Thursday, August 20, 2015

Up and Out

It's been 18 days. We hauled the boat out with a check list and a budget and a time line, but of course all of those things were washed away. Four times the cost, four times the time, check list growing. The boat is not merely getting a pedicure, she's having an extended spa vacation.

It's always puts a little knot in my stomach to watch the travel life haul the boat up and out of the water. So awkward and unnatural, I often speak for her and decide she feels gawky and exposed when she's lifted out of the water.

(all of these are cell phone pics... sorry!)

I feel the same way when off the boat, unnatural and lost. We had a house and critter sitting gig at a friend's house for 2 weeks, we thought that would be more than enough time to cover the haul out. We were wrong. Our friends were extremely gracious to let us stay in the house even after they came home. We are crazy grateful. There are chickens and bunnies and a garden and friends who are like family. It's all good.

For the time when we were just house sitting here though it was... weird. This may have been our longest stint just hanging out and living in the suburbs. And yes, the endless hot showers and free laundry was fabulous. There is no denying that. But I found myself going a little stir crazy. I was lonely. I realized that I am so very used to being able to head to the marina pool, or sit under the oak tree, or hang out in the cockpit playing music, and there will always be someone walking by who comes and has a chat. Or a glass of wine. Or hey let's have a group meal. I need that. A lot. We would go back to the marina just to say hi to people and hang out. And stare despondently at our empty patch of water.

So we head to the boat yard to check on progress. Slow going. Weather hasn't been agreeable. We breathe deeply, climb a ladder to get on board and grab some personal belongings, and hope that she'll be ready. Soon.

 (This is Steve. Our fates are in his capable hands.)

(sorry, all of these are cell phone pics!)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

settling in

Choo Choo is finally seeming to find his sea legs now, all four of them. The first few trips out on the boat he was visibly unsure about what was happening. Before we adopted him, he lived on a ranch in Texas, so all of this boating stuff is brand new to him.  He would usually cower as close to a human body as possible and look nervously about. If I was at the helm, he'd wedge himself between my legs and hide. Our old dog Schooner used to do that, but since he was 3 times Choo Choo's size it was a little more difficult to manage.

The last trip out though Choo Choo seemed fine. He was laying relaxed on the aft deck, head pointed towards the wind, watching the waves churn by. He actually seemed... content.

Which is a relief.

And it's a relief to see Naia getting more and more independent each time out this season too. I have to remember Zach at this age, fearless and free.  She's no different.

And I have to remember that even though I have extra protective instincts since she is "the baby", she needs to feel that freedom too. She needs to learn how to use every muscle to navigate herself around the boat underway. She needs to find her own balance without my worried hands guiding her. She needs to face plant and knee skid a few times to learn how to predict the motion of the sea. She may not remember this sail, or this summer, but her body and heart are memorizing the feeling of sailing and the ocean and the feeling of freedom.

As for Choo, well... I am just glad he's managed to not to fall in the drink... so far.

These two little stinkers are such a joy to have around. A constant reminder to find magic in the little things, to point your face into the breeze and let the sunshine wash over you. They a comic little team, and I am proud of them both each day.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

roadtripping north

We took a rather last minute road trip last month to hang out with friends up north. Normally this time of year finds us pointing our wheels west, towards Michigan and Chicago to see my family. But the kids had never been to New England and we were long overdue for visits with friends up that way, so away we went.

First stop was Connecticut, where we crashed in with our friends Rich and Liia and their sweet daughter Aili. They gave us the royal treatment complete with wine and sushi and hot showers and lots of laughs. And they welcomes Choo Choo into their home too. That was extra generous.

Then we journeyed further north to Belfast, Maine to see our friends Tig and Serena. We first met them when they were cruising south and they stopped in Annapolis for a bit. We all clicked and we've tried to make a point to see each other when we can, the last time was in Chincoteague for the pony run this spring. They are land based now in Maine, and were kind enough to let us invade, even with the dog.

I haven't been to Maine in a long time, since I was working for HGTV way back when. It was still as magical as I remember. Serena and I walked all over Belfast one evening, just us mamas all alone. I was telling her that the town seemed so adorable, and so clean, and so wholesome that I felt like I was on a movie set.

The kids were impressed by the huge tidal range up there. On the Chesapeake we have tiny (a few inches) of lunar tide, and mostly a wind driven tidal flow. So to start out the morning playing on a small rocky strip of beach, and throughout the afternoon watch the water slink back and reveal more and more rocks and treasures was a trip for Zach and Naia. There were boat rides and cook outs and crabs and friends who are like family.

n the way back south again, we dropped in on some old cruising friends who live in Kittery Point, Maine right near the New Hampshire border. We met David Virtue and his fabulous wife Shara while cruising down the east coast in 2001. Here's the longer story behind that meeting...

Doug and I were married in Bali, Indonesia in May 2001. We ordered our wedding rings online from David Virtue, not knowing who he was but just loving his beautiful work.  It turns out I am allergic to gold, so later that year when we were sitting in the Florida Keys on our first boat I started emailing David asking if there was anything we could do to the ring to lessen my skin reaction to it. He was emailing back with all kinds of suggestions, but the truth was he wasn't at his studio in Maine. He was anchored with Shara just a few boats down from us. We ended up meeting and realizing who each other was, and struck up a life long friendship from there, buddy boating throughout the Bahamas.

We had such a beautiful day with them, boating from their home dock in Kittery to Portsmouth, NH for lunch. Then Shara took Naia and Doug and Choo Choo and I to the local beach while David was kind enough to take Zach to his studio for a little working tour. Zach was in complete awe. Not only is David one of the nicest guys ever, I think the two artsy introverts had a connection that Zach will remember for a long time. He came back regaling us with information about lost wax and gold engraving and gems. And he was even gifted some precious stones to bring home, which immediately inspired a jewelry making spree.

