Berrydise this is what Hannah has been calling our Kodiak home away from home we are surrounded by wild blueberries, salmon berries and fireweed all which are plants that the locals use for food. They are so delicious and we have been taking advanatage of the proximity. We have been making all kids of jams and jellies for one, as well as fruit leather and drying leaves for fireweed tea. So fun, no wonder Hannah renamed our apartment here. Below are Russian berries we actually picked those on near island.we forgot to have Eve change into her play clothes before we left the house. She had been walking in deep mud with her flip flops. 😬
Today was the first Saturday I have been off this whole assignment and we have made the most of it. What it really is is hat we have to stay busy my whole first day off of work so that I can stay awake. If we are home even for 40 minutes I find myself curling up in a ball on the couch. So fist thing was first we hit up the Salmon Berry patch Sophie had pointed out to me on Wednesday. She was right there was a lot of good berries there and it was very close to our house. The berries were taller than me and the kids were navigating them quite nicely. They would yell for me and then follow my voice until they got to me. Chad was the smartest and stayed around the edges still getting plenty of berries.
We only made one batch to start with because it was time to head to the fairgrounds for the Kodiak Rodeo. It was a free event and it felt homey in the small arena and small community organization was apparent but still, maybe we are getting to an age where we appreciate the accomplishment. No it wasn’t the Snake River Stampede, the Pendleton Roundup or the St. Paul Rodeo, but we saw the little ones just learning. Cheering them on was the best. There was one girl who’s flawless performance on barrels seriously made me tear up. I’m so glad Chad suggested this activity. The rodeo started at 4:00pm we had also planned to attend the Demolition Derby on the same grounds hat started at 6:00pm. We are learning that in Kodiak nothing ever starts when it is supposed to.
The rodeo was not quite over at 5:55pm when we figured we better run around to the auto track. We probably could have stayed until the end and not missed any of the auto action, but that is all hindsight. I love Demolition Derbys so I had in my head the Susanville Demolition Derbys that I had seen as a teenager on the 4th of July. This was more of a conglomerate show with motor cross in several age categories, a dragster, and then the Demolition Derby which came with a lot of yellow flags and hiccups. I guess the city adult was coming out of me. I have to remember that I am seeing raw community not some glitz and glitter show. And, really, whichone is better? The real deal unfinished big hearted people. I had to take a picture of how scratched up my arms got while picking berries this morning. It was 64 degrees out and the kids were begging to be allowed to go find the shade. To their credit it felt like it must be at least 100 degrees to me too.
Mentally I’m fighting the battle between knowing I need to finish this race strong with my best kick and just barely sliding into home base. It has been so much work that I could easily convince myself that it doesn’t matter what “grades” I get on my final reviews as long as I accomplish the goal…who says it has to look pretty? Well darn it, I do. I know I have it in me so why am I tempted to accept less?
Lord give us strength and carry us in your arms.
We slept in I do remember that. I had my weekly date at Harborside Fly-by, it was a really good one a smaller group met and we talked longer about more heart issues. Chad had planned to stop by Big Rays for some laundry detergent specifically for down, then lunch, then the library for a beach art class. Around 2:30pm I feel a hand on my shoulder and a “Why haven’t you been answering my texts?” Oops. I had put my cell phone on silent and slipped it into my bag so that I would not be tempted to play with it. It was Chad stating that I had been mistaken about the beach art class that it wasn’t going on until 7/27. He was letting me know that he was going to run some errands and head home. Ok, I knew I could walk even though I didn’t have the best shoes for it and it would probably take me around 45 minutes. Around 4:00 we finished our coffee date, Sophie was so nice and gave me a ride home showing me an awesome salmon berry patch on our way. I so think we are going to make some jam. We can’t not. The girls were playing quietly and Caleb was reading so we just chilled around the apartment until dinner. We had plans after dinner to take the kids to Finding Dori but had kept it in the down low. They didn’t recognize the theater until we were inside (it doesn’t look like a theater from the outside so that helped). It was super fun and when it was over the kids were telling Chad, “Thank you Daddy!!” before we were even out of the theater. So sweet, they were so thankful. After the movie they picked berries in the back yard for a while.
