Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our Little Fireman

Hallowe'en was much anticipated at our place. We have started preparing Henry for upcoming events by talking about them a lot ahead of time. This seems to work well for everything from having a babysitter to taking the train to Nana and Poppa's house. Hallowe'en was no exception.

I asked him a couple of weeks ahead of time if he would like to be a fireman for Hallowe'en. He agreed whole heartedly! My inspiration was his love of firetrucks and the fireman raincoat he already had hanging in his closet.

As the big day approached I got Henry a fireman's helmet and pumpkin bucket to carry. We taught him how to say 'trick-or-treat' (which came out 'ko-keat') and told him about costumes and candy. He could hardly wait!

On the big day I put electrical tape around his yellow rubber boots to make them into fireman's boots, found a pair of pants to match the coat, and smudged some mascara soot on his nose and cheeks. He looked perfect!

We had dinner at Whit and Ally's place and trick-or-treated on Ward's Island. There is no better place to cars, plenty of houses decorated for the occasion, and everyone knows everyone. Perfect. Henry had a great time, and didn't even fall asleep on the way like he did last year!!

It's amazing how all of the holidays come alive for you again when you have a little kid seeing it afresh. What fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn on the Island

I don't know if it's the changing of the seasons or the way my little boy is growing up so fast, but lately I have found myself very contemplative.

Spending the vast majority of my time with Henry has been a very rewarding experience. He has taught me so much!

Another name for toddler should definitely be Dawdler! Henry spends a lot of time riding his car around the island. He seems to have two and stop! Some days I carry a book with me so that I have something to keep me occupied while he is stopped, but the other day I thought, 'why not stop and take it all in, too?', so I looked at the sky, listened to the rustling of the leaves, and smelled autumn on the wind. It was so rejuvenating to take the time to just be. Henry has taught me that old cliche, stop and smell the roses!

Over the past six months Henry's imagination has really taken off. It is so much fun to just pretend together! He has the language skills now to explain what it is we're playing, whether it's that I'm the Algonquin Queen (QCYC's Tender) and he's sitting on my lap driving across to the city, or he's making me eggs in the 'kitchen' we've built at the park, oh and 'here's your fork, Mum!' I chose early on to keep Henry's TV time to almost nil, and I feel that these are the times that it really shows. He keeps busy all day with his various games and made up adventures. I think it's truly wonderful!

I really can't believe how quickly my little man is growning! He looks and acts like he's well over two, and has such a quiet, thoughtful demeanor. Sometimes it feels like he's a wise old man in a toddler's body. I don't know if this is a Capricorn trait, or if it's just Henry, but he's an incredible little man. I love being in his company. You never know what he'll say next!

This is such a wonderful time in our lives. I'm so lucky that Andy has worked so hard to make sure that I can spend the formative years with Henry. Sure, we'd have more money if I went back to work, but living the simple life and sharing it with Henry has been invaluable!

I just feel so blessed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

After a very eventful three and a half weeks we have safely arrived home to Queen City Yacht Club. Hooray!!

We ended our trip on a high note. It took a long time to re-rig and re-wire after the mast went back up, so after a long, busy day we set out across the lake at 11:00pm. Andy really enjoys the overnight sailing, so he was happy to do his watch alone with 20-30 minute naps between his look out. All went well until the seas got a little lumpy in the middle of the night and Henry woke up sea-sick at 4:00am. He and I went outside into the cockpit for some fresh air and gave Andy an hour long sleep while Henry played happily and I kept watch. By 8:00am when we awoke again the seas were much smoother and we had a wonderful day! Andy took a two hour nap to refresh a bit and then we enjoyed the rest of the much anticipated sail home together. I didn't realize just how stressful this trip had been for him until I saw Andy doing a 'happy dance' on deck when he spotted the CN Tower!

After all of the experience I got on the helm doing 31 locks, Andy insisted that I be the one to dock her at home. It went beautifully, and I slid her into our slip to the sound of cheers from the lady yacht club members watching from the club. I've come a long way since that ugly attempt at our first anchoring with Sassy!! Andy is an excellent teacher.

Island Eclipse drew a few curious members of the club over for a tour on Saturday night, and so many Sunday morning that it felt like we were at the boat show! That's okay, we didn't mind a bit. I was so proud of Henry. He has really come out of his shell lately, and with his ever increasing vocabulary he was happy to give everyone a narrated tour of the boat...starting with his room, of course!

So we've been home two full days now, and spent today unpacking all of our stuff from the locker. I'm tuckered right out and off to bed shortly. We'll have another big day tomorrow, as Andy is back to work and Henry and I will be entertaining my Mom and Dad for the day. It will be great to see them again after almost six weeks. I'm sure they'll see a big change in Henry.

Oh, and I was able to post these pictures because they were emailed to us today from Mary Martha, a really sweet lady we met in Catskill Creek. Thanks, Mary Martha! We also found my battery charger today in the locker! What a relief!! So, more to come, pictures and all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Through the Erie and Oswego Canals

Our trip is coming to a close. We arrived today in Oswego, NY on the south east end of Lake Ontario. It took us five days in total to get through the Erie and Oswego Canals.

Day one was fairly uneventful, we got an early start, did the first seven locks with little incidence, and arrived at Lock 8 to find it closed as they were having technical problems with the lock. We tied up for the night on the wall below the lock. It was in a very secluded area, so we enjoyed a quiet evening and dinner on the boat. We really noticed the seclusion, though, after dark when every bump in the night had us jumpy! It's amazing how you get used to the noise of civilization!

Day two we travelled from Lock 8 to Lock 16. We had initially worried about doing the locks without extra crew. Our worries were unfounded, as we handled the locks like old pros. We had Henry in his lifejacket with a tether to the binacle, and he was told that in the locks Henry's job is to look after Henry so Mommy and Daddy can look after the boat. It worked! He's getting to be such a big boy! We tied up for the night on the wall below Lock 17, the biggest in the canal system. We were next to the town of Little Falls, and set out to walk to the nearest store. After about half a mile, though, we discovered that it was unrealistic to go that far without a stroller. Henry likes to walk, but not when you need him to! We met a rock climber, though, who offered to drive Andy to town after he conquered his rock. He was really nice, and Andy was able to pick up a few essentials and bring back MacDonald's pies and sundaes to boot!

