Progress

Reader~

So, what’s happening?  We have been frantically working to get the house in Blunt ready to sell.  Our buyers (THANK YOU Joe and Bethany) have been uber patient with us getting things done.  In some future post, I’ll show several before and after pictures.  Mostly, suffice it to say this has been our biggest project to date, and we have had A LOT of projects.  Closing will hopefully happen later this week.  Here’s a teaser of 1 room that we have completed:

 

So-that’s a sample of what our life looks like right now.  Mike is also working at the ER in Pierre, up to five 24 hour shifts per month.  Since Matthew has started school, I’ve been home (in the 5th wheel in Sturgis) during the week and traveling on weekends to help and bring home belongings.  Fall soccer has also begun, so that hampers my travel plans, somewhat.  Of course,  I have had a few small assignments at home.  I’ve loaded dirt from the future apartment ground floor into the tractor bucket.  I’ve also dug a trench for the drain tile.  There’s been a few other small chores, but nothing worth mentioning.  Mostly I’m running errands and taking care of the home front.  When I go to Blunt, I’ve focused on taping and mudding drywall and painting.  I’m ok with a break from the drywall work for awhile, especially ceilings…..

Yesterday we closed on our Sturgis house.  It’s now officially Sean’s.  I miss the house daily, but I am soooo glad it’s staying in the family.  He gets to host the big family get-togethers now!!  I have visions (probably due to my preference for historical literature) of this being a family estate that is passed through the generations.  I really do hope that’s the case.  Sean is single, ladies, with 5 acres and a nice 4 bedroom house and 2 dogs…. see me if interested 😉

A trip to Brunswick to see Voyager was planned for the end of September.  We thought we would take my dad and get further prepared for the “big trip”.  However, with hurricane Florence taking shape, others behind her and the multitude of happenings on the home front, we have decided to wait.  The next trip may not happen until after Christmas, now.  This makes me nervous as that will be when we take the rest of our gear and we had  hoped for the last drive down to be a light one.  I think what will need to happen is we pull a small trailer.  Dad will be with us and maybe he will fly back.  These are things that will need sorted out.

I’m hoping that life will be settling down somewhat now that the 2 houses are sold.  Mike will still need to travel to Pierre for work, but we should be able to put a dent in the projects at home, I hope.  Matthew has some school events, soccer games and piano lessons to attend to.  That keeps us running, besides all the other.

I’m thinking I need to do an entry on books and what everyone is reading.  I’m not really sure how to do this without giving bland book reviews.  I’ve been trying to broaden what I read, so maybe that’s a starting point.  What are YOU reading?

Also, I need a catchy signing off phrase….. whatcha got?

Until next time……..  Fair winds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sailing and Catching Up

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Tracy, Mike, Barefoot Pete and Tommy headed out of the marina.
Chart plotter
Showing our boat headed to the open water.

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To Neptune!

 

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Still The One
Trying out an antique telescope Barefoot Pete has.
Sailing into the sunset
Sailing west towards the Jeckyl Island bridge.
Mike and his groovy pink bike
The bike Mike used to ride around Brunswick. He made it look cool.

I seem to have gone the rest of our trip without documenting anything…..and the best part was that we actually got out there and raised sails and sailed back to the marina at sunset!  This was something so exciting and I didn’t record it…. But I am now.

So, our attempted and aborted sail was on Saturday, I believe.  Mike spent the next 2 days replacing all the fuel lines (25 feet) and fuel filters (6)  and becoming intimately acquainted with Voyagers nether regions.  He also polished the fuel tanks to remove all the water and debris.  When there is water in a diesel tank nasty bacteria will grow making a black slime which plugs fuel filters.    I had spent a few hours cleaning out the inside of the small diesel tank.  This was no small feat, as I had to maneuver through a 10 inch wide locker and through a 6 inch hole into the tank.  My upper arm was very colorful with bruising by the time I was done.  Mike also fixed the tach and replaced the engine shut off switch which

was no longer working.    I spent one entire day swabbing (happy John?) the deck and drying out deck lockers.  I dropped one of these lids on my foot and bruised my right big toe.  After that, I had managed to add purple color to each of my 4 limbs.  :-/ The windlass still wasn’t working, nor the tachometer, but we headed out again on Tuesday the 7th to sail.

