once the last counteroffer was accepted and Michele said what we were both thinking, “Now what?” We had been focused so much on getting our house sold that we hadn’t thought about the actual possibility of it selling. Crazy, I know. Now we are at a cross roads. We can find an acceptable apartment for a couple hundred dollars less than we were spending on our house, providing a decent boost to our future cruising kitty. We can also purchase a “starter/rental” house and spend almost nothing, we’re talking less than a normal car payment here, per month. The second option saves money over time but is also the riskier option. We would have the opportunity of renting the house after we are done with it, or selling it and (hopefully) making a profit. There is, of course, that nagging possibility that it wouldn’t sell or sell for less than we bought it for. Either way the bottom line is we are making progress.