Jul 26, 2015

We're Not Starving or Stocked For The Armaggedon

   I’d have to say that about 50% of our boat’s contents are tools and project supplies. That’s what it looks like when you live on a workaboard boat. So that would leave something like 25% to kids’ toys and all our clothes, and 25% for food.

Given that we bounce from island to island, our food supplies are what I would call normal. I have land friends that have more food stored away in their pantries than we do. We only have so much space, and the Armageddon is nowhere in sight, so we keep our stocks pretty low key.

   When we first started out we had no idea what we were doing and provisioned like if we were headed out to sea, and probably had enough canned food for a return trip too. Sadly, most of those cans either expired while sitting at the back of the cupboard, or rusted out and had to get chucked. Who knows why we thought we would ever eat canned vegetables, or need that much canned chicken, neither of which we regularly consume. It was a waste of money and space to have done what we did. We know better now.

   We have come to discover that pretty much every island has a grocery store (sure some only carry certain dried goods, that may or may not already be expired), but most have a very good selection of food and produce. And you pretty much always know in advance, thanks to the coconut telegraph (ie other sailors) what to expect of islands along the way. So you know whether you should buy a little extra to sustain you until your next decent market.

   Now, if you are thinking with your wallet, you may say, “well it is cheaper to stock up on canned pasta sauce here”, and it very well may be. But do the math too, will you be able to eat all of what you purchase before it expires or the cans rust out? Because if not, then that money is wasted. Or will weevils be hiding in your stores of dried noodles and have eaten their way through them before you do? (That was a disgusting discovery of ours, I chucked it all.)

   We regularly visit land to replenish on fresh vegetables and fruit, cheese, and eggs. If it weren't for that, we could probably go about a couple of weeks with the dry and canned goods we have on board. The Virgin Islands, where we are now, are very well set up when it comes to grocery stores. They even have Costco-type stores if there is anything you want to buy in bulk. So we stock up on certain things just so that we don’t have to do mega shops every time we go to land. If you were to open our “pantry” right now you would find lots of Milk (UHT), cereal, flour, pasta sauces, soups, tvp (meat replacement), and powdered milk (for making yogurt). Our freezer is full of frozen chicken breasts (we eat a lot of chicken). We buy big amounts of our favorite and most consumed items, and the other random things can be purchased on our regular weekly shopping trips.

If you are about to head out, and there are islands along the way, DON’T over think it. Buy what you like (especially if you are picky or hooked to a name brand) and everything else you can pick up along the way. And unless you are used to eating things like canned green beans and have a recipe for them, don’t think that because you are sailing you are going to be forced to eat them or become the Betty Crocker of the ocean and come up with some amazing green bean recipe that the whole family will love. You won’t. Leave that can on the supermarket shelf.

This side is canned black & red beans, pasta sauces, and soups
Our biggest storage area, stand up bottles up front, milk packs laying down behind that. Kids' snacks on top shelf.
Cereals, powdered milk, canned tuna, canned chicken, noodles, and TVP
Dried goods in drop down storage space. Rice, Flour, Pasta, and cereals.

Regular kitchen use stuff, with fruit and veggies hanging, and home made bread

Drop down storage used for tupperware and liquor

Jul 21, 2015

10 Things We Use Daily On Our Boat (Kitchen & Bath edition)

Its been about two years since I made a list of our “favorite” boat stuff, but with the growing amount of readers that we are gaining (thank you for joining us!) more and more emails have been coming in with these types of questions. So I figured I would write a post about it rather than type out the same email to everyone.

Between the bathrooms and the kitchen, here are 10 things that I find I use on a daily basis on our boat. Some are must haves and some I find are just super useful extras. Most are on the lower end of the price scale, except for two items (#6 and #10) that have simply changed the way we live on our sailboat.

I also want to mention that three of these items (#1, #2, and #9) we now have as sponsors. But that is only because we loved their stuff so much that we wrote to them asking if we could get some more for free. And adding them in this post is not something I owe them, they have no idea they are on this list, we just really love them and thought we should share the love. And speaking of sharing the love, if you use any of the below Amazon affiliate links we make a few extra dollars for the cruising kitty at no cost to you, so shop through our links if you can.

