Wednesday, October 31, 2012

weather tricks and real treats

I know people have raised an eyebrow or two at the fact that we made the choice to stay aboard the boat with children in the path of a hurricane, nay a SUPER STORM.

Well, you can watch CNN and listen to the news and shake in your boots and run for your life screaming that the sky is falling, or you can actually learn how to find and interpret first hand the weather charts that are available free and in real time from NOAA and various other weather tracking agencies. That's what we do. And though from the news headlines said "the East Coast was going to be swallowed by a Zombie Dragon End of the World Stormagedon", we could plainly see by reading the charts and models that our neck of the woods tucked up in the Chesapeake Bay was expecting at most a 2-3 foot storm surge that would be mostly negated by a strong northern wind, which would be changing to a south wind around midnight Monday and enhanced by a full moon. And the winds over all would not exceed 70mph which is totally manageable in our protected corner or water. And guess what, that's exactly what happened. Exactly.

The wind gave us a bump and a jostle, but nothing out of the ordinary as boats are made to take on winds. And the water came right up to the docks, but not above. And the worst fall out for our family was discovering 3 new leaks with all that rain and me getting a wicked nasty sinus infection.

The kids found ways to pass the time...

And before we knew it, we were back to normal and getting ready for Halloween.

Which brings me to my next rant. I understand not wanting your 1-2-3 year old to eat candy. We certainly didn't let Naia have any trick-or-treats, placating her with pistachios and honey sticks while she ran around trying to keep up with the big kids. But for crunchy hippy families like us who live healthy and clean and sugar free-ish 364 days of the year, why on earth would one deny older kids the joy or gorging themselves silly for one day a year? Sugar Fairies and Switch Witches are, in my opinion, a crazy indulgent way for parents to control their ideas of how Halloween should be. It's not about us. It's about having one day a a year where kids don't worry about grow foods or warm clothes or being loud or staying up too late or running in the dark up the street or howling at the moon. It's about treats and imagination and ghost stories that you don't quite understand but make your spine tingle, and stepping outside yourself to be anything and everything. It's about the kids getting to be kids rather than little green smoothie drinking, eco-conscious, mini-adults. Let them just be. It's ONE day. Have some fun.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh Sandy!

I just can't seem to get that John Travolta voice out of my head as we sit and watch and wait. First I want to say a big thank you to everyone who reached out and dropped a line checking on us. Yes, we are in the path of the hurricane. We have had our eye on her for a bit now, even before the media decided to give her  nicknames and ride the wave of hype. Frankenstorm. Storm of the Century. Yeah, we got it. Thank you.

So the long and short of it is that we are fine. We will stay on the boat through the storm. If things get dodgy, we'll scurry up the hill and bang on SuperJen's door for a retreat. We don't anticipate there being anything that extreme though. The storm is swinging to our north according to the latest models. So the strong winds and rain will be our companions for a couple of days, but the storm surge should be negated by the northerly blows and actually empty lots of water out of the Chesapeake.

We have spent the last two days prepping, but the thing is boats are naturally ready for anything. We already have 150 gallons of water in our water tanks in case there is contaminated water from flooding. We have plenty of food on board and propane to cook it. We have solar panels that work even in stormy weather and run pretty much all systems even if our area loses power. Oh yeah, and we float.

So we have doubled our dock lines, wrapped our mainsail on the boom, cleared the decks of toys and kayaks, set our fenders, and we're set to ride out the storm.

It's been a flurry of activity here at the marina with everyone getting their boats set. Folks who don't live aboard have a lot more work to do as they drive in with maybe just an afternoon to ready everything. We have been helping neighbors where we can, and helping boats whose owners can't be here to prepare.

Anyhow, of all of the systems we are able to run on our own, internet is not one of them. So if there's some radio silence, it's probably because we lost internet locally. Thank you for the well wishes. We have a batch of pumpkin dark chocolate chip muffins, a roast beef, a stack of pancakes, fresh art supplies, new Legos, and new books, so we can declare ourselves ready for the worst threat: 3 days of cabin fever!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

trot along

Something tells me that I maybe should start saving for an extra set of horseback riding lessons for a little certain someone several years from now.

Wouldn't soccer be easier. Anyone? Baseball maybe? Sigh.

p.s The intense debate comment gadget on blogger is acting weird. For those of you who left comments on the Boat Girl book giveaway and don't see your comment now, don't sweat it. I have your comments via email and they will ALL be counted when we pick a random winner. Sorry for the confusion. And you still have a chance to enter until Friday night!