Day three was to be Lock 17 through to Lake Oneida...didn't happen as planned. There must have been a lot of muck in the water around the lock because we sucked enough of it in to clog both the engine strainer and the thru-hull. The raw water intake was clogged enough that the pump ran dry and caused the impeller to fail. After Lock 17 we managed to go only a mile to the nearest marina, where Andy spent the day travelling around searching for a replacement impeller, then installing it and a T valve so he could flush out the thru-hull and get us up and running yet again! He had a few choice words for the boat by this time! He even threatened to burn her to the ground. Not our best day, but, on the bright side, they had hydro hook-up and nice hot showers and Henry and I got a quiet day to rest and recover from our colds.

Day four we were underway and running beautifully. We got through Locks 18 - 22 and stopped for the day on the east side of Oneida Lake. We had dinner at a little bar and grill with some fellow Canadian sailors. Of course they are headed in the right direction for this time of year, South!! After dinner Henry and I took a walk and found a little park to play in. It was a lovely day until I had to retire early with a migraine. The cloudy unsettled weather is getting to me.

Day crossed Lake Oneida with 3-4 foot following seas. The boat handled it with ease and we arrived at the west end of the lake ahead of schedule. We decided to skip the fuel stop after the lake and just get through the Oswego as we thought we'd be hard pressed to make it by the five o'clock lock closing time. Oops! We ran out of fuel between the first two locks on Oswego. Luckily Andy had 12 gallons on deck in geri-cans. He fueled us up in the pouring rain and bled the system like a pro. We were only drifting for about 10 minutes in total. I really am proud of my Handy Andy! Don't know what I'd do without him. So we got through the rest of the locks, turns out they were closer together than charted in the canal book so we were done by 4:00! We tucked into the Oswego Yacht Club and called it a day. Dinner was delivered by a local Italian restaurant and we are all tuckered out and ready for bed.

Tomorrow we have an appointment at the Marina across the channel for mast stepping, and then it's off across Lake Ontario. We have a two day window of fair weather, so I think we're going to skip the originally planned stop in Cobourg and just head straight for Toronto. It's about 125 miles across, so if we do an overnight Friday night we should be in mid-day on Saturday and have a day or two to rest before it's back to work for Andy.

When we started this journey Andy said we'd be two weeks, which to me meant three...and he says to him meant probably four. It will be four weeks on Tuesday since we left. Not too bad, I guess, and we got a new home out of it, not to mention a whole lot of memories!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Without Bad Luck...

We have arrived at the south end of the Erie Canal system in Waterford. I am delighted to find wireless internet here, and so will endeavour to catch up the blog on our adventures thus far.
I'm sorry to say that the pictures from this trip are nonexistant, as I have managed to misplace the charger for my camera battery. Andy says I should throw in a few pictures of the Hudson from last year's trip, it hasn't changed much! I did manage to get the few interior pictures of Island Eclipse that I've posted here just before the battery died. This was, as it turned out, the first of many system failures on this journey.
After two nights of living on dry dock in Deale, just outside of Annapolis, we were finally splashed. Living out of the water sure is hot in this weather, so I was thrilled to be back in the water. About an hour later I was trying to flush the forward head and was having no luck. Andy checked the bilge and discovered that we were taking on water at a rather alarming rate! The leak seemed to be through a thru-hull in the forward bilge...and the bilge pump was not running! Andy found a spare bilge pump (hmmm....I wonder why George had that onboard...) and installed in quickly. He was able to tighten the thru-hull enough to slow the leak and get the newly installed bilge pump to keep up with the flow. Phew! Good thing he's so handy!!
And so the next thing we knew we were back out of the water! We spent another night on dry dock so Andy could install a new gadget in the leaky thru-hull, fixing the leak and adding a transducer at the same time. He also peeled some paint off of the speed meter on the hull and got it functioning again.

When we got underway at last, our first day's plan was to travel up Chesapeake Bay from Deale to the C & D Canal. We motored up the Bay, as the wind was on the nose. We really enjoyed the first couple of hours...then the engine started to sputter! We were losing power quickly! I am so thankful that Andy is so resourceful, he went to work diagnosing the problem and was able to get the engine running well enough to finish the day. We docked in Chesapeake City for the night, and carried on the few miles to Summit North Marina the next morning.
Boating is definitely not for the Type A person who plans out their trip! Something always comes up and delays always happen. We spent three days at Summit North Marina. There was a hurricane tracking up the east coast, so even without the boat repairs we would have been holed up there for awhile. It was a great hurricane hole, though! Very sheltered.

So Andy had several days to work on the engine trouble. The marina had a complimentary shuttle service that we took advantage of several times to get parts and groceries. By the time we were ready to head out again we had restocked, done laundry, fueled up, pumped out and changed the racor and the fuel filters and reprimed the engine. Andy also cleaned out the bilges and purchased an emergency bilge pump to keep on hand.
Andy, being the kind, considerate guy he is, helped repair the engine on a neighbouring boat at the marina, and in thanks the boat owner Brad invited us to spend the next night at his marina in Cape May. So on Saturday we set out bright and early for our trip through the C&D Canal and down Delaware Bay. The weather following the hurricane made for quite the adventure! The winds were about 30 knots (our wind gauge isn't working), and the seas were 3-4 foot and following when we entered Delaware Bay. The further south in the bay we got the wider it got and the rougher the seas got! We were in 8-10 foot seas by the time we got to the turn off for the Cape May Canal! We sailed down the bay at 9 knots with the staysail, a triple reefed main, and the engine off. It was a lovely time, with the only casualty being our littlest sailor. Henry got sea-sick and he and I wore it. Ugh!
Since Henry was feeling ill we decided to enter Cape May Canal instead of rounding the Cape outside. The fixed bridges were charted to be 55' at high tide. Our mast height is 55', so we figured we'd be okay....storm surge, who thinks of storm surges? Needless to say, we hit the first bridge with our mast! Luckily Andy was a little leary and approached the bridge at idle speed, with the boat in reverse. The second we hit he was backing out! He climbed the mast to check the damage. Our wind meter was knocked clear off, but we were otherwise unscathed. So, despite Henry's poor tummy we had to head back out into the rough stuff and circle Cape May to approach from the east. I gave him another dramamine tablet (Gravol) and he slept blissfully through it. We did, however, experience more intermittent engine trouble!
Brad's invitation included our mooring fees for the night, as well as participation in their marina's Labour Day festivities. There was a live band and pot luck dinner. A fun time was had by all, but we called it a night pretty early after the day we had! The next morning there was a 'dock master's breakfast' being served, complete with bacon, eggs, fruit, coffee, juice...the works. We were refueled and ready to go! Andy got a ride to West Marine before we left so he could pick up more fuel filters and additives, as he suspected that we stirred up some muck in the fuel tank when we rolled in the rough seas, leading to the reappearance of our engine issues.

