Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Photo of the Week - Thinking Outside the Box -

T and I recently noticed this sub thirty foot Sundancer in our marina.  Someone attached this bowthruster to the outside of the hull and protected the brackets they used by screwing a rubber dock protector strip to the boat.  We think it is pretty ridiculous looking but it must serve its purpose (?).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photo of the Week - Thank You God -

It is a beautiful day AND it is time to take some outgrown baby equipment off the boat!  Oh... the space!!  Things are looking up! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Easy Boat Food - Taco Casserole

Cooking aboard Ma'alahi has been an adjustment (to say the least).  With limited space, it has been a challenge to find meals that are easy to prepare and don't create a lot of dishes.  Ma'alahi's galley is our kitchen so I have made a point of learning to cook and prepare meals as efficiently as possible.  

I have found a few nearly-one-pot/pan meals that are delicious AND I will make a point of sharing them with you. 

Happy Cooking! 

Taco Casserole Recipe: 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces macaroni
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 2 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain.
  3. In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef and chopped onion over medium heat until brown. Mix in tomato soup, diced tomatoes, and taco seasoning mix. Stir in pasta.
  4. Spoon beef mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle crumbled taco chips and grated cheese on top.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve with chopped green onions and sour cream, if desired.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Living Area = All Incluse Amusement Park

Baby equipment is a funny thing.  It (generally) takes up a lot of space.  But ... oh the SANITY that comes with it.  I thought it might be helpful to include a sequence of photos showing how our space changes throughout the day.
Open floor play time.
You can see the Pack n' Play, Bumbo (chair), and "high" chair stored (on the left settee). 
M in his Pack n' Play (where he sleeps at night).
During the day, M naps in the master stateroom in his blue bouncy chair (which he has basically outgrown).  I am waiting for his new tent to come in the mail (it will provide a consistent night and daytime sleep solution).  More to come on that soon.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
I have a request out to get an additional "high" chair for M - he has outgrown the Bumbo and can get out of it. 
Folding Jumper - Active Play.
I found the Baby Einstein folding jumper/activity center on Craigslist for $30.  It has been a great break (for me).  We store the jumper in the "cave" of the galley/pantry area when not in use.  It does not get in the way of the pantry cupboards. 
Jumper stored in "cave" (on left) when not in use.
I recently discovered this folding jumper/activity center (which I LOVE for our situation): 

Kidco Go-Pod
It is priced at $50 - how perfect for a family limited in space!?!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The One Guarantee in Life

Every once and a while, our pastor mater-a-factually reminds us that there is only one guarantee in life... we will all die.  Not only will we all die... but we will be forgotten.  The people who forget us (how rude!) will be forgotten as well. 

There is usually a theological message that follows his "the one guarantee" segue.

But think... Do you make decisions involving your life or lifestyle to impress others? Are you worried about what people will think of you if you choose to live a non standard or alternative lifestyle?

I have realized that it does not matter what other people think about what we are doing ... We will be forgotten... They will be forgotten... So why don't we all live our lives fully and pursue our dreams (within reason, of course... keeping safety and long term financial responsibility in mind). 

It doesn't matter what kind of jobs we have, or how much "upward mobility" we have - if that is not what makes us "tick". 

I have been guilty (I am sure we all are) of making large life decisions based off of my perception of what will impress others and make them think... "Wow... that girl is going somewhere"

Those people - that we are all guilty of altering our life paths for... They will all be forgotten along with us.

I do not write this as an argument for living ones life selfishly...just that it is a very powerful thing to free yourself from others standards and expectations.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Vacation Recap - Mexico -

The kids helped us celebrate our last full day in Cancun (Riviera Maya/Playa del Carmen) Mexico by waking up at 5AM (3AM Pacific time).  We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Mexico, but we were definitely ready to get back into a concrete and predictable routine.  The first week and a half of our trip was amazing.  The last few days made us ready to go home. 

K & M
Now that we are back home, I have been able to gain perspective and separate myself from the last few days of our trip (which left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths). 

Coastal Mexico is beautiful.  I can see why a lot of expatriates choose to live there.  This was the first time I have visited the Caribbean side of the country.  The Yucatan Peninsula is very flat (topographically) but is full of amazing Mayan ruins and tons of very intricate cultural history. 

Tulum was, by far, one of the most beautiful historical sites I have ever been to.

I was a little bummed that we did not see Chitzen Itza, which is considered to be one of the "seven wonders of the world" - the bus tour to and from this site was 12 hours long.  T and I did not feel comfortable having my mom watch the kids for that long (for her sake…. I know the kids would be absolutely fine).  Maybe next time. 

The water of the Caribbean was breathtaking.  I really hope that someday we can experience it fully aboard a boat. 

No more "vacations" until May (when T and I are taking a four day weekend to celebrate his "big 3-0").  The last few months have been full of amazing blessings and travel opportunities.

