Wednesday, December 28, 2011

one more thing

If you want to track Brian's progress across the Pacific, here is the link:

Please pray for encouragement, more fish, and winds and currents to go the right direction to help him to his destination.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean

Well, that song used to be really irritating to me when I was learning it for piano lessons as a kid. Strangely, I find myself singing it lately. It is simple and concise. Bring back my Brian to me!!
It's been a month since I wrote. Every evening after Eloise goes to sleep, I sit down and check weather, look up things Brian might need to know on the internet and then compose an email that is informational, and yet full of tidbits of Eloise's changes and her delightful ways. So, my writing is pretty much all for Brian right now.
To summarize the last month. Brian is still sailing the boat with his friend Jeff. They are still in the Pacific Ocean heading toward Kona, Hawaii via Christmas Island (the island nation of Kiribati). They are now in the north Pacific, having crossed the equator around the 15th or 16th of Dec. It has been slow, challenging and lonely for the guys. But, they have caught one beautiful Mahi Mahi, recently sailed out of the ITCZ (a zone of weather that is full of squalls, changing winds, rain, and difficult sailing conditions).

Eloise and I have continued to slowly move things into The Dome, the house we will be renting from my mom. Eloise had lots of fun learning mischief from her 3 older cousins over Christmas. She is learning many words every week and enjoys saying silly sounds, enjoys playing with washcloths still, and is incredibly social and compassionate. She was a present-opening machine on Christmas Day. She helped her aunt Brooke open many of Brooke's presents, as well as opening her own and mine. We are impatiently waiting Brian's return and may fly out to Christmas Island to see him when he gets there.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving an ocean apart

Eloise and I enjoyed Thanksgiving day today in San Leandro with my mom, brother, and his family.  Lemon sage turkey, homemade wild rice bread, cashew pea salad, etc.  Brian celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday on the island of Wallis (of Wallis and Futuna) with Jeff Ault his friend and crew member.  They ate a pressure cooker meal of chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.  The recipe was taken from Michael Greenwald "The Cruising Chef" page 65. 
We are very far apart and yet I am incredibly thankful that Brian is safe and has all that he needs to make the repair to the forestay that broke while at sea a few days ago.  A broken forestay can sometimes lead to a dismasting or worse.  But all it resulted in so far was an uncomfortable motorboat ride to an unplanned stop on a tropical island in the Pacific. 
The consistent prayer I and my family have prayed for this passage is that Brian will have everything he needs for whatever he encounters.  So far that has been the case.  For example, the ship computer crashed.  That's the way he communicates.  But thanks to my mom asking me about it, while I was in New Zealand  I loaded backup software on our laptop to allow Brian to use that computer for emailing while at sea.  Without that, he would have had nothing.  As it is communication has continued uninterrupted. 

Here in Santa Cruz, Eloise is learning new words every day.  I'm working a little bit to help my mom write a curriculum she's been hired to put together.  Otherwise, Eloise and I are taking walks, re-connecting slowly with friends, and starting to get organized to move in to the dome up the hill from my mom.  Eloise misses Brian and her Kiwi Nana and Papa.  She talks about them, looks at their pictures in a flip book I put together, and watches the videos Brian made of him saying hi to her.  And it looks like another four weeks minimum until we're reunited.  This is HARD.  I don't like it at all.  I guess Brian has it harder.  At least I'm not rocking around having to repair things, AND I get to have Eloise to snuggle with.

Here's one photo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brought to you by the letter "b"

The last month of our lives can be outlined with words starting with "B". Incidentally these words are all the first of Eloise's word repertoire.

B is for Boat, Buoy, and Bye Bye (or "bo" "booya", and "bah bah" as Eloise says). Four weeks ago we were cleaning the boat, buying food for the boat, and doing chores and maintenance on the boat, as well as enjoying time aboard knowing that it was our last liveaboard time for a while. Musket Cove Bay and Vuda Point Marina were the key locations of these activities. Both of those were full of buoys. Every time we passed them in the dinghy, Eloise pointed and got excited. We would tell her they were buoys. Soon we heard an excited "boo ya" each time we passed one.

B is for Baa and Ball, other new words Eloise learned immediately upon arriving for a full 10 days of kiwi fun visiting John and Annette, fishing, packing, obtaining navigational charts, and playing with new toys. She learned about sheep and happily pointed and baaed at them when we passed by.

And again, B is for bye bye. It was sad to say good bye to the life of a threesome aboard. Even harder to say good bye to John and Annette (Nana and Papa -maybe the 10th and 11th words Eloise every learned) in New Zealand, and hardest of all to say good-bye to Brian at the airport when he returned to Fiji. It's been a sad separation. Every day, Eloise asks to see the videos Brian made of himself for her. she runs to the computer points and signs, "daddy". Brian is also sad without his girls and is busy busy (another B word) working with Jeff, his friend and crew member, preparing to head offshore for the month journey to Hawaii.

But luckily there are new good things on this end in Santa Cruz. Eloise is getting to sit on her Ama's lap, play with her cousin Elijah, swing on swings, slide on slides, and explore.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Three weeks since my last posting! We had two weeks of mostly hard work in the Lautoka area and are now in New Zealand for a fast trip to visit Nana and Papa Carr. Eloise has quickly learned how to say Nana and Papa and asks for them many times during the day. She is having a language explosion. She isn't learning any new signs (partially because I don't know any more words to teach her) but also partially because she is so busy copying words and noises to learn them. 'Brrrm brrm' is my favorite one. She has used it for cars, motor noises, and her stroller. "yoyo" (yogurt) is a favorite of Eloise's. She learned it yesterday.

I'm including some of my favorite pictures from the past month.

Leslie, delightfully sweet boy from Ono. His father disappeared a few years ago in his fishing boat en route from the capital city of Suva Brian and I in our Tongan outfits dressed for church on Ono Island.

Brian and I in Fijiian clothes on Sunday on Ono Island

Eloise signing 'baby' romping in her fuzzy pajamas before bedtime.

Eloise and I getting ready to dinghy out to Nomad

Bubu (which means Grandma and is pronounced, "boomboo") Tara who taught me to weave a mat for Eloise. It has her name woven into it! It still smells like the cooking fires in Tara's house.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Eloise's 15th month of life is in full swing. There is so much to say about her. Brian and I talk about her in the evenings even though we spent the whole day with her. She is a delight. Here are some highlights:

· Clothes pins continue to be a consistent favorite toy. She empties the whole bag and then sits surrounded by pegs which she then "sorts" into piles and readjusts and pokes into her shoes or other holes in the boat. When Leanne, a visiting YWAMer was aboard they sat for a very long time while Leanne had Eloise practice identifying the colors of the different pegs. Blue was the most successful color Eloise learned.

· Another way Eloise passes the time aboard is to sort clothes. She asks for shirts from her clothes bins. I pull out about five to ten shirts and put them in a pile for her. From there Eloise will collect the whole pile into her arms and take it to a different location, sit down and begin sifting through. She makes piles, inspects the various decorations or embellishments on the clothes, or piles them on her head. This morning, Eloise stacked three shirts on her head, stood up and started twirling around. A stack of clothes can occupy her for up to an hour.

