Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sea Trial

"What's Next?" perhaps this catamaran!
At first glance the sailing catamaran "What's Next?" Didn't look that different from our first liveaboard boat, "Hakuna Matata," and she certainly looked no more like our "perfect boat" than any of the dozens of vessels nearby.

But our broker, Brent Hermann of the Catamaran Company in Ft. Lauderdale was confident that this Lagoon 450 was, indeed, our "perfect boat" even though we were a good 10 months ahead of the schedule when we thought we might even consider looking for our next boat. So, we decided to make a ridiculously low offer, mostly just to end the conversation. But instead of being the end of the boat buying conversation, it turned out to be just the beginning when the owners responded with a surprisingly low counter-offer.

At that point we decided we needed to see the boat in person again (for more on the first time we saw her, check out my last blog post: We Are NOT Boat Shopping), so Nathan and I flew to Ft. Lauderdale for a quick trip.

Nothing like a kid-free, couples trip!

When we got on the airplane we discovered that not only were we not sitting together but every single television was tuned to "Shark Week," with horrible scenes of cute animals getting swallowed by massive great white sharks. Yes, sharks. I couldn't help but wonder, was this a sign that we should give up on this ridiculous boat-buying idea?

Of course every TV would be tuned to "Shark Week!"

But after the longest flight ever (mostly due to the nasty woman sitting beside Nathan who kept screaming at him every time his elbow or foot accidentally invaded her space from his cramped middle seat), we finally made it to sunny Fort Lauderdale and I couldn't help but start to feel the excitement of being back where our first liveaboard adventure began.

Roomy Master (and Missus'!) Cabin
Within a half hour of arriving we were back aboard "What's Next?" and Nathan was inspecting every square inch of the boat. The good news; the engines looked like they were in great shape and had low miles. And for me the really good news was that this boat smelled good without that yucky, musty smell that so many other boats had. Good engines + good smelling = Good news.

Clean engines with low miles!
Ugly faucet, yes. But still functional. 
The not-so-good-news; the air conditioner had obviously not been run while she sat at dock and the salty air took its toll. All of the fixtures were corroded, pitted and ugly.

As I was about to grumble about how terrible the fixtures looked, I saw the look in Nathan's eye...

He liked this one.

Almost all the fixtures are corroded.
And, when I got over the look of the fixtures (with the help of Nathan explaining to me that those ugly fixtures were easy to replace and were saving us a ton of money) I realized I liked this one too.

Granted, it did not have the 4 cabins that I had hoped for, but there was a lot of potential here. So we gave the green light to pay for the sea trial and have a thorough inspection done to see if we really wanted to buy it.
Climbing the mast for the inspection

Starting the Sea Trial

Captain Nathan taking "What's Next?" down New River
The sea trial went smoothly but the inspection left us with a list of things that needed to be fixed. From batteries that needed replacing to missing cushions for the forward deck, we held nothing back.

Some of the problems: damaged ropes
Minor damage to the wood
Small cracks needing patching
"There is a lot that needs fixing. Let's just walk away," we said to each other, knowing we were in no hurry and convincing ourselves there would be another "perfect boat" for us down the road.

So, we went back to New Mexico and responded to the very generous offer on the table with our extensive list of must-haves and must-fixes before we would agree to buying her. We knew they would laugh at us and turn us down.

But then they didn't turn us down! They accepted all of our ridiculous demands. The financing was already approved. Instead of the "dead end" response we expected, we got the total green light.

Needless to say we were both a bit in shock. And so it was, on one day in early August, despite all of our very logical reasons against it, Nathan looked at me and said, "Well, I guess we're buying a boat!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

We Are NOT Boat Shopping

You never know what might happen when the kids go away to summer camp.

Last year my husband, Nathan and I built a pretty awesome loft bed for our daughters (if we do say so ourselves). It was a massive project, but worth the effort for sure.

Not only did it give them a unique, private hideaway, but it also won them lots of "cool" points with friends whenever they discovered that the only entrance is a rock climbing wall.

