Friday, February 28, 2014

Letter to our First Born Before She Becomes A Big Sister

To my sweet baby Isla,

You are on the verge of becoming a big sister, and I am on the verge of becoming a mom of three.  It's hard to believe considering it feels like yesterday I was bringing you into this world, and yet here we are, almost two years later...  You are wise beyond your years and your daddy and I have been working very hard to prepare you for what lays ahead, though we hardly know ourselves.  You are definitely aware that something big is about to happen and that the "something" involves two more babies, but I don't think any toddler can truly grasp new life.  Way back when we first discovered we were blessed with two more babies, we gave you your very own twin dollies to love and play with and, well, if you treat your sisters with the same adoration and care as you do those little babes - we are going to be okay.

Even still, your little world is about to be rocked.  I want to write you this letter to let you know, before your sisters arrive, how very much I love you and how much you mean to me, even though words could never, ever do my feelings for you justice.  Until now, you have been our only child and soon - very soon - you will be sharing the spotlight with two others.  For the past two years, you and only you have been the bright and shiny epicenter of mine and your father's Universe and you I have never spent more than a few hours away from each other.  Our bond is exceptional and despite this intense togetherness, you are fiercely independent, blithely confident and have no issue whatsoever about leaving my side.  I love that about you.  I, on the other hand, get teary eyed simply thinking of being in the hospital, away from you for a couple days, not being able to tuck you in at night or greet your beautiful face in the morning.  But you have proven your incredible ability to adapt to just about anything thrown your way and I know that this transition into big sisterhood will be no different.  You never cease to amaze us.

The past twenty three months with you have been an absolute joy.  You are an absolute JOY.  If I had only one word to describe you it would be that.  You bring your daddy and I so much happiness and watching you grow into the sweet, kind, and amazing little person you have become has been, by far, the most incredible journey of our lives.  I want you to know how special you are because these next couple months you might feel like you have been replaced, you might feel a little confused.  I want you to know that you could NEVER be replaced and that your daddy and I are going to try very hard to make sure you never feel sidelined.  You will always be our first born.  You will always be the one who made me a mommy and you will always be the baby who stole our hearts before any other. You will always be our Isla.  Our extreme love for you will never, ever waver.  Ever.

Each morning when you wake up, I bring you into my bed and we snuggle and chat.  It is my favorite part of every day.  You ask me to sing you your favorite songs as you cuddle up against me and I do.  You love the "Isla song" (the lullaby I made up for you) and "Paris" ("He Went to Paris", by Jimmy Buffett)...and of course the old standby's "Eensy Weensy" and "Wheels on the Bus" are big hits too.  We sing, we chat, you smother me with kisses, we talk about dreams and birds and planes and horses.  Whatever is on that incredible, brilliant little mind of yours.  You cradle your babies as I cradle you.  We giggle and laugh.  I treasure these moments and cling to them because I know all to well they are fleeting.  Time is flying by.  I want to always remember them just as they are, precious moments filled with wonder and love.  I want to freeze these vignettes in time forever.

There are some big changes on the horizon for all of us.  But you, your daddy and I have proven to be quite the team.  We can do anything.  I know in my heart of hearts that together we're going to be awesome as we greet your sisters into our lives and grow from three to five.  I am so excited to see you become a big sister and I know for certain you are going to be incredible.  I am so, so proud of you.

Remember, this is all about love.  More love than we ever imagined is going to come into our family (though it hardly seems possible that there is room for more love in my heart, fellow mamas assure me there is).  Our hearts actually can grow, which is something that I've learned (and continue to learn) from you.  They can never be too full.  The human capacity for love is pretty incredible.

Whatever the future will bring - as crazy as it might be sometimes - it will bring with it love.  Of this I am certain.

I love you so much Isla, more than you could ever possibly know.  You are very, very special to me. You are my heart, my love, my sunshine, my first born...

Forever and always.


I want to thank our wonderful blog follower turned friend, Carol M., for the wonderful suggestion to write Isla this letter.  Thank you Carol, as always, for thinking of us like your very own family. xoxo 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Womb: AKA "Alcatraz"

I can honestly say I never thought I'd still be pregnant right now.  While I was fairly sure I would carry our twins pretty uneventfully to "full term" or very close, I definitely didn't think I'd go past thirty-seven weeks.  Turns out I have a "cervix of steel" (to recycle the term of my fellow full-term-and-beyond twin mama friend, Kimberly) and I have now taken to calling my womb "Alcatraz."  Tagline: There ain't no escapin'.

I'm not complaining, mind you, I'm actually thrilled I have made it this far and still manage to feel pretty dang good, all things considered.  Every additional day I can give these babies in my belly is a gift, as far as I am concerned.  We went to the doctor's yesterday to "assess the situation" and they marvel at how well we're all doing.  The girls are still both head down, though "baby A" (the name they give to the baby closest to the cervix) and "baby B" flip flopped completely, meaning the child we have been calling "baby A" this entire pregnancy has now become "baby B" and visa versa.  Sneaky little fish!  On the ultrasound the girls looked perfect, moving and wriggling away, practicing breathing and the baby formerly known as "B" was sucking on her hand like crazy.  So wild to see.  They actually looked like babies and not mysterious sea monkeys on the screen and the technician guessed them to be clocking in at over six pounds each (though there is always significant room for error in this department) which would be awesome.

So what's next?  Well...since the babies are clearly happy and thriving (plenty of amniotic fluid, great heart rates and all that good stuff), and since I am (relatively speaking) "comfortable", they are going to let me go another five or six days.  They will not, however, let me go past thirty-nine weeks as things can get risky with a twin pregnancy after that.  It is my desire to go into labor on my own if at all possible, so we're hoping to see some action soon (you hear that Universe?  Let's get this party started!)  We go back to the docs on Monday and from there we'll discuss when to induce, most likely Tuesday or Wednesday.  Of course time now is completely skewed and next week seems like an eternity away.  I'm going about life as if nothing is happening and it's business as usual over here.  Babies?  What babies? Oh, the ones who won't be here till, like, next week? Psh!  Funny how that happens.

