Friday, December 17, 2010

Food Log

I never feel as if I've got a true mental picture of a someone's trip, whether to a restaurant or to a foreign country, unless I've heard what they ate. Here is a culinary image:

Fish Stock:
1. catch some fish (or have friends catch fish) and fillet it.
2. Save all of the viscera, bones, scales, entire head (including eyeballs!)
3. Toss the above parts into a pressure cooker and fill with water even with the top of the mess.
4. Optional: add a bay leaf
5. Bring the pot to pressure and cook for 20 or so minutes.
6. when pot is ready to open, do so and pour the entire brew through a very fine strainer.
7. Keep the juice and use as the base for soups and chowders.
8. Toss the particles overboard after picking through the head for choice scraps of very tasty meat.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life in New Zealand

View on a hike from Lagoon Bay. We took a short dinghy ride from Scott's Landing to this bay.

This is Eloise trying out her high chair and wearing the excellent sun hat she wears almost every day.

John Carr frying freshly caught snapper aboard Nomad on Thanksgiving weekend

Newsflash: Eloise banished to mucky stable

I’ve been thinking about Christmas from a different perspective lately. Though she’s only been in our lives for five quick months, Eloise’s presence has been life-changing.

Verses I’ve heard all of my life mean so much more. The idea of God as a Father has become three-dimensional. I wonder about the deep well of emotions that I have for Eloise. If I feel like this about her, does that really mean God feels that way about insignificant me? The delight I have when Eloise acquires a milestone as little as pushing herself up with her arms must equally translate to the God levelIf that’s the case, then he must feel that same immense delight when he sees EACH ONE of his millions of children developing as he planned. On the flip side, when the day comes for Eloise to first be cruel or hateful, I will be sad because I see her as a beautiful, perfect creature. I think about God carrying the weight of that type of sadness for all of us unique and individually created people when we choose to be hateful or choose our own path away from him.

Then images from Bethlehem pop into my head. The Son of God transmogrified from the celestial dimension into a grubby, murderous land. That would be far worse than if I decided to drop Eloise off in the home of known child abusers. How could God have been willing to rip himself apart like that? The only possible answer is that he so longed for the hearts of those murderous grubby people that he was willing to carry the sorrow of Jesus’ absence. And so God dropped his beloved Son off at a stable in a cold, tiny town in the middle of the night.

But the loving daddy in him couldn’t just leave it like that. He had to tell people about it. As any devoted father would do, God hired a choir and sent birth announcements to whomever in the area might listen. As it turns out, it was some shepherds and some “heathen” stargazers. They left their sheep and their telescopes and headed to visit the baby, bringing gifts. Reminds me a lot of the friends and family members who heard of Eloise’s birth and took off work and traveled to come ooh and aaah and take pictures.

So this Christmas I plan to make the effort to oooh and aaah over Jesus, take pictures. But that’s just the beginning. Many of those same people who came to ooh and aah over Eloise follow her life closely. They want updates. They want cuddles. They want to know every drooling detail. But really they want her to come home, because they love her.

There’s more to Christmas than the snapshot of a mucky stable. It’s really the on-going story of a daddy aching for each one of his kids to come home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

family life

In the month since we arrived in New Zealand, Eloise has practiced sitting up, growing hair and getting to know new people who love her and treat her like she's just the cleverest girl ever. Brian and I have practiced cleaning out the boat's nooks and corners and sailing (did some zig-zagging across the Mahurangi harbour this past weekend), and we bought a station wagon, complete with a "baby on board" sign suction-cupped to the side window. Unbeknownst to us, the words "Subaru Legacy" are code for "break into me and steal me". A week after purchasing this 1994 wagon, it was taken for a joy ride and relieved of our belongings (they didn't take the car seat!). Thanks to friends and strangers, it's back on the road and we're being careful to remove all objects of value before parking it anywhere.

