December 31, 2015

2015: A Year in Review

To say it's been a busy year would be laughably understated. I'm sure 85% of the world's population would say the same of their 2015.

It's also been the most joyful year of my life. Adding Babs to the mix makes everything better. Certainly not easier or quicker, but definitely better.

We put a lot of miles on 'ole Subey with six road trips of several hundred miles apiece.

We changed up our lifestyle. I traded in my 9 to 5 office job for a 24/7 work schedule, and freed us up for all the adventures we've been on. Taking that first step was the hardest part, but now the ball is rolling for much bigger plans.

I got my first tattoo! Hey, it's a milestone for me. Finally summoning up the balls and making the time to do something I've always wanted; something just for me that has no value other than being pretty.

Reflecting on 2015

Our own shortcomings are always easiest for us to see, and I have the bad habit of focusing on what's lacking in my life rather than taking the time to be grateful for all I have and have done. So that's my resolution for 2016: be grateful.

To that end, I also resolve to continue my (intermittent) practice of:

Morning Meditations

As with many of the good things in my life, this one was prompted by Mr. Go, who goes out of his way to find new, better ways of operating. Boy, do I love that guy.

I tried meditating with music, silence, using the app Headspace (which is only free for 10 days, but great) and listening to guided meditations by Tara Brach.

The last one works best for me because my brain is always wandering. Having someone telling me what to do and keeping me on track helps immensely.

Meditating is something that pops up again and again in books and podcasts as one of the best things you can do for your happiness. Cut out the chatter and static in your brain and learn how to focus on the present.

Be Here Now 2k16!


December 16, 2015

Feeding a Toddler and Yourself (Without the Stress Headache)

First, let me say, don't overthink it. The "experts" will tell you: just feed the kid what you eat. Don't make them their own special food or you'll create a picky eater. It's a nice goal to strive for, but if all they'll eat for dinner is cereal and bread, they're still probably going to grow up to be perfectly well-adjusted adults. So chill out.

we love cantaloupe now
We stopped making Babs her own puree several weeks ago, but I still get her lunchmeat, string cheese and do special steamed veggies just for her. I dial down the spice on our dishes on the off chance she'll eat a bite.

97% of the time she won't even put it in her mouth. But sometimes she does!

Here are some of the things that have worked for us:

Things that look like puree are usually pretty safe, such as pumpkin and sweet potato pie (sweetened with honey, a good way to trick her into eating eggs), and mashed lentils.

Chicken soup has carrots, so she recognizes those. And once she gets it in her mouth she realizes we're not actually trying to poison her, and will eat the accompanying chicken and celery too.

Chicken Curry, photo courtesy of Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso.

Instead of pie or puree, cut the sweet potatoes into fries and bake them--the perfect finger food.

Every time you put something in front of them, it makes it more familiar and more likely to get eaten. And even if she loved broccoli that one time but hasn't touched it the 17 times since, don't get discouraged. Keep offering her the good stuff, and most importantly, show her that you like it too!

Make it a Game

1, 2, 3
Take a spoonful of your food and encourage kiddo to do the same. Count "one, two, three" (bounce your spoon to the count of course) and then take a bite. Make as big of a show as you can without spilling everything.

Ask your toddler to smell the food. If you can get it close to their mouth on the pretext of "sniffing" it, they're less likely to be averse to you shoving a spoon at their face.

Name that Food
Ask your toddler to identify the food on their plate. "Can you show mom where the carrots are?" Ask them what color it is,  "Are the carrots blue? They're not?" Finally, ask them if they can take a bite.

Eating off a 'big girl' fork or spoon also makes food seem much more interesting and can get your foot in the door.

Toddler and You Meal Plan

We subscribe to the Paleo diet, which basically just means everything is natural. Here are some Paleo meals that have been a hit with everyone involved.

Chicken Curry Soup (from this A++ cookbook)

Red Lentil Curry

Pumpkin Pie

Sweet Potato Fries

Broccoli & Mushroom Frittata

They all contain things we'd introduced to her time and time again, sometimes with success, sometimes not, but offered in a different way makes it seem different without being too new and scary.

Good Luck!

November 30, 2015

Overnight Driving with a Toddler (+ 2 Dogs)

Babies change every day. Sometimes I forget that, and then it bites me right in the ass.

We took both dogs and the baby to Michigan for Thanksgiving and did our Christmas celebration at the same time, since we definitely won’t be doing this godforsaken drive again next month. We called it Thanksmas.

Nine days was too long to kennel the dogs, so we took them. Being packed in the car with coolers, jackets, toys and a dog on each side made for kind of a cramped trip. Not as much as our overland journey when we moved to AR, but quite a bit more than our last trip to Georgia, when we didn’t have the dogs.

We decided to do an overnight drive again, planning to arrive around 10am. I picked Mr. Go up from work at 6 p.m. and we were on our way.

Our problems started just one measly hour into the trip. Babs was fussy. I thought she was hungry. She’d been a little stressed that day with me trying to pack the car. It was dark out and I was trying to hand food back to her without either dog getting it first. She ate some pouches, cheese and milk.

Then she threw everything back up.

In about four heaves, she was covered in vomit. Her car seat was covered in vomit. Flotsam and Jetsam very helpfully tried to assist me in cleaning it up, but I respectfully declined. I did what I could while standing on my knees turned backward leaning over her with washcloths and baby wipes, and we stopped at the next gas station to wash everything out in the bathroom.

Flotsam tried to make his escape at this time, and happily took a turn about the parking lot before my death threats were taken seriously.

Babs, once clean of vomit and dressed in her jammies, was simply delightful. She danced a little bit in the gas station to the smooth jazz playing on the radio, then fell asleep in the car. For a while.