Ok, let the online shopping fun begin:

I don’t know how people shower with washcloths. They don’t leave me feeling like I have removed the dirt from my skin, and just the thought of them sort of makes my skin crawl. I can’t handle those shower puffs either, they get way to soapy and just feel like I am rubbing myself in plastic. So what does that leave me with?! The Trekr. We were introduced to these a couple of years ago and I don’t know how I went so long without one! They clean, they exfoliate, and they last FOREVER!
sidenote: In india we forgot one of these at a hotel we had checked out of, and we went out of our way, back to the hotel, just to retrieve it. They are that good.

   Another awesome scrubby worth mention, made by the same company, is one for doing the dishes, The Scrubr. It is just as amazing as the one I wrote about above just for a different purpose. This one scrubs off that stuck on gunk from your plates, without wrecking your plates and pans, and NEVER gets the gross smell that a lot of dishcloths get. 

Turkish towels are my newfound obsession. I love them. My friend Brittany put me on to them and since then I have been stockpiling my collection and liquidating our regular towel stash. Turkish towels are magical! They are extremely thin, which is a huge space saver on a boat. They are really absorbent, I find they wick away water just as well as a normal towel. They dry super quick, meaning that they do not get that gross mildewy smell that boat towels can get. And they can be used for almost anything, for the boat, for the beach, as a cover up, as a super hero cape; they do it all. I love them so much that I thought it was worth writing a entire post about them!

We never really thought we needed a vacuum cleaner on our boat, but then our friends from Turf to Surf gifted one to us recently, and I must say that it has changed my life. Since it is a handheld the battery does need to be recharged on a very regular basis, but we have just gotten into the habit of making sure it is plugged in whenever we turn our Honda Generator on to charge all of our electronics. The charge only lasts a few minutes while this thing is running, but its suction power is impressive. Everyday you will see me running around the boat, this Dyson vacuum cleaner in hand, sucking up all of my lost hair and the girls’ spilled cereal.

4. Gripstics 
Living in the caribbean = humidity. Humidity on a boat = everything gets mushy. There is no working around it but there are ways to slow it down. The best that we have found are known as Gripstics. Where the Coconuts Grow use lent us one of these when they dropped off a huge bag of gummy worms to us. All you need to is when you are done with said gummy worms you just have to fold over the top of the bag and slide these cool devices across the crease and you are good. Your goodies stay mush free for a little while longer. 

With two kids on our boat I am not the biggest fan of using chemical detergents to clean the boat. We use Simple Green. It is a multi-purpose cleaner that is non-toxic and biodegradable. And the best part, in my opinion, is that you can buy a gallon of the concentrated stuff, and so whenever your spray bottle runs out you just mix the concentrate with water and you have a brand new full bottle! We use this stuff on everything on our boat. And I don’t have to worry if ever our girls get their hands on it (even though I still hope that never happens).

We bought these on the recommendation of our friend Joaquin who loves to cook. He told us that there were no other pots to consider for boating. After having used them for five year we totally agree. We loved these pots and pans so much that we have even said that if we ever were to move to land we would still continue to use these. The 10 piece set we have includes 4 pots, 2 lids, a pan, and 2 detachable handles that fit on to all of them (and one handy elastic that keeps them all together, they consider that the 10th piece!). This set has lasted us all of these years and we have never felt that we needed anything else. We use them both on the stove top and in the over. They do it all. And with the non-stick in them, I barely ever ruin a meal.

If you want to be the life of the beach party you need to get yourself some of these! When we first reached the Bahamas everyone seemed to have some of these. I mean they are great for boating, they are plastic, they are insulated to keep your drink warm or cold, and you can get them monogramed or personalized any way you want. But when we saw the price tag on them we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay that much for “glasses”. Instead we started getting them for each other as presents for holidays and birthdays. What started with just a glass each has turned in to us having 2 full sets of 4, some with handles and lids (24oz) to bring along when we are going to drink on the beach or on another boat and don't want to spill on the way or on their boat, and another 16oz set that we use just for drinks when we’re staying home. 

I have never been fond of the look of these, a bit tacky if you ask me. And so it took forever, literally almost five years, for Eben to convince me that we should set some up. Now that they are up in both corners of our kitchen, I have to admit that I do like them for their practicality. We use one for fruit and one for veggies, and it has been a major help for staying on top of what we have, what needs to be eaten before it goes bad, and what we need to reprovision on. Nothing like keeping your shopping list up to date when your produce is hanging right in your face.

