Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Growing Spring

(the sweet little growth cycle set is from MamaRoots)

I wish I could take credit for all of those lovely little green sprouts popping out of the containers of soil there, but MY gardening efforts usually look like this in the end.
Someone once commented here, that if plants would cry or shriek when they needed attention it would be much easier to remember to look after them. I am so caught up in other things that tending to plants is very low on my list of things to do in a day. Not so for my husband and Zach. They LOVE it and have been bringing these little guys up from seed.

They simply decided which foods they like to eat the most (tomatoes for D, cucumbers for Z) and pulled the seeds right out of the food as we ate it. They rummaged in the recycling bin for planting containers and collected soil from around the marina. I laughed. I scoffed. How could that possibly work?! Well they showed me.

My little contributions to the cause were these cute little planters that came with basil seeds attached (from ImagineChildhood).

It'll take a little of that gnome magic, but I hope the boys manage to eek something edible from their efforts later this summer when we move the plants to the dock... but at least for now it's lovely having all of these little green spring sprouts around the boat (as long as I don't have to water them :)  )

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reading Spring

The spring book basket is blooming with fun books to keep my little guy busy while I gestate. Very important. I love that I can leave him with a pile of books and snacks and sneak in a quick cat nap (amazing how critical that's become while pregnant). I wake up feeling like a whole new mama and happily he's just where I left him. I love that he's learned over the years to keep himself busy and happy without needing anything other than his own imagination and whatever is around him. It's such an underestimated life skill.
The Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter
The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales
The Story of the Root Children
Make Way for Ducklings
A New Beginning
What Shall I Grow?
Pelle's New Suit
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Lily's Garden of India
The Painter Who Loved Chickens
Play With Me
The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes
How Robin Saved Spring
Our Nest
An Egg Is Quiet
A Seed Is Sleepy
The Easter Egg

Then when I wake up he says, "Mama, want me to bring you some water?" and off he goes to bring his mama water in bed. My sweet boy! Happy Spring reading everyone.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wooing Spring

We've been trying to make happy, springy things to hang up around the boat... hoping we can lure the buds from the branches and the flowers from the soil around the marina.
This is about as easy as they come for a kid craft. Coffee filter butterflies (can't remember where I saw this idea... either a book or blog...) Take a coffee filter and open it up at the seam (we had to steal some from friends as we don't drink coffee). Paint all sorts of happy colors. Bend a pipe cleaner (ok, chenile stem if you must) in half on the middle of the filter and twist at the top. This becomes the butterfly body and antennae. Hang it up and voila - instant spring time happiness!

Friday, March 26, 2010

this moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama



Thursday, March 25, 2010

FAQ Baby On Board

I can't thank each and every one of you enough for the sweet words and well wishes on the impending wee member of our crew. It was very heart warming to read all of your thoughtful comments and it truly made my day!

It certainly brings up some questions from those who don't know us well and even those who do... so here's my best attempt to cover some bases:

* Yes, we'll stay living on the boat. This has been our life since 1998, we can't imagine living any other way.
                                                        (one year old Zach staging his first mutiny)

* No we won't be building an addition to the boat, nor will we buy a bigger boat. This boat has PLENTY of space. We just need to do some major reshuffling and reorganizing and rehtinking of how we use our space.

* No, this doesn't change our plans to go cruising again (traveling by boat full time) in a couple of years. The only thing dictating our cruising timeline is finances, not family size.
                       (Just 3 days old, first day home aboard the boat. Man was it ever clean and organized back then!)

* No, we didn't save a thing from when Zach was little. One little onsie is it (the outfit he came home in, seen above). There is no space for that kind of storage aboard and we don't keep any land based storage space. So in that sense we're starting over, but we also know that babies don't need anything more than a loving family, mama's milk, and loads of dipes... the rest is just icing. 

* I don't plan on a home/ boat birth. But I am not 100% ruling it out either. My friend Laureen is a rockstar and she birthed her third at home aboard her boat. With Zach I had a c/s because he was transverse. So although I have never been in labor, my gut feeling is I will want more space to labor and birth this baby. And the only thing less private than a hospital is a marina in the high season. So a VBAC with a midwife off the boat is the plan as of now.