My favorite times of the day are still the moments when I peel back the blanket over Eloise's bed. Her face lights up and her whole body wriggles with joy. After the initial reaction, she sometimes pulls her crocheted snuggle blanket over her face and then peers out again with that same enormous gummy smile.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010


Just thought I'd share a few photos.
I never thought I'd have to store my baby under the galley table with the bags of flour but that's actually been a really great place to prop her.  I can do my kitchen work and talk to her and keep an eye on her.  pretty soon, I'll need to place a barricade across the entrance but even then, it should be a great spot.

All in all, Eloise is still a very smiley girl  who likes people and gets quiet  and wide-eyed when we take her outside.  She's started reaching her arms out for things or people she wants.  She has warmed up very quickly to her Kiwi Nana and Papa, John and Annette.  She is still drooling and showing no teeth for all the effort.  We keep checking!
Here are a few pictures to show her in her daily life.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I find it appropriate that my first entry in New Zealand made mention of sheep. This one does as well. Sue greeted us as Brian and I pulled in to John and Annette's driveway, "oh good, you can help us with the sheep." They needed the Ute (translation: pickup truck) we've been borrowing, to pull a trailer with Annette's sheep in it to the butcher's. Except the five sheep weren't in the trailer yet. They were baaing around in the tiny paddock (field) below John and Annette's house. So I climbed into the field with Sue and John to herd the sheep toward the gate. Brian backed the Ute down to the gate entrance. On our second try, we got the sheep in the pen next to the gate. John began wrestling each one onto its bum. Once on their bums, sheep become calm and he was able to drag them through the gate and place their front feet on the back ledge of the trailer to boost them in. Brian operated the gate, and assisted with sheep boosting. Sue and I stood at the back of the pen's short gate to intimidate the sheep from jumping back over into the paddock.

Eloise slept in her car seat in the Ute this entire time.

Next, Sue and I hopped into the Ute and drove the sheep to "Dr. Hud's Killing and Processing" operation out in Kaipara Flats. I was surprised to see genuine redwood trees on the side of the road up to Dr. Hud's. The sheep were unloaded and marked and Sue drove us back to the house. On the drive we passed the farm she co-owns. I learned all about share-milking and a bit about dairy farming.

Eloise slept almost all the way home.

She is teething and it appears as if all that drooling and frustration requires extra sleep.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Our bonnie wee lass

Our welcome to New Zealand was an hour and a half later than expected due to a delay of our take off in Sydney. Since then, however, nothing has been slow. We had one day of puttering around the Carr's house and then the next morning we hopped into the dinghy with Eloise in her bright yellow and red life jacket on. She was completely relaxed and snuggled into my lap all the way down the river to Nomad. Once on Nomad, I made her a nest under the galley table and laid her down for her nap. Her acceptance of new experiences with equanimity has been a wonder and a relief. She only woke up when Nomad's motor turned off after an hour and a half of motoring to the Warkworth Cement Works (there's a great view of this site on Google Earth if you want to see where we're berthed).

Eloise has seen sheep for the first time, been a bit curious about the accents of people around her but mostly pretty much her usual self with some extra snuggling required.

Her Christmas gift from mom and dad is early. We bought her a sheepskin of her very own yesterday. It will be her mattress on the boat. Annette made it a great slip cover. Tonight is the test run sleeping on the boat. We'll let you know how it goes.

I knew I was in another country this morning when John was sitting around sipping coffee with his two co-workers at the kitchen table. One of them, Phil, looked over at Eloise sitting on Annette's lap and said, "She's a bonnie wee lass, isn't she?" I glowed!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sleep 2

So, I shouln't have crowed so quickly with delight after one success. That was the only success with that method. That gimmick included waiting outside of the sleeper's room, watching until the first signs of early waking, dashing in, nursing/soothing the child back to sleep before she woke up. This is not the solution I needed. I needed something that didn't require me to re-sleep her half way through each nap.

The good thing about that original dud was the idea of lurking outside the room right around the time of the early nap awakening. I used that strategy to see that Eloise was startling herself awake. She looks like I might look when I have falling dreams. This triggered me to remember that the nap strike began around when I decided she was too wiggly to swaddle any more. So, I've resumed a semi-swaddle technique that seems to make her feel safe and keep her from startling. Longer naps have been the joyful result.

