Saturday, July 20, 2019

Plans for the Future

For several years now, Danny and I have had a crazy dream to sell our house and travel the country in a Class C Motorhome. Most folks don't understand exactly how one does that, but we have managed to find a group of people that actually do. In today's world of YouTube and FaceBook, it is easy to connect with just about any group of like-minded people.

Taylor is our last child still at home. He is 16 and is currently enrolled in the Penn Foster homeschool program. He is on target to graduate in February of 2020. That means that this time next year, all of our children will be out if high school and we will have the freedom to make our dream a reality. There is alot to do...

The biggest obstacle for us to be able to travel is our house. It will have to be sold. There are some things we will need to take care of to make it "Market Ready". Our central heat and air unit needs work. Our windows need replaced, bathrooms need updated and the whole house needs a coat of paint - inside and out. I feel like it will take the next 5 years to get everything in order. We could just sell the house "as is" and take a loss. But doing that will not give us much of a cushion to find our home on wheels.

I have tried a few different avenues to earn extra money outside of our regular household budget to prepare us for travel. I'm hoping that we can find the "thing" that will allow us to earn an income while traveling. Our thought was that we could build our mini donut business and take it on the road. However, local health regulations differ so much that it would be hard to conform from state to state. Then there is Ebay. I tried my hand at pallet sales. I was able to make a nice profit but the problem with that is space will be limited and pallet inventory takes up quite a bit of that space. My latest brainstorm is a website. I won't go into detail about the particulars just yet. but I am trying my hand at building a membership website that we can build up in the next few years.

Our backup plan is to find work as we go at campgrounds and seasonal places like Amazon and Dollywood. There are also opportunities such as firework stands for July 4th and pumpkin stands at Halloween. These jobs are intense short term positions that only last a few weeks but pay nicely and allow you to travel in between. At the moment, we really don't have a concrete plan. We may just "wing" it. I worry that if we continue to put our dream on hold, someday may never come.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Fall 2014

October was here and gone before we knew what had happened. The first weekend of the month, Rachael came over to spend the day with our little Ryder. By the time she was ready to go home, the little stinker had learned to sit up by himself!

It’s so funny how quickly they learn new things. Then, just as quickly as they learn something new, it’s on to the next discovery. What a cutie 

We were all able to get together on the weekend of Morgan’s birthday (17) and spend a day at Autumn Acres in Crossville. Typically, we always have gone to Sparta to Amazing Acres, but this year, we decided to try something new. The first thing we could see inside the gate was the huge bounce zone. The kids (and Danny) enjoyed some time jumping on the giant air-filled tarp.

There was also a small petting zoo with some bunnies, some goats and chickens that you could feed. There was a corn shooter, a playground and several corn mazes to choose from.

We choose a path and let Logan answer the questions that would lead us through the maze. Once we made it out, we all loaded up together on the hayride and Taylor and Logan picked out a pumpkin to take home and carve. All in all the maze was fun and I enjoyed having the whole family together for at least one afternoon!

The end of the month brought a week long visit from mom and dad Long. They had spent the previous week traveling down the east coast into Florida. On the way back up to Michigan, we got to spend some time with them. On Saturday, we spent the day making donuts at the Baxter Autumn Fest. The weather was nice and the day started off with a parade.

About midway through the day, the train headed from Nashville to Cookeville passed through. We were set up at the depot right by the tracks, so we had a front row seat.

Before we knew it, Halloween was here. Friday night was cold and wet. The rain was changing back and forth from snow to sleet to rain. That didn’t stop my house from filling up with everything from peanut butter and jelly (Baily and Colt)

to Spiderman (Taylor) and a ninja turtle (Logan),

to the cutest monster I have ever seen (Ryder).

Danny and Taylor braved the cold to Trick or Treat. I stayed in with Logan and enjoyed some Nana time. It’s not often I get either of the grandkids to myself.

The very next weekend was Taylors birthday (12). We had a small party for him with family and his favorite food, mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce.

