Twas The Night Before Christmas

While we were learning about Hanukkah, we were also gearing up for Oliver’s first Christmas.  Kyrston designed an absolutely beautiful tree and I was very happy that the two ornaments I gave her were proudly displayed.

Jeremy thought this was a lot of presents. We just laughed.

 

Oliver’s first visit to Santa!

 

On the 23rd my Mom came back from Columbus to pick up her car and we got to exchange presents and she got to see Oliver open his gift from her which was really nice.

We are all about the toys that will encourage him to crawl. He is doing a great job sitting up!

 

Mom really liked her gift!  A coffee cup with Oliver’s picture on it!

 

She in turn brought this gift from my Aunt Cathy to me!! So sweet Mom used her carry-on to bring it to me.

We all loved Kyrston’s Christmas pictures of Oliver.  My daughter is an extremely talented photographer and it definitely shows.

It was also really great having Kay there with us and we enjoyed just talking and catching up.

Kay,Oliver, and Lee

 

Kyrston LOVED the Jungle Book as a child so Kay put it on and showed Oliver. He was into it!! Loved the monkeys

 

Jack and Finn are buddies and love to hang out.

 

Jeremy had Christmas Eve off and Oliver was making the most of Daddy time!

We left pretty early to give them all time together so we decided to take Jack to the beach.  It was a lovely evening and the sunset was really nice and we really enjoyed hearing the ocean and smelling the clean salt air.  This might be a new Christmas Eve tradition!

Wind in his fur 🙂

 

He loves to sniff at the beach.

 

Gorgeous night and very few people there

 

Jack was a good boy and stopped at the end before the habitat.

Happy Jack!

 

Tomorrow is Christmas and to say I am excited is a massive understatement!

 

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Oliver’s First Hanukkah

I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned this before but Oliver’s dad is Jewish.  Even though neither of the kids are particularly religious it is important to both of them that Oliver is exposed to his history and we were thrilled that we would be here for his first Hanukkah celebration.  Of course he needed the perfect outfit and Kyrston had him ready to go.

While Jeremy and Kyrston were setting up, Oliver was getting to know his Aunt Kay.  It’s lovely to see my kids meet our grandson for the first time and he is getting lots of love and attention.

I actually think Oliver looks quite a bit like Kay in some of her baby pictures

Kay around 12 months

Oliver at 5 months old

When the table was all ready we walked over to see.  Jeremy, who went to Hebrew school three days a week until he was 15, recited and then he lit the candle on his parents Menorha.  It was a really special moment.

Next was present time!  Jeremy’s brother has sent a present especially for the first night and it was a ton of fun watching Oliver try to open it.

Jeremy and Oliver

In case you were wondering we did it in the afternoon because Jeremy had to go to work in the evening.

YAY toy!

It was wonderful being a part of his first Hanukkah and I am super excited about his first Christmas.  More about that next time!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

First Time in Savannah

Over the last five years we have had plans to stop in Savannah several times but something always got in the way.  Since it is only two hours from Charleston we were going to go, but again one thing or another has stopped us from taking the trip.  So I was thrilled when Lee said he wanted to go on Saturday and even though it was an overcast day, we packed up the dog and headed to Savannah.  The drive itself was pretty, although the freeway was pretty packed with folks going south for the holidays, so we ended up going secondary roads and got to see several small towns.  We also saw multiple stands along the way and stopped at a couple of them to see what they had,.

Nice store but we weren’t super impressed with any of their samples

I purchased some tomatoes here that they swore were vine grown and handpicked, but they were definitely hot house when I got them home. Did get some beautiful green beans though.

We didn’t really have much of a plan for Savannah, just a loose idea of things we could do and having the dog complicated things.  Our first stop was Forsythe park which I knew was dog friendly from the pictures.  It was absolutely gorgeous and we walked around the park and into the nearby neighborhoods.  We loved the old architecture and the history that permeated the area. I’m just going to share it with pictures.

The neighborhoods were beautiful

We walked into the park from one of the side entrances. The huge fields had people playing sports on them

Reminded me a little of a college quad

Except of course with stunning oak trees

at one end of the park was a confederate memorial

And at the other a memorial for the Spanish American War

It had a tennis/basketball court. Before anyone chastises us for not having Jack on a leash, he’s wearing it, it’s just very hard to see.

Big playground

And the day we were there a lovely farmers market. I highly recommend it because it was all food with locally made products. Lee bought some spinach bread and I bought some honey.