In the meantime, I'm just plugging along; working on some blog projects and posts, continuing to get my "ducks in a row" and squeezing every moment of Isla as-an-only-child time as I can.  Man do I love that child.  She is such an awesome little person; full of sweetness, personality, zest, heart and soul.  If her little sisters are anything like her, we're totally in for a massive love burst up in here.

While I am typically not a fan of creepy 3-D ultrasound images, this one is pretty dang cute if you ask me.
Side note to fellow women pregnant with multiples:  An excellent book I would recommend to women pregnant with multiples is When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads: Proven Guidelines for a Healthy Multiple Pregnancy, 3rd Edition - I read it cover to cover early on and while it's a bit on the scientific side, it is a proven step by step program to give you the best chances for a healthy, full-term multiple pregnancy.  We followed these guidelines and, well, here I am.  Not a guarantee, of course, but worth looking into.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tips for the Cruising Blogger

The blogging world is incredibly vast with the "cruising blog" genre representing only the teeny-tiniest sliver of what is out there.  As niche-y as our subject is,  however, it has literally exploded in the past couple of years.  When we started blogging in 2008 there were no where near the number of cruising blogs there are now.  I can't be sure, but I would venture to guess that there are at least five times as many cruising bloggers today than there were then.  I don't know if there are more people cruising or just more people blogging about cruising - but there is definitely some exponential growth happening.  Pretty cool.

Currently, our blog gets about 700-1,000 visitors a day, about 100K page views a month and about 1,200 people get our posts delivered directly to their inboxes.  I don't write these stats to boast (though I am proud of these accomplishments) I point them out to illustrate we have found a modest level of success in this arena and, as such, we have learned a thing or two over the past few years.  While these numbers are not very impressive in the blog world as a whole, they aren't too shabby in the sailing blog world.