As the kids get older, time spent together as a family becomes more rare and precious. I am grateful for the times we have together and know that in the future, those times will become fewer and further between. Everyone is so busy with life. It’s so nice that the times we get together are full of love and laughter.
With the hustle of Thanksgiving, I decided to once again do morning brunch at our house. This way all the kids could have the afternoon for dinners with their other families. At the last minute, they all decided that a slumber party at our house would be fun. We all stayed up late playing OutBurst and had a great time. Everyone stayed the night except for MJ and Yavonna who had houseguests and a surprise of their own to share with us on Thanksgiviing morning. Our family has grown and we now have a new daughter-in-law! We couldn’t be more excited. We all love Yavonna and are glad to have her as part of our family. Congrats to Yavonna and MJ on their wedding 11/26/2014

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vacation 2013

Vacation 2013 got off to a rocky start. After some issues with our rental van, we decided to just take our own van and got it loaded pretty late on Saturday night. This pushed our start time back a few hours. We then got caught in several traffic jams that put us back a few more hours. We had planned on picking up my mom in Delaware by 6 or 7pm. We then had another hours drive to Fort Whaley Campground.

We finally arrived at the bay bridge and I knew we were getting closer to our destination.

We got to my moms around 10pm, loaded her luggage and headed to the coast. I had called the campground when I realized we would be arriving long after check-in. The staff was very nice and offered to leave our key in the entry box along with instructions for getting in to our cabin. We finally arrived, get everything inside and we all crashed pretty quickly. It had been a very long driving day for us.

The next morning we were able to see the campground in the daylight and explore a little.

Our little cabin at Fort Whaley.

We caught the campground shuttle to Ocean City to spend a few hours on the beach. Baily and Taylor had never been to the ocean and I couldn't wait to see how they were going to like it. Everyone loved it! The 3 kids never left the water. Taylor was soon body surfing the waves on the shore and searching for sand crabs and seashells. He had better luck finding jellyfish. After a few hours of sand and sun, we returned to the campground for dinner. We made steak and potato foil packets and corn on the cob on the fire and enjoyed a late evening campfire.

Day 2 we made a trip to Wal-Mart for some beach supplies. Taylor decided the shells and rocks were hard on his bare stomach when body surfing, so he wanted a boogie board. We picked up beach chairs and an umbrella then spent the day at Assateague Island. We were greeted in the parking lot by some of the resident wild ponies on the island.

There were signs posted that told about the ponies and how to keep yourself and the ponies safe as everyone shared the beach. The beach at Assateague was a little less crowded. There were lifeguards on duty, but no boardwalk. A much smaller crowd. Once again, everyone loved the water. Mom and I spent most of our time lounging under the umbrella and people watching. The kids hardly left the water!

The kids did decide to come up and get something to eat. Mom and I had fixed a cooler full of sandwiches and the seagulls gathered to wait patiently for a bite (well, some not so patiently)

Later in the evening, another group of ponies joined us on the beach.

At first, everyone gathered around getting pictures, but after a while, they wandered down to a secluded spot on the beach and just hung out doing their thing.

Our friend Brandi drove down and spent the day with us. She and the girls then snuck away to Wal-Mart on the way back to the campground and surprised Danny with a cake for his birthday.

On Wednesday, we met my cousin Sherrie and her family at Frontier Town, the sister campground to Fort Whaley. They have a water park which was free for us to use with our campground rental. We had fun and it was great to spend some time catching up with family. We met Sherrie's boyfriend Eric and her son Tyler is Taylors age. They had a blast together!

Sherrie, Eric and Tyler came back to Fort Whaley to hang out with us for the evening. Danny grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and the boys spent time catching crawfish in the stream in front of our cabin.

Sherrie lived close by and Taylor wound up spending the night with Tyler on Wednesday night. Thursday morning, mom decided she had had enough sun and sand and was ready to wrap up her week. We left the girls to explore the campground and drove mom the hour to her house. While there, I got to visit with my dad for a bit and also play with moms dog Buddy, who had missed her like crazy!

