Keeping Boat Baby Busy

People who find out we live on a boat: “How do you deal with a toddler in such a small space?”

Me: “How do you keep track of your toddler in such a large space?”

But really, I think no matter where you live, entertaining a toddler is hard work. This is the struggle that all parents face, the never-ending question of “What are we going to DO today?”

Pros for living on a boat with a toddler:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Boat-proofed is automatically baby-proofed. Everything is latched, furniture is built in, and corners are rounded.
  • A lot of time spent outdoors
  • When we are all on the boat, we are all hanging out together!
  • Don’t have tons of toys underfoot
  • Everything is spill-proof and waterproof

Cons:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Silence is never an option
  • Deck time always involves a lifejacket
  • No space indoors to run her ragged

The last con is the biggest hurdle for us. How do I make sure my toddler burns off enough energy when she can’t run around outside due to weather? Summer here is challenging. 105 degree days with sudden thunderstorms. Here’s what we do to fill our week and get off the boat:

Early morning walks (most mornings) with an hour pit stop at the park. It is usually cool and shaded enough until 9 am. W can climb to her heart’s content while Scout and I get some exercise.

Story time at Barnes&Noble. Music, books, and socialization with kids. Plus, it is air-conditioned and there is an indoor play area at the other end of the mall. More things to climb.

Tot Time on base, or as W calls it, “T-T!” There is a 2-hour ‘free play’ for kids under 2 in one of the community center gyms on Camp Lejeune. Different toys and socialization time in the AC!

Gymnastics on Thursdays in the ‘Mommy and Me’ class. I think this one is her favorite. By the time the hour class is done, she usually falls asleep in the car.

Starbucks usually precedes a trip to the grocery store. Caffeine boost for Mom and a croissant for W! A good place to hang and people watch.

Library visits are also a favorite. We frequent two that are on base. They have separate kids rooms with puzzles and play structures, too!

Pool time is reserved for super-hot afternoons and extra-energy days. W likes the shaded kiddy pool, and 1 hr after playing in that she’s ready for bed.

Beach days are the best, but less frequent due to the absolute mess involved (read: SAND EVERYWHERE) but we usually go at least once per week. Conor loves doing this with her, so it is usually on the weekend.

Deck time will also entertain W for a while, as long as there is ice involved! Easiest entertainment ever: Get a bag of ice. Put out bowls of different sizes. Give toddler a big spoon. Have her move ice to various containers. When it melts, no cleanup needed! I don’t know why this is so amusing, but W loves it.

tot time
Ice Ice Baby

These are the big ones. When we are on the boat, we play games, sing songs, build block towers, read books, color, play pretend with baby doll, and try to empty various cabinets.

How do you entertain your toddler? Give me ideas below!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Keep Us In Your Hearts

Hello friends. It has been a tough couple of weeks. We found out last week (on Conor’s birthday, unfortunately) that my fifth pregnancy was unviable. For those of you who have been following our journey for a while, you might remember this post where I discussed our three previous losses before getting pregnant with Baby W.

For this current pregnancy, I went in for my first ultrasound at what was supposed to be 10.5 weeks along. It turns out the babies, yes babies—it was twins—stopped growing at 6 weeks. This matched the timeline with 3 of my other losses around the same time. We are devastated. We have lost 5 babies. It doesn’t even seem possible to type it out. 5 babies. Unreal.

I had a D&C yesterday. This is a procedure to surgically remove an incomplete miscarriage because my body wasn’t getting the memo to do it on its own. I opted for the surgical route because I did the medical way with my second miscarriage and it was excruciating. I was in labor with W for 17 hours and gave birth to her unmedicated, and I can safely say I would rather do that again than miscarry with the Cytotec. The D&C procedure went great and today I physically feel fine. Emotionally, well, who knows. We are taking it day by day. Thank God we are so busy with W and we are holding her extra close.