We get a lot of questions about how to set up a blog and requests for advice on how to do it well so instead of re-writing this over and over in emails to folks, I've decided to share what has worked for us in one fell swoop in the name of efficiency.  I am by no means a blogging expert (I am completely self taught and learning more all the time) but here are some tips that have worked for us, and perhaps fellow bloggers or bloggers-to-be might benefit from them.  Or not.  Take it or leave it, but here it is:
  1. Be yourself.  This is, bar none, the most important rule of blogging.  BE YOU.  If you try to mimic someone else it will show and it will not work.  Not to mention the fact that no one blazed a new trail by simply following in the footsteps of another.  Do your own thing and dare to be different.  Find your OWN voice and say what you want to say, not what you think people want to hear and for the love, do not just regurgitate what other bloggers are writing if you can help it.  Write for YOU first, then you can think about writing for others.
  2. Keep it short and sweet.  For some reason, most people do not have the time or patience to read long diatribes in blog form.  While there will, inevitably, be times when you need more time to say what you want to say, it's a good rule of thumb to avoid writing posts that take longer than 1-3 minutes to read.  I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a blog, seen the absurd length of a post (by scrolling down and down and down the screen), only to hit the back button and move on.  Whether or not it's a good thing, the internet is about instant gratification.  Short and sweet is what resonates most with people online (generally speaking).  Long-winded articles are for magazines.  Again, I know I don't always subscribe to this advice myself - but I am always aware of this and try my best to "trim the fat" where I can (and, yes, I realize this particular post violates this rule...but, hey, this is special).
  3. Don't knock other bloggers.  As vast as it is, the blogging world is actually pretty small and the cruising world is even smaller.  I have run into many fellow bloggers that I never thought I would and when it comes to cruising, you are never more than six degrees of separation from another boater (no Kevin Bacon needed).  Publicly or privately knocking other bloggers for one reason or another is not only tacky and immature, but makes you look bad, desperate and jealous.  Never-mind the fact that many of us bloggers talk to and know each other (whether personally or virtually) so it's likely that your words will come back to haunt you.  Put your best foot forward and don't do it.  If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it.  If you dislike what someone else is doing with their blog, don't read it.  It's really that simple.
  4. Give credit where credit is due.  This is a big one for me as I have seen my posts, ideas, and sometimes even pictures used or blatantly copied/plagiarized without any credit or permission (usually brought to my attention by one of our followers).  I've also seen fellow bloggers take quotes right out of our blog and pass them off as their own or even reference our blog without linking back to us.  This is bad practice and can be a little annoying, especially considering I work very hard to keep our blog original and different.  If you get an idea, a picture, a quote or inspiration from another blogger - give them a little love, and credit, in the form of a link. 
  5. Use pictures.  People seem to love our pictures and photography has become a sort of hobby of mine as a direct result of this blog.  I am by no means a "photographer" and my "skills" are completely self taught.  I do not have a fancy DSLR camera (my "good" camera is a Canon G12) and many of my more recent shots are taken with my iPhone or my Olympus Tough Camera.  But being an amateur does not mean you have to have amateur photos!  Having at least one pretty picture per post should be your goal.  I spend a lot of time editing our photos and making them look as nice as possible.  There are tons of ways to create interesting images using software like Photoshop (I used Pixlemator and Photoshop Elements) and there are even more online photo editors (just Google "online photo editor") that are super fun and easy to use.  NOTE:  Be very careful about using photos on your blog that you have not taken, as you are likely violating a law.  A fellow cruiser friend shared this great article on how NOT to violate copyright law in a sailing forum and I found it very useful.  I am currently in the process of replacing all images that I have lifted from the internet with images I have either taken myself or purchased for a buck from Vectorstock.
  6. Make your landing page look nice.  Spend a little time to make your landing page look interesting and dynamic.  Both Blogger and Wordpress (currently the two most popular free blogging platforms that I know of) offer a bunch of convenient plug-ins that make this kind of customization very easy.  The landing page of your blog/website is a first impression and it will definitely impact whether people stay or go.  You have about .2 seconds to capture someone's attention online before they hit the dreaded "back" button, so use that nanosecond wisely and make your page pop.
  7. Have something to say.  When you write, try to offer something to your readers; an insight, a story, a lesson you learned, inspiration, a tip, a laugh...something.  Simply rattling off what you did on a particular day doesn't always make for gripping reading.  Keep it varied and interesting and have something to offer.
  8. Be consistent.  This is a big one.  You must be consistent about posting but do not fall into the trap where you feel you must post every single day.  I fell into that trap for a while and I believe my blog and writing suffered because of it.  Do not post for the sake of posting because it becomes a huge yawnfest (again, learn from my mistake) and the authenticity of your posts will go down.  Aim for quality, not quantity - but do be consistent.  You do not need to post something each and every day, but you should try to post with some regularity if you can because nothing will turn off readers more quickly than a blogger who posts once and then not again for another few months.
  9. Write from the heart.  It always amazes me which posts seem to resonate with our readers.  Almost always it's the posts that I found difficult to write or possibly even considered not writing because I felt they exposed too much of me or I felt weren't "relevant" (for example,  I was so hesitant to write about family life and babies on this blog but this has only begun to expand our readership - who knew??).  Turns out human beings really like other humans, particularly if they are fallible and real.  Be honest and true in your writing - I am always working on this and still have a long way to go (it's not easy!) - but it is something I am always striving for.  One thing people always tell me when they meet us or email me is that they feel like I'm their best friend and I believe this is a side effect of writing honestly from the heart.
  10. Get ideas from your audience.  I have said it many times before, I am often inspired by our readers and I love hearing from you all.  If you ever find yourself in a writing slump, turn to your audience - they will most certainly have questions about your life that can inspire a blog post.  You guys have inspired me with your comments, questions and emails more times than I can count!
  11. Do not start a blog to make money.  People ask me all the time how to make money with a blog and I really don't know the answer.  All I know is that if you start a blog with financial gain as the sole purpose, you are more than likely going to fail.  First of all, to make any significant money from a blog you need a TON of traffic (and by TON of traffic, I'm talking like ten times the amount of traffic we currently get) and, being that sailing and cruising blogs are such a niche market, that kind of traffic is not likely.  We make a couple hundred bucks a month from our blog through affiliate links and the occasional donation.  Granted, I don't pursue and push it as a reliable income source so perhaps I could make more if I really tried, but I also believe doing so would turn off a lot of our readers and I don't want to do that.  It's a fine line to walk but it is my belief that if your goal in blogging is to make a buck, it will be obvious - and readers won't like it.  Kind of a catch 22.
  12. Know that you will not please everyone.  We have haters.  It's sad, but true (wah, wah).  It goes with the territory and the bigger your audience, the more vocal the haters (aka "trolls") become.  Granted, for every negative email or comment I get I have one hundred positive ones, so our love to hate ratio is pretty good.   But no matter what, it still doesn't feel nice to be told (usually by a big, bold "anonymous" a-hole) that you suck.  Blogging is putting yourself out there for all to see and the sooner you understand that not everyone is going to 'smell what you're steppin' in', the better off you will be.  Don't try to please everyone because you will fail miserably.  Brush it off and move on.  Focus on the positive.  This can be hard to do (believe me, I know because I struggle with taking my own advice here) but it's par for the course.
  13. Practice makes perfect.  The blogging world is fluid and always changing.  I am learning new things every day and, like I said earlier, I am by no means an expert.  What I am is someone who loves to learn and try new things, so I am constantly striving to keep things original and new.  The more you blog, the better you'll get.  Keep working at it and be innovative to keep it fresh.  I often find myself inspired by blogs that are not cruising blogs (in fact, the blogs I read most are actually not related to sailing at all) and while my time to actually follow blogs is nill, I like to see what others are doing to make their blogs stand out.  It's a big, bloggy world out there!
  14. Utilize social media.  There are about a gazillion ways to use social media to promote your blog and gain readership and it can be very effective.  I suggest just sticking to one or two of platforms at first or else you will find yourself on your computer far more than you want to be (I mean, you're supposed to be out there living your life, right?)  I personally like Facebook and Twitter, and have dabbled in Pinterest and Tumblr as well.  Navigating the world of social media can be overwhelming, daunting and incredibly time consuming so do yourself a favor and start with just one or two.  Link your posts, connect with other bloggers, join relevant groups and start sharing!
  15. Know that you will not make it big overnight.  Or possibly ever.  Blogging is a very competitive thing, and there are a LOT of blogs out there vying for readers attention.  This is why the #1 rule of thumb is to do it for YOU and for no one else because if you are blogging for you, you will be satisfied.  Notoriety might be a nice side effect, but shouldn't be the goal.  Our success came as a result of a solid amount of luck, good timing, decent writing and a ton of hard work.
  16. Love it.  I love writing and blogging.  Like, LOOOOOOOVE it.  It is a huge passion of mine and something that brings me a ton of joy.  It is not torture, but fun.  It's a creative outlet and a way for me to use my brain and think.  It's also a way for me to share with, connect with and learn from others which has brought me more satisfaction than I ever anticipated.  If you don't enjoy writing, you probably won't enjoy blogging - but you can use your blog to showcase art, photos, or any other thing you want to share.  Whatever you decide, make sure you love it.  If you love what you do, it will show and it will resonate more with your audience.
  17. Love your readers.  Be good to them:  Respect them.  Hear them.  Talk to them.  Thank them.
Thanks guys, we love you :)

For more great tips on how to start a successful blog, check out THIS POST by the Minimalists.  I love their site and completely, 100% agree with all the advice they list.  Worth the read if you blog or are considering blogging. is also a great resource for the beginner.

What tips would you offer bloggers?  What keeps you coming back to your favorite blog(s)?  What has turned you off of a blog before?  Share in the comments!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Living Legends: 10 Questions for Former US Sailing President Gary Jobson

There are few things more impressive to me than humility. In the rockstar world of top-level sailboat racing, it's easy to get caught up in the dangerous habit of self importance. So when Scott and I were strolling around Strictly Sail and one of our friends (who also happens to be a professional racer and sailmaker) called us over to his booth and introduced us to the man pictured above, it was easy to mistake him for your run of the mill sailing enthusiast. A nice guy who was just enjoying talking to friends at a sailboat show.

But he is so much more.

