V-berth for Baby

Though our nursery might not be Pinterest-worthy, I thought you all might like to take a peek at what we have planned for when Baby gets here! Because our space is so limited, our rules for baby gear were that it had to be compact, fold-able, dual-use, or travel-friendly. After a LOT of research, I was able to find the perfect stuff to fit our lifestyle (we hope, I’ll update once Baby gets here). I put brand names in the post so people can find these items if they are interested, but please know that I have no affiliation with any of these companies.

Here it is! So glamorous, right? Let’s start with the basics: the mattress. Any boater will tell you how difficult and frustrating it is to get sheets for a v-berth mattress. Nothing ever fits quite right, and forget about a mattress cover. Luckily, we have an amazing friend at our marina who runs a canvas shop who offered to take on the impossible task of custom bedding as our baby gift. We have an insert that completes the triangle, but we needed the bedding to have a special fit when it is removed in order to have easy access to the drawers underneath (read: lots of velcro). It won’t be used as a bed again for quite some time, but I’m happy that the mattress will be protected from poop/spit up in the coming months.

vberthfull

Turning around from here, to port is the in-room sink (handy for diaper changes) and starboard is the closet. I’ve used a shoe hanger over the back of the door for quick-access items (socks, hats, pacifiers, swaddle blankets).

Inside the closet are diaper supplies, clothes, and pump supplies:

closet

And we can’t forget about the books! The other side of the v-berth wall shelves will be for toys when Baby is old enough.

books

Now for our gear, starting with the stroller. We chose the Mountain Buggy Nano travel system, which is pretty much the lightest travel system on the market. The stroller is 13 lbs and can be folded up to fit in airplane overhead bins. The car seat is only 8 lbs and can accommodate a child up to 44 lbs.

carseat

Baby will sleep in our bedroom for the foreseeable future, and will be in the Summer Infant SwaddleMe bassinet right by our bed. This bassinet can also fold up flat for easy storage/travel. This is the setup:

bassinet

Once Baby is ready to transition to a crib, she will be in the Lotus travel crib by Guava Family. The crib is very easy to pop open, and stores super easily. It will be strapped down/secured onto one side of the v-berth mattress (how we accomplish this is TBD at the moment). This is it all folded up:

crib

For bath time, we have the Luxx baby folding bathtub which hangs in a small locker inside our shower.

For diapering, we have the Bumbo changing pad, which is easy to wipe down, portable, and heavy enough to stay put. I am already totally in love with our diaper backpack, which is by Bag Nation and has SO many pockets. It is currently our hospital “go bag”, which is why it looks so stuffed.

I can’t WAIT to use our high chair. It is a Phil&Teds lobster high chair that folds up so tiny when not in use. We also have a completely collapsible baby bottle drying rack that will come in handy.

bottlerack

Last but not least, have you ever seen a cuter life jacket?? If you’re looking for a life jacket for your little one, there are very few on the market that are certifiably safe for infants. This one is a Stohlquist Infant PFD for babies 8-30lbs.

lifevest

That’s all of the major stuff we’ve planned for. If anyone else has suggestions for baby gear in a tiny space, please share! Hopefully this was a fun insight into how we plan on making boat and baby work. Now we wait…

Love,

Taylor and Conor

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Deck the Halls (or should I say boat?)

I may have been a bit over-eager this year for the holiday season. These decorations were put up right after Thanksgiving:

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For all of our talk about minimalism, it seems a bit excessive, but NO RAGRETS.

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Plus, when your space is tiny, $30 worth of decorations goes a long way! Conor has been gone for a lot of holidays because of deployments, so I try to make December extra-special when he is home for it. We have a lot to celebrate this year, even though we can’t go home to Washington for Christmas.

I don’t think there is anything cozier than rocking gently on our decorated boat, while it is 40 degrees outside, drinking coffee, and listening to music. It gave me the motivation this week to finish the draft of my book! It’s finally complete at 91,500 words.

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and enjoyed time with loved ones. Sorry for the super quick post this week, but stay tuned for an update about our v-berth soon!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Making New Friends

A couple weeks ago I received an email through the contact page on the blog. It was from a lovely couple on Camp Lejeune who had been following along with our journey and were also looking to make the leap to the liveaboard life. They wanted to meet us and learn more about everything we’d gone through over the past year.

My answer? “HELL YES!” I couldn’t wait to help out somebody else out. This was the entire reason I started the blog—to connect with people, encourage them, and be there to answer any questions. Transitioning to an unconventional lifestyle is an overwhelming and difficult process, and the blogs of my sailing role models were instrumental in getting us to where we are today. During the most difficult times, when we questioned if we were making the right decisions, I remember thinking, “If they can do it, we can do it, too.” Following in their footsteps helped us navigate an unfamiliar trail. Without them, we would have been lost. So, I decided that if I could help out at least one other person realize their liveaboard dream, then my blog would have served its purpose.