· Eloise's sign language vocabulary is continuing to grow. She uses over 30 signs. "kitty", "poop" and "bread" are recent acquisitions. She now makes the poop sign often when she wants to be changed. She also says, "shh shh shh" when she is peeing in her diaper. Her interest and ability to communicate about this topic lead to a major milestone…..her first poop and pee in her own potty. The day before the big day she had given me the poop sign but I didn't believe her because I checked her diaper and it was clean. A minute later, it wasn't clean! I hadn't expected her to anticipate and know ahead of time. Well, on the big day, I heeded her when she told me she had to pee. I congratulated her and had the joy of seeing her be immensely proud of herself. She clapped her hands and squealed happily. Daddy showed up and she showed him and signed and squealed about her accomplishment. Only a few minutes later, I saw her "poop face" and said, "Eloise you're pooping." She got excited and I whisked her into the bathroom and we had success! More happy squeals and pointing and signing and clapping.
· OK, no more potty talk. Here's a sweet story. Yesterday Eloise and I were in a waiting room. She found some brochures and was sorting them and stacking them. As more people arrived, she started pretending to give them brochures, walking over offering them and then taking them back before the people could keep them. This is usually how Eloise "gives" things. However, a couple walked in with a tiny three year old girl that seemed to have some sort of physical disability or be in pain, a quiet unhappy girl. Eloise was her usual excited self when she saw the other "baby". She walked over and waved and smiled and tried to interact but the girl cringed away. Eloise came back to where I was sitting. I whispered to her that maybe the little girl wanted to have Eloise's flowers and she could give them to her. Eloise trotted straight over to where she was storing her plumeria blossoms and went straight over with outstretched hand to give them. But this was a real gift. She waited patiently while the girl grumbled about having her space invaded. The father of the girl received the flowers and smiled at Eloise. Elosie looked around and found a third plumeria blossom and went back to the girl and held it out again, patiently. I was very proud of her sweetness and humbled by her giving away something she really liked. It made me want to be more like Eloise, willing to give and be kind even if my offerings aren't met with thanks and appreciation.

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Goodbye Ono

Nomad and crew made the 24 hour trip back to Lautoka and arrived yesterday. The almost two months of village life was a true gift to me. When I first arrived in Ono I was put off by a lot of features of the community. There are many rules and layers of rules that direct the structure of the community, its visitors and the roles of the people that live there. For example, a village is made up of a few different clans. Each clan has a different identity such as the chiefly clan, the spokesmen clan, the landowner clan, the fishing clan, etc. Children are taught as they grown up who they are, who the other people are. I don't completely understand it all but it's an example of how village life gives people identity. People know when someone walks past who their father, grandfather, and other ancestors were. They know the stories of that person's heritage. It doesn't stop there. In a village less than half a mile long and a quarter mile deep, houses sometimes 10 feet away from each other, Family strife can't be hidden, privacy is hard to come by. While I can see drawbacks to living like this, the sense of being known and integrated into the lives of other people is very real. When we walked through the village, we were known by every single person. Even if we didn't see someone watching us, or had never met them, they knew our purpose and that we belonged on the yacht parked out front of their beach, and they all knew Eloise's name. We were accepted to walk on their paths, eat their limes, papayas, pick up their seashells and do our laundry at their spigots. By accepting us, they accepted responsibility for Eloise, in the same way that every villager demonstrated responsibility for every child in the village. Eloise, and all the other children in the village, had a village full of aunties and uncles and older brothers and sisters. Again, there were some drawbacks to this (Eloise had her cheeks pinched about 50 times per day). But the feeling of being accepted, the gift of having other people responsible to watch my child, the sound of "come in for a cup of tea?" from a door as we walked passed, those are all good things. I will miss the village community and our friends there.

We have two more weeks here in Fiji. We will spend that time taking Eloise to the beach, provisioning the boat for Brian's passage to Hawaii, doing maintenance and preparatory projects for the passage, and hopefully Brian will get in a little bit of surfing as we are near to Cloudbreak, a well known surf break.

After that, we fly to New Zealand to see Eloise's Nana and Papa, John and Annette Carr. As our original plan had been to return Nomad to New Zealand this year, we have some unfinished business such as selling the car we bought and cleaning out the items that migrated from Nomad into their storage room. But Eloise has a few new skills she wants to show off as well. After the short visit in New Zealand, Brian will return to Fiji, meet up with Jeff Ault arriving from California and set off on their trip when the weather is right. Eloise and I will fly to San Francisco and start trying to adjust to life in a house again.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011



It's Papaya season here on Ono Island. These papayas taste a lot more delicious than the things they call papayas in the California grocery stores. However, when it looked like we had 5 large specimens coming ripe all at once, I knew we wouldn't eat them all unless I took drastic measures. Out came the Edmond's cookbook. Two papayas made a delicious chutney (I modified the peach chutney recipe) to eat with the wahoo caught last Friday, and two more made a fairly passable jam. Suddenly however, we have three more fruits to do away with. Hmmm. Papaya bread?

It is our last week in front of Vabea village. Bubu Tara (Grandma Tara) and her daughter Vuta are teaching me to weave a mat. It takes time! Good thing it's a small one. Richard and Thelma are teaching and I'm trying to sit in on some of their classes. Brian is daily working on small projects that are preventative maintenance as he thinks ahead to the bash up to Hawaii. (Note: in my mind, a small boat project is one that takes less than a week from start to finish and doesn't require a large portion of the boat to be taken apart). Eloise is continuing to enthrall the village children. Today, Brian and Eloise were in the village playing. He heard the kids letting out from school and whisked Eloise into a house so she wouldn't get inundated by kisses and yankings.

This weekend we'll make the day trip up to the main island of Viti Levu. We'll anchor in Musket Cove (a cruiser mecca) and continue on projects, family time etc. while also putting Brian in the proximity of some surf.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to Ono

Back on Ono,

We've been back a week in Ono from our 10-day trip to the neighboring 40-mile long island of Kadavu. There's so much to tell about our experiences in Nabukulevuira village at the western tip of Kadavu. We met some delightfully generous people with interesting lives and ways of living. We were welcomed to an annual feast celebrating the completion of the planting of the yam crop. The welcoming included being dressed properly in the clothing expected of the event, and then given the clothing as gifts.

I'm sad to have gotten behind on chronicling these experiences but am eager to jump back to fill folks in on our latest time in Ono.

It has been raining for 3 days. We had been filling our 5 gallon jug daily at each village we happened to be in. Two empty water tanks and one almost empty one had us on short rations. But now we literally have tanks that were overflowing. We've filled all extra receptacles, done a load of diapers, given some delicious drinking water away, and still have an overabundance. The only drawback to the rain is that we had done about 3 loads of laundry ashore, the day before the rain came. Now the clothes are still not completely dry. Also, I've had to postpone my weaving lessons with a local grandma, Tara.

I'm also grateful for the last week of teaching at the Bible School which is in full swing. Cecil Lowe, a YWAMer from New Zealand spoke about how unforgiveness and distorted views of God keep us from fully accepting the love of a Father that doesn't have any of the hangups of our earthly parents. For example, if a child has an angry or distant parent, they feel insecure and perceive God as judgmental, angry and unreachable. This teaching has been refreshing for me spiritually, and challenging me to love Eloise with God's help. Here is a verse that Cecil used, "So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behavie instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family - calling him 'Father, dear Father.' For his spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we will share his treasures…" Romans 8:15 - 17

Speaking of children and treasures…Eloise is happily continuing to explore her world, find humor in people and things, and practice eating with spoons and forks. Her sign language vocabulary grows by two or three words each week. She's outstripped what I know so we are making up signs for her, or she makes up her own. Her spoken vocabulary now includes "pah pah" for papayas or any other round green fruit, and "hah" for hot. She sings every day as she plays or sometimes in her bed. She's absolutely delightful. I'm looking forward to people back in the U.S. getting to meet her. The entire population of about 100 children in Vabea village know her name. Sometimes a child we've never seen before will ask us where is Eloise, or call out to her as we walk past, "Eloesi, Eloesi." If we are walking without her, the children want to know where Eloise is and when she is coming to land. She doesn't even know that there is so much fuss over her, and squawks if more than one or two kids surround her or try to corral her for kisses.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Plan

We have a plan! And we have plane tickets to prove it, thanks to our sister-in-law, Brooke.