Most cruising sailors probably don't know who this is - but anyone who loves the sport of sailboat racing does. This is Gary Jobson, the former president of US Sailing, the voice of sailboat racing for ESPN, editor at large for both Cruising World and Sailing World Magazines, accomplished author, public speaker and, quite possibly, the biggest advocate for sailing out there today. He was Ted Turners tactician for the victorious 1977 America's cup, has raced the Fastnet, and taken all sorts of titles in various sailboat races around the world. He has been inducted into the America's Cup hall of fame and even has a couple Emmy's on his mantel for his work in television production. As if that is not enough, he also happens to be a cancer survivor and the creator of the Leukemia Cup.  The man is unstoppable.

So, yeah, he's kind of a big deal. But meeting him you would NEVER know it which makes him even more awesome in my book.  He's your every day, super exceptional, guy next door.

We got to chat with him casually for a while at the show and, despite being tremendously busy with speaking engagements and writing his umpteenth book, he graciously agreed to a short online interview for our site. Here it is:

1) Your illustrious sailing career spans generations and you are, quite possibly, the most decorated and celebrated American sailor of this day and age. How did you get bitten by the sailing bug? Did you always have big sailing dreams and aspirations from a young age?

I first started sailing at the age of 6 in Toms River, NJ. For me it was just a summer activity until I turned 12. That was the defining time. I started sailing 12 months a year. I kept track of all my races. When I was 17, I became a sailing instructor. I’ve been promoting sailing ever since.

2) What is your greatest "take away" from sailing as a lifestyle and sport?

The great thing about sailing is you get to do it your entire life. The great rewards are all the places you visit and the people you get to know. Thanks to racing with highly accomplished people like Ted Turner, Walter Cronkite, Herbert Von Karajan and Sam Merrick, I’ve learned many life lessons that have been beneficial in my sailing career, business career and my family life.

3) You have had a tremendous amount of success in this sport and many opportunities have come your way; from racing with Ted Turner on Courageous for the 1977 America's Cup to winning an Emmy for your coverage of the 1988 Olympics... from becoming the "voice" of sailing with ESPN to getting inducted into the sailing hall of fame...the list goes on. Were you always ambitious about pursing these things (i.e. it has been said you have an entrepreneurial spirit), or did you sort of fall into one thing after another?

Today, looking back on my long career, I have to smile because one opportunity seemed to lead to the next opportunity but I did set goals and worked to achieve them.

4) Speaking of accomplishments - you are also a cancer survivor. What was the overwhelming driving force that lead you to fight and, once again, emerge victorious in the most significant "battle" in your life? Has surviving cancer changed your outlook on sailing and racing at all?

10 years have gone by since my cancer disappeared. It’s hard to believe I actually went through two years of treatment. At the time, I felt I had far more things to accomplish in life and did not want to give up. There are many ups and downs when you go through aggressive treatments but the most important message I can give to people is to keep fighting.

5) Of all the things you have done and accomplished - and the list is LONG - what are you most proud of?

My wife of 40 years, Janice, and I have three grown daughters all with Master degrees, each with a husband and two with their own children. Very cool!

6) To become as famous and successful as you have in this industry is not easy, was there a single moment in your career when you had to "pinch" yourself and thought "I have arrived!"? 

I think an important moment was being with Ted Turner on Courageous winning the America’s Cup. I realized that I would have many opportunities to pursue.

7) You are both a racing sailor and a cruising sailor - two VERY different things. Which do you prefer? Or does each fill it's own niche in your life?

Fundamentally I’m a racing sailing and I enjoyed racing at all levels. I didn’t start cruising until I was in my 40s. The interesting thing about cruising is that I still enjoy lots of hours sailing on the way to new destinations.

8) If you didn't have a career in sailing, what would you be doing?

Interesting question. I’m sure I would have been involved in some form of sports. I enjoy producing television programs and films because you start from scratch and try to make a topic interesting to viewers. Having said that, I really enjoy speaking to groups to try and get people interested in sailing. It’s very rewarding.

9) You have touched SO many lives and inspired SO many people, sailors and landlubbers alike. What inspires you?

Many people are passionate about sailing. Really it is the icing on the cake of life. I hope I have helped people to understand and appreciate the sport. I find it immensely gratifying when people say thank you. It inspires me to continue.

10) You are the father of three girls, two of whom are a set of twins - what one piece of advice can you give to Scott about becoming completely and hopelessly outnumbered by women?

The funny thing is we now have three son-in-laws and two grandsons so the ratio has gone from 4 to 1 to 6 to 4 in favor of the males.

Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Things Not to Say to a Woman Pregnant with Twins

I have been really lucky throughout this twin pregnancy, and I am incredibly grateful for this fact.  I have suffered no complications and I have only had only one super creepy encounter where a woman (possibly on drugs) wanted to accost my belly and rub it in a semi-sexual and really awkward way (for the record, I don't mind belly touching - but this woman was....creepy).  One thing I have not escaped, however, are the strange/weird/bizarre comments that strangers often make when they find out I am pregnant with twins.  I was warned this would happen by just about every twin mom I have spoken with, so I was prepared for it - but even still, I am sometimes shocked by the things people will say to a total stranger.  For fun and for my own personal records, I'd like to chronicle my favorites here...

With no further ado, here are ten things we twin moms-to-be would rather not hear you say if you run into us...Laugh with me, will you?  This is all in good fun.

1) Are they natural?  
I mentioned before that this is a pretty inappropriate question to ask a mom to be and I still am shocked when strangers have the balls to ask it.  Fertility treatments are a very personal thing and while some women might be okay talking about this with a total stranger, many are not.  Scott and I are very lucky in that our twins were "spontaneous" and conceived without assistance (I mean, we were living on a boat in the Caribbean) - but that doesn't make our girls any more natural than any other twin babies out there.

2) Were you trying for twins? that even possible?  I don't even know how to respond to this one but the answer is "no."  The more awkward cousin of this particular question is, "I've always wanted twins -what did you do to conceive them?" Hmmm.....

3) I don't know if you are blessed or cursed!  
This one came from a sweet old man and I felt bad that I kind of hated him for saying it to me.  I know he was trying to be funny - but making jokes at a pregnant woman's expense is risky business because our sense of humors tend to be pretty whacked out by hormones (remember, we have double the fun going on) and we're not always game for a chuckle.  Particularly if we are pregnant with twins and you liken those twins to a curse.

