Friday, May 28, 2010

~this moment~ passions

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

~This Moment~ My boy after a long day chasing his two passions... by sea (life jacket) and by land (horseback riding helmet).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WIP - The Salon After

Can't you see how white it is?? I know, there is NO way to tell the difference from a photograph. But take my word for it. It's all shiny and sparkly in here with fresh paint and a thousand coats of varnish.
My favorite part was purging. Oh how I love organizing those little corners that tend to pile up with this and that. It feels soSOso good getting rid of things, tidying up the odds and ends, and finding a way to store what needs to stay. I am weird that way.
So we're down to basically one more room that needs an overhaul - Zach's room. Basically it needs to be painted, new light fixtures, fixing the head (toilet), and generally making it more hospitable... just in case (for the record, he hasn't slept in there again since the other night).
In the mean time, we're feeling all fresh and fancy here, so come on by and have a drink and come for a sail! Oh wait, we don't have our mainsail back from the sail loft yet *sigh*... almost there. Boats are ALWAYS a work in progress.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Have You Any Wool?

Another perfectly lovely day at our fiber CSA playing with baskets full of wool. A little farm hiatus now and again always seems to give me balance and make me feel even more grateful when I turn home to the sea.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Ok, so I told a little white lie. But I KNEW he could do it. They said kids had to be 7 and up to participate in this 3+ hour homeschool sailing field trip aboard the Schooner Sultana. So I said he was already 6 and that I was sure he could keep up with the big kids and handle the trip just fine. And although he looked so obvioulsy little next to many of the kiddos (who were 8 at the youngest in our group) he showed them he was a salty dog.
Sultana is a replica of the smallest ship ever to serve the Bristish Royal Navy. At 51 feet stem to stern she's a meticulous replica of the ship that plied the waters of the east coast from 1768-1772. The ship's mission is to spread knowledge of and passion for our local history and ecology.
Passion? Check. The kid was on could nine the entire time. We've been on some historic ships before, but to be on one actually moving under sail... and get a chance to steer the ship? Nirvana.
(It took 6 kids to move the enornous tiller under the Captain's watchful eye. They practice aiming for landmarks and making sharp turns as a team.)
Zach claims aside from steering the ship and getting to witness "a real cannon firing", his favorite part was going below decks and checking out "the old timey stuff." He and the other kids were duly impressed by the rusty old tools displayed on the table. Then they all paled when they were told these were the ship's medical supplies and given a graphic demonstration of how they were used. Gulp.
(The crew gave a demo of how an infected hand would be amputated using a screw tourniquet, some scalpels, and large knife, a bone saw, and a hot poker to soder the wound shut.)

Knowledge? Check. He got some and gave some too. Along with absorbing the fascinating tales and history of life at sea in the 1700's, he showed those big kids a thing or two about boats. He was aglow when he was the only one who knew the answers to questions like what are these numbers on the chart ("They show how deep the water is.")
And what is this thing? ("A sextant for navigating by the stars.") And why are these fish dark on top and light on the bottom? ("Camouflage so birds don't see them blending in with the dark waters from above and bigger fish can't see them blending in with the sun and sky from below.")
Who says you have to be 7 years old to do this gig?

Friday, May 21, 2010

~this moment~ No Paparazzi!

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WIP ~ The Great Sleepytime Shuffle

My baby slept all alone last night. In his own room. It seems convenient, with the new baby on the way and all, but it was all quite by accident.

His room normally gets used as a sort of dumping ground since he doesn't sleep there. Odds and ends waiting to get stowed or taken off the boat get tossed on the bed. And then there are the boy's collections. Oh the collections. Not very ideal for a weight conscious catamaran (cats can not be overloaded or it impacts their sailing performance) he has managed to hide rocks in every nook and crannie of the boat.  And then there are the coins. And the "jewels". And then just the "treasures" (bits of shell, sticks, dead bugs, broken watches, you name it). So I bought a bead organizer and some small containers and told him, "You can stuff whatever you want that will fit in these. Everything else has to go."
No complaints. He thought the whole exercise was loads of fun. We talked about what to put where, how to categorize them, what to keep, and so on.
Then I off loaded the junk I was storing in his room (clothes to give away, clothes to try on, craft supplies). And before we knew it, the boy had a clean-ish and clear-ish room. And the boy realized he had a radio at the foot of his bed and a case of audio books.
 The momentum of novelty took over and he cuddled in with a good story streaming from the speakers and his blankies at his side and before we knew it, it got really quiet... and he was asleep. So we left him.
So what?-- some might say. Well for a family that has shared a bed since birth and never really tried to sleep train or coax the child out of the family bed, it was a big hairy deal. And weird. And normally my hormones would have kicked in (like they did the one other weird night this happened, a couple of years ago), but I would be lying if I didn't admit how much my ever-widening body LOVED the extra bed space. Oh to stretch out!