We left Cape May around 3:00pm with the plan to go as far as Atlantic City. That would have been about a five hour trip just off the Atlantic Coast. We talked about it while we were underway, though, and decided that since the weather forecast looked good for the next couple of days we should just keep going and do an overnight to New York. The engine continued to give us issues, and neither of us enjoyed Atlantic City much last year. We certainly didn't want to get stuck there for any length of time this year! And so we saw Atlantic City come and go in the distance as the sun set. Henry and I took Gravol and went to bed and Andy planned to sleep in 1/2 hour intervals while the autopilot helmed the boat. There isn't a lot of action a couple of miles off shore in the Atlantic overnight, so you get up, look around, and go back to sleep if you don't see any other boats. Unfortunately Henry and I went to bed and the invertor stopped working, so the batteries died and took the autopilot down with them! Poor Andy had to stay awake at the helm all night alone! Needless to say, he was exhausted by morning! When Henry and I got up we were just coming into New York Harbour. Andy took a three hour nap as I motored us up the Hudson River. We continued up the river another 50 miles to Torches on the Hudson, our favourite restaurant from last year's trip. We did a total of 180 miles in 28 hours! Our new boat sure is faster than Sassy was!
We had three nights at Torches, enjoying their wonderful food and nice atmosphere while Andy emptied, scrubbed and serviced the fuel tank and had the alternator rebuilt. Henry really enjoyed Torches' beautiful, 25 foot aquarium. I really enjoyed eating out for a few days, and taking advantage of the lovely, clean showers at the marina next door. We took the $5.00 flat rate cabs around Newburgh several times for parts and a Walmart run, and by day three were ready to go again. The engine was finally bug free and purring like a kitten.
The run from Torches to Catskill Creek was easy and uneventul at last! Andy commented on how nice it was to finally have a day free of maintenance! We just enjoyed the ride. In Catskill Creek we found a nice park for Henry, a dog park for Buddy and Charlie, laundry facilities, showers, and met some nice people. Andy spent a full day prepping to take the mast down, and after two nights at Riverview Marina we were ready to step the mast. This morning the mast came down and went on deck with no incidences, and we set out for Waterford and our first lock.
We had another nice day today. The weather has gotten warmer and sunnier than it's been in a few days, and we didn't have any more issues with the boat. We did, however, arrive at the visitor's centre in Waterford only to discover that they aren't accepting transient boats this weekend as it's their annual Tugboat Festival! Again, it's a good thing that Andy is so friendly! After speaking to a few Tugboat Captains he arranged for us to raft up to a Tugboat for the night!! I wish I could take a picture!!!! Here we are rafted up to a 76 ft tugboat, surrounded by tugboats of all sizes alongside tents and vendors of all sorts! There was a live band and a fireworks display to top it all off. We sure do find adventures!
Well, I've finally caught us up to today's events. I'm bushed and off to bed. More soon, as soon as we have another internet connection! Until then, fair winds!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Life Aboard Island Eclipse!

Another adventure is underway. It has been a very busy few weeks. Andy has been a man obsessed with finding us a bigger boat. He has travelled as far as Maryland and Florida in search of the perfect new home, and has spent countless hours on the internet researching and reviewing virtually every prospect on the market. Once we had decided on the boat for us we needed to sell Sassy II. At last our plan has come together.

Sassy II sold a little over a week ago, and with the money in the bank we packed up all of our things (some in storage, some into a van) and once again set off for a great adventure. We left Toronto on Tuesday, August 24th at 12:00pm. Andy, Henry, Buddy and Charlie and I all climbed into our friend Doug's van, along with Doug and all of our belongings for the trip. Doug drove us to Buffalo, where we had a car rental reservation to take us the rest of the ten hour drive to Annapolis, Maryland where Island Eclipse, our new Gulfstar 44 awaited our arrival.

The trip was a little rough. Our rental car was an SUV with an incredibly squishy suspension. The constant roll made Henry car sick. The poor kid couldn't keep much down. With his budding vocabulary we were hearing a lot of, "sick!". Unfortunately, for one of the first times ever, we were very organised before embarking on the adventure and we prebooked a hotel room online through the inexpensive, but non-refundable Hotwire. This meant that we had to press on to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the first day despite Henry's car sickness. With added stops for fresh air and clean up we didn't arrive at the hotel until almost midnight! Poor kid!!

Wednesday was a better day, as we only had two hours left to drive. With a continental breakfast in our freshly showered bellies we were feeling rejuvinated and ready to go. Henry got sick, yet again, but he is such a trooper that we were able to press on and arrive at the boat yard before noon.

Island Eclipse had been out of the water for three months, ever since we told her owner George that we wanted to buy her. He had a fresh coat of paint applied to the bottom following some blister repairs, and there she sat on her jacks looking pretty.

Three months worth of dust and dirt, combined with a bachelor's housekeeping habits left us with quite a load of cleaning to do. We spent the next two days working nonstop, between scrubbing and shopping for our trip we fell into bed each night!

