FBA or Bust!
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We have shipped roughly 150 packages totaling about 3000lbs to Amazon this week. Yikes!!!

 

I mentioned a while ago that we had started selling items on Ebay and Amazon.  It started more as a hobby to keep busy… kind of like a test.  I was actually reluctant at first to get involved, just because I already have enough on my plate.  Plus, I didn’t really view it as a “business” in the beginning.  I should have known better.  I have very strong personality type when it comes to business.  I can be very driven, motivated and highly competitive.  When I get involved in a task, I tend to get explosive.  Wanting to be the best.  That’s more or less what happened with the “hobby”. It started with a few Mexican handmade blankets on Etsy.  We were quickly ejected from Etsy because they have the most incredibly asinine business model.  They basically shut down all of their top producing sellers. What a great way to grow revenue.  At any rate, leaving Etsy, although painful at first, turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise.  Within a week we were set up on Ebay and Amazon.  They have both since grown and done well.  We quickly began to realize with impending plans to travel, we would have to shut the online sales business down sooner or later.  Until it occurred to us that we could let Amazon fill our orders and drop ship our products from the supplier to FBA.  Then we can continue to operate our business from the RV.  Problem solved.  Now that the “countdown” has begun, we have diligently been working toward getting all of our inventory over to FBA.  We know that 24 months flies by, just as the last 2 years has gone so quick. No time to waste.

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The transition to FBA has turned out to be more of a relief than I had realized.  We had to move from our first rental because the garage wasn’t large enough to hold all of the inventory.  The garage at this place where we are now is quickly shrinking and it won’t be long before we would have filled this one up too.

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The garage was starting to get chaotic. Blankets, hoodies, leather everywhere. We set up shelves to try and keep it organized.


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Wet Dreams
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With this impending RV purchase looming, it’s funny that I have been dreaming of boats lately.  Maybe it’s my subconscious trying to tell me something.  I LOVE the ocean and we all miss the Hat.  I could definitely see myself with another boat, but I was thinking it would be nice, at least for the time being, to check out some of the middle of the country.  But, I suppose until I actually make the purchase I could change my mind.  I still have 24 months.  We’ll see…

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Summer Bliss

This summer has been great so far.  Lots of beaching, hiking and hanging out.  But I’ve been getting ancy waiting to hit the road.  I never have been that good with patience.  We still have a LOT to figure and sort out though.  Like which camper/truck combo I will purchase.  I have been thinking and doing a great deal of research.  The only problem is that it isn’t easy to see the different models without traveling to them.  It’s ok though, I still have time.  The countdown to take-off will begin next month 🙂

 

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Homeschool + Unschool + Online School = Smartschool!
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I haven’t talked much about this yet, if at all, but I have been teaching my lil’ man at home.  Some call it homeschooling, yet, he is online.  Technically he’s enrolled in a public school, but, I don’t follow the “path” the way they want it followed.  He is way ahead in Math and Science and maybe a little behind in writing.  I completely dismiss the Music and only brush upon the Art, skipping the actual “Art projects” altogether, because he is not at all interested in Art…unless of course, he is at an Art Museum, like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston… he loves.  We sort of unschool, as I give him plenty of leeway in navigating his learning, but not completely, as there are some things that he may not want to do, but he still must.  I guess I’m winging it in a kind of way, because I just do whatever I think is best for him as we move along….Smartschooling!

He started school at home last year because he HATED first grade. Just a few day ago, we wrapped up second grade.  He thrived in kindergarten the previous year, but first grade was an utter disaster.  In all honesty, I was completely freaked out at first.  The thought of teaching him myself scared the crap out of me.  But, I really had no choice.  He was having horrible anxiety issues over changing schools and being in a new environment.  He likely would have overcome the issues, as most kids do, had the school handled the problem correctly, but they really bollixed up the whole ordeal…horribly.  This certainly isn’t my first rodeo.  After all, I have 5 kids, the other 4 are in high school.  None of them did school at home.  Between raising my own kids and years of babysitting when I was younger, I have plenty of experience and insight into what makes kids tick.  That’s why I was fairly confident when my intuition told me that the situation with my lil’ man wasn’t going to be easily resolved.    I won’t get into the wretched details, but after 2 weeks of him feeling miserable about school and me being sick over bringing him (all reinforcing what I have always known- a good or bad teacher can make or break a kid’s school year) I made the excruciatingly difficult decision of pulling him.  But, it had to be done.  He was needlessly unhappy.

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I have always stood by the notion that everything happens for a reason.  In the end, this is all well and good, as I plan to be up, out and about, just months from now. He would have been schooled at home, when the time came, anyhow.  This just fast tracked the inevitable.  Lucky for me, he’s a bright kid, so teaching him has been a lot easier than I realized.  In fact, now that I can see the light for what it really is, I am happier than ever that it played out like it did.  He can avoid years of learning useless information.  He can excel at what he enjoys.  He can move ahead at his own pace and take more time when he needs it.  He can concentrate on his strengths and interests.  He has one-on-one attention.  And, best of all, he gets real life knowledge.  What a perfect way to learn…Smartschooling!