Babs is more alert and inquisitive than she was on the initial trip out to AR, and even the overnight trip to MI this summer, so when we stopped at night for gas, the boys woke up and made some noise that then woke her up. The first time (after a white-knuckled ten miles in desolate Illinois when we nearly ran the tank to empty) she was awake for two hours. I fed her a little more, afraid she was hungry but also afraid we’d have a repeat performance of The Exorcist. Then I twisted my arm back over my seat to hold her hand until she fell asleep, then snuck my cold, nearly dead arm away once she was zonked, after several failed attempts. 

All the while our cramped, enclosed space smells like baby vomit and dog breath. Mr. Go has been awake for 18 hours and will be awake for another 10. We were understandably crabby.

The second time we stopped for gas she was only awake roughly one hour before falling back asleep. The unplanned stop for vomit clean up and all the other stops for baby soothing put us back two hours.

After everything, the morning drive might still have been the worst part. Babs woke up around 6 a.m. after being cramped in a car seat all night and wanted to get out and play. We distracted her with food for a while before stopping for breakfast and a brief play outing, then Mr. Go took the wheel again. For the paltry few hours I drove, Babs was awake and Mr. Go was on baby duty, so he slept maybe an hour that night.

When we arrived at our destination around noon, we ate and napped, after foisting Babs onto a deliriously joyful Grandma.

Eight days later, the return trip went 80,394X better. First of all, she didn't vomit. Win. 

We started at Noon. Babs woke up early that day so she was realllllly tired by that time. She fell asleep instantly in the car, and slept for over two hours. It was glorious.

jetsam slept for a good 15 miles like this

We stopped a couple times that afternoon to let her get out and run around, then put her to "bed" around 6:30. She fell asleep just after 7, which is a little early for her bedtime, but she'd had a lot of excitement.

She did wake up a couple times in the night and cried for a minute or so, probably because she wanted to stretch and couldn't. So we woke her up next time we stopped and got her out. Then she slept for a good solid stretch until we got home. 

We arrived just after 5 a.m. Then, the little angel ran around the house for a few minutes to check things out and play, and let me put her back to bed for another two hours. Mr. Go and I slept, then I napped when she did that afternoon, though Mr. Go was too interested in football to sleep, despite running on roughly 3 hours sleep, walnut that he is.

Fun side note: When I opened the front door this afternoon to go out for the mail, I had a mystery surprise cactus on my front steps. One of those weird Southern things, maybe?

hello there, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior jesus christ?


It was a good trip. Packing all our stuff up to go back and forth between Grandparents’ houses four times was a little annoying, but it kept everyone happy and Babs took it as well as could be expected. At one grandma’s house we shared a room with Babs, so she didn’t sleep quite as well, able to hear us and the dogs shifting. 

We spent time with Babs’ great grandparents as well, which to me was the biggest win of the trip. It’s all precious time, with them getting up in years and us living so far away. My grandpa has been struggling with health issues for a while, and he absolutely lit up just by sitting there watching her play.

It’s amazing the way a child’s joy is contagious, if you take the time to stop and notice it.

So yeah, good trip. I learn something new about my daughter every day. Sometimes it helps me project her behavior in the future, sometimes it doesn’t. You get used to the feeling of being lost. #momlife

October 31, 2015

Thrifting Dos and Don'ts

Who doesn't love thrifting? Unique, sometimes even vintage items on the cheap? Yes, please. But it's best to exercise caution when thrifting. Believe it or not, there are some things best bought new.

Let's start with the Thrifting Don'ts.

Kitchen Items
Things that need to be sharp, like a vegetable peeler, knife, grater, etc. are best bought new. Because you know what you get when you purchase a .75c vegetable peeler? A weird, crappy letter opener, because it's certainly not going to be peeling any vegetables. Go to Dollar Tree and get a new one for an extra quarter and save yourself the nicked thumbs from trying to peel a thick-skinned sweet potato because you got a good deal on this stupid thing and you're going to use it dammit.

Battery-Operated Items
Sometimes you'll be fine.
Sometimes you'll spend $5 on a rad Fisher Price piano that turns out to be nothing more than an overpriced, dirty step stool.
Unless you have batteries with you that you can test in it, maybe don't risk it. 

Five years ago me disagrees. I love a bargain, and I love shoes. But if you're going to be putting any miles at all on them, forego already broken-in shoes. You want them to break into your foot, not someone else's. This is especially true for kids, though they're not putting much weight on the cushioning, they put about twice as many miles on their sweet little squishy feet as you do on your hooves.

Anything that Needs to be Dependable
Need it to comfortably support and keep your child safe? Probably new is best. This applies to anything that would be detrimental to you if it failed.

If you still want to live the thrifty life, visit your local Dollar Tree, where everything is $1. (NOT Dollar General--the devil in disguise.) Pro Tip: Shop here for the bigger items--30 oz hand soap, cookie sheets, can openers. Some comparison shopping might be necessary to ensure you're getting a good deal here rather than at Wally World, but be patient and you'll get some great bargains.

As for the Thrifting Dos:

Pretty Much Everything Else

Clothes? Abso-freakin-lutely. Jewelry? Sterilize your earrings first, then go crazy. Artwork, Books, Furniture, etc. are all great thrifted items. Especially if you have kids and/or dogs and can never have nice things again anyway.

If you don't completely destroy the item, re-donate it once it's run its course and share the love. Recycling makes the world go round!

October 20, 2015

How to Find Things to Do With a Toddler (No Matter Where You Are)

When you're traveling, finding community can be difficult. Especially if you're an introvert (like me), and especially if you travel somewhere where not many others are fellow travelers (like Arkansas).

