Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PLAN: Just Another Dirty Four Letter Word (but here's ours anyway)

The BVI's
I have alluded to many "plans" throughout this blog.  Some have come to fruition, some have not.  For most travelers (I don't believe this is limited to cruisers) plans are simply guidelines, something to aspire to so that we keep moving forward toward our goals.  It's nice to have plans - without them we are rudderless ships - but it is equally nice to be flexible with those plans because sometimes our greatest adventures happen when we allow ourselves the ability to "sail the wind we are in" so to speak.  Opportunity favors the bold, so it behoves us to take risks, live courageously and without fear.

So, we have a plan...

We're going back to the boat.  With three kids under three.

Bold? For sure. Insane?  Maybe.

Of course some of you will call us crazy/stupid/selfish...etc, but we think our "plan" is actually pretty good.  Heck, I'd even venture to call it a little conservative.  But then again, you're talking to a girl who moved to Tanzania, East Africa by herself when she was twenty-four.  Crazy and conservative are relative terms in my book.

But I digress...

Flights have been purchased for the entire family to fly down to the British Virgin Islands (BVI's) January 2015.  We have rented a condo at the boatyard where we will stay for two weeks while Scott recommissions s/v Asante.  My mom will be with us during that time (after this past winter, she is positively thrilled at the prospect of the tropics in January) so she will help me with the girls while Scott gets our boat ready to splash again.  Once the boat is a "go", we'll move aboard and spend the remainder of the season lazily cruising around the British Virgin Islands.  << This here, is the "conservative" part.

We are going to take baby steps.  After sailing with Isla for twenty months, we learned a thing or two about cruising with kids.  With her, it was pretty seamless and easy for us, but we also know that going from one to three kids is no joke (like, for joke).  We will be outnumbered and that alone ups the ante on the difficulty scale, not to mention the twin factor which pretty much puts that ante up into orbit.  Any parent of multiples will agree, twins are a completely different ball of wax.  So when we were making this "plan", we took stock of what we learned with Isla, and are omitting the aspects of kid cruising that were the most difficult, namely (in no particular order):  1) really long passages 2) overnight passages and 3) rough weather.  Obviously we cannot control the weather, but the BVI's are relatively easy peasy sailing; no passages longer than 4-6 hours, no need for any overnights, and relatively protected waters where rough seas and the need to watch the weather are significantly less than elsewhere.  In fact, it's kind of like sailing in a (really expensive and very crowded) bathtub.  Kind of.  

While this plan is in no way "fool proof" or a guarantee that this transition will be smooth sailing (pun intended), we think that this will give us a good shot at actually enjoying ourselves on the boat instead of simply suffering through it.  With this plan we have options... If we find that we have a good handle on things, we can be more "adventurous" and head to the US Virgins and even the Spanish Virgins and Puerto Rico.  If we discover that short day sails are our max, in the BVI's we will stay.  Our girls will still benefit from the same gifts that a life aboard gave their big sister (intense family time, living with less, majority of wake time outside in nature...etc), but without the stress of passage making, overnights and rough sails.

"But you will be outnumbered!" you say.  Yes.  We will.  But what I have learned thus far with three kids is the fact that if you have two adults on duty, it's totally manageable.  While I can handle all three kids by myself (it is not easy, mind you, but do-able) - it is so much better with another adult so we can 'divide and conquer'.  The fact that Scott and I will be full-time parents while on the boat is exactly what makes this plan viable, which brings me to the next part...

For the foreseeable future, we plan to cruise only part-time meaning that when hurricane season comes around, we will return to the states.  There are several reasons for this:  1) our families are here and we want to see more of them 2) sitting more or less idle during hurricane season was never very fun for us 3) summertime in Chicago is amazing and...oh yeah...4) someone needs to work, and at the time being while I am basking in babies, that person is Scott.