There were several lovely side paths

That took you closer to the houses that ringed the park.

My absolute favorite part though was a lovely fountain that had a trumpet player that was playing Christmas music.  It was absolutely beautiful and very photogenic, so forgive me all the pictures, but it was hard to pick just one.

 

Trumpet player was really good.

The park led out into other smaller squares that often had a memorial in them and houses surrounded them.  They were beautiful and we could have walked all day among the houses but I was getting hungry.  Jack liked the walking though and he did great with the crowds.

So nice there were flowers at Christmas time

This picture cried out for a black and white version.  It looked like Old Europe to me. Except for maybe the price tag 🙂

The most beautiful house we saw was The Armstrong House.  Absolutely gorgeous.

 

We also got to see a 300 year old oak which unfortunately was gated off from people.  It was a beauty though.

I loved how they removed the bricks to protect the roots

 

After the park we drove down to the river area but that didn’t look dog friendly and I wanted to eat lunch at Paula Deen’s restaurant but we couldn’t find a place close by to park.  Ultimately I decided we could go to the original Crab Shack on Tybee Island with the thought we would avoid the heavy crowds and we could take Jack to the beach.  We did avoid the crowds as the restaurant was pretty empty, but it was also on the gimicky side and the crab boils started at $25.  That was more than either of us wanted to spend but we did get a couple of nice lunch specials for $8.99.  Afterwards we started towards to the beach but then I realized that dogs weren’t allowed on the beach at all, not even with a leash.  That really surprised me, but at least I found out before we got there since it is a $290 fine!  Yikes.

I didn’t get a great picture of it but they built the bar around giant oak tree. Very cool

I had deviled crab (tasted like a crab cake) and clam chowder which was decent on calories but not very satisfying. Lee had a chicken sandwich he really liked.

The trash can and hole in the middle of the table was pretty darn cool!!

By this time it was 2pm and we could have gone back into Savannah, but both of us decided to leave some things for another day.  Our youngest daughter Kay was driving down from Maryland to stay with her sister to see her, and we both wanted to see her that evening.  More on that in the next post though!

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

 

First Time on a Diet

Quick Lee update before I jump in.  The cortisone shot worked and as of now Lee is pain free.  It was near miraculous and although it may not last long, for now at least it allows us to continue with our travel plans.  Equally important he has established a patient relationship with my brother and has someone who can prescribe his heart medications ongoing without a ton of fuss. VERY happy about that and totally made the trip worth it.  OK here’s my post…. 

I should start by saying I am one of those people who has never had to diet in her life.  I know that’s obnoxious to those of you who have struggled with weight issues for a long time and I am sorry for that, but I wanted to say that so you would know where I was coming from. It feels like I woke up one morning and I was overweight.  Obviously that is not the case.  I steadily gained weight as I was going through menopause and I settled at around 140.  At that point I would have loved to have lost 5 pounds but it didn’t feel like anything some exercise and a little self restraint with desserts couldn’t cure.  Then I quit smoking and VERY quickly I put on an additional 20 pounds.

The main culprit was my desire for sweets which had started with the menopause and got MUCH worse when I quit smoking.  My metabolism also changed.  Smoking is an appetite suppressant and without that in place I started piling on the weight.  It felt like my metabolism was changing also, although I can’t prove that, and basically I felt like my body was betraying me.  Don’t get me wrong, I always knew how lucky I was to not have to worry about my weight, but now that I did it was one more thing to struggle with.

Initially I thought I could just exercise more and I started working out in a gym and although this did make me feel better and is helping to provide some tone and muscle, my weight stayed the same and the results weren’t particularly dramatic.  At that point I decided I should probably start dieting as well as working out.  It’s simple math; use up more calories than you are putting in, and despite the exercise I was still taking in more calories than I was burning.

Things also came to a head when I traveled for a job assignment and saw many people I hadn’t seen in five years.  Five years makes quite a difference, and I wasn’t the only one who had put on weight, but I saw that momentary look in people’s eyes when they first saw me, and I didn’t like it.  I was at an all time high of 160 and didn’t like what I saw when I looked in the mirror.  My last blood test results had also shown borderline high cholesterol and sugar and all of those things together made me decide it was finally time to start a diet.

