Tuesday, October 29, 2013


It's getting spooky around here. I still don't have my mojo back to throw the kind of Halloween parties we used to do for the kids (cough, cough, SuperJen, cough!) But the pumpkin carving and Halloween spirit are still in full swing. The other night the kids and I blasted our Halloween playlist from the outside cockpit speakers, danced around, and carved up some pumpkin moonshines. 

I showed Naia all kinds of photos of jack-o-lanterns. Smiling ones, spooky ones, silly ones, pretty ones, ones that looked like a castle or a character. And when she saw the throwing up pumpkins she was SOLD. "I want a vomit one!" O....K.

The nature table got a spooky make over, and little bits of October are all around the boat.

And the big day is just around the corner. Zach's costume suits him well this year. And Naia for the first time in her little life had a say in what she wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Think about your typical 3 year old girl and what comes to mind for costumes? Fairy? Princess? Kitty? Ballerina? Well, she is not your typical girl. Her choices were, um... interesting. We managed to get her to pick just one... you'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

thank you very little lyle lovett

I never wanted to be a barn mom. Theater, soccer, debate team... any of those I could feel at home bringing my kids to. Horses! Why did it have to be horses? I've talked about my feelings on horses in the past. It's not that I hate them, it's just that I don't trust them. At. All.

Zach recently took a nasty spill off a fast moving equine beastie, which didn't help my prejudice. Yet here we are, every week down at a farm, surrounded by them. I adore the little farm, I ADORE Zach's amazing horseback riding teacher, and whether I like it or not BOTH of my kids adore the damn horses.

Naia has been a barn baby from the start, tagging along at Zach's lessons since she was in my belly and toddling up to the giant beasties as soon as she could walk. (The two photos below are from spring 2012. She looks so little! Just about a year and a half.)

She sees Zachie riding and her eyes grow wide. Clutching her toy horses, she skips around pretending, practicing, playing.

There's a horse show coming up. And horse games played all day. And a stick horse that is often laying as a trip hazard in our cockpit... and so my life is turning into a Lyle Lovett song. Just in case you've never heard it...

"If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean. And if I had a pony, I'd ride him on my boat. And we could all together, go out on the ocean. Me upon my pony on my boat."

When Zach was 6 years old, we turned the boom into a horse for him... I hope this is as close as we get to living the song.

Since he was a little guy, he always had one foot on the boat and the other in the stirrups, so to speak. This photo from when he was 6 says so much. Riding helmet in one hand, life jacket in the other.

So from the boat to the barn, that's where you'll find us each week. Following their bliss.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Calm day underway and suddenly there's a ripple on the water. Not the ripple we've been waiting for, not the straight line of tiny waves indicating a breath of wind. This is a chaotic circle, a blob teaming with life.

We turn towards it and he knows instinctively what to do. The little one is wondering. "What all dat splashing about? Why we turning around?"

But the big one knows instinctively. Without a word he gets ready. Bait, hook, cast. Hoping, always hoping.

He will fish day and night. After brushing teeth when he is supposed to be in bed, we find him with his net and pole at the end of the dock. When he is supposed to be cleaning his room, I find him knee deep in the marshy area, net and bucket brimming with critters. When he's supposed to be clearing the dinner table, I find him in the cockpit with his sister teaching her how to swirl around a bucket of Leidy's Comb jellies to make them flash their brilliant bioluminescence. I love that he has this, that fishing is his companion. I smile knowing he will one day be a grown man, pole in hand, out in nature, finding his happy place. It's his thing, and nobody can take it away from him.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

underway fun

One of the most common questions about sailing with kids and toddlers is how on earth do you keep them busy and engaged underway. We still haven't done any multi-day passages with both kids, (it was a different story keeping the dog happy when we were long distance cruising way back when!), but the Chesapeake Bay is huge, and the exploring opportunities are endless, so we like to set our sights all over the Bay even if it means a long haul there.

At this point, I haven't had to plan any underway activities for the kids. The thing I plan is food, because the number one key to kid happiness on a passage is ready, nutritious, tummy soothing food.

(Ok, this is not exactly nutritious, but... )

They manage to find ways to pass the time all on their own.Ship watching a key pastime. Baltimore is a major global shipping port so huge cargo ships from around the world are either making their way up and down the channel or anchored out waiting for the all clear to go into the harbor. Plus checking out all of the fabulous crafts that ply the waters of the Chesapeake.

There is a good amount of monkeying around on deck. If the weather is rough this something we limit, but on a calm day it becomes a big jungle gym.

I mentioned not long ago how Zach is getting more involved in real ways with sailing the boat, but that doesn't mean he still doesn't love to sit somewhere and curl up with a book, or play Legos. The boy has a stomach of iron and working on tiny things doesn't upset his tummy at all.

Naia is finally (deep exhale) at that age where we don't have to have one hand on her at all times. We still need to keep a close eye, but she is past the "throw yourself overboard for the heck of it" stage.  She loves to just play with her toys... and color...

And talk and talk and sing and sing and sing....

I love it when the kids find a game they can play together. Sometimes it's a little... weird. But they are having fun.

And what about the parents? Well, we switch off taking the helm (though with a toddler around, Doug often takes the majority of the time... for now.)

Doug like to mess with electronics when he's not at the helm. He plays with the AIS (tracking ships) and GPS and radio. And me... well taking photos of course! When the kids aren't looking I do things like step out on to the swim platform and hang upside down to snap a photo under the boat. Don't worry, I hold on tight and only do it in calm weather.

Keeping the tribe happy underway is a lot easier than keeping them happy while cooped up at the dock during a snow or ice storm. There is the old stand by of watching a movie, but we try to save that as a last ditch treat. I am a firm believer in the important lessons learned and character built when kids are "bored". It's not our job as parents to put on a non-stop song and dance show or surround them with distractions to keep them "entertained". I say, let them figure it out, and if I hear excessive whining, well... there is always a chore that can be done. Oh, what's that? You say you're not bored afterall? Oh good, that's what I thought. There's a big world out there and ripe imaginations ready to unfold, nothing should get in the way of that.

I almost forgot to share a few recent publications... The web site "What To Expect" (as the the very popular What To Expect When You're Expecting books) asked me to guest blog about birthday parties. Here is a link, check out the site, there is so much more to read around there even if you are past your expecting year like me. http://www.whattoexpect.com/wom/family-life/how-i-downsized-my-son-s-birthday-party-and-still-gave-him-a-fabulous-time.aspx

I am still writing for Spinsheet regularly, and the October issue I wrote all about kids aboard, including an interview with some friends who are cruising with a 1 and 3 year old on a small boat. Pages 92-95 here http://spinsheet.com/magazine1/read-spinsheet-online/

And SAIL Magazine launched a new publication that will come out seasonally called Multihull Sailor. I wrote a story for them about interior decor on a boat and Our family was also profiled later in the magazine along with lots of other multihull folks including my dear friend Diane and her family and Mike and Rebecca Sweeney from Zero To Cruising.  Here on pages 30-34 and then our profile on page 47.  http://www.zinio.com/www/browse/issue.jsp?skuId=416280143#.UmNaHxTzBvA.facebook

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