The list of girls he was making for was long, mom was somewhere around #5 on the list.  ;)

We will definitely be returning up that was someday soon, hopefully under sail next time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zach's Cabin Makeover

Zach and Doug went off for a few days camping with the Boy Scouts recently and so Naia and I had some quality girl time. We ate green things. We danced, a lot. And we ripped apart Zach's cabin.

Now, about a year ago we moved Zach out of his little cabin in the aft section of the starboard hull and into the port side "guest room". And we transformed the little aft cabin into a room for Naia who had been sleeping with us and didn't have a room for her first 3 years. At the time we concentrated solely on making Naia's new cabin awesome so that Naia would sleep there. We succeeded in the awesome part, but failed on the sleeping. She still sleeps with us. Every single night. And we're cool with that. She's the last kid, and she's my teddy bear, so it's all good. But we never did anything more than unceremoniously dump Zach and all of his belongings into the guest cabin.

Until now.

Naia and I took apart the room completely. every book, every cubby, every single item in the room came out.

Oh so many books. Even though he has a library card and a Kindle paperwhite FILLED with books, we still have way too many books on board. And I fear we always will. My boy is not only a voracious reader, he's also a lover of vintage things, so he's a sucker (and so am I) for vintage books. You can't transfer those to digital.

Aside from culling and organizing books, there was just too much stuff. And garbage. Actual literal garbage. Mind you his bedroom door is like 4 feet from our galley trash can. Sigh, boys. Five huge trash bags later, we started organizing things back into the room... and then started to decorate. And here's what it looks like now!

(Friends, keep in mind that even though our space is "large" by everyday boat standards, this was all photographed with a wide angle lens. Never believe totally what you see!)

My boy is a certified Britofile. His taste in movies, literature, humor, and history all lean very English. So a huge Union Jack to cover the bland beige head board seemed to suit the room perfectly. Then I sewed a Doctor Who pillow (my first time sewing piping, don't look too close, it's a little rough around the edges.) And added a small Union Jack fabric panel to cover the Lego cubby.

Oh the Lego cubby. That was like a whole day of organizing. My kid falls in the free form build from your imagination school of Lego. If he gets a set as a gift, he might build it once, but then it goes into what I call "the heap". Inevitably he ends up not being able to find "the piece" needed to create whatever is blooming in his head. Not surprising since the Lego cubby was a swirling mass or chaos. We bought some plastic bins and I took advantage of my girl who LOVES to sort little things, and got to work. Minifigs in one bin, random pieces in another two bins, accessories in another. Eventually the fabric will be held in with bungees and eye bolts to make the cubby secure, right now it's just a touch of velcro to hold it in place and cover the Lego mess.

Other cubbies have oversized books with his extra quilt for cold nights.

And magazines along with his natural treasures in a special bin, things like rocks and feathers and shells and bits.

On the wall by his bed I put up some hoops with embroidery and fabric of favorite things, a Harry Potter quote, Star Trek, and a Tardis.

And then there's the closets. Oh man that was a chore. I bought some hanging things that I think are to store pantyhose and jewelry, but I put his odds and ends in there. Works perfectly! And his clothing, well I organized as best I could knowing it would be undone the first time he got dressed.

His door, well... he did his own decor job on that when he took over the room. Duct tape. Yeah, it's trashed, but it's his. One day if we ever sell this boat, we'll have to seriously refinish or replace that door.

And finally there is the head, or bathroom. I added a Doctor Who tardis shower curtain, and a friend gave Zach the tardis mug which is perfect for tooth brushing items. Behind the shower curtain is a small bath tub, which is where we store some off season items and also where we throw our dirty laundry. The tardis makes the perfect cover.

Zach came home and was thrilled with his room, and frankly quite surprised. He couldn't believe how easy it was to function in an organized space. He told me his favorite part was the Union Jack flag. Of course.

Now I just hope he can keep it this neat and tidy. Please.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

70's Summer

It seems to be the trendy thing to reminisce about the good old days when kids would run free in packs around the neighborhood all summer having unplugged fun during unscheduled days.

Every year I get a little nagging feeling, the little voice whispers "Camp. Classes. Make some plans!" But then when I research it never seems worth it. Why would I pay someone else to play with my kids? Why would I pay (and pay a lot mind you) for someone to take my kid out kayaking or hiking? We do that all the time as part of our every day. I then realized that we sort of live at day camp. Plenty of arts and crafts, pool, water sports, hiking, wilderness, and with better food.

So that's what's been happening the last month or so. Creative free time...

(upstairs/ downstairs boat style)

Spontaneous water and bubble fun...

Fishing, of course. Always fishing with my sweet boy. And monkey see, monkey do wants in on the fish action too. This year she is coordinated enough to handle a real hook. And she's learning to deal with the disappointment of not catching anything too. That's all part of that 70's summer thing, right? Letting kids fail, experience disappointment, not making everything ok all the time.

We've been hanging out in the woods as much as the ticks let us. Picking wineberries, following deer tracks, and having little fairy picnics.

And of course sailing when we can. Choo Choo had his first sail. He was a little... worried. He spent most of the time glued to me, right between my legs at the helm.  I am getting the feeling lately that Naia is prone to sea sickness. She's never complained about it or lost her stomach, but she tends to go right to sleep once we get underway. No complaints about a nap from my energizer bunny.

To me it's not a 70's summer throw back thing. It's just summer. Just living life to the fullest and chalking up experiences over accomplishments. I am not sure I could do it any other way.

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