So, last year we built some beds. This year we went to check out a boat which could be our family's future, floating home.

To tell the whole story I have to take you back to Spring Break when we stopped in to see Brent Hermann at the Catamaran Company. He was the broker who sold us our old liveaboard catamaran; the 42" Manta, "Hakuna Matata." But he is also a friend. And we were in the area. 

"We're not in the market and won't even start talking about boats for another year at least," we said. 

Like a bad game of "telephone," somehow Brent heard, "We're ready to buy another boat!"

So we went around the marina in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida checking out some boats. It felt good to be near the water and on a boat again. But mostly it was an experience of being in a constant state of rapid-fire heart attacks as our 4 year old son, Samuel, darted between one danger and the next.

After a few boats, and more close calls than I can count, we wrapped up our little tour. 

"Clearly, we aren't ready to move onto a boat with this little guy yet!" I said. 

Brent heard, "Find us a boat right away!" 

On our way out of the marina 10 year old Ahava spotted a boat named "What's Next?" and asked me to take a picture of her in front of it since it was a perfect question for this delightfully adventurous family of ours. 

Little did we know, a few months later Brent Herman would be telling us he had found the perfect boat for us.

"What's it called?," Nathan asked.

"What's Next?," Brent responded.

And so it was, while the girls were away at summer camp this year, we left Samuel with our babysitter (Miss Linda) and went for a couple's trip to Ft. Lauderdale to check out what might be our "What's Next?"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

And then there was this possibility...

Sometimes it feels like life is barreling forward, like a freight train with failed brakes. I watch the ebb and tide of the seasons and feel like so much of it is out of my control. Kindergarten, First grade... fifth. It doesn't slow down. 

But then there is this moment. This moment when the story seems to be writing itself in the same, predicable ways and suddenly something happens that makes you gasp. Suddenly, there is a glitch in the matrix. Suddenly you see something that makes you realize that the seeds you have been planting... the reality you have been sowing... are starting to take root and reach for the light of day.

So now there is this boat. 

We are six months shy of where my most ambitious vision would've taken us. But now there is an offer on the table. And a possibility. 

And my heart skips a beat. 

We have been landlocked boat babies for a long time. So long that I stopped daring to dream. But here we are, with this offer which (shockingly) may actually be accepted. Here we are talking about flying to Florida in 24 hours to survey a boat that we may live on soon. Live on with three kids, two adults and one canine. 

And then there was this possibility.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our Super Gymnast

Note: I wrote this blog post ten months ago, before our sweet gymnast fell off her bike and broke her collar bone. Her training was derailed temporarily but her spirit is still as strong as ever! As she heads into a meet today I decided to go ahead and post this long-overdue account of her State Champoinship success. Hopefully there will be plenty more gymnastics stories to share now that she's all healed and working hard on her comeback. Regardless of how she does today I am happy to report that she is still having fun, so it's all good. 


I still can't believe that our baby girl is a silver medal-winning, competitive gymnast; 2nd best in the whole state for her age group, as a matter of fact. 

Ahava came in 2nd place in State!
 (Between teammates Jayden & Emily)

In March her gym hosted the New Mexico State Gymnastics Championship and in her very first year of competition our 9 year old daughter, Ahava, totally rocked it! 

In all, she has been doing gymnastics for about two years now. 
She and her sister, Ziva, started together at a little dance studio which also does gymnastics here in the mountains near our home
After about four months, and one very cute public recital, they both moved to a gymnastics-only gym in Albuquerque. The downside to making that move was that the gym is about a half hour from our house, but it really gave the girls a chance to see if this is a sport they wanted to make a long-term commitment to. Both girls were in the non-competitive gymnastics classes for about a year and were both asked to move up to the pre-team level. That's when Ziva decided to move on to other sports (tennis for starters), leaving gymnastics as "Ahava's sport."

Once Ahava moved to the pre-team she really made a big shift in how she approached this whole gymnastics thing. Gone was the cute, bouncy, chatty, unfocused little social butterfly, replaced by a more focused and determined gymnast instead. That determination was certainly the reason she began mastering the skills she needed to then move up to the level III competitive team last May.