* No, I didn't realize I was pregnant when I climbed down that cliff in Hawaii. But I sure started to feel like it on the way up.  :)

* How do you handle a baby on a boat? I guess my answer to that is, how do you do it in a house? Babies are raised a million different ways all over the world. I've never known any different as far as parenting goes, but to me a house seems endlessly more challenging. Stairs to fall down, furniture to tip over, and all that space to get lost in. We only have 3 steps from the main salon down to the hulls. All of the furniture is built in. And on board a boat, the little ones can't get away from you -- literally. You hear/ see/ smell/ feel everything. For me, a kid falling down a flight of stairs is a much scarier prospect that falling in the water. Truly, every walk of life has its risks, there is no "safe" place to raise a kid. Again, a loving, attentive family is all that matters.
... ok and a life jacket.

* The blog name. Yeah. That is probably something I should change huh? I mean I know the baby isn't going to know or care, but it seems weird to keep it Zach Aboard. I think I am going to need some help on this front though. Any ideas? I am OPEN to suggestions! I think maybe I should make a full blown contest out of re-naming the blog. Heck, we need baby names, and a boat name (the boat came with the name Majestic and we've never been fond of it), so why not?! I will have to think of an appropriate prize for naming the blog (or baby or boat!)

And if anyone has any other questions, always feel free to ask at any time. Truly, thank you once again for the well wishes!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday -- Sacred Vessel

Here's a project I have been working on for some time now -- about 14 weeks give or take...
(Zach insisted on hanging our first glimpses of "Baby Little" on his inspiration wire. And he's like the town crier telling every person we encounter, "My mom is PREGNANT!" It tends to startle bank tellers and grocery clerks.)

Yes, that's an ultrasound and that's a baby... and it's growing inside of ME. I am a sacred vessel :) I spent a very nauseous and tired first trimester in Hawaii, grateful to get in a lot of cat naps while Zach was free to roam in the sunshine.
(Zach took his job as protective big brother very seriously from the get go (this was in Hawaii). He is constantly hugging my belly and talking to the baby. Constantly.)
I am ever so slightly feeling better and starting to grow at a rapid pace. When you are barely 5 feet 2 inches you have no place to go but straight out. Our newest crew member should be arriving in September sometime. Now all the frantic spring cleaning posts might make some more sense, eh?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baaaaaa

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the ability to use the community around us as our classroom. Here we have this delicious spring weather and we got to spend the day here.
It's part of a local homeschool fiber CSA. The way it works is we get to visit this farm once a month throughout the year and learn everything there is to know about raising sheep (and various other critters around the place).
(I was drooling over the old stone work inside the barn.)
From the birth and care of baby lambs to shearing to dying and spinning wool to knitting (will I FINALLY learn to knit at the end of all this?!)
Aside from getting to cuddle and feed newborn lambs (born as we were pulling up to the farm!), Z was assigned his very own sheep whose precious fibers will be all ours.
For me, this what learning is all about. As much as I love our floating home, part of what makes living in such a small space so fabulous is that it forces us to go out. Inside days happen, and we have plenty to keep us busy, but life was meant to be lived... out there. And little people seem to shine when they can be a part of this big, fabulous world around us as often as possible. No workbook or movie or web site could replicate being out in the community touching and feeling and doing. We came home stinking of sheep, hay in our hair, poop on our boots, and smiles on our faces.
(Isn't this guy such a rock star? He was Zach's favorite!)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Springing

The weather smiled on us this weekend, the first weekend of spring. The hatches were wide open, the feet were bare, and the extra space heaters were put away (finally!)
But we didn't stop there, oh no. The spring cleaning reached a fever pitch with mama bear leading the charge as we emptied nearly every locker and made some tough love decisions about what should stay and what can go. It's amazing living in such a small space and still feeling like you just have TOO much!
(this fore peak locker at the bow of the boat is HUGE. Zach could easily bunk in there, you can see even though he's bending down, he can stand up with plenty of room to spare. We have one on each side.)
But the hard work was rewarded with some special fist day of spring celebrations as well... fresh flowers from around the marina and a yummy breakfast of German apple pancakes.
And as a token of spring, the Root Children left Zach something he's wanted for a very long time....
Bird Songs From Around the World, a wonderful book filled with lovely illustrations of each bird along with a number that corresponds with a digital panel along side the book that plays the call of that bird. Now our days and afternoons and nights and every indoor moment in between are filled with the lovely calls of birds from all corners of the globe.

Zach read his little card from the Root Children and pondered outloud... "How did they know? How did they know this is what I always wanted?! Hmmmm, Sally must have told them." (Sally, Zach's ghost friend) It's a good thing I speak ghost.