Today the work was finished, Island Eclipse was dropped back into the water, and we were able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour. She really is a lovely boat. Sassy II was great, and I loved her, but she was pretty small for a live-aboard. I didn't realize how small until now. Our new home is just that, a home. We have two bedrooms, not just two beds, but actual rooms! We have two bathrooms, ensuite to each bedroom. Andy tells me that he'll share Henry's so I can have my very own! Wow, living with a man, a boy and two male dogs on a boat I never dreamed I'd have a ladies' room! The kitchen is much larger than Sassy's, and the fridge is a dream! If there was one thing I hated about living aboard Sassy II it was the itty bitty little fridge! My new fridge is 4x the size and so much more accessible! If you live on a boat you'll understand the luxury of this. I also no longer have an icebox. No more ice, no more drainage, no more smell! Hooray!! The main salon (livingroom) is quite large, and quite cosy at the same time. As you may have noticed, I'm extremely happy with our new home.

We did have one minor hiccop today, though! It could have been major had Andy not been the smart and resourceful problem solver he is. About an hour after being launched this morning we noticed that we were taking on water! The bilge was filling quite rapidly, and the bilge pump wasn't coming on...yikes! Andy was able to find and solve the leak and install a new bilge pump within a very short amount of time. Thank goodness, sinking our new boat on day one was not an option!!

Henry seems very happy with his new home. He has slept with me for way too long now, and so a couple of weeks before we came on this adventure Andy and I started to tell Henry all about it, including his very own new room! We took him shopping on Tuesday and bought his Cars bedding, then set all of his toys up on his shelves. We installed a bed rail and a monitor for safety, and Henry was all set to have some new found independance. His transition into his own bed has been unimaginably easy. It has only been two nights, but he has slept right through, not missing me a bit, both nights! Hooray! I'm finally back where I belong, with Andy! The dogs have been kicked out of the bed for good, too. Our bed is too high for them to jump onto, and so we've been able to easily enforce our new 'dogs in their own bed' rule. Life is good.

Tomorrow George is meeting with us to go over all of the boat's systems before we embark on our two week journey home. I don't know how often we'll have internet access on the trip, but whenever I can I will give you an update, and failing that I will have plenty to tell in two weeks when we get back to QCYC.

So for now, signing off from Island Eclipse.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Raising a child is a very interesting job. Every day presents you with challenges, with some days certainly being easier than others! The one thing I try to keep in mind every day is that Henry is going to model his behaviour after ours. He is learning how to live and think and be from the ways in which Andy and I interact with him and the world. When I stop to think about it, this is quite an awesome responsibility.

I am happy to say that for the most part we seem to be doing a good job. Henry treats others with respect and kindness. He has a love of nature; collecting leaves, branches and pinecones for the trunk of his little car, but never picking flowers (flowers are to look at and smell, but not pick!). We watch bugs, but never squash them. We hug and kiss and don't hit each other. We are trying to teach Henry to live by the golden rule, 'Treat others as you would like to be treated'. I believe that this one rule will take you far in life.

This is not to say that I never feel frustrated with him. I just try to handle every situation in a way that will teach Henry to be a good person. Instead of yelling at him when he is being a typical independant toddler and doing exactly what I have asked him not to do, I try to correct the behaviour and then when I'm at the end of my rope he hears a lot of, "You're driving me crazy!". The exasperated tone and head shaking for effect usually get him giggling, and then we both feel better.

I always vowed not to yell at or spank my kids. It would be all too easy on the difficult days to lose my temper, but if I can remember the big picture, the frustrations of the moment will pass, the lessons taught by how I handle those moments will last a lifetime.

I am so thankful to have this opportunity. Raising Henry to be a decent human being is the most fulfilling job I can imagine.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Summer Fun

I feel so very lucky to spend our summer on the island! Tourists come in droves on the weekends to enjoy this paradise away from the city. There is a waiting list of dreamers wanting to move onto the island. It really is an idyllic place from May through October, and we get the best of both worlds summering here and wintering on the mainland!

Henry and I have had all sorts of adventures. He has a toy car that he rides everywhere. We spend the better part of every day out and about at the park, on the boardwalk, around the yacht club, and on the beach. We've seen wildlife from frogs to otters to a wide variety of birds. We've even made new friends. I love having Henry's childhood spent enjoying the simpler things in life.

I continue to enjoy every moment of the freedom Andy has provided me with in enabling me to stay home with Henry. I feel so very priviledged to be able to raise my own child in a day and age when 95% of children go to daycare. Henry's capacity to learn is incredible. He is just shy of 18 months old and can say approximately 50 words appropriately and well enough for me to understand him. It is amazing to watch him turn from a dependant infant into a very independant, free thinking, problem solving little boy. He has a great sense of humour, a very active imagination, and a love of the great outdoors. He is sweet and loving, even kissing his stuffed monkey better when he falls on the floor. Henry has just started to try to say, "I love you" and it melts my heart everytime he leans in for a hug and utters these three precious words. Being a mother is more than I could ever have dreamed it would be.

Our search for a new home continues. Andy is hoping to fly to Florida quite soon to look at our latest interests. There is a 50ft Gulfstar that he has his eye on. Everyone is saying that 50 may be too big, but what a home it would be! I will keep you posted on that front.

Having recovered from my recent miscarriage, Andy and I have been talking a lot about the possibility of having another child. We've decided we would definitely like to and so we will try again. I will, of course, keep you posted on that front as well.

Henry is just waking from his nap, so my blogging time has come to an end for today. I will try to write again soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

One Perfect Child...

A few weeks ago Andy and I were surprised and delighted to find out that we were expecting a second child. It is with great sadness that I announce that we lost this baby to miscarriage.

It has been an incredibly difficult week. I thank God for the strength and support I get from my wonderful husband, and feel so blessed to have our one perfect child.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Island Bound

Time is flying by. It really seems that the older I get the faster the days, weeks and months go.

Henry is 15 months old. He has a great sense of humour and a lot of energy!! I am really enjoying his developing language skills. His vocabulary has expanded to include about 20 words, and his expressive nature means that we are rarely left guessing at what he means. I loved the baby stage, but toddlerhood thus far has proven to be even more enjoyable.

My weight loss challenge has been a success thus far. At our official measurement and weigh-in April 15th I had lost 6 lbs, an inch off of my waist and half an inch from my bust and hips. If I can do the same again by May 15th I will have met my goal to reach my pre-pregnancy size.

