Aug 30, 2014

Shopping For A Cause: No One Without

   I feel a little conflicted about how viral the ALS ice bucket challenge has become. On one hand, this challenge has exploded on to our social media and has raised huge awareness and funds for a disease that many people didn't even know about. Myself, like many others I am sure, didn't know what this horrible disease could do to a person, that you could become trapped in your own body, every movement becoming 20x harder to nearly impossible. The thought of it makes me claustrophobic, ugh. The lives of the afflicted, and those close to them, a derailed, permanently. There is no cure, yet. So I am super thankful to the challenge for opening my eyes to this disease. And for helping people open their wallets to a cause that was underfunded. 

   But on the other hand, I see video after video, of people dumping buckets of water over their heads. This may seem trivial to many, it may seem like a fun opportunity to get a video of yourself doing something quirky online, but this side of it makes me cringe. For the past 6 months we have been working hand-in-hand with communities where water is not not always available. In the one community they only have access to water twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and that is only if there is enough water pressure to make it to their community which is the last in the water table. And this water that I am talking about, is not even clean enough to drink. This water, that they have access to on a bi-weekly basis, is merely for washing and cleaning. For clean drinking water this community has no choice but to go out and buy it.

   I am not writing this to come down on anyone about doing the challenge. Good on you if you donated. (And our daughters are having a blast watching all of you guys dump freezing water over yourselves!) I am no stranger to water overconsumption right now. We have gone from living on a boat, where you have to be an absolute tightwad about water consumption, to living in our hometel, where my showers are warm and long, and this is coming from me, who is working hand-in-hand with these less fortunate communities. I am writing this, so as you read it you can remind yourself of how fortunate you are to be living in a place where the water is available for you to consume. 

   I also encourage you to double donate, or triple, or however many times you wish. If you have been nominated to do the ice bucket challenge, donate to ALS and also send another donation to an organization that helps provide clean drinking water to some community in need. Or don't use the water at all, donate, and send a letter to your local government representative mentioning the money and resources you just saved your city by not dumping the water and encourage them to in turn donate to a good cause!

   This brings me to this weeks Shopping For A Cause. If you don't want to just donate, then spend. Spend your money somewhere where your money will be put to good use. No One Without is a clothing social enterprise that has paired up with Thirst Relief International to provide safe, clean water to those in need.  They have aligned themselves with this organization's mission to "overcome death and disease from the consumption of contaminated water". With the help of the bio-sand filters from Thirst Relief, people have the ability to create water from both contaminated water sources as well as ground water sources. So the next time you want or need to buy yourself a shirt, go and buy it from No One Without, who with each purchase provide one person with clean drinking water for 25 years. Their clothes are comfy, look great, and are affordable. Get the word out about No One Without, because the more people know about them, the more people they can get clean water to. Make them your annual "donation", or buy everyone one of their shirts next Christmas and with the gift include the info on their website, about how that shirt just gave one other person water. That's a double gift.

Aug 25, 2014

Arias the Superstarrrrr

   A few weeks ago we were asked if Arias could be a model for her and Ellia's school promo. We didn't mind at all. One day after our work, Eben took both girls over to the photographers where Arias and two of her fellow schoolmates (seen above) were given the full photo shoot experience, plus all that in the Dominican heat.

   Fast forward to a couple of nights ago, I was told that the promo ad was finished and was now featured in the Playero parking lot. (Playero is the gringo grocery store here in Sosua, if you want to find anything foreign you will find it here.) Today I brought the girls to see the ad, and Arias was so proud of herself. She will now be a part of this town for long after we leave!

Aug 21, 2014

Never Trust A Fart: Adventures With Sick Kids.

  What happens when you combine "mama bear" protectiveness with foreign country germs? A mother that has the looming thoughts of weird illnesses striking our little ones at any point in our adventures. It's bad enough that our kids got poisoned with ciguatera from that evil puerto rican fish, but our lifestyle also makes it that with every weird looking bug bite or stomach cramp we have to question the cause and possible ensuing infections, viruses or parasites.I don't doubt that any mother fears sickness in their child, but having to worry about things like chikungunya on a daily basis has heightened my worries. Mama bear is on high alert, with bug spray in hand and checking our daughters for symptomatic rashes on a regular basis.