 

Indecisive…
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There aren’t very many times in my life, thus far, that I have been able to say that I really didn’t know what I wanted.  Generally, I’m a fairly focused type.  I do some research and figure out pretty quickly what’s for me.  Even when I was shopping for the boat, I sorted out relatively fast which boat I wanted.  Not the case at all with this RV plan.  I thought I had decided on a particular model, the Durango Gold M-G382MBQ, because it has a bunk room for the kids, a loft for my Mom and what really sold me is the rear deck off of the living area.

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The problem is, this fifth wheel is really large.  We won’t fit into many RV parks.  I could be fine with not being able to get in everywhere, like boats, that’s what you’re buying into.  It’s all trade-offs.  You have to decide what’s most important because you can’t have it all.  Although, my Mom really doesn’t want us to be locked out of some National Forests and oceanfront campgrounds because we are too big.  We have really been on the fence with whether to go for the comfortable living or the size convenience.  I could also be fine with getting an older/ smaller/cheaper RV, doing some light renovation and being able to sell more easily if/when I decide to change direction again.  At this point, I’m not sure what we will choose.  It’s a good thing I have a few months to decide, because if I had to buy something right now I’m not sure what I would get.  We thought it might be best to look around at some more RV’s, so maybe we can get better clarity on which way to go with this.  So off we go, checking out more fifth wheels and travel trailers in smaller sizes and with different layouts.

 

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My Mom is trying to see if her bunk area has a window.

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My lil’ man loved this table in his bunk room.

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Coyotes, Rocks a Volcano… and Sheer Panic!
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I think I have officially conquered my coyote fear.  Where I come from these guys are scary.  They eat little moving things: cats, small dogs, and even little kids on occasion.  We had a real bad bout of coyotes a few years back.  They were in our back yard daily.  I was afraid to let my little man, who was 2 or 3 at the time, play in the yard.

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We were hiking today at Lake Calavera, and there they were.  A family of coyotes.   When I saw them my heart sunk and sheer panic rushed over me.  We had to get out of there quick, without running.  I didn’t want us to be chased. I stood…frozen…watching the coyotes, as they watched me.  I scanned the ground searching for a large branch, a rock, anything that I could use as a weapon.  Nothing was there, but my little man had a stick in his hand that he had picked up a ways back and was whacking trees with as we navigated the trail.  I quickly took the stick from him.  Some locals turned the corner on the trail just ahead of us. What a relief… more people…power in numbers! They were pointing to the coyotes.  They must have seen the terror on my face because as they approached us, they chuckled, “Don’t worry, they won’t come after you.”  They told us that they walk this trail frequently and the coyotes don’t bother anyone.  I believed them.  I snapped a photo of one of the coyotes, then stood and watched until the coyotes walked off.  Then we continued along the path.  I can’t say that I’m completely comfortable with them, but I no longer feel that there is a reason to fear them.  I think that there is a big difference between the city coyotes that I am familiar with, the ones that eat pets and are fed by neighbors who condition them to become brazen and unfearful of humans, and the rural coyote who lives in his natural habitat and eats small wild animals and doesn’t view people as a food source.

So, on with the hike…

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This was an active volcano at one time.

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America the Beautiful – National Park Pass
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We got our National Parks and Federal Lands Pass!  Well…my Mom got it.  The senior lifetime pass is 10 bucks, but really it’s 20 because they also charge a $10 document processing fee.  This fee is going to increase by the end of the year.  It’s going to 80 bucks so we wanted to get it before that happened.  The pass provides free access to over 2,000 federally run recreation sites across the country.  This includes BML land and national forests.  Besides free entrances fees, it’s great for RVers as it gives a discount on camping, swimming, boat launching and tours. It covers the entrance fee for everyone in the vehicle, not just the owner of the pass.  We got ours (my Mom’s) from Cabrilllo National Monument.

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After we got our pass, we took a stroll on the the Bayside Trail.  It was a beautiful hike with outstanding views.

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My little guy got a kick out of chasing lizards all over the trail.

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There was even an opportunity for a bit of rock climbing along the way.

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Be warned though… after hiking the canyon DOWNHILL for a mile, you have to turn around and take the same trail back UPHILL for a mile.  We didn’t realize this when we started the hike.

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Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Old Pastime, New Pastime – Hiking!
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I haven’t really been hiking since I was a kid and I loved it then.  Not really sure why it hasn’t occurred to me to hike all these years.  Even when my kids were little, I don’t think that I ever once took them hiking the Blue Hills, where my Mom frequently took me as a kid. I certainly did take them on plenty of long walks.  When I think of hiking now, I think of extreme sporters in very remote areas, with zero cell reception, dangling from the side of a cliff.  But, my interest in hiking has suddenly been revived.  Not exactly sure why….I guess because I am finding myself wanting more than day after day of the beach.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a real beach bum and always will be, but I would like to see and try some new stuff that isn’t necessarily coastal.  After all, I know that soon we will be traveling and I will be away from my beloved ocean.  I want satisfaction from Mother Nature in ways other than salty feet.

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The other day I was talking to someone that I have recently met.  She was telling me that she and her husband had taken their kids hiking and how much fun they had.  All of my childhood memories came rushing back; twigs snapping below my feet, toads, boulder navigating.  I love hiking!  I went home and researched trails in my area and that same weekend, this past weekend, we were out.  Out hiking!

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Look familiar?  Where am I?  Let’s see if you can guess?