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Posted on Aug 2, 2012 | 0 comments

How-To: Inform the Fam

Dan’s mom, Shelly, and Carter at the pumpkin farm last year.

Step 1: Put a big sign in front of your house that says it is for sale.
Step 2: Wait for your family to freak out.

Okay, this is exactly what we didn’t do and hopefully anyone reading this blog will try to avoid this approach as well.  We were not looking forward to telling Grandma and Grandpa that their adorable grandson would soon be living on a boat out of easy cuddle range, however we decided that it would be very unfair to put our house up for sale without letting them know first.

Let me just insert a little history here to help everyone understand why we were hesitant to tell our parents. First of all, we have a very good relationship with Dan’s parents. They live only a few blocks from us, which means that we see them a lot. It will be a major change for us (and them) to not see each other basically every day. Secondly, sailing off on a boat is not the first time that we have told our families that we are moving somewhere else, but it will be the first time that we actually do it. We wanted to make sure that we were far enough along in the planning and preparation that we would be taken seriously, as well as have as many answers to their questions as possible. Finally, over the last year we have been trying to prepare them for the idea of cruising by talking a lot about sailing and other people that we have met who are currently cruising.

To be honest, I think our general preparation worked to make the idea sound feasible, but I’m not sure that we overcame the obstacle of being taken seriously. We told Dan’s parents at dinner at Cracker Barrel (his mom’s favorite restaurant, mine less so) that we were putting our house up for sale in August and that we planned to move to Florida as soon as possible to find a boat to live on. And then…nothing happened. It was extremely anticlimactic. Eventually they did ask some of the basic questions like “What about pirates?” and “How do you make sure Carter doesn’t fall in?”, but the overall mood was so subdued I almost wished someone would cry or yell or something. It felt like being a kid again…

“Hey mom! I’m going to be an astronaut when I grow up!”
“That’s great, honey, now wash your hands for dinner.”

Since that day, a week and a half ago, there still hasn’t been much reaction. Things have been mentioned in an off-hand kind of way, but no more questions or concerns have been voiced. I have a feeling that may change once we are actually leaving, but for now I just don’t think that it is real to them yet.

Note: some of you may have noticed the lack of information on my family’s reaction to the news. That’s because we would like to tell them in person, but we haven’t been able to get up to Chicago to talk to them about it yet.

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Posted on May 16, 2012 | 0 comments

Brotherly Love

It turns out Kyle is as crazy as we are.

I’ve talked about my brother Kyle previously when discussing various sailing adventures as well as my SCUBA progress… What I haven’t talked about are his and Becca’s (his wife) plans and dreams. I’m not going to try and articulate their dreams… no one could except them. Suffice it to say that they are planning on joining us in casting off and following our cruising dream. On their own boat, of course.

Kyle was the first person other than Michele that I discussed my crazy idea with. We were extremely excited about our newly hatched plans… almost giddy. Each time we researched cruising we became more convinced. We needed an outside opinion (We’ve since met with our friends Scott and Brittany from Windtraveler for one). Before approaching Kyle, I expected to meet resistance and a multitude of reasons why following my dream was impossible. Amazingly, I found nothing but support. Well… support and mutual interest. He began to express many of the same sentiments that Michele and I have about materialism, time freedom, and life in general.

I am not going to talk about the whys, the hows, whens, etc of Kyle and Becca’s plans… their story is their own. They have become part of Michele and I’s story in some ways, however. It is a huge comfort to know that we will be sailing with people we can implicitly, and without hesitation, trust. Not only will we have double the amount of spare parts, dinghies, tools, etc but we will have partners to experience the wonders of cruising with. I am sure there will be times when we wonder “What are we doing here?” Thankfully, we will have Kyle and Becca nearby for support. One of the things I am most looking forward to is meeting new people and new cruising buddies while we are on our adventures, but I am extremely lucky to have a brother that shares the passion and dream of cruising.


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Posted on May 13, 2012 | 1 comment

Happy Mother’s Day

The day I became a mother.

As an employee of a local children’s hospital, I regularly hear testimony from families who have been changed forever by an illness or accident that has happened to their child. This Mother’s Day, one mother of a long time patient wrote a blog post for the hospital that I would like to share with you. She reminds us to celebrate every moment with our children, even those that seem “ordinary”. Enjoy and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

“I celebrated Mother’s Day 2011 by begging my then three-year-old son to let me sleep-in as my Mother’s Day present.  That was at 6:47 in the morning.  By 7:06 AM I was awakened by a trumpet solo from my dear, dear, baby boy.  Yes, a trumpet solo for my Mother’s Day present.  A trumpet solo right in my face as I lay in bed.  I actually felt the toy trumpet hit the tip of my nose several times during the performance.  Okay, okay, I’m up.  With a hint of sarcasm, I thought to myself, “happy Mother’s Day to me” as I shot up and out of bed at 7:07 AM.  I could either send Noah away with a stern mommy-look and try to fall back to sleep or…I could…dance.   By 7:08AM on Mother’s Day 2011, I was dancing in gleeful circles with my little trumpeter swinging from my arms.  I felt so blessed to be celebrating another Mother’s Day, and especially this particular Mother’s Day.  Here’s why…

Seven months prior to the Mother’s Day trumpet solo, I was a mother who held her second child, her four-day-old daughter, as she lay dying in my arms.  I was a mother who was going to spend hours upon hours in a tiny chapel on the first floor of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, begging God to let me keep one of his angels here on earth; while the doctors upstairs tried desperately to save Ella’s life through science and medicine.  I was a mother who would be defined through living nine months of life with one child safe at home and the other fighting for each of her next breaths in a critical care unit, hours away from the safety of our home.