Nomad will be heading toward Hawaii in November. Brian and his friend, Jeff Ault will leave Fiji and travel 2800 miles of an unconventional sailing route to get Nomad closer to Santa Cruz. This trip should take close to a month. They will pass over the equator, possible hitching a ride east on the equatorial counter current, then pass the Line Islands up to the Hawaiian Islands. Once in Hawaii, Nomad will await our return in early summer to sail him to somewhere between Alaska and Portland (we haven't decided yet) and then down to Santa Cruz.

While Brian and Jeff are sailing, Eloise and I will fly to California and busily attempt to get our new home set up before Brian gets there in December. "The Dome" is where my Grandma Krake lived before she suddenly ended up in nursing facilities before her death. We have many good memories of sitting in the living room with my grandma playing the piano for us. The dome belongs to my mom and is only about 300 meters up the hill from where her driveway starts. Renting this place makes us very excited because it is in a beautiful setting for Eloise to explore, it's a short walk down to visit Mom, and I can garden to my heart's content.

Returning Nomad to Santa Cruz also makes us excited because he needs some cosmetic projects and other projects done, and we like sailing with our friends aboard. It also puts us in a good position to do short trips into the Pacific once Eloise is old enough to be a helpful mini crew member.

So, that's the current plan. Eloise has no idea that her life on a boat is soon to be over. This makes me sad. There are so many things that she knows and understands already that would be irrelevant to a child in a house. For example, today she looked out of the cockpit onto the side deck, saw Brian's handline, and made the sign for fish. She knows that a coil of plastic line can bring a beautiful flopping creature aboard. She also knows those creatures are yummy. Or, when the sound of an outboard approaches, she knows it is a boat with people in it, and waves, even if we are inside and she can't see them. She also can distinguish when that outboard belongs to our dinghy or an unknown boat. Eloise also knows that when we're in the dinghy, if she peeks over the side while in my arms, she can see coral and fish while we're moving. She likes to do this. I know that the transition to a house will be hard on her. She'll have to re-learn routines and people and rules. It's a good thing she has a trusty (crusty) blanket and me to hang on to during that month without Daddy, in a new bed, new house, etc.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

School started

Eloise is happily playing with some fabric scraps on the floor. Rain is pouring steadily into our two blue buckets from our awning. A winter day aboard Nomad in Fiji is cold enough for hoodies and pants and bare feet.
A short while ago, Brian put on his foul weather jacket and went ashore to look at the school's generator. He's got quite a reputation already. He and Richard did a common sense maintenance program on the village generator and now it runs. He's been called in like a visiting doctor to make pronouncement on a dead chainsaw,
attempted to resurrect a broken washing machine and asked to repair a TV. But most of his time has been on the village generator, or setting up tents for the male students to live in..

Tomorrow is the first day of teaching ashore for the Discipleship Training Course. The speaker arrives on the ferry today. I just saw a longboat (aka skiff) head out from the village toward the bay where the ferry pulls in. All the students have already arrived from other villages or were from this village. 20 in all. They have been getting to know each other under the leadership of Richard and Thelma and doing work chores. Tuesday was a love feast which was supposed to be for students and their families. It turned into a feast for the entire village. Over one hundred people ate and enjoyed the pig, chicken, cassava, taro root, fish and taro leave pudding. The pig and root veggies were cooked under ground in the traditional lovo of hot coals and rocks covered by palm branches and old flour sacks. I watched three men hack a recently living pig into pieces while the village dogs lay panting nearby, eyeing the offal.

My contribution to the feast was to cook a triple batch of my mom's chocolate cake recipe and a double batch of coconut cookies. Eloise's contribution was to take a three hour nap so that I had time to do a baking frenzy.

And now on to Eloise…
She's a toddler for sure. I was surprised yesterday when I saw her crawling. But then I realized she was crawling backwards to climb down an edge. She has been sick since about the second day that we arrived here at the village. Fijians have a cute custom of kissing babies as soon as they see them. They are continually nudging their children toward Eloise saying, "give her a kiss". This is pretty cute until the face of the child that is approaching my child's face is slimy with large snot trails. So Eloise has had a cold, pinkeye, and some sort of diarrheal joy. On top of that, she started working on producing a new tooth.
Despite the sickness, Eloise is still learning and changing. She learns new signs every week. "sleep" and "baby" are her two newest ones. She enjoys taking lids off of tubs or jars and trying to put them back on. Hide and Seek makes her giggle. She is an avid reader, turning pages in her books, pointing, signing, talking, and flipping to find favorite pictures. She also tries to make the crowing noises of the village roosters. She had liked roosters for many months, ever since we started reading her Richard Scarry's "The Rooster Struts". She can even strut, and does so when asked!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Everything I Need

My Grandma Krake spent the few weeks of her life with a six-foot long strip of paper taped to her nursing home wall. It had "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need," printed on it in bright blue ink. I made that for her because she told me about a vision of seeing those very words from Psalm 23 floating in front of her. She described the color of blue in great detail. She was quite taken with the color blue that year, the year of being passed from one Medicare-covered nursing facility to the next. Many of her dreams were in blue, or of blue things. She talked it over with a visiting chaplain who asserted that blue was a heavenly color. That pleased her. It pleased me for her sake because if I had to lie in a bed with tubes stuck down my throat and nose for a number of months with one visitor a day I'd be needing to see heavenly visions to want to keep living.

During the last few months of Grandma's life, the tubes were out and the State found a place in Santa Cruz for her to move to. The place was cheerless. I don't remember a single pleasant nurse, possibly because it would be difficult to work there and remain pleasant. Regardless, Grandma believed she had everything she needed. And she really did. A day or two before she before she died, Grandma told a visitor her life story. It was full of gratitude to God for his kindnesses to her. After the visitor left, I asked Grandma what it felt like to be so close to seeing God after all these years. Her tired eyes closed and she shook her head gently back and forth on her pillow. "Peace, peace, peace," she said with a wide smile. She was brim full of the last thing she would ever need in this life - peace with God.

I used some Tapatio hot sauce and was reminded of my Grandma's verse today. We ran out of Tapatio sauce some time in 2009. With Mexico 6000 miles, Nomad was not bound to have any of this tasty condiment gracing his shelves any time soon. Or so we thought. A couple of months ago, in Tonga, a person on a charter boat dinghied over to see if we wanted their leftover food because their charter trip was over. That's where our bottle of Tapatio came from. We also acquired a roll of plastic wrap in this manner. I don't use the stuff so I wasn't sure whether to keep it. But we needed that plastic wrap last week. The 10 used 20-liter vegetable oil containers Marine Reach was given for transporting the outboard fuel from Lautoka to Ono Island didn't have gaskets. Brian discovered this when filling them the evening before we headed out. Without gaskets in the lids, the fuel would either slosh out under way, or get sea water inside. Plastic wrap was the simple solution.

So, a bottle of hot sauce and a roll of plastic are good reminders to me this week that with God as my shepherd, I have everything I need, and more!