Recently I have been receiving questions from nurses who are wanting to travel nurse with their families. I want to always be a resource for that because we are so thank for this opportunity that nursing has given us. It is a hard balance to represent the challenges of travel nursing with the benefits because if I’m not forthcoming with the many challenges I would not be setting anyone up for success. Here is our conversation from earlier this week that the inquiring nurse asked me to put on our blog post.
Initial question: Lol I’m night shifting now too… Love the blog… So did you sell your home before u left? Who do u use for insurance? I’m interviewing each agency for benefits…. It’s stressing me out. I want a peace about traveling if it’s something we should do…. I wax and wain. How are the kids adjusted to traveling and how’s the husband adjusted to taking over as the stay at home dad?
Answer: We did not sell our house. We do however have roommates so that the house is not sitting empty, and to off set some of the cost. Our roommates are family members my sister, her husband and son so it has worked out really well and we still feel at home when we are there. The way the tax laws work you do not get a housing stipend if you do not have a home of some kind as the housing stipend is tax free because it is classified as money to cover duplicate housing costs that are a result of traveling for work. It still can work out if you do not have a home but the logistics and taxes are different. I know people who do it both ways, it just worked out to our benefit to keep our home and have roommates. Joe at traveltax.com is an excellent resource for those type of questions. We go to the market place for our insurance so that we do not have any gaps in coverage. My taxable income is low enough that our insurance costs are really reasonable and the kids qualify to be free. A large portion of your paycheck as a traveler is housing stipend, and a second stipend for meals and incidentals with only around $20/hour being your taxable wage (This is different at every location we have chosen assignments based on location some hospitals feel like their location is part of the pay package like Hawaii and Alaska). Since my husband does not work while we are traveling we are a one income family and so we qualify and it has been a life saver. You can pray that God opens the doors you are to go through and close the rest it is very important that you have peace about your decision it is an amazing opportunity to have the whole country as your children’s class room but travel nursing is not easy, you will have some struggles. What is your specialty? I have never had a shortage of jobs, your first one is generally the hardest one to get, but in L&D I have always had a job by a month before my contract end date of the current contract. In September there is a travel conference that is mostly attended by travel nurses. It is great to rub shoulders with other travel nurses and get all of your travel newbie questions answered. It was very helpful for us. It made it so we didn’t feel like we were jumping off a cliff, giving up our stable jobs, being irresponsible adults and parents. It also gave us a travel nurse support system through the networking and friends we met there. The kids were 9,6, &3 when we started and other than missing their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends they have really enjoyed it and bloomed into quite the little social butterflies. They are now 11,9 &6 I hope the little one remembers all of the fun times we have had. Chad is getting a little stir crazy after 2.5 years of being a stay at home dad. He has loved traveling, but has voiced that he is ready for a break. He also would not have traded this experience for anything. We have bonded as a family in a way that is better than we could have dreamed it is also cool to accomplish something like visiting every state in one huge “field trip on steroids.”
Question: Wow thanks for all the advice!! I do worry about my kiddos emotional well being, and I only plan to do this for a few years…. So I will look at the market place for insurance……. Ty ty for all your help. Are y’all still ccing I’m hoping we will be able to hop communities while we are traveling
Answer: We have continued to do Foundations at home. I think it is possible to community hop with CC but we have not. We were planning to go back to our same community when we get home although they have said that our 7th grader can’t go into Challenge A until he is 12 which will be in January which is slightly frustrating, so I am not sure what we will end up doing. They are holding our spot, but I don’t want to hold him back especially since he has been in that class with those kids.
