Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More About our Bok Tower Gardens Trip

As I said, this was Nathan's first trip to see Bok Tower.  It was really overcast and looking like rain, so there wasn't a big crowd there.  Which made it a nice day to visit.

As soon as you enter the front of the visitor center, you can see that this is going to be a pretty place.
Clearly this was a personal goal of Mr. Bok, as is shown in the quote over the entrance.
I think he definitely achieved it with this place.
The main attraction is still the tower, with the beautiful carillon music coming from it each day.

Goodbye Party for Jim and Patti

Last night we went to yet another Happy Hour but this one was extra special.  It was a goodbye party for two of the people I work with here, Jim and Patti.  Jim worked as head of the Maintenance department and Patti worked in the store.

I didn't take my camera, so I don't have any pictures but you can see more and read more at Donna's blog: Florida Picklers.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Date Night and Day

We have tried to keep up on our date night since arriving here.  What we have not enjoyed in many months is a day off together.  I work every weekend and Nathan works during the week.  Patti that I work with worked for Donna today.  So she told me to take the day off and she covered for me too.  We were so tickled pink to have a date night and a date day.

Last night we went to Abuelo's in Lakeland.  We then went to the movie, The Vow, which was very touching.
We spent time in a bookstore after that where Nathan and I ventured off to different sections.  When I went to find him, I found him in this section:
We arrived home very late to a frantic girl that is not used to being home alone that long.  She paid us back by waking us up bright and early this morning.

That's ok because we had more fun scheduled for today. We ate a great breakfast in bed, hung out trying to figure out how to get audio books from Box.net to our phones.  Then we headed out to Lake Wales.  We stopped at a BBQ place for lunch.
They were really busy and told us they only had a half booth available.  We said no problem and they said we would get dessert for free if we ate there.  I was very excited to hear that.  This is a half booth, and this is our free dessert.
Nathan ate his share of the huge 1/4 of a pie dessert and then ventured over into my territory and helped himself until I threatened to stab him with my fork.  Everything we ate here was excellent.

After that we were off to Bok Towers.  Diana and I took the kids to visit this neat place before, but Nathan had never visited before today.  He really enjoyed it.  All of the pictures here are from my phone, but I'll try to edit and add more pictures from the big camera this week.
When we arrived home, we saw Rich outside so we went over to see how their pickleball tournament went.  We ended up sitting and having a nice time chatting with he and Donna and trying something I really enjoyed.  I told Nathan to put it on the grocery list and I'll share more about that later.

It was a great day and it was so nice to have a whole day together!

Living the life in Florida!

Friday, February 24, 2012

We Have a House

 Yesterday I had a conversation with someone and in the midst of the conversation the other person said some things that left me in a state of being completely stunned.  They shared their view on some aspects of our life and what they believed to be true.  Now, this is just a part of life.  People spout their views and assumptions all the time.  Some more than others.

This was a person who has been around us enough, though, that I didn't realize until that conversation they did have many assumptions about us and our life that were just not true.  At all.  I started to share the truth as I see it, but then a voice inside of me said: Do.Not.Even.Try so I hit the backspace button and deleted it and just let them know I heard what they shared.

They then went on to share something they did, that I think they were sharing was the same as how we have lived for four years now, and given it was not even in the same ballpark, my brain really went on full tilt.  I'll be honest, I'm still reeling from that conversation trying to truly wrap my brain around some parts of it. 

As I was pondering it today, Dr. Phil's "you either get it or you don't and you're not getting it" popped into my head.  Sometimes we just don't get it in life.  All of us.  But then I pondered my experiences where I have wanted to get it and am starting to get it and just need a bit more information to understand it.   So while Dr. Phil might have some wisdom on that topic, I don't think it represents the whole truth.  Sometimes we are simply on our way to getting it and in between those two places.

I remembered how much research I did before we decided to be full timers.  I remember how it took us about two years from the time we first considered it, until we really did it.  And I needed, desperately needed in fact, to hear how it really worked.  I wanted to get it.  I just needed others to be willing to share the nitty gritty of it all.  I needed to know this was not only possible, but what would our lives look life if we did do it.  