We only recently got our hands on an Aeropress and we use it everyday and love it. It is a press that makes the most delicious coffee in a quick and easy process. This tiny press produces espresso shots that you can turn in to any type of coffee you desire. We usually stick to lattes, but it makes it all. And it requires no power, just coffee grounds, hot water, and a little strength. Since I am on and off of coffee, depending on my mood, my stomach, and how much sleep I got the night before, it is great that you can also make a single or a double serving depending on how many people will be drinking.

We refit our boat with a front loading fridge when we first moved aboard. I couldn’t stand the thought of a top loading fridge, having to riffle through everything to figure out what food you have at the very bottom of the fridge. Most sailors do it, but it was just not for us. The Engle front loader has been a great size for our family of four and it has saved us many tetris style headaches that I envisioned with top-loaders. 

Since the beginning Eben has always wanted to buy a standalone freezer as well. But the cost seem quite high, and I didn’t feel like we really needed one. We sailed four years without one and have managed just fine. But this year we went out and bought one and it has been amazing. Being able to buy bulk bags of frozen meats has made provisioning so much easier. And being able to make ice for ourselves rather than always looking for somewhere to buy ourselves bags of ice, has saved us a lot of time and money.

If you can look past the very cute kids you will see our stand-alone Engle (bottom left), hanging nets (above Arias' head), and nesting pots (top right).

I hope this helps the few of you that were needing ideas of handy things to grab before setting sail. And maybe given the rest of you some fun christmas presents, because someone just told me there are only 19 Fridays left till Christmas!

Jul 18, 2015

Why We Decided NOT To Sail South

   We know that sailing south to Grenada is the “safer” option with hurricane season upon us, and we had 100% intentions on going. But while Eben was away in Tanzania a lot of new things to consider started popping up, making the decision not so black and white for us anymore. The harder part of all of that was with him being away we didn't have many phone or internet chats to bounce ideas off of each other, we just both waited on our respective sides, heads full of options, till we could discuss it as a couple. That day finally came yesterday, the day after he got back home.

   To the outsider, us being so “all over the place” may make it seem like we are unreliable or that our pockets are overflowing with cash, but its actually the opposite. Because we are open to ideas where we could make some sort of living, when an actual opportunity arises we have to consider it. Going to Grenada didn’t mean work opportunity. Going there meant passing time until we could get sailing again.

   Lets get more specific. The plan was to head to Grenada to avoid possible hurricanes. At the moment we are in the Virgin Islands, which is smack in the middle of the hurricane belt. But banking on hurricanes (or more like hoping they don’t come) is like playing the lottery, its a gamble. There is no real knowing what’s going to happen. Many say this year seems like its going to be a “slow” year in that respect, but still, that doesn’t mean much. We have many friends that we know that have decided to stay in the area (you just keep an eye on the weather and have a good “plan B” in your back pocket) while many others have headed south (which isn’t exempt of hurricanes either by the way). So our plan was to go south with our friends from Where the Coconuts Grow. We had decided, that was what we were doing…

   While Eben was in Tanzania he made good friends with some people over there and was offered a couple different work positions. Work = money = a good idea. The possibilities include working with the Adventurists for the next sailing race, helping them make it slightly more “general public friendly”. Another option was to help set up/build a tree house hotel on one of the islands there. Or another was to help manage an existing hotel. The thought of going to Tanzania as a family is extremely exciting, a new country, make some money, a taking a small break from the boat, could be good all around.

   Then there were things popping up on my end. With all these articles that are starting to appear online about our girls, and how we are raising them on the boat, the blog, our Facebook page, and our instagram are starting to get some more attention and new followers. With this attention comes some new sponsors and “work” opportunities. The thing with sponsors is that they require you to have a shipping address where they can send you stuff, and receiving things in the USVIs we have come to know, is relatively painless. As for work, I have been asked to write more articles, publish more pictures, and do a few interviews, which requires us to have a pretty good internet connection. Staying in the VIs, a place we have been the last 7 months, brings the ease of knowing how and where to get decent access to wifi.

   There was also money and timing to consider. Heading to new islands can be a costly endeavour. Not only do you have to fill your diesel tanks, but then you have to consider the costs of checking in and clearing out of every island, getting set up with new phones/sim cards, finding the new grocery stores, etc etc. Which may seem small, but the $$ sneak up on you fast. And the timing. If we were to actually consider Tanzania as a real option, then we are talking about possibly an October departure, which would mean heading to Grenada for only 2 months, and then either sailing back up this way or leaving the boat there. 