So how do you find things to do and people to hang out with? Whether you're passing through for a couple days or a couple months, here are some tips for getting to know your new area (and the people there) in order to make the most of your time, especially if you're toting around a wee one.

Meetup Groups
Get an account at and Find Your People. Join groups that share your interests, whether it be salsa dancing, reading, or paganism and witchcraft. Most groups have a free trial period of one or two months before you have to pay a paltry yearly fee to stay and hang. This is useful for people in general, whether you have a kid or are a traveler or not. It provides the additional security of knowing that the people you'll be meeting want to meet you too.

Kids Directory
Find an almost comprehensive list of things to do with kids at Not all states have one, and not all areas of states are covered, but if you live near a city there's a good chance you'll find some cool stuff to do.

Go. To. The. Library. Once I graduated college, it's like I forgot libraries existed. But our library does fun stuff like Toddler Storytime, movie nights and even knitting and yoga classes. I bet yours does, too.

Oh, plus they have books. Borrowing books is a great way to keep a toddler interested and not have to amass a library yourself. (I suggest using a sanitizing wipe on board book pages and book covers.)

Be those parents. Drag your kid to the museum, but only if they have a fun exhibit, preferably interactive. A 3-year-old isn't going to enjoy Renoir or whoever. There should be dinosaurs. Animatronic dinosaurs. Or at least some stuff they can get their hands on. Google 'museum' or 'kids museum' and your city name and go explore.

Whether expansive state parks with lots of trees and open space or a tiny patch of grass with a swing set, parks are a great place for a kid to expend some energy. A grassy patch is all mine needs to be entertained at this stage. They're also the perfect place for toddlers to interact with other kids, allowing you an in to meet their parents.

Babies are natural ice breakers. "How old is your little one?" is my go-to conversation starter. Compliment that kid, and their parents will instantly be more open to you. Mention you're new to the area and most people feel compelled to help you get involved by telling you what they love most about the area and things they think you should do and see.

Many cities host fun events in their parks every so often. Go on your city's website to find a calendar of events. Even if they're not hosted in the park, it's another good resource for finding fun things to do.

Honorable Mention: Free Flyers
Grab one of the flyers from those boxes at the grocery store entrance, or on the thrift store counter. Community events will often be publicized this way rather than online. Your town may have a newsletter or a specific event may simply be advertised with a piece of paper. Pay attention!

One of my favorite things about traveling is tasting the flavor of a place. That means exploring the mom-and-pop shops, talking to people and getting the locals' take on what's what. This seems to be easier in the South, where folks are friendly to a fault. And especially if you have a cute baby--you'll be beating the locals off with a stick.

The more you travel, the better you'll get at finding the unique things a place has to offer. Get out of your comfort zone a little, go to events you wouldn't usually. Find new hobbies. Explore. That's what traveling is all about!

October 5, 2015

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

The only diamond mine in the United States where you can play the prospector is in Arkansas. A bandana and ratty brimmed hat are encouraged but not required.

the beginning of the excursion, so full of hope

Entry costs $8/person (under 10 is free). We bought a couple trowels and rented a sifter screen, but you can bring your own if you have them lying around.

I was surprised at how serious some people were about mining for diamonds, but then less surprised the more I thought about it. Some folks brought easy ups for shade (since there is literally no natural shade available as you're mining), bag chairs, buckets and other tools. There are campsites available to rent a short distance from the mining site too, if you really want to make a weekend of it.

We were there for 2 hours, and it was enough.

What to Bring to Crater of Diamonds State Park

We had no idea what to expect so I brought hiking boots, sneakers, pants, snacks, a backpack full of sunscreen and diapers and an extra shirt, just for the hell of it. I brought practically everything I own.

On a nice dry day, I should have just worn my sneakers and brought a light blanket to sit on.

Also, more water. They have water fountains, but it's best if you just have your own water on you at all times. Stay hydrated people, it's rule #1.

Toting a child along does require some extra attention, so a backpack with diapers, wipes, snacks, hand sanitizer (or just use wipes), and sunscreen is a must.

no diamond yet. keep digging, Babs.
The largest diamond found at the park was over 40 carats (1924). This year someone found an 8.5 carat diamond. They plow the search area every so often to turn up the dirt and more diamonds. Apparently after it rains is the best time to go because it churns stuff up, but I'd rather minimize mud.

Do yourself a favor and do not go to this park in the height of summer, please. It was a nice cool day over the weekend and I was still sweating, even in shorts. As previously mentioned, there is not much shade, unless you take a break from mining and sit in one of the pavilions.

walked away a little richer than we came, and we didn't even need to find a diamond
Babs had a great time, though. She's been having fun playing in our dirt pile backyard picking up rocks so we figured Crater of Diamonds was the natural next step. I told her to find mama a diamond, but she didn't follow through. Kids.

Now that the weather is finally easing up on us, we'll be checking out more of Arkansas' 52 state parks! Yay for fall!

September 25, 2015

Babs Goes to Georgia

I've traveled more places now that I'm a mom than I ever did in my carefree early 20s. 

Now that the only schedule I have to adhere to is feeding and putting a toddler to sleep (both of which can be done in a car) we're so mobile it's ridiculous.

So we decided to go visit some friends in GA. They have a 9 month old little boy; we figured Babs would like to see him again.  (We were right.)

Mr. Go wanted to share this nugget of wisdom about our trip: "Don't underestimate 539 miles." Not that many people would, but... 8 hours? After our last two road trips were 17+ hours.... we thought it would be just like popping over to see a neighbor. (We were wrong.)