There may be a light at the end of this long tunnel. This is about to get pretty personal, just warning you. My doctor believes I may have what is called a septate uterus. This is a line of cartilage running through the uterus that increases the chance of miscarriage in women by about 40%. If embryos attach to this instead of the uterine wall, there is no blood flow for a placenta to form. This is likely what is happening with me, because the babies all stopped growing around the same time. While it is a relief to maybe have an answer, it means another surgery. It also just really, really sucks because these losses could have been prevented if we had known. The only way to test for this condition, though, is to have recurrent losses.

So as it turns out, Baby W was pretty much a miracle. The likelihood of carrying her to term and having a natural birth with my suspected condition was incredibly low.

The outpouring of love and support from family and close friends during this time has been incredible. We have received cards, care packages, phone calls, and hugs. While it is tempting to just hide away from the world to grieve, it is also so incredibly important to talk about this.

I wanted to share this story because of the impact being open with pregnancy loss has had on the people in my life. Since writing my first story about it, I have had numerous friends reach out to me with their own miscarriage experience because they didn’t know any other women who had gone through the same thing. You are NOT alone. Even once the miscarriage is over, there is still the lingering pain of a future unfulfilled. You remember your due date. Think about your child’s future milestones. Holidays. What you would be doing this very minute if you hadn’t had a loss. It is so hard, and I think that people who have shared this experience have a special connection. We should be free to talk and heal. I channeled some of my experience into Sonder Village with a character who dealt with multiple pregnancy loss and infertility. Writing is my outlet, and a part of me needed to put it in the book to process my own emotions.

Everyone deals with loss differently. Conor has been a rock throughout all of this even though he is grieving and heartbroken, too. I am so thankful to have such a supportive husband by my side throughout all of this. After getting the bad news at the ultrasound last week, I spent the weekend finishing my next book. It was almost like a ‘fuck you’ to the universe. I am STILL ME. I am STILL STRONG. I can STILL do great things. One of my bad ass friends ran a half-marathon the day after getting her terrible news to know her body was still hers. Another friend started a business. Women are incredible, and though we may hurt, we do not break.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Ding Ding Ding! Dinghy Time

Our dinghy is FINALLY in the water. It has been dry-docked for almost two years. I was too pregnant to bounce around in it when we first arrived at Gottschalk in the fall of 2017, then last summer W did not have the head control to ride in it, but this summer we plan on taking full advantage of it!

The dingy needed a good scrub and a few minutes with an air compressor, but she looks as good as new now. However, our outboard motor had some issues after lying stagnant for so long. We had trouble starting it because, as we later found out, there was debris in the carburetor. Whoops! I blame that on Hurricane Florence.

The marina manager, Sammy, has tons of experience with outboard motors and was willing to fix it right up for us. We know what to look for next time!

We took a family ride for the first time and I was kind of amazed at how quick and easy it was to get out on the water. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sailing, but it usually takes a lot more forethought, set up, and lines to leave our slip. It was so quick to just pop the family right in the dingy and in two seconds we were gone! We were able to explore some of the shallow creek area for the first time that is off-limits to bigger boats. I foresee many sunset trips out there in the coming months.

dinghy
My handsome captain out on the water

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Shake Out The Sails…

Because Story Time is officially back at it this season! Sunday was our first sail of 2019 and MAN did it feel great to be out on the water again. 75 degrees and sunny with 5-10 knot winds means that winter has finally lifted. Conor is home from Norway at last, and there is no better way to reconnect as a family than doing what we love all together.

It didn’t matter that we discovered a rip in our mainsail (again! Seriously, wtf) and the wind died on us for about an hour out there, because our engine ran great, our rigging looks good, and Story Time seems no worse for the wear after hanging out in her slip for the past 4 months.

We had a magical encounter with a pod of 6 dolphins that played around our boat for at least 20 minutes. I could have reached out and touched them, they were that close. I was a bit nervous to see how W would cooperate while we were sailing now that she’s extremely mobile, but she loves her sailing harness and was very into ‘helping’ with the lines.

harness

Looking at this picture makes my heart so full. She’s only 15 months but ready to dive right in to every adventure. I can just see the little girl she’ll become—brave and fierce!

