Daddy’s Home!

This blog is about sailing and living aboard, but it is also about military life too, and how sometimes, it can all be really, REALLY hard.

Conor deployed a week after our baby was born. He’s back now, and was only gone a month, but it was still a rather sudden and unexpected departure. The possibility of the training exercise had been tossed around since September, and had been definitively called off around Thanksgiving. We had both breathed a huge sigh of relief, until halfway through December when all of the sudden it was back on. It threw us for a loop and added so much stress on top of, you know, having a baby. I am so thankful he was there for the birth, as I know many other spouses are not so lucky, but it was SO hard to see him go and say goodbye to our little one.

This was the reason I had rotating help with my parents, who both flew across the country to be with me for two weeks. My sister also came out for a long weekend. Boat life added another layer of complication to the situation, but at least I had babysitters! At three weeks post-partum, I did a pumpout and dragged the cart down the docks, through the snow, and up the parking lot hill. Our water tanks had to be filled, and because of the freezing weather, hoses had to be connected from the dockhouse and run all the way back to our slip. This was all doable with an extra set of hands to watch the baby while I did it all, and set us up for the next two weeks while baby and I were mostly on our own.

All told, Baby and I were alone for ten days total while Conor was gone. I learned to never leave the boat for just one thing. If I was going through the effort of loading baby up in the stroller or wrapping her in the babywear wrap, I needed to get stuff done. I’m sure I made quite a sight stomping around the marina, baby strapped to my chest, bag of laundry in one hand, and leash in the other. Or pushing the stroller, all of our PO box mail shoved into the diaper bag, dragging a dock cart full of groceries behind me.

Respect to all military moms, and moms in general. You work hard and get sh*t done, all while being the adult in charge of keeping one of Earth’s newest members alive. I am proud to join your ranks.

Conor’s homecoming was one of the sweetest moments I’d ever witnessed. We are very happy to have him back. We survived January!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

dads home

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Pura Vida, Baby!

Today, I realized that it has been over two weeks since I updated the blog (gulp!)–time just got away from me!

These last few weeks I’ve focused on friends, community, and building a wonderful support network on side of the country. Conor was gone in 29 Palms for three weeks this August for an exercise (and just got back yesterday!), so that meant plenty of time for me to connect with friends, both old and new.

I’ve already made so many friends at our marina, people of all ages and at different stages in life: retired cruisers, veterans, parents with young children, and even fellow writers. Marina life is never lonely, and I always have to plan for 10-15 min extra time to get anywhere, as people always want to stop and chat on the docks. The staff always checks on me to see how I’m doing, and everyone is there to offer help/support/guidance. It really feels like a family. We all came together to celebrate Dawn this month, who has worked for NWC Marina for 25 years. Close to 100 people showed up, even people who no longer have boats at the marina but who just wanted to express their gratitude.

Scout and I also went on a road trip to Charleston, SC for my friend Bekah’s baby shower. We studied abroad in Costa Rica together almost six years ago and have kept in contact ever since. While we hung out over the weekend, it honestly felt like no time had passed since we were college students living the ‘Pura Vida’ life on the beach.

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From beach babes (circa 2011)…
baby shower
…to BABY!

I am SO excited for Bekah and her husband, and to meet ‘Little Man’ soon. I really believe that unique circumstances can forge unbreakable bonds between people, much like in the liveaboard community. We are all on an adventure together!

The craziest part was being in a house for the first time in months—everything felt so spacious and open. I woke up a couple of times in the night, wondering where the hell I was, why nothing was rocking, and why there was so much space above my head. I wondered if the boat would feel small when I returned from the weekend, and if I would have any regrets about our choice.

Not at all. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of returning ‘home’ after being away from the boat for the first time since we bought it. Any other way of life simply isn’t for me at the moment, which I was pretty sure of when we bought the boat, but now is beyond a doubt.