We motored out past the bridge, turned her into the wind and pulled up the main sail.  There is nothing like the feeling when you feel the lift as the wind grabs the canvas!  It’s something like when an elevator makes it’s ascent, the sensation of weightlessness that is so brief, but tickles your insides.  We had about 6 knots wind at the time, but as we navigated the channel, were up to 16 knots, at times.  We wound through the channel markers and got as far as the opening to the North Atlantic (SQUEEEE!).  We decided to turn around as we were afraid of making our way back after darkness fell.  This also meant we were headed west as the sun set.  These conditions made for a beautiful return into the marina.

On Monday I had met a woman, Tracy, hanging signs on the bathroom doors for a Bible study to be held on Tuesday evenings at 630pm.  We didn’t make it to the study as we were late coming back from our sail.  However, we had agreed to sail with Barefoot Pete the next day, Wednesday and were surprised to see that Tracy and her husband Tommy were also aboard Pete’s boat.  He has a 37′ Hunter that is beautiful and soo different in appearance to Voyager.  We were given our safety tutorial and set out.  We hadn’t been on a boat with an” in mast” furling, so it was fun to see how that worked.  The sail actually took us out into the ocean and we were able to swim off his sugar scoop swim platform for awhile.  Pete had thrown a rope and flotation pillow out, but it was pulled under the rudder as the boat drifted.  I had no visibility when I looked and am NOT a diver.  Fortunately Tommy is.  He was able to free the rope and we continued swimming for 30 minutes or so.  There were a few jellyfish that would float by and with Matthew’s experience our last trip, he was hesitant to go in.  He finally did for a few seconds and was pretty pleased he got that far.  As we headed back, the main clew came unbound from the furling in the mast.  Tommy was able to rig it back so it could be furled in and we motored back.   Overall this was a most enjoyable day.

We decided to have sushi for supper when we got back and went to Basils.  Several people had recommended it and they didn’t disappoint.  We asked Peter (former Voyager owner, not Barefoot) to join us and he did for take out and some conversation.  We enjoy his company immensely and were glad he joined us for awhile.

The dingy was something we finally got to on Thursday.  She had some old gas and we got that sorted and she ran like a champ.  Her name had been Dove, we renamed her Meg.  I was able to get the old decals off the boat and her new name is now Voyager and the decals are on.  We had a brief, private christening ceremony for both the boat and dingy that Thursday night after all the decals were up as we want to keep Neptune happy 😉

Wednesday and Thursday were full of hurricane prep.  We pulled down, dried and folded sails.  Lashed halyards, cleaned and stowed the dingy.  It seems like so little to write it out, but it was time consuming.  We brought home the bimini top so Mike can make the flaps to hold the flexible solar panels.  We will be adding more solar, but this is a start.  He also has 2 sheets of ising glass panels to repair that are part of the enclosed cockpit.

In other news, Mike and I went to see The Spy Who Dumped Me.  Sam Heughen is in it and as a fan, I had to go.  It was such a funny movie!  We don’t get out just the 2 of us often, so it was a special treat!  Matthew and I also got Mike to use one of the marina bikes and ride with us to the pool one day.  He chose a light pink road bike and made it look macho and manly!  HAHA!

Our plan now is to head back the end of September and take a few more items.  I had taken our sails to a sail maker in Jacksonville to be repaired and inspected.  We will pick those up on our next trip as well.  The question will be whether we put them up or not, depending on how the remainder of hurricane season is looking.  It would be disappointing to go and not be able to sail.  I’m hoping my dad is able to join us then, as well.  He would enjoy the sail and I would hate to disappoint him.

I think I need address provisioning and what we are taking on board in our next post.  This is something that weighs on my mind several times daily.  If anyone has suggestions, or can offer expert advice, we would welcome it!