Question: So did u all leave family behind? I feel like my family is hesitant for us to leave. Some especially the older ones are like think of your family your safety your job currently and retirement… Our home…. ( we have) but how is the life off the beaten path so to say? Challenging ? Rewarding? How has your family taken it…
Answer: Most of our family lives in Oregon, and most of those live in our home town of Salem. My husband worked for his parent’s family business and had since he was 12. Your family will be the least supportive as they worry about you and they see all of the road blocks. Having you close gives them a sense of security. We told our families probably a year and a half before we left. That gave them a heads up, but they still didn’t really think we were going to do it. We even had times that we doubted ourselves and our sanity. We had been given a dream though. We felt compelled (we believe by God) to step out of our comfort zone to where we actually had to fully rely on God and put our trust in him not our support system. A dream to take our kids and see the United States, make a life time of memories, an educational opportunity for all five of us. The kids would only live with us for such a short time, they would be grown and gone too quickly. We knew in our hearts that to not take this direction and run with it would be to dishonor the one who had planted it’s seed in our hearts. We had a going away party there were lots of tears on all sides. The plan was to commit to a year no matter how bad it was, with the plan of being gone 1-5 years. The hardest part about those first few assignments for the kids (really all assignments, but the first two were the hardest) was missing their friends and family. By the time we left most of our family was very supportive, and I feel like the ones who weren’t were perhaps jealous that we were facing our fears of a less stable employment situation which they felt like they could never do.[(I have never not had an assignment by a month out from my intended start date which is early for most travelers) so beside the first one I have not felt insecure and we have had a hefty emergency fund and minimal debt (school loans and mortgage) so we have relatively few bills.] The other concerns seemed pretty in valid to me as well, the kids need stability, what about friendships… Pre traveling I worked swing shift and homeschooled the kids, my husband worked a family business so he would come home early on the days that I worked and make up for those hours on the days that I was off so we never saw each other, we were very rarely all five at home together. We feel that the kids are in a much more stable environment now with their dad home with them 7 days a week and both of us home 4 days a week. They are calm, have matured in character, make friends quickly at the church we attend on assignment, with the other kids in our apartment complexes, at the park or beach. They are never short on kids to play with. They have been given the opportunity to maintain the friendships at home by phone calls, and play dates every time we are going through town and I can’t think of any friends we have lost through our absence. A hard aspect for me, however, was that my friends and family that used to need me, rely on me, have moved on (they totally should have I wouldn’t want them to not have that friend to call for coffee or walking buddy, or canning assistant) but before I felt needed. It is slightly painful to see that everyone is doing just fine with out me and has gone on with their life. (These are selfish feelings and my problem not theirs) On the other side it is fun to go home because you feel like a celebrity as everyone you see wants to catch up. We have not felt unsafe and accidents can happen in your own back yard we are never guaranteed tomorrow which is why we must seize the time we have been given. I contributed 20% of my income to retirement pre Dave Ramsey 7 years ago and was back up to 10% before I left my permanent job. Since this is a limited time adventure for us we have not been contributing to retirement for these last 2.5 years. There are options through your company, as well as you could contribute to retirement independently. Most of our assignments someone visits us, a friend, or family, and we visit any friends who live on the way or in the area. There are a lot of challenges I don’t like to complain about anything so it is harder for me to talk about the challenges.
Challenges…people talk about how much money you will make as a traveler. Those people are taking the most miserable assignments and renting a room on Craigslist to pocket most of their housing stipend. Do you make more money? Yes. But. You have one income and two households to support instead of two incomes and one household. You most likely will not be making it rich and the difference in benefits alone could account for the difference in pay. You will not have sick leave or vacation pay. If you get sick and miss a day of work 1/3 of your pay check will be missing that includes stipends. Contracts do on occasion get cancelled. (I have never had this happen but it happens at some time to most travelers) your car will have mechanical problems, there will be family emergencies (we have had two family members pass away while we have been traveling, my aunt and grandma traveling has actually been helpful in these cases because the aunt that passed away lived in Arizona and our assignment before she passed away was at 4 corners so we were able to visit her a couple of times. And the year before my grandmother passed away we had a whole assignment near them and spent every day we were not working with my grandparents in So Cal. A month before she passed away we visited on our way through we drove down from Salem to San Bernardino then