We are definitely happy to be home.  We have a lot of work to do at our storage unit (we are hoping to downsize from our 12'X24' unit (with loft) to a heated 10'x10' unit) as well as a lot of projects to work on aboard the boat.  I am hoping that T and I can find a balance as far as a maintenance routine and hopefully get to know all the intricacies of our boat through minor (famous last words) projects.
It is good to be home.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Child Proofing the Boat - baby gates -

We moved aboard Ma'alahi in May 2011 (when we came home from the hospital with newborn baby M).  We quickly realized that we would need something substantial to keep K from going up the companionway stairs.  The first gate we used was a tall tension gate intended for a dog.  Although this was effective, it was not at all comfortable (especially after just having a baby) to climb over nor was it practical to uninstall every time I needed to get through.

Tension gate - May 2011 (newborn baby M on the settee)
I found a not-as-tall gate, at that is perfect for our situation.  It cost $40 including shipping.  The gate has a door that is easy (for T and I) to open and close, and is stable.

Walmart's "extra wide" Carlson Pet Products gate
I looked into purchasing this gate directly from the manufacturer's website (to avoid Walmart) and it was priced at $70+!?!  Walmart it is! 

I also looked into and was interested in retractable gates that would allow for more flexibility as far as blocking access to an odd shaped or larger area.

Manufacturer Photo from Retract-A-Gate (website)
Happy hunting! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Finding a boat that is child friendly.

When we first started boat shopping, T and I had a very specific (although not at all child friendly) picture of what we wanted in a boat.  I could elaborate on all the things we thought we wanted... but I will keep it simple and highlight the features that we realized (thank God) we needed in order to functionally live aboard with kids.
  1. Walk Through Stern - this has made our lives a lot easier.  We are able to easily step aboard the boat from the dock, take an additional step up into the cockpit (with full canvas covering), walk through the cockpit (past the folding table), and then step down into the cabin (via four STAIRS... not a steep ladder).  
    • A walk through stern is typically not considered to be a desirable feature for a "blue water boat" - We had to take a step back from wanting a perfect boat and figure out what works best for our family.  
    • In addition to having a baby and a toddler aboard, we have an 80 lb labrador with a bad leg.  I CAN.NOT. picture rolling the stroller up to a boat, going up slippery dock stairs with a baby/toddler/dog/groceries/stroller in tow, walking along the deck to the stern, climbing down into the cockpit AND.THEN. entering the cabin.   There are far to many opportunities to fall.  I am sure it is possible, but in reflection, I am SO.GLAD. that we have a walk through stern.  
  2. Companionway Steps (STAIRS) -  We were very attracted to Ma'alahi because she has four stairs to get into the cabin.  We were initially attracted to this feature because we figured that we could train Buddy (our dog) to go up an down them (this has never happened).  I am constantly going up and down the stairs with kids, groceries, laundry, etc.  I am thankful that I am not carrying the kids up and down a steep ladder (like you see in a lot of center cockpit type boats).  
  3. Design - We lucked out with our boat design.  There are a lot of things that I did not consider when we were boat shopping.  Ma'alahi has turned out to be perfectly functional for our family.  Here are a few things that I would know to consider now: 
    • Confinement -  We are able to keep the kids away from the companionway stairs and galley with a single baby gate.  We were initially more focused on finding a way to keep K from climbing out of the boat without us knowing.  Although this is (obviously) important, I would highly recommend finding a way to block access to the galley area.  There is something about toddlers having access to a propane stove and the boat's electrical systems.... not a good thing. 
    • Open Floor Space - Ma'alahi is a very beamy boat.  We were able to make a decent sized play space by removing the dining room table (it is in storage).  This has allowed the kids plenty of space to play. 
Every family has different needs and may be willing to sacrifice convenience and comfort for a boat that is known for being more "sea worthy".  A boat that is built for comfort at sea is typically not going to be comfortable for day to day living at dock. 

Thankfully, T and I were able to bring ourselves, and our dreams, back down to earth before we bought our boat.  We have no plans to sail over the horizon in the near future and are keeping our cruising plans flexible.  The truth is that we will be at the dock most of the time for the next few years.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Making Ma'alahi Home.

    Our family recently has experienced a major quality-of-life-improvement aboard.  T and I had been talking about getting a rug in our "family area" ever since we purchased Ma'alahi.  I fell in love with a simple and affordable (think Black Friday deal) rug at Home Depot.  We received it as a Christmas gift from my in laws.  

    After rug... everyone is happy!
    The rug matches the upholstery nicely and has made the kid's play area more warm and comfortable for everyone.  M now has an area that he can practice sitting up (and falling down) as well as a space that he can learn to crawl (the floor is far to slippery for him).  

    I was worried that I would need to keep a vacuum aboard (I even brought one down to the boat from the storage unit).  I have found that I can get the rug nice and clean with an aggressive sweep of the broom. 

    I also explored the option of installing foam puzzle tiles (from a baby supply store).  Something to keep in mind if you are researching all options.  

    I am, however, happy with our decision to go with the rug - I have dreams of entertaining in the (distant) future and would like to have the option to make our main living area look like a living room... not an amusement park. 

    Before rug.