Thursday, September 27, 2012

Setting a Course - Part 2

So we haven't completely let the cat out of the bag about our big plans, but I'm talking about it here and with some other friends... not to mention our friends (& neighbor), C and G, who now also appear to have live-aboard fever (sorry guys!). We've, collectively, come across a few books, more sailing blogs, several with kids, and even got a couple of links from the Schultes... I've also expanded my research to include several 'working abroad' blogs. Some people work remotely/online and others are making their living writing travel articles or even documentaries. It's fun to glean ideas or little tidbits of information, about the traveling part, the working/financial part, and the family part.

As it turns out, a good friend is restoring a 33' sailboat from the late 70s that he bought for a song. He's still not completely certain what he's gotten himself into, as far as the boat's condition, but it sounds like the project is going ok and we can't wait to make a trip down to check it out in person. We got together with some friends for dinner Monday night and DH and I both got to spend time talking to him about the project and what he's learned about boats and sailing. We only joked him a little that he got out of amateur off-road racing to get into boat restoration and sailing.

Last week I got to have lunch with my favorite cousin, who was going to spend most of this past spring and summer helping a friend sail his 42' ketch (Swedish made, that's all he told me) from Deltaville, VA, back to Sweden. I think it was originally planned for the summer of 2011, but the weather and other things forced them to put it off not only once but now twice. They're planning on doing a loop of the Caribbean this fall and winter. My cousin is in his late 60s or so, and a complete nut. I mean that in a good way... he's always up for a challenge and stays busy with a business (or maybe two), working on his 1740s house in Virginia, or visiting Hawaii and hiking all over to check out old haunts from his Army days. He basically drove 2 hours out of his way because he was passing through "close enough" to warrant a quick visit. He was excited by our scheme and promised to send me links to people he knows who are sailing, especially with kids.

Right now, I think we're leaning toward a catamaran. As much as anything for the stability, because they don't heel like monohulls (look at the terminology use!) and we'll have small children and dogs on board. I don't know, for sure, though because I've seen several blogs with kids and dogs on monohulls and everyone seems to do ok. There may be more critical things to consider, such as boats actually out there for sale and their available space, condition, equipment, and holding tank space for things like gas and water. DH suggested we name whatever boat "Your Boat Name is Dumb," but then realized we'd probably end up with the nickname "The Dumbs." You can't always get what you want.

We do have a ways to go before we are actually in shopping for a boat mode. Some of the boat questions will require some actual experience (or at least stepping aboard a craft or two) to sort out and we'll have to have at least a half-assed plan for how on earth will we finance this lifestyle to which we'd like to become accustomed. There are some debts to be paid off, money to save, a few ongoing house projects to be completed, stuff to unload, and a family to continue to raise. We need to refinance our house, because the rates are just too good not to. We're looking at having a contractor come in and do some work, including probably finishing some things we haven't. Several friends and family members have told us (more than once) that the 10 years we have spent working on our house have been tedious and unnecessary, but we've learned a lot about construction and ourselves along the way. DH and I know we make a good team; we know how to split up projects and tasks, we know our strengths and weaknesses.

We're bulletproof tigers, dude.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

You're Doing it Wrong

I read an interesting post on being afraid to fail over at The Fearful Adventurer. It talks about projects that remain unfinished and dreams that are never realized, all to avoid failure; about being "unpleasantly distracted for an entire lifetime." I think we're all guilty of doing that at least occasionally; that's the essence of procrastination. To choose to sit still as opposed to accepting an offer to do anything? To continue in a crap job or a crap life all to avoid the possibility that what lies around the corner might be difficult? I've frequently thought, while in the middle of doing something new or even a little risky, "I don't like this," or "I'll never do this again," but rarely have I arrived at the other side and not been glad I'd given it a shot.

The other side of the failure coin is the fear of judgement. This is one that nags even after the deed is done... "what does so-and-so think of me or of what I said/did?" Will it matter in five years? Will it matter in one year? In most cases, probably not, most other people are far too concerned with their own lives and problems. And, really, a friend wouldn't berate you over little failures and one who does is a friend not worth keeping. Then there's self-judgement... but the chance of being awful at something is a risk worth taking if it turns out to be untrue, or to lead to the discovery of an actual talent.

