What we’re not taking

At Playgroup this week and one of the mum’s asked “what are you going to pack”, she then laughed and said, “it’s probably a case of you’re already packed!”

“True” I said. Our conversation then turned to how easy it is to accumulate stuff. Our conversation inspired me to undertake another round of taking things off Medina that we don’t or no longer need.

Medin'a half full cockpit

Medin’a half full cockpit

Over the past few weeks I have been decluttering our material possessions, either donating it to local charities or making use of the industrial sized rubbish bins at the marina.

But this week, there just seems to be more and more stuff coming on to Medina than coming off. The stuff coming onto Medina is important and we do need it, but finding spots for some of it has been a bit of a challenge and usually involves taking more stuff off.

I took a photo of our cockpit this morning because, well – its half full! Amongst our washing is, Medina’s headsail and stay sail (the sails on the front of Medina, which we had the UV material replaced), a danbuoy and life sling (both used in a person over board situation) and a new EPIRB. All essential items that will be put in their respective places over the coming days.

Orbit getting to know his new play-doh machine

Orbit getting to know his new play-doh machine

What you can’t see is the extra ‘little things’ I have been stockpiling, the nice to haves, the books, activities and toys, secret treats to have while we’re away from the luxury of being able to ‘just pop to the shops’. I justified their place on Medina because I have already taken of what feels like a large amount of books, activities, toys and stuff we no longer need or use.

Most liveaboards (that we know) have the rule, for every one thing that goes on the boat, one thing must come off. This is a great rule and a great way to manage the limited space available.

Another great rule is everything has a place – there is nothing more annoying/dangerous than having an item fly across the cabin and break because the boat has heeled over. It may sound a bit strange, but over the next few weeks, we will be spending quite a significant portion of our time living on some kind of an angle and constantly moving, even when at anchor.

Below decks when Medina is heeled over

So part of preparing Medina to go cruising means, finding a place for something or it gets off loaded. It is rather a cathartic process to get stuff off the boat, to create space, but sometimes the decision isn’t that easy.

I keep having the thought in my head, ‘but what if we need it?’ On the flip side, we aren’t going to be sailing across oceans or to countries where things can not be easily replaced.

We are only heading up the coast. It may only be a few days sail (if we go directly) but we’re going to take our time and take a few weeks – there are too many interesting places to go, people to see and adventures to be had.

So from that perspective, we really don’t need much at all!

Mummy, mummy, look at me!

Step 1 to getting into bed

Step 1 to getting into bed

After what feels like a very long time, we are home. We were only away from Medina for 7 weeks but it feels like a lot has happened in that time.

Leading up to the end of our house sitting, particularly when he was tired, Orbit would say he wanted to go back to Medina, he wanted to go home. Which was reassuring after his initial excitement of house sitting! The day finally came and Orbit was back on Medina. Back with his toys and ‘non-toys‘, back to the space where he can’t lose us, back to being in the middle of everything and back to his bed, which he symbolised by taking of his ‘travel’ pillow case to reveal his ‘Medina’ pillow case.

Since being back on Medina, Orbit has been discovering the physical differences of the growth spurt that happened while he was away. Areas that weren’t accessible before we left, now are and on the flip side, there are some areas that much smaller than they once were.

Step 2 to getting into bed

Step 2 to getting into bed

The second full day were were on Medina, I was glued to the Olympics when I heard Orbit say “mummy, mummy, look at me”. I turned to see Orbit sitting in his bed, proud as punch that he had completed the climb all by himself. I asked him to climb in and out again for me so I could see how he did it and get some photos – he kindly obliged.

Orbit has been able to slide out of bed for a while, but getting himself into bed seems to be a bigger achievement for him. Going to bed always involved the Skipper and I putting Orbit into bed, his bed was just too high for him to climb into – but no longer! With the lee cloth (the piece of netting that stops him from rolling out of bed) ‘half up’ Orbit now has another area accessible to play or spend time on his own.

Step 3 to getting into bed

Step 3 to getting into bed

Although Orbit can now get in and out of bed on his own, the Skipper or I still need to put the lee-cloth fully up or down. Because Orbit can’t yet undo the clips that hold the lee-cloth up, we are able to relax knowing that he is safe in his bed.

Because the lee-cloth is made of netting material, we can still see and talk to each other, but Orbit is out of harms way. It’s his ‘safe space’ on Medina. It is where he goes when either the Skipper or I can’t properly supervise him. This means he isn’t going to walking around on deck, isn’t going to hop off Medina and go visiting, isn’t going to be getting into things he shouldn’t while we’re asleep. We will continue to pop Orbit into bed when we are anchoring, leaving/entering a marina, tacking or gybing till he gets a little bit older and we can trust him to stay out of harms way.

It will be interesting going sailing again to see how much he has changed since we last unfurled the sails. It won’t be long now and we will be out there!

The flow of imagination

Orbit's slot car set

Orbit’s slot car set

At the start of our house sitting adventure, I took Orbit shopping for a new toy. Once in the toy aisles he looked, walked, paused, looked some more, pondered, sat, thought, re-traced his steps, and thought some more. Choosing a new toy was obviously a very serious decision for him.