   Yesterday morning, as we watched our friends raise their anchor and start the trek south, we had to make a decision, now. We couldn’t just keep wavering and re-hashing the pros and cons of it all. We decided what would be best for us is to stay in the Virgin Islands these next couple of months. We are going to use this time to work on the boat. Get some our those projects done (possibly flooring and a dodger). I can do some more online work, and we can do more exploring of these islands while they are virtually empty of other cruising boats. (which means we get the best anchoring spots!) 

   The girls are also stoked with this choice, they really like it here. The sailing has been short hops, and easy ones, which keeps everyone happy. We have a few good Plan B options, but if all goes well we will never have to use them.

   So for the next few months the Virgin Islands will be our backyard, our construction shop, and our office. And we will see what October brings.

Until then we will enjoy places like these a little longer.

Jul 14, 2015

How Do We Afford This?

   Can you guess what the #1 question that we get asked is? It usually sounds something like this, "This is none of my business, and you don't have to answer, but how can you afford to live on a boat?" Or some variation of that. Some of the funnier versions of that same question that we have heard include, "Are you a trust fund baby?",  and "Is that your dad's boat?" 

   Of course a lot of the people that asked us this never stepping in to our boat. There they would see that ours is a complete "workaboard" and that it is not the dream yatch that they are imagining. But all the same, the question is warranted. I am just as curious to know other cruisers' stories and how they are affording the life.

So let me lay it all out here. No we are not trust fund babies. Yes we fully, outright, own this boat. No we did not win the lottery. Yes we worked very hard to get to where we are. No we cannot afford to keep sailing and not working forever. Yes I see one of us having to work within the next year.

Now here is the back story.

Eben worked extremely hard to 6 years doing a "sales/commission" job in the states that he did not enjoy. He did door-to-door and managed an office for 5 of those years. That job was very hard on him. The stress, the time away from the family, and THE STRESS! He wasn't enjoying life while we was working that job, I thought he would have an early heart-attack due to it (seriously), but the money was good. Real good. He saved up a bunch of that money. He also bought a car, and a house, and we lived debt free, outside of our mortgage. When you are making that kind of money it is really hard to walk away from it. But the tole that it was taking on him was too much. He was having panic attacks in the middle of the night and had anxiety levels that were through the roof. It was time to do something a little more enjoyable.

When we decided to sail we sold the car, put all of our belongings in storage and took off, on our savings. When we bought Necesse we got her for cheap. But cheap for a reason. She had been holed in a hurricane, beached, and needed A LOT of love. That was the only way we could afford a 41ft boat, is if it was in ruins. So we bought her, knowing that it would mean at least a year of work needed to be invested in her. But this we could afford.

The next income we had was a year later when we flew home to give birth to Ellia. We stayed in Canada for five months, and in that time Eben did another stint with that job he hated that made us good cash. Like I said, hard to walk away from. Then we were off again.

Although we are good at watching our money, we are not that frugal. We know it as one of our faults. Especially when it comes to food and drink. We do our best to cook on the boat, to save some money, and often we succeed, but then we will times when the fun to be had hanging out at the beach bar with friends totally outweighs the worry of losing another $50 dollars in drinks. For us what is the point of doing this adventure if we can't be enjoying it too.

When we reached the Dominican Republic money was getting tight again. This is at the same time that we realized that our house in Canada, which we still owned and rented, was not really making us any money and was causing us a big amount of stress trying to manage it from abroad. We decided to sell. We figured with that money we could continue cruising for a while and keep a lump sum in savings for our next "home" property. That didn't really happen. We sold it and sailed it all away!

We are now in the Virgin Islands and we are starting to notice the lows in our account again. It is nothing to really stress about, we are not hitting $0, but we are at a point where we are thinking that one of us will have to work again in the near future to give the savings a good boost again. So here is where our minds have been going:

-Eben has always been able to make $ helping other cruisers with boat work (repairing sails, sewing cushions, fixing stuff) so that is an option. He is really good at it, but again, it is not a passion of his. It is something he would do for some extra cash. This will not "make" us money, but it will help sustain the lifestyle. So its an option. 

-Eben has considered getting his captain's licence during our hurricane season in Grenada so that he could pick up a charter job in the VIs next season. There are a ton of opportunities for that type of work here, so if anyone is looking for work while sailing, the USVIs has it in the charter world. And he would like to have some sort of "diploma" under his belt, so it would kill two birds...

