This month and next is all about working hard and playing hard. Last week, I arrived back home to Banyan in Long Beach after a two week trip to France and Napa.
Cameron and the girls were living at a marina while I was away working. The trip to France was a research trip for a new winery project in Canada, undertaken with the owner of the project, his family and the small team.
We explored Alsace and Bordeaux, bookended by weekends in Paris (not bad). We tried amazing wines (1935 Ch. Filhot Sauterne!?!), had some outstanding meals and took intimate and in-depth tours of some of the best estates.
It was extremely educational, and with the perspective of building a new luxury winery, it was very efficient.
On my way back home I stopped off for a few days in Napa where it was all about vineyards, walking as many sites as possible. I met up with a bunch of my amazing growers – shout out to Phil Coturri, Nathan Baty and Bob Gallager ~ you guys ROCK! Not to mention Jennifer Rue who was with me from dawn to dusk daily (she puts up with a lot!).
While I’ve been off galavanting around France and Napa, Cameron and the girls have been getting to know Long Beach and loving daily life. They have been meeting other cruisers, figuring out the dismal public transportation system and spending time with Aunty Kim, who lives about 30 minutes away. Adelaide has been participating in a sailing camp at the Cabrillo Beach Yacht club in our harbor.
It’s wonderful to see her flourish as she learns to sail the little boats all by herself! We are so proud of her for being one of the youngest kids there.
Isa and Cameron logged some quality time together while Adelaide was on the water. She worked hard on her new homeschool programs as well as enjoyed a little “me time” with the usually shared toy inventory. She also got roped into the general errands and was Dad’s side kick.
Cameron is the undisputed Dad of the Year! Every time I called him from the road he sounded chipper and happy, getting dinner made, laundry done, keeping the boat afloat and generally having a great time taking care of the girls. He definitely had some good help from his sister, but he deserves major props.
“So, how’s it going?”
This is the #1 question. It’s the open ended inquiry that I’ve been getting while on the road. So… Let me tell you! It’s going really really well. We are all happily adjusted to our new life. The girls took no time at all to adjust and they are very content. Isa has started getting much more comfortable under sail (especially as we find warmer and smoother waters), Adelaide is always up for an adventure and seems to be embracing this new life with ease. She is working on being a crew member instead of a passenger and takes great pride in learning and performing her tasks. Cameron is constantly working, as always. I knew that he was a type A-never-stop-moving kinda guy, but it’s bearing out to be even more true now.
He is very happily working himself into an even skinnier state of sinewy musculature. There is never a lack of little jobs, fixes and larger projects and it’s all I can do to get him to sit down and rest at times. But, he couldn’t be happier and that is the whole point. I’m well. I’m enjoying our new life immensely. I always knew when I married Cameron that I would never be bored. I’m enjoying learning a new routine, finding a new rhythm and mastering new skills.
How is it living in such a tight space?
Isa and Adelaide are the best of friends, worst of enemies and most vigorous advocates at any given time. But generally, they play endlessly and happily together with either their legos, their little animals, their magnetic blocks or stuffed animals. They create whole worlds and scenarios and lives that they play out for hours.
If I do hear conflict, very often I just ignore it and I will soon hear laughing and giggling. They can go for days and days without seeming to have a desire to leave the boat, and if we have been active in getting off the boat day after day, they beg to just stay home for a day…I’m totally serious, it baffles us as well!
Cameron and I have had no trouble sliding into a new relationship and a much closer one with lots more face time. Not that we haven’t had our moments, but we keep the communication lines open and we are very happy. We make a great team working together to keep us afloat. Our previous lives often put us apart for work and play much too often. It feels good to be so close and reminds me more of our lives right after marriage.
Having all this face time with the kids has been very new for us and at times, has required a deep resolution in self control and many prayers have been sent up requesting peace, patience and wisdom. Being together though is affording us the amazing opportunity to really face and deal with any interpersonal challenges and allows us to work on those little deficiencies in our own personalities and behavior so that we can all become closer, more loving, more compassionate and better people (hopefully).
What is the hardest thing?
