Flying South for the Winter

Three years ago I bought a large van, built in a bed and “kitchen” area, and took off for Florida. I was basically broke the entire time I was in Florida, but it didn’t matter much. I had no bills besides the car insurance and little to buy just food and gas. And there was little to do: just go to the beach and the libraries, and take some sanding with me to work on the sand.

I’d never want to try to survive on that little funds again, and I’m not anxious to live in a tiny rolling home again, but I loved the lazy days on the beach and at the parks. I just loved being outside all the time. And Warm.

Don’t get me wrong, I love snow. I can even enjoy a chilly day. It’s just the steady march of cold and being cooped up for so long that gets me down.

My main goal since I have been a mother was to get an inexpensive house for us to live in, preferably with some land. We don’t have much land, but I did get my house. Once I got my house, my goal was to get it paid for. Now that it’s just about paid off, my goal is to spend 2 months or so in a warm location during the winter. Preferably, a spanish speaking country so that Caleb will learn Spanish.

One of the reasons I am determined to keep working for myself and live a very frugal lifestyle, is that I want the time to travel. Traveling is supposedly the exclusive property of the rich or perhaps the single male vagabond type. But really travel-particularly extended travel is mostly dependent on the time you have available.

I know plenty of people (most everyone I know) that have way more money than I do, but are saddled with jobs, their children with schools, and their houses with mortgages, so the wonders of extended travel are not open to them. I have sacrificed the nice house, the child-free time (if Caleb went to school), and the security of a steady paycheck, and I plan on making all those sacrifices worth while.

My love affair with the ocean began on the Jersey Shore before I can even remember. Now that I’m a parent I appreciate the beach even more, because it can provide hours of screen-free entertainment for my son, not to mention playmates.

My plan is to spend January working on Christmas-level overtime, to make enough toys to cover the months of February and March. I’ll then hire someone to handle the packing and shipping, while I spend my days sanding keys and little toy animals on the beach. Maybe I’ll even take up carving.

If I go to Costa Rica or some place like that, I’d need enough money to cover air fare plus money for rent/food/etc. But the beauty of having a house that is paid for, is that I can shut the place down, and it won’t be costing me hardly anything while I’m gone. I’ll still be earning just about the same amount of money, since I’ll still be selling toys.

Even though, I am a fairly independent person– I went off to Florida on my own; I bought a house 7 hours from any friends or family–I think it would be much more fun, not to mention cheaper, if I had someone else to travel with. Perhaps another single mother who works from home or who can take off two months of work each year. Perhaps a family who wants another adult around to babysit occasionally. Perhaps a single mother who lives in a warm place that wouldn’t mind renting out a room for a couple of months a year for some extra cash. Who knows?

One thing with goals is that you tend to talk about them for a while before the dream is realized. Before I bought a house in WV, I talked about moving for years. Probably most people thought I’d never actually do it, but when the time came, when the opportunity arose, I was ready (thanks to the help I had along the way).

Now I’m talking about flying south for the winter. Maybe the dream will be realized this coming winter (2014), maybe not until the next (2015), maybe not even until my son is 9 (2016), but we will do it.  Would you like to join us?




One of my goals for the coming year is to become proficient in Spanish. My idea of proficiency is being able to communicate-however haltingly- with native speakers. I want to know the words for common nouns and verbs. I want to feel confident enough to be able to speak aloud the words I can recognize on a page.

My reasons for this, beyond mere self-improvement, are two-fold. First, I want to have a command of the language so I can help Caleb to learn it. Secondly, I have a deep-seated desire to spend a couple of months each winter in a warm spanish speaking country-but more on that in tomorrow’s post.

I took 3 years of Spanish in high school (with an evil, yet thorough teacher). Then I took a semester of Spanish in college, but learned less than I did in high school. I have a solid understanding of present tense verb conjugations, and a vague recollection of past and future tenses.

I’ve had learning more and better Spanish on my to-do list for years, and never done much about it. This past year though, my younger brother spent a year completing the Rosetta Stone Spanish course, and he highly recommended it. So I spent a 35 minutes on the phone with him asking questions, which led to me subscribing to the Rosetta Stone course for 6 months.

My brother’s final word on the subject is that Rosetta Stone makes learning the language fun. And although I’ve only done 3 lessons so far (a couple hours worth), I agree. It’s more like a game, than a chore.

In fact, I’ve already tried to convince my mom to try it when she gets her new Ipad. The cost is what kept me from trying it sooner, but when you compare the cost to the cost of paying for lessons or taking a college course, it’s downright cheap.

I’ll give updates to how I am doing through the year. Right now it’s mostly review, but considering I’ve forgotten most everything, it’s much needed review.

My mom was telling me about how jealous she used to be that the high schoolers got to learn a different language. Where does that enthusiasm for learning go?