-I have started trying to monetize the blog, but honestly I am totally learning about this stuff and have no hope that that will bring us anything more than maybe $5 a month! Little things like becoming affiliates to products we like, adding Amazon search tools on the blog, writing some paid articles, and that trusted Paypal button, but that is just nonexistent small change for now...maybe it will bring us something in a few years when this blog blows up and gets famous! (but that's like banking on the lottery!) *And to the mystery guy that has been donating $20 every now and then to our PayPal fund, I wish I could thank you better but you have left us no contact info for you. So if you read this...THANK YOU, it does not go unnoticed.

-But most importantly we are just keeping our minds open to any option that may present itself. No matter how crazy it may seem at first, if we are open to work, something interesting may present itself (minus selling my body for cash that is, that's not so interesting.) This is why every now and again you will catch us dreaming about moving to Italy and working there, or Tanzania, or Grenada. And we may seem to be totally unorganized and "everywhere". But because we are willing to consider it all, weigh out the pros and cons, and go from there, we have hope that something really cool may present itself someday. We also know that no job is "below" us, if we need money we will work for it, we will not go broke because of an "ego" thing.

That is how we have been doing it. Mostly on our savings, being willing to sell it all and put it all into a lifestyle that we deem interesting enough to pursue, and by not turning down an adventure merely because of the expense (because often those adventures have turned into really fruitful endeavours for us). 

Forget the lottery, forget the inheritance, this early retirement for us will not last forever and so we are enjoying it to the max and trying not to worry too much about when the next paycheck will come, and from where it will come. 

ps. this is also one of the reasons we tend to gravitate towards warmer climate countries, often the cost of living is much less. :)

Jul 13, 2015

Your Words Are Powerful, Be Careful

   Sailors have the best stories. I mean, they have all the factors that could turn a mundane sailing tale into one of epic proportion if you throw in the wind, and the waves, and taking on water, and the boat problems, and so on and so on. Or you hear the opposite romantic ones where the ocean was like glass and they floated across it for hours on end while watching the beautiful moon up above and the lights on the islands dancing around. Either way, I think we all have to be very cautious of the tales we tell, even if it is with good intentions.

   It may sound funny comparing sailing stories to childbirth stories, but when we were pregnant with our first daughter our midwives wisely told us, “Do not let ANYONE tell you about their birthing experience”. Why? Because, in sailing like in birthing, we are all going to have our own unique experiences, good or bad, and the stories that other people tells us (whether good or bad) do affect our subconscious and thus give us preconceived notions and emotions. 

Example: The Mona Passage. Everyone says it’s shit to cross. No fun. Well I had heard these horror stories before our first crossing of the Mona, and what happened? I got stressed the heck out. “All the other sailors said its going to be crap, so it’s going to be crap!” We have now done that crossing three times and have had different experiences every one of them. Or, the opposite, where everyone says the BVIs are a breeze. Yeah they are, until you are getting hit with unexpected squall after squall with no time to breathe in between them. Then the romance is yanked from under your feet. And don't forget that with sailing you can somehow manage to feel both of these extremes in one single passage!

   If you are anything like me, it is not the beautifully romantic stories that I seem to remember. Oh no, my brain grabs hold of those horrors stories, and blows them to extreme proportions where there is no hope for me to recover after hearing a “bad review” of a certain crossing or passage. So like they teach in sales, speak to positivity. If I (try to) imagine only good things happening then I am mentally setting myself up for better odds rather than thinking "this is going to be horrific" and only seeing the bad in it all.

   Where is this all coming from?! We are about to leave the Virgin Islands, where we have been bouncing around for the past 7 months, to head south to Grenada. The stories I had heard from when we were in the Bahamas years ago were mainly, “From here to the VIs it will all be on the nose, pounding into it. But once you reach the Virgin Islands its a cakewalk all the way to Grenada”. Then we reach the VIs and now the stories have become, “You still have to do the horrible Anegada passage, on the nose again, and then its a cakewalk”. And today I heard, “Once you have reached Guadeloupe then you can start sailing, but until then you will be motor sailing and beating into it”. 