While the captain's gig with Island Windjammers worked out great for us in the past, it is just not realistic for Scott to leave me for a month at a time alone on the boat with three kids under three while he honor his rotation.  Being a single boat mom to one child was totally do-able, but three babies?  No thank you.  So we are putting our ducks in a row so that we can come home and make money during the summers and then cruise/travel as a complete family unit during the winters.  

So there you have it.  The "plan" as it exists right now.  Obviously all of this is subject to change and there are lots of things to figure out (namely our sleeping arrangement for a family of five in a two cabin boat), but for now it feels really good to know we will be heading south for the winter.  It's all about baby steps over here, in so many ways.

>>>>Below are some pics of our last time in the BVIs when Isla was about 13 months <<<<

There are actually PARKS for kids in the BVI's (these are as rare as unicorns in the islands, fyi!)
Swimming off the back of the boat is always fun
There are LOTS of little ones in the BVI's too, which is a big plus (also note: tropical slushy rum drink in mom's hand) 
Dinghy rides! 
Cane Garden Bay was one of our favorites 
Swimming in the bubbly pool
Boat baby :) 
Exploring the Baths
Leary of a squall on the horizon

Friday, July 18, 2014

106th Chicago to Mackinac Race

Today marks the start of the 106th annual Chicago to Mackinac race.  Well, for the cruising division anyway.  Race boats start tomorrow.  It's a little bitter-sweet for me since I will not be partaking as I have in years past.  This race is always a highlight of summer for us "pond sailors" and it was during contemplative night watches of previous Mac's where I began to dream and scheme in earnest about a life afloat, not to mention it was during the '07 race when Scott and I first met.  Alas, breast pumps have no place on race boats so I'll be sitting this one out.  Scott, lucky fellow, gets a well deserved break from this estrogen-rich household and is very much looking forward to being surrounded by only men for a few days.  Can't say I blame him although I shudder to think what that head (aka. toilet) will look like after three or four days of ten men aboard.  Blech.  No thank you.

The "plan" was for me and the girls to drive up to the island to meet them on Sunday at which point Scott and I would take the helm and cruise for a week or so in Northern Michigan.  However, after pouring over the logistics of getting three babies up to the island and where we would end up with the boat and how we would return from the trip were mind boggling, and - let's be honest - driving in an SUV with three children under three for eight-plus hours has got to be a legitimate form of torture.  So, instead, my mom and dad will sail their boat back to Chicago (or thereabouts) and Scott, the girls and I will hop aboard for a week long cruise down in the lower latitudes of the lake.  Less driving, fewer logistical hiccups. Win/win.


Today also marks my handsome hubby's 38th birthday and there is nothing that he deserves more than to enjoy a weekend of straight-up sailing (pretty much his favorite thing) sans babies.  We'll miss him so much but he has earned a break from the mayhem of twinfants and the tall task of being super dad! Scott will be racing on my father's boat with my brothers and eight others.  If you are interested in tracking their progress, feel free to do so here.  The boat's name is "Lancashire Lass".

Fair winds and following seas guys! Sail fast and have fun!
My handsome hubby in his element.
*Above photos taken by Andy Jury

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Family Sail

Not going to lie, three kids under three kind of puts a damper on spontaneity.  It's not that easy to go anywhere or do anything on a whim these days.  There are nap times to consider, diapers to change, feedings to be had, bedtimes to honor and about a million other things thrown into the mix.  So when Scott suddenly said, "Let's go sailing" this last Sunday morning after no forethought or planning on our part, my knee jerk reaction was to reply with a, "you're joking, right?"  But he wasn't and I didn't and we learned the important lesson that we've still got some "get up and go" left in us.

It was a gorgeous day, the wind was steady out of the west, the seas were flat and the sun was warm and high.  We travel pretty light for a family of five (at least we strive to) so we packed up some lunch, my new favorite light weight baby carriers, a diaper bag of reinforcements and off we went.  No toys, no bells, no whistles.  Just us and the kids.  It was an awesome day on the water and it completely made it clear that we can absolutely sail as a family of five and still enjoy it.  Our good friend AJ came with (you might remember him from the delivery from Georgetown to Tortola) and the six of us delighted in the kind of Chicago day that makes living here during this past winter totally worth it.