4)  Rather you than me!
I get this one a lot.  I know some people just don't know what to say sometimes and are trying to be funny but, again, pregnant women aren't exactly famous for their keen sense of humors.  Lots of twin moms suggest responding with something like "Yeah, apparently!" but I always just smile and walk away.

5) Three girls?!  Poor, poor you!  
If you are blessed with three of either sex, I feel your pain.  People like symmetry and balance and for some reason it's believed that the perfect family must have children of both sexes.  But, funnily enough, according to this article if you are going to have three children, families with three girls are more harmonious and happy than other combinations.  We rank #4 out of 12.  The happiest combo?  Two girls.  The worst?  Four girls.  Somehow we ended up just right.  Phew.

6) You plan to breastfeed?  Good luck with that! (sarcastic)  
This one bothers me the most because breastfeeding was something I really, really enjoyed with Isla and it is something that is very important to me.  Thankfully, I have talked to plenty of twin moms who have successfully breastfed twins, I have read books dedicated solely to techniques for breastfeeding twins and I have invested in supplies to make this transition as smooth as possible.  It CAN BE DONE so, please, check your sarcasm and negativity at the door.  My plan is to breastfeed both our girls and if it doesn't work out and I have to alter my plan, so be it - but try my darndest I will!

7) When will they section you?  
First of all, this just sounds gross.  Second, this might be news to you but not all twins are delivered by c-section.  While many multiple births do result in a c-section whether by choice or necessity, almost half are delivered the good old fashioned way.  It is our preference to deliver vaginally and my doctors have assured us that it is their preference as well and entirely possible as long as Baby A is presented vertex (which she is).  Of course, we are open to whatever delivery method ensures healthy babies - but to assume a woman is going to have a c-section just because she is having twins is incorrect.

8) How much weight have you gained?  
Not okay.  Just don't. (For the record, I weigh more than Scott now though...groan.)

9) You sure seem to lay around a lot.  
This came from a man who was doing some work on my parents house for a couple of days.  If looks could kill, I'm pretty sure he would be dead.  Yes, I am laying around a lot (particularly when my toddler is napping).  I am days away from giving birth to TWO babies, thankyouverymuch.  I have approximately twelve pounds of placenta, fluid and human baby pressing my inner organs all over the place and causing significant discomfort in the general region from my ankles to my neck.  Many twin moms are put on strict bed rest at this point.  As someone who has enjoyed a 'singleton' pregnancy as well as a twin pregnancy, I can tell you the two are very, very different - and the latter is much more uncomfortable - especially at the end.  So please, give us a little break and let us take a load off without judgement.

10) So, when are you going to try for a boy?  
I have been asked this no fewer than one hundred times.  Yes, we will obviously be an estrogen-rich family and, newsflash!, they are not even here yet!  Give us a minute, would you?  While not all twin moms are getting two or three of the same sex, many complain that they are also asked about future children as well ("so you're done now, right?") and it can be pretty annoying.  For the record:  We are thrilled with three girls.  I could go on and on about why I think three girls is the perfect combination for us but I will spare you.  At this time we have absolutely NO plans to have any more children, particularly now that we know I am prone to "double drop" eggs and the likelihood of more twins is high.  I mean, can you imagine!?!

So there they are, my personal top ten.  Fellow twin moms, what are your favorites?  Feel free to share in the comments!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

On The Verge of Becoming a Family of Five...

Photo compliments of Bright Eye Photography
Just a little update to let you know what's going on over here... which is basically a whole lot of waiting for our baby girls to make their debut.  They could announce their arrival into this world any moment or day now.  Pretty nuts. And again, totally surreal.  Part of me feels like I'm going to stay pregnant forever and I have all the time in the world, but we all know that's not how it works.

Our twins are now considered "full term" at over thirty-seven weeks gestation which I am really, really happy about.  Not only does this milestone mean that the chances of NICU time are hugely reduced, but also that their lungs and other systems will be fully developed, the likelihood of successfully breastfeeding is greatly increased, we won't have to constantly adjust their ages to make up for their prematurity, and - the best part - they will, most likely, be able to come home from the hospital with us.  All wonderful things.  Of course there are no guarantees and when it comes to childbirth; you never really know how it will go and rarely does it go exactly according to plan.  But so far, everything is progressing as we wished and hoped and we are very grateful for it.  Our sweet babies are head down and ready to make their exit the 'old fashioned way' (knock on wood!), but it seems they are on "island time" like their big sister was (she came 10 days past her due date) and quite cozy in my belly.  I'm feeling good, still able to get out and about, and somehow have managed to escape many of the discomforts that are associated with twin pregnancy (varicose veins, swelling, high blood pressure, etc.) but simple things like putting on socks and shoes, getting into a car, and finding a comfy spot to sleep have become tasks that require an Olympic effort.  Not pretty.  

As excited as we are for the arrival of these little fish, there is a small part of me that is clinging to and will mourn the loss of our special little family of three.  These past few months, I have really been cognizant to savor my special time with Isla: cuddling her extra hard, observing her just a little more, mentally chronicling every new expression, phrase and milestone and, in general, relishing each and every moment with her.  She is, truly, joy personified and the light of our lives.  I think the person who is going to take our curtailed time together the hardest is me.  No doubt.

The past couple days she had a fever of over 102° and has been extra cuddly.  Because of the fever, she'd wake up crying around 4am, a maneuver that would typically warrant groans of exasperation from me, but this time, I chose to cherish the time with her.  When I'd go in to check on her she'd ask in the sweetest voice you ever did hear, "snuggle in mommy's bed?" and it was an absolute pleasure to cradle her little body, bring her back to my room and snuggle her back to sleep until the morning.  (Scott left our not-big-enough-for-the-four-of-us full bed a few weeks ago after my incessant tossing, turning and flopping became unbearable).  I'm taking stock of each and every precious moment right now before things get nutso up in here and even though I have an amazing husband and an awesome grandma who are more than happy to get up with her to let me sleep in, I still want to be the first person to see her in the morning.  I still get excited to see her face at the start of each and every day.