Since I am new to dieting I looked around at the variety of diets paying particular attention to the “no carb” varieties that other people I know have had success with.  Unfortunately I absolutely love bread and potatoes.  Although I was willing to reduce my carbs I didn’t want to completely eliminate them and I was also concerned about the impact on my cholesterol, which runs a little high.  There are a variety of studies out there around cholesterol with conflicting results, but as someone who was raised on the food pyramid I wanted to eat better but keep it balanced. For me it was less about losing the weight than keeping it off long term and I stayed away from any “quick fixes” although they were tempting.  I even looked into a procedure called Cool Sculpting which freezes the fat off, but when I learned that the fat comes back when you regain the weight I decided that was far to extreme for me at this point.

After much internal debate,  I decided to try my Mom’s approach of simple of calorie counting.  I have always fiercely resisted this, but she has had amazing results and since they have some really great free apps, I decided to start there.  So I started a 1650 calorie diet on December 1st  and so far I have lost 3-1/2 pounds.  I feel pretty good about the results, but it has been a big adjustment and I wanted to talk a little about the experience.

First I should say that I understand that food is an emotionally charged issue for many people.  As someone who grew up poor, it’s VERY important to me that I always had a quantity of food in the house, but aside from always having bread and stuff to make salads I’m not super picky about what fills the fridge and cupboards.  They do need to be filled though, and it’s hard not to eat junk if it is just laying around.  My solution to that is to switch out items to lower calorie alternatives when possible and eliminate having things that I absolutely can’t resist in the house.  For example I love truffles, but they are 220 calories for three of them and I simply cannot just eat three.  I have absolutely no will power at all when it comes to them, so no truffles in the house!

Counting calories has actually changed my feelings about food and in a positive way.  By reducing food to a transactional experience it is somewhat easier for me personally to make hard choices.  I now have information in hand to know what different items “cost” me and since I am limited in what I can “spend” in calories it is changing the way I eat.  Some things are just no longer worth it.  A great example is chips and salsa.  The salsa is a freebie at zero calories, but it is 140 calories for seven of the chips I like.  Seven chips is not a satisfying snack for me, and I don’t like them enough to feel unsatisfied. Tater tots is another great example.  It is 160 calories for nine tater tots, which is a ridiculously small amount.  Again I would rather find an alternative than be dissatisfied so I am not seeing a ton of tater tots in my future.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, at this point I am not watching salt, carbs, etc.  It’s purely calorie counts and although additional factors may come into play in the future for right now I am focusing on just getting my calories under control.  Although initially I started by cooking my own meals I quickly found that portion control was harder for me when I cooked.  I was weighing out portions ( 2 cups of spaghetti and meat sauce = 667 calories), but again I was often dissatisfied.  I thought I could eat light for two of my three meals and then splurge at dinner, but that just left me feeling hungry and cranky most of the day.

Finally I decided to break down and try some diet frozen meals.  They had the benefit of being already portioned and many of them were satisfying despite a relatively low calorie count.  Essentially they had spent years and lots of money on researching these meals and I didn’t need to redo all of that work. It helped that the very first one I tried Lean Cuisine Herb Roasted Chicken was surprisingly delicious and satisfying.  It was gluten free, relatively low in salt and only 170 calories! Score. They haven’t all been winners though, and I am slowly working my way through the freezer section of the grocery store.  I have found that if I eat one of these meals for lunch then I can open up a bit more on dinner.

Breakfast has been my biggest challenge, as I have yet to find a good substitute to the two pieces of toast a day I have been eating for years.  I hate oatmeal, and cereal doesn’t leave me satisfied.  I tried precooking eggs and eating that every day, but it was a lot of work.  If there is any place I am “blocked” when it comes to food it’s breakfast and I am planning on tackling that once I get a better handle on lunch and dinner.

The fourth area that I do feel really good about is snacks. By far I have received the most benefit from calorie counting in this area.  I have always loved pretzels and thought they were a lower calorie snack.  At 110 calories for three pretzel rods (and I was eating way more than three) they really aren’t though, and of course there is all that salt.  I am still eating pretzels but I am counting those calories and I have purchased several alternatives.  100 calorie bags of popcorn are a nice substitute, for example.  I haven’t completely given up on sweets either, but again I have small bags with a set amount of calories.  My favorite is Fudge Stripes Minis which weigh in at 140 calories but are extremely satisfying.  All things in moderation.