The weather has been gorgeous this month. Henry and I are playing outside more and more. He loves the great outdoors! Being the clever little lad that he is, Henry has finally decided that it's a good idea to keep hats and sunglasses on outside too!

Our friend Kim invited us out for an afternoon at Riverdale Park and Zoo with her three month old daughter Sarah. What a great day!! I had no idea this little treasure was buried in the concrete jungle. We had a wonderful time, Henry loved the freedom to run and got a real kick out of the animals that we'd only read about until now. Thanks Kim!

We have officially moved back to the island for the summer. We came over on Friday and enjoyed the weekend at the much more enjoyable island pace. I will miss the convenience of living cityside, but the tranquility of island life makes up for it ten-fold.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moving Forward

Spring has been great fun! Since I last wrote we have had many memorable outings.

Henry and I went swimming with our friends Caroline and Jacob at their condo. I think Henry will come to love swimming, he has always enjoyed his bath, and after a little coaxing he was kicking his feet like a champ in the big pool!

We have spent a lot of time in Peterborough, and spent one lovely afternoon at the Peterborough Zoo with Uncle Dave, Aunt Crystal and cousin Nathan. Henry loved seeing the animals, and the grand finale was an hour or so spent playing on all of the jungle gyms. It's such a great zoo, and it's so amazing that they have managed to keep admission free for all of these years!

Easter was spent in Kitchener with the Oakes'. Henry loved playing outside in the backyard with the ride on tractor, the sandbox and all of the kids' toys. I think we'll have a great summer playing on the island.

We have been busy, busy, busy preparing for summer. We have had the usual spring cleaning that people in homes have, cleaning out closets, cupboards, deep cleaning all of the nooks and crannies, but after living aboard for the winter we have the outside stuff to contend with too. After much work we have turned our deck back from a mudroom to a functional sailboat again! All of the winter wear is packed and stored, the decks are scrubbed, and the plastic cover is gone! I'd almost forgotten what our boat looked like under the 'covered wagon' getup.

Soon we will be moving back to Queen City Yacht Club on the island for the summer. While I'll miss the convenience of living city side, I will not miss all of the tourists!!!! Since spring has sprung the tourists have come out of the woodwork. They come in droves and stare at us from the overhead bridge like we're part of the attraction! Hey people, we don't stand in your backyard and stare into your homes! Sheesh. So, the island will be a welcome, calm, peaceful existence for the summer.

Henry is cutting teeth again. He just got his 13th and 14th, and is working on his 15th and 16th!! That's a lot of teeth for a 15 month old! Oh well, just the two year molars to go and he's done until they start to fall out and make room for the permanent teeth.

Our sleep issues continue, although we've found that he sleeps better with Daddy than Mommy, so I have had two nights straight of full sleep! Thanks Daddy!!

In other news, we have sold our condo! Hooray! The deal closes in late May, and the buyer is going to keep our tenant, so it has worked out beautifully! I am very excited. The next step will be a huge garage sale to get rid of our three lockers full of stuff! It is all of the stuff that we thought we would like to keep when we moved out of the condo in the first place. Having lived aboard and adopted a simpler lifestyle we have come to realize that we don't need all of that stuff after all. It will be nice to be free of it.
There is a lot of work ahead, but this past week has found us moving forward quite nicely.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sleep Deprivation 101

I know that every kid is different, but I never expected to have a toddler who gets regular insomnia!

I hope someone can give me some insight into Henry's sleep issues. Here's the story.

I never thought I would share a bed with my baby, but living on the boat it has just ended up that way. When Henry was six months old and could stand up we felt that he was no longer safe sleeping alone in the v-berth with the railing we built for it. Rather than risk him falling out, I opted to sleep there too. Eight months later I still do. So, maybe that was my first mistake.

Henry starts his day between 7:30 and 8:30am, depending on his night. He normally naps just once a day now, usually from about 1:00pm-3:00pm. By 8:00pm he is ready for bed. He usually goes to bed quite easily, falling asleep within half an hour. I lay with him in the bed until he's asleep.

About an hour after he goes to sleep he wakes up and fusses. We pat his back and he goes right back to sleep. These awakenings can happen anywhere from 2-10 times a night. I'm used to this now, and as long as he settles right back to sleep I'm hardly disturbed at all. The major issue is that quite often, probably almost half of the time, he will wake up in the night and stay awake. He is perfectly happy most nights, just tossing and turning, and tossing and turning...for up to three hours some nights!! Why can't he go back to sleep?!?

I've tried giving him a bottle, which he drinks happily, then tosses and turns for a couple of hours anyway. I've tried changing his diaper, not changing his diaper, giving him Tylenol, rocking him, singing to him, not talking to him at all, getting him up, leaving him be...nothing seems to get him back to sleep any sooner.

My only idea is that it could be diet related, so I've started to keep a food journal to try to see a correlation between what he eats and whether we have a good night or a bad night. Henry also seems to be allergic to dairy. He is still drinking his milk-based formula, but can't tolerate homogenized milk, goat's milk, or soy formula. All three made him spit up. Also, when I first gave him milk and realized he was having issues with it I stopped giving him yogurt and cheese. This seemed to clear up the patches of rough skin (eczema?) on the backs of his arms.

When I asked our MD about his sleep he just said that if he didn't wake up crying or in pain he wouldn't worry about it. Easy for him to say, he gets to sleep all night!

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunshine, Dentists, and a Weight Loss Challenge!

Well, obviously I didn't keep up with my promise to write daily!! I'm afraid it's just not going to happen. Oh well, this way I have more to tell!

Since I wrote last, we have had absolutely wonderful weather!! Most of the time, anyway. There were a few rainy, windy miserable days a couple of weeks ago that drove me off of the boat. I was fighting pretty hard to keep the sea sickness at bay, and finally gave in and made a trip to Peterborough. It's amazing what a week on solid ground will do to renew your enthusiasm for boat living.

Our week in Peterborough was lovely. Two days after Henry and I arrived the blue skies returned.