over to Virginia going quite a ways out of our way. She wasn’t even sick and we didn’t have any idea it was the last time we would see her, it was an unexpected gift that living this life style gave us. The hospital gave me bereavement and I was able to fly back for the funeral mind you it wasn’t paid bereavement. These are reasons why your emergency fund has to be 3-6 months of all expenses. Travel reimbursement from the company will off set some of the cost of moving but will not come close to covering it. We have found a lot of ways to save when traveling like packing our food in a cooler instead of eating out/fast food/convenience store food. We do have a rewards card for La Quinta (they accept all dogs) that gets us free stays every once in a while as well as AAA and a national parks pass that were purchased as a going away gift by my home hospital saving us a lot of grief/worry/ and the expense of the most intriguing education opportunities on the road. We also carry compact down sleeping bags and a backpacking tent and have camped at KOAs and other campgrounds to save money. It isn’t super comfortable camping but we are too short in space to pack for luxurious camping (ok that might be an oxymoron). You may get hostility from staff nurses who think you make twice what they make so you should get the crappiest assignment. You will most likely work all of the holidays unless they are specifically requested off in your contract. Some nurses will feel threatened by you and there are some unit cultures that are very socially/mentally/emotionally difficult. This may be why they needed you to begin with. They can’t maintain staff nurses. In these situations smile and be kind to everyone (killing them with kindness) no matter how they treat you and eventually you will break through their hard shell and discover the real people underneath. Some times I know right away why I was called to an assignment, sometimes I get to spend the three months figuring it out. But I always hope and pray that my presence on a unit is healing for their moral and makes a difference longer than my three months. You will run into practices that you are not familiar with, you don’t agree with, or you feel are unsafe. You must distinguish between them because if it is not going to do harm to the patient you must adopt the philosophy of “When in Rome” do as the Romans do. If you come in disagreeing with all of their policies and procedures you will not be warmly received. You can not say “where I come from they do it like this” this is threatening to them and will come across as you think your better than me don’t you. It is better at least until you have been there a while to instead ask how do you do it here. If it truly is a safety issue you have to do what is right by your patient but you usually can do that quietly with out ruffling too many feathers. You will be tested, by everyone. Usually there is a honeymoon period (not always) but you can’t expect that they will trust you the same way they trust their long time co workers, and this extends to the providers. Don’t take it personally just understand where they come from. Not all travelers are created equal, there is a big difference between those that travel because they have to (financial, can’t hold a job, don’t get along well with others long term) and those who travel because they want to travel. On the flip side of that we have met so many of the most amazing people you will ever meet it is the best part of traveling. We have made very good friends at every single assignment. And may never feel at home again with prices of our heart in so many places. The Capitol buildings we have toured, the national parks, battlefields, museums, historic sites, states, zoos, and local culture have all been amazing. We continue to be amazed. We wonder why we haven’t planned and given purpose to our days off before. Why didn’t we visit the museums, nature hikes, attractions in our own home state. Why did we think 2-3 hours was a long drive to visit someone we loved and didn’t see often. We pray that when we settle back down which we plan to do in September so I can focus on grad school studies and Chad can help his parents with the business as they are needing him back, that we do not go back to the way things were. We were so over booked with activities we were miss prioritizing everything in our lives. We had something going on every night and no family time. Church, homeschool group, piano lessons, AWANAs, swimming, karate, there was nothing wrong with any of it except that we weren’t prioritizing our family time over it. I probably could go on and on and on all night. Just shoot any specific questions you have before I write a whole novel for you.
Rain rain go away…it has been so beautiful and nice the days I was working it was supposed to hold on for my days off as well. Oh well we have been saving the Baranov museum for a rainy day. While we were down town we took a photo of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as it is so beautiful.
Established in 1808 as best as they can figure it is the oldest building in Alaska today. Built by the Russian-American Trading Company to house the sea otter pelts and the business we felt the title of Baranov Museum was misleading as we had hoped to learn more about Baranov, his family, and more about the Russian Alaskan history instead it was the history of this particular building. After it was a business it was a home, and living across the street from the harbor it is is amazing that it survived to tell it’s tales. There was a volcano in 1912 that spewed 2-3 feet of as hovering the whole community of Kodiak, thre has also been at least one earthquake and a massive tsunami that wreaked havoc in all of down town. It is very solidly built and beautiful still at it’s ripe old age.