When I’m still hungry at the end of the day I am drinking lots of hot peppermint tea which does help curb the urges.  If that doesn’t work and I have run out of calories I now munch on celery sticks.  I used to slather them with peanut butter, but at 94 calories a tablespoon I am now forgoing the peanut butter and eating the celery bare. Again an item that I thought was on the healthy side wasn’t so much, and I have learned something by tracking my calories.  More importantly, as I stated before, I feel like I am being honest with myself about what I was eating.  I spent a ton of time thinking I was eating healthy and because the smoking kept me thin I could believe it.  I know better now, and I don’t ever think I will look at food in quite the same way, which is a good thing.

The experience has also shone a light on eating out which by the way is absolutely ridiculous.  When there are only one or two items on an entire menu that are less than 700 calories, I am not going to be interested in eating there.  It’s not that I will never splurge again in my life, but if I am going to spend those kind of calories it will not be on overpriced and mediocre food. A good example was recently we picked up O’Charley’s and took it to my daughter’s house for dinner.  I picked shrimp, rice, and broccoli which was reasonable in calories, but ended up pushing away the overdone broccoli and the not good tasting rice.  I wasn’t going to waste 270 calories on food that didn’t taste good so I just ate the shrimp.

There are a couple of positive things in eating out though.  My favorite sub from Donatos is a manageable 660 calories and after spending an hour one day researching Chinese food I discovered that if I skipped the pancakes I could eat Mu Shu Pork for a mere 235 calories a cup.  That’s not bad.  At this point I am trying things and seeing if they are “worth it.”  100 calories for 13 gummy bears….not so much.  100 calories for a Reese’s peanut butter cup…maybe.  Oh, and Denny I appreciate you sending me snacks, but if you could find something in the 100 calorie range that might be better 🙂

To be clear I rarely feel hungry, but I do feel dissatisfied. Some days 1650 calories is plenty, and other days not so much.  I am working out why that is.  I want more carbs, more sweet, more of everything, but that is getting better over time. Plus I have a tool I can use to negotiate with myself and by tracking I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  I am happy to say that so far I have not intentionally gone over my daily calorie count one time.  I say intentionally because to some extent the calorie count is an estimate.  I’ll let you know how it goes as I progress.

 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

Another Tale in the Heathcare Saga

I’ve spent a ton of time in this blog bemoaning how difficult healthcare has been for us on the road and this blog is going to be another example of that.  Even now that I have “good insurance” again that doesn’t guarantee us good healthcare.  I continue to talk about it because we started this journey in fantastic health.  We went to the doctor annually and rarely had any issues.  Five years later and five years older that is no longer the case.  We are both taking medications that need to be prescribed and we have both have had issues, minor and major, while traveling on the road.  For the last three years we were making that work by seeing the same doctor annually in Portland, but since we knew we would not be going back there this year I needed to find another solution.

A huge part of the problem for us is we came on the road without a primary care physician (PCP) in a home base.  We loved our doctors in Keene, but knew we would not be able to get back there once a year for physicals.  We probably could have stretched that to two years because of the long term relationship, but Lee was unwilling to commit to be anywhere year after year.  That might work if you aren’t on any medication, but once he had the heart attack and was taking five different pills the scenario changed dramatically.  My compromise was to try and find him a new PCP in Charleston.  I thought we would be passing through to see Oliver at least once a year and maybe we could start a new relationship with a doctor.

Not knowing any doctors in Charleston, we talked to our daughter and she recommended hers.  Since we are here for a long stretch of time I was able to get Lee an appointment and last month he went to see her.  The point of the appointment was to transfer his medical records to her and since Lee was also having pain in his right arm that was unusual he decided to talk to her about that.  She sent him to get a couple of X-rays and they discovered calcium deposits on his shoulder.  Lee specifically stated he did not want to take any kind of an addictive narcotic for the pain, and she said that was fine she would call in a prescription by the end of the day that should help.  She also referred him to an orthopedic specialist.

After calling twice, the next day he learned that she was refusing to call anything in because of his heart condition.  She was being ultra cautious because of the other medications he was taking.  The ortho appointment was also in three weeks.  At this point Lee’s pain level was very serious.  He was only getting about 2-3 hours of sleep each night, and the pain was pretty intense and constant. He didn’t feel he could wait three weeks and by changing the doctor was able to get an appointment in a few days.  In the meantime,  we did some research and learned that he didn’t just have a calcium deposit but a bone spur.