Isn’t it always that the hardest thing is often the best thing? For all of us, the aforementioned interpersonal challenges are definitely hard at times, but they are far from insurmountable, and really, they are the best blessing we could ever hope to have as a family. For me, the transition to being more of a full time Mom has given me a huge respect for my friends who stay home to care for their families. My new life is very different in terms of being of service to my family. Having three people staring at me 6 times a day saying that they are hungry was an aspect of my new world that was not fully anticipated. But, I have a host of fabulous examples – friends and family who embrace this beautiful responsibility with so much dignity and grace. If you ask Cameron what he misses the most he’ll say “our friends and our wine cellar”. It’s really tough to find wine that’s truly ready to drink when you are on the road, or “on the water” in our case.
What do you like the most?
Being together is the best thing, just like it’s the hardest thing, it’s the best thing. Cameron believes he’s spent more time holding hands with the girls in the last 3 months than he had in the 6 and 8 years they have been alive. There are so many moments when we are talking at length about something and I realize we would never have had these conversations at home. There just wasn’t the time! The driving engine of daily life didn’t allow for it. Or, perhaps we just didn’t recognize the importance of taking the time.
For example, we left Morro Bay in the evening for an overnight passage down to our anchorage just south of Point Conception. It is a 12 hour trip and it’s best to get into the anchorage before noon. I had just fed us all dinner and we pushed off into tranquil seas. I was a bit tired from little sleep the night before and Adelaide must have felt the same since she put herself to bed as the sun went down, but Isa was not tired. I attempted to put her to bed but she kept crawling back up the companion way and chatting to Cameron who was taking the first watch. “How do light switches work Dadda?” “How do wires send the light Daddy?” “How does the wind generator make energy Dadda?” So, since there was no alarm clock going off in the morning for her, I tucked her up under the dodger in blankets and pillows and went to sleep to the sound of she and Cameron talking late into the night about all sorts of things. It’s those moments and many more like it that make me so glad we are doing what we are doing.
How is homeschool going?
It’s going! We took our “summer” break right after we moved onto the boat, but around the time we were heading out of the Bay Area we needed some structure in our lives. The girls were starting to run wild. So, we studied our way through the workbooks that the girls had at school as well as making up other projects.
Since arriving in LA, we picked up our new schooling materials which we had sent to Kim. Everyday except Sunday we do about 1.5 – 2 hours of school work unless we have some other educational excursion.
For those interested, we are doing Singapore Math and the EasyPeasy All-in-one Homeschool’s offline reading program. So far they are a huge hit and the girls are loving them. Science, Art, Physical Ed and Humanities are a daily discovery and we find opportunities to incorporate these into discussions and projects. For example, after going to the Museum of Natural History in Santa Barbara, the girls picked their own topic and they each did a well rounded essay on what they learned.
While going to the Annanberg Space for Photography in LA we talked to the girls about some of the more challenging and inspirational pieces and had a good and quite mature discussion about “what is art”. Aunty Kim, who has been a teacher for many years, will not let us slip and will surely let us know where we need to fill in any holes. We also have additional science books and found a great book on lesson plans for boating kids which we will enjoy. It is a bit of a mix, but I think the girls will not suffer at all. They learn so much every day.
The Wrap Up
So we have been land lubbers this week while playing with Aunty Kim, Gramps and Mimi in LA. Kim’s apartment was our home base as we soaked up all that LA had to offer. Kim had us on a rigorous schedule mixed with museums, the Space Shuttle Endeavor, The Griffith Park Observatory, hot dessert destinations, movies, spa days (even an urban sweat lodge) … and she kicked my behind daily with a well needed run up grueling LA hills, “yoga booty ballet” classes or urban hikes (oh the pain!!).
Cameron and I took at quick trip down to Sand Diego to purchase a new dinghy!!! (I haven’t reported on the supreme inadequacies of our old dinghy….but I will soon).
And life goes on – I have two more trips planned in the next month – a week long trip in Napa – tomorrow, and another in Canada in July to finalize wine blends (I know… but someone has to do it!). Cameron and the girls will stay here through this week, then when I’m home we will explore more of the Channel Islands before I have to head back to Canada.
AND! After going to the Annaberg I am motivated to take more photos so I have NOW signed Banyan up for an Instagram account. If you follow, you may see some unique shots from life on our “perpetual trip”.
Much love to all of you!