A few days later….Eloise got pink-eye! I was trying to think what I might have in my medical kit when Brian reminded me of the drops he used when he rammed his open eye into the end of the dinghy anchor in New Zealand. He had quite a flap on the eye and Annette used her many connections to have some antibiotic eyedrops delivered directly to the boat (Thanks Bill and Noelene!). The dropper bottle specifically says, "for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis." One more example of having what we need when we need it. Thanks Brian! Thanks Annette! Thanks God!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Eloise in Ono

Eloise promptly caught a cold upon our arrival in Ono. After 13 months with only one tiny weekend sniffle, this was a big deal for Brian and me. We were searching our baby books for explanations of her sick baby noises. Let me just say that sick baby noises are much more frightening than grown up ones, especially at night. So we laid low and read many many of Eloise's books which she was quite happy to do when snuggled in my lap or right next to me. The snot sucker (I think it's officially called a nose bulb or some other pretty sounding name) has gotten a full work out. Dr. Auntie Kristin and that snot sucker have been the two biggest helps during this past 3 days. Eloise is coming out the other side already. Even though her eyes are a bit red-rimmed and she's still more clingy than usual, she's smiling more and getting back to her independent self.

Here are some of Eloise's milestones in the past week or two. She has created two legible sign language words by herself. (toothbrush and washing). She regularly asks to brush her teeth during the day now. Also Eloise has started pretending! I pulled out a digital thermometer which didn't work. So I let her hold it while I used the functioning thermometer. Almost immediately she put it up to her ear and started babbling loudly. Then she looked at me, smiled, and started talking again into her improvised phone.

Other things going on in Ono are continued preparations for the Bible Course which starts next week. The staff are still unpacking and setting up cooking facilities, praying daily for the students that are coming, and settling into life in a Fijiian village. Brian and Richard have worked on the village generator for the last two days. It's been non-functioning for many months and they got it running and diagnosed an alternator as needing further repair.

One interesting event happening in the village is that, for the first time ever, the village has hired an experienced drum maker to come to the village from the Lau Group of islands to build them a drum. He has his own work area and has been working for three weeks, carving and solid piece of orange-colored hard wood into a Polynesian drum. Do not imagine a circle with canvas over it like in the U.S. It looks more like a rounded, full- bellied watering trough. It's about four feet long, two feet wide and about two feet tall. The walls are two or three inches thick. When it is even lightly tapped it is loud and resonate. I'll send a picture when I can.

And last but not least….HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ELOISE'S GRANDAD! Happy Birthday Bob. We love you.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Arrival in Ono

Hello All.

We took the long way around the entire island of Viti Levu, up the west side, across the top, down the eastern side and the down to Ono. This was about 170 miles instead of the 115 mile straight shot south east from Lautoka directly into the wind. The first two days were pleasant and in protected waters. Two nights ago we entered into open ocean and had a few ill people that didn't think they needed seasick meds because it had been so enjoyable up to then. But Brian took care of the boat and the people and I took care of Eloise. We happily pulled into the southwest corner of Ono island just at sunrise yesterday morning. Tom, the pastor, that invited Marine Reach to come lead the Bible course, had been watching since before dawn. Before we could anchor he came out in a longboat (looks like the Mexican pangas)to greet us and start unloading the goods for the school.

We palangis (white folk) had to stay on the boat until it was time for the sevu sevu ceremony in the afternoon. That allowed time for Brian to take a much needed nap after staying up all night. The sevu sevu ceremony consists of formally offering a gift to the chief or village elders after which they formally welcome the visitors and offer access to their village and friendship. Tom and his older brother were our representatives and conducted the ceremony in Fijiian so I have no idea what was said except for a lot of "Vinaka" which means thank you. We attended two of these ceremonies right in a row because there are two villages right next to each other. Marine Reach's gift was a tank of diesel fuel and a tank of premix gas/oil mixture used for outboards.

A 12 year old girl happily carried Eloise around and played with her during our attendance to these ceremonies. It was an odd feeling for me to know she was being cared for but to have no idea where she was for short periods of time. Eloise is a big hit on the islands. They like her blonde hair!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eloise likes hats and hammocks!

Busy in Fiji

It’s only been a week since we officially checked into Fiji. On Sunday Brian dropped Justin, our nephew, off at the airport. He did a great job as crew from Tonga to Fiji. It was great to have him aboard.

Since then, we’ve been busily reprovisioning to head out to a village on the outer island of Ono. Two years ago, we had the pleasure of meeting and volunteering a little bit with Marine Reach, a branch of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Since then, we’ve stayed in contact in the hopes that they might be able to put Nomad to use. They can! The timing has turned out perfectly. We knew we’d arrive in August and they are starting a new venture of bringing 12 week Bible Training Courses out to remote villages. In the past, if a person wanted to attend these courses, they had to leave home for 3-5 months to attend a course in the big city of Lautoka. Nomad’s job is to transport 100 kg of flour, 50kg of split peas, boxes and boxes of other foods, and 5 of the staff that will be running the school. We are excited that our heavy weight sturdy boat is up to the challenge. We are also hoping to be able to volunteer and help however needed once we arrive at Ono. Yesterday, the goods were brought to the marina where we are moored, and dumped on the foredeck. Today, I’m slowly finding nooks and crannies to pack the boxes in. Eloise has taken it all in stride with her usual friendly self, interacting happily with the new people and enjoying the new climbing structures the boxes have created. Her favorite discovery was three bright green plastic bowls. She thinks they are hard hats, another of her favorite discoveries in Fiji.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tally Ho

Based on weather reports we've received, tomorrow morning the wind will have switched to the SE. That means it is time to leave Tonga. We checked out officially from Tonga two days ago but the weather didn't suit so we have spent the time doing chores, visiting beaches, visiting a local couple on the island of Lape, snorkeling, and trying to catch the spits of rain and funnel them into our water tanks. I've been planning meals and baking bread to freeze for easy snacks en route.

Our nephew, Justin, arrived on Monday and will help us cross to Fiji. In exchange, we're hoping to provide him with some fun kiteboarding when we arrive, and some good sailing experience. We are very very thankful to all family and friends that generously filled Justin's bags with things for us. Malo! (thank you in Tongan)

Kolio and Tala, a warm friendly couple from Lape offered us papaya, bananas, drinking coconuts, and some delicious breadfruit chips to send us on our way. I baked them rolls and chocolate cookies as a thank you. I wish we could adopt them as an extra set of grandparents. They were very sweet with Eloise. Tala gave her a bracelet, a bikini and grass skirt, head band and lots of smiles and cuddles (as much as Eloise would allow). The items were all made out of hibiscus fibers or another plant called ruakao.

More details later.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life in Vavau

July 21
We are currently anchored on the north side of Nuku island where the sand is clean and soft, and the water turquoise. We anchored last night right before 5pm which is usually the start of our pre-bed baby hour. We've been in Neiafu for two days to buy groceries, extend visas, use internet etc. but there is no clean water, no beaches, and only grimy sidewalks and restaurant patios for Eloise. Our times in Neiafu are cooped up times for our energetic goer. So, we quickly rowed ashore to Nuku so Eloise could have some clean fun. She was ready for it, reaching for the beach as we rowed closer. She played happily by herself with us watching for about half an hour. She finds small crab holes to stick her arms down, sorts seashells at the high tide line, picks up sticks and broken coral, stands up and claps her hands, then crawls to the next interesting collection the high tide has made and then starts again. It is a huge relief for me whenever there's a mosquito-free play area like this for Eloise. She excels. I relax from the constant vigil on the boat or in town of redirecting her to good play areas.

Last night she took another step unaided. This morning on the beach again, another unaided step and a two legged stiff hop.

