Running Log 5/3/17

I am going to start publishing a post each time we get out and go running.  They should each be entitled “Running Log” followed by the date.  I don’t expect many of you to read them, so I’m giving you a heads up.  I’m making the record for the kids.  Feel free to read them if you’d like.

We went to the PG Rec Center today after school.   We wanted to go to the High School track and do 15-30’s, but the football team was out practicing.  I didn’t think the coach would appreciate me blowing a whistle every 15 seconds while he was conducting a practice.

I can’t use the whistle inside the Rec Center, but we really wanted to do sprints today.  So we improvised of course.   The track is a big oval (like the typical 1/4 mile track at a football field) only smaller.   This track is 6.5 laps per mile.  In order to facilitate sprints we decided on sprinting the long sections and walking the curves/short sides.

This event was not timed.  Everyone from Julie down to Nikki ran 26 sets of sprints.   That was 13 laps (2 sprints per lap) for a total of 2 miles running/walking.     Andrew only ended up running 8 laps and then walked with JR and me.  JR crawled an entire lap while I walked beside him with my cane.

Every one did fantastic.   They were each exhilarated by being able to complete the task.   Julie was especially glad to finish.  After just 4 laps she looked like she was going to have a hard time doing all 13.   She kept going and faced each sprint one at a time.   She was (and always is) exceptional.

Josh finished the fastest of course.   He lapped everyone 2x, and lapped Julie 3 times.  He sprinted all-out each and every time and was exhausted at the end.  His effort is always outstanding.

Caitlin is not the strongest runner, but her effort was also excellent.   She ran hard and did great.  She was all smiles that the end.  Accomplishing hard tasks brings her a real sense of accomplishment.  I hope that continues throughout her life.

Feeling the Love

Thank you so much for all the comments of support and love about our new plans to stay in Utah. We’ve had lots of comments from this blog, on Facebook, and through private messaging.  For the first time we had over 100 views on the blog.  So we know you care enough to take the time to read about what we’re doing.   Thank you!

We’re very lucky to have so many good friends who are happy that we have a great option that allows us to get the help we need. Our staying here has left some of you happy we’ll be nearby, and left others sad that we’ll be so far away. We love you all and wish we didn’t need to choose. I guess we’re making that proverbial lemonade though.

Making Lemonade
When Life Gives You Lemons


I’m sure that the adventures aren’t over, so don’t stop following us now.  Our Journey is still carrying on.   We still have to deal with our MO property.  And our livestock.  And our equipment.  That mortgage won’t take care of itself either.

So if you want to keep following along, please do so.  We’ll keep trying to improve on what we do here.  We love you all.   Thanks!!

Update: Our Immediate Plans

Julie and I are very happy to announce that we have made some plans for our future.  There is still a lot of info we don’t have, and so nothing long-term is settled, but we’ve decided we’ll expect the worse, use it as a starting point, and plan from there.  At this point though, even being able to make one decision about the future seems like an extraordinary event.  So I apologize in advance if this announcement seems small to you… it isn’t to us!

This Summer

After my parents complete their celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in May, a major remodel of their home will begin.  The purpose of this remodel will be to make the necessary improvements and repairs for our family of 10 to move in sometime before next school year begins (late Aug or Sept?).

You read that right, Julie and I will be moving into my parents home in Utah and are planning on living there indefinitely.  This will give us plenty of time to figure out where we are in the other aspects of our lives.   The hardest part about this is going to be telling all of our friends back in MO that we aren’t coming back.  We’ve longingly looked forward to going back there from the moment we landed here.

Mental health care

The biggest reason for staying here in the SLC area instead of heading back to the farm is so that I can continue receiving the VA care here that I just wasn’t getting back in MO or AR.   If I’m going to ever complete my journey for mental wellness I need to get some professional help.  I’ve been getting that here.  And seeing what I have available here, compared to what I was receiving, makes it clear that what I was getting, wasn’t nearly what I needed.

I know that with PTSD and other mental health issues that there isn’t a “cure” – no person has told me I can be cured – but that they can help me to overcome the symptoms and to live a more normal and less stress-filled life.   So we’ll stay here until we think that I’ve reached a level of success that we are comfortable with.

We anticipate this will be a matter of years.  There is no test to determine when this is “done.”  It’s something we can’t put a date on for completion; maybe it’ll be decades.  Going through the Canines With A Cause course is anticipated to take about 2 years to complete, so it would be at least that long, and probably much longer.  We’ll stay as long as it takes.


