So why am I writing this blog........?

This blog is a way for me to record and reflect upon my day to day life and all the changes that have happened to me over the past 2 years. In a nut-shell I moved from the rich, bustling streets of London to the sleepy suburbs of Washington DC all in the name of love. My biggest reward in this adventure has been the love of my wonderful husband and the birth of our beautiful daughter. However this transition is not and has not been an easy one; it's been filled with tremendous highs and devastating lows- all part of life's rich tapestry and part of my story that I want to share as a mother, wife and of course as an English girl settling into life across the pond.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend.

Monday just passed was Memorial Day, this is a public holiday in America to remember all the people in the forces who have fallen.  Our long weekend was filled with glorious sunshine and soaring temperatures.  The air-conditioning on the boat was running full steam and offered us cool, shady sanctuary when things got a bit too hot.

We had a busy couple of days; Doug finished the baby crib and Tabitha spent her first night in it which was a wonderful success.  We fixed the baby bouncer to the Boom - that's the bit of the mast that runs parallel along the boat above the cock-pit for those of us who don't know!


We retrieved Jack and Twiggy and all to quickly realised that Jubilee is not a place where 2 adults, a baby and 2 dogs can live in perfect harmony 24/7 and hastily (though very sadly) returned them to our friends who are looking after them for us.....  We took a quick trip out to the new house and were disappointed to see that our plot looked exactly as it did three weeks ago, no sign of any work or digging yet.  On Sunday afternoon we had a delicious BBQ washed down with the most amazing peach sangria with our friends Becky, Chris and Quincy the dog who live in Annapolis.  Tabitha had a couple of play-dates with baby Jack whose Mummy (Mommy!) and Daddy have a boat along the dock and we all took courage and braved the 'unidentified floating objects' in kiddie pool at the Marina.  All in all, it was a fun and exhausting weekend- life is good!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A bit more about food...

Since we arrived on Jubilee Tabitha has been eating like a King- breakfast, lunch and dinner not to mention the numerous 'milk' snacks throughout the day.  I'm devoutly following  the Annabel Karmel Baby Meal Planner and cooking up a storm for her.  Doug and I on the other hand are eating more like paupers....I haven't quite got to grips with how and what to cook for us on the boat and we're both down a buckle on our belts.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to proclaim to be an amazing cook but over the past couple of years thanks to Jamie Oliver's 'Anyone Can Learn to Cook' I have really begun to enjoy being in the kitchen.  To me cooking is very emotive; it's a way to nurture and show love for your family and yourself.  My lack of cooking on the boat is not a deliberate act of malice to starve Doug and I, I just don't know what to do or how to do it.  For the past 10 days we've been living off sandwiches, cheese, bsicuits and coffee from the local deli.

There are a number of obstacles that seem to be getting in the way...
1- we have very limited storage space for ingredients, although we do have a good fridge and a small freezer (but that's full of various baby meals for Tabitha).
2- Once Tabby is in bed, we have to monitor our noise levels so crashing and banging in the galley would not go down well and I don't appear to be well organised enough to cook before she goes to sleep.
3- Cooking equipment- in the galley we have 2 gas burners, a kettle, one saucepan, one frying pan, a chopping board, one small cutting knife and a sink...that's about it really!

The galley

I'm embarking upon a trip to the local supermarket this afternoon for inspiration and I am determined to try and bring something more than bread, cheese and olives to the dinner table tonight.....wish me luck.....!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All this fresh air is giving me an appetite

   Smile for the camera, sweet vegetable medley anyone...?!  Also doubles as a face-mask....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life seems a lot simpler right now.....

It's Sunday and we've almost survived a week living aboard Jubilee and I must say that so far Doug and I are still speaking and it's been really enjoyable.  Life seems a lot simpler and less stressful.  We only shop when we need food,  there are no major bills to pay, nothing really to clean, no television, make-up, style and fashion are out; wearing the same clothes for three days on the trot is in. It's quiet and peaceful here yet there is a real sense of community and friendship amongst the boaters and particularly the people along our dock.