We had a wonderful visit with my brother Dave and his girlfriend Crystal. They are always a lot of fun to be with. Crystal and I decided to make a friendly wager. We both want to lose a couple of inches, and my New Years Resolution to lose those very inches resulted in a weight gain of three pounds!! So Crystal and I have challenged each other to lose an inch around our waists by April 15th, and a second inch by May 15th. An inch per month. Sounds do-able, right? Well, I think it's just the push I needed. I have been such a good girl about it since! We made this pact on March 15th, and here I am 10 days later having done daily abdominal exercises, walked a lot, and skipped all desserts!! I am determined. If I lose this challenge I have to buy Crystal drinks when we go for a girl's night the weekend after April 15th. Wish me luck!

I almost never floss. I worked in the dental industry for over ten years. I know I should, but like the majority of the population I just don't. For some reason I felt inspired last Saturday and got out the floss...and out popped a filling! Oops! So off to the dentist I went on Wednesday. Henry and I had a nice visit with everyone at the office. It's always great to see them again. Nia, our sweet surrogate Mom, even gave Henry an early Easter present, a lovely stuffed bunny! He just adores it, we've named it Peter Rabbit. Luckily Peter Rabbit helped to console Henry after my filling. He cried hysterically the whole time I was in the chair! I think he was afraid that his Momma was getting hurt. What a sweet boy!

That sweet boy continues to amaze me. He is so clever!! Henry is trying with all his might to repeat words now. He can't quite get them right yet, but he is doing really well. He can now consistently say apple, mom, car, arf, off, up, ouch, oops, hot, yes, ball, clock, and vroom. Today I told him I was going to call Poppa on the phone and he said, "Poppa" as clear as day! It is so cool to see him learning so fast. You can almost see the wheels turning. He understands instructions, and nods his head yes or shakes it for no, and he knows what he wants. He's very, very smart. I'm so proud of him.

I did a major Mom oops yesterday. We went for my dentist appointment in the morning, and I hadn't planned my day any further than that, so I packed accordingly. It was such a gorgeous day yesterday that I decided to take Henry for a walk in his stroller after the appointment. As we walked I thought I'd like some adult company, so I called Kim who stays home with Sarah, her three month old baby. We walked to Kim's house in the Distillery District and then Kim and Sarah joined us for a walk back to the Eaton's Centre. We shopped, talked, and had a wonderful day. Unfortunately I had come equipped with only one diaper. I changed Henry in his stroller at the park just before we met up with Kim. While we were shopping he stinkied his diaper again. Oh no! I couldn't leave him in it, but I was ill-equipped! So what did I do? Much to Henry's dismay I changed him...and put on one of Sarah's diapers. Size one! He wears a five!! It just barely wrapped around his thighs! Oh well, lesson learned, and believe it or not it did the job. We are going for a day long outing this Saturday to Elmira for the Maple Syrop Festival, and believe me I'm going to pack like a champ!!

I have had quite a social life lately. It's been great! Tuesday night I went to a Toronto Maple Leafs game! I haven't been to a hockey game for about seven years. (Except my nephew Nathan's games, but watching eleven year olds isn't quite the same thing) Andy and his Dad, John were given great tickets. Andy didn't want to go, he doesn't really enjoy it. Lucky for me! I had a great time. Andy hung out with Henry for the evening and John and I made a night of it. We were sitting right behind the Leafs' bench, just two rows back!! It crossed my mind, though, while I was sitting there that you can sure spot the mother of a toddler! I hadn't noticed that I had mashed potato on my pants, and I was yawning up a storm by 9:30! Ce la vie!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Daily blogging has not been going too well, as you know. Part of the problem is finding the time, and part of the problem is finding something to talk about!

As I sit here typing now we are experiencing the first full day of spring rain. It's pouring out there, and the boat is rocking and rolling all over the place! A couple of hours ago I gave in and took a Gravol as the sea sickness was starting to get the better of me. I'm feeling much better now, and Henry has just been rocked to sleep by the wild weather.

Speaking of weather, this past week has been phenomenal!! We have had sunshine and warmth all day, every day. It's a shame to stay inside in such glorious weather, so Henry and I partook of the sunshine and walked, walked, walked! We took trips to the park, downtown and just up and down the street to enjoy that sunshine. Henry loves to walk on his own two feet, and giggles as he goes. He says Arf at passing dogs, and does a great imitation of a fire engine's siren! He's great fun.

Henry is growing so quickly! Every day when I get him dressed it is hit or miss whether the outfit I pick will still fit him! We just bought him some new shoes, as his toes had gotten pretty crowded in the old ones. He's starting to look so much more like a boy than a baby!! It's truly amazing watching the changes in him.

Charlie dog seems to be getting more neurotic. His poor behaviour is pretty intolerable sometimes! Between barking, chewing things and peeing on the floor, he's lucky that Andy and I are the type of people to commit to a pet for life, because I think a lot of people would have hung a 'free to a good home' sign around his neck and set him loose by now! Maybe one of these days when we have lots of money we'll invest in some training for the little beast. We certainly don't know what to do with him!!

Then there's Buddy. Good old Yellow Buddy. Yellow through and through. Buddy is afraid to climb the companionway, he's afraid of being picked up, and he's afraid of Henry. A gentle soul, Buddy is the best kind of friend, he listens well, is ever present, and gives you unconditional love. There is a sign on the PawsWay next door that says, "I strive to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am." Too true.

I can't wait for the rain to stop. It has only been one day and I'm already tired of wet dogs, wet strollers, and feeling couped up. Rain, rain go away.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I feel that I've been a very neglectful Blogger since we arrived home at the end of August. During our trip there was just so much to tell! Every day we saw new places and had new experiences. It really wasn't hard then to find something to say.

Andy has been encouraging me to try to write every day. He says that people will be interested in the normal, everyday stuff too. I'm not sure if that's true, but I really enjoy writing, and do have thoughts and feelings that are note worthy to me, so to that end I'm going to try to get back to writing every day.

Henry takes up the biggest part of my days, so you will probably be hearing a lot about him! We have a lot of fun, a few frustrations, and learn from each other along the way.