You might also notice that the blog looks different.  I have been scrambling to unroll these changes before the babies arrive and I am so happy with how it turned out.  There are still many more changes to come, but the gist is here.  I think the new design will be easier to navigate and help to encompass this next stage of our lives.  For the record, this WILL be a baby blog in part from here on out.  Of course we still plan to get back to cruising and as long as it is relevant, I will absolutely write about sailing and boating and all that good stuff but our "adventures" in parenting will no doubt be written about as well.  We are embracing this next chapter and we hope you will too, but if not - you have been warned.

We'll keep you posted on the baby front, it will almost certainly be announced on our Facebook Page first (much easier to update) so be sure to keep an eye on us over there if you are interested.  In the meantime, we wait... any time now!!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I've Got the Whole World in my Hands

I must admit, it feels pretty strange to be a human ticking time bomb.  I don't remember feeling this way with Isla, but this pregnancy definitely has a sense of weighted anticipation to it.  Tomorrow I will be 37 weeks, which is considered "full term" for  twins.  I carried Isla for almost 42 weeks, so babies tend to like cozying up in my womb which leads me to believe I could go another week or more, but it's anyone's guess really.  It's totally surreal arriving at this juncture and, believe it or not, I still have not actually grasped the reality that we are having twins.  Yes, even despite this gargantuan belly which is threatening to take on it's own zip code.

What I have grasped, however, is the fact that this is my last pregnancy and as such, I want to document and savor it as best I can.  I have been taking weekly photos of my growing "bump" (a gross understatement at this point) and my sister in law took lovely professional belly photos for me last week, which was really important to me.  I am soaking up this pregnancy photographically because the memory only retains so much, though it is hard to believe I will ever forget how large my belly has become, how uncomfortable I get in the evening hours and the distinct feeling of a baby head lodging itself in my pelvic area, among other things.  Ouch.

One thing I really wanted to do but hadn't gotten around to was having my pregnant belly painted.  I kept meaning to order a Belly Painting Kit but all my other projects (nesting and otherwise) took priority and I had decided against it by default due to time (or lack thereof).  So when I got an incredibly generous care package from Hoise Naturals chalk full of natural and organic pre and post natal lotions and potions for both mom and baby and it just so happened to include a belly painting kit, I figured it was time for Scott to discover his inner Van Gogh and get his paint on.

I can't say he was exactly thrilled about the prospect of painting my belly, but once he started and found that he actually had a talent for belly painting (!?!)--well--let's just say he got into it.  Like...really into it. "Okay, let's do a photo shoot now...but then I want to add a black outline."  After the outline, he'd consult globe images on the web and say, "Okay...let's add some color and contour to the land." And it went on and on.  He went so far as to use a slightly modified toothpick to add some "finer" details to the land masses.  The man is nothing if not a perfectionist.  He is, in fact, editing the GoPro film he made of the whole process as I type.  I must admit, I knew he would do a good job (that's just how he is) - but I had no idea how good!  I am thrilled with the final result and subsequent photos and I think it's so nice we have this fun little memory of this incredible moment in our lives.

Big THANK YOU to Hosie Naturals for the belly painting kit and ALL our amazing goodies!

Photo by my sister in law, Stephanie, of Bright Eye Photography
I received my belly painting kit as a gift from Hosie Naturals along with a host of other amazing products from massage oil to baby butt balm (including my personal favorite, the belly butter - so far no stretch marks!), all made with organic, non-toxic and natural ingredients. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Send A Custom, Personalized Postcard with Lettr

A picture I took at Petit Tabac in the Tobago Cays.
What if you could take a selfie in front of the Taj Mahal and turn it into a postcard an hour later?  What if you could send that postcard from the comfort of your favorite wifi hotspot or internet cafe without ever having to go to a post office?  Furthermore, what if that postcard could be signed by you and arrive at the intended destination in about three days time?  Wouldn't that be awesome?  I can't tell you how many postcards I have sent from exotic locations that never met their intended recipient for one reason or another. Enter: Lettr.

We get a lot of emails from companies that want us to promote their stuff. I have said before that we are very selective about this, turning down probably 98% of these offers, regardless of financial gain. But every now and then a company or product graces my inbox and I think "now that is an awesome idea" and I get really excited to share it with you guys.  And if I get really excited about sharing something with you all, I know that I'm doing the right thing.

Such was the case when we were contacted by Lettr, an innovative postcard company that is making it their mission to bring more than bills and catalogues to the mailboxes of people all over the world.  No need for a pen, no need for paper -- just upload a photo, type a message and they'll take care of the rest.

I created and uploaded the photo above to test it out (and send myself a little bit of sunshine) and five days later*, this is what arrived in the mail:
Pretty neat, right?  The blurred out section at the bottom is actually a map with a pin on the location where the postcard was sent.  A nice little touch.  The postcard is just like any other postcard in size, stock and feel - but even better, because it's totally personal and a one of a kind.

The whole process to create the card took about 10 minutes, and that's only because I got creative.  Here's how it works:


First, I did a little photo editing to my image, adding a border and some text.  You don't have to get as creative as I did - you can simply upload a photo.  Or you can get really creative and add all sorts of bells and whistles using your favorite photo editor like Photoshop, Pixlemator, Lightroom ...etc (Lettr has no photo editing tools built-in, fyi). It's up to you.  When the image was ready, upload it to the site.


Next, write a nice note, virtually sign the postcard (not going to lie, that part is a little tricky with a mouse and cursor, but better than nothing!) and fill out the recipient's mailing address.


Pay $1.99 via PayPal or credit card, click "mail postcard" and your original postcard in on the way to brighten someones day!

Simple, easy and fun. A pretty good recipe if you ask me. There are so many ways you could use this service, whether you are a roving gypsy or a homebody; you could send an uplifting picture with a nice quote to someone who needs a pick me up, a photo kiss to a long-distance loved one, a funny picture to your grandkids, or just a nice scenic snapshot from your travels - the possibilities are really endless.

* The time took longer this week due to the high demand of Valentines Day.  Typical turn-around time is 3-4 days.

Full disclosure: I received a free postcard code to send one to myself to test out the product and service and we are affiliates of Lettr.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Does a Printer Have a Place on a Cruising Boat?