Moving to the team was so exciting, but to be honest, I had no idea what that meant until she actually competed in a meet in November 2013. Perhaps if I had been clearer about what an incredible family commitment it would be to have a competitive gymnast I might not have been so eager to see her moving on up. We went from driving into town 2 days a week for an hour lesson to 4 times a week for 2 or more hours. Not to mention it became much more expensive. Who knew a tiny little piece of sparkly cloth (i.e. the team leotard) could cost more than a hundred dollars?!? 

But, despite my grumbling, I am glad now that I didn't know better then. If I had discouraged Ahava from moving up to the team because of the extra time and money that required she would not have had the chance to push her own limits the way she did. Without being on the team where the coaches work with the girls every day on building the fundamentals of the sport, she certainly wouldn't have nailed her round-off back handspring or stuck her dismount from the beam. She wouldn't have been tested so much so quickly. And she wouldn't have had the chance to shine under pressure. Pressure that was pretty insane for the State Meet. Not just because it was her biggest challenge to date, but because I had one of my biggest "Mommy-fail" moments that day; I accidentally sent my car keys to the meet with her uncle so I had no way to drive her to the gym on time. She made it just after the opening ceremony and was able to compete, but that added a heaping pile of additional pressure onto her plate unexpectedly. 

Despite that incredible pressure, Ahava pushed through in a way I didn't know she could. I'm not sure she even thought she could. But, in the end, she earned that 2nd place spot on the podium. As her mom, seeing her shine like that is nothing shy of golden. But, more importantly, she is having so much fun! As long as she continues to love it I will do my best to keep my grumbling about inconveniences and costs to a minimum! 

Way to go baby girl! We love you! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rollerskate City

[**Once again I find a blog post from long ago which I never posted. This one from one year ago today made me smile. Glad to report we are all back in top-skating shape again!] 

Jun 11, 2014, 8:30 PM

Camp Tia Rosa
Rollerskate City

Roller skating was super fun on Sunday!


I was so proud of my niece, 6 yr. old Christina and nephew, 10 yr. old Gabriel, who were nervous about skating but never quit trying the whole 2 hours.


Ziva is becoming quite the independent skater. She participated in the limbo contest, speed skating and even tried skating backwards.


As for Samuel, he goes around and around the rink on his own now and has great control over stopping, starting and maneuvering around other people. Although he doesn't realize it yet he is very close to ready to lose the training triangle.


As for me, I personally love skating! Helping the little ones is a great workout and an exercise in strength and balance. And when the time comes I always participate in the 18 and up speed skating, even though I am always one of the only ones. Yes, I probably look like a wobbling fool, but I'd rather do that than sit on the sidelines with all the other chaperones who don't even put on skates. The smiles and giggles I get from the kids on the rink are worth any soreness I feel the next day.


Not surprisingly, it was another great day at Rollerskate City. I loved skating with Samuel, Ziva, Christina & Gabriel, even though I was seriously outnumbered.














(Elizabeth was camping with my friend Alicia and poor Ahava couldn't participate because she is on doctor's orders to avoid impact sports for 6 more weeks. Instead she went to Santa Fe to watch her daddy play in a tennis tournament. He won the tournament but injured his foot pretty badly in the process. Now we've got 2 out of commission! Hopefully they will both be back on the skating rink with us again soon!)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Field Trips and Fun

Last Thursday was a long, but wonderful day full of kid-centric activities.