Isla was completely content and busied herself happily with the boat while she sang her impressive repertoire of songs.  She is a self-entertaining champion and an awesome little sailing companion.  The twins napped in the slings and when they weren't sleeping they were giggling and cooing in the pilot berth.  They have salt in their veins and, being Pisces, love the water and outdoors.  It was a dream come true and the kind of day you store in your memory bank under "extra special" to recall on the days that don't go so well so that you can maintain perspective and sanity.  It was fantastic.  I am seriously more excited than ever to get back down island aboard Asante.  More on this in a later post (spoiler alert: plane tickets have been purchased).  For now, here are some pics of the beautiful day aboard my dad's boat*.

*After my last post about sailing on my dad's boat, several of you inquired as to what sort of boat it was.  It is a custom built Kanter 47.  As my dad always says, "Britt, there is no such thing as the perfect boat....except the one you build for yourself". She's a beaut.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Letters from the Twin Trenches: 4 Months In

Back story to our "Letters from the Twin Trenches" series...When we were in the BVI's we met up with some blog followers.  They were young, fun and we enjoyed hanging out with them (and the left over provisions they gave us from their charter when they flew home the next day).  Fast forward to months later when I announced our twin pregnancy on the blog...  Imagine my surprise when I got an email from Kimberly telling me that she, too, was pregnant with twins and only a week ahead of me.  "Must have been something in those painkillers!" she wrote... And so began a pretty incredible and prolific E-pal friendship chronicling our respective pregnancies and birth stories that continues to this day.  Her beautiful fraternal twin girls were born (full term) two weeks before ours and I have to tell you, sharing our (eerily similar) journeys via email has been very cathartic for me.  Solidarity.  If there is one thing you need as a parent of twins it's community.  We need to know we are not alone when it seems our sanity is teetering on the brink, which it will do from time to time when there are two newborns in the house.  Particularly if those newborns are screaming in unison.  These are some letters to her...they tell it like it is.  The good, the bad, the ugly...

July 10, 2014

Hey there mama.

Picture this:  me, at the computer, glasses all crooked and smudged, hair akin to a rat's nest, yesterdays breast-milk stained tank top on, cold coffee (cup #3) at my side and eyes that have bags under them the size of texas.  I haven't showered in two days.  My teeth are still unbrushed and it is noon.

It's been that kind of week.

Last week I didn't write back because it was all peaches and cream over here.  Girls napping in 1.5 hour stretches, night sleeps lasting 6-8 hours, bedtime happening before 7pm.  It was too good to be true and I didn't want to jinx it or - worse - gloat about my twin triumphs if you were still struggling.  Plus, I know better than to count on the good days because we both know that there is always a twinado on the horizon, just waiting to throw our worlds into a tailspin.

Man, I get a little dramatic when I am sleep deprived, don't I? (face palm)

So, the good news is the girls turned 4 months and are both doing awesome.  Growing well.  Haven is tracking like a 5 month old (trying to stand, crawl, super strong...etc) and Mira is tracking like a normal  4 month old (rolling over, holding head up during tummy time...etc) and even jumped up from the 12th to the 20th percentile!! Whoot whoot!! So that is all good stuff.  Both girls are all smiles these days as well, which is awesome too but....BUT....ever since that fateful 4 month appointment we have entered some sort of sleep regression where I am up every 1.5 - 2 hours with one or the other.  This translates into very little sleep of the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" variety.  They are back doing the grunting thing which, as you well know, is my version of fingernails on a chalk board.  When that grunting starts good grief, look out.  The gas is back.  Not sure what I have eaten this week to make them so uncomfortable but both of them are tooting MACHINES.  I am telling you, their farts could power a turbine engine.  Haven will escalate so quickly into cries - nay - SCREAMS of discomfort, which - of course - wake the whole house.  Two nights in a row my mom or Scott have come into the room terrified they would find me sticking her with a needle or beating the crap out of her - THAT is how loudly and intensely this child screams.  The only thing that will quiet her is the boob, though I do TRY to massage the gas out with only moderate success.  Then, just as I get her quiet and sleeping again, Mira will start to stir (thank god with no where *near* the intensity of her sister - I could not handle that cry in surround sound).  It is seriously like a joke and sometimes in the middle of the night I am moved to fits of maniacal laughter at the absurdity of it all.  Real life whack-a-mole.  I read some twin mom describe the first year with twins in this regard and it is SO true.  Throw a two year old in the mix and you have a recipe for absurdity fit for a Pinter play (sorry if you don't get the reference, I was in theater). Whack. A. Mole.  Just trying to stay on top of it all is a full-time job.  #captainobvious  My mother's helper, Linda, is a god-send and I honestly don't know what I would do without her.  She is SUCH a big help.  We divide and conquer.