Our financial situation was another important aspect of this decision.  Due to the huge financial blow that losing the house was, we aren’t in a position to rebuild on the farm right now anyway.  Even if the insurance reverses course and covers us though, we still have made the mental health treatments our first priority, and would just hold those funds until we are ready to go back.

We just don’t have the funds to cover both a rental here AND to cover the mortgage.   The house in MO doesn’t exist, but we are still paying for it.   Our only income is my VA disability.   There is just no way to live on that VA income if we have to pay for rent and a mortgage.  There’s not enough left over to live on.  I’ve covered that in this post.   Moving in with my parents eliminates that need for rent.  Really, from a financial aspect, this is our only option.  Thankfully it is one we can live with.

2-5 Year Plan

This is where it gets harder to discern the future.  We don’t know when/if I’ll ever be better, so making plans is difficult.  Caitlin and Joshua will graduate high school here if we stay that long.  JR will be old enough for Kindergarten in that time.  If we’re here that long though Julie will finally be able to pick fruit off of a tree she’s planted!  That would be nice!

We’ve planted 40+ fruit trees and never picked a piece of fruit!

I would still like to plan on moving us to a sail boat at some point.   Those plans are obviously hard to make though.  Maybe that’ll be in the 10 year range for planning??  I started following about 4 blogs from people who have done it though.  I’ll continue to read those and keep dreaming and making plans.   I’ll also keep updating this blog, if for no other reason than to document our activities for our kids.

Somewhere along the line either I’ll get well enough to find work, or Julie will need to.  VA income alone will never be enough to rebuild with (or purchase a boat).   No matter what we do we are certain it will involve a good amount of juggling and compromise.

Additional Benefits

My parents are thrilled with the idea of us moving in.  They’ve been asking us to do it for years.  One of the main reasons they like the idea is that they like to travel.  They would often spend months at a time with us in MO or AR.  Eventually they would have to leave though because something needed to be done at the house.  With us living there, they can now travel and not worry about how the house is fairing.  They will travel when they want and come home to see the grandkids when they want.   They make it sound like they will basically turn the house over to us and will come visit occasionally.

Moving in with them also gives us access to their 2.5 acres.  That is enough land for us to have another milk cow.  We won’t ship Lady across the country, but will find a mini-jersey here for us.  We can also garden and plant fruit trees (again).  I think we can have chickens too.  All of these will help with the financial burden we are expecting.  The farm-style life we love is still accessible.

I can also pursue the service dog that I was hoping to get from Canines With A Cause.   We think that will be a big asset in my path to mental wellness.   And since our plans begin with my becoming well, we’re looking forward to that.

And of course I couldn’t give a list of benefits without mentioning being close to family.  We’ll obviously be close to my parents.  But additionally, almost all of our family still lives along the Wasatch Front.   My only sibling lives here, and all but one of Julie’s does too.   We might be able to make it to a family reunion for the first time in quite a while 🙂

The Take Away

Our plans are malleable.   We could beat them into any shape we choose.  We aren’t thrilled that this is basically our only viable option (but we are thrilled that our only option happens to be a good one).  Returning to our uber-supportive friends in MO would be awesome, but because of the care I’m receiving here, it just seems foolish to leave when receiving that treatment is our first priority.

I’m not going to give up on sailing, and Julie will not give up on the farm.  As soon as we feel like I am closer to being … normal (we can’t say “cured”) …  we will think about making plans to move on.   If we happen to have enough funds available to think about life aboard a boat, then perhaps we’ll make it happen.  If not, then the farm might beckon as well.

So stay tuned… hopefully a whole world of adventure still lies ahead!


Long Lost Letters

It is my Father-in-law’s (Blake) birthday.   His father (Bob) is still a very healthy man at 91 and can be seen bicycling around town still.   He also came to the birthday party for his oldest.  I love talking to Bob and try to coax some nugget of information from him about his life each time I see him.

Tonight it was about the book he is trying to get finished/printed.  He typed up 440 pages (in Microsoft word) worth of letters he and his dear departed sweetheart (Jessie) wrote to each other over the course of their courtship and marriage.  I asked him some generic question about it tonight and got an absolute gem of a story.

Bob and Jessie started exchanging letters in 1943, shortly before his service in WWII.  Space was a premium in the Navy and all he had was his seaman’s bag.  But in the bottom of that pack he kept carried all of Jessie’s letters, never discarding them.  He carried them across the US twice, and across the Pacific Ocean and back.  He carried them across a lifetime.