We picked Taylor up from my cousins house and when we got there, Eric had made enough food to feed an army! We stayed for lunch, visited with my Uncle Jerry and headed back to the campground with plans to meet up with everyone later that evening for dinner and some fun on boardwalk in Ocean City.

Our good friends Laura and Chuck and their daughter Chayla came by the campground later and we all carpooled to Ocean City. After dinner and laughs at the Dough Roller, we met back up with Sherrie, Tyler and Eric played on the boardwalk until midnight when everything closed down for the night.

Friday morning, we loaded up the van for our trip back to Tennessee. We had a great week. Assateague Island is on our list of places to visit again. Fort Whaley is a good place to stay that is quiet and clean. It is a little further to drive to the ocean, but it was nice to have a relaxing place to return to in the evening after a day of fun.

We had such a fun time with family and friends. It was great to spend time with my mom. The kids are already trying to figure out how to move closer to the ocean. What a great week!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time for a beach vacation!

I grew up on the east coast. I can still remember the first time I saw the ocean. I don't remember how old I was, but I can remember the smell of the salt, the sound of the seagulls mixed with the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. I remember walking on the hot dry sand to the top of the dune and seeing nothing but miles and miles of sand and water. The ocean seemed to go on forever.

Our kids have never seen the ocean. Well, Morgan has but she was so little she says she can only remember sand. That's probably because she spent all her time building sand castles just out of the waters reach. In just a few days, we leave for our first family beach vacation to Ocean City, MD. I couldn't be more excited! The best part of the vacation....we are stopping on the way to pick up my mom who will be spending the week with us.

We have rented a "bare bones cabin" in Fort Whaley Campground. Last year, we bought a very large tent and spent a week roughing it in Indiana and Michigan in 100 degree temps. It was fun and we considered taking the tent again this year. However, we have had a very rainy summer season so far and the idea of spending the week soaked in a leaky tent just did not sound like vacation to me. So, the cabin we rented is just a step above our tent. It has electricity, but no water (bathroom). We will be using the bathhouse, which is a big issue for Baily. I'm not big on sharing a shower with a whole community of campers either, but the reviews for the campground on TripAdvisor are good, with clean bathhouses being mentioned several times.

I have decided to take our crock pot in case of rain for cooking some of our meals. I found some really cool crock pot liners at Wal-Mart. Those should come in handy as we do not have a kitchen to wash dishes in.

I have spent the week making lists and gathering some of our camping items out of storage. We will get Logan on Friday night, then Saturday we pack, drop off Daisy at the "Thomas Acres Pet Retreat" (thanks Lori), leave the fish at a friends (thanks Ashley) pick up the rental van, load up and try to get some sleep. Sunday morning before sunrise we are heading out. It will take us 12 hours to get to my parents house, then another hour to the campground. I see lots of family bonding time in my future next week (are we there yet? Stop looking at me! I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I have to peeeeee. I feel sick)

Let the fun begin!!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Park fountains and milkshakes

Yesterday was just a pretty awesome day from start to finish. I woke up to the most gorgeous sunrise and knew that it was going to be good. Work was work. I don't love getting up early and going to work every day, but there are lots of things about my job that I do love:

The hours are great

I go home most every day knowing that I have helped someone

I have the best co-workers EVER!

Work went smoothly without many kinks. Afterwards, I picked Taylor up from camp and we headed over to Dogwood Park. This is a small park right in the middle of the old part of town. It has been renovated from an old parking lot in the last few years and what a great place to hang out for an hour or so after work.

The main attraction is the fountain. Water comes down from a large fountain and small holes in the concrete release little spouts of water. The fountain changes colors and is really pretty after dark. There are nice sitting benches everywhere and paved walkways throughout the park. I just sat and watched the kids having fun in the water. Others around me did the same.