Friday, September 17, 2010


the simple entity I have enjoyed for so many years without giving it much thought has now become a prize to be pursued. I knew that it would because I've watched other parents wrestle with how to provide this gift to their children and to themselves. That's what it has become for me. A needed gift that I want to give my little girl. When her dark eyelashes close delicately on her porcelain chubby cheeks I feel the same satisfaction as when I hear her rhythmic gulping at my breast. I am providing her with the means to her brain growth, cell growth,and emotional well-being when I provide her with sleep.

The various books, the websites, the questioning of friends and doctor are all worth the effort if I gain a nugget that leads to sleep for Eloise. The problem with all of that information gathering is that, as with all things "baby", the study of sleep is rife with opinions at odds with each other, at odds with my specific child's behavior.

But today there was a breakthrough. For some reason about 3 weeks ago, my little darling decided to go on a nap strike. That's right. No signs, no memo to announce the radical change, just one day she slept for only 45 minutes instead of the usual 3 hours during her morning nap time. Not only did this throw off all the other naps of the day it disturbed my heretofore gentle grinning baby. Since that day, she hasn't slept for more than one hour at any of her nap times unless I decide to wear her in the carrier for her entire nap time. I have done this many days because after a 45 minute nap, she was waking up yawning, nervous, unwilling to play on her own, and much more clingy. I was sad. I wanted to read her Sandra Boynton books instead of trying to convince her not to cry.

But, as I said before, today there was a breakthrough. I read one of my books and it had a suggestion for my exact situation. I performed the suggestion, albeit skeptically. It worked. She slept 3 hours again. I had to keep checking on her to make sure she was ok. But what a relief. The reward for all that sleep? A cheerful enormous smile when she eased back into waking.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Esther was alive for 16 years. and some might say that's it, it's over. But as her family posted this morning, "We are convinced she is more truly alive than ever but still our hearts are breaking... " They also wrote, "now she belongs to the heavens." I believe and I think they would agree that she has always belonged to the heavens ever since the Creator imagined her to life. As we all belong to the heavens.

Right now I'm very grateful for my little Eloise so that I can feel more deeply the agony the loss of my cousin's daughter.

I feel the 12 pounds of solid aliveness as I hold Eloise and listen to her grunts and squeaks. When I laid her down to her nap just now I imagined how it would be to lay her down only one last time, her peaceful face a farewell visage. It breaks me. The hopes Esther's family had, the joy they had in her quirky spunky self. Esther steered our boat once, half of her life ago, before the cancer. She hopped right up to the steering wheel and took a turn, no worries about how her efforts would turn out, just a curiosity and excitement to try her hand at a new thing.

She has many new things waiting for her in eternity.

Here are her feelings from a couple of weeks ago:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Eloise is now 11 lb. 4 oz. only 5 weeks after she arrived at 9 lbs. She still feels quite tiny!
Recent joys have been:
Eye contact
smiling games
dimply hands
and much much more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Next Chapter

Eloise arrived 3 weeks ago. All 9 pounds of her.
I started reading 9 months ago in preparation for coming and realize now that I could never have prepared completely. But, I swung through books as a child on monkey bars swings from one crossbar to the next. The Girlfriend's guide to Pregnancy was superceded by Dr. Sears' "The Pregnancy Book". Next came "Childbirth without Fear" which was in turn left behind for Dr. Sears' "The Birth Book". Thrown into the mix were the pamphlets from the medical world and google searches when nothing else answered my questions.

Now I've swung on and "The Nursing Mother's Companion" truly has been just that. The ubiquitous Dr. Sears and his "The Baby Book" is just coming in to view and sits on the coffee table, right now open to Chapter 1. Many of the books along my journey have raised concerns, caused anxiety, reduced anxiety, comforted me, puzzled me, or lead me to further inquiry.