I excitedly showed the email to Conor and said, “Look! We have friends!” It was inevitable that we would click—Military family? Stationed on base? Interested in sailing? Wanting to live aboard while in the military? Have a cute dog? They were us, only the us from 6 months ago!

We met up this past weekend and it went great! Hopefully we were a good resource for them as we laid out our own experience and what to look out for. I can’t wait to see what boat they end up with and have my fingers crossed that they will be our neighbors soon. In the meantime, we’ve invited them to come check out our boat and sail with us anytime.

So if anyone is reading this blog and wants to hang out, please reach out! We don’t bite. We love nothing more than to make new friends, and want to meet you just as much as you want to meet us!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Winter Challenges

As I sat at my computer earlier this week, all of the sudden I felt a drop of water fall on my head. Skies were clear (but cold), and the hatches definitely weren’t leaking rainwater. I realized it wasn’t coming from outside the boat, but inside! Condensation had accumulated on all the windows, including the ones on the ceiling. Tis the season for the great battle that all boaters must face: excess moisture inside the cabin.

window
That condensation is inside the boat!

Temperatures have dropped significantly this past week, and instead of running the AC 24/7, we have *gasp* turned on the heat! What we didn’t realize during the summer was how much our AC helped keep the moisture level down in the boat. Add in two full grown adults, a dog, daily cooking, and bathroom usage–a lot of water vapor gets released into a very confined space.

My biggest fear is mold. I’ve taken to wiping down the walls and ceiling inside the boat with antibacterial wipes every few days just in case. Other areas I need to stay on top of are underneath cushions and mattresses, and all those nifty hidey-hole storage spaces that share a wall with the hull. These areas are the most subject to consequences of temperature fluctuations and can accumulate a lot of condensation.

I ordered a dehumidifier from Amazon and we got to use it in our bedroom for the first time last night. I think it made a difference, but I’m excited to see how much water it pulls once it has been running for 24 hours. The good news about living in such a small space is that it doesn’t take much time/power to dehumidify or heat. I’m sure we will find the right balance to get us through the winter. At least we won’t be paying an outrageous heating bill this season! One of the perks of living at our marina–they don’t charge for power usage. So while the temperature drops into the 30s outside, I’ll be toasty warm and cozy in 70 degrees on the boat!

If any other boaters have advice for our moisture problem through the winter, please give us all your tips!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Aren’t I Supposed to Relax on Vacation?

I can’t pinpoint when it happened—the moment the boat stopped being just a boat and became a member of the family. Maybe it was all my fretting during hurricane season, and the thought of how devastated I would be if we lost her. Maybe it was during our first solo expedition, and how she helped guide us safely across the water as we learned together. Instead of a mode of transportation or the vessel for our minimalist lifestyle, the boat has somehow evolved to become an equal partner on this adventure. We take care of her, and she takes care of us.

Leaving the boat for an extended period of time gives me anxiety. I think about her all the time when we’re away, even though I double-triple checked everything. Conor laughs and says I’m being paranoid. “It’s a boat, it will be fine for just a week without you!” I know he’s right. Our marina is protected, the dock lines are secure, anything electric (that is unnecessary) is off. But temperature and wind speeds are always on my mind as I check the weather back home for the latest updates.

I used to roll my eyes at blogs that would refer to their boats as ‘she’ and ‘her’. I feel the same way about people naming their cars. But a boat somehow becomes more over time. A boat has quirks and a personality that you get to know intimately while living aboard. You have to be in tune with her, and the consequences of not listening to what she’s saying could be disastrous and dangerous. I think that’s why I get so nervous leaving our boat alone—she could be yelling that something is wrong, but nobody is there to hear! Thankfully, we have some awesome liveaboard neighbors that I know will step in if there is an emergency while we are away. I just need to relax!

You’d think I would have seen this obsessiveness about the boat coming—just ask Scout, who has never been away from my side for more than three nights total since we adopted her over two years ago.

dog mom
Scout insists on being held like a toddler at every opportunity.

I am a self-professed crazy dog lady. She travels everywhere with us (hotels, planes, cars, boats, restaurants) and it never even occurs to us to leave her with a sitter. If my boat could shrink to 15lbs, you bet I’d pack her up and take her with us, too!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

 

Dirty Jobs

This post is a shout out to my amazing husband, who takes on all of the really dirty jobs that come with living on a boat. He puts on a brave face and does it all with hardly any complaining (and trust me, some of the jobs deserve A LOT of complaint, they are GROSS!)

One of the nastier things is pumping out the holding tank on a twice-monthly basis. You can see how thrilled he is about it:

pumpout

Another dreaded chore is cleaning out the bilge. All sorts of gunk accumulates down there, especially because we are in fresh water, and it needs to be scrubbed every few months so we don’t get a weird sulfuric smell that permeates the boat. Some biodegradable dish soap, a little elbow grease with a scrubby, and a LOT of rinsing will get it done. Tip: WEAR GLOVES.

bilge

The AC filter from our raw water intake can get pretty disgusting too (ah, river water). We run our air pretty much 24/7, so that one gets cleaned every month. Tons of weird stuff grows in there. I try not to get too close.

