Keeping perspective…..

I just finished reading a very interesting journal blog from a friend of a friend who is stationed in Baghdad. It gives a very good perspective of what is going on over there. It also made me appreciate the sacrifices people are going through there and really gives you a perspective of what is really important in life.

We are all truly blessed, especially if you are reading this…..because it means you are somewhat healthy (I imagine you wouldn’t be reading this in the hospital in the ER), have an education (in the fact that you can read), have amenities (internet access, electricity, etc) and spare time.

You can get to the weblog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/christian_iraq/

It can also be found in the links section on the right margin of this blog page. —->>

No matter what your situation, take a moment and appreciate your freedom, safety and opportunities. And while you are at it, say a prayer for Christian as well as all of our troops.

…..Dan at aslowerpace

Details, details, details…..

OK…..it’s 1:30am and the new kitten we got three weeks ago has managed to wake 4 out of 5 people sleeping in our house. Of course, all of ‘em got right back to sleep but me. I am stone awake with little thoughts running through my head of all the details for the next three weeks. We are less than two weeks away from leaving California — about a week away from the packers and movers and I have to:

  • complete all the details for the packers and movers
  • figure out which tools to leave behind so I can tend to last minute repairs on the house
  • get some important docs notarized
  • enter money info into Quicken…..for the last 3 weeks. Ugh!
  • arrange for all the utilities in Kentucky to get turned on
  • fit in last visits for family and friends…..at least until they come visit us in Kentucky or we return on vacation
  • get the new guy who is replacing my headcount at work up to speed — let the brain dump begin!
  • do one last family day at the Santa Barbara Zoo and beach with lunch
  • finalize a few outstanding issues at work before my transition
  • go to the Auto Club to plot out details of the best route to Kentucky with possible weather impacts and detours
  • figure out what we will need on the road trip out to Kentucky and segregate it from all the other stuff being packed
  • arrange for a UHaul trailer so we can take all those miscellaneous things the movers can’t or won’t take
  • make sure important dates like the school chorus performance and early family Christmas date are in my PalmPilot and don’t get overridden or doublebooked
  • take the kids to the Reagan Library to see the gravesite
  • allot for stuff I know I’ve already forgotten just trying to compile this list
  • keep the house clean in case a realtor wants to show it

Fortunately, all this will be swapped out with another list in three weeks once we get there and begin to settle down. But I think that list will at least let me sleep.

Damn cat!

…..Dan at aslowerpace

Values and finances…..

When people first hear that we are moving to Kentucky, usually the first response is “Why?”. That is a normal response. Most people would be expecting us to move within the community or at least stay within the state. Or maybe remotely expect one of the more popular exile states Californians frequently flee to like Nevada, Oregon or Arizona. For us, Kentucky can be summed up with two words: values and finances.

The values and finances that Kentucky offers our family are key drivers to where we want to raise our family and where we want our family to be many years down the road.

The values piece of Kentucky was important to us. We wanted a more conservative and family values oriented area to raise our kids. A place where kindness, respect, manners, and friendliness are common in people who are grounded in basics and have a belief in God; something higher than themselves. You will always have your troublemakers but all in all, they seemed fewer out there. In addition, people in Kentucky are quicker to put them into their place because they haven’t been infected with political correctness — our society’s cancer…..but I digress. I am not judging the people of California. There are many good people here. I am one of them and we are lucky enough to know others at church, at work, at school and in the neighborhood. However, even good people get led astray and in this busy pace it is very easy to become distracted by the fast pace, keeping up, wanting more, and just getting by…..but not living. We believe that living in a more values centric area will enable us to raise our kids with a greater sense of responsibility to their Creator, their family, their friends, and their community. And God knows we, as parents, need all the help we can get.