Some families had brought blankets and picnic baskets and were relaxing in the grassy areas. Others were throwing a football. Some kids were riding bicycles and scooters. There were moms strolling with babies, lots of dog walkers, power walkers and leisure walkers. There is a small rose garden as well as an outdoor pavilion where they hold concerts throughout the summer.

Taylor played in the water for about an hour and decided it was time to go. We walked the perimeter of the park to give him time to dry (we didn't take a change of clothes) then headed to McDonalds for a chocolate shake. What a nice evening! I am looking forward to this stop being a weekly thing for us.

Hopefully, today will pass quickly and my little Logan will be here to spend the night tonight. I am always missing him by Friday morning!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer is finally on the horizon!

Summer has been a long time coming, but it is finally here! I am so excited for warm sunny days and evenings on the porch swing. Winter just seemed to linger on forever this year. There hasn't been much to blog about. The kids are out of school for the summer. Taylor starts his summer camp program tomorrow.

We have been busy planning vacation. As much as we enjoyed Holiday World and Lake Rudolph last year, I have been promising the kids a beach vacation for a few years now. This is the year. We will be spending a week in the Fort Whaley campground just a few miles from Ocean City, MD in July. The cool thing about this years vacation is we get to spend it with my mom. She lives on the eastern shore and we are picking her up on the way. I couldn't be any more excited!

We were originally going to tent camp again this year. But, with this being my moms first camping experience, we decided to get a cabin. The cabin is rustic. No running water or a bathroom, but it will be dry if it rains and we wont have to sleep in the ground. Plus, there is electricity so we can still "rough it" with some of the comforts of home :)

The cabin rental includes admission to the campgrounds water park and a discount off a wild west show and mini golf. We are close to the boardwalk and also to Assateague Island where the wild ponies roam free. I think we will find plenty to keep us busy all week.

We have had a quiet Memorial Weekend at home. Got some things done around the house and in the yard. Danny worked today, so it has been a pretty lazy day for me. I am not excited about returning to work tomorrow, but it is right around the corner. Hopefully, vacation will be here just as quick!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A New Year

Annnddd.....I did it again! Here we are already well into 2013 and I haven't bothered to share a single post.  2012 ended quietly here at the Long/Henry home.

We spent the last of our cool fall weekends making donuts at our local high school football games. We had a blast trying to keep up with all the hungry customers, and the kids loved that we were all at the games together. When it was all said and done, we were able to donate a large percentage of our donut earnings to the Livingston High School Band, who runs the concession stand at the games and graciously invited us to come.

Taylor joined the local wrestling team. This was his first experience with organized sports. They practice 4 nights a week. Danny has been taking him and I suspect he enjoys it as much as Taylor does :)  Taylor likes to play the big tough guy, but it didn't take him long to figure out those guys he was going up against had a bit more experience at wrestling than he did. His first competition, he was pinned in less than 10 seconds. Wait.....what just happened????

By the end of his 3rd competition, he had managed to make it a little harder to get pinned, but he decided that wrestling is just not his thing. We did get to travel the state a little and see some places barely on the map.

Morgan is still on the dance team and will be competing in her first competition this weekend in Nashville. She has danced at the football games, in the Christmas parade and at Homecoming. The girls on the team (including Morgan) suffered illness and injuries throughout the end of 2012, so hopefully this will be a fresh start for them in the competition category.

Baily is waiting patiently for tennis season to start, which will be soon. I'm not sure if she is excited about practices after school in the cold, but we are all hoping for an early, early spring!  The tennis team was also able to use our little donut machine for a fundraiser in the fall and raised over $1,000 to help with expenses.

New Years Eve this year was spent with the Thomas family, our yearly tradition. Logan spent the night and we quietly rang in the new year with food, family, friends and a little Words With Friends. Heather brought some fireworks and even though it was sprinkling outside, her and Justin were able to light a few off at midnight.

I'm not very good at new years resolutions, but if I were, keeping up this blog would be on the list. I guess it's a good thing I don't make lists, because I'm already off to a rough start!