Observing the Sabbath and finding clarity

WARNING: LONG POST – PROCEED AT OWN RISK 🙂

 

Oh my….. where to begin.

The last 6 weeks or so have just flown by.  If you are reading this, thank you.  I had intended to write weekly as a kind of diary for our adventure.  As it turns out things have just been too hectic to actually do so.  I am all the time thinking, “this is a piece of information or feeling or occurrence that I should be recording.”  As I was driving to Blunt late last Sunday night this phrase from a Frost poem popped into my head, “miles to go before I sleep” (Stopping By Woods).  It had occurred to me that we had not observed a day of rest in months.  Yes, I am serious.  MONTHS.  I’m guessing there might have been a day in April that we took a rest day.  So, the point I’m making is that our trip to Brunswick this week needed to have a little lower key or less ambitious milieu.  My back has been killing me as well as my knee.  These aren’t new injuries, just an ache and pain that I wasn’t having enough time between activities to let settle.

Right, so just what have we been doing that has brought me to this point?  So many things.  We had to get moved out of our house, so our son Sean could take it over.  We moved into our camper, but had to move out almost immediately because we had it rented out for a week.  I have helped Sean with his vacation renters and house cleaning.  Mike has not worked since May 30 at the clinic, but has continued to work in the ER in Pierre.  Besides that, we have worked on the hay barn that will eventually have 2 apartments.  Mike has been insulating, then we prepped and poured concrete in half the building (the shop side).  The Blunt house has had some major changes that are finally visible as well.  We have completed the 2nd floor bathroom and made major headway on the first floor bathroom.  The walls in the living and dining room are finally up and mudded, primed and partly painted.  I have broken 2 mowers and Mike has been able to fix one.  This next week in Sturgis is the Rally and we have again moved out of the camper for rally renters.  This seems like it should be a small project, but actually isn’t.  We live there, so the “things” being moved are our daily used items, mostly.  I’m ashamed to say how long it takes to do this and how inadequately I get it done.

I stopped working at the clinic much earlier than planned, but am now grateful it happened that way.  I don’t know how I could have managed otherwise.  We have continued to have Lucian on Sundays and when Megan gets called in.  We have also been able to keep the K’s a couple of times and are so grateful we can do that.  Pearl, our 10 month old niece has visited a few times and we were able to help Jamie and Bree with her.

Vacation Bible School is something I have helped with for the last several years.  The last 3 or so, I have headed up the craft class.  Our theme this year was “Game On” and our verse was 2 Peter 1:3 which says, “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”  It was during this week that I began to feel a sense of what the Lord was calling us to do on our sailing away project.  GEAR UP, GET READY, GAME ON!

Matthew and I took a trip to Branson for a week, as well.  This is a trip that although restful, was very busy.  Helena, our 10 year old niece was able to go with us.  Megan, Lucian and Mom also went.  We had just turned in our VW jetta for the TDI lawsuit and bought a Conestoga wagon (I refuse to admit to owning a minivan, therefore it shall be known as Connie the Conestoga Wagon).  We filled her up and headed south.  My Mamaw is the reason we travel to Branson, but the town sure does offer a lot for the kids and us to do.  We took in Silver Dollar City and White Water, Samson at the Sight and Sound theater and shopped for school clothes.  Yeti shaved ice is conveniently located across from Holiday Hills where we stay, so I always stop there for my favorite treat.  I never feel like we have enough time there and miss my Mamaw more every time we leave.  Below is a picture of us celebrating her 89th birthday while we were there.

Mamaw's bday

Just as we were arriving back in South Dakota we learned of the tragic sinking of the Duck in Branson.  This was so unfortunate and shocking!  It sounds like a triad of mistakes were made and 17 people died as a result, 9 in one family!  We have ridden the Ducks countless times and have pictures of all the kids at the wheel.  It just felt to unbelievable.  There is probably a name for the grief we felt, but it just left a hollow, sad feeling.

Here’s Matthew driving the Duck Aug 5th, 2013.