In addition to the values piece of the puzzle, there was also the finances piece. One, to move to an area of the country where there is a lower cost of living. Two, to take advantage of the absurd increase of real estate prices here in southern California. Combine these together and you get a powerful tool towards self reliance, independence, stability and earlier retirement. This also allows for more opportunities and choices for the family. If something does not mesh with what is best for our family, we will be in a position to change it. We still might need to be flexible and make compromises but we will not be slaves to payments, dead end jobs, or unfulfilling grinds and ruts. Those things suck the life from us and hinder us from enjoying a child’s laugh, a rainbow or a flower blossom.

Add to the values and finances pieces the fact that I am keeping my current job and salary and you have a great combination. I am almost hesitant writing about it — feeling like I have found a great secret formula that can be stolen. However, my formula won’t necessarily be one for everyone else. What can be for everyone else is the encouragement that there is more out there for everyone no matter what their situation is. That is partly what this blog is for — to encourage others of like mind.

Go out there and find your formula!

…..Dan at aslowerpace

Song lyrics – Toby Keith’s “My List”…..

Being a country music listener, quite a few of the songs on the radio resonate with me. I will occasionally post the lyrics of some of the more pertinent songs to our current situation.

Toby Keith
"My List"

Under an old brass paperweight is my list of things to do today
Go to the bank and the hardware store, put a new lock on the cellar door
I cross ‘em off as I get ‘em done but when the sun is set
There’s still more than a few things left I haven’t got to yet

Chorus
Go for a walk, say a little prayer
Take a deep breath of mountain air
Put on my glove and play some catch
It’s time that I make time for that
Wade the shore and cast a line
Look up a long lost friend of mine
Sit on the porch and give my girl a kiss
Start livin’, that’s the next thing on my list

Wouldn’t change the course of fate but cuttin’ the grass just had to wait
‘Cause I’ve got more important things like pushin’ my kid on the backyard swing
I won’t break my back for a million buck I can’t take to my grave
So I’ll put off for tomorrow what I could get done today

Chorus

Raise a little hell, laugh ’til it hurts
Put an extra five in the plate at church
Call up my folks just to chat
It’s time that I made time for that
Stay up late, then oversleep
Show her what she means to me
Catch up on all the things I’ve always missed
Just start livin’ that’s the next thing on my list

Under an old brass paperweight
Is my list of things to do today

An exercise in reality…..

While I have painted Kentucky as a great place for us to move and raise our family, it has its share of detriments, cons, negatives or whatever you want to call them. This exercise will lay out those things we will miss here in California and describe what we are not looking forward to in Kentucky.

It will be interesting to review this list in 6 months to see if what we expect to miss from California and not like in Kentucky ends up being reality. This list will also be different for every person.

What we will miss from California:

  • the consistent nice weather
  • the topography – mountains, beach, etc.
  • the beach – I know I already said it but it gets two since the kids love it
  • In N Out burgers
  • having everything within about a 10 minute drive
  • the leisurely, slow pace of life
  • scratch that last one — I was seeing if you were paying attention. Hah!
  • friends and family so close

What we don’t expect to like in Kentucky:

  • more bugs than California
  • humidity
  • tornados
  • not having everything at our fingertips
  • restaurants with a "smoking" section

Again, it will be interesting to see what is actual reality once we settle in there. I just do exercises like this to keep a healthy perspective. No place is perfect and California has been good to us and gotten our family this far. I just believe that our family needs more and California has changed to a point where other locations will be more beneficial for the family for the long term (20 to 30 years out).

…..Dan at aslowerpace

Being thankful…..

As I sit here with a terribly full belly, I can appreciate all the blessings that have been showered upon my family. We all have the basics being Americans — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But I can be thankful for so much more – faith, family, health, employment and home — and even more.

I hope we can all take a moment and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. If you need help, watch the evening news. There are millions of people throughout the world whose only difference from you is a luck of the draw being born in an impoverished or war-torn country.

And while you are counting your blessings, let those close to you know you are thankful for them too.

…..Dan at aslowerpace

What we are thankful for this Thanksgiving…..

In preparation for the Thanksgiving decorations, the big meal and our guests, my wife did a creative project to add some personality to the table. She used different fall colored construction paper and cut out shapes of leaves. She then had each family member write what they are thankful for on each leaf and laminated them. Below are a few of the samples.