Okay, enough of the woe is me crap, hopefully whatever I ate that is causing this will get out of my system and I can go back to sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time again...but for now, we wait...

I'm so happy you discovered a car trick!!! Windows down does it, eh?  We have not taken them on a ride in the car for anything more than a pediatrician appointment as of late (last 45 minute trip into the city just about did me and my mom in) but when we do, I will try that. Once, on the way back from a wedding when they were screaming in unison, Scott, Isla and I discovered we could *kind of* quiet them if we all just pretended to cry too. "Can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. Haha.  I like the window trick better!  And, again, mad props to you for getting out on the boat with those little fish.  Seriously, that is some kind of crazy (and all sorts of awesome) that they sleep better on the boat than at home.  We've never overnighted on a boat with ours, but one day.  Soon (more on this...BVI tickets are booked!).  

Scott is doing the Mac Race next week with my dad (and others), which makes me insanely jealous.  The "plan" was to drive up to the Island with all the girls but we thought a little more on that and decided against it because - honestly - it sounded like a logistical nightmare and driving 8 hours with three babies terrifies me. Sailing with them doesn't bother me in the least, but a car trip?  Fuhgetaboutit. So we are going to cruise my dad's boat later (some time in August) from Chicago to Southwest Michigan (my fave) where we will only have to drive for 45 minutes with them to get to the boat ;)  BIIIIIIIG difference and potential sanity-saver.

Okay, gotta run.  I am going to *try* for a blog post today, but I might just step outside and enjoy the sun.  We will see!  Hope things are going well in your camp.  Sending wishes for long sleep stretches and fewer crying outbursts.  Speaking of, how is Annelise doing (she was the one who was crying so much she was choking, right?)  Any news on that?  And how is you mom doing in the daytimes with them while you are working?  Does she find it crazy challenging or has she taken to it like a duck to water?



PS.  Not sure if you saw the mom of twelve (TWELVE!?!?!) who recently posted in the twin forum we are in, but her twins were her second to last kids and she said that NOTHING could have prepared her for the challenge of two at once.  Nothing. She had NINE kids before them.  #validation #twinsarenojoke

Enjoy this series? Check out my other posts: 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Thoughts on Land-Life, "Re-Entry" and Adaptability

We have been landlubbers now for eight months.  Eight months.  Two hundred and forty-four days ago we packed up our boat and moved back stateside to await the birth of our twins. Time flies when you're havin' babies (yes, plural).  I realize I am pointing out the blatantly obvious when I say that the cruising community is pretty impermanent.  Most people do not cruise indefinitely and many have very distinct dates for their sailing sabbaticals, be it a year or more.  The point is:  the life aquatic, for the vast majority, comes to an end for one reason or another and people move back to (dun-dun-dun): land.  This is often referred to as "re-entry".  For some, this is an incredibly difficult time fraught with feelings of displacement, sadness and confusion, for others - it's time to...well... yuck it up, refill the kitty and enjoy the many perks that land affords. have we 'adjusted' to life as landlubbers?