We drove at night, starting at 6 p.m. and getting in around 3 a.m. Babs woke up when transferring her into the house to her pack 'n play, and wanted nothing but to explore the house. She was furious that I wouldn't let her. By some miracle she didn't wake up their baby (glory glory hallelujah). I watched a movie with her on my phone in bed, hoping she'd fall asleep (since it had worked before) but had no luck. Mr. Go thought this was a truly terrible idea and at 5 a.m., both of us exhausted and with a screaming baby, made for a not-so-pretty sight.

She finally fell asleep in our friend's baby's swing, and Mr. Go took her (swing and all) back upstairs to her room when the sun came up so the rest of the house waking up wouldn't disturb her.

After being able to explore the house and satisfy her curiosity about being in a new place, she napped pretty easily the rest of the weekend, only crying for 1-2 minutes before putting herself to sleep for the first nap, then going down like an angel after that. Our friends offered to let us use their pack 'n play, but we opted to take our own, so Babs would have as many familiar things/smells as possible.

For next time: If she wakes up on the transfer inside, take her on a quiet tour before trying to put her to bed. It might not work, because this baby is a constant mystery to me, but it's worth a shot.

Mr. Go and Babs atop Kennesaw mountain on the sweatiest day of my life

We took her on a hike up Kennesaw mountain, to play at a big park and went out to eat at a fabulous Louisiana-style place called Henry's. The rest of the time we stayed in, hung out and let the babies play together. But the best thing to do in Kennesaw is to play bean bag toss in the unfinished basement of a friend's enormous house.

Babs and her boyfriend. Mr. Go hovering chaperoning in back.

I am so glad Babs is as independent as she is now. And she'll only keep getting more fun the older she gets. I forgot how utterly helpless (in a good way) infants are. It's a legit miracle that every day she's growing and she'll never be the same as she is at this very moment. I guess the same is true of all of us, and it's good to be reminded every now and then to be thankful for the moment you're in--because it's the only one you've got.

September 9, 2015

Hosting on Airbnb

I should've titled this post How to Live For Free While Traveling the World, but that's a little misleading. While that is the end result, the process was a little more complex than that.

While living in Arkansas, we decided to rent out our CO home so that it would generate us some income instead of sitting there unused. There were several options for this, but we chose Airbnb because the website is easier for customers to use. Preparing the house for "vacation rental" seemed like it would be easy.

Not so.

Many people rent out a room in their home while they're still living there and have a lot of success. A woman down the street from us did that, but the room was accessible from its own door so it was pretty private.

To ensure the possessions we cared about were protected, we moved all of our personal items (clothes & other important things) to either the shed in the backyard or the crawlspace, which we locked. It doesn't sound like a lot of prep work but it definitely was. We went through the entire home item by item. If we would be upset if it was ruined, it went into storage for protection.

  • Things you might not think about initially, like my nice Boos block cutting board, went into storage.
  • All of the furniture stayed out and all of the pictures stayed up on the walls.
  • We added smoke alarms to every room and fixed up some things that we didn't care about but would make a less than stellar impression on guests, such as a leaky hose spigot and a slow water dispenser on the fridge. 
  • We put away our Keurig because a) we didn't want anyone messing it up and b) we didn't want to have to provide K-cups for people. So we bought a cheap drip coffeemaker and stocked the pantry with a couple big tubs of Folgers.
  • I wrote a House Guide -- a 7-page document that included instructions for all the appliances and house rules, such as taking shoes off at the front door and stripping the sheets after the stay, as well as a section on the neighborhood and things to do.

Packing up my closet was a huge task in itself. I weeded out a ton of stuff, but that still left 6 totes (!!!), not including my shoes. Then there was the guest room closet, in which I stored my overflow things, like Halloween costumes and maternity clothes. This brought me to the grim realization that I own too much stuff.

Colorado is a vacation destination, which we remembered when we received a huge surge of interest in renting our home. But I chose to rent to one family who was interested in a longer-term stay.

The Result (so far)

We've had two families stay in our home using Airbnb so far. After so much prep work, we were nervous about it being a disaster, but it's gone great. Our first guests stayed for 9 days and were respectful and even washed some of the sheets to make it easier on our cleaning person.

The next guests are renting longer term. We have good communication with them and they seem like good people. They're booked for 3 months with the expectation to stay through the end of the year.

We're hopeful it'll be a good source of income while we're not living in the house. If all goes according to plan, it should pay for the mortgage and utilities there, and the mortgage on the house we're living in now.

It's tough to do while we're out of state, but we have a friend mowing the grass and checking in, which puts my mind at ease to know we have someone we trust keeping an eye on things.

Update: The family living in the house (The Stays) are amazing. They're thoughtful and helpful and super chill. Even though we could be making a lot more money with more, shorter stays, and there's a lot more wear and tear on our house this way, I'm glad to have someone we know we can trust in the house. We know they'll take care of things, whereas a bunch of random strangers might be fine, but they also might not be.

September 7, 2015

The No Hassle Approach to Investing

My time is my most valuable form of currency. I choose to spend it doing whatever the hell I want with the people I want to share it with. One thing I don’t want to waste my time on is stressing over near term market movements, entry/exit points and charts! There are people who do this all day, every day and they are rewarded handsomely for it.

Me, on the other hand, I live. And when I have to, I work.

Now, I’m not at all qualified to give you investing advice. But I can tell you what I do with my money. I can also promise you that I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching this topic (and stressing over near term market movements, entry/exit points and charts) to develop a no hassle approach to investing that will provide maximal output. Let’s dive in.