   Over the past two weeks we have had to make three trips to the hospital, one for each child. The first was with Ellia, who has had a persistent cough for about a month or so. It has varied in intensity and even seemed to be getting better at one point. But then she started hacking like a lifelong smoker, her nights were restless, and she was complaining that it hurt when she coughed, so we decided to look into it. We went to the pediatrician would prescribed a cough suppressant, to help her sleep, and amoxicillin (since she sounded flemmy and had an ear infection at the same time, poor baby). She also wrote a prescription for an xray and told me that if after the meds her cough was still lingering to bring her back to check for bronchitis. We did the rounds of meds, every 8 hours, which always makes for a disrupted night for everyone with those late night med times. the ear infection was defeated but the cough stayed on. 

   I brought her back to the hospital, with Arias in tow. I didn't think this would take too long. I was wrong. It took us 4 hours to get the xray and wait for a doctor's consult. And of course, since I expected a quick visit, like the last, I had absolutely nothing to entertain the girls with. Four hours turned into the girls fighting over who got to sit where, Ellia accidentally peeing on the floor, Arias having a meltdown in public, and a menstrual me being on the verge of tears at multiple occasions. I chose the wrong day to do this. At the end of our four hours a doc comes out to tell me her xray was clear but since she wasn't the original pediatrician we saw that I should come back some other day to see the first doc. I lost control of my emotions, and because I am me, when I get angry I cry. Thankfully I had sunglasses. I grabbed the girls and walked out of the hospital, holding back my lip quiver until I was in the parking lot. The girls spent their walk to their school consoling mama that it would all be ok. And I also accidentally gave Eben a panic attack when I called him from the hospital parking lot crying, he thought Ellia had some horrible terminal illness, where as I was just calling to say they didn't find anything! 

   Since then we have been treating Ellia with fish oil, a natural method we learned in the Bahamas. Luckily for her the oil here tastes better than the stuff in the Bahamas, which tasted like straight fish with cherry smell on top. yuck.

   Now Arias is sick. She has had diarrhea for 4 days and has puked twice, each time in the middle of the night. We knew if was a serious claim when she told me she pooped her pants at school. That is never an easy thing to admit to, coming from someone who has had a few such emergencies in her lifetime. But then when the throw up and fever came we questioned more than just regular dehydration. Now it could be the flu, or a paracite, or any other weird bug. I checked for rashes again. No chikungunya, thankfully. Which meant, we had to return to the hospital. Arias was quite entertained when I made her poop in a cup with my hand looming under her bum. She kept joking that she was going to pee on me! Not funny. Thankfully for me, we were in and out this time. Even though you never want to think of your kid having a parasite, we were hoping they would find something to explain her symptoms, but the results came back negative. So after more sickness out of both ends, she is now sitting in bed, by my side, taking her second sick day from school. I have been dosing her with electrolyte drinks and her energy seems good. We will see how tonight goes. 

   Sidenote: she just woke from her nap and asked me "mama did I poop in my undies? Guess how fast I jumped out of bed to check. The answer, which I will quote from the wise words her Aunty Cyra "Never trust a fart", especially when you have the runs.

Aug 17, 2014

Shopping For A Cause: Freedom Culture

  Here is another awesome apparel brand using some of their profits to help yet another needy cause, stopping sex trafficking. Freedom Culture was founded by Cheryl. Doing good and Helping the World had been a dream, that for her, like many of us, got put on the back burner while the rest of life kept her busy. That was until she was educated on sex trafficking. She found it unbearable to imagine herself or her children being stuck in situation that an estimated 27-30 million people find themselves in today, and that is when she decided to make the dream a reality.