Just a few years before she passed, he and Jessie were in their living room.  She was confined to a wheel chair by then, but he was up and about straightening up a closet.   He pulled from that closet a box that had been pushed into the corner.   He opened it up and found a bundle of letters tied together.  He untied the string and took the first letter out of the box.  He found it dated 1943.  It was the first of the letters Jessie had written to him.  As she sat, he read it to her, like the voice of the past reaching out to touch them that day.

He had forgotten he had those letters.  But he’d kept them safe.  When he finished reading, Jessie told him that, “if you look in that closet over there you’ll find all the letters you wrote to me.”  He said, “I’ve been in that closet a hundred times, there are no letters there.”  But she insisted.  So he went and looked.   In a briefcase in the top of the closet he found another bundle of letters.   Jessie had also kept every letter that Bob had written to her.

He had no idea, and neither did she.  He has no idea how they survived that long without being damaged or thrown out.  He said he isn’t even sure why he had kept her letters.  He had been engaged to a different girl when they started writing and he didn’t keep the letters from that girl.  He hadn’t even kept his own mother’s letters.  But he’d kept Jessie’s.  He’d kept the words of the woman he would eventually marry and love for a lifetime.

And so now that Jessie is gone, he has gone through those letters.  He has put them in order and is publishing them as a genealogical record for his posterity to enjoy.  I’m very much looking forward to reading it!

However, there was one letter he doesn’t have.   There was one particular letter that Jessie wrote that really touched him.  He kept it separate from the others so that he could easily find it and reread it.  But because it was not safely stored with the others in his seaman’s bag, it was thoughtlessly thrown out one day by someone cleaning ship.   He’d kept those other letters for 7 decades, but the one he cherished most was lost???  I wish I could read that one letter most of all…


…but perhaps some things are best kept between couples.

Facing A New Problem… In Search of Income

Today’s depressive episode is surrounding the fact that we/I need to find some way to generate more income.

We’ve never had this problem

Julie and I have never been in debt for anything other than our mortgage.  Never had any credit card debt, student loans, car payments, or other common debt that many people deal with.  Despite many years now of meager income, we’ve always been able to budget what we have in order to make ends meet.

We’ve never been wealthy, but never been destitute.   We’ve been below the poverty line, but have been able to live a life comparable to those above it because we have always made financially sound decisions.  We’ve never had to be stressed about money, and have been deliriously happy about our quality of life.

But facing the imminent reality that our home is gone, and we will likely get no funds from the insurance,  that might change.   We are facing the idea that we might no longer be able to survive on my VA disability income alone.   We will likely still be responsible for the mortgage for the home that no longer exists. We are loath to file bankruptcy.   I know that bankruptcy is common, and that most of you would suggest it for us, but we’d much rather find a way to pay off the debt.   We may end up there, but would like another way.

How to find more income?

But is there another way?  No idea.  How can I pay for the housing we currently need AND pay for the housing that no longer exists? I’m broken (mentally and physically) in such a way that employment isn’t feasible.   We still have 3 non-school age children at home that I’m only marginally able to take care of, and so having Julie find regular employment would be very difficult.

Non-Employment Options?

But what about other income possibilities that aren’t based on employment? That don’t trade time for money?   What if Julie wrote a book about being the wife of a PTSD vet?   She’s eloquent and has a degree in literature, and I’m a walking talking head case, so I’m sure she could write about her own experiences and produce a good product (heaven knows I provide enough content!).   But is there a market that would read/buy such a book?

We obviously have a blog… and some people make money from them.   I can’t imagine how many people it would take to read/follow this for it to be a source of income though.  That likelihood seems doubtful.   I don’t think I’m really that interesting.  Do people like reading about depression or depressing things? That’s questionable.

What if we took what we have remaining and pursued the idea of living on a boat?   Could we sell a TV series that follows a PTSD vet and his family of 10 as they live in the close quarters of a boat, attempt to learn to sail,  swim with sharks, try to catch our own food, and struggle to survive living at sea?  If people were willing to watch Honey Boo-Boo, they might watch me yell at a broken sail in the middle of a raging storm, right?

Sell a kidney on the black market?  I’ll keep that at the bottom of the list.  (a friend once told me that a testicle goes for about $200,000.  I think with 8 kids I’ve proven mine are fully functional, but I think I’d like to hang onto them).

I’ve read all sorts of reports that say that begging is very profitable.  I could put on some military clothing and hold a cardboard sign saying I was in need… and it wouldn’t be a lie!


So, give me your thoughts on the above or give me your best ideas for income generation that would allow Julie to stay in the house.