But most delightful of all the books I've read, all the resources I've gone through along this ride, is Eloise herself. I never guessed that learning to read my daughter would be the most important joy of all. She has already taught me how to read her hunger signs, her happy sounds, her upset sounds. She has already in her short life caused anxiety one moment and then comforted me in the next. She certainly requires further inquiry for many more years.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby Eve

No, that's not the baby's name. That's just what day it is, or feels like. Today, the official due date, has only two more hours in it but there are no indications of imminent labor. Which is just fine because I feel pretty nervous about the whole thing.
Feels like a gale is brewing and we've done all the battening of hatches and reading of storm guides. All that's left is to see what it's really like in real life. I know we can't put it off forever but one more quiet walk with Brian around the Santa Cruz harbor, one more day of just deciding what I felt like doing when I wanted to, restful and pleasant, without factoring in the needs of a little one, made me grateful.

And just like all the gales we've been through on our sturdy ship, Nomad, this gale of labor and adjusting to a new life as 3 will soon be a part of our shared story, part of who we are and who we're becoming.

Monday, May 31, 2010

4 more weeks

In the last two months I've gained 15 pounds, (and no, I still don't think it's very kind for people to tell me how large I'm getting), checked off a long term goal of visiting Victoria Canada's Butchart Gardens with my mom and sister, finished my semester teaching at Bethany, met my new nephew Elijah (born a week ago), continued my very helpful prenatal yoga classes, planted a veggie garden, and made a long list of things I want to accomplish before the baby gets here.

More than ever pregnancy is reminding me of the cruising life. The unknown and the uncontrollability is difficult to accept. I want my labor and birth to go a certain way, but I can't make things happen. Just like picking the 'perfect" anchorage based on books written a few years ago. Many times, tired and ready to rest, we'd pull in just before sunset, looking forward to stillness and the ability to relax, only to discover a rolly anchorage, untenable anchoring conditions, or onshore winds. We would have to leave, or if it was too late, we'd have to keep anxious night watch.

Many times I wondered about my ability to handle what the sea or the weather might hand us. Similarly, I've wondered many times whether I'll be able to meet the demands of motherhood. On the sea, we took each moment as it came, reefed down if we expected poor weather, slept and prepared food when we could so we'd be prepared for times we couldn't sleep or eat easily. I suppose we'll do the same as we set sail into the sea of parenthood. We'll have family around us that love us and support us, and more books than we could ever read on the various subjects of child rearing. So, I'm practicing not being anxious about the unpredictable unknown future.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

one adventure to the next

Well, I've been feeling a bit like a traitor. This blog started out as travelogue of Nomad and her crew preparing to go off shore and their adventures thereafter. Nomad has safely voyaged about 7 or 8 thousand miles and is tucked into a small bay in the Mahurangi Harbour of New Zealand. So where does that leave this blog? No ocean or boat-related adventures, no blog? I think not.

I've realized that this next chapter of our lives, preparing for a new member of our family that isn't made out of fiberglass, is providing us many similar experiences as did our cruising days. Let me list a few comparisons:

1. Just as going to the specialty boat stores and reading the word "marine" printed on a package immediately increased the price by double, equally true in the world of special "infant" or "maternity" items. For example, even though they weren't even infant or maternity items, I willingly, albeit in a state of shock, paid 50$ for a few bottles of natural/paraben-free shampoo and other products. All for the baby's sake. It was the same with Nomad. If we needed a specific item that other stores didn't sell, plop went the money.

2. GADGETS. Think of boating and think of gadgets. You need this tool, that tool, this monitoring device for the bilge, this other one for your wind speed and direction. But you don't really need all of the gadgets that the marketing people and the cruising magazines say are "must-haves". Really, all you need is a solid sea-worthy hull, a good set of sails and rigging, a way to provide yourself with meals, a good GPS and some paper charts, and off you go. Sure, there's lots more icing you can put on that cake to make it easier but at some point if you keep buying gadgets, you either don't have money to leave the harbor, or you have to buy a bigger boat to put the extra gadgets in.
BABY GADGETS. Ditto the above paragraph, except for the must-haves are the baby, diapers, means of feeding it, cleaning it, clothing it, and a safe way to transport the little thing. Again, there are a plethora of items to be had that claim to (and some actually do) make life with a baby more simpler, but at some point, a person would need to buy a bigger house or garage in order to house all the items "needed" for the small 10 lb. human.