Natalie and Ahava ready to explore
Checking out rocks
It began with a field trip to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History with Ahava and all of her second grade friends. Although I had planned to work today as I am trying to get two big projects finished before the end of the school year (in four days!), after giving it some thought I realized field trips with my kids are few and far between so I decided to tag along. I got assigned to hang out with Ahava and one other little girl; both of whom were relatively easy to keep track of. I honestly think it was the best visit I have ever had to this museum. That was probably because I didn't have to drag a wiggley two-year-old or an afraid-of-fire-and-scary-creatures 6-year-old around with us (which apparently were both everywhere in the Prehistoric Age... the fire and scary creatures, not 2 and 6 year olds). Generally I don't enjoy spending the day looking at stuffed dead animals as many natural history museums would have us do, but this museum had fascinating displays on fossils, petrified wood, dinosaurs and other ancient artifacts which I thoroughly enjoyed. It seemed Ahava had a great time too. And because she is at an age where she understands the informational placards there was actually some solid learning going on. 

After the trip to the museum we began the typical afternoon shuffle with Ahava at gymnastics, Ziva at tennis and Samuel trying to escape in every way possible. That boy seriously wears me out! Such a good thing he is so cute, otherwise I would spend my days being frustrated instead of cracking up at all his antics!

Mita tries to keep Samuel upright
Samuel laughing and skating
The final activity today was a school fundraiser at Roller Skate city in Albuquerque. It was impossible for me to skate with Samuel to wrangle but I did have fun talking to some of the other parents and watching all the wobbly kids and teachers make their way around the rink. But by far the highlight of the night was watching Samuel trying to roller skate for the first time! He was like a cross between a king-fu fighter on wheels and a pile of jello. My friend, Mita was laughing so hard I thought she might cry. Like I said, Samuel is very entertaining!
Ahava, Samuel, Ziva and me

The take-away from a day like this is that I really like hanging out with my kids. I knew that already, of course, but sometimes the rigors and requirements of parenting take the fun out of it. Now that I have shifted toward being more present in the moment I am starting to see my overall enjoyment of my kids increase too. Win-win for us all!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baseball, Boston and the Madness of a Mommy's Mind

Signs of solidarity everywhere; like this jacket at a baseball game.

We have all changed. It's just a new reality. Terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon affected everyone I know. I haven't been able to watch the news for the past month without crying. Although I did not know any of the victims, it all felt too close to home. An 8 year old boy and three others dead (I have an 8 year old!). Runners maimed (I am a runner!). Lost limbs. Brain trauma. Pure evil. Heartache. I cried and cried. It could've been us. A week later, even after the two bombing suspects were apprehended (one dead, one hospitalized after a shoot out with police), my heart still hurt as much as the day it happened. And now, almost a month later it feels like the world is still in mourning.

Recently, on a very busy Saturday alone with my kids, I noticed how that event has affected how we move through the day (actually, that attack and so many other heinous crimes in the news lately; like the horrific murders of Kindergarteners and elementary school teachers in Newtown, Connecticut a few months ago). There is a constant threat assessment running through my mind now. As the day unfolded on this particular Saturday those dark, pervasive thoughts went something like this:

While taking Miss Anabel to meet up with new friends (that she met at the Paella-making workshop!) to take the Rail Runner commuter train up to Santa Fe, I found myself wondering: "What if someone blows up the train?"

Next up, a stop at the Mother Load Children's Consignment Sale. I thought; "Very public. Everyone defenseless. Good opportunity for maximum collateral damage. Women and children."

From there we went to Ahava's gymnastics class. "Full of innocents. What if some crazy man came in here with a bomb or a gun? Unless one of the parents or other spectators is packing a concealed weapon of their own, there would be no one to stop them."

Then on to Ziva's tennis lesson. It felt a little less threatening, with double doors at the entrance and a guy requesting membership cards at the front. "But how easy would it be to overtake someone in the parking lot, grab their membership card and come in, guns blazing?"

Next up, the playground. While there were only a few kids on the playground on that day, I still found myself thinking: "If it were busier here some sicko might choose this park as a target."

Trips to K-Mart and Whole Foods had me scanning the parking lot for people acting strangely. "Was that guy really a security guard or just a guy posing as one to plant a bomb?" The parking lots were full; perfect place to create a big explosion for maximum news coverage and general panic.