Our new way of life is allowing me to indulge in spending most of my day playing with Tabitha, going for walks and doing little chores (which actually take a long time to get done on a boat!).  When Tabby naps I use the time to prepare her lunch or dinner, straighten up the boat (it's best to keep things as tidy as possible living in such a small space) read and of course write my blog! We don't have the dogs back with us yet which I know is playing an enormous part in this sense of tranquility and calm.  I miss my Twiggy and Jack so much, it hurts me being without them but I am a little anxious about their return and how we'll cope with them.  The good thing is that we have wonderful friends who have offered to look after them for us whenever we want so if things get really stressful they can go off for little 'holidays' here and there.  Doug is hoping to pick them up sometime next week so we'll see how it goes.

We've had a real mix of weather since we came to the marina.  Last Monday we arrived in a torrential rain and thunder storm and as a complete contrast yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day with a high of 80 degrees farenheit, that's around 26 degrees centigrade in our language.  Yesterday Tabby and I spent some time on one of the private beaches at the marina with  our  'neighbours' Meg, Jim and baby Joey.  Tabby was besotted with Joey........ and Joey was besotted with Tabby's teething toy.........poor Tabby!!  Joey, is a gorgeous baby with the most AMAZING hair- no comment Tabitha...we're still waiting! She had her first paddle in the sea which she loved.

                                                        First dip in the sea.....

Doug has been busy all weekend working on his 'grand creation' for Tabby's crib.  I'm amazed how he has managed to create something so impressive from a shakily, sketched drawing on a piece of tiny notepaper- very talented.  He enlisted the help of Mike Schooler (who also has a boat on the dock).  Together they toiled all Saturday afternoon in Mike's workshop and proudly returned to the boat with this:

                                                              The proud carpenters!

The rail will fit across the end of the V-berth and will prevent her from being able to roll out of bed and climb out when she is a bit older.  It has a swing door that opens in the middle to allow me to get her in and out easily.  Doug still has a few things to finish on the gate and then needs to fix it into the boat, it looks amazing and I am sure that Tabby will like it and more importantly it will give us peace of mind and keep her safe and secure when she sleeps at night.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

First Day and Second Night...

After the initial shock and general upheaval of Monday, things have settled down a lot.  My first day (yesterday) on the boat with Tabby was really lovely.  We spent the day steadily acclimatizing to our new surroundings and Tabby seems to be happy and settled.  She has three different play areas, two in the boat and one outside in the cock-pit which we have lined with foam tiles so it is nice and soft for her.  Although Tabby's sleeping area is still a work in progress (Doug is going to work his magic and build something this weekend) her sleeping was much better yesterday.  She had three good naps during the day and was asleep by her usual 6.30pm.  Much to my surprise she slept so soundly that she managed a 6 hour stretch which she has never done before- I feel rejuvenated and maybe, just maybe the bags under my eyes look a little less dark!!  Once the rain cleared it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and evening.  It was so warm that Tabby took her evening bath in the cock-pit....she loved it and the marina was filled with delighted squeals and gurgles!

                                                                'gimme that turtle....!!!!'

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Big Move and First Night on the Boat.

It was a huge day yesterday, not only was Tabitha 6 months old but it was also the day that we packed up all our belongings, sent them into storage and began our adventure living upon Jubilee.  In truth yesterday was not a good day, if the heavy rain that set in at about 6am and stayed with us all day was any indication of the day and night that lay ahead I would have buried myself under the duvet and refused to come out.

                                               Waiting for the movers to finish.....

In general the move went well.  We had a very efficient removal company doing the work for us but it was just a long day.  In truth I think the whole experience was very stressful for Doug who saw his home for the past 11 years being packed up and taken away.  I'm used to moving (you tend to move around a lot in London) and I don't have the same emotional ties to the house as Doug has.
With everything safely packed away we eventually made it down to the Marina by about 7pm last night.  The elements looked kindly upon us as rain subsided for long enough to allow us to get a few essentials out of the car without getting soaked.  By this point Tabitha was screaming, so tired that she didn't know what to do with herself yet so over tired that she couldn't relax and settle.  Once we arrived on Jubilee I was keen (well anxious!) to get Tabby to bed and sleep as soon as possible, I gave her a feed and tried to settle her in her 'peapod' bed but she was having none of it.  Bless her, it must have felt like trying to sleep in a crisp packet, every time she moved the tent rustled and every time I tired to zip it up she woke and screamed- it was horrible for all!!!  Eventually Doug and I cracked and brought her into bed with us.  She immediately settled and nuzzled into me....I must admit I do like her sleeping with us- it feels like the most natural thing in the world to be doing.