My blessings
- I am thankful for my faith.
- I am thankful for my wife and kids.
- I am thankful for opportunities.
- I am thankful for the ability to love, nurture, enjoy and provide for my family.

My wife
- I am thankful for my happy and healthy family.
- I am thankful for all of God’s blessings.
- I am thankful for holidays to celebrate.

The kids
- I am thankful for my familiy and my dogs.
- I am thankful for playing ball with Daddy.
- I am thankful for friends to play with.
- I am thankful for books to read.
- I am thankful for my room.

A quotable quote…..

In chatting with a friend today about our move, they quoted something their dad told them a long time ago. The timing is particularly interesting.

"Don’t add years to your life. Add life to your years."

That quote completely encapsulates the reason for our move. I couldn’t say it better myself. What a simple, yet insightful sentence.

Thanks to that friend for sharing.

…..Dan

Background – the goal…..

I have been travelling to Kentucky three to four times annually for a few years now. Every time I have gone, I have been impressed with the slower pace, the friendliness and the lower cost of living. During a recent trip this summer, I took a greater interest and began doing research on the possibilities of moving the family there. My company has a presence there so that was one piece of the puzzle. Another piece was the incredible appreciation in the real estate market in California — so much so that I would not be able to afford the house I live in. What’s up with that?

The other pieces that were appealing were the friendliness of the people, the family values atmosphere and the slower country lifestyle. All these combined, proved to be a draw for what we are looking for and what is best for our family.

This summer, I took my wife and oldest daughter out for a quick trip to determine if this was something our family could actually do. We discussed the pros, cons and options — almost to the point of overkill. We finally determined, as a family, that a move to Kentucky would allow the family greater opportunities for the long term. We were now all on the same page and I could pursue career options with my company in Kentucky.

Fast forward through meetings, phone calls and interviews. I now have a position with my current company in Louisville, Kentucky. Luckily, the company is paying all relocation costs (another benefit and piece to the puzzle). We found a house and property and are closing in the middle of December. The move is during an inopportune part of the year, this being the holiday season and all, but it will get us out there before the beginning of the year and allow us to settle a bit before new school and new work starts.

That is the current state of affairs. A few weeks and counting.
…..Dan

Background…..

Below are some basic facts that will help you understand where we are coming from in our decision to leave Thousand Oaks, California for Louisville, Kentucky.

We are a family of five living in Thousand Oaks, CA. My wife, Maria, is a full time stay at home mom with her hands full raising two girls and a boy. Enabling her to stay home was one of the biggest and most important decisions we faced several years ago. We have been blessed that we have been able to make it work through all the struggles. That focus, commitment and sacrifice is a core to what we believe in. You could say it is a precursor to this decision to leave the home we have created here in California for a slower pace of life in the countryside of Kentucky.

My employment is a non-typical (for California) 3 minute commute away. Luckily, I have been able to take advantage of this by coming home for lunch, attending school performances and coaching kids’ soccer. I have been blessed with a great employer however, I will not retire any time soon staying here in California. We are not rich but also don’t live paycheck to paycheck. College funding needs some attending to and our last vacation was a modest jaunt up the California coast hitting Best Westerns along the way.

The kids are spread out in age so one attends middle school, another is in elementary and another is in pre-school. They get the typical suburban tract home neighborhood experiences — playing in the front yard, watching tv and quarreling with each other as siblings do.

Church attendance is a semi-regular occurance — more frequent than just Christmas and Easter but not your die-hard every week. Values are important to our family and we routinely teach the kids prayer, manners and respect. As with kids, this needs consistent reinforcement. Hopefully, you catch us on a good day. I am also a realist.

Extracurricular activities are cyclical — kinda like church. We are very good home bodies but when we get out we enjoy local hikes (under 1 mile — the little legs get tired), the zoo, the beach and trips to Home Depot and Target. Oh yeah, and Grandma and Grandpa’s house along with also visiting Opa.

That’s about it. It’s a pretty good base to start with.
…..Dan