I wasn’t sure if he would ask for more than one toy (even though I explained he could only have one) or if he would choose an expensive toy (he doesn’t have the concept of how much things can cost yet). As we walked the aisles together I started to have second thoughts on the decision I had given him – was it too risky to give a three year old open choice for a new toy? Was there a tantrum of my own making waiting to happen in the next aisle?

After about half an hour he decided to get a slot car set. It was a large slot car set, set up it was over 2m long and a bit on the expensive side. So we sat down and I explained that he could have a slot car set but the smaller one would be better because we could take it back to Medina with us, as well as play with it in the house. Plus, he would be able to carry the box around the shop, if we got the larger one, mummy would have to carry it. I was relieved when he agreed to get the smaller set and he was proud as punch carrying it around.

Using the 'cards' to make up stories

Using the ‘cards’ to make up stories with Orbit’s ‘road’ and cars

Once we got home and the slot car set was set up, it gave Orbit’s hand-eye coordination a good work out. It was fascinating to watch his facial features change as he worked out how the make the cars go faster and slower by the amount of pressure he put on the button of the remote control. But after a few days of setting the full set up each morning and taking it down again every evening (which needed the Skipper’s or my assistance), Orbit started to make his own ‘road’.

To make the ‘road’ a bit more interesting, I made some features, like on a real road. Using old paper (the clean sides of printing I no longer needed), I tore the paper into 2 or 4 pieces to make ‘cards’ and drew some traffic lights, trees, flowers etc. Orbit took this idea and ran with with it. He asked me to draw some shops, the doctors, his Aunty Miranda and his cousin Tilly, Hairy Maclary (a dog from one of his favourite stories), Medina, stop signs and many other things. We then used the ‘cards’, the road and his cars to make up different stories.

The idea of the slot car set and the cards gave me an idea for a game we can play when we are back on Medina. We could make a boat out of a box, pop some blue material on the saloon table as water and make ‘marine’ cards. We could include all sorts of marine animals but also navigational markers, islands and other boats. I’ll let you know how it goes …

Orbit and his 'shop'

Orbit and his ‘shop’

We were playing shops the other day when Orbit stopped, said “Mummy, idea!”. He disappeared into another room and bought back the two cards that had “shops” written on them. So we taped them to the chair that was his shop and continued to play. Orbit continued to add more cards to his shop as he thought about them. Hairy Maclary ended up sitting out the front of his shop and his Aunty Miranda and his cousin Tilly were customers.

Seeing the transformation of how one ‘game’ (the slot car set) can lead to another (card inspired road stories) and to another (cards and the shops) has taught me to keep my imagination open, to ‘go with the flow’. With Orbit’s imagination starting to flourish and enjoying role playing, who knows what the next adventure will be!

Migraines on a sailing boat

I am lucky to be blessed with a body that likes migraines. Yes, it is a strange blessing, but hey I do get to lie about all day when I have one! Seriously though, as any sufferer of migraines knows, they are not fun. My post this week is late because I had a migraine, so I thought I would write about my experience of having migraines on a sailing boat.

Given how much migraines influence my life, it was appropriate that they influence what layout Skipper and I were looking for in a sailing boat. Each person who suffers from migraines has different triggers and symptoms. The list of what can trigger one of my migraines is long and but so complicated (poor diet, lack of sleep, stress etc). I try to avoid the things that trigger them but I still get them now and again. I know I am going to get a migraine when I have a really strong craving for chocolate. Once I have a migraine in full force, I struggle to cope with bright lights and loud noises and they can last from one to three days.

Medina's hatches aft (or back from) the cockpit)

Medina’s hatches aft (or back from) the cockpit), the hatches in the back of Medina (the transom) are just above our bed

So when we were looking for a boat to live on, the need to have some separation from noise and light was essential, and part of the reason why we preferred a centre cockpit. A centre cockpit design allows for a aft/back cabin. From there it was finding a boat with a centre cockpit and one with a bed that was inline with the boat (not across it). This means the Skipper and I can get in and out of bed without creating too much disturbance on one another.

So aft cabin – check. Inline bed – check, next was the ventilation. I like to have as much natural ventilation as possible, it helps to prevent my migraines. Medina has hatches on all four sides of the aft cabin. I put my foot down on having hatches in the transom (i.e. hatches to the back of the boat). The Skipper would have preferred a lazaret (a storage area at the back of the boat, which prevents hatches), but I guess, “happy wife, happy life” won the argument. We also have a hatch to the deck which allows for any hot air to leave the cabin – particularly important in Queensland summers.

As much as hatches equate to ventilation, they also mean light and light is not my friend when I have a migraine. We were blessed that the previous owners had specially made blackout cards and ‘cushions’ that fit in all the hatches (most of the hatches are recessed) and covers for the deck hatches, so if I have a migraine I can lie in pretty much darkness if I have too. I have also been blessed with a Skipper who can install pretty much anything on a boat, and I nearly broke into tears when he bought home and installed fans in our cabin. I tend to cry a lot when I have a migraine – my mum says it eases the tension and I believe her.