   Well let me tell you, that may very well end up being the case, BUT I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT!!! I already have enough on my plate to stress me out, like the fact that I am supposed to be prepping the boat while my husband is away in Tanzania and I am alone with our two daughters. And I have to wonder how our girls will react throwing them back into longer passages (sea sickness, boredom, etc). I have to stay on top of the weather and keep an eye out for weather windows. The last thing I need is someone else’s story of what their experience was like to cloud my own perspective. Believe me I have the power to create enough of a scary sailing beast or a romantic cruise with my own imagination. If your sail was good I am SOOOOOO happy for you; if it was bad I am SOOOOOO sorry for you. But our sailing experiences will never be the same, we have different sailboats, different weather, different sailing skills, that it is nearly impossible that I will ever experience fully what you did. So in this prep time for an unknown sailing destination, consider my easily-influenced thoughts and spare me your horrific experience, or your romantic cruise south, we will have to experience it ourselves so better do it with a “clean” state of mind.

   All of this to say, just be mindful of the stories we tell because our words can have a huge amount of influence on someone else’s thoughts and experiences. I also have to keep this in mind when writing on this blog, because yes, wind, waves, and horror make for far more entertaining sailing story, but some of those moments may have just been amplified by my personal emotions, and totally not what the next sailor is going to experience.

10 Things That Helped Us From Pregnancy to Infancy

Now to expand on those a little. At the moment I have a couple of friends that are pregnant for their very first time and have told me that any suggestions are welcome. I figured instead of writing them each separately the identical advice, I would just post it here instead and maybe someone else can benefit from what we have learned as well. I am not thinking that my list is the Be All and End All but they are definitely things that helped us while going through both our pregnancies and having little ones around with a very busy life.

**Disclaimer** I am not a doctor, a lactation consultant, or any sort of health care professional. I am not a rep for any of these products. Do not take this as the only way, its just OUR way, OUR necessity.

1. Hypnobirthing. I know it sounds completely hokey and insane, but it is not about swinging a pendulum in front of your face and being a zombie through your labour. It's more about the natural aspect of giving birth, getting back to that, and understanding different breathing techniques that can help you at different stages of your labour. It is a quick read and even if the techniques are not for your the first few chapters on the "History" of birthing are very interesting.

2. Bio Oil. I have had two very large pregnancies. Not to say that my babies were huge, although Arias did weigh in at 9lbs at birth, but I managed to gain a good 50 pounds with each pregnancy. A regimented routine of bio oil every morning and night kept me stretch mark free and helped with that itchy feeling that you get when your skin is expanding to an insanely abnormal size.

3. Iron in Prenatals. This is never something that I would have thought to check in to, but lets say that even before my pregnancies things were not always "regular" on the numer 2 front, and so add some pregnancy hormones to that, and a higher dose of iron in normal prenatals and I was struggling to make things run smoothly. Our midwives immediately advised me to switch to natural prenatals and things got better right away. I chose to use SISU prenatals.

4. Cataloguing Your Pregnancy. We took a lot of pictures while I was pregnant with Arias but nothing on a regular basis to show my growth. When Ellia came around we decided to do things differently and we started taking weekly pictures of the pregnancy as well as doing little write-ups of how I was feeling at the time. It is something that I cherish so much and regret we didn't do it with Arias. I strongly encourage you to catalogue, find your own way, but remember these times whether your pregnancy is going awesome or even less than awesome.

5. Amount of People at the Birth. Now this is not an exact science but our midwives warned us that every extra person you have at your birth you can add on average an extra hour to your labour. They say this is simply due to your subconscious, your inhibitions, and the amount you can relax and concentrate on the labour itself, rather than those around you trying to grab the cutest pics.

6. Birthing Pool. If you have the chance to have your baby in a birthing pool, we can tell you from experience that it is an amazingly helpful thing. But our midwives said, do not enter the birthing pool until you reach that point where if you were in a different you would be asking for pain killers. The pool with relieve the pressure that you are feeling but it will also slow your labour as it will help you relax. If you are not in the full throws of labour getting in the pool too early could just prolong it.

7. Optional Procedures at Birth. Do your homework. Know what is and isn't mandatory. Know what you want and what you are allowed to refuse or delay. In our case, with both girls we requested not having the goop rubbed into baby's eyes when they are born, we asked not to do the heel prick until 3 days after, and with Arias we chose not to give her the Vitamin K. With Ellia we gave her the vitamin K as her labour was so insanely quick that there were possibilities of inter cranial bleeding and the Vitamin K would help with her blood clotting. Not everything is mandatory, but if you do not do your homework you wont be able to tell your doctor or midwife what it is you want or don't want.