Here’s what you should know before I unveil my Automated Money Machine:
  • Warren Buffet said it best in his two rules of investing: “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”
  •  96% of mutual fund managers under perform the S&P 500. Yup, 96%. These are money management professionals and they cannot beat the S&P 500 index. I’m a smart guy, I could work my ass off and maybe I could be in that 4%. Or I could follow the smart money, invest in index funds and take a winnable approach to an often unwinnable game. I know it will limit my upside, but I’m also protecting my downside (See Rule No. 1 or 2. Thank you, Mr. Buffet).
  •  Asset Allocation. This is a critical part of my portfolio. Opinions from investment professionals differ across the board on this one. I’ll follow the advice of the famous hedge fund manager Ray Dalio who has only had four losing years out of the last 30 (His biggest loss was 3.93%). If you have a better idea, go for it.
  • Management fees. The mutual funds or ETFs you buy matter! Buy index funds with low management fees. Here’s why: Let’s imagine you and a friend invest $100,000 in two different funds. Your fund has an annual fee of 2% and your friend’s fund has an annual fee of 1%. Assuming a 7% growth rate, after 30 years your investment would be worth $432,194. Your friend’s investment would be worth $574,349. I’m no expert, but I hope I’m your friend in this scenario. (P.S. The average cost for owning a mutual fund is 3.17% per year.)
The Automated Money Machine
I’m enrolled in a non-retirement account at I’m invested in four mutual funds (To the tune of 0.20% in annual fees, this is why the Vanguard is important):
  • Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX) – 30% of account
  • Vanguard Long Term Treasury Fund (VUSTX) – 40% of account
  • Vanguard Intermediate Term Treasury Fund (VFITX) – 15% of account
  • Vanguard Precious Metals (VGPMX) – 15% of account
Deposits are scheduled monthly from my bank account and money is automatically invested according to this asset allocation. Go rebalance your account once a year and you’re done. It’s that simple.

Graph compares investment returns of $10,000 invested in 1997.
Portfolio 1 - Automated Money Machine
Portfolio 2 - S&P 500 Index
Portfolio 3 - Total Bond Market Index

But what about retirement?
The same principles apply. I max out my retirement contributions prior to adding funds to the non-retirement account. I don’t qualify for a Roth IRA (otherwise I would), so my money has to be invested in an SEP-IRA. I’ve chosen to manage this with Fidelity. The Fidelity mutual funds I invest in are: Spartan 500 Index (FUSVX), Spartan Long Term Treasury (FLBAX), Spartan Intermediate Term Treasury (FIBIX), Fidelity Select Gold (FSAGX), and Fidelity Global Commodity (FFGCX). The only difference from the prior allocation is that Gold and Commodity are each weighted 7.5%.

That’s it! Short. Plain. Simple.

But what do I know? The truth is, nothing. No one knows where markets will go next. But I do know I won't be wasting any of my most valuable currency worrying about it. I continue to work hard for my money and I'm determined to protect it and grow it in the easiest way possible.

While I can’t tell you what to do with your money, I can tell you what to do with your time. Spend it wisely.

- Mr. Go

August 28, 2015

Magnaball 2015

Music, much like religion or politics, is amazing in its ability to bring people together. But unlike religion or politics, people don't fight wars over music. They just get together and jam out.

We've been Phish fans for several years. Last weekend marks my 10th, 11th and 12th shows. Mr. Go has been to even more. Some friends of ours introduced us to it and we go with them a couple times a year. 

The Sea of People at Magnaball 2015

Phish hosts a festival every couple years. This year it was called Magnaball. So we drove to New York state, camped for 4 nights and saw them play 3 shows.

our route

It was absolute insanity. There were 30,000 people packed in and camping around this race track. You had a couple feet between your tent and the next, if that. We were parked next to our friends in a line with space in between the cars for the tents.

Magnaball Map

It was like its own little town with separate camping villages. There were vendors in each campground selling food and crafts, and a ton more in the main area where the stage was set up. They had cool interactive art exhibits set up, a ferris wheel, a post office, a farmer's market, a club and a drive-in movie theater. The sheer magnitude of it was phenomenal. 

Mr. Go and I on the ferris wheel

Slightly inebriated  Mr. Go enjoying the art exhibits

For me it's always been less about the music (though that's awesome too) and more about the experience. The community of Phish Fans is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Maybe it's all the marijuana smoke floating around. But I like to think it's like-minded people just getting together and having a good time. Honestly, most of the people are so kind and generous it makes me a little emotional. 

Mr. Go and I were walking around the campgrounds looking for somebody with a cooler selling beer and we asked a guy walking toward us if he knew of anyone and he said, "You want a beer? Here I'll give you one." Then he walked over to his campsite, grabbed a beer and just gave it to us. We let our neighbors borrow a hammer and he returned it with a beer. I was standing in line for the shower and a woman gave me a Phish themed slap bracelet. I could go on. They're just good people.

(Of course there are bad apples in every bunch, like our one neighbor who brought a huge speaker and blared music in the middle of the night.)

On Saturday the band played in the afternoon and again in the evening. Apparently they usually do some kind of fun surprise for the fans, too, like a couple years ago they played on the bed of a truck and drove around the campground. This year they set up behind the movie screen and played at 1a.m on Sunday morning. It wasn't really secret, though. One of the food vendors told us and somehow everyone found out. So after their evening set on Saturday everyone migrated over to the movie screen and stood there, drunk and high, waiting. The band played this crazy set that wasn't really any songs, just one long song of amazing noise while cool fluid screen-saver-esque images played on the screen, interspersed with distorted images of the band as they played.

The combination of the music, light show and the energy from the crowd makes every show and experience a little different, and it can be very powerful. It's moved me to joyous tears several times and I look forward to the next experience.