Last night while nursing, Eloise asked me a question, "Daddy outside?" using sign language. Yes he was. She asked again. I answered and explained he would see her in the morning and then she relaxed and kept nursing until she waved good night to me, her hat, the fan and other interesting objects and I placed her in her bed. Sign language has been a joy to experience with Eloise. Her pointing finger is deft and her "uh uh uhing" is easy to understand. But when she squeals and signs, "bird" we can engage in a conversation with her about the birds she sees. Her spoken language is limited to ma and dada but we are gradually learning more about our little girl's needs and interests through sign language.

In other news, we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of Justin, our nephew. As soon as he arrives in Vavau we will show him a couple of our favorite spots and then check out of the country to head to Fiji. Once we arrive and complete formalities we hope to make a trip down to Ono Island inside of the Astrolabe Reef. Marine Reach, the organization we volunteered with last time we were in Fiji, is setting up a 3-month miniature Bible training school on Ono Island. It is quite remote, despite its location about 90km from Fiji's capital city, Suva. The only means of transportation to Ono is by boat. It's exciting to us that we can use Nomad to help our friends at Marine Reach.

Another exciting development is our acquisition of another gecko. When we crossed the Pacific in 2009, we had a gecko from Panama, all the way to New Zealand. It was entertaining when he/she occasionally hunted fruit flies on our ports in the mornings. So far, this Tongan gecko is not as cute as our previous hunter but we are not interested in cute, we're interested in the depletion of our small beetle proliferation. They are about the size of small ants, but they had been exploding in population. I put out a call on the cruiser's radio information net that runs daily that I would trade a batch of cookies for a gecko. An employee of one of the restaurants overheard my request and collected 4 geckos for us that night. They arrived in a Nescafe can with holes poked on top and large beetles inside for the geckos to eat! Brian selected the smallest of the geckos and tipped out the others on land. We have no desire to run a gecko breeding program aboard. One hungry bug eater is all we wanted.

A few days later….July 23
Eloise had a play mate yesterday and the day before! Hurray! When she sees pictures of kids or passes kids about the age of 6 and down, Eloise squeals and squirms and tries to get to them. She has a favorite picture of her cousin Naomi before age 1 that makes her squeal also. So, it makes me happy when Eloise meets a real kid to play with. Alex is about 4 years and from another cruising boat. He didn't hold still and didn't seem interested in interacting with Eloise except for his two quick kisses offered when his mom told him to say hi to her. But Eloise enjoyed chasing him and climbing the large mound of sand that was his sand castle.

Then yesterday, outside of the town of Nuapapu we passed a bright eyed, smiley boy on a horse with his dad, collecting firewood and coconuts. Later, we stopped at the grassy lawn in front of the Wesleyan church so Eloise could stretch her muscles. The same boy looked over from the gate of the house next door. I waved him over and he came. We recognized him as one of the children of the primary school we visited 3 weeks ago. ?He recognized us as well. Instantly Oneone was crawling around herding Eloise, chasing her tickling her and doing all the things a good big brother might do. At 6 years old, he's an experienced big brother with an 18 month old sister, and a 6 month old brother. By the end of their play time, Oneone and Eloise were standing next to the wooden pew on the cement verandah of the church, banging banging banging. I wanted to hug him for being such a good playmate. I look forward to the time in Santa Cruz when playmates will be easier to find, and Eloise's cousin Elijah, just a short drive away.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Birthday Baby

As Kaleidoscope, my favorite store for buying educational toys and books, is far away in Capitola CA, I made Eloise two string dolls for her birthday.  Her other birthday present was an afternoon at a beach resort.


After we landed the dinghy on the beach at Ika Lahi Resort a few days before the birthday, I saw into the lodge through multiple open French double doors.  I saw a few large wooden sculptures, one or two strategically placed couches, and a floor that looked easy to clean.  The double doors opened out onto a wooden deck only a few feet above the sand beach, and a green lawn to the side.  "This looks like a perfect place to have Eloise's birthday party," I said.  And indeed it was.  It had everything we needed for a successful party…lots of places for Eloise to climb and crawl and stand, no other restaurant goers to irritate, lots of fish items on the menu, shade, breeze, animals to chase, and a birthday cake with a #1 candle on it.  . 

Other than Caroline and Steve, the owners, we were the only people at the resort.  Nevertheless, we were treated with warm hospitality and served with thoughtfulness.  We ate smoked marlin pate and homemade sesame crackers; mahi mahi fritters with papaya mango chutney, Thai Beef salad and three different kinds of dessert…make that 4! Caroline brought out a heart-shaped birthday cake decorated with pink hibiscus flowers for Eloise after we had eaten the other three desserts (passion fruit custard was my favorite).  The afternoon was relaxing since I didn't have to cook or coordinate anything.  We ate a course, took pictures of Eloise and walked her around with our fingers, ate some more, took more pictures of Eloise, watched her, chased her, ate some more, then sat around talking to Steve and Caroline while Eloise played with a large bucket of clothespins Caroline got out for her.  Then it was past bed time for our little one-year-old so we scooted home in the dinghy. 


One other highlight is that Eloise took her first unaided steps.  We knew it would be soon but Brian and I both missed seeing them L  Luckily Caroline saw and announced it.  Eloise had been standing behind my chair and then toddled 3 steps toward something on the ground before going to a crawl.  Today, she took two more unaided steps and we got to see them. 


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tongan Food

I first heard the term spoken with full nuance by Ane as we flew into her home country. She wasn't going to eat any of the KFC chicken she'd brought from New Zealand for her husband because she was waiting for some Tongan Food. If you grew up in a home like I did in which the preparation of holiday family meals is a ritual of delicious anticipations and the preparation of far too much food for the number of eaters, then the term Thanksgiving Dinner might conjure up similar fullness, similar home comforts as the term Tongan Food seems to do for Tongans I have met.

In the Ha'apai Group of Tongan islands we were repeatedly asked if we had enough Tongan food. By this, the asker meant items such as cassava, limes, coconut, cassava leaves, taro leaves, canned corned beef, papaya. When invited to the umu at Lucy's house on Ha'afeva, we had a combination of all of those items. Here is the menu, apart from the lime drink, all items were cooked in coals in the buried half of a rusty 50 gallon drum.

Lemon Drink
Tongan Bread
Lu is a dish in which any type of meat is mixed with coconut cream wrapped in many taro leaves, and then baked in an underground oven. We have eaten canned corned beef (very common), salted fish, chicken, and sorme sort of gristley pork all prepared this way.
Hefe is the closest thing to a potato that grows here, except it grows on husks akin to chestnuts. After roasted a long time in the umu, the husks are split off and out comes a roasty, firm potato tasting item.

Tongan Bread Recipe:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup coconut cream
As many pieces of shredded fresh coconut as you like

Beat this together into sticky dough and place into the empty halves of coconut shells. Bake in the umu until the moist and dense bread is lightly brown on top.

As can be imagined, smoke is a necessary condiment for almost all Tongan food.

One other umu dish we had on a different day was papaya chunks, onion, coconut cream, wrapped in aluminum foil and baked for an hour. This might have been my favorite item.

As there was no refrigeration on Ha'afeva, Iwas told to "eat like a Tongan." If food is prepared, it has to be eaten that day because the humidity, heat, and small ants destroy all food over night.

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This week Brian sat in the cockpit sewing webbing onto the end of Eloise's safety netting. The strings on that netting feel like small threads to hold in this life that we love so much.

The safety netting will be hung on the lifelines of the boat…more strings to hold her, and us, in.