Orbit getting some tummy time in the back cabin when he was 6 months old, you can see the back hatches

Orbit getting some tummy time in the aft cabin when he was 6 months old, you can see the back hatches

I also preferred to have a head (or toilet) in the aft cabin and preferably two heads (or toilets) on the boat. This is so I don’t have to walk too far to throw up (sorry for the detail). But having two heads means there isn’t the traffic of people coming into the aft cabin to use the head – they have an alternative. Luckily Medina has two heads and one of these is in the aft cabin.

When planning for an adventure, we always take into consideration fatigue and diet, making sure we are organised, so reducing the level of stress on the Skipper and I. With only two adults on board we can’t afford for one of us to be down for too long. I also make sure I have my pain medication (even if it’s for an over night trip). I have a variety of strength pain killers, because there are times, where I can’t ‘knock myself out’, I need to have my wits about me. Any medication has been prescribed by a doctor and I have discussed with them what impact it will/could have on me.

Orbit doing some planning in the aft cabin

Orbit doing some planning in the aft cabin

One of the best things I have found for a migraine, especially when I get that strong craving for chocolate is to go for a swim in salt water (lucky we live on a boat!). Off the beach with the Skipper and Orbit is okay but it can mean a few hours on the beach in the sun. What is better is to jump in when we are at anchor (and it is safe to do so). The Skipper and I don’t ‘jump off’ Medina at the moment when Orbit is on deck. We don’t want him getting the idea that he can do the same thing as he is only 3. So I have to wait for him to be asleep before I can jump in.

When I have a migraine, the Skipper and Orbit are fantastic, they try to do things as quietly as possible, bring me drinks of water and give me lots of hugs. So although migraines on a boat are not fun, they are manageable. The best bit about a migraine isn’t the opportunity to lie around all day, its how good you feel when it is finally gone!

Please note – I am not offering any type of medical advice in this post, it is just sharing my experience. 

Draw mummy, draw please (but don’t sing … please!)

Three jelly fish

Three jelly fish

One of the activities Orbit and I discovered while having a break from the blog was drawing songs. I am quite keen to develop his love of music whether its listening to it, playing it or in this case, drawing it.

Whether on Medina, in the car or in a house, we usually have some type of music playing in the background, anything from classic through to modern, by Australian and international artists. It could be a CD, the radio or playlist on our ipods/iphones. We have given Orbit the Skipper’s old iPod. It has his own music, so he can listen to what he wants to by either plugging it into Medina’s stereo, listening on his headphones or straight out of the iPod.

I am slowly building a playlist of age appropriate songs that Orbit can listen to, sing along to and dance to; but don’t annoy the Skipper and I (not an easy balance). Let’s be honest, children songs are great but after an hour or so they can get a bit annoying (particularly if its the same song on repeat)!

Our recipe for Orbit’s playlist was to start with some modern children songs (there are some great songwriters, producers etc out there producing some fantastic children’s music), throw in some of the old classics (can’t go past Play School and Anne Murray) then round it out with some everyday songs (i.e. songs that don’t have naughty words in them). If only I could describe how proud I was when Orbit started to sing along to Sunsets by Powderfinger and Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap.

Singing a Cowboy Song

Singing a Cowboy Song

We also try to use music in everyday learning. For toilet training we used to sing Shake Your Booty by KC and the Sunshine Band (more relevant for boys than girls). Doing the actions to Open, Shut Them has been a fantastic way to build the strength back in Orbit’s hand after the splint was taken off.

Back to the discovery. It was a rainy day and we were stuck inside Medina, busy doing our own thing with Orbit’s playlist in the background. Orbit was playing with his cars on a ‘roadscape’ drawn in his scrap book. After a while, he looked up and said “draw mummy, draw please”. After a few questions and failed attempts at drawing what I thought he wanted me to draw (i.e. more roads, trees, stop signs etc), I realised, Orbit wanted me to draw the song.

Lucky the next song was something easy, Three Jelly Fish, so as I drew I sang along to the song. Which Orbit promptly stated, “no mummy, no singing, please!.” Those of you who have heard me sing will know, if there is something I do really well, it’s sing very very badly! The next song was the Singing a Cowboy Song, a bit harder to draw, but then relief when the third was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star

Twinkle Twinkle Litte Star

The trick to the activity is being able to draw the song, before the song ends, which can be quite a challenge when a song is only about 60 seconds long and the playlist is on random, so have the crayons out of the pencil case and ready to go!

I was meaning to get photos of the drawing the songs on Medina, but got distracted by other events, and I forgotten that we have discovered the activity until during the week when Orbit was going through his scrap book and was singing the songs as he got to the pictures. This activity will be great for when we are cruising, as we’ll be able to do it on angle of sail. And am so looking forward to when Orbit does the drawing and not just the singing!