Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November Update

Wow this month is marching on and I've been busy preparing for this weeks Thanksgiving meal by shopping for all the goodies necessary to serve a proper dinner.  Think I'm ready, just need to do the cooking.

This month has gone from the 80 and 90's in outside temperatures, to a sudden drop down into the low 60's.  For we cold blooded Floridians that's quite chilly and it was reflected today with my girls donning long sleeve shirts, jackets and gloves to do their homeschool lessons.

We've enjoyed some beautiful sunrises lately, and some so foggy you could barely see the lake out back.

On one particularly rainy afternoon, between rain and brief sunny periods a hawk landed on the screen room out back and sat with it's wings spread to dry out a bit before flying off.

After the rain stopped we had a pretty rainbow that unfortunately I didn't quite capture it's full beauty, but it spanned the full horizon out back.

We continue to get some more produce from the garden.  Here are two more ripe pineapples and a nice size papaya and a few of the many kumquats we've had.  I've also harvested a lot more salad makings and sweet potatoes along with a couple more butternut squash.  My broccoli are really growing nicely along with onions that I planted at the beginning of this month.  With the temperatures so nice, I'll be adding more seedlings to the garden.

My Mexican Sunflower is blooming and a particularly large bee visits it regularly.

The fig trees are beginning to form figs, and my pear tree has about 4 on it.  Not bad since I just planted this pear only a few months ago.  The cranberry hibiscus is in full bloom and looks beautiful.

Cameron and I celebrated birthdays this month.  He's here trying on one of his new jackets that apparently arrived just in time to wear.

We're loving the cooler temperatures and I'm taking full advantage to be able to spend more time cleaning up and clearing out weeds from my garden beds.  It's a nice time of the year here in Central Florida.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Journey Continues

True to the name of our blog the journey continues as we round another bend on the road in our lives.  Not to be too ambiguous or obscure, but recent events have called for us as a family to really take time to reflect on what our priorities are and consider these when making choices.

As I've stated in past posts our transition to Florida came after Kevin was able to take an early retirement after his 22 years with the water district in Southern California.  The sale of our home there sealed the deal in making this move a new start and was our "Cortez" moment akin to his burning his ships to inspire his troops to succeed in their new venture without the escape option of climbing back on the ships that brought them and returning home.

As we've documented our projects, experiences and progress in our new home and the situations life's presented in the now 2 1/2 years we've been here it's time for another big change for our family.  Kevin has worked on finishing his Master's Degree during this time and successfully completed this in June.  He's also maintained a side business he's had for years that is still dealing primarily with clients in California.  This consulting business has always been a nice addition to the family income, but was never a full time career.  So with his degree completed and life offering opportunities that require more resources to pay for them he began looking into career moves available.

This brought him the chance to work for two great places and the difficulty now was to narrow it down to the finalist that he would go with.  Not a bad spot to be in, and one that we felt would be best suited to have a family meeting to really explore the options and give everyone a chance to weigh in since this change would have an impact on each member of the family. We began by having Kevin make a list of pros and cons for each of the choices.

Option 1 :  Great International Company located 38 miles from our home that would challenge him to use the skills he's acquired over the years along with the chance to grow in work experience and have additional long term opportunities.

The strongest benefit of this company was a GREAT annual salary and bonus - hard to ignore when weighing  the two options. The work environment of this company is more industrial due to the manufacturing portion of this site. This was also part  of the negatives on his list as this aspect of the company made for a more sterile work atmosphere and presented the additional negative of possible late nights and weekend hours as his would be a salaried managerial position with oversight of the two building complex as an Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator. This company also offered him 3 weeks vacation annually and occasional travel to other facilities in the states and countries they have locations in.

A negative that isn't the companies doing, but had to be taken into consideration by our family, was the commute. Though not long as far as distance was concerned - travel to the facility could only be made by using the Interstate Highway.  This is a stretch of road that is being widened and will eventually be a great change for the already congested conditions it currently has, however between roadwork slowing traffic, general congestion and the regular accidents that happen and often shut down whole sections of the highway, it can be a commuting nightmare that would add to longer hours away as a result of these potential delays from this construction that are scheduled to continue for the next few years.

Option 2:  This position is the oversight of 4 campuses for the States College system with the local one being his main base of operation.  The salary is good, but clearly a lot less than Option 1 - this was a major negative for this option.  The work environment is that of 4 beautiful campuses and from the time spent in interviews his experience with the team he would be working with gave him a feeling of being very positive and excited at the prospect of taking on the task of creating a position that while being federally mandated has never been fully implemented so he would be essentially creating the parameters of his job.  This draws on his past work experiences, his love of teaching through training programs he would have to implement and a freedom of movement and time setting that allows for the sense of being treated as the responsible adult and professional that he is.

The commute is 18 miles with a choice of routes to take that keep the travel time to a half hour each way.  The availability of continued educational benefits for Kevin and the family at no expense are a part of the benefits package to offset the significantly lower salary.  Another factor to be considered was paid time off.  In addition to the 1 1/2 weeks vacation time offered, because the campuses shut down during Winter and Springs breaks Kevin would have this additional paid time off and both are at times that are particularly important to our family in being together.  Then during the summer the schedule switches to 4, ten hour days because of reduced class schedules and that would offer him the chance to return to the 4 day work week he had in the last several years with the water district in California that we as a family found really nice for time together and all the activities and projects we liked to get done.

So after weighing all the options on his list and each of us putting in our two cents worth of advice and presenting our perspective on which we thought would be the best way to go, Kevin reached the challenging decision to go with Option 2.  I say challenging because each employment option was a positive situation, but looking at the long term best interest of the family and for himself this second option listed seemed the best fit.   So our lives are preparing for a big change as Kevin will head off to his new position in the next couple of weeks, and we'll adjust to our homeschooling day without the benefit of dad's input and teaching skills.  Still there's a lot of positives that come with this opportunity and we'll be exploring and experiencing these in the months and years to come.  So the journey continues,  and we hope you'll stick around for the adventures that lay ahead.