I’m keeping this post short and sweet so we can get back to family time, but now that Conor is home I will be able to update more frequently with sailing and liveaboard life. After only 2 posts in March (gah!) I promise to be more on top of it in April.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

2018 Recap Video

 

Well guys, Conor is back in North Carolina to do Marine things. W and I are still hanging in WA because he is going to be so busy, but we miss him so much! Thank God for Skype.

To commemorate what a great year we had as a family, I put together a little recap video for 2018. Our 2017 video is here, and our 2018 one picks up right where that one left off! It is crazy to look back and see how tiny W used to be. This year consisted of sleepless nights, two cross-country trips to WA, boat work, long summer nights, great sailing as a family of 3, and more. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to put this together just a week after New Year. The 2017 recap video didn’t get posted until March 2018. I think I’m more on top of it this year!

The song is ‘End of the World’ by the Dirty Heads. Thanks for following our journey!

 

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Boat Baby On The Move

We have reached a new milestone as W approaches her first birthday: climbing.

This child. Good lord. She isn’t walking yet, but has refused to allow her lack of bipedal mobility to slow her down. Capable of traversing the boat from v-berth to aft cabin in a mere 3 seconds, our speed crawler leaves a path of destruction in her wake. Nothing is safe on tables or settee couches. This week she figured out how to get up onto our bed, and already has her sights set on her next challenge: the stairs.

Favorite games this week include standing on couches and pulling her books down, emptying Mom’s closet, terrorizing the dog (who can no longer escape up high and out of reach), and knocking the fruit basket down.

To make the cockpit and deck a safe place to explore (and lower Mom’s blood pressure) we got this child sailing harness from West Marine. It gives her the freedom to move without us worrying about her going overboard. We haven’t used it sailing yet (and will probably use it in combination with a life jacket while we are underway) but it has been great at the dock for some outside playtime. My sister’s response when I sent this photo to my family: “Oh how cute. Is she a rescue?”

harness

Just as we figure out this stage, in a blink she will be walking! And with it a whole new set of challenges. We are loving every minute of it, though, and feel lucky to view the world through her curious eyes. Nothing holds this “Go Go Go” baby back!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Visit from YaYa

I almost titled this post, “It Rained for 2 Weeks Straight”. Our terrible weather also coincided with a wonderful visit from my mom, who came all the way out from Seattle to spend some quality time with her grandbaby. I planned to have an awesome post about my mom’s first sail (ever!) but you’ll all have to be satisfied with mini-stories from the dock instead.

It is hard to believe we didn’t have a weather window to take the boat out the entire time my mom was here. We had AM and PM thunderstorms EVERY DAY. It was ridiculous. If you remember one of my previous posts, “How to Sail With a Baby”, while W is so young, we are only comfortable taking her out if there are no thunderstorm watches. I also wanted my mom’s first time out to be an easy sail, so we just kept waiting and waiting for better weather that never came. Today, of course, it’s sunny out with a perfect 10mph NE wind. LASKDFHLKDSHGODIFGGAHHHHHH

However, this trip for YaYa was a lot more fun than the one in January. That one included a screaming newborn, snow, and being stuck inside the boat. This time, we had cocktails in the cockpit, bbq’s, and field trips with an always-inquisitive 7 month old. Other highlights included 4—count ’em—4(!) dates for me and Conor, one even on our actual anniversary! We went to fancy dinners (as fancy as you can get in Jacksonville and Swansboro), the movies, and a couple’s night with friends. YaYa spent quality time with W, while Conor and I remembered what it was like to just be us. It made me wish we were on the west coast to be closer to family.

yaya1
Airport snuggles with YaYa

Other news: for our anniversary, Conor and I gave each other the extremely romantic gift of a TRX. I want to finally get back in shape post-baby and build muscle again, and it is the perfect workout kit for boat life. It all fits into one little bag when not in use! It hooks around the mast. Here we are trying it out:

trx

We were all very sad to see YaYa go, and we will miss her very much!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Pinterest Worthy?