We all woke up this morning at around 5.45am to the sound of the most incredible thunder and lightning.  All three of us lay in bed listening to the sound of the rain beating on the boat like a thousand mini drums, it was amazing and actually quite comforting.  The storm cleared by about 10 and our day began............

Happy Half Birthday!!!

Yesterday it was Tabby's 'half birthday.'  She was 6 months has the time gone?!  In some ways the past 6 months have seemed like an eternity but in others it feels as though the months have passed so quickly- it's strange.  In these 6 months Tabby has grown and developed so much, everyday she seems to have mastered some new skill and her personality is shining through.  I'm so proud of her and love her more than anything else in the world.

Happy Half Birthday Tabitha Grace!!! x

Friday, May 11, 2012

All good on the puree front...

Week Number 2 and Tabitha is doing really well with her weaning.  Before we started the process I was concerned that she wouldn't be a willing participant as she has always refused a bottle but much to my surprise she is is happily munching her way through a variety of different mushes.....sorry, pureed delights!  I've been making all my own concoctions thanks to the help of a 'baby brezza.'  This is an amazing machine that steams and purees all in one go.  It's brilliant and very easy to use, you literally chop everything into small pieces pop them in, press the 'steam/blend' button and voila! It's also very small which is going to be perfect for the boat.    

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Driving Test

I passed my driving test in the UK when I was 17 years old and I have been driving ever since (that's 17 years for those of you who don't know how old I am).  Since arriving in the US I was allowed to drive on my UK license for 6 months.  In general my driving has been going OK  I've adapted to driving on the WRONG SIDE of the road and the fact that anything smaller than a SUV just isn't considered  a proper car (we have such small ones in the UK!)  So a few weeks ago my time officially ran out and I've been working up to taking my test again.

To cut a long story short, it would appear that 17 years is a good amount of time to perfect lots of bad habits and much to my dismay I failed my test on my first attempt on  Monday morning.  I was devastated, publicly cried and in the words of my loving husband; misery reigned in our household that night.

So I bravely retook the test on Tuesday.  I was a bag of nerves when I arrived at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), to me it felt as though so much was at stake and my confidence was low after the previous's a big deal not having a car in the Sates.  I passed the theory test (better than the previous day) and nervously stumbled to my car with the examiner for the practical part.  Well, if you can imagine the scene......before the test began the examiner asked me to turn on my left problem, then my right...... still no problem, then to turn on my lights......err, my the heck do I turn on my lights?!  Then ensued a frantic few minutes while I pressed every button, twisted every knob and flicked every switch in the entire car...windscreen washers going, water squirting, hazard lights name it, everything was going crazy.  It must have looked like a scene from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and still no lights and what was worse I found myself apologetically saying 'I do know how to turn my lights on but I can't remember just now, I think it's because I'm nervous...'  Anyway, eventually by luck I pulled something and the lights came on and the examiner slowly climbed into the car with a rye smile and the test began.  The next 10 minutes seemed like a bit of a blur, all I could think was 'you've failed, you've failed.'  We arrived back at the car park and I took a deep breath waiting to hear the bad news but instead I heard 'I'm pleased to tell you that you have passed'.  What a surprise but I was not surprised by the following lecture about knowing how your car works before you drive it.  In my defense I have since learned that my lights come on automatically so I'm not such a dim-wit and I'm just glad to have my driving license.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A day at the Marina

Today we spent the day at the Marina getting things ready for the big (or little, depending on how you look at it!) move to the boat next weekend. We are really lucky to have a great set of friends at the Marina and doubly lucky that Tabitha already two little friends there as well.  The 'terrible trio' are all aged within 2 months of each other and I am sure they will become great friends as they grow together.  It is also great for me to be close to friends who are also going through the highs and lows of new parent hood.

As well as socialising with our friends, who I hasten to add, have a sweep stake on how long we will last on the boat.......!  We also spent a lot of the day 'baby-proofing' Jubilee for Tabitha to make it as homely and comfortable as we can for her.  We have created a wonderful and safe little nest for her to sleep in, in the stern of the boat.  Initially this was a real problem for us as we wanted to find a safe crib which would fit on top of the bed there.  After a lot of searching on the internet we found a travel cot called a 'Peapod' which is actually like a little tent.  We like this crib for many reasons; it's light-weight, easy to fold up and transport, it zips up so there is no danger of her rolling out and it will also keep any unwanted bugs and nasties out.  I sewed a flannel sheet into the bottom of the crib so that she didn't have to lie directly onto the tent material- that was no easy feat but I managed it and was well worth the bother as it's really cosy in there!