As a good friend put it, "If you've got the ability and the opportunity and you're NOT doing it... you're doing it wrong." I try to remind myself of these things whenever hesitation creeps in unnecessarily...

A recent example is that I finally feel comfortable driving a manual transmission vehicle, as of two weeks ago. I know, it's silly. I should have learned and been proficient long ago, especially considering I've spent the better part of the last 15 years with an avowed automatic hater. DH has only ever owned manuals and complains every time he drives my grocery getter. In my own defense, DH isn't always the most patient teacher and my early learning experiences weren't helped by the quirkiness of the 1990 Bronco... I'd get ridiculously nervous with the whole proposition and would come up with plenty of excuses for why I didn't feel like it or didn't need to deal with it. In his defense, DH is a great driver and has a lot of experience with a wider variety of vehicles and even with some sticky situations... and my best excuse was always that he liked driving and was better prepared to handle sticky situations.

Jeep, Dodge, and camper set up last fall in TN

Out of necessity (moving two vehicles at once) I had to drive our Dodge pickup a couple of times in the past few months and then, a couple of weeks ago, the 1998 TJ. I did fairly well (considering the quirkiness of four angry squirrels and no torque) and decided I HAD to drive it to work that week, no more excuses. Sure, I still stalled it a few (dozen) times, but I got way more comfortable with it and got rid of the hesitation and nervousness. Am I as smooth as DH, not yet, but he's been doing it for over half his life. Yay, me.

So we continue to make plans and work our way through realizing a few little dreams we've had, like having a more modern kitchen in our tiny 1940s house. We continue to work through getting rid of some of our stuff, or at least wrapping our brains around going from 880 square feet (that doesn't include the attic and garage/shed) to probably something like 450 square feet on a sailboat. I have given myself a deadline to photograph more items to post on CL today. Photos are done, just need to get things listed tonight. No hits on what I posted last week, although DH did have some interest in our older DSLR that he posted on our forum. We haven't started on bigger stuff and some of that may depend on whether or not we end up keeping the house and renting it out while we're gone...  but I'm hoping I can get DH in the garage to start planning an attack on the stuff that needs to go to the scrap yard or the dump or get posted on the forum... this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekend recap and a survey

We had the best weekend! Friday was a little rough. I left work a little early and picked up DD, who has been dropping her second nap and gets pretty cranky in the evenings as a result. I was unusually exhausted (even for 29.5 weeks pregnant) and, when DH got home a little early too, took a nap for about an hour. He took DD outside to play and pick up sticks in the yard (it's not child labor when she loves to help, right?) and then I made dinner after I woke up. She was just not satisfied, no matter what. Hungry? Maybe, but that still didn't fix it. Teething pain? Maybe, but a little something cold or even rubbing the gums didn't fix it. She finally gave it up about 8:30pm, but then woke up at 4am and didn't fall back asleep until at least 5:15. Ugh.

Saturday was beautiful and we spent the morning and most of the afternoon doing little chores around the house and spending time in the yard. DD caught an anole!

It was the funniest thing, and I still don't know how it got in the house much less how she caught it. He was a teeny baby, less than an inch-and-a-half from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. I was moving laundry from the washer to the dryer and she was toddling around the adjacent office/sunroom. She was kind of quiet, so I peeked around the corner of the door to see what she was up to. She came from behind a chair, in front of the windows in one corner, with something in her hand, holding it palm up but with her fingers closed into her palm (not quite a fist). It looked greenish and my first thought was leaf or bug. Nope, she had this tiny anole by the tail! I was able to catch him from her and call for DH to see before we took it outside and set him free on the patio to watch him scurry away. We even saw an adult later, on the side of the house, so I could show DD the 'mama' lizard.

We even got DD to take two naps, the second one on our way to the stadium to tailgate with family and friends and then watch three quarters of a very one-sided football game. She is so not shy (at least most of the time), and had a blast clapping, dancing and waving at everyone around us. She slept better that night, too. What is it about more nap time and sleeping better? The better rested they are, the better they rest or something, I think I've heard.