3. The Unknown. In cruising there are many simple unknown things like looking at a pen drawing of an anchorage and its hazards but not knowing what it's really like for our specific boat, the current weather conditions. Reading vague references to anchoring "between the white two story house and the yellow buoy" but knowing that was written three years ago with two hurricane seasons in between is exactly like the many "baby guides" written. A person can read the experiences of others but so much is different for each family. There are the little unknowns like gender, eye color, temperament, etc.
In sailing there are large unknowns also. Hurricanes blow in suddenly, mistakes (very rarely) end boats up on reefs, crew members abandon ship, gadgets malfunction... the list is endless. Entering life from the birth canal immediately exposes each of us to very large unpredictable unknowns. As the captains of our little baby's life it will be our job to be as prepared with gadgets, knowledge, experience, and wise supporters to help him or her navigate into adulthood and all the challenges in between. It's daunting, just as leaving California on a 42 foot boat was daunting. But, with God in the heavens and guiding us we made it. We can only pray the same is true of our next venture.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

slippery slope

Well all that nesting has kept me away from the keyboard. OR maybe it's just me keeping me away. Life has felt like one of those ill-designed water slides where there's a really steep fast corner that opens to an almost flat spot that requires scooching to reach the next steep spot. During the scooching part though, there's that panicky urge, "I'd better move quick or the person behind me is going to catch up and mow me over in this dead spot." However, in my situation, the slow scooching parts aren't long enough. Even with the panicky urge that I'd better get in gear and get all the things done before my next Ed Psych class looms... or before I'm too huge to dig that hole for the azalea... or before THE BABY COMES...
I want to linger in the slow times, taking walks with Brian smelling the smell of redwood soil and the daphne plant blooming. Puttering in our room also calls. Anything with a slow rhythm calls, like the satisfied mooing and bell-clanging that call peace to hikers through the Swiss alps.

This long water slide will drop me, drop Brian and me, out into the sudden splash of an infant into our lives. I keep waking up in the mornings, leisurely enjoying the feel of the sheets and the sun peeking in the window. Then I look over at the cradle next to my side of the bed and the reality of peaceful mornings is contrasted with the upcoming urgency of an infant's needs. And that infant will be ours. That infant's needs will be our responsibility. Wow.
It feels like more of a change than getting married did.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The cold, dusty box-filled "new basement" (aka storage room)as it has been called since the mid-90s when my mom and dad built it, is our nest. The rat-chewed boxes of my preacher grandpa's commentaries have been discarded and their contents tucked on shelves. The forgotten antiques have seen the light of day are being prepared to be displayed. The 400 lb. capacity Toledo Ohio meat packing scale will be our baby changing table. It's free and we can't buy that type of changing table at Toys R' Us anyway.

So our nesting continues. A bit of paint on this tacky chest of drawers, a brass boat lamp hung on the support post, our basement home is becoming cozy. Next, I'll plant ferns outside our window and sew some matching curtains. Hmmm what next?

Monday, February 1, 2010


Since I have been sharing the very intimate personal space of my body with another being, albeit tiny, I have been less interested in socializing. A definition of introvert is someone who is rejuvenated through solitary activities and drained by social activities. Talking is harder work than ever before. Why this is, I don't know. Blame it on Baby Thom. Or me being awash with different chemicals in different combinations than ever before.
For some strange reason puttering around our little apartment or in the garden is much more appealing than in the past. Or maybe I just miss the rhythm and seclusion of our little home on the sea. It's simpler that way.

To top all of this off, I have always believed that people's belly's were part of their personal space. So, now my personal space is announcing itself to people in a very obvious fashion. Thereby inviting conversation about it, and PATTING of it. Maybe I should invest in a T-shirt that says, "Do not touch". Or maybe I should try to be less prickly. But, it is my body after all. I guess I could stay home for the next 4 months. That should cure my introversion and the belly patting. It would like when Frances the badger loves jam and so her mother only feeds her jam and toast. Frances starts not liking jam so much. hmmm.