It all comes on the heels of The Great Bed Dilemma that arose about 30 seconds after I realized I was pregnant. The conversations went something like this. "Honey, I am pregnant." D- "Wow, (insert happy yet shocked husband comments here). So how are we going to all fit in the bed?" And then when we decided to tell Zach... "Zach, mommy has a baby in her tummy. You're going to be a big brother." Z- "A Baby! Hooray, I always wanted a little brother or sister (insert more happiness). So mama, how are we going to fit the baby in the bed?" It was the first thing we all asked.

The thing is, we weren't looking for an excuse to kick him out. We were all quite snug and happy. And we certainly don't want to force the issue with the baby as the catalyst. So we've been in Palastine-Israel level negotiations for several months trying to create a solution. Friends I know who also do family beds simply buy or build bigger beds. Not an option on board the boat. So we've talked about him sleeping on the floor or our room, him sleeping at the foot of the bed, him having some fold out cot/ bed thing that we could build... something??

And then this. Snoring happily just about all night long in his own room. Completely out of the blue.

He unceremoniously climbed back in with us around 5am. When we woke up in the morning I chatted with him about how it went. He said it was "ok". "But mama, I NEED to feel someones skin next to me when I sleep." *Sigh* Can you blame him? This is why adults couple off if possible and don't sleep in separate beds a la Mike & Carol Brady. Humans need other humans. We need that touch. If we as grown ups are not willing to sleep alone, why should kids if they don't want to? But maybe he wants to?

So we'll see... and we'll shuffle.... and we'll find something, somehow that works for everyone. It's truly a work in progress. So we'll keep that room tidy... just in case.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

seining by the sea

We have a full week of outings and adventures ahead of us. One of our favorite and regular stops is out to SERC (The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) for their fantastic homeschool classes. This is one of those porgrams that's so amazing, non-homeschooling parents I know often yank their kids out of class for the afternoon just to join in. I want to take the time to thank you, the tax payer, for helping to fund programs like these :)
What you can't get from these photos are the squeals of excitement as the kids touch and hold live squiggly fish and shrimp and baby crabs. And you can't see how carefully these little ones handled these living things, following the protocol laid out by our intrepid scientist/ teacher. And you can't smell the clean, briny water that laps the shores of this environmental preserve (probably the cleanest water on the Chesapeake) and the way it clung to the locks and clothes of the kids as they tromped through the woods and headed back at the end of the morning. And you can't feel the energy of these kids figuring out the world around them with all of their senses. The way it should be.

Monday, May 17, 2010


and magical...
We spent the weekend taking in the EXCEEDINGLY loud but equally fascinating sights at the Joint Forces Air Show. While getting the rare opportunity to explore every type of aircraft imaginable on the ground, just overhead planes of all kinds were doing truly death defying stunts and formations so close you often wanted to duck. Did you know that helicoptors can do stunts? All I could think while watching these talented military pilots was, "I hope their mothers are not seeing this. It just doesn't seem safe!"

And then in sharp contrast, we spent the other part of the weekend at our local Fairie Festival. Unicorns and greenmen and dragons and fairies of all shapes and sizes. The kids ran amuck and built fairy houses and made fairy wishes. No frenzied flying and a much quieter scene.

While the two types of wings couldn't be farther from each other, they both made one little boy's imagination soar.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

when I grow up

It was less than a year ago. The marina finally finished re-building and reconfiguring the docks and we were able to move into a fabulous new slip at the end of the pier. The view, the breeze, the privacy... we LOVED it!
Over the winter while we were in Hawaii, the marina offered to let us put the boat back in our old slip. It was considered a favor because the slip was very close to shore and very protected which would be good in what turned out to be a very rough winter.

But now it's spring. And we were waiting for the all clear to move back to our fab slip at the end. Then the marina gave us the news. You can't move back to the end of the dock. You need to stay in this old spot because there is a bigger, fancier, more expensive boat who wants the spot. Oh, and the boat belongs to a TV news celebrity. And that's that. We lost our spot. And I admit it, I am bitter. I want my views and breeze and privacy (especially with the baby coming).
But my sweet boy is never daunted. As the big yacht pulled up today, he ran down to greet them, petting their dog and declaring loudly, "Your boat is BEEE-YOUUU-TEEE FUL! So shiny!" I see a big hunk of antique wood blocking what little view we have and hogging up my spot. He sees a new friend. My sweet boy, if only I could be like him when I grow up.

WIP - freshen up the salon

Little by little we've been painting the interior of the boat. One of the things we LOVE about modern catamarans is the very sparse use of wood (and thus very little need for the labor intensive care of wood). So a few coats of white paint and things look like new again.