One piece of advice I heard way back when we were prepping to cruise was to have a small printer on board.  At first, I was pretty certain this would be unnecessary, I mean -- a printer?!  On a boat?  I couldn't see the logic.  When you are getting ready to shove off you will undoubtedly read and hear a ton of advice on what you should bring and what you should not from other cruisers, on forums, and in books and blogs.  It's very difficult to weed through all these well-meaning recommendations, and it's important to remember that they are all opinions (including those you read on this blog - see our disclaimer) and should be taken as such.  There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to outfitting your boat.  The advice comes at a price, though, and many newbies (us included) end up leaving the dock with FAR more gear, food and provisions than they really need.

That said -- I have found that a printer does have a place on a cruising boat.  We ended up finding a tiny compact printer on mega sale at a local Best Buy in Florida and I bought it just in case. The Canon PIXMA iP100 Mobile Printer is small, light, user-friendly and - even better - easy to store.  The printer itself has a footprint smaller than a Macbook, and it takes only moments to deploy.  While I would not go so far as to say a printer is an "essential" piece of kit for a cruising boat -- it did come in handy on plenty of occasions and was certainly nice to have.  Another "perk" of this particular printer is that it can also be battery operated (with purchase of rechargeable battery) so there's no need to invert or run the generator if you want to print something.  If possible, we buy either DC powered or battery operated appliances when and where we can to save on energy expenditure.

As far as storage goes, I have been singing the praise of using airtight bins for everything from spice packets to spare linens since the beginning, and the storage of our little printer is no different.  Moisture and leaks can be a real issue on a cruising boat in the Caribbean (luckily we never had a problem with this, but even still...) so keeping things protected will lengthen their lives considerably, not to mention keep things organized and safe from banging around when things get...lively.  Our little printer fit perfectly into a watertight bin only slightly bigger than a shoebox, which slid nicely into a small storage compartment behind our settee.  It still looks brand new and hasn't succumbed to the humid tropical air in over two years.  Some people have an issue with cartridges drying out if the printer isn't used for a while, but we never found this to be an issue, probably due to the airtight storage.  Aside from the printer itself, our bin held  2-3 spare ink cartridges (still in their plastic wrap to prevent drying out), as well as all the chords, printer manuals and a stack of printing paper.  If we wanted to print something out, we grabbed the bin and it was all there.  Easy peasey.

So what can you use a printer for on a boat? Lots of things:
  • Printing out customs documents ahead of time
  • Printing our important emails
  • Printing photos (don't forget to buy the photo paper)
  • Printing complex instructions for servicing/fixing parts
  • Printing out to-do lists (this is probably what I used it the most for)
  • Printing out boat cards
  • Instructions for people who are boat sitting
  • SOP's (like VHF radio etiquette, offshore pre-departure checklist, etc)
Some people recommend having a printer that has a built-in scanner as well, but with iPhones and digital cameras, it's fairly easy to take a photo of something and then print that out - so we didn't find a scanner necessary, but it might have come in handy.  Just something to think about.

Speaking of documents, the other thing that we found to be HUGELY useful and beneficial is the fact that we had owner/operating manuals and spare parts lists for just about every system on our boat -- from the cabin fans to the generator -- organized and labeled in plastic sleeves kept in three ring binders in our nav station.  We have five binders on board ('On Deck Systems', 'Mechanical Systems', 'Appliances', 'Engine' and 'Personal Docs') full of all this information and it came in handy a ton.  While internet is becoming pretty ubiquitous in the Caribbean, there are plenty of times you will find yourself without it and if something breaks in a time and place when you can't summon Google, you will be very happy to have the necessary service/trouble shooting manuals on hand.

Other documents which should be kept aboard:
  • Color copies of all passports
  • Copies of all credit cards
  • Copies of boat documentation
  • Boat insurance information
  • Radio licenses (if applicable)
  • Marriage license (if applicable)
Do you have a printer on board?  What do you use it for and what other documents do you find useful to have on hand?  Please share in the comments!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hard Work vs. Working Hard

"Wow, that's going to be really hard."  These are words we hear a lot lately.  When I tell inquiring minds that we are expecting twins, this is what they say (among other things).  When I tell people that I plan to breastfeed said twins, this is their response (followed by, "It's okay to formula feed, you know.")  When I disclose that they are, in fact, two more girls and we already have an almost 2 year old big sis at home, they shake their heads and tell us, "Good luck," (punctuated by a conciliatory, "Rather you than me.") And when I tell people that, yes, we do plan to return to our boat and resume the life aquatic with all three of our girls in tow, they shoot me an incredulous look and exclaim, "That is going to be really hard."

As if we don't know that.

I understand where these comments are coming from and I don't begrudge the countless people who have uttered these words to us.  Heck, I'm sure I've even said them to someone before - many times in fact.  But after hearing this phrase ad nauseum and having lots of time to sit and ponder (what with the polar vortex and all) I have started to really think about what it means when people say this and why it always makes me a little uneasy.  And I have come to the conclusion that when people are telling us that XYZ is going to be "really hard work", what it feels like they are saying is: you should probably re-think that plan.

Lucky for me, I am the type of person who is fueled, and not dissuaded, by this sort of response.  When people tell me something can't be done, or something will be "really hard", the drive within me doesn't waver at all.  In fact, quite the opposite:  the more someone tells me I can't, the more I actually believe that I can.  I'm not sure if this is the result of my natural competitive drive or a side-effect of parents who made me believe I could do anything, but when someone puts a wall up in front of me, intentionally or not, I see it as nothing more than a challenge to overcome.  I guess I should thank all the skeptics because, let's face it, nothing is more pleasurable than doing something successfully after people say you can't.

The fact of the matter is that the last three years of our life has been anything but conventional and, truth be told, we are no strangers to people telling us that what we are doing is going to be "hard".  Almost every juncture of this journey has been met with skepticism.  Refit a boat?  Insanity.  Plan a wedding AND refit a boat?  Have fun.  Quit our jobs, take off on a boat without a real financial plan and just head south?  Nuts.  Sail out to the ocean without any prior ocean experience?  Better think twice.  Stay on the boat while pregnant?  Good luck with that.  Sell your boat in this market?  Impossible.  Raise a baby on a boat?  Preposterous.  Sail offshore with a toddler?  Stupid. Cruise while pregnant with twins?  Unthinkable.  You get the gist.  So, yeah, we're no strangers to this.  Every single step of the way we we have been told that what we were going to do was "really hard" (or crazy, or irresponsible, or insane...etc) and yet, we did it.  All of it.