I had this fear that doing this might be this unstable, bizzaro world experience...one that would have me deeply regretting it.  I wondered just how much doing "this" would change everything.  We are on year four with this now and so today I understand a few things that I didn't know then.

To me, how we live our life is very simple and easy. 

We have a house.  This is what it looks like:
  To us, it is just like our last house that looked like this:
It is a place where we eat, sleep and hang out some.  No, the houses are not exactly the same.  They both served the same purposes in our lives though.  One has wheels that allows it to go with us as we move from place to place.  The other doesn't.  We sold the one because it didn't have wheels.  We bought the other because it did.  That's it. 

Other aspects of our lives are pretty much the same.  We needed love, peace, joy, community and family before.  We need those things now.  We needed food, shelter and some material goods before and we do now.  We needed income of some sort to provide those things then, and we do now.

We had a job that provided income when we lived in our last house.  And even though we had an unexpected job and income loss last year, except for three weeks in between "jobs", we have had a job that we worked to provide income since we moved into our current house.

We aren't rich.  We aren't retired.  And as much as we joked last year about maybe having to get a J.O.B., that was about us being spoiled and both being able to be home all day long with our kids while making money and today one of us leaves the house for some hours of our day to make money.  Someday both of us might have to leave our house for a few hours each day to make money.  While that is not our preference, we are mature enough to roll with that if it does happen.  That might happen no matter what kind of house we choose to live in.

We would and do pick jobs that we think would work well for us.  We think that is only fair to ourselves and our employers.  We have both been in positions of management so we get how truly awful it is for a place to have employees that aren't happy there.  So we have pretty much always done that.  Again, no difference there in our view. 

For those that are considering this lifestyle and do wonder, how does it work when you are a bit younger than the normal full timer: if you have a job that you can do from home, you most likely have a job that you can do from a home with wheels-even if you do move around with that house.  Yes, you might have to figure out what is necessary to do so, but isn't that true of any job?  Jobs with insurance are available to both.  Jobs that don't have insurance are available to both.  

If we want to settle down meaning stay in one place, we will and more importantly, we can.  We are doing that now in fact.

If we want to move around, we can.  

We don't think that limits our options because we have done the math and when you have a house that will allow for both, we think that means that increases your options.  In this economy, we think it is a smart choice to increase your options as much as possible.  If we were in a different field of work, this might not apply.  We trust most adults to be able to tell the difference between the two.  We believe we know the difference between the two.  If we didn't, we would not have been able to live for four years on the road.    

Even when I thought I'd try this for a year, we did not do this to get a vacation.  We did not want or need to escape our "life", even if for a season, so there was no need for a vacation.  We had a goal long before doing this to not live a life that we needed a vacation from.  We reached that goal long before we ever did this.

We did this to take our life that we already enjoyed and moved it to this space to continue to enjoy it.  We hoped we would more fully enjoy it.  I have shared time and time again, we just took our life we already had on the road.  And for the most part, it really is that simple.

We did want less of some things (stress, material goods and working hard to maintain those material goods) and wanted more of other things (time with our kids and each other) and we wanted to see our country up close and personal and learn tons while doing so. 

In many ways, even though we took our life on the road, we do live a very different life today.  But it still isn't so much that we strive to not live our old life.   

It's that we fully immerse ourselves in our new one.  And in doing so, we have in fact experienced a whole new way of living, being and interacting with each other and the world than we did before.  Wouldn't it be wise to do that no matter what your circumstances though? 

For us, we took the route that worked for us because of who we are.  We have seen others leap and do this in ways that would have struck terror in my heart.  We have seen others do it in ways that we deeply admire and still it would strike terror in my heart to do the same.

We do what works for us today.  We see others doing the same.  My guess is both of us are pretty much the same people we were before and both of us have grown and changed  in some ways since.  Again, I think that is true of people that live in houses too.  It really is that simple.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Florida Critters and One of My Children Are Really Great!