August 26, 2015

Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (aka the worst week of my life)

This is a thing that happens to people. When Mr. Go looked our symptoms up on the interwebs and said "I think we have Hand Foot and Mouth disease," I laughed at him. We're not cows, we don't have Hoof and Mouth disease. But no, turns out we actually did.

The first symptom appears 3 days after infection: a high fever and feeling of unwell. I got that Monday night along with chills and a terrible headache. Mr. Go got it the next afternoon. Then the sores showed up. We had no idea the two symptoms were related. We thought they were bug bites at first and I cleaned the entire house and washed everything we own because I thought we had a chigger infestation. Poor Babs had bumps all over her legs and bottom.

The sores are basically deep blisters, and having them on the bottom of your feet means you can hardly stand to walk. Mr. Go had them all over his hands and I had to practically do everything for him.

Nighttime was the worst. Without anything to distract you, it made it seem even worse and falling asleep nearly was impossible. Sleep-deprived and in pain with no was the most miserable either of us had ever been.

We tried everything: Tylenol, probiotic foods and pills, anti-itch creams, lidocaine lotion. The only thing that provided some relief from the pain and itching was ice packs. We each slept with them; me with one on my feet and Mr. Go with one between his hands.

I was a little embarrassed to have contracted it, but my Mom Group assured me it was very common and most of them had had it at one point with their kids. In children the sores don't tend to itch for some reason, which I was grateful for. If Babs was 1/5 as miserable as the two of us, things would have been a million times worse.

Now that the blisters have stopped itching and hurting, they're peeling. Mr. Go's fingers look like weird scaly weenies. The nightmare continues, but it's all downhill from here. Another valuable life lesson.

August 17, 2015

Babs' 3,000 Mile Road Trip

Babs is a squirmy 16-month-old toddler, so I was understandably anxious about her coming on this road trip. There were a few bumps, some red-faced screaming and some miles where I had to ride with my arm twisted around to hold her hand, but we made it and ultimately have a more flexible toddler.

that's a lot of miles
If you have a baby who gets fussy/bored in the dar, drive while she is sleeping. We stopped in Illinois on the first night to get some sleep, since we were headed to a wedding and knew there wouldn't be much sleep the next few nights either.

We pulled into the jankiest Motel 6 in America at about 1 a.m. and Babs was delighted to explore the hotel room. Wide awake and not wanting to sleep in her pack n play in a new place, I bounced her (on my own two legs--not even an exercise ball) for about an hour before just putting her in bed with us and watching a movie on my iphone until she fell asleep.

Side note: it was the first time we'd co-slept and it was delightful. She wiggles a lot when she sleeps but it's worth being able to watch her in peaceful dreams. Plus, when she woke up and saw Dad and Mom in bed with her she fell back asleep for another hour.

On the drive home, we drove straight through and Babs slept like a log the whole way. I'd take that over a couple hours sleep in a hotel room.

Feeding Baby on the Road

Giving your toddler good nutritious foods while traveling can be difficult. When we stopped to eat, we'd give her some of whatever we had (omelet, hash browns, green beans, etc.) as long as it wasn't deep fried. But for quickie meals in the car when she's hungry and you don't want to stop, or when traveling without access to a steamer, we went through literally hundreds of these to-go puree pouches:

There are a ton of different brands: Plum, Happy Tot, Gerber, etc. And a ton of different flavor combinations: veggies, fruit, fruit & veggies, even some with yogurt and some with meat. But beware of the ingredients. Even if it only lists two things on the front of the pouch, many of them are sweetened with apple juice.

Now Babs gets uncontrollably excited whenever she sees one of these heavenly pouches. In the baby aisle at the grocery store, or the spare I keep in my diaper bag. Once she catches sight of it, she will move heaven and earth to get it. And all other food is second best.

It was 110% worth it for me to buy these pouch holders because Babs has definitely squeezed the food puree all over herself a time or two before I wised up.

Napping on the Road

We brought the Pack n Play for her to sleep in, since that has been her crib for the last month and a half anyway. She hardly spent a single night in the same place for about a week, but she did surprisingly well with it. She had to sleep between us in bed a few nights and we had to lay in bed and pretend to be asleep for her to go down for a nap a couple times, but it worked just fine.

At camp, she napped with us in the tent, or in the hammock. We put the Pack n Play in our tent for the first couple nights but she didn't end up sleeping in it so we took it down. She slept better when she would wake up and see us right next to her anyway.

She's a wiggler when she sleeps so I got pushed off the mattress a couple times, but I was so happy she was actually sleeping that I didn't mind too much.

It was so hot at camp the first few days we had to do a couple naps in the nice air conditioned car, but we were so hot too we didn't mind the break.

I know people say routine routine routine for toddlers, but I think this shake up was ultimately good for her. She's proven to herself that she can not only manage elsewhere, but be happy napping in a hammock and sleeping in a tent at night. Camp was so much fun for her with the great wide world as her playground that it wiped her out and she slept pretty good.

It's a good sign for the plans Mr. Go and I would like to put into motion in the near future. And the older she gets, the easier it will be to travel with her, as she learns more and more how to entertain herself without us around.

August 5, 2015

Vagabonding Packing List (with a baby) (and 2 dogs)

Listen, you're not gonna find a bigger clothes horse than this girl. So fitting everything I needed for 6+ months into a duffel (that I had to share with Babs) was pretty daunting.


 there's more crammed into every corner

up next on Hoarders...