We’ve finally accomplished some mini-projects for the inside of the boat. Just a few little touches to make life more comfortable, easier, or homier. My favorite is this cool spice rack that Conor put up:

spicerack

All you need are some powerful magnetic strips and jars with magnetic tops. Add in a label maker and you’re set! No more digging through the pantry for spices in the middle of cooking.

mixtiles

We also put up this great photo wall using a company called MixTiles. They are high-quality photos printed on foam, and they just stick right to the wall. Easy to swap out, too. $9 apiece and they are boat-proof. No glass frames in here!

Now that it is summer in North Carolina and everyday is around 100% humidity, we are trying anything and everything to keep our interior cool and dry. We stuck a product called dri-deck under our queen mattress and the v-berth mattress. It helps with air flow, especially in the v-berth, to keep bedding from getting damp. I’ll be interested to see if it helps in the winter, too.

bed

Speaking of bedding, I know some people were curious to know how we secured W’s crib to her mattress:

crib

Simple straps! Easy peasy, and that thing doesn’t move at all. There’s an adjustable strap running through each leg separately, then up and around the mattress. All 4 legs of that thing are locked down.

That’s about all of our interior updates. Each little project over the last year has customized it to our family, and it definitely feels like home!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

How to Sail with a Baby

memorial day 3

After 8 long months at the dock, we finally went sailing again! Memorial Day weekend was just too gorgeous to ignore, and the water was calling to us. It was the first time with our little family of 3 (plus Scout, of course) and we had a blast. We weren’t as rusty as I feared we would be. Story Time sailed like a dream, and seeing her sails up filled me with such joy and contentment.

memorial day

While we were prepping the boat after a stagnant winter, I was jittery with nerves. How in the world could we safely sail with an infant? Were we negligent parents to even consider doing so? Let me tell you, seeing my baby girl gaze in wonder out at the water while safely strapped to her dad made all doubts fly out the window. Here’s how we sailed with a baby, and cardinal rules we have decided to follow:

1. Wait until baby has good head control. For us, that was 5 months. W can roll over and is close to sitting up unassisted. She is huge for her age and has strong body control. I definitely wouldn’t take a baby out who is younger than 3 months, but that is personal preference.

2. Pick a day with perfect weather. We had a max of 10 mph winds, and it made for such a calm experience. If there was any chance of high winds or storms, we would not have gone out.

3. Go over your casting off and docking steps. Who is doing what, when, and with which line. Review it over and over until you’re confident with your plan of action. Worrying about the baby took up massive space in my brain, so it was necessary to be able to move without second-guessing myself as we left the marina and came back.

4. Stay local. Don’t push your luck and risk a fussy and unhappy baby who is hot and tired. We only sailed around New River and were gone a total of 4 hours. As W gets older, we will go for longer stretches, but this was a good start.

5. Babywear. Seriously. We have a Lillebaby carrier that can be adjusted to both me and Conor, and W loves it. Conor wore W during the sail because he was at the helm the whole time. I like to run the sails, so I needed to be free to maneuver. This brings me to rule #6:

6. Baby does not leave the cockpit, ever, except to go down below into the cabin with Mom to eat/stretch out/etc. If she is not in her Lillebaby, then she is in her Stohlquist infant lifejacket.

7. For casting off and docking, baby goes in her crib down below. She protested a little when we were casting off, wondering why she couldn’t be in on the action, but it was better for her to fuss in a safe place for 5 minutes while we got underway. While we were docking, she was quite content to wait for us and babbled in her crib. Her crib is strapped down in the v-berth, and won’t move.

8. Leave and return while your marina is open and there are staff members to help you. It is quicker and smoother than trying to do it with just two people. I’m a fan of whatever makes life easier with a baby.

memorial day 2

All in all, it was easier than I expected it to be. I had thought that we might need to rig up some sort of car seat contraption in the cockpit to put W in while underway, but once we came up with these rules, it was pretty much unnecessary. We are looking forward to more adventures this summer, especially anchoring out. If you have any additional tips for sailing with babies, please post them in the comment section!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

2017 Recap Video

I used my (very limited) technological skills to put together a little recap video of this past year. Just a simple slideshow about our crazy journey in 2017. The song is “Sleep on the Floor” by the Lumineers. Thank you all for following us through everything!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W