I will say, though, that home doesn’t feel complete unless Conor is here with me. Time away from your spouse is hard, whether it is for a 6 month deployment or just a summer exercise. I wish that we could set sail already and leave ‘grown-up’ responsibilities and time apart behind, but we still have to wait a few years for that.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Fingers Crossed for Camp Lejeune

There are SO many amazing benefits to living aboard on a military base marina. Gottschalk Marina at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina is our dream marina. Here are the perks:

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Oceanside Harbor at sunset. Can’t wait to see the east coast views!
  • High security
  • Safety standards
  • Close proximity to commissary, PX, and hospital
  • Walking distance to the gym
  • Central to base
  • Allows liveaboards
  • Reasonably priced and it has immediate slip availability (this is the most important part)
  • SUPER helpful marina staff
  • ‘Clubhouse’ with free laundry

On the bright side, even if we don’t get Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps bases are (almost) always on an ocean. This is different from the Army and the Air Force, where it is possible to be stationed pretty much anywhere. That would be bad news for our sailboat plan if we had to be in middle America! So at least we can operate under the assumption that we will be on a coast, near water, and have a place for our boat, no matter where we end up.

Waiting for Orders

I tell curious family and friends, “Yeah, we are moving Spring of 2017. Don’t know where to, yet. Or when.” Then I shrug, determined to roll with whatever comes. Still, I am met with incredulous stares from people who have never been through a PCS move before, and can’t believe all the last-minute uncertainties that it entails.

We have been lucky so far, and have lived in Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA since early 2014. Yes, I will be very sad to say goodbye to gorgeous southern California. We have had a BLAST here, and it was such a great way to spend our early married years. But when we moved here, I knew it wasn’t going to be forever.

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These ladies had my back during the first deployment. We have made some truly wonderful friendships here. 

It is hard to feel settled when you know that everything is only temporary. Housing, neighbors, friends—you get a clean slate every few years. Trying to enjoy the last few months here has been difficult as we try to balance looking forward to a new adventure with saying goodbye to the old. Among the things I will miss most are my workout classes and my wonderful writers group.

We should know by March (at the latest) where we are going, and we will be moved out of our house by March 31 (we aren’t renewing our lease). In the meantime, to keep from twiddling our thumbs, Conor and I have started clearing out a bunch of crap we have accumulated to make the move easier. Just waiting, wishing, and hoping we get the location we want, and trying not to get frustrated!

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Downsizing

Do you ever get into one of those manic moods where you decide to clean out EVERYTHING in your house? One project turns to two, and then three, and before you know it your plan to tidy the office has resulted in donating three car-fulls of clothes, furniture, and appliances?

(whispers) Uh, yeah. Me neither.

For all my Gilmore Girls fans, I was definitely channeling my inner Emily:

gilmore

 

Conor came home and was like, “Are you sure you want to get rid of this? What about that?”

Me: “IT DOESN’T BRING ME ENOUGH JOY!”

I roped him onto my crazy train and, well, this was the result:

Baby steps toward moving onto our boat.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

Minimalism

Even before deciding to live on a boat, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of minimalism. I came across tiny houses first, and was enchanted with not only their obvious adorableness, but the lifestyle that inevitably accompanied them. Subscribers to the idea of “less is more” accumulate time and freedom instead of material goods.

Conor is gone a lot. And by a lot, I mean we’ve been through two back-to-back 6 month deployments, 6-week field ops twice per year, and the countless 10-day exercises that pop up with little notice. So, we need to make the most of the quality time that we do spend together. By paring down and decluttering our lives, we believe it will help keep our marriage strong.

I think we are already off to a pretty good start. We have never really been “shoppers” and Conor has made a lot of our furniture. We can actually park our car inside our garage (which is more than I can say for most of the people on our street). In fact, looking at all the overflowing garages of my neighbors completely stresses me out. I can’t imagine hauling all of that across the country, unpacking it, then repacking it a few years later to do it all again. We have what we need. I don’t like decorations or knickknacks, and I avoid Etsy. But still, I know we have WAY to much stuff to move onto a boat. It is scary how much stuff the average American accidentally accumulates.

Love,

Taylor and Conor

minimalism
This is a throwback to the first night in our California home before the movers delivered all of our stuff! Don’t worry, we won’t be THIS minimal 🙂