Sunday (yesterday) was even nicer... a little cool and definitely fall-like. We started off early at our favorite country breakfast place. DD ate like a linebacker and I ate more than I should have. I mean, the pancakes are huge (11" diameter!) and I usually eat maybe half of one, including sharing a few bites with DD. Between the two of us, we ate at least 2/3 of it. We ran a couple of errands and got DD to fall asleep on the way back home. I'd hoped for a repeat performance of the afternoon nap in the car, since we were leaving for a mid-afternoon wedding a little over an hour away, but no such luck. She powered through the outdoor ceremony (my dad did take her around back of everyone so she didn't have to sit still), cocktail hour, dinner, and
she danced to the saxophone music during cocktail hour and the DJ after dinner. She gave hugs and kisses 'bye' before passing out as soon as we were in the car to leave, at about 8:15. Stirred once around 11 and then nothing until 6 this morning. If you don't have kids, you have no idea how awesome that is.

Speaking of this wedding... it was the absolute cutest, most fun event and it was really a great reflection of the bride, groom, and their families. My cousin, the bride, grew up showing cows for her grandparents' dairy farm and now she's a veterinarian. The groom also grew up on a farm and, with degrees in Human Resources, Science, and Agricultural Business Management, he helps run the family farm in western NC. The ceremony and reception took place in a 1940s dairy barn that has been refurbished into an events facility with a catering kitchen and space for dinner and dancing. The ceremony was out behind the hayloft, on the lawn overlooking fields of soybeans and recently cut corn stalks. The sky was completely clear except for the visible moon. The cocktail hour consisted of local wines & beers and meat, cheese, and fruit hors d'oeuvres passed on trays with little cards containing agricultural facts. The place cards were printed on labels attached to bright pink (the bride's favorite color) ear tags and the tables were labeled with farm animals and farm equipment. The dinner was good southern food... barbeque pork, grilled chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, macaroni & cheese and deviled eggs. The cake was beautiful and delicious. 

Even if I wasn't pregnant, I'd still talk about the food.

I found this survey some time ago and held on to the list of questions, for fun... The sun is shining and some of these made me smiles that much more.

Hometown? the tiny community of Timberlake, NC

Parents still together? well... it's complicated... and not just on Facebook.
Siblings? two brothers, this one and this one
Pets? two very spoiled labrador retriever mixes... both rescues

Smoker? nope
Drinker? I like good beer but it tastes funny when I'm pregnant and, well, I'm pregnant
Favorite Color? Black. Ok, you know I'm lying... it's orange.
Favorite Flower? Daffodils. There were tons in my grandmother's yard and we'd pick and fill the house with them.

Favorite Candy? That's a tough one, because I love candy, especially the old-school penny candy variety. I'll go with Hot Tamales... or Mary Janes... or...
Collect anything? I used to collect little clocks, 3 is considered a 'collection' and DH cut me off at 5 or 6. I've given a couple away, now that we're getting rid of clutter.
Biggest Fear? That's a tough question... it pains me to think of my loved ones suffering, but I'm fairly content with the concept that life happens and shit happens...
Biggest Weakness? DH or DD's laugh, definitely. Cures all sorts of ills. Doggie kisses from my two favorite bad dogs are good, too.

Oh, and we had to find DH a new pair of slacks and a shirt to wear to the wedding. Yes it was adding to the stuff, but it was a good excuse to cull at least one pair of slacks and 4 or 5 shirts from his closet to donate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ball is Rolling

We're still both very excited about the idea of sailing and living aboard (or something) and have found a couple more interesting blogs and articles by people living aboard with kids. Our main 'planning' task is figuring out how to support ourselves. The idea we have is to take a 'shotgun' approach, and identify or develop several marketable skills and see what works and what works well. I read last night that the Schultes are writing a book on not only their choices to pursue passions and dreams but also how they fund their lifestyle and, specifically, Pat's experiences in trading stocks. Should be interesting reading! I can also confirm that they do reply to every email, as Ali was kind enough to help me with my question about concrete criteria for paring down. She confirmed that you do the best you can to clear out the excess and then you'll quickly figure out what works and doesn't once you shove off... either finding things you need or shedding things you don't. Her main piece of advice was basically to "get rid of everything you are not using now." It was really cool to hear back and it gave us an extra boost of enthusiasm.