From sails to halyards, from engine hoists to electrical wiring, so many of the securities of this boating life are fabricated with strings and cords and threads. This reality occurred to me this morning after a night of nursing a sleepless baby with tummy troubles. My sleepiness makes the frailty of our tiny floating universe more salient. None of those lifelines would have made a bit of difference if Eloise had been quite ill.

Nomad is 45.something feet LOA (length overall). The fiberglass, brass, bronze, wires, hoses, paint and strings that move us through water and time are tended to daily by Brian. That's how boats are. That's how all of life is, it tends toward decay, even if we fight to maintain. A vivid example: we hiked up to a resort touted as an "excellent dining experience" in one of our cruising guides. All that we found were two cement water tanks and a small slab of tiled cement with a toilet sitting on it, entwined with vines, overgrown fruit trees, and spider webs. That resort used to be someone's livelihood, now it is almost gone, destroyed by the jungle.
These structures we entrust our lives and our family members' lives to - whether boat or house or other establishment- are easily overrun, easily taken from us. Some days they feel fragile, these safety catches, and other days we rest in them confidently as if they would last forever.

Two days ago, Brian assisted a sailboat with engine trouble as it was towed into harbor. He came back and said, "I guess we're pretty lucky that hasn't been us yet." It's true, Nomad has crossed the Pacific easily, with much good weather, and minimal breakage to parts. When we sit around with other cruisers comparing crossings, broken gear stories, etc, we very much realize that our journey to this point has been unusually simple. It could be luck, but luck is also a frail, unreliable safety net.

I have come to believe that the prayers of our friends and family are more powerful than the strings, the fiberglass, the luck. Not because we are special, not because we deserve it, but because people have asked God on our behalf for safety and for him to take care of us, he has. I'm grateful today for the continuous kindness of God and for the ongoing prayers of our friends and family.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Neiafu, Tonga

Many people on sailboats come here every year, or stay the year round. They have a cruiser's radio net here on channel 26 every morning at 8:30. In this quiet town with many businesses specifically catering to the needs and whims of cruisers, we can find pretty much anything we want (BACON!), if we're willing to pay. Flat anchorages, internet, laundry service, groceries, fresh produce are the things we've enjoyed so far.

The Vavau group of Tonga is a cruiser's playground. Only about 20 x 20 miles square, there are 40 anchorages (according to the Moorings charterboat literature) in a variety of settings. Not only that, there is a surf spot, humpback whales and babies to see, flying foxes (aka large fruit bats), coral reefs to snorkel, tropical green islands and coves, and plenty of Tongan handicrafts to purchase.

Eloise has enjoyed the large variety of street dogs to wave at and talk to (from a distance), the pigs and chickens wandering around, and the clerks at one of the whale watching shops who like to hold her. She has mastered almost all of the climbing necessary to get to any place in the boat...adding to our need for vigilance. Oops, she's awake.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I pulled out my final supply of a dozen eggs this morning and they are all mouldy on the outside of the shells. Provisions are getting low. Sugar, flour, rice, lentils, nuts now eggs are down to the final meals. The small yellow stifling box of a building run by a Chinese man had little to bolster the missing items. Some weevilly flour in holey plastic bags didn't appeal but I bought 6 eggs for 6 Pa'anga (3 US$) and some breakfast crackers. We have plenty of starchy roots: cassava, "yam", and potatoes, and breadfruit (not a root). So, we can eat like the locals eat which is not what I'm used to but should be just fine. except that with Toby aboard it's humbling for me to not have interesting, appetizing meals every day. It's something I have taken pride in for our entire cruising life, that I can (if not seasick) whip up a tasty treats out of simple ingredients. Things are getting a bit on the skimpy side however, partially due to my new reticence to purchase and eat items from cans. The lining of tin cans is usually made from polycarbonate (Plastic recycling #7). "Polycarbonate plastic is made with bisphenol A, which can leach….especially when heated. Bisphenol A [a.k.a. BPA] is a homone disruptor, linked to early onset of puberty, obesity, recurrent miscarriages, and decreased sperm count, and is associated with breast and prostate cancers." (Slow Death by Rubber Duck, p. 272-273).

So, I didn't stock up with the usual standbys of canned soups for health reasons, but it sure is cramping my meal prep style.

Meal prep for Eloise is still pretty simple. If I don't want her eating what I make for the grownups, I can scramble her an egg or steam her a carrot. She also has been nursing frequently because of that lower right molar that just keeps growing under her gums.

In other news, the island of Ha'afeva has been enjoyable. There's a ½ mile walk into town from where we are anchored on the west side of the island. We pass young cows, taro and cassava farms, mango trees, pigs, and the frondy trees that are used for weaving mats and numerous other handicrafts. Eloise waves at every cow, points and waves at each pig and squeaks and points when she sees something particularly interesting.

Lucy is a local lady with six children, an industrious husband and a bedridden father. I had been hoping to meet someone to hand off some of Eloise's outgrown clothes and found her in Lucy. Lucy has also been eager to meet cruisers to make them handicrafts, do washing or provide traditional Tongan meals. She told us she doesn't want to charge money but just to have people trade whatever they think they want to give her. Her kind offerings to make Eloise numerous woven items made us want to give right back to her.

Lucy's neighbor, Peter, on the other hand, with his repeated requests for money, petrol, etc. is not so easy to befriend. I can show up at Lucy's house and visit with her and her kids and ask questions about their culture, take pictures of her kids being cute, etc. With Peter's constant opportunistic mindset, there's no relationship, no sign of interest in getting to know one another, as with Lucy. They each see palangis (foreigners) as a means to improved lives but the difference is in the approach and how they treat the palangis.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ode to Nappy Liners

Another rainy day, another day to wash diapers, and to collect 50 gallons of rain to fill our port side water tank.

So, a nappy liner (aka bio liner, diaper liner) is about the same feel as a dryer sheet, without the perfumes. When poop is deposited into the diaper, it does not smear into the cloth diaper. Instead, the liner contains all consistencies of poop. Changing the diaper consists of lifting out the diaper liner from both ends, dumping it into a garbage can/toilet, and then tossing the diaper into the laundry. No smeared in feces, no scraping with spatulas, etc. A slight poop discoloration is easily rinsed out. These make cloth diapers very practical.

More on the Nomad adventures to come....we are currently in a holding pattern as the
weather is blowing! we've been waiting to head to the Haapai group for the last 4 days and won't be leaving today or tomorrow. Last night 4 of the boats in this anchorage were driving around in 35/40 knot gusts cuz of anchors dragging. It was not a happy sight. We thought highly of our 1300 dollar anchor chain at that point. Eloise missed all the excitement and slept right through the jet turbine noises gusting over the boat.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Boat projects in tropical place

"Cruising is repairing your boat in exotic places" is a well worn cruiser joke. It's so well worn because it's quite true. Brian has rigged a tarp on the top deck, has the mainsail down and is replacing the grommets that are used to attach the sail to the mast. We have a more than 10 year old sail so it needs constant attention.

Yesterday was our 9 year anniversary! It needs constant attention, also :) We spent the day doing a variety of things. we cleaned the boat, we each ran around the island twice (took me 20 minutes per lap), and we took Eloise boogie boarding before her swim lesson. Since the only waves were the 3 inch wake from the fishing boats that motored past, the fun thing to do was to position Eloise on the board and give it little pushes back and forth between Mommy and Daddy in one foot of water. Her happy smile and attentive pose showed she was enjoying her new experience. She needs all the distractions she can get right now, as she is working on pushing out two of her molars.