I started with the basics. Things I would need if I were camping, or the car broke down on the side of the road. Bare-bones, essential survival gear. Mr. Go assured me we could thrift more clothes when we arrived at our destination and re-donate them when we leave, which put my mind at ease. I would not have to go naked--or worse.
The rest was all indulgence. I could've parsed this down a lot, too, and I'm sure I'll have to for the next venture.
  • nice dress & heels (for the one day a year I need to wear something nice)
  • climbing shoes
  • hiking boots
  • this prAna dress (literally the best thing I own)
  • several camis (the kind with the shelf bra. A-cup ladies know what I'm talking about)
  • several over-cami tanks
  • jean shorts
  • 2 more pairs of workout shorts
  • workout capris
  • lounging sweats
  • cotton shorts
  • a nicer pair of jeans
  • backup T-shirt & a couple casual tops
  • this prAna tank
  • 1 bag of jewelry & a small purse
It was important to only bring things that were versatile. None of this "these shoes only go with this one outfit" that I like to do. I can wear my sneakers with pretty much everything I brought. Same with my sandals. Mix and match. These are good principles to live by anyway.

Babs' packing list was tough, since she's growing so fast. I packed things she needed daily right now and one or two things she could grow a little bit into. Baby clothes are small, so they were easy to pack, but it's also easy to thrift baby clothes.
  • 7 onesies (including 1 long sleeved and 1 tank style)
  • 2 sleepers
  • a ton of washcloths
  • 4 burp cloths (to put under her when changing diapers)
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • socks
  • sun hat
  • 4 sweaters/jackets 
  • 4 pairs of pants
  • 2 T-shirts
  • shorts
Her gear was the toughest to pack. For such a small baby, she certainly requires a lot of bulky equipment.
Other things we packed for our upcoming car camping trips, like a canopy, tent, sleeping bags, small backpack, etc.

The dogs came with their own bulky equipment, like their crates that they sleep in and a big bag of accoutrements like balls, bones, treats, leashes, etc.

It's been fun living a more minimal life than what we're used to. We still have it really, really good, but going without some of the luxuries (read: distractions) we've had in the past makes it easier to put the focus on experiences and being together.

It's sort of cathartic; freeing in a way. You feel lighter without all of your stuff weighing you down. Like you can do anything and go anywhere. Because you can.

July 10, 2015

Southern Livin'

Living in the South is so charming. It has a very U.P. feel to it, which is a blast from the past for Mr. Go and I, and makes us feel very much at home. The humidity sure is spot on--you step out your door and nearly drown in the air--and the bugs, too. Ah yes, the creepy feeling of insects crawling all over you, feels like home.

These lovely whiteboard houses with wrap around porches and rocking chairs--makes me want a lemonade and an old coon hound. (Flotsam will have to do. He snores like one, anyway.)

Babs is a big hit in the South. Southerners seem to love talking to/about babies. There's nothing more adorable than a large, bearded Southern trucker hunching down and giving a tiny wave to a shy little baby. She's been called a Little Darlin' with Cheeks for Days a couple times. She's a great conversation starter, and she's always getting waves from people across the room or as they pass by. 

Mostly, we've found folks to be very nice and honest, if a bit heavy handed with the religion. There's churches here like there are Starbucks in Denver. And some alarming billboards.

Found at Home Depot on July 4
It's very patriotic too. July 4 was a huge deal. Enormous fireworks tents every 500 feet (which were shot off from both of our neighbors' backyards until 10:30pm much to Flotsam and Jetsam's dismay) and the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem sung on the radio every morning. There's something about that feeling of community and pride that brings people together.

For early risers like us, it's tough if we want to go do anything since most places don't open until 8 or 9, and if you want to do something on Sunday, good luck.

Overall, it's a much slower pace, which was expected from a smaller town, and it's a nice change. It's good to be reminded to just slow it down. You don't have to do everything at once. If you need to put it off for a while, that's alright too. Just sit down in your rocking chair and watch your baby playing, or pet your dog. The work will keep; stop, be present in the now and be together.

July 7, 2015

Craigslist Pros & Cons

Craigslist can be a great tool to find what you need on the cheap. Someone's moving and everything has to go by the weekend--you get a bedroom set and a fridge, and they'll deliver! Unfortunately, it's also easy to get scammed.

We needed:
a lawnmower
a fridge

For some reason, finding a used lawnmower in the South is impossible, but we eventually found a really crappy one at a pawn shop for $35. Mr. Go has already had issues with the carburetor after just the first mow and it makes our garage smell like the Exxon Valdez. But a coworker found us a "better" one and we're going to make a trade. The importance of personal connections and word of mouth is becoming more and more evident. (This is a good opportunity for me to work on my people skills.)

As previously mentioned, we could not get anyone to sell us their fridge, so we bit the bullet and bought a new one before we drowned in grease from take out.

We found a really nice microwave for $50. Could've gotten a cheap one new for that much, but this Panasonic is like nuclear powered. Or maybe I'm just used to my old crappy microwave at home. In any case, I was happy with the deal. The people were having a sale and we got a cool end table from them for $10 too.

As far as a washer and dryer...there were lots of options on Craigslist, but we were being thrifty. Let me tell you, You Get What You Pay For. We found some people who were moving and were willing to deliver a Magic Chef dryer and Whirlpool washer to us for $125. What a great deal! What could go wrong?

Babs was napping when they dropped it off, so we didn't hook it up to test it. Mistake #1. Always test everything before you buy it on Craigslist. Yes, even if you have to wake the baby. For the price of a crabby baby for a few hours we could've avoided the fiasco.

After spending a good couple hours cleaning the groty things (how can a WASHER get so dirty??), and buying the necessary equipment to hook them up to our hookups, the drum on the washer leaked all over our floor and the dryer just plain ole didn't work.