Tomorrow I’ll share my plans to be a snowbird. In the meantime, do you know any other languages? How did you learn? Are you learning any new languages now? How are you encouraging your children to become multi-lingual?

My mom and I were talking about Rosetta Stone and my son said, “next time you can learn French!”

Year End Planning

For most of my life, New Year’s Day didn’t really seem like a new year. Of course most of my life I was in school, so September really felt like the beginning of the year. But now, this time of year really is an ending and a beginning.

The months leading up to Christmas are the busiest of the whole year, and as a consequence, my whole year builds up to Christmas. After Christmas, there is a letdown. I go to visit my parents, so I don’t make many toys (just enough to keep up with sales), and I don’t really have to do any housework (just enough to help out). Caleb is busy with his new toys, and his uncles when they are around and his Nana, thus the pressure to always be with him is off too.

So the 12 days of Christmas have become a time of planning for me. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions; I never have. But I’m working on something of a reminder list for the year. When you are caught up in the hustle and bustle of making and shipping toys, keeping up with the housework, playing, and whatnot, you tend to forget about the extra things that you wanted to do.

I’m writing down ideas for things that I would like to do for myself, things that I want to do with Caleb, things that I want to work on for the business, and for fixing up my house. And of course things to write about for this blog. During the year I can check in with my list and see how I’m doing in the various areas that I wanted to work on.

The areas I want to work on are not necessarily serious areas of work and inner discipline. One of the things on my list is that I want to do more fun things: go to Pittsburgh more often, hike up our mountain and take picnics or hot chocolate and gingersnaps in the winter, make sure to go to the lake at Raccoon Creek State Park more in the summer.

But other areas are things I want to do to “better” myself. Or at least keep from being totally bored with my life.

In the final days of Christmas over the next week, I’ll be sharing some of my ideas for the year. (One of which is to blog more regularly!) You can participate with your ideas or giving me advice for carrying out my ideas.

I’ll be giving away a free Sun House at the end of January to a random follower, so make sure you are subscribed. Also each follower/subscriber will be entered as many times as they comment this month. So first follow the blog, then add interesting comments. Then win free toys!

Even Santa has to take sick days….

…when she’s too weak to stand up. Other than that, I swear I would be working!

I was horribly sick this weekend. Completely out of the blue. I went to get more hardwoods in the morning from this seller in Ohio-about an hour away. I hated to take the time to do it, but I was about to run out of cherry and walnut. I haven’t been able to find anyone closer for these woods.

Caleb was feeling ill Friday and Saturday, so he just stayed in the car at the guy’s shop (Buckeye Tree Company if there is anyone in the Ohio Valley area looking for domestic hardwoods), and we came straight home.

We took a nap, because he was ill, and he had kept me up wimpering most of the night, and after we got up, I drank a smoothie, and then said I’d better be getting to work. I sat down to finish a few toys, and felt sick. It was all over from there. Fortunately Caleb didn’t get sick and was his normal perky self the next day.

So, instead of 2 barns and 2 dollhouses and 4 kitchens made over the weekend (ambitious, I know, but when you are adding up work lost, you can count how much you WANTED to get done), there was a whole lot of moaning and lying in bed and on the couch. 

Today, Monday, I was feeling somewhat better-I could sit up, and even stand for a little while without feeling sick and lightheaded. So I thought I’d better tackle some airplanes. 

Now I sort of dread making airplanes. I have to cut through 1.5″ thick wood on my scroll saw, then make 3 cuts each on the bandsaw, then drill the wheel holes, then sand with my belt sander, then sand with the finish sander, then smooth sand them, then glue on the wings (which I also had to cut out and sand 3 times), then wait for the glue to be totally dry before I drill the man holes in the planes, then dremel around the holes and sand them so the edges won’t be sharp, and then oil them and finally rub off the excess polish. Oh then I have to put on the wheels. 

So when I think of all that, I dread it, a bit. But I cut the planes, and it wasn’t so bad, and then I drilled and that didn’t take any time at all, then I sanded, and that took a while, but it always does, and it took me the whole day to get done all ten of them, but I did. And it wasn’t so bad.

I always procrastinate. But then when I get around to actually doing the job. I wonder why? It’s never as bad as I make it out to be. Even when I’m sick.

Tonight I thought, I’ll leave the dishes for the morning, I’m too tired and sick tonight. But maybe I’ll just wash the plates, since they are easy, then there will be more room in the sink for the pots. But once I had my hands wet, I figured I might as well do them all. And it didn’t take me much more than 5 minutes. In fact I went ahead and wiped down the counters and stove while I was at it.

What are you procrastinating about today? Going to bed? Trust me, it’s not as bad as you are making it out to be. Good night!