Henry is walking very well now. He loves to walk outside, and it's hard to get him to keep hold of my hand. He's a very independent little soul. After breakfast every morning we get dressed, boots, coats, hats, mittens, and all, and go out to walk Buddy and Charlie. I used to put Henry in his stroller for this morning walk, but he really prefers to be on his own two feet, so for the most part we all walk together.

Henry doesn't like to do things the easy way, preferring the piles of snow to the flat sidewalk. He climbs up, trips and falls onto his knees, gets wet, then does it all again. This makes it very difficult for the dog walker. But hey, the fun way isn't always the easy way.

My little man is also starting to talk!! This is quite an amazing thing to me. The physical accomplishments are great, but having him able to communicate with more than pointing and grunting is incredible! It makes him seem so much more grown up! His vocabulary is growing daily. He can say hot, oops, ouch, and yuck (shows he's my kid!) and he imitates the dogs with an arf, arf! He also says car, clock, up, Dadda, Momma, bobba, and yes, much to my delight, instead of most kids no! It's really great hearing him. My little baby is not so little anymore.

We have turned a corner with Henry's need for Mommy. Over the past few weeks he has been playing more and more independently. He only really clings when he is getting tired. For a while he would have Mommy, and no one else...not even Daddy. That was hard for me to see, so I can only imagine how it felt for Andy.

Two days ago Henry and I got back from five days in Peterborough visiting my parents. Andy picked us up at Union Station, and the three of us went to get groceries. It was wonderful to see Henry not wanting Andy out of his sight for a change. Every time Andy went around a corner Henry would point and do his little, "oh, oh!" until he could see him again. Then his face would light up with a huge smile and a giggle.

Last night Andy and Henry ventured out on their own for a couple of hours. I packed Andy a 'man purse' with diapers, wipes, snacks and such for Henry. Henry went to Andy eagerly and waved bye to Mommy. No tears, no fuss, "bye Mom!". Off they went. They had a great time! Andy reported that Henry was bobbing his head and kicking his feet in time with the jazz playing in the truck, he giggled as he jiggled over bumps in a parking lot, they enjoyed visiting our friend Kim and her two month old baby Sarah, and Henry fell asleep in his stroller on the way home from downtown after they parked the truck. Everyone returned in high spirits.

While they were gone I enjoyed a snack and a hot cup of tea while I did some painting! Andy and my brother Dave made some doors for the boat in Dave's workshop. They turned out great, and Andy asked me to paint Sassy II and Jessica Rabbit on them, the same as is on the transom. It was fabulous to sit down uninterrupted for two and a half hours and do something creative!!

Now that Henry is a toddler I think we will both gain quite a bit of independence. I'm looking forward to delving back into some hobbies.

In other news, we have decided to sell our condo. With finances as they are, we are better served by selling and paying off all of our debt than by holding onto the condo and struggling to make minimum payments and never paying off any principal.

Being broke is quite a humbling experience. The best things in life are definately free, but having money sure does reduce stress!! My Dad always says , 'money can't buy happiness, but it could rent it for awhile!'. Well said Dad! We still have lots of happiness... in each other, Henry, and every time we step out onto the dock and see the sun shining, the ducks quacking, and another beautiful day. I just hate to see Andy working so hard and not getting ahead.

Being in business for yourself is fabulous when things are going gave us the freedom to travel, and nine months on our boat enjoying a life most people only dream about. Being in business for yourself when things aren't going well is stressful!! Not knowing how much money is going to be coming in is tough when bills are due.

Hopefully we'll sell our condo and make a good profit. Once we are caught up we'd like to sit down and really think about what's next. We love living on the boat, so we're in no hurry to buy a house and settle down. We love travelling. Andy HATES winter, so somewhere warm would be preferable. Andy also HATES washing cars!! Maybe we should sail off and find ourselves a quiet little island where living is inexpensive and Andy can do odd jobs to keep us afloat. He likes diving and could clean boat bottoms, he enjoys working on boats, and could do a huge array of repairs and maintainance for other cruisers, he's also thought of chartering out our boat and taking people for day sails. There are lots of ways to earn a living along the way.

We've basically discovered that we really want to live a life less ordinary, and if you don't care about doing what every one else is striving for, like buying a home, saving for retirement, buying nice things, etc, then you can take a leap and lead that life less ordinary. Life is short, and we want to get as much out of the experience as possible. I don't need a leather sofa and a fancy car, I need to enjoy life out in nature with my family by my side.

Spring is in the air. March came in like a lamb, with sun and spring warmth. I have to say we had it really easy this winter living aboard. We had very little snow, few storms and mostly mild weather. It has not been a hardship in the least. Now I'm looking forward to getting the plastic cover off and moving back over to the island. City side is very convenient, but the island is all about enjoying nature. It is very serene, and I think Henry and I are going to have a wonderful time this summer. (I say Henry and I because poor Andy is working, working, working!).

Well, I certainly have found a lot to say. Now I should wrap it up before Henry wakes up from his nap. I have dishes to do and a boat to tidy so we can get out and enjoy the sunshine this afternoon!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Toddling through a Winter Wonderland

As January comes to a close, and I sit here typing aboard Sassy II on the coldest night of the year, I am reflecting on the winter aboard thus far.

It has been a very mild winter, all told, with very little snow and few really cold days. I think that's a blessing, as we really feel the difference when the temperature drops below about -15C. Last night I actually wore a toque in bed! Now I truly feel like a Canadian!! I think we may need another heater.

Henry and I continue to get out every day, even if only to walk to the grocery store a block away. I think it's really important to get a little fresh air and a change of scenery every day. Henry continues to amaze me. He is able to walk on his own now, and continues to climb on everything. Since he started walking he has really increased his talking. It's almost as though he has shifted gears from physical skills to verbal. He is way ahead physically and cognitively, following instructions, putting lids on bottles, putting shapes in his sorter, putting things away in the cupboards and closing the doors, but has lagged behind a little in speach. As of his first Birthday he had only said, "baba and mama", as those were his only consonents. Since then he has added 'g' and 'd', and says words that sound like 'this' and 'that'. I find it quite amazing to watch him develop.