 

Lee suffered through four more days of pain and finally the appointment day came.  He waited 80 minutes before seeing a resident and then saw the ortho for approximately 8 minutes.  The doctor told him he never gave cortisone shots (we later learned this is pretty standard treatment) and recommended physical therapy and eventually surgery if 8 weeks of PT didn’t work. He also was very hesitant to prescribe an anti-inflammatory but after Lee pushed hard he recommended something but made Lee got back to the PCP to get it prescribed.  The entire situation left Lee feeling really upset.  Lee was honest about saying we were just passing through and felt the doctor just didn’t want to deal with that.  Once he learned we wouldn’t be in town for the surgery he washed his hands of us.

I would love to say this was the first time we had seen this behavior but it was not.  Medicine is a business, and when you are a higher risk patient with minimal financial reward associated with you it is harder to get care. Practically we both understand that, but when you are in need and in pain it’s hard to stay calm about it.  We both grew up in the old days when it seemed doctors had a higher calling.  It is different now, and although really good doctors exist, you need to take the time to build a relationship with them.  That’s hard to do when you are traveling all over the place and don’t have a home base or regular route.

Oddly enough emergency care works pretty well for transients, but those in between things that are out patient still require a decent PCP to shepherd you through the process.  Yes you can do your own research and make your own appointments with specialists now, but those appointments can take weeks to get and you have no idea if you will run into a bias because you travel when you go.  I didn’t mind so much fighting through all of this when we were reasonably healthy, but as we have gotten older and had more health problems the situation has become very difficult to manage. And that was with me having an ace in my pocket.

What I mean by that is my brother is a doctor in Columbus.  He’s a darn good one, and over the last several years whenever I was concerned about medical care I would call him and get a free second opinion.  It wasn’t just him either.  He has a network of specialists he works with and trusts and would call them if he wasn’t 100% sure. Most people don’t have that resource available to them and I would have been much less likely to “wing it” if I didn’t have him to talk to.  Over the years we have talked about making him our PCP, but held off for a couple of reasons.  In my case I wanted to see how this would all play out and write about it.  Lee felt strongly that it shouldn’t be necessary and for a long time he was willing to figuratively die on that hill.  More recently though when actual death was a factor he felt differently, and yesterday he called my brother and talked through the situation and asked him to be his PCP.

Some doctors won’t treat family, and we would have totally understood if he didn’t want to, but Eddie understands how difficult this is with our travel and has first hand knowledge of the sub par care we have often received.  In this case, he was surprised (but not surprised) that the standard course of treatment wasn’t done and validated once again that for some doctors there is a bias against higher risk, transient patients.  Lee and Ed talked through the best course of action and ultimately decided Lee would drive the eight hours to Columbus and get a cortisone shot.  While he was there, Eddie would try to get an MRI scheduled so they could see how much damage was being done. Once he saw the picture of the Xray, Ed was VERY concerned about the size of the bone spur and said that if left untreated there was a chance Lee could permanently lose function in that arm.

None of that was relayed to Lee by the specialist, by the way, and the discussion impressed upon Lee the necessity of not just bearing the pain and getting through it.  I don’t know if that would have been possible anyway, because the pain was getting worse, not better. By the time he made the drive to Columbus he had almost no use of his right arm. The anti-inflammatory medicine doesn’t appear to be helping much, but that may take more time.  He has to psychically go and see Ed because first he needs to be established as a patient and secondly the shot needs to be done in person.  Because we only have one car I would have had to go with him, except thankfully my mom is flying to Columbus on Monday and was planning on dropping her car off with me so she wouldn’t have to pay airport garage fees for several weeks.  That worked out beautifully and allowed me to stay in Charleston with the dog.

We did have some concern about Lee driving that far, but he felt he could do it and said he would take breaks as needed.  He can stay with his Mom once he gets there, so the cost should be somewhat minimal.  This matters because unfortunately all of these costs we will need to pay out of pocket.  When I started the new job I switched insurance and even though I went from one Blue Cross plan to another, the deductible (which was met from the heart attack) was not transferred.  We are starting all over again and all of this will be out of pocket.  We are hoping that the shot will give him enough relief that he can just get a series of the every three months or so and schedule the surgery sometime next year.  That way the costs can go towards a new year deductible, but at this point we really don’t know.