This building is so solidly built there is no chinking only a small layer of moss and spears to be naturally insulated with it’s depth of wall and tightly fitting squared logs. Truly amazing. Now I appreciate this building more for sure, but I do not know anything new about Baranov. Hmmm.
We tried Monks Rock again, but this time even though according to the posted hours it should be open the sign was off and no one was there. We went home instead. After lunch the rain was starting to clear up and the kids had been asking to go fishing. We hit up the Buskin river which we have been told is a great place to fish we did not see a single fish, we still had fun casting and reeling it in. The kids started putting salmon berries on the hook for bait just to play around we figured at the rate we were going it couldn’t hurt.
They gave up quickly on the fishing, but since they were having fun playing in the water and along the bank I continued to fish long after they gave up. I really didn’t care if I caught anything I was having plenty of fun just being there, in the quiet breeze, ripping water, singing birds and laughing kids were music to my ears. Chad was the first one to say he was ready to do something else. We headed from there to Buskin Beach back to the Boy Scout Lake tide pools. Walking slowly down the forest trail to the beach picking as many salmon berries as we could on the way by. We may come back with bowls or buckets we have been tossing around the idea of making some salmon berry jam while we are here and I’m not sure how much longer their season will last.
The kids challenged me to climb the rock too and I did make it maybe half way, and fell a little coming down rain boots are probably not the perfected foot wear for this kind of activity. I probably should not be doing that kind of thing as long as I am our sole bread winner with no sick leave (not a job benefit you get as a traveler).It is hard to see him, but Caleb is near the top of the rock in the picture below.
We were out looking for beach treasures to take to the library tomorrow for the kids beach art class. I fell asleep in a flat warm rock it was perfect for sunning not at the beach. Eve is all wet from the waist down from wading in the river.
I have a new found obsession with ropes and so I could not turn down this beach find. I was working on it for a short time and getting no where Chad came over to help and made pretty quick work of the ginormous knot.
We left the beach, stopped at the house to get roasting sticks and Walmart to get hot dogs and headed for a bonfire dinner at Mill Bay beach. We didn’t see much drift wood there and we didn’t have enough with us so we left and drove out to Mayflower beach where there always seems to be some. It was a perfect way to end the day.
We had reindeer sausages one each and hot dogs incase anyone one wanted seconds. Also, we tried a new thing, roasting chunks of Asiago cheese in the fire. It was a hit. Last but not least we lit off the feast of the black cats from the 4th which is leagal here until 7/15.
Chad replaced the headlights on the car after the kids went to bed and they look great. It seems that instead of getting tired of our car which is getting old and high in miles. We find ourselves more attached to it as time goes on. I think Caleb is hoping that her will get to have it someday, who knows if Chad will we be willing to part with it even then.
We wanted to eat breakfast at Monks Rock, a highly recommended Russian breakfast and lunch restaurant. It turns out that Monday is the only day it doesn’t open until 11:00AM… Well, I guess the Shelikof will have to do we hadn’t been there either. It was okay but not some place I feel like I need to go again. It reminded Chad of Sybil’s in Salem except that it was the size of a normal living room. The people were nice and the service was ok, but it was all good that Chad makes normally at home and he does a better job. We are still glad that we went.
This was our entertainment as we waited for the food to come. From there we headed south. We were going to look for Heitman trail to hike, but in Women’s bay we got distracted by Sometimes island. It was low tide and our chance to check it out by walking across the land bridge that is normally under water. The trail in the top of the island was muddy, the kids checked it out and took pictures of another little WWII bunker (little one) that they found.
After Sometimes Island we decided that we didn’t want to do a long exhausting hike as I was just coming off my 5th 12 hour shift in a row and I didn’t have the energy for a big climb. Most hikes in Kodiak include a big climb. We headed back into town to explore Near Island. We have been to near island several times to wander around the harbor, go to the touch tanks and see the float plane harbor, but we had not yet hiked the trails there. We got maybe 100 yards into our hike before the kids started climbing the very limby trees. Chad and I just sat down and watched them enjoying themselves living vicariously.