M driving the duck

Link to one of many stories about the tragedy:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=19&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwi15ufTutHcAhUJ7FMKHUW2CD4QFjASegQIAxAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2018%2F07%2F20%2Fus%2Fduck-boat-branson-accident.html&usg=AOvVaw3-Bur1XAJWov1fbzkTqCXa

Duck

Since deciding we were undertaking this huge life change, I have struggled with the reason God is allowing me such a wonderful adventure.  I have for years thought this would be such a great thing to do, but felt it was a selfish ambition.  I mean, who doesn’t from time to time, just feel like walking away from life and doing just whatever is in your heart to do??  I had been asking God why I had this strong desire (along with Mike) if it was selfish.  And if He has a plan for us, to show us.  As pieces of our “normal life” were falling away and it became more clear that this really was what we were meant to do, I was becoming more convinced and yet more anxious.  Mike was able to see it a little more clearly, “Erin, these are signs we are on the right path”.  I couldn’t get past the “what are we supposed to DO?”  Thinking my sole motive would be living a life of leisure and not having a purpose was driving me crazy!”  There has to be a calling, a plan, SOMETHING!

Right.  When we were looking at boats, the owners of the HR had mentioned something from their cruising years that stuck with me.  She said that they kept little “gifts” on board to offer to people when they visited.  For children, they might have little stuffed animals or for women, a perfume sample.   So, while teaching VBS that week in July the Holy Spirit began to move me in a direction of simple clarity.  Why can’t I have a few VBS type  materials on board?  Why can’t I have a couple totes devoted to small but thoughtful gifts that can be given to people we come across that just need to be shown that Jesus loves them?  These are simple ways that I feel can make a difference.  Just throwing these ideas out to a few friends, our church family and family members has taken that burdon of “what am I supposed to be doing” questioning off my shoulders.  Pastor Bob brought it to the attention of the congregation last week and now there are several people being thoughtful in what we can do for others we meet as we sail.  That they are calling us unofficial missionaries is a little overwhelming, but we will try to live up to that expectation!

Back to the Sabbath.  Our first day on board Voyager was pretty restful.  Mike, however, struggles with a full day of not working.  He replaced a headroom faucet and organized a few areas.  I slept, read and M and I took a bike ride to the pool.  We have trouble adjusting to the time difference, so our nights are pretty late as are our mornings.  Strange that 2 hours can make much difference.

We brought Katniss and Falcon this trip.  I admit I have been pretty apprehensive about these 2 living on the boat with us.  They are territorial, quirky dogs.  So far, they have proved me wrong in every aspect.  They have behaved on leash, there have been no accidents and haven’t shown any hostility to those docked around us.

getting settled

We are now finding our refrigeration system has a glitch and is short cycling.  This means it’s kicking on and off and not working/cooling efficiently.  It’s also not cycling water and will burn up the motor if not addressed. we have tried a few recommended fixes, but to no avail.  We are also cleaning our water tanks and Mike will be polishing the diesel tanks.  We still have a few items to organize and stow, as well.  I’m taking this moment to write in hopes I can get into the groove.  We really are doing the blog as a record of events for personal revisiting, but hope others find it useful, entertaining or something of the kind.

So- while all this is going on, I am determined to keep our family reminded that we need to set limits on how much and how long we are working.  I also am determined to remind us all that we need to rest.  God intended us to take a day each week, from what I understand.  We need to be faithful and obey.

I’m adding this last picture for two reasons.  1. The boat is gorgeous.  2.  I’m fascinated with all things Scottish.  (Yes, it’s Inverness Canada, but still…..)

Thistle

 

Surveyors Report and Closing

                                    ^^^^Mike and Capt Bruce from the Mambo from 2017^^^^

Mike and Matthew had a successful trip and were happily reporting an excellent survey.  The few items found, were a leaking water pump gasket, some hose clamps that needed replaced and a few other insignificant items.  We were set to close on the 11th, but are supposed to be sailing as crew for a friend and wouldn’t be available to make the wire transfer. It’s now postponed to the 16th.  