We did the book nook and galley last year, and since it's one continuous hunk of fiberglass, we were left with this awkward little transition from the freshly painted to the not-yet-painted.
(actually this is not the exact transition spot, but you get the idea in our kind-of-white to WHITE paint job)
Step one, empty the salon. Sounds easy, but this is our main hanging out/ living/ eating/ playing/ crafting/ learning/ everything space. Many people have come aboard our boat and commented that is looks like a kindergarten. (have a peek here of photos from last spring of our salon). We emptied everything and joked that this is what it would look like if respectable grown ups lived here.
(feast your eyes for it shall never be this clean and empty again)

Of course the floating kindergarten and everything else has to go somewhere. So other corners of the boat were packed to the brim.
(the book nook becomes one of our temporary storage spaces during painting)

Ahhh the joys of living in a work in progress. Normally, our division of labor has Doug sanding and prepping while I paint (we ladies tend to have a steadier hand at the detail work in my opinion). But alas, paint fumes in tight spaces are not a good thing for expecting mamas, so Doug got to paint while we made ourselves scarce during the days.
(uh, honey, you missed a spot!)

Two coats of paint and 5 coats of varnish on the little bit of wood trim we do have means many, many days of living like this.
(breakfast on the floor... Zach thought it was fun, it made me a little crazy, especially with pregnancy nesting hormones a-raging)
(poor Mookie had to live with the stinky fumes. so far he seems no worse for it, who can tell with that little guinea pig brain?)

So things are looking brighter and I am taking the opportunity of a fresh slate to purge and thin out the "stuff" we had in the salon. I often wonder if getting rid of stuff obsessively can be a sickness just like people who collect it obsessively?

The bright white is already helping our lighting in here...
... and it's also making the windows look dirty and the floor look dingy (one of our future projects! New floor before baby comes, mama's orders!) We'll probably be the only ones who notice the change once it's all finished, change is small in a small space, but I'll post some photos at the end anyhow. In the mean time, does anyone know how to get paint out of guinea pig fur?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Making Do

Living aboard a sailboat is an ongoing lesson is simplicity. Now there is nothing simple about boats and boat systems. But our limited space and amps challenge us to constantly rethink convention.

Zach loves to cook and play chef. He has since he was a tyke. Of course, it seems in any household these days a play kitchen is a must have item for the wee ones. Whether it's the big plastic kind that rings and buzzes, or the insanely beautiful and insanely expensive wooden ones that are labeled "heirloom" to ease the blow of the price tag... neither would fit anywhere in the boat. So from an early age his "play kitchen" has been the galley (the regular kitchen). He's always been right along side me, making a complete mess, sabotaging my recipes, and dumping ingredients all over the counters. 
(Both of these photos are about age 1 1/2) 
Sure dinner takes longer sometimes and clean up is always a bear, but we get it done. When he's not playing in the real kitchen, he often makes "food" out of other toys. Kukui nuts, acorns, shells, and rocks become food without a second thought, proving once again that although hand knit or wooden play food at $6 a pop are gorgeous, they are not necessary for natural, open ended kicthen play.
(My kitchen boy has grown, but he still wants to be in the thick of it. I let him play with the stems and ends of greens I was using. And of course, now he wants to use the knife, which is fine by me.)
(Making "fairy soup" out of stems and ends)

The same dilemma popped up with painting. Paint boards and beautiful little glass jars in a hand crafted wooden holder are all well and good, if you have $50+ to spend on one slice of art supplies. I put off trying wet-on-wet watercolor painting for the longest time because I just couldn't stomach the expense and the space taken up by the "proper" supplies. So I found high quality water colors and thick water color paper on sale at a local art store and imrpovised the rest. Rather than a paint board, we're surrounded by wooden planks afterall, the dock and the picnic tables around the marina. And I've got plenty of small glass wear items for holding paint.
As for the brushes, you wanna hear something strange. We have found all of the paint brushes we own. I don't know how or why, but everywhere we go, we stumble upon orphaned paint brushes. And the paintings turned out just lovely.

I am not going to pretend I don't go the distance buying nice, quality toys for Zach whenever I can, but like all families we pick and choose. With Zach's birthday around the corner, it's easy to get caught up in beautiful castle sets like these for my knight loving child (look ONE piece of the castle is $100), but then I see him create things like this....
and this...
or this...
And it makes me realize we don't need a "play castle" to play castle.

It's so easy to blog surf and get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses. And even when the Joneses are naturally minded, crunchy, Waldorf inspired, thrift store loving, crafty, do-it-yourselfers... that doesn't mean they or anyone NEEDS all that stuff. Regardless of where it comes from or how it's made, it's still "stuff". I try to book mark items for a long, LONG time and see if we can do without or improvise or substitute with what we already have before deciding to buy something. For us, we'd rather spend the money on travel or experiences and of course getting the boat ready to sail away. Because being together and seeing the world means more than being surrounded by things, even beautiful things.
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