Monday, October 22, 2012

GIVEAWAY ~ BOAT GIRL by Melanie Neale

When people ask me why I live this life, why am I raising my kids on a boat and planning to go cruising again with them and homeschooling there's a whole long list of answers and reasons and explanations I can give. But the truest, shortest, easiest, most direct answer is this: It's all because of the Neale family.

Tom and Mel Neale told their story of a life afloat in the pages of Cruising World magazine and in the book All In The Same Boat ages ago (ok it was the early 90's, but it feels like a long time ago).
I was in late high school/ early college years when I first read about them. And I was hooked. I remember reading that first story and I had one of "those moments." It was a turning point for me, I read that article and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

Now this was before Facebook or even the internet really, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to see this family living on their boat and get a sense of what it was like. So I did the logical thing. I stalked them. Oh no, oh dear, such a strong word. Really I was working for a kids TV show (great irony of my life) and even though I was the lowly production assistant I pitched doing to story on the Neale family and tracked them down through the magazine and, long story short, I got to meet them and spend 2 days aboard their boat. They were fabulous, and little Melanie who was in her early teen years stayed in touch with me through letter writing (remember those things? letters in envelopes?!) 

As a mom who is now raising her kids on a boat, I am always wondering if I am messing my kids up somehow by choosing this lifestyle.  So I was thrilled to reconnect with Melanie and discover that she's happy, successful, and all of those things we parents want for our kids.  She is a mom now herself, not to mention an accomplished sailor and writer who just released her first book Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love, & Fiberglass.

As a mom and a sailor I found the book to be a real page turner. But I don't think you need to be a boater at all to get into this refreshingly honest coming of age story told with colorful detail and heart. Melanie's tale is one that we can all relate to about the struggles of growing up, fitting in, and finding love. The fact that it's happening in a non-traditional setting makes it all the more interesting, but no less relatable. As a mom I know I will be revisiting this book again as my boat kids get older, making sure to pay close attention to the teen years (be aware, there are adult themes in this book since it is a story about growing up after all.) Melanie's independent spirit and big heart shine through in this memoir just as much as I remember from when I first met her all those years ago.

Melanie is offering a free copy of Boat Girl in either ebook format or good old fashioned paper (winner's choice!)

Just leave a comment here for a chance to win a copy of Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love, & Fiberglass and I will close comments and pick a winner at random on Friday by 8pm eastern.  Thank you Melanie and a special thank you from me to the whole Neale family for blazing the trail and all of the inspiration over the years!

 (Husband Will, their beautiful baby daughter, and Melanie.)

COMMENTS ARE CLOSED. Using the lucky winner is BOATMAMA! Please contact me via the contact link to the right with your information and whether you want an ebook or paper copy. Thank you everyone! It was really inspiring to hear all of your stories! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

peak season

People often wonder why we don't take the boat out in July. I'll tell you why. It's because it's usually 99 degrees in the shade with 99% humidity and no. wind. at. all. That often goes for August too. We are not fans of drifting and sweating. We want to sail and be comfortable and preferably not sweaty. So July and August might as well be January and February as far as good sailing weather. There may be a rare good day, but it's pretty much a loss.

Then there is October. As far as I'm concerned, here on the Chesapeake Bay October is IT. This is the peak time to get out on the water. Perfect 10-15 knot steady breezes with sunny yet cool days and still enough sunlight to get you somewhere. This is the time when friends are coming and going and saying hey, can you take us for a sail? And we say hell yeah, let's go!

And before we know it, the stack pack looks like this and we have to shake 5 little bodies out to get the sails raised.

 We look over our rail and see a burst of billowy color bouncing around us because we're not the only ones on the Bay who are savoring October.

And friends break out in ukelele jams, pass good food around, and can't seem to wipe the smiles off their faces as our fat fiberglass beast slides across the water chasing the wind.

 (our dear friends from RV Puzzled and some local friends were out with us recently.)

If only we could have more Octobers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

celebrating two

My sweet twirlie girlie has journeyed twice around the sun. It may be my mama bias, but I think the sun has shone brighter the past two years.

So we ventured on a crisp cool morning to the Fairy Forest we love so much for a little brunch with friends.

(You know how I love to cook (cough cough) so we kept the food simple. Apples and pears and baked goat cheese and bread. Then a few quiches and that was it.)

(My favorite super thrift shop find. Not quite big enough to use as as table cloth so we hung it up.)

The fairy forest was having their fall festival which worked out perfectly. The kids were able to go hunt for hidden pumpkins and take a hay ride.