We are working on a couple of projects and waiting for the weather to switch around before heading up to the Haapai group of islands to the north. (it is still part of Tonga, they just break up their country into groups).

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Saturday, May 28, 2011


Ane had Eloise in her arms within 60 seconds of my arrival at seat 26F. Seated in 26D, a Tongan living in New Zealand, Ane was on her way to Tonga to visit her husband for a week. She played peek-a-boo with Eloise in her lap, she let her play with her necklace, dug in her purse to pull out a wad of keys for Eloise, and offered her lollies.
Half way to Tonga, Ane told me that if there was room in the car when her husband picked her up, they would give me a ride to the wharf where I was hoping to see Nomad moored.

Eloise was fascinated by the busy ants crawling around the base of the gear shift on Henry's car. She also was fascinated by the trees and houses and people flying past the open window as she sat in my lap en route into Nuku Alofa. After visiting the 4 different customs and immigration and port authority offices to determine if Nomad had arrived and cleared customs, I thought we should try to located a VHF radio to attempt a call to see if they were close to port. By this time, Eloise was in the back seat with Ane and Ofa who were tickling her and playing with her. It was a great adventure and she was still smiling and squeaking and playing peak a boo despite having been awakened at 3:30am that morning with only an hour nap on the plane.

I spotted a sailboat tied up right next to the main road and had them pull over. I approached the boat and told the crew my situation and asked if they could hail Nomad on the radio for me. They had to dinghy to another cruiser's boat to do so because their VHF was not functioning properly. Meanwhile, Ane had pulled out two boxes of cold KFC chicken she'd brought from New Zealand. The fuel shop guy next to where we were had pulled out a card table and two plastic chairs and put them under a shady awning for us, and then brought out a quarter of a watermelon for us to share.

When Greg returned 10 minutes later, he had good news. Nomad was within a mile of the wharf. I should see them coming any minute!

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Position Report from Nomad

Here's a link to see where in the Pacific Brian, Tracy, Nomad and Uli are. We talked this afternoon on the Single Side Band radio (SSB). It was a poor connection but still wonderful to hear Brian's voice saying, "All's well" and to give us tidbits of news.

Friday, May 20, 2011

They're off

Nomad is currently carrying Brian and Tracy Hollister on a heading of NNE en route to Tonga. Eloise and I will fly up next week, hopefully my arrival date and theirs are close.
The last month has been busy. Eloise is busy climbing, crawling, laughing, waving, crowing, clapping, teething, pushing, and exploring. At the same time, Brian spearheaded many upgrades aboard Nomad. Cooling system flushed, wind generator repaired, stanchions rebedded, combings painted, dinghy repaired, brand new anchor chain purchased and installed, hawse pipes fabricated and installed, cutlass bearing replaced, whisker pole repaired and retrofitted, mainsail repaired, and many more things that I might not even know about. My main job has been to purchase food and keep Eloise out of the way of tools and small boat parts. Our good friends, John and Annette have helped us in countless ways, painting, driving us to Auckland, feeding us innumerable meals, doing laundry, and providing us always a spare bed for when the boat was full of fumes or too noisy for Eloise to nap.

Here are some recent photos of our cheerful child and our cheerful helper, John.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Cleaning

April should be the time for Spring Cleaning, except for one small detail...we're in the southern hemisphere. It is cold, rainy full-fledged fall weather. Nevertheless, Nomad is being fussed over. I'm going through cupboards, evaluating my organization (or lack of) for a range of items as varied as cooking dishes and medical supplies.

Brian has, in between rain showers, removed the stanchions and the caulking behind them. Sanding, Filling and paint prep have him checking the rain forecast for a prediction of 4 days of fine weather. None in sight. Once the combings are painted, the stanchions can be rebedded and decked out in their new lifelines and safety netting. This is just one of the many projects Brian is juggling as we prepare Nomad for the upcoming passage to Tonga. Please pray for a good weather window some time between May 10 and May 30. That's when Tracy Hollister from the Gorge will be here and available as crew on the passage.

Eloise has projects as well. Her number one project is consuming large amounts of food at frequent intervals throughout the day. Just two days ago she figured out how to use a footstool as a walker and spent the next 45 minutes walking around Grandma Shiela's living room with me jumping in every few moments to steer her away from tables chock full of glass figurines. Yesterday, she figured out how to climb down steps using her feet first. We've been modeling and helping her do this since we got back to Nomad, in the hopes of avoiding any major nose landings. We are very proud of our daughter who at this very moment is making banshee impressions.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Seasons changing

When we left New Zealand in late February, the humid hot days ended around 9pm. Now, cool winds, intermittent blue skies with showers and early sunsets remind us that winter is acoming.

Other things have changed. Eloise now feeds herself with a great deal of success, will have almost nothing to do with pureed foods, and crawls anywhere she pleases. In just two quick months her bursts of developments remind us that she is other than us and wonderful and unique. We watch her as we have watched sunsets in the past, oohing and ahing about subtle and rapid changing details - colorful and irreversible. Except that she is the opposite of a sunset, she is a sunrise.

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Hokey Pokey Biscuits

125 g butter (approx. one cube)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp golden syrup
1 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups Edmonds standard plain flour
1 tsp Edmonds baking soda

combine butter, sugar, golden syrup and milk in a saucepan. Heat until butter is melted and mixture nearly boiling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to lukewarm. Sift flour and soda together. Add to the cooled mixture. Stir well. Roll tablespoonsful of mixture into balls and place on ungreased oven trays. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 180 degrees C for 15-20 minutes.

From: Edmonds Cookery Book, "part of New Zealand's Heritage since 1879"

I made these yesterday and they were soft and butterscotchy when baked to pale and not golden brown. YUM.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Time is swooshing past

Eloise wriggles, explores, eats, crawls, talks, and sleeps through every single day. Busier than the hungry little caterpillar. On top of all of her activities, we've been visiting with my sister and her kids, my brother and his wife, and Brian's parents all at various times. In between all the visiting, I'm teaching an Educational Psychology class at Bethany on the weekends. It's enjoyable to be keeping my teaching skills in practice and to be meeting new interesting upcoming teachers. My favorite book these days is Smart Moves: why learning is not all in your head by Carla Hannaford. I've incorporated all sorts of ideas from that book into my Psych class, passed ideas on to my father-in-law, and applied certain concepts to Eloise activities. It's fun to learn things that apply to my real life.

Brian has been busily teaching 4 days a week in Salinas, working one day a week in San Jose, selling eucalyptus firewood, and rebuilding a deck on a house in his after hours. It will be nice to have him back when we get to New Zealand!
Here are some pictures of fun times with family.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Santa Cruz

Eloise is over her jet lag. A few nights of wanting to be awake from 10pm to midnight made the adjustment a little rough for us but so did her complete disinterest in food for the entire airplane journey and the following two days. It made her a needy nurser and her mommy a bit concerned. All's well, however, she greedily is consuming the carrots and oatmeal and squashes I concoct for her. I bought beets at the farmer's market to prepare for her but luckily came to my senses before preparing it for her. Beet juice stains all over my clothes and hers doesn't sound fun.

Eloise remembers her Grandma and happily plays with her and asks her to pick her up. This makes me happy. I want my baby to know that her family loves her.
She contracted a brief case of stranger anxiety for about a week at the beginning of February. I was sure we were in for some tough times when we got home to a slew of new people for Eloise to meet. However, she recovered quickly and already reaches to have people hold her after only short interactions.