   At Freedom Culture they believe in making a positive change. They created a compassionate business model "Shop + Share" because they think that even when purchasing a fashionable item you can make a difference. Like they said, it is good to donate, picket, or throw a fundraiser, etc. but you are still going to want to purchase a new t-shirt, beautiful bracelet, or hoodie. With Shop + Share they combine our need for clothes with the needs of charities working in the sex trafficking field. With each purchase made a percentage of the profit gets given to one of those charities. 

   Not only is a percentage of their profits going to helping a good cause, but they also ensure that the clothes they are creating are being made in an environment that adheres to a code of social responsibility. Because of our global economy, it is not possible for them to make all of their clothes in North America, so they seek out to do business with foreign companies that are either WRAP or SA800 certified. Which in normal English means that these companies they are associated with have a quarterly inspection done to ensure that they are being responsible and upholding things like no forced labour, no child labour, proper working conditions, wages and compensation, freedom of association, and environmental protection. By holding them to a code of social responsibility they are elevating their business and improving the lives of the people they employ.

   This brand has something for everyone. You can feel good wearing their clothes, literally, they feel real nice, and you know that by wearing their clothes you are joining a culture of change. It's a good culture to be a part of. We each have a couple of their tees and really like them. They are the right length, the right fit, comfy, and stylin'. Everything we love in good clothes. I especially love all of these "Shopping For A Cause" businesses that I am highlighting in this mini-series, because I think that what they are doing is amazing; creating a business and using some of their profit to make a positive change in our world, and making us fashionable too. Check out their website, educate yourself, and join the Freedomize Culture.

The girls wanted to get in on the fun!

Aug 15, 2014

The Sea Creatures Are Our Friends

   Forget ocean world, forget paying $300 to swim with dolphins or pet the sting rays. Our girls did/do it all for free, and a very regular basis. (Arias actually came to call the stingrays her pets since she would go feed them daily and explain to other tourists how to handle the animals!) Tonight I found myself going through our old pictures and came across so many fun ones of this aquatic friendship. Here are a bunch of them, and a couple of videos, of the ocean creatures that our girls have had the privilege of playing with. 

   Arias has come to prove herself much braver than her Mama in many situations. And Ellia, well she seems to take a little more after me in this regard!

Starfish bigger than your head, Bahamas

Fishing in Miami

Swimming pigs, Staniel Key Bahamas

more starfish, the smaller kind

Giant turtles, Hawaii

Ellia's first sea creature friend, Hawaii

Molting sea lion, Hawaii

Swimming with dolphins, Georgetown Bahamas

Feeding the stingrays, Georgetown Bahamas

More huge starfish, Bahamas

Helping pufferfish puff, Puerto Rico

Flying fish, flew right into our boat, Dominican Republic

 And then sometimes we make our own little sea creature friends!

Aug 9, 2014

Why? What? Where? How? : Podcast about us

   Another sailing family that has now temporarily return to land life has dedicated part of their blog to highlighting other traveling families out there. A couple of weeks ago they contacted us to see if we would be interested in sharing our story in the form of a 30 minute-ish audio podcast. With their podcasts they hope to inspire and encourage families across the world to take the leap and not be afraid to travel with your little ones. We were glad to help and had a fun time talking with Eric, over skype, as we recorded our podcast.

   Check out their blog to read more about ours, and theirs, and many other traveling families traveling adventures, and if you have the time, listen to what we had to say in the podcast. Get a glimpse into the Why? What? Where? and Hows? of our lifestyle. 

   And since it's a simple audio podcast you can have it playing in the background while you are working away on other projects.

   Here is the link to it: 


Aug 6, 2014

Kiteboarding Progress : My Husband Is Insane!

   When we first came back to the DR, Eben and I decided to take kiteboarding lessons. For a couple of reasons really. The first being that between trips, on our down time, there wasn't so much for us to do, considering we live full time in an all-inclusive (meaning no cooking, no projects, no cleaning, etc). So we needed a time filler. Eben was getting bored, and that is never a good thing. And the other reason we decided to give this extreme sport a go is because we live 10 minutes away from Cabarete, one of the kiteboarding mecca's of the world. People flock here in droves to take advantage of the great winds that are found on the north coast of the island, which are optimal for this sport. So how could we live right next door and not try.