Contacting this guy has proven fruitless so far, but we're still trying. I'm not hopeful. Mr. Go is in a Righteous Fury and calling the dirtbag 75 times every day.

But, we found another --very nice-- man to bring us an old (but working!) washer & dryer and haul away the duds for $260, which puts our grand total for the ordeal at $385. Still a decent price for a washer and dryer, but we could've done without the headaches.

Update: the washer is only sort of working, so our new pal Marvin is going to come out and take a look at it for us, since we're going to be selling them back to him when we leave here. Again, personal connections.

So you win some you lose some, but we'll chalk it up to a learning experience. Always best to be extra cautious.

July 4, 2015

993 Miles Later

Driving through the night is rough. We planned on switching halfway through but Mr. Go, in classic Mr. Go fashion, decided to do it all himself. I slept a few unrestful hours, but Babs woke up every time we stopped for gas and cried for a while. Being crammed in the car with a dog on each side probably wasn't very comfortable for a girl who likes to do acrobatics in her crib as she sleeps.

As much as I hate moving, and as stressful as it was trying to pack everything we'd need for 6 months into a car, I really enjoyed unpacking into our house in just a few hours. No boxes, no messy packing materials, just toss our duffels in our bedroom, set up the Pack N Play and we were in. I look forward to going even lighter on our next move.


Going from a 2,000 sq foot bi-level to a 1,200 sq foot single level home has been fantastic. I loved my CO home, but this little square house is easy to clean and keep track of things in. And Mr. Go wants to go even smaller next time.

ProTip: If you have less space, you will (theoretically) accumulate less stuff.

this is pretty much it
After getting some sleep, the first priority was getting a refrigerator. Eating out for every meal was hard on a family that went out to eat probably twice a year. (I'll be sweating vegetable oil for days yet.) Craigslisting a fridge proved impossible, so we splurged on the cheapest fridge Home Depot could sell us. A $298 Vissani top freezer that was actually a pretty good deal (and it fit in our Subaru!).

awww it's so cute
I'm about to sound really pretentious, but I've been living with side-by-side fridge/freezers for the past 5 years and this little thing looks like a Hobbit fridge. But it keeps our food cold and really, that's all we need it to do. The slimming down of our possessions continues.

We've now been in our new home for a week and a day and we're coming to realize some of our packing mistakes.

We should have brought more toys for Babs. (Or we need to get better at thrifting working toys for her.) Had to go to Target and buy her something that made obnoxious noises and flashy lights to keep her occupied. The girl who could enjoy a whisk and a tupperware for an hour is suddenly quite demanding. She seemed to be doing so well with all this change--I'd never seen her take such long naps as she did the first 4 days here--but it might just be catching up with her.

We should've been traveling with emergency tools. Like a hammer, saw and wrench. These things come in handy. We've needed them since we got here and had to pick them up at garage sales and pawn shops.

On the bright side, I haven't wished I had packed something else from my closet yet. Maybe more underwear, since we just this morning got a washer that we're hopeful will work. (More on the dangers of Craigslist later.)

The big win of this week was that we didn't have to Facetime with Mr. Go at night and catch up on our days. We got to have dinner together and he got to kiss Babs' fat little cheeks goodnight. So whatever else we go through, it'll be worth it and we'll make the best of it because honestly, our goal for this venture is already achieved:

Be Together.

Mobile Family Unit Day 1

Of course, the Mobile Family really began a few months ago, when Mr. Go finally got through to me when talking about this idea. “He has good ideas sometimes, and I should really listen to him.

Here’s the plan: Rent out our CO home on Airbnb and buy a home in AR, where Mr. Go is working for the next 6-12 months. Live light—camping style—so that moving back home (or wherever the wind takes us next) will be a breeze.

Step one was to quit my job. I told my friends, “I’m off work until June 25th we should hang out!” HA! I had no idea how much startup work this would be. And I wouldn’t realize it until the week of the move. Luckily Mr. Go was able to work from home that last week and help me out. And thank goodness we kept our nanny on for the last month to help me out while I was working on getting the house ready for renting. (I have so much to say about it that Airbnb will be a whole separate post.)

I think Mr. Go may have overestimated the space we had in our Subaru Impreza, because while packing I heard a lot of “if we have space, we’ll bring that.” I started out packing so conservatively. Two jeans, a couple tank tops, a T-shirt, shorts, some underwear, socks and a bra. Bam. Done. Then, while packing away the rest of my closet (how did I get so much stuff??) I kept throwing things in my duffle. “I’ll need that!” Even Mr. Go asked a few times, “Don’t you want to bring that?” To which I always said of course.

So Subey is packed to the gills. I have a diaper bag and a cooler under my feet and a purse on my lap. It probably won’t be the most comfortable drive but I’ve been dead on my feet for the past two days so I don’t think falling asleep will be a problem.

Doing something so vastly different from your norm is always so exciting. Why don’t we do it all the time? I never was good at pushing my own boundaries, that’s why I keep Mr. Go, even if I resist him at times. Maybe I should set an alarm on my phone for every six months so I'll be reminded to Do Something Different.

The whole point of this exercise is to spend more time together. Being away from Babs every week was killing him. But, in the process of trying to all be together again, we’ve also learned a lot about the nature of possessions and the American Way of “More is Better.” All of my clothes barely fit into our not-insubstantial crawlspace. Do I really need that many clothes? Do I really need that many shoes? No. But it’s hard to break the mentality of “Having more means you are doing better.” We’re working toward valuing experience and time rather than possessions and have already realized it’s easier as a concept than it is in practice. Being addicted to things is as real as being addicted to sugar or like, meth or whatever.

But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step—or something like that.

So here we go!