Needless to say, Conor is quite the trooper, and Scout and I appreciate that he keeps our little home both sanitary and running smoothly. I always make sure to have a cold beer ready for him when he’s done!

So thanks, Mister, you’re the best.

Love,

Taylor

4, 3, 2, 1.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is a difficult post for me to write, but I strive to always be transparent and honest on this blog about the ups and downs of our lives. We recently announced that we have a new crew member on the way. I have been asked a couple times over the last few months if we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat, and what on earth we are planning to do with a newborn aboard.

Yes, we knew I was pregnant when we bought the boat. If you want the brutal truth, this is my 4th pregnancy, after 3 losses, 2 years of trying, and 1 round of fertility medication. It has been a long, hard road with no guarantees. Against all odds, the boat and the baby dream came together at the same time, and we are thrilled about it.

My first pregnancy was ectopic. For any woman, the chances of an ectopic pregnancy (outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube) are around 1/100—it is very rare but always life-threatening. Conor had just deployed two weeks earlier, so when I experienced stabbing pains in my right side, I drove myself to the ER in the middle of the night and found out the bad news. It was traumatic, to say the least.

After Conor came back from deployment, we were ecstatic to find out that we were expecting again. The immediate concern was the chance of another ectopic, because once you’ve had one, your chances are 1/6 for subsequent pregnancies. Early scans showed that the little bub was in the right place, so we announced to friends and family in person while we were back in Washington over the summer. After all, what were the chances that we would have two losses in a row? We traveled back to California, and I went in for another ultrasound at 9 weeks, only to see that the pregnancy stopped progressing. Conor was in the field for an exercise, and rushed home to be with me.

I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage, meaning that my body hadn’t recognized that the pregnancy was no longer viable and was continuing to behave as though I was still pregnant, morning sickness and all. I had to be medically induced. Not so fun fact: missed miscarriages account for only 1% of pregnancies. We had rolled the dice, and lost again.

To say I was bitter and angry at this point would be an understatement. Conor and I were both young and healthy, with zero risk factors. I only got more discouraged as the months dragged on and I couldn’t get pregnant again. My due dates passed, and I found myself thinking of alternate timelines. “Oh, I would have a one-year-old right now. Oh, I should be six months pregnant by now.” Instead, we were back to square one. Behind square one, even, because now the naive excitement of pregnancy had been replaced with bad memories and disillusionment, a track record of failure. I envied and marveled anyone who had pregnancies with no losses. It seemed impossible to me.

Eight months later, I finally got a faint positive test, which was quickly followed by another miscarriage at 5 weeks. I told my doctor I had pretty much given up by this point. We were also about to leave California. She suggested a round of Clomid as a last-ditch effort. “It won’t necessarily help, but it won’t hurt anything, either.”

I guess the 4th pregnancy was the charm. Conor and I feel beyond lucky to be at this point.

I hope my story helps anyone else going through the unique pain that is pregnancy loss. It can feel so isolating, especially because it is still so taboo to discuss in society. Women feel like they have to be so hush-hush and secretive about it, and wait until they are past the first trimester to announce to people because “What if something happens?” Well shit, things do happen. And it sucks to try to handle it on your own so as to spare other people’s feelings on the matter. I want to let other women know that they are not alone. For friends and family who support these women in your life, here are some tips to follow (and what not to say) if someone you know experienced a loss or is struggling with infertility:

1) “At least you can get pregnant.” Oh, goodie! And I can also have multiple miscarriages in a row! Definitely a win for me.

2) “It will happen when you stop trying.” Ah, yes. The truly scientific explanation, backed up by empirical data. So helpful.

3) “It just wasn’t meant to be/ God’s will, etc.” Why would you assume anything about my religion and what I believe in? Stop trying to make yourself feel better by saying a general platitude.

4) “You still have time to try again.” Well, I wanted that baby. And now that baby is gone. Any subsequent pregnancies are not a replacement for the ones that I’ve lost. They were all unique.

5) “Maybe if you wouldn’t have done ____, everything would have worked out.” Don’t you dare blame the mother. She’s also probably already obsessed about this herself a million times.

Here’s what you can do:

Say that you’re sorry for their loss. Listen to them if they want to talk about it. If they named their little passenger, refer to the baby by name. Bring meals, chocolate, distractions, whatever, don’t just tell them, “I’m here for you.” Show them. I had friends drop off care packages, check in with me months after my losses to see how I was coping, weren’t afraid to bring it up in conversation, and sent cards for what would have been my due dates. Don’t shy away from it. The mothers haven’t forgotten.

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There is an event tonight (October 15th) to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss. Everyone lights a candle at 7pm and keeps it burning for an hour, creating a wave of light all around the world through the all the timezones. We’ll light ours on the boat.

Love,

Taylor and Conor