8. Lactation Consultant. We had the amazing gift of getting to speak with a Laction consultant before having Arias. We already knew that we would be breastfeeding, and in our case we chose to breastfeed on demand until the girls were ready to wean themselves (both around the age of 2). Something new that we did learn from the lactation consultant was about breastfeeding and drinking alcohol. There are a lot of articles and research out there, but to paraphrase lightly, the way she explained it was that your milk alcohol level will closely parallel your blood alcohol, so if you blow 0.08 (which is legal limit) than your baby is drinking a 0.08% beverage, which is way less than a non-alcoholic beer. Also, your milk goes through the same cleaning process as does your blood and so when you are no longer feeling the alcohol in your system it is no longer in your milk either. Do what you want with this information. Please go and do your own research and make your decision based and how you feel about breastfeeding and drinking. I did not drink at all during both my pregnancies, but once I had given birth I would partake in a drink every now and again. Just be prepared for some weird looks if ever anyone catches you breastfeeding and drinking at the same time (1 because this may mean you may be breastfeeding in public, which many still seem to find disturbing; and 2 because many have not done their homework when it comes to this topic and so immediately deem you a bad mother). 

9. Baby Wearing. We loved carrying the girls around on us, for both the practicality of it and for the extra snuggles that you get while doing it. We had two great baby carriers that I can not recommend enough. The first is our Buddha Baby carrier which is made of a three stretchy pieces of material that we could use to carry the girls on our fronts, our backs, our sides, while they slept, and while they nursed. Lots of people joked about how I always had a growth on me, since we were constantly wearing the girls all wrapped up in this. This is by far the BEST gift we received and the most used baby item we have owned. The second carrier is the Ergo Baby carrier, which is a stiffer material that is great to use when you need some extra support. We use this one, still to this day with our almost 2 year old Ellia, mostly when we go on longer walks or hikes. Go and invest in both these carriers.

10. Co Sleeping. There are many different sleep techniques and advice to teaching your infant to sleep, but most will agree that cosleeping is the best you can do for your child when it comes to bonding and attachment parenting. Yes there are the naysayers that think your baby could die from getting wrapped up in the blankets, or you could roll over your kid. But believe me, you become hyper sensitive when you have a little one in your bed. The main reason we chose to cosleep was more for my sanity. With breastfeeding on demand it was just easier for me to have baby in bed with me, or us, and that way I could nurse and fall back to sleep right away. Yes we do have some very attention spoiled little girls that still sleep with their parents, but it works for us, especially with our lifestyle of living on a boat or out of a hotel. 

Those are some of the things that we learned to be helpful that I wanted to pass along. Some may work for you, or none may, but in the end do what works best for you and your baby, keep your sanity, and enjoy all the ups and downs that come along with being pregnant and having a baby, because you can only be pregnant so many times. Unless you're the Duggars, they just keep on going.

It's easy to travel with baby when their bed is your bed
Children should not hold you back, they are accessories to your amazing adventures. Buddha Baby Sling.
Careful: there is a nursing baby in there, or a sleeping one, or nursing and sleeping. Who knows. It's great. Buddha Baby Sling.

want to hike a waterfall? Ergo Baby.
want to ride a horse? Ergo Baby.
one of the "weeks" we catalogued during my pregnancy with Ellia. The rest can all be found on my FB page.

Jul 5, 2015

Our India Rickshaw Run - Day 12-13 in Highlights

Day 12 (total km’s for day 12: 275 km)

-We finally got to ride elephants!!! And it was amazing! They sat the four of us on one elephant, back to back, within an amazement-ride cage, and off we went ridding through the jungle on the back of this ginormous animal. I took my flip flops off so I could rub its hairy side with my feet. The Mahout (elephant caretaker) had been with this elephant since it was 2, 18 years now. One elephant will always be with its same Mahout, until death, its beautiful the relationship they have. They quietly brought us around the park, where we got to see 4 rhinos, a bison, and a bunch of monkeys. But our favourite part was riding the elephant, of course.

-A truckstop looked like a great place to stop and get some food. And we weren’t the only ones to think so, this place was packed! When we arrived there was a group of women doing some traditional bhutanese dancing outside.
We ate these crazy hot peppers because we were dared to by Mark and Heather. It was horrible. We were instantly sweating, crying, burning, drooling, and shoving rice and cucumbers into our mouths in copious amounts to try and stop the hurt. Thanks guys!