   Our lessons went well. Eben had some prior board sports skills (from wakeboarding, snowboarding, and so on). Me, none at all. Complete newbie to board sports (other than the handful of runs I have done down a bunny hill with my two feet strapped to one board), and I had never flown a kite of this magnitude. In our "couples" private lessons we had 9 hours that we could split any which way. Because of our varying skill levels, I took 6 of those hours and Eben used 3. I spent all 6 of my hours with a helmet and lifejacket on, to protect myself, and warn everyone else around of my newbie status. The sad part was that it wasn't even cool looking gear, so I looked like a complete knob during those 6 hours of my life, but at least I was holding a kite, pretty extreme of me right!?

   Once our hours were up and the security blanket of our instructors was gone I complete wussed out. I had the kite up in the air, I had no life jacket, no helmet, my feet were in the ocean, and I panicked. I nearly started crying. I decided to land the kite. Most of my fear was that I was going to mangle myself, embarrass myself, and possibly kill someone else. That was the last time I held a kite. Sad I know, but at the same time I don't really know why I thought I would like kiteboarding. It is a dangerous, adrenaline rush, where you are constantly getting water splashed in your face...I don't like any of those things! But for Eben, those are the things that make him tick. He has continued and is doing some amazing stuff.

   When it came to buying gear we did what we most often do. We did lost of research online, we checked what is best, and what costs look like. We even contacted Naish and they offered us a pretty good discount. But then we ended up doing our usual, buying what is most convenient, at hand, and cheap. We bought locally, used gear from other kiteboarders that were heading home after their vaca on the island. We also figured that by doing this if ever one of the kites went on an adventure on its own, or slammed down to the ground and exploded we wouldn't cry as much about a $500 kite compared to a $2000 one. So his kites and board came from around here. 

   One thing that we did seek out, and got by mail, were Eben's sunglasses. It wasn't until he had done a few sessions of boarding that we realized that while you are learning you spend a lot of time out on the water starring up at your kite, and outside of sunglasses there is no way of protecting your eyes from the harsh sun. Eben had come home a few times with bloodshot eyes from the sun and salt. He looked liked he'd been drinking and crying way too much. So we contacted Seaspecs and they sponsored us two pairs of their sunglasses made especially for water sports. (They have the strap to hold them on your head, are polarized and have different tinted lenses to prevent glare on the water, they float, and they make you look like you should be going super fast!) And to protect the rest of his body from the sun he wears his NoZone t-shirt rashguard that he received last year, and our skin-protectors extraordinaire, Swox and Sun Bum sunscreens/sunblocks for all skin that is not hidden away with clothes and gear.

   For his first few weeks Eben paid for a some of his sessions to be supervised by a caddie that could keep an eye on him from the beach in case he needed help at any time. He has now come leaps and bounds, literally. He went from only being able to ride in one direction, to now going every which direction, and most often every run he does involves him launching off a wave and flying into the air anywhere from 2 to 20 feet up. He has also had a few spills, but thankfully, other than getting a few good salt water nasal cleanses and some mild thigh chafing, he has come home in great spirits. 

   He had one pretty funny story where he was kiting out past the reef (where hardly anyone goes), crashed his kite, which then accidentally unhooked, launched again, got dragged, until one of the lines snapped and the kite flew away. Now remember, he was way out past the reef, where most people don't kite, and his kite was now a mile off. To his luck, someone kited over and checked on him, then she returned to the beach and got someone with a higher skill set to go rescue his kite and then return to rescue him. This guy, his rescuer, retrieved Eben's kite by hooking it to his belt and dragging it behind him back to shore, and then returned to get my floating hubby. He was a strong enough kiter that he hooked Eben to him and had him wakeboard behind him, both being flown under the first guys kite. I didn't get to see it myself, but with my knowledge of kiting, this is pretty impressive!

   Eben is no longer bored and has found an outlet for his anxious energy, which is great for him, but a little nerve racking for me every time I see him head out past that stinkin' reef. 

And Me . . .

This is as far as I made it.