It does suck that we just finished paying off all of the medical bills from the heart attack and here we go again.  In this case though, it’s not like Lee did anything that caused this, it’s just one of those things.  Thankfully we have money rolling in now and can pay the bills whatever they are, but it is not lost on me that all of this would be a huge emergency if we were gate guarding in Texas as we had originally planned. Once again I feel grateful to have accepted the position and have a regular job, because dealing with this stuff while working hourly jobs would have been much harder.

So that is where we are, and I share this story (as others) as a cautionary tale.  If you are thinking about going on the road, really think about your healthcare plan in advance, and unlike us think in the long term.  If you talk to your PCP in advance you can hopefully work something out where they continue your care as you travel.  If that’s not possible, think about establishing a home base  and starting a new relationship as soon as possible.  You may not need it for several years, but when the time comes you want that relationship in place to guide you through whatever issues you might have.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

No Longer an Amazon Associate

When I started this blog six years ago, it was with the intent of keeping a basic travel journal and sharing some lessons learned because we were first time campers.  When we made the decision to become full time RVers that morphed into sharing that experience and being a place where I could share my thoughts and feelings of the emotional journey.  In short, writing became my therapy.  It also became a place I could share my budget information, because I had found other peoples budgets to be incredibly helpful in giving me the courage to make the decision to go on the road.

Once I quit my corporate job, it changed into a place where I shared detailed information on the various work kamping jobs we did and it also showed the reality of trying to balance work and travel.  Now that I have taken a corporate job again, it very much feels like the blog has gone full circle and I am back to sharing travels and on occasion emotions regarding something going on in my life.

I mention the changes because I received a comment recently from Marianne asking how she could unsubscribe.  She was looking for a work kamping blog and mine no longer fit the bill.  My one major thought around this comment is that I will trade being happy for having a compelling blog anytime.    We’ve had plenty of struggles in the last several years and I am looking forward to hopefully having a less interesting life!

Interestingly enough the comment came at the same time as something else.  I have been an Amazon Associate for several years and right before Thanksgiving I received an email stating I was not in compliance and I had five days to fix it.  One of my links was broken and my language which stated “if you would like to help our blog click on this link” was not in compliance with their policy.  Changing those links is a big deal for me because it’s all manual, but I spent several hours doing it and told them it was done.

The next day they cancelled my account.  Apparently I missed one link, so I called and filed an appeal and five days later they said you need to reapply.  Ok then.  I reapplied and was told I could not get a new account because I was previously denied.  This circular argument was making me crazy so I decided to get someone on the phone and explain my mistake.  I fully took responsibility for not changing it everywhere, but it was inadvertent and I wanted to start again.

I made several phone calls and was repeatedly told I could not speak to a supervisor in the Amazon Associates department.  They only communicate via email and I needed to file another appeal.  This was super frustrating because I was sure if I could just explain what happened they would understand.  I wrote one more appeal and this is the email I received.

We received your appeal regarding the termination of your Associates account. A specialist has reviewed your account and the decision to terminate your account was found to be correct. As stated previously, under the terms of the Operating Agreement we may terminate your account at any time, with or without cause. This termination is final and not subject to appeal. 

Because you are not in compliance with the Operating Agreement, Amazon will not pay you any outstanding fees related to your account.  Amazon exercises its right under the terms of the Operating Agreement to withhold fees based on violations, which include the following: 

-You are incentivizing others to visit the Amazon Site via your Special Links by offering rebates, cashback, discounts, points, donations to charity, or other incentives, or by stating that customers can support you by shopping through your Special Links.  That’s what I did although I fail to see why that is a big deal.  That’s how the program works.

It is important that you immediately stop using the Content and Amazon Marks and promptly remove from your Site(s) and delete or otherwise destroy all links to the Amazon site, all Amazon Marks and all other and any other materials provided or made available by or on behalf of us to you under this Operating Agreement or otherwise in connection with the Program.

Please be aware that any other accounts you have, or may open in the future, may be closed without payment of any fees pursuant to our rights under the Operating Agreement.  Amazon reserves all other rights and claims.

Wow…just wow.  First off I make $25-$40 a month being an Associate.  As you all know the last few months I have spent that money buying presents for my grandchild.  I am not raking in thousands of dollars here but even if I was the lack of an opportunity to plead my case to a human being really bothers me.