One thing that is neat about traveling cross country is you get to experience the locals as in the people, and you get to experience the locals as in the animals that live there too.

I know I might be biased but I still think some of the Florida critters are the coolest of all.  Really, it's just not everywhere that you can go outside and see this:
When I first moved to Florida, I would be so disturbed by these interesting critters.  We had one that liked to hang out in a tree behind our house.  And then he'd fall to the ground randomly.  With a very loud THUD!  Too much drinking is the conclusion I came to.  In time I went from that is one freaky dude to that is one freaky but cool dude and made peace with the fact he might fall on me and give me a heart attack. I mean, we did invade their space after all.
 The main reason I wanted to talk about these divine creatures though is that yesterday I took a lazy day which is like a sick day but I do it on my day off instead of a work day.  A lazy day for me means one of two things.  I spend the whole day editing pictures or I spend the whole day doing digital scrapbooking.  Ok, make that three things because yesterday I did both.

I spent so long editing pictures, I had time to go back and look at old pictures to edit.  Really old.  As in, 2004 pictures.  These gems were in a folder labeled "Kids Pics" which means one of my children took these beauties.  Somehow in the course of attending to five children's needs daily, I neglected to realize at least one of them has some skills in this area.  So I am sharing these pictures, but have no idea which one of them I am bragging on.

To those of you that have less than five kids that are horrified by my admission, that's ok.  I am used to horrifying parents of one or two or even three children on a regular basis.  It's my paybacks for telling my Mother who had seven that I'd never have a lot of kids like she did!
Back to the pictures and figuring out who did in fact take these shots.  (Because this is what Moms of five do when four have left home and they have a few minutes to ponder such things!)  These were taken at Miami Seaquarium which means it would not have been Ashleigh or Ambir because they were teens then and far too cool to do family fun days.  Auburn might have taken them because she is our animal lover.  Aric and Austin might have taken them because they are guys and these are about as cool as things go when it comes to guys.  That is as good as my guessing gets.

So if any of you three remember taking these pictures, please let Mom know so I can properly give you credit!

In the meantime, I am going to be glad that these particular Florida critters have never made it inside where we live.  I do have some boundaries left still.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day Trip to Gulfport, FL

Today I took a day trip over to Gulfport.  I was supposed to go last week, but ended up being too sick to go so I was glad I felt well enough this week to make it.  I would have been very disappointed if I had not been able to because I was going to see some of my dearest friends, Marianne and Barb.

Barb and her husband John visited us this summer at OBX.  We visited Marianne at her house in PA a few years ago, but I have not seen her since.  They have decided to try the life of a snow bird and have been here in Florida, so I was thrilled to have both of them close enough to see and hug in person.

I have never been to Gulfport, so it was fun to visit a new place.  As I drove over the bridge that spanned the water, I was soaking up the goodness of all of the water!  Once I arrived at their condo, we went outside and soaked it up some more.
It was such a pretty view!
I even saw their water friends, a pair of dolphins...although this is the best picture I managed to capture of them.
We even got to grab dinner together at a place that I think was named O'Maddies, where I learned something new: orchids are edible.  I had no idea!
The visit felt too short due to it just being a day trip, but it was still so worth it to see my special friends!  I told them if they come back next winter to plan on another house guest for at least some of their time here so we can really have a gab-fest!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Party

Normally we are pretty lame when it comes to Valentine's Day.  Meaning we don't really do much of anything to celebrate.  This year I signed us up for the get together at the park, hoping maybe we could break out of our normal tradition.  There was a show with Bobby Mack, who used to be a Vegas performer, and is well known at the Florida parks.

Miss Judy, our rec director threw one fabulous event!
Everyone brought a dish, so there was lots of great food.
And there was a full house tonight.  In fact, so many people signed up, they had a second show after our show was over with.
We were fortunate enough to sit with some pickleball friends, which made the night just that much better.
 On the left side is Nathan, Donna, Nell and Gene.  The right side is Marie, Keith, Barry and myself.  We enjoyed ourselves very much and I am hoping this will become a new tradition for us on Valentine's Day!