I would come to realize that the title “mother” is the greatest of all gifts to be given and received.  It is the gift of song.  It is the gift of dance.  It is the gift of unimaginable strength.  It is the gift of a love so pure, and yet, so powerful.  It is the gift of setting priorities and defining what moments truly matter in life.  It is the gift of belly-laughs.  It is the gift of overcoming fears.  It is the gift of finding yourself through loving someone else unconditionally.  It is the gift of never-forgotten memories.  It is the gift of understanding that the ordinary moments of life are all actually the extraordinary ones.  It is the gift of a celebratory perspective of life.

Last year, not only did I celebrate an early morning trumpet solo by dancing to the tune, but I also celebrated many of the most common and ordinary moments of motherhood.  I celebrated washing a batch of pink, girl laundry at home.  I celebrated washing Ella’s hospital blankets because at one point in our journey, I was told my daughter probably would not survive the night.  Here I was, months later, with my first batch of pink laundry.  I was celebrating laundry!  I celebrated every midnight moment where I was awake comforting my daughter through dealing with the pain of pervious surgeries to try and fix her broken heart.  I celebrated even though those midnight moments were shared with critical-care nurses.  I was celebrating lack of sleep!   I celebrated being able to once again hold my daughter in my arms.  It would be the first time in several months I was able to hold her after the moment I held her as she lay dying in my arms at four days old.  I was celebrating the numbness in my arms because of holding a chubby baby!  I even celebrated baby poop.  There was time when no one knew if my daughter’s bowels would ever work normal.  I was celebrating poop!

I realized that not only were we gifted the title “mother” from our little ones, but through that gift we were given ordinary moments to either take for granted or to celebrate as extraordinary ones.  I call it CellaBRATING LIFE.

I wish you an ordinary Mother’s Day 2012 full of laundry, midnight shenanigans, numb arms, normal bowel movements and maybe, if you’re lucky, even an early morning trumpet solo!”

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Posted on May 8, 2012 | 0 comments

A Wife’s Tale

It has come to my attention that I am not the “typical” boat wife. Apparently, a significantly larger percentage of men in the boating world would like to go cruising than their long-suffering wives… patiently rolling their eyes as the husband goes on again about the freedom of the open sea and other such nonsense as she sees it. Therefore, I have decided to take up my little soapbox today in the name of the crazy wives who actually think that the cruising life sounds like the best idea our husbands have ever come up with.

Let me start by saying that when Dan first brought up the idea a few years ago I actually laughed in his face. This was the most ridiculous idea he had ever come up with. We didn’t sail, I’m somewhat afraid of water, and we don’t even eat fish! No thank you. Also, I was enjoying our life and looking forward to a little family and the white picket fence; June Cleaver was my subconscious hero. In short, I just wasn’t ready yet for such a drastic dream.

Then a year ago, Dan starting looking into cruising again, more seriously this time. He brought the idea to me somewhat more cautiously optimistic than the first time, backing himself up with some realistic expectations. His enthusiasm caught my attention more than anything else. He let me know that he really wanted to go cruising but he needed me to make my own decision about it; he couldn’t let himself get any deeper without becoming emotionally committed to the dream. So I decided to do my own research and that I would make a real decision after our cruise to the Southern Caribbean, where we would be spending some time on smaller boats that would give me at least some idea of what sailing was about.

The first conclusion I came to was that living on a boat was definitely possible for us. (I know that sounds a little obvious, but it was a pretty big leap for a girl who had never been on a sailboat before.) Now I needed to decide if this was really what I wanted for me. Not because I loved my husband and wanted to make him happy, not because it would be a nice experience for my son, but because this was my dream. As I read and listened, a yearning started to build in my heart that was becoming my own. Finally, near the end of our cruise, I was standing on the top deck of our ship looking out at the huge moon reflecting off of the ocean waves and I knew: my life will not be complete until I see this scene from my own deck.

I want to encourage the wives out there, take your husband seriously when he brings you a dream that is in his heart. I believe that we find the person who was designed to unlock our deepest desires and greatest potential, but we are also the person who could crush that potential much more easily. Do you want to be the wife standing in the wings with a leash, or do you want to be a partner in a fantastic adventure?

Follow your dreams. Follow the Horizon.

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Posted on Apr 28, 2012 | 0 comments

Meet the Crew: Carter

So why can't I go in again?

Carter is our smallest-in-stature, biggest-in-attitude crew member. I’ll refrain from any 2-going-on-20 cliches, but this kid definitely thinks he is running the show around here (and he might be right!) He loves all things “boy”- trucks, cars, trains, and of course boats a.k.a “buhts” to him. Since he was only about 2 months old, the best way to get Carter to relax has been to take him outside. He will be in a terrible tantrum mood, but as soon as you get him outside he will play peacefully for literally hours.

Carter not only has the love of the outdoors going for him, he is completely obsessed with water. Talk about a boy meant for the ocean. He’ll splash in anything he can find: pools, ponds, dog dishes, and (as a mother I am ashamed to admit) the occasional open toilet. Yuck. He will even pour out drops of juice on the floor just to rub them around on his hands. He LOVES water.

One of our biggest motivations for wanting to live on a sailboat and travel is to give our son the opportunity to grow up with an open mind. To experience humanity instead of being just a passive member of it. To learn by touch and feel instead of by being told. Carter may not want to live on a boat for the rest of his life, and maybe we won’t either, but that’s not our ultimate goal for him. We want him to know that anything is possible, no matter what his horizon is.

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