And finally, the Isotopes' baseball game for a friend's son's birthday party. Talk about public. Perfect for murder and mayhem...
But here's the thing... While those thoughts were real and continuous throughout the day, they were small. Much smaller than the amount of time I dedicated to them in this blog post. They were nowhere near as strong as the other, constant mommy worries that I have been having all day, everyday, for the past 8 years since I became a mother. Running through the same Saturday, a small sample of those worry-filled thoughts went something like this:
Dropping off Anabel; "What if these new 'friends' aren't good people and have ill intentions with our foreign friend?" I'd never forgive myself if something bad happened to her.

At the consignment sale I worried that Samuel would pull one of the clothing racks down on his head or escape out the door and into the street in the 2.5 seconds I turned my head to help Ziva try on a pair of shoes.

At gymnastics I always worry that Ahava will land wrong and break an arm or a leg, or worse.

In tennis; "What if Ziva gets whacked in the head with a ball or a racquet? What if the obscene song that the little girl next to her (Not the little girl in this picture!) was singing or the spitting she was doing or the constant barrage of put-downs she was hurling at the other kids leads to similar bad behavior in my sweet, innocent little girl?"

And, of course, both the playground and bike ride were fraught with worry. "What if Ahava or Ziva lose their grip on that swing-thing and break an arm, or a leg, or worse? What if the graffiti on the slide is legible smut that my daughters can read (now that Ziva can be added to the list of real readers since the reading lightbulb went off for her in just the last month!)? What if that puddle at the bottom of the slide is not rain water but some kid's (or adult's!) urine! What if these new bike riders lose control and barrel into traffic? What if I lose control and barrel into traffic? What if this new baby bike seat I so proudly installed myself with a Swiss-Army knife falls off with Samuel in it, sending him barreling into traffic?"
Bike riding with Samuel (2), Ahava (8) and Ziva (6)
Oh and don't get me started on the ballpark! Just the sign informing us that we were sitting in the foul-ball zone conjured up all those YouTube videos about kids getting hit in the head and seriously injured... or worse.  

Nathan holds hands with the kids at the Isotopes' game...
Which doesn't bother Jayden and Ziva one bit!
Still in carseats. They don't seem to mind!
Ahava and her first love: cotton candy

You get the idea. I worry all the time.

But, thankfully, not in the paralyzing way that prevents people from living. Yes, I worry about my kids' teeth rotting from all the candy they eat. I worry about them getting lost in a crowd. No, I don't allow my 8-year-old to go into the bathroom alone. And, yes, I still keep her in a 5-point harness carseat even though all her friends don't even use booster seats anymore. The reality is, if someone could document the moments of madness that pass through a Mommy's mind when it comes to worrying about their kids moving through the world, it would probably be a volume about the size of "War and Peace."

So, yes, we've changed, and, yes, those awful events make me worry more. But for me, when it comes to worrying I think it's kind of like pouring water into the ocean.

Jayden, Ziva, Ahava and Samuel enjoying the firetruck
As I think about all of this, on the eve of Mother's Day, the word that comes to mind is "Courage." Not the kind of courage that is required to run into a burning building, or toward an explosion, or into battle to protect freedom and loved ones far away. That kind of courage is big, big courage in my mind. And seeing lots of first responders around the ballpark is a big part of the reason that this worried mommy enjoyed the Isotopes' game with my family and friends so much despite the recent sporting event bombing.

What I'm talking about here are the little acts of courage that have preserved our humanity through the worst of times AND the best of times. The courage to stay the course. To teach. To learn. To love. And to let go. The courage to help these little people believe in the good and the wonder and the joy, even as you yourself fear the dark, the cruelty, the pain. That, to me, is the courage that comes from being a parent.

I'll end with a few quotes about courage that I like, and a few of my favorite photos from the ballpark:

Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway.             -John Wayne
We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.           -Martin Luther King, Jr.
**Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.        - Andre Gide
**This one I had posted in my cabin while living on Hakuna Matata!
Samuel says, "Do it again, Daddy!"
Nathan makes a great catch!
Birthday boy, Jayden, with his family; Jason, Eva and Amanda