We did eventually make it down to the beach where they took to climbing some more with Eve getting herself stuck in a tall rock outcropping with her daddy having to go talk her down.
Hannah was walking down a log when I heard a krflop followed by screaming. As quickly as possible I waded through the Russian berries to discover the log she had been walking in had long nails sticking up (not the sharp end) she had tripped on one and landed headfirst on another. We are so amazed and thankful that she did not get more hurt. She will have a shiner to show for it but it could have been so much worse. It grazed her right eyebrow and it was already starting to swell. We decided we had better head back for the car so we could go get some ice for it.
A float plane was taking off, so fun to watch. Chad ran across the street to a drive through coffee hut who gave him a cup of ice that he poured into a plastic bag for Hannah’s head. We may have gotten Ice on it fast enough, but I will be surprised if it isn’t a pretty impressive black eye in a few days.
Generally I prefer to be the one to take the kids to the doctor, but Chad has been doing a fabulous job. Both of Eve’s arm appointments have fallen on him due to my work schedule and he hasn’t missed a beat. Today instead of the discussed short cast Eve’s splint was completely removed and it was decided that she could have the splint could stay off after just three weeks from her injury. She has been holding it close and not using it stating that it does hurt to carry things but otherwise it is all better. I’m pretty sure there is no way to keep her from being overly rambunctious with it, so we will just deal with any additional injuries if they come. I’m confident that they wouldn’t have let her have the splint odd if there was much or any risk of further injury. Also at dinner she lost her first tooth. So exciting for her, she is growing up way to fast for this mamma.
It was misty when we woke up this morning. It had rained all night making us quite glad that we had let off our fireworks a day early as it would not have been nearly as fun in the rain. Eve was looking extra grown up this morning, but had a bit of an entitled attitude that almost bought her a morning of quiet time in her room good thing it was short lived. She had requested pancake, eggs, and bacon for breakfast then the kids put on “101 Dalmatians” a movie she had been given for her birthday. After the movie we straitened up the house and all dressed all the while discussing what our plans might be for the day. Eve proclaimed that she was going to be the one to pick, but instead of telling us what she wanted to do she said. “The only thing is I don’t want to go hiking on my birthday.” Okay. We had a skewer to return to the Blacks that had been picked up when we left the beach Sunday night. So we moseyed on over to near island to return the skewer. They weren’t home so we text them a message, and left the skewer. Then we asked Eve if she wanted to walk to the end of the big docks to check out the sea lions and she said no, but by the time we had walked up the dock a little ways back toward our car she had changed her mind. We turned and walked back toward the end of the big docks. We had walked the docks before but had never made it to the very end. We joked with Chuck and Donna that we were going to sell our house and buy a boat to live on sending them this picture.
I like the name of this boat especially when paired with it’s skiff.
We let Eve go with out her sling today for the first time. It was filthy and I had washed it, she seemed to be doing well with out it, so we let her go slingless. We watched the sea lions for a while Caleb called the large male King Burpo and kept barking back at him. The were just far enough away that binoculars would have been nice, but the car was a little too far to run back after them.
We were almost all the way back to our car when the Rich and Corrie pulled up. We let them know we left the skewer on the door handle on their boat and asked them if they would be interested in some chocolate cake. Eve had brought her birthday cake with the thought to share it with our fellow chocolate cake loving friends. Corrie had some candles so Eve was able to blow the candles out. Her wish she said out loud. She wished that we would all become princesses and princes. So sweet of her. Cake and coffee/hot chocolate hit the spot.
We visited until nearly 7:00pm. The kids made themselves at home, with Eve climbing up to the cockpit (That isn’t what it is called on a boat but I don’t know the proper name) then letting herself down into the cabin through a little trap door, and Hannah taking a nap on one of the bunks. I probably worried a little bit too much about wearing out our welcome with staying too long or the kids getting too comfortable, but no one seemed to mind and I’m pretty sure we all were having fun. What a blessing this new friendship has been. We came home and watched “Happy Feet” and ate pizza as Eve had requested for her birthday dinner. Happy Birthday Eve Alessandra Owens we could not imagine life with out you spunky, spirited, glass half full girl.