The second thing that we have done so far is to buy her a 'Chicco 360' high chair which fastens directly on to the table.  It's brilliant and again very light-weight which is a must for the boat.  We put it up for her this afternoon and she had her lunch in it, it seemed to be a great success.  We still have some more work to do before we are ready to move onto Jubilee but we're getting there.

Back to the bike

After 9 months of pregnancy and nearly 6 months of doing very little, my excuse of 'I've just had a baby' is wearing a bit thin and I've finally plucked up the courage to wipe the dust of my beloved roadbike.

I really, really love my bike, her name is 'Ali' and she is a Specialized Allez Sport. I bought her back in 2008 and at the time she was my first big purchase - money was tight living in central London on a teachers salary. My bike is the key to many memories connected to London and my time competing in triathlons. I have really fond recolections of cycling a 40 minute journey to work every morning from Hackney (East London) to St. Johns Wood (North London). Also cycling every Saturday and Sunday morning to the Serpentine Lake in Hyde park where I was a member of the Serpentine Swimming Club, ready to embrace the murky, ducky, cold waters.

It was only with a slight tinge of guilt that I merrily swiped my MasterCard yesterday in a local bike shop called Spokes and treated Ali to a new set of Rolf Prima Echelon wheels/rims and All Condition Armadillo Elite Tyres (tires, for you Yanks).....she's looking hot and ready to go!! Now all I need to do is get out there and start riding her again.

House Options

On Friday we had an appointment with Randy the Sales Manager for the builders of the community that we are (eventually) moving to. Doug and I were very excited as this was the time that we were to choose the options for the house. We smugly thought that we were well prepared with our choices but as we entered our third hour of debate over bathroom taps (faucets) with the sound of 'Ka-Ching' resonating in our ears, we decided to take a rain-check and will continue and hopefully finish our choices next Friday. 

We are still waiting for the local county to approve the building permit before construction can begin but we were really pleased to see that a digger has arrived on our lot and the ground has been leveled. We're hoping that this is a positive sign that things will start soon.....

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Baby Sign Language

I'm very excited as a book on 'baby signs' I ordered a few days ago has arrived.  I know it may seem a bit mad embarking upon the task of teaching Tabitha signs but I've done a lot of research on this subject.  It is proven that babies who can do baby sign have fewer tantrums as they are growing.  This is because they are able to very simply communicate their needs, wants, feelings and frustrations.  

So far we've been practicing the signs for 'Mummy,' 'Daddy,' 'milk,' 'more' and 'dog'- very important with Jack and Twiggy around.  I doubt that Tabitha is yet able to appreciate all the hard work we've put in today; she's been gazing at me all afternoon with a look of bemused puzzlement as I've been furiously waving my arms around in the air!

Just you wait though, there will be no tantrums in this household....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

We're Moving House!!

We're moving- how exciting!  We sold our house a few weeks ago, very quickly I must add.  Taking the wise advice of our wonderful Estate Agent (sorry, Real Estate Agent) Kaaren, we spent about 6 weeks prior to putting the house on the market de-cluttering, painting and putting right all the cracks and squeaky doors.  We even went to the expense of putting a granite work surface into the kitchen, at the time it seemed like a crazy thing to do but given the short time it took us to find a buyer, it was all well worth the time and effort.

our house

We're both very excited to be moving, it is something that we have been planning and talking about for what seems like years but now, all of a sudden, our move date is just around the corner, two weeks away to be exact.  This would all be fine if we had our new home to move into but we are having a house built and currently it is literally a pile of dirt....lovely dirt of course but not yet the kind of dirt that you can call home.......not until August or September anyhow.

Embracing the situation with a smile through gritted teeth we are making the brave, and some may say crazy step to live on board our boat Jubilee until the house is ready.  I have to admit that this was originally my idea but as the reality of living in a space of about 32 feet with two dogs and a baby is hitting me I'm getting somewhat anxious about it all.

Jubilee is a beautiful Island Packet cruising sailboat and I am hoping that she will also be a wonderful home to us for the next few months.  We spent time last weekend moving non-essentail items off the boat to make room for our bits and bobs....she seems postiveley spacious now......!?