I am also a very good Amazon Prime member and these two things are connected in their system.  I use Amazon all the time and recommend it to others.  I would have thought that would have bought me the ability to talk to a human being but no.  Trust me I tried more than once.  My initial thought was to cancel my Amazon Prime account and take my business elsewhere but to be honest we love being Prime members.  I can separate the two things in my head but it left a very bad taste in my mouth.

So that takes me back to the blog.  Currently I am spending $99 a year on the blog website through Word Press.  We have resisted going to a business account with them because that costs $300 a year.  Eventually though we will need to go that route because we are going to run out of storage space.  I compress my pictures before uploading them, but there are a ton of them and currently we are at 83% of the space they have given us.

In this context we have talked about moving our website to another host, but I like Word Press for its spam filter and easy interface.  Plus moving a whole website is a big deal and just not something I want to tackle unless I am forced to it.

So these three separate events have all come together in a short period of time and are making me think about where we are with the blog.  Believe it or not I have made numerous decisions over the last several years based on the idea that it would give me something to write about.  Sometimes those decisions turned out great , other times not so much…Selling Christmas trees comes to mind.  I also gave up on seriously monetizing the blog a long time ago because I personally didn’t want to feel like I couldn’t tell my truth.  That was and still is very important to me.

But what if my truth is not that interesting?  I know some people like my Mom, Lee’s Mom, and Nancy will continue to read no matter what because they love us, but I totally understand why its not that relevant to other people.   We have been so blessed over the years when people reached out to us and told us we made an impact.  That truly has been a reward in and of itself.  Which make me wonder is it worth the effort if there isn’t much impact??

Simply put should I spend $99 a year to have a place write my thoughts down and keep track of my memories?   I suppose my answer to that question is yes.  The rest is all ego.  I didn’t start this with any particular expectation and it has far exceeded what I originally thought it could be.  Even if it turns out to be mostly pictures of Jack and Oliver in the future which may be boring but it’s nice.

Plus things change.  There is one thing I have learned in this lifestyle is hold on a minute because it will change.  I have no doubt in the future that will continue to be the case.

Finally if you ever supported the Amazon link and supported us thank you.  It was a very nice thing to do and much appreciated. Unfortunately you can’t do that for me anymore, but you can still do it for other blogs you read.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.

November 2019 Budget

I was super worried when I went to check the monthly numbers because it feels like we have been spending money like crazy.  Turns out it wasn’t too bad though ($4877) despite my going crazy buying gifts for Oliver.  For more details please see below.  I made enough to cover the expenses and even put a little in savings.

 

Campgrounds$675 is our monthly rate at the KOA which is super reasonable for this area.  Definitely going to adjust the budget some for next year.

Groceries – We went to Costco and spent $251 which is why this month was so high.  No way around it Costco really isn’t a bargain for us but we love their steak, chicken, and toilet paper so we keep going there.   I just started a calorie tracker app and I am watching my calories daily so we will see if this makes the grocery bill go up or down.

Dining Out – We went over by $250 in this category.  Variety of factors for that including buying meals for other people.  The main problem with this is that we can’t eat out without really taking a hit in calories.  Lee and I both felt it in the wallet and the pocketbook this month which is a good reason to be very specific about when we eat out.

Truck Fuel – Pretty good in this category.  We have gone back and forth to my daughters (30 minutes each way) multiple times a week and we have gone down to the ocean several times as well.

Health Insurance – This is zero now because I cancelled our AHA plan and we are now on the company plan.  They haven’t started taking it out of my checks yet due to a clerical error but once I get the amounts I will start putting them in.

Clothing – This amount was for work clothes for me.  I took advantage of some sales to stock up on work clothes.  I should have everything I need at this point, although I can always use more shirts and will continue to be on the lookout for sales.

Personal Care –  We went over by $200 in this category.  That includes some medicine we had to buy, the gym membership, and numerous other small items.  I definitely need to get into more detail on next years budget.

Gifts – I know , I know it’s crazy but it’s been 4 years since I have really been able to splurge on people guilt free.  My thought process was share the wealth and we have done that.  There will be even more next month and that is a conscious decision we made together.

Home Equipment – We went over by $200 in this category as well buying.  We took advantage of sales to buy some things for the house and Lee spent $100 buying a monitor lift for me so that I can work from the dining room table.

We are going to continue to watch our spending and try to sock some money away.  Lee has found a summer job he is excited about and that will bring more money in as well.   It’s definitely a balancing act to loosen the reins a little bit and not go completely crazy.  We are committed to holding each other accountable as we have always done.


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.