Happy Spring everyone!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

this moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hum, Write, Play

This is how I found him. Paper, pencil, and violin all in the book nook. He was humming, writing letters, then playing. Hum some more, write some more notes, play the notes. He wasn't humming on key. And the notes were sometimes more like screeches and scratches than music to my ears. But they were the right notes. And they were all his. And he was so absorbed and so proud and so excited. And in the end, I got to have a front row seat to his first concert.
(a big thank you to Grandma & Grandpa in North Carolina for the wonderfully thoughtful gift of the violin. it's something that will keep on giving for a very long time.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sun Medicine

Oh what a difference a day can make. Especially a day of long forgotten and dearly missed sunshine. It came in the main cabin hatches and woke us up.
It shone into the main salon lighting up the sea glass-mobile Zach made this winter.
And it lured us out, all day long, onto the beach. Dead calm waters, halcyon blue skies, Zach and his buddies playing in the sand, me and my mama friends laying about doing a whole lot of nothing. Pure therapy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Little Voice

I have been feeling really fuzzy lately. Jet lag is no longer an excuse, but perhaps the lack of sunshine is. What little rhythm our fly by the seat of our pants family has seems to be so out of reach of the moment. I see "to-do's" all around me, but can seem to do any of them. The boat is a mess and I can't focus. On anything.

Then I hear that little voice. Not the one inside my head, that one is whining so I shut it out. The little voice that follows me around all day. Talking. Non. Stop. I always hear it. But today I listened to it. "Mommy, we need to light a candle tonight. That will make everything beautiful."

And it did. 

It's amazing how one small person and one small act can make such a big difference in mood.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rainy Weekend

Our weekend saw nothing but this...
... non-stop rain (with the non-stop leaks from one hatch or another and power outages every time the tide came up. Such is boat life.).
This meant lots of time piddling around inside, spending some lovely, much needed, mellow family time. I spent my days purging and organizing and wondering how so much stuff accumulated in various nooks and crannies of the boat. It felt fabulous off-loading bags and bags to GoodWill or the dump. The next task is the hardest, staring to purge some books. Books are our addiction and it's hard to say goodbye even to the ones we've read 100 times. But that's part of living small. I bring them to the library where I know I can visit them again.

Zach spent some time doing this...
 (rolling beeswax candles)
And this...
(just another day in a Lakota camp)
And this...
He and daddy have been spending loads of time hanging out in bed, telling stories, wrestling, making fart jokes, and just being boys together. That's what rainy weekends are for.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sew or Show?

It's given us hours of entertainment on these gray days. Giggling like crazy while mama squints and grunts and rips threads and swears and rips more threads and makes all manner of funny rows of stitches and lopsided little bags. And all the while he was chowing on his popcorn like he was watching a show, every now and again patting the sewing machine lovingly and saying, "Thank you sewing machine."
 I am still trying to figure out if those thank yous were for the anticipation of a final product or the entertainment of the process.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Root Children

Most folks are sticking their noses outdoors this time of year, inhaling the first signs of spring and savoring little slices of that old friend sunshine. I have a confession to make. We're still hibernating. I guess our blood thinned a wee bit after 6 weeks in the tropics and now we're weather wimps, even more so than we were before.

We are not inside people. Normally we're outdoors everyday, most of the day. And in Hawaii we weren't indoors at all unless we were sleeping. And now, we poke our noses out into the cockpit in the morning and feel the slight bite of 40-50something degrees and recoil back inside to appreciate the coming of spring from the heated saloon. Zach is finding a new love for his play things that he hasn't seen since January. I am satisfying this deep need to reorganize and spring clean the boat, getting rid of loads of "stuff". And we're doing lots of this...
(making pirate rings out of modeling beeswax)
(building with the stacking rainbow. this thing gets SO much play.)
 
(dreaming of camping weather)

We'll get out there, slowly but surely. Zach joked that we were like the Root Children, hiding underground until everything feels ready.

Monday, March 08, 2010

New Gadget

My dear friend and neighbor SuperJen can do it all. She can sew, bake, garden, and craft with her little girl better than Martha Stewart, and all the while hold down a very demanding corporate job. I say she's so super because she's also strikes an impressive figure at 8 feet tall (ok, maybe not 8 feet, but when you're barely tiptoeing above 5 feet like me, everyone seems towering). She's not just Jen, she's SUPERJEN! And she has a Super Heart to match. Aside from always being there as a friend in neighbor in all the ways that count, her generous nature led her to gift me with this contraption recently.
My hands have never touched one of these things before. I hear they are quite handy though. Jen bought herself a well deserved fancy-pantsy one and brought this one over to me. But it sat, for a short while, because this thing had lots of gears and knobs and delicate looking parts and I didn't want to hurt it. So SuperJen came to the rescue again this weekend, and took the time to give me my first lesson. I learned such essential skills as how to turn the thing on, what the heck a bobbin is, how to thread the thing, and how to  make it go. My husband thinks I will be able to whip up a new stack pack for the boat this week. I was hoping I could make a whole new wardrobe for Zach. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn first. A LOT. I am sticking to attempting straight lines on pieces of scrap for now.