 (Cutest little fox ever! Super Jen's daughter A)

(Our fabulous neighbor M and Naia sweet little buddy E take a hay ride.)

I really felt strongly about trying as much as possible to have a trash-free celebration. Rather than paper plates, I went to Goodwill and got mismatched plates for 25 cents each. Cloth napkins from home and wood plates we got in Hawaii ages ago for the kids.

(There are loads of wooden variety utensils out there that are reusable and compostable.)

We used mason jars for drinks. For the kids I put in sippy cup lids (the Nuby ones fit the standard mason jar ring perfectly).  My dear hubby drilled some holes in the lids of wider ones (the whole time wonder why the heck he was doing this?) for a washer and straws, which were paper, our one "trash" item I think.  I cut up some old felted sweater sleeves I had laying around (why did I have those laying around again?) and made cup warmers so the hot cider would in theory stay a little warm. And yes, it just looked cute.
We had a funny thing happen about a month ago. Super Jen dropped off some made-from-scratch amazing chocolate cake. (Yeah, she just does things like that out of the blue. That's part of why she's SUPER!) It was on the salon table and Doug and I were having a deep, parental discussion about whether or not we should let Naia taste it. She'd never had sugar or chocolate and did we really want her...? Except our backs were turned on the salon table, and when I glanced over my shoulder Naia was squatting on the table with her face in the cake nom-noming away. Ok, I guess that solves that issue. So her birthday cake was her second cake experience. This time it was made by Whole Foods and decorated by Zach and me.

I know it's rather the trendy thing to wax poetic about my girl and how amazing she is and write her a love letter on a birthday blog post, but that's kind of not my style. That's the sort of thing I would rather whisper in her little ear at night or jot down in a sealed card to be opened by only her when she's older.

In this space I will just say Happy 2nd Birthday my little love. You are my sunshine!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

crafting two

Little Miss Naia (or Super Toddler 2000 as we call her these days) is going to be turning 2 this weekend. I have been slowly getting my craft on to prepare for her big day. She only really has 2 little friends, so our celebration will be small and sweet.

Zach came up with a theme of sorts for her big day. He explained to me one day that since her favorite dolls are her fox and her hedgehog and her owl that we should do a foxie-hedgie-owlie-woodland party. Ok, twist my arm.

So here's a quick peak at some of the goodies I am working on for the kiddos. First these masks. I kept drooling over similar ones on etsy, but at around $15 each I just couldn't do it. I have tons of felt laying around, and I found free patterns via pinterest and winged it a bit too.

Next I made these burlap bucket/bags from the wonderful pattern sold by Maya Made. I got the burlap for free from our local coffee shop.

Then I made some simple wool felt crowns for each child.

And finally I found these sweet little rolling toys on etsy.

None of it was all that hard to make, and I gave myself plenty of time to do it little by little over several weeks (and time to mess up and start over a few times too).

We're hoping for good weather so the kids can all meet and play at a park until they collapse into a giant toddler implosion.

Monday, October 08, 2012

new view (for now)

One of the things that we so love about this life is the ability to move our home when needed. It's just a matter of untying the dock lines and away we go. Due to some local Sailboat Show happenings in town we got a new view for a short while here at our marina. We moved from the very inside slip closest to the yard to the very outside slip practically in the anchorage. Wow, what a difference! The kids were giddy as if we'd moved to another state when in fact we were just a few docks down.

Naia was over the moon, being a little social butterfly she posted herself on the stern and said a hearty hello and who knows what else to every boat that stopped at our fuel dock on a busy week here in town. And she announced every boat that passed with glee... water taxi! Yellow vroom vrrom! Red kaykak (yes, kayKak)! Blue sailboat! Ooooo bootiful boat mama, so bootiful! Hi people! Hello fwiends! I ready!

She is always ready.

We pondered the pros and cons to being on the outside slip. Of course the view is delicious. It feels more like you're away from it all. The breeze is lovely. And it's fun watching everyone come and go. We're boat geeks, we like to watch the boats go by.

The cons are that it's a much longer walk from parking to the boat (with 2 kids and armloads or dock cart loads of groceries and kid stuff) that is an issue. And if a westerly or norwester blow in (as they tend to this time of year) we'd be banged around a bit out on the end, not to mention the wakes from the loads of passing boats in the channel. Plus we're farther from the yard, not as easy to run back and forth for this and that as we play and learn and live outside. But the view sure is nice.

Right now it's not an option, so we don't have to make the choice. But it may come up soon. Decisions, decisions.

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