In fact, on the airplane, Eloise was making quite a scene at one point. We were just getting settled into our seats and I was holding her and standing until the last moment, I realized Eloise was looking around at the sea of faces behind us. A few people were smiling at her. She selected a couple and started flapping her arms, squeaking and crowing with her wide open mouthed smile. This delighted the row of people behind us and even a few further back. All of a sudden Eloise had captured a crowd of admirers. Her flapping and crowing increased. She was so excited, I had a hard time holding her and rested her on the back of my seat facing backwards. This exacerbated the delightful interactions. It was my favorite part of our trip home, watching the array of cultures represented by the people around us, all with smiles and shiny eyes, just because of my friendly child.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Courgette Cake yesterday, Tomato Relish today

Tomato Relish

3 lbs Tomatoes
1/2 lb. sugar
2 Tbsp curry
1 lb. onions
2 heaped Tbsp cornflour
1 dessert tsp. mustard

Cut tomatoes and onions into separate dishes and sprinkle with salt. Leave overnight. Pour off the brine. Barely cover with vinegar. Bring to a boil and add sugar and boil for 1/2 hour. Thicken with cornflour and a little more vinegar. Add curry and mustard

The day is fast approaching when I will not be able to sit Ello on a blanket with a selection of toys while I cook. She is mobile to about 2 feet radius, getting ready to run. In the last week she learned to pull herself to standing. A few days later, she figured out how to sit up on her own.....New things every single day. To top it all off, there are new smiles every hour.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

30 degrees in the shade (Celsius)

Well, summer here in New Zealand isn't exactly like summer in Santa Cruz. No fog here; bit more humid; 3 more tropical storms coming through than ever I've seen in a Santa Cruz summer. Cyclone Wilma hit us last weekend. Six inches of rain landed on us in a 12 hour period. We put on our foul weather gear that afternoon and went for a hike. We outfitted Tiffany, our Santa Cruz boat guest, with some foulies as well and insisted she come too. It's much less grumpifying to take hikes in the rain than to sit cooped up on a boat in the rain. Of course, the weather never stays around long. The next day was sunny again.

This past week, Brian has worked with few breaks on Eloise's bedroom. It's in the back of the boat next to our aft cabin, where the head used to be. It's got a pint sized bed that's cozy with a bright purple cordurouy lee cloth that I made for it. A fellow yachtswoman helped us give an appropriate name to this baby room aboard: The After Berth.

So much time aboard has not only skewed our humor but was keeping Brian away from surf. This week we're off to Ahipara for a camping/surfing trip. Then, only one week more and we return to Santa Cruz for six whole weeks. Hurray!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I've learned that progress cannot always be dictated or forced to happen. This lesson was taught to my by Eloise. A couple of months ago I was concerned that her sleeping pattern wasn't right. Now I look back and wonder what "right" might have been. I thought I was doing something wrong because I wasn't getting the product I wanted. With 3 months more of being Eloise's mama under my belt, I realize nothing was wrong at all. She was progressing and developing at her own pace and it just so happened that that snapshop of her progress didn't match what the sleep book said. Fortunately for her, I continued to be consisted in how I put her to sleep. We have a short routine and some predictable times. I sing the same sleepy time songs three times per day and avoid singing them during waking hours.

Now, she has a sleep pattern that fits what I like and fits the sleep book. But I've realized that doesn't mean she's more successful than three months ago. It means that's where she's progressed to this far and next week it quite possibly will change. If I'm consistent and stay tuned to her cues, with God's mercy, I'll be able to provide her with what she needs to contine to progress and develop. As it is, she just slept through the delivery of a very large load of gravel deposited outside of her door, large truck brakes and everything. Much to my shock!

It's good for me to be reminded of these things because my tendency in all of my life is to see that things aren't how I want them to be and immediately begin casting my eyes around for what I need to do differently because surely I can force circumstances, myself, others to be different if I just do the right thing. I wonder how much personal growth and progress (in myself and others) I've shortchanged by not accepting a certain stage of development. Perhaps, in concern, I've changed healthy patterns and situations because I didn't like how things looked at the moment. Sometimes growth takes place without manipulation.

I know this principle in gardening. If I plant a seed and nothing has popped up in the first few days, I don't dig up the seeds to see what is wrong. Instead I consistenly water and remove weeds. I do that at every stage of growth. From seed to flower. But I forget that the universe is wired that way when it comes to other things in my life. I'm grateful for Eloise's reminder. I'm also grateful for her two two-hour naps per day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baby Cuteness

Eloise plays peekaboo with herself! She covers her face with her blankie, then kicks and wiggles until the blanket comes off. She then repeats the procedure over and over.

When sitting, she has learned to scooch an inch at a time towards desired objects. And she still smiles like crazy when she meets new people or daddy makes silly noises.

The Great Barrier Island

I learned how to clean scallops. Eating them was even more fun than cleaning.

We climbed a very steep mountain with a 360 degree view and raced back down the mountain so I could be reunited with my baby.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Great Barrier Island

I don't even know how to summarize our experiences here. This large island is 33 miles from where we usually moor the boat. It feels like a sailor's playground. Dozens of coves face many directions and provide flat calm anchoring in any wind condition.

My favorite place so far has been Smokehouse Bay. Years ago, the family that owns the property ashore envisioned a place for boaties to build fires for smoking fish. The idea blossomed and grew into an area that has a bath house with a small woodstove outside to heat the water for a shower and a tub inside. There's also an outdoor shower/tub combo that has ho water plumbed to it. In the center of the clearing is a fire pit with picnic tables around it. On the other side of the clearing is the large fish smokehouse. Right next to shore in amongst some flax bushes are sinks with plumbed water and old-fashioned laundry wringers attached. Clotheslines are erected on a small rock outcropping nearby. Hundreds of people use the facilities here every week during the summer but, despite the absence of garbage bins, the whole area is tidy and well-kept.

Brian gave Eloise a swim lesson in the warm water of the outdoor tub a few days ago. She splashed and smiled and performed her drills with him quite happily.

Pictures are coming soon.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Baby is pretty darn amazing.

Well, the world might be all excited about a new year. But, for me the fireworks should be for my little one's giant grins or her little milestones. Brian, Eloise, and I have spent the last couple of weeks aboard Nomad with only short forays ashore or to town. We go to the beaches around the area and have Eloise splash in the quiet shallow spots. It's a far cry from Brian's solo days of chasing surf, but this family life stuff suits.

The week before Christmas, found us down in the Coramandel peninsula region exploring anchorages tucked in cattle grazing lands.

We spent Christmas with our good friends John and Annette and their family. One of my highlights was seeing octogenarian, Grandma Sheila, sitting on the floor next to Eloise, playing and chatting with her.

With the new year we have a friend from Santa Cruz, Tiffany Harmon, aboard for a few days before she heads off to road trip through New Zealand. She brought us a fresh infusion of diapers! ... as well as a few other treats from home. We're also really grateful to have Tiffany teaching us how to teach Eloise to swim.

Eloise continues to be a very contented baby. Her first tooth is still working its way in and upsetting her nap schedule a bit but all in all, she is happy. She delights in splashing water so hard that it covers her face makes her sputter. She figured out how to sit up (when we place her) right before Christmas, and now she plays contentedly on her own, sitting with pillows around her under the galley table. She inchwormed herself one morning about 3 inches. That was a big deal to me. ;) In the cockpit, when she's on her back, she can push her self backwards a few feet. And she continues to delight in bouncing in all forms. The term "bouncing baby" really is accurate. But her biggest accomplishment is to charm the hearts of all who meet her. She spreads smiles wherever she goes.

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