I've taken even more stuff to Goodwill and I have a load to take to the Salvation Army (each takes donations of different types of things). I also posted a few things on craigslist last night and DH posted our older Nikon DSLR on the forum we run (which will also go on CL if no one on the forum bites). I have lots more to photograph and post, but it feels good to start the next step in our "clearing-out" process. The more we unload, the more motivated I think we'll be to keep it up.

DH and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last week. It was actually the same day as my midwife appointment. Even though I knew they were the same day and we spent several hours and had lunch together, neither of us remembered until the middle of the afternoon. Our celebratory dinner consisted of sandwiches and chips. We did go back to the beach for the weekend, near where we were married on the Outer Banks of NC, and had some yummy fresh shrimp for dinner. The dogs had a blast playing on the beach and in the sound and we had great weather.

I've posted this photo before, of us the morning after our wedding... we were tired, a little hungover and DH had no grey hair then.

I'm 29 weeks pregnant today, which means I'm into the third trimester. That blows my mind. I had a midwife appointment last week where they did the Glucose Tolerance Test (no news is good news so I apparently passed) and also tested my iron/hemoglobin. That was a little low so even though I eat pretty well/healthy, I need to try to get the number back up before 36 weeks. I'll go in every 2-3 weeks, for now, but they won't check until 36. It dipped and went back up with DD, so fingers crossed. Everything else was good, though, as far as weight and the measurements they take. The midwife did seem somewhat incredulous that I'm working full-time, have a toddler who doesn't always sleep well, AND I'm almost seven months pregnant. DD is sleeping better, but she has eye teeth coming in and they're the worst so far. In other 'baby' news, we're proving to be just as slack (if not more so) with belly progress pics. We've taken some, but have yet to post any. I'll try to work on that.

Speaking of DD... this photo is a couple of weeks old now, but get a load of this kid... such a wallflower. New words are coming almost daily now, although there is still lots of 'nonsense' talk... but she will repeat entire phrases (that we can't understand at all) and we figure she just thinks we're dumb. Still climbing everything, trying all sorts of new feats of strength, agility, and parental nerve-wrecking. We're going to my cousin's wedding this weekend, it will be her second but first since she's been truly mobile (we were both in my first cousin's wedding last November). She's going to be a hit on the dance floor, I guarantee.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stuff - Part 2

Knowing the reasons behind the piles (and not just of clothes) is one thing. Dealing with them is another. It is a process but one that has been underway for some time, due to space limitations of our 880 square foot house. We're kicking it into high gear because, as DH said, "Let's get on with it."

You can search "How to pare down..." and find lots of ideas and tips that say to evaluate your stuff and determine how important it is to your life. That's great... but I find it to be, on the one hand, a little incomplete when dealing with the reasons why I hold on to stuff. I need more concrete criteria.

On the other hand... what/how much do you really need on a sailboat or in a VW bus for four years? My biggest problem, with clothing especially, is nostalgia... in the form of screen-printed t-shirts that I don't want to give up, or that DH says I cannot give away. Well... I can only hold onto so much stuff to fit DD "later", but as long as it fits, it has a chance. I'm well-practiced at relinquishing older items when I find new ones, just due to lack of closet space and not wanting to be bothered with changing out for the seasons.

I've been offloading bags of "stuff" to the local Goodwill almost weekly, between outgrown baby clothes (much has gone to a couple of friends with daughters a year younger than DD, because some stuff just won't work with this December baby, no matter the gender), stuff I haven't worn in two years and will probably never wear again, old cds we never listen to because we have the mp3s, and kitchen clutter we don't use (no one needs THREE Pyrex pie pans). I've identified several items worth posting on ebay or craigslist, including some accessories and collectibles I usually see listed.

I found yet another travel blog called Life Remotely that does a great job of listing out their gear and personal belongings... super critical with three adults in a Toyota Forerunner! Their best quote, "Travel isn’t about stuff. Get over it. Stuff is stuff. It is replaceable. Travel is about people and places and experiences. The less stuff you have to worry about, the more you will be able to enjoy the present."

You can probably replace "travel" with "life" in that quote. Food for thought... more later.