I am still amazed that I have a son. I wasn't sure it would ever happen for me, and I savour every moment. Just this morning I was watching him nap and marvelling at how perfect he is. I know it's a mother's love that biases me, but I truly do think he's perfect. Motherhood has been an incredible journey so far.
I have gone off on a tangent. Winter. Henry and I have spent a lot of our weekends away in Peterborough or Kitchener visiting with my parents or Andy's. I think all of the visiting has kept us from feeling couped up on the boat. It's always nice to go away, and just as nice to come home again.

I've really enjoyed this lifestyle. It's amazing how little space a family actually needs. We live, all five of us if you include the furry ones, in a space as small as the average livingroom. (Andy didn't like my saying that our space is small, reminding me that it is 34'10" x 11'4", I think he has become a true sailor and has forgotten what it's like to live in a house!) Henry doesn't have all of the big toys, swings, highchairs, change tables and other paraphenalia that most new parents just have to have, and I think that has helped us to live a much simpler life. He has more toys than he can play with, they are just smaller. He has a portable chair that attaches to the table. And who needs a swing, walker, or other entertainment centre when you have a companionway to climb?

This lifestyle does make you realize what a necessity really is. Henry's Aunt Becky just bought him a 'Cadillac' of a stroller. Our little umbrella stroller purchased for $25 in Florida has seen more miles than you can imagine, and has the wear and tear to prove it. Our new jogging stroller is an unbelievable luxury! The tires are big inflatables, and I can push it with one finger! Henry really enjoys the snack tray. Thanks Aunt Becky!!

The highlights of our winter wonderland? We step out our door and feed the ducks, geese and swans that are swimming beside our dock. Our family is closer than we've ever been. We have hearty, home cooked meals that warm our tummies and our home. We get out every day to enjoy the biggest city in the country from it's most scenic location. Even though finances are tight, our simple life has made me the happiest I've ever been.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Henry!!

A whole year has come and gone since I gave birth to my little acorn. (My grandma calls him that because little acorns grow into big Oakes, right?)

It has been a wonderful, incredibly eventful year. We have certainly had our trials and tribulations, as every family with an infant has, but all in all it was a fantastic year.

When you have a new baby every day is special. There are always changes happening, and they do something new every time you turn around!

I think Henry is exceptionally bright, but I'm sure all mothers think that about their own children. :) He has reached all of the physical milestones early. He rolled over for the first time when he was just 12 days old! That was when we knew he'd be keeping us on our toes! Henry went on to sit alone at four months, pull himself to standing at five months, and crawled and cruised the furniture by six months! He's now walking on his own with a little encouragement, although he prefers to hold on to one of Mommy or Daddy's fingers for reassurance.

Today we went for a walk to the mall, and Henry walked for about 10 minutes, holding onto Mommy's hand, before he was ready to settle into his stroller for a ride. Such an independant little man! All of this activity is making him need two naps again, he had been having just one for several days. Mommy isn't ready to give up the second nap yet (my little bit of me time in my day!), so I'm glad Henry isn't ready to give it up yet either.

Looking back on the past year I remember it as one of the best ever. It's funny how the sleepless nights don't matter anymore. The fussy evenings pacing with our three month old seem like a very distant memory. What stands out are the smiles, the giggles, the new accomplishments, and lately, all of the hugs and kisses given freely without us even asking for them! Parenthood comes with its sacrifices and hard times, but the rewards are endless and priceless.

Thanks, Henry, for being the wonderful little man you are, and for enriching our lives more than you'll ever know. Here's to toddlerhood!

Happy Birthday.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Another year has come and gone. They go so quickly, don't they?

2009 was a year of excitement, a year full of ups and downs, adventures and challenges. 2009 brought us Henry! We sailed 2400 miles. We sought adventure and found plenty! We also had a lot of pitfalls in the business and had to make a few sacrifices and changes of plan.
I think that when you look back on your life, though, it is the highlights that stand out. The hardships only make you smarter, stronger, and lead you on another path. Our trip was something that most people don't ever get to do, and we enjoyed four and a half months on the water together living our dream.

Our first year with Henry couldn't have been better. He is such a wonderful, charming little boy. We like to think that spending so much quality time with him, living this 'life less ordinary' has helped him to become the sweet, adventurous, boisterous little man that he is. I love him more than words can say.

The clock is ticking on whether or not Henry will officially walk before his first birthday! He will be one on January 14th. He is now walking between us at a fairly slow, controlled pace, up to 5 or 6 steps! He is so close, I think he just lacks the confidence to let go and be off! All in his own time, I'm sure.
Everyone we see these days is asking, 'How are you managing wintering on the boat?' The answer is that we keep the boat at a nearly tropical warmth, Henry and I get out for walks every day to stave off cabin fever, and my sea sickness has been cured! In short, life aboard is wonderful...even in the winter.

Christmas was good. Hectic as usual, visiting both families, with all of the travel that entails. But we had a nice, simple Christmas, enjoying the most important stuff...time with those we love, good food, and good cheer. We had Christmas Eve and Christmas morning on the boat, just the three of us (five if you count the furry ones!), then went on to Kitchener to see the Oakes' for a few days, then Peterborough to spend time with the Francey's. It was really nice.

On New Year's Eve we went out on our first date since Henry was born! We were more than due! Andy and I went to the annual party at the Heathcoat residence. It was great fun, as usual, with a live band, good company, and great food. Henry had a date with our wonderful neighbours, Deirdre and Bruce, who kept watch over him on our boat. He woke up and was quite upset to find us absent, but Deirdre worked her magic, and he was sound asleep again in no time! Thanks Dee!!

My New Year's Resolution? Same as everyone else's, probably...I want to lose a few pounds and a few inches. I'm going to cut out all of the desserts that we feasted on almost every night in 2009, and do daily sit-ups and push-ups to get back to my pre-pregnancy waist size! that I've told you, I will have to stick to it!

So what's next? Well, the maternity leave money has stopped coming, so off on the job hunt I go. I'm hoping to find something part time so that Andy can be with Henry when I'm not. We really don't want to put him into daycare.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2010! Follow your dreams, and great things will happen!