So the gadget and I will get to know each other. Slowly. And perhaps one day I will regale you all with a fabulous, colorful, project that involved stitched cloth. Perhaps.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Giddyup

I don't think there is a kid alive who hasn't watched in wide-eyed wonder that scene in The Black Stallion where Alec finally gains The Black's trust and rides him triumphantly bareback on the beach. You don't have to be a horse person to fall in love with that moment.

As my LONG time friend and faithful reader Michele can attest to, I am NOT a horse person. To say I am afraid of these beautiful beasts is a drastic under statement. After one too many horse rides in Brownies growing up, watching various girlfriends get rolled and thrown, I developed a deep respect (ahem, fear) for the power and strength of horses. I prefer to interact with them from a great, great distance... like through a movie screen. (don't even ask about the time I had to cover a rodeo for a kids TV show I worked for, eeeek!)
(apparently, he gets it from his Grandma, who is a tried and true horse girl. here they are grooming TicToc before a lesson.)
So of course, I get a horse kid. It probably started with Black Stallion (which we always watch MINUS the first 20 minutes of scary shipwreck scene), one of our favorite family movie night flicks. The boy has been BEGGING for horse back riding lessons. If any of you have little ones who ride, you know how expensive an endeavor that can be. But out in Hawaii, they were somewhat affordable (and grandma & grandpa generously gifted the lessons), so my boy got to ride.
Miss Loki out at Parker Ranch was the perfect match for Zach. Sweet and calm, but never talked down, no goofy "kid games", very straight forward. And from the get go she trusted him and so he trusted himself and her lovely horses.
She uses an English saddle for wee riders, and no reins. I guess the idea is that little ones just starting out tend to hold the reins for dear life if they are unsure, and that's not good for the horse or the rider. So she teaches them to ride hands free from day one, using their posture and legs and shoulders to control their ride. Great for the kid, more gray hairs for the mama.But that's ok, they're just walking. She has a lead line. Oh wait, they're trotting! Ack!
But he's still smiling, so big in fact I think his dimples may burst. Ok, so he's trotting no handed on a huge, heavy, strong, unpredictable animal. My baby. Ok, I can deal. He's doing great. So great that no she wants him to post while cantering. WHAT? Up-down-up-down-up-down-more-gray-hairs. She says he's the first kid she's taught that got the rhythm of posting on the first try (and the youngest!) And now he's not just smiling, he laughing joyfully. He's Alec on the beach. He's in his happy place.
And I am a mama needing a stiff drink, some phobia therapy, and a side job to pay for more lessons. Wouldn't soccer be easier?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sweater Monster Love

One of the blogs I love dropping in on is the ever creative 5 Orange Potatoes. I don't know how she does it, but I am so happy she does, because it means I have a one stop shop for fabulous ideas to borrow for my boy. Her sweet little Sweater Gremlins caught my eye and with a boy who loves all things monstery, I knew we had to make some. The first was a stripey monster that I made for Zach to take to Hawaii. He stuffed it with wool and lots of yummy smelling herbs and daddy put a sweet note in the back pocket with a wish for Zach on our travels.
Back home, with our wee stash of felted sweaters and our jar of mismatched buttons and a bit of felt and embroidery thread, we set to work on another. Zach drew the shape, and we picked out the colors and details together. We ended up stuffing this one with llama fleece (happen to be the only thing I had around at the moment, oddly enough).
This little monster was a birthday gift for Zach's best buddy Miss T.
He wrote a special birthday wish for her and put it in the pocket near the monster's heart.
I have the feeling we'll be making more of these for various occasions (wouldn't they make sweet tooth fairy pillows?) But if you want to see how a pro does it, go browse around Lisa's sweet little etsy shop to see some of the fabulous little owls and gremlins she's got in stock. Plus check out her blog for all sorts of fabulous (and beautifully photographed) ideas to do with your little ones!
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