Pretty seamlessly, thankyouverymuch.  I mean, this is land we're talking about, not prison.  There are as many benefits/advantages/plusses to a life ashore as there are a life afloat - they are just different.  It's all about perspective and how well you adapt to the situation at hand.  It doesn't hurt that we have some pretty incredible friends and family around us as well...

Scott and I have both been fairly transient in our lives from relatively young ages.  We are pretty adaptable.  I'm not sure if this attribute is the result of or the reason for our wayward tendencies - but I have learned that adaptability might be the single-most important trait for the gypsy soul, and maybe even life in general.  After all, it was Charles Darwin, the foremost authority on adaptability, who declared: "It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change".  He was right.  The ability to become accustomed to new conditions is not only helpful when traveling, but also when coming home....and, come to think of it, when getting married, starting a new job, moving house, and - er - having twins, to name a few.

I must admit, by no means has this transition to "landlubber" (and, more specifically) "mom of three" been effortless and smooth.  There is a very, very large part of me that longs for the cruising life again and when I scroll through my photos of the last few years (man did I take some awesome pictures!) I am overcome with nostalgia.  On the "mom" front, I have had my fair share of mini meltdowns (and one big one that might possibly have shared a spot with "mental breakdown" in the ven diagram of emotional health) as the result of going from one child to three over night.  But I also strive to enjoy the here and now.  And the here and now is pretty dang good.  We are surrounded by family and friends, it's summertime, and we're taking advantage and enjoying all the "perks" (of which there are many) that land life affords.  We've enjoyed going out to eat with friends and spent quality time with loved ones. We've basked in modern conveniences like refrigeration, an endless supply of running water, stand up showers, well-appointed grocery stores, take-out food, comfy beds and the luxury of having a vehicle at our disposal.  We've gone to concerts, gotten good and quaffed at tailgates and barbecues, and lounged pool side.  All of these things have made life pretty grand for the time being, and having lived without many of these conveniences, we have a marked appreciation for them.  (Particularly the DVR and ability to catch up on our favorite show Modern Family.)

More than anything, however, being home has been a necessity thanks to operation "family supersize", and big changes are sometimes more palatable when you don't really have much of a choice.

The past four months since the twins' birth, while wonderful, have not been without difficulty.  The sleepless nights, the frustration, the exhaustion, the non-stop "I-don't-sit-down-all-day-and-don't-brush-my-teeth-until-evening" reality that is three children under the age of three have been... rough.  I cannot even IMAGINE how we would have survived the "twin trenches" on a boat without any help.  I'm sure it would have been possible, but not pleasant.  Nope.  Being home has been fantastic in this regard, and I for one greatly appreciate this time immensely (namely: my mother, have I mentioned she is a saint?)

This hiatus has also afforded Scott the time to indulge in his passion of real estate, and in a matter of weeks after returning home he got his license and was up and running like a regular Phil Dunphy.  He's got several active listings, a property that he is going to "flip" and we even have a rental on our radar so (fingers crossed) we'll be heading back to the boat with a little cash in the kitty.  And Isla?  Little Miss Isla is thriving.  She loves her friends, the parks, the museums, the play dates, exploring in the backyard, walks with grandma, mornings with grandpa...She hasn't missed a beat.  Kids wrote the book on adaptability and she is no exception.

Of course I miss the boat.  Of course I miss cruising.  But I know that living in the past prohibits us from moving toward a future.  When I look at pictures of our friends who are still "out there", I don't feel the least bit jealous or envious (well, okay, these guys make me a *little* jealous) because having lived the life of a cruiser,  I also know that there is a flip side to those images and it's not all palm trees and beautiful beaches out there.  Not to mention the thought of sailing through a squall/doing boat work/provisioning ashore/fixing broken stuff/sweating in the hot summer sun without AC...etc. with three babies right now does NOT sound appealing.

So, while we haven't put down any roots, we'll enjoy the view from our happy little nook in suburbia for a while longer.  Now that we have re-entered and adapted (and summer has arrived), it's not so bad.  In fact, it's downright enjoyable.  Change is good, for now.

The sea can wait, at least until winter returns ;).
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...