-Stopped in Dubnoi for the night and used our second to last night to buy a few souvenirs for ourselves. We got a full set of stainless steel plates and bowls, and some cute dresses for the girls.

-One thing that is on my bucket list is to take part the Holi festival in India (where everyone throws powdered paint at eachother). We missed this year’s by two weeks. So Eben came up with the great idea that we should just have our own. Talk about waiting till the last minute too! That night at the restaurant we asked the owner if he knew where we could buy some Holi paint. We realized that it was 8pm and we were in some nowhere town, but the owner pulled some guy off the street and they found us 4kg’s of different coloured powder paint, which we would hopefully use at the finish line party.

Day 13 (total km’s for day 13: 255 km)


-On the advice of some another rickshaw team we decided to take the back road to Shillong rather than the main highway. Taking this road, we were told, we should make it to our final destination in the early afternoon. Well this road was in every state that a road could be, it was bumpy, full of puddles, hilly, windy, perfect, rocky, straight, mountainous, muddy, but most of all it was long. It was the perfect way to spend our last day of driving. Some of those mountain passes we weren't sure if our rickshaw would reach the top. We would be driving somewhere between first and second gear, alternating. It took us way longer than we expected because for most of this day we could drive faster than 20kms/hr because of the hills, or bumps, or holes, or mud, etc.

-At one of our mountain chai stops we were introduced to the game Carram. Its like playing pool but with checkers instead of balls, corners instead of pockets, and a table full of powder to help the checkers slide. Eben loved it.

-It is so cold up in the mountains. The people look completely different, their physical attributes, their clothing. And the housing is extremely different as well. The kids are so stinkin’ cute with their chubby faces and pointy tuques. I want to adopt a mountain baby!

-We came across another rickshaw, of friends of ours, on the side of the road only 30kms away from the final destination. Getting a closer look at it we see that there is no exhaust on it, no back axel, pretty much the whole back end has been stripped of all its essential parts and were sitting in the front seat. But no friends to be found.

-The last hour driving in to Shillong (the finish line) it poured and was super cold. I mean extremely cold. My toes were freezing, Eben’s hands were hurting from the cold and trying to grip the handles to drive, we were drenched, and laughing at how ridiculous this finale was.

-The finish line was extremely anti-climactic. We drove to the address given to us, a parking lot, and there it was, a ramp to drive up on and take your “finish line” pictures. Done. So weird. We signed our names on the board and saw that our rickshaw and that of Avi and Suk, came in 49th and 50th!!! Yay!

-The party came later that evening. We were all bussed to this hall where we were greeted by an Indian Country band (yes, 5 indian guys singing covers of english country music, so strange!) and a huge buffet. There were speeches and Eben and I each won a beer for some of the “best pics taken during the trip”. Later I approached one of the organizers and let him know that I may or may not have 4kgs of Holi paint, “How would you feel about that?”, his response “It’s not my hotel!” Eben and I and some friends set to work filling tiny plastic cups with Holi paint and handing it out to the crowd. The people painting started off slow with everyone questioning what we were handing them, and then the madness ensued and the stuff was being thrown everywhere. 10 minutes later we were out of paint, the crowd was an array of 4 different colors melded together, and the floor of the room looked like it was covered in blood (red paint mixed with spilt beer!) Everyone had a blast and it was the perfect way to finish off this crazy adventure.

Total trip km’s: 3,467 km

All aboard! It felt like an amusement park ride chair.

A rhino and an elephant in the same shot!

We were 4 to an elephant, so we got to share this experience with our driving buddies
the best dessert we had the whole trip

stopped to visit a school as per requested by a friend's students

fish anyone?
Our last day was really wet
they picked up a hitchhiker!

puddles that could swallow a rickshaw

but the kids still had to get to school

and the cows still had to get across the bridge.
playing Carram

more chai!

A homemade cart that they drag up the hill and ride back down, with only a piece of 2x4 to slow down

She stood and watched us for a solid 10 minutes.

They call this region "little Ireland", it was weird being in the rolling hills

We found our buddies' rickshaw, with a few missing parts

oh wait, there are the parts!

The Goobers and Ketchup&Mayo finished 49th & 50th !!

So awesome to have accomplished it.

To India, and all the friends we made there, “We miss you already”. And to the Adventurists, “Thank you and we will most likely see you again someday!