What strikes me most though, is that this is a country that really values "hard work" but it seems as if most of the people who tell us that what we plan to do is going to be "hard work", are not putting value on our work at all (and, yes, all of the above took a tremendous amount of good, old fashioned "work").  It seems that they are trying to actually dissuade us from working hard to do what we want to do, which leads me to believe that all work is not created equal.

If you work hard to get a degree, score a high-paying job and/or buy a nice home - your work is praised and you are considered a good, productive member of society.  If, on the other hand, you work hard to follow your dreams, do something unconventional or attempt something that might seem extreme to others - the work is more often than not, undervalued.  Why is this?  I don't have the answer but it is interesting to think about.

It's a knee jerk reaction to say "wow, that'll be really hard" when someone tells you how they are going to do something that you might perceive as unnecessarily difficult, risky or maybe even impossible, but it's not helpful at all.  There's a difference between "keeping it real" and being subversive.  I write all the time that following dreams is not easy, that the cruising life is no walk in the park, that living on a boat full time is not for the faint of heart - but almost always, I frame it in a way that shows it can be done (and is very rewarding) but that, yes, it's going to take a little blood, sweat, and tears to get there.  There is a difference.

I propose that we all try to take a moment before we blindly tell someone that their choice is going to be "really hard work" (particularly if we have zero experience with whatever it is they are proposing) and, instead, respond with something along the lines of "Wow, I'll bet that will be hard work, but SO rewarding." Doesn't that sound so much nicer?  I think so.

I know that we're in for a major "about face" in our lives, I know that our future plans will have some growing pains and, believe me, I know that this next chapter in our lives will not be "easy" and might require some tweaking. We are not disillusioned (have I mentioned that I have read eighteen books on twin rearing?!) but we are up for the challenges, just like we always are. We have goals, we have plans and we are making choices to see those come to fruition.  We're not sure what the future holds, but we're going to steer this ship as best we can and change tacks if and when necessary.  We've got our work cut out for us and it's going to be hard work - but nothing worth doing is ever easy, right?

Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.

Gail Devers

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Cabin Fever

Angel face - she radiates sweetness!
Well, it was bound to happen.  Despite popping 2000 IU's of vitamin D a day (sunshine in pill form, if you will), and despite recording all the episodes of "Modern Family" that our DVR can handle (good for laughs), and despite having the privilege to spend my days with the most joyful and amazing little person I could ever hope to imagine (it's almost impossible to be unhappy around her)...despite these things:  I have officially succumbed to cabin fever.

To be fair, I think that I have weathered this season pretty well considering I literally came from the tropics and landed in "Chiberia" during what is, quite possibly, the worst winter this area has seen in my lifetime.  Up until yesterday I rarely complained about the weather.  I tried really hard to keep a positive outlook and focus on the fact that "this is for the best" (because it is).  But the sub zero temperatures, the seemingly endless barrage of winter storms and snow, and the fact that the final weeks of growing and carrying two babies at once can really take a toll on a woman both physically and emotionally have gotten to me.  I am grouchy, moody, weepy and irritable.

While I do seem to be spending the bulk of my days parked on the couch barely able to muster the energy to make a sandwich, let alone run errands and get out of the house, I have been productive.  I've been working with an illustrator on a blog re-design which will encapsulate and reflect the changes in our family and allow me to expand my writing focus.  I have also been diligently working on an article that will hopefully be showing up in a sailing magazine in the near future (more on that when it's official). Working on these projects has given me focus and purpose, something that I desperately need in my life to feel fulfilled, but my lack of presence on this blog has gotten me in a funk.  Writing is essential to my happiness but with my energy stores at a bare minimum (sleeping comfortably these days has proven...challenging), finding the motivation to actually write in this space is hard.  I have lots of posts written in my head so they are bound to come out eventually, but it's taken me longer than I would like.  So instead, I dig into colorful bowls of rainbow sherbert and retreat into book #18 on twin rearing (no joke, it's getting ridiculous).

But enough of that, there is happy news too.  I have now reached 35 weeks in this pregnancy- no small feat when carrying twins - and I have reached this mile-marker while managing to avoid any complications whatsoever (knocking on wood).  I feel incredibly lucky, especially after reading and hearing so many stories about twin pregnancies that didn't bode as well.  I am still hoping to carry these girls "full term" or beyond (technically this is 37 weeks with twins, as opposed to 40 with 'singletons') but we shall see what the Universe has in store for us.  So far, there are no signs pointing toward an early labor and apparently the fact that I almost carried Isla for 42 weeks is a good thing.  The girls are also head down, clocking in at 5 pounds 2 ounces each and looking great.  It seems that my wishes to avoid a c-section as well as NICU time might be a possibility.  We shall see.  I am remaining hopefully optimistic but open to whatever will ensure that our outcome is two healthy babies.

Speaking of the babies, we thought we had their names selected (several times in fact), but we keep oscillating and, again, I find myself buried deep within the black hole that is the internet searching and researching names and their meanings which can be incredibly frustrating - particularly if you have been doing it for months and months.  We knew Isla was going to be "Isla" (eye-la) long before she was born and not having a clue as to what these girls will be named has me on edge.  Nothing is screaming at us, and if something does stand out - it's only doing so to one of us.  We just can't agree.  Too many syllables, too weird, too normal, too foreign, too made-up, too matchy, to cliche, too this, too that...the list goes on...I feel like Goldilocks frantically looking for names that are "just right."

So that's where we're at right now.  I've got some good ideas for meatier posts on more interesting subjects, but they'll have to wait until I get the inspiration and motivation to write them.  In the meantime,  I'm going to pop another vitamin D and pretend I am somewhere sunny.

At least these two enjoy the snow!
A little different than being buried in sand, wouldn't you say?
Here I am at 34 weeks, haven't yet taken the 35 week shot - later today...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...