Friday, January 22, 2010

grass of the field

In a crazy time of transition it's good to remember that Jesus said that God clothes the grass of the fields. They do indeed look well-dressed with sparkling raindrops on their heads these days.
Some time in early December something happened that made me start worrying about Brian having no jobs lined up and me having only two small teaching gigs lined up. What were we going to do about all the maternity clothes and baby STUFF we'd have to purchase, and what about this and that other thing we'd have to pay for. Luckily, I didn't follow this train of thought as long as I have in the past. I decided that if Jesus said not to worry, then I wasn't going to try to figure it out on my own, I'd have to actually act as if I believed this person actually meant what he said. So, whenever the urge arose to pine about what we didn't have figured out yet, I told myself, "God knows what we need better than I do."

Christmas Day in Santa Cruz, my best friend showed up with a sack of maternity clothes for me. It almost made me cry. What a waste of time it would have been to have worried all those weeks. Other things have arrived as needed. So, I might not be quite as well-dressed as the green grass with diamonds in my hair, but I know I'm loved and we have all we need for each day.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


This weekend I've been sitting around a table or the living roome with sister, brother, mom, husband, other sister (in law), aunt, and 2-year old niece. Little N tells me, "Megan, I like you." from time to time in her voice like a red-winged black bird, high, reedy and lilting.
Having N and her baby brother around is like planting a row of snow peas in the garden and then heading off to the farmer's market to buy a bag of the same. I'm getting a taste of things to come. The tears, the late nights, the unexpected sweet questions, the snuggly little bodies, all give me a sample of what is in my future. I don't feel ready.
But Brian is back from Kansas. It's good to be together and remember that he's in this whole new venture with me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Green is good

Yippee, a new look for a new year. I love this color. Makes me feel as if spring is already here. I'm not the only one that seems to feel that way. This morning, walking up the hill I saw a patch of fragrant narcissus in FULL BLOOM on the ditch side of the road. Not far after that, across from the Perry's old house, the snowdrops were just beginning to tuck their delicate heads above their stems. I'm so glad I don't live in Maine. Spring doesn't start until April there.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Rambunctious nephews, a tiny niece, talks with sisters-in-law, walks in sub-freezing weather, tasty meals with relatives, shopping with Erica for maternity clothes at Goodwill's dollar day, and lots of visiting. These things are the highlights of my time in Kansas.

Kristin, Brian's sister, doctored him very well. She removed the cast a few days ago and the stitches came out yesterday. He's still in pain from his support muscles and tight tendons. But, he's not using crutches anymore and looks much better than he did at the airport in New Zealand. The nephews have enjoyed playing with them and swinging around the house in them. Before she left, Kristin wrote out a list of physical therapy exercises and a ten-day prescription for antibiotics to keep away any infections while the wound is still healing. He was in good hands!

This morning we presented a slide show and a talk about our sailing journey at Brian's parents' Sunday School class. This was really special for us because this group of people have prayed for us since before we left California. Many from the group knew Brian as a child who scavenged cookies from their classroom snack table. We are so thankful when we look back on our trip and remember that it was not just our own skill or the equipment on Nomad that took us safely across the Pacific. When people ask, "What was the most dangerous part of our trip?" Brian likes to answer, "we don't know. The most dangerous things are the ones we bypassed without knowing, the things that were averted without our knowledge." Even seeing Brian in the emergency room in New Zealand with a 3" x 3" bloody gap peeled open on his leg made me thankful. That injury or worse could easily have happened while we were under way and I would have been stuck trying to patch him together. We are grateful for the hands of God that cared for us on our trip.

Prayer for the new year

Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King)

sung during Rosh Ha’Shana (the Jewish New Year) this prayer is a supplication to God to treat us with kindness and generosity, even when we haven’t always lived up to His ideals for us.

English translation:

Hear our prayer
We have sinned before Thee
Have compassion upon us and upon our children
Help us bring an end to pestilence, war, and famine
Cause all hate and oppression to vanish from the earth
Inscribe us for blessing in the Book Of Life
Let the new year be a good year for us

If only we all (world leaders, parents, employers, friends, media, church-goers and non church-goers) would start the year acknowledging our weaknesses and submitting our lives to the compassion of God. We don't really need mandated social programs, they don't change our hearts and eventually don't even change our actions.