Bruce, the captain of Mambo, the boat we are crewing on, spoke with Mike this morning and said weather isn’t looking good and it may be the end of the week before we could begin the crossing. We have to be back to work the 16th, so this likely won’t work for us. 

Presently, we are sitting at the airport, waiting to board for our flights to meet up with Mambo.  We have made arrangements for the boys and dogs for the next 13 days. We haven’t been away from Matthew for more than 5 days, so I’m having a ton of apprehension. If we are able to come home early, I won’t be too sad. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

5″Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not into your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths  straight.”

Survey Time and Transition

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Mike and Matthew are off to Georgia to get the boat survey done. This is an 8 hour survey where the surveyor inspects the boat inside and out, topside and downside. This will give an overview of any problems there may be. Although we have no concerns, this is something that an insurance carrier will require, so it is highly recommended. I’m hoping that Mike will take a lot of pictures and we can get them posted.
I said I would go into a little more detail on how having foster children is affecting our transition and plans. I’ll give just a brief history of our foster care life and then go into what our transition looks like.
We began foster care initially as a means of and growing our family. Matthew was/ is desperate for siblings closer to his age and we felt led to explore foster care. We hadn’t thought foster care was something we could do effectively just for the sake of being foster parents. I realize that isn’t really clear- but all of the cliché reasons for NOT doing it, were the ones we were scared of. Becoming attached, letting them go, difficult behaviors and circumstances were all reasons we were afraid. Now, having done this for the last 6 or so years, we have dealt with each of these circumstances and survived. We have set aside adoption as a goal and have just been parents and a family to a hand full of children that needed us. We are so far from the perfect family, but what we can offer is stability, love, direction and structure. When these kids leave us we hope they remember that for a while we provided that and that we will love them forever and that Jesus loves them even more than we do.
As our time of transition has approached, I have had some intense anxiety. This has been like a separation anxiety. Separation from our patients at the clinic and separation from our 2 remaining foster children. K1 and K2 have been with us off and on for a little over 2 years. K2 has been with us this time for 1 year straight, while his brother came back a little later. To say we are attached is putting it mildly. I can truly say I love these 2 as my own and the thought of them going to some unknown family was just about more than I could bear. When they were with us the first time for 6 months, we also had a friend staying with us while she moved back to the area. She lived with us for almost exactly the same amount of time as these precious boys. Therefore, she has known them essentially as long as we have. As time is drawing nearer for our move into our camper and the end of the school year, I had laid it all out to God, that I needed reassurance that my boys would be somewhere safe and where we could still be involved. I had it in the back of mind and etched on my heart that this friend would do it. I couldn’t see how, though. She is in the middle of a business deal and the timing is less than perfect. There is also the fact that she is single and without a husband I was afraid it might be too overwhelming. Not that I doubt her ability, but that it just makes life with children easier with a helpmate. So, I hadn’t mentioned it to her. I kept praying and waiting for the Lord to reveal His plan. Then, while talking over pizza at Chuck e Cheese’s at K3’s going away shindig (he transitioned to his adoptive family) this friend confided that she has had it on her heart to go through the PRIDE classes and become a foster parent, thus being available to take our boys. This was a Saturday evening. I promptly texted and emailed our social worker and program director at LSS and had replies immediately that this was a completely doable plan. (LSS has the absolutely best program and I could rave about them for paragraphs.) The relief I’ve had since is indescribable. We know that she can provide a great home and so much love. Mike can still love and guide them as only a father to young boys can. We can still love on them and follow them as they grow as long as they can be with her. This does our hearts so much good.
This is where we are at in transition. We leave on the 3rd to close on our boat (still unnamed) and crew on Mambo and our friend, Megan and Jon will provide the respite. Moving to her house will happen as soon as she is licensed and school is out and soccer finished. We plan to move to the 5th wheel the weekend of June 15th, so this will all happen before then. Matthew has been pretty sad having K3 move to his forever family and now K1 and K2 moving, too. However, knowing they will be so close and we will still have our family get togethers with them helps so much.
I will update as Mike shares the progress of the survey and shares any photos he gets. If you are so inclined, we welcome prayers as we go through this journey.