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The Girls Very Own Bedroom | Living Small

If you've been following us for awhile, you'll know that the girls have always slept in creative bed rooms. When we first moved into this San Diego House, they slept in this space in the main bedroom.

In the studio they again slept in a closet. And on the boat? They had the quarter berth.

While we don't bedshare (nothing against those who do, it just isn't for us), we do co-sleep (the definition of co-sleeping being sleeping in the same room as our kids), and after five and a half years of having our kids within site of us as we slept, it was time to switch things up. 

We turned the office/guest room into the girls' new bedroom.

Everyone is loving the transition. The girls have their own room to play in, and their own place to go for alone time when they want it or need it.

Eric and I have our bedroom blissfully to ourselves.

It's been a long time, baby.

I took the closet door down, added book shelves on either side of it, and turned it into a reading nook.

Instead of using the closet to store clothes, I got one of these Ikea kids' dressers instead. Each drawer is organized by shirt/pants/pjs, etc, and the girls put away their own clothes when laundry is clean.

The official Women Who Sail burgee hangs proudly in their room. One day it will hang from our new boat.

The piano is a hand-me-down from our friend Taylor. The girls spend a lot of time making music.

I asked my friend Victoria of Red Wave Creative to help me design the text poster. It is from a Serbian proverb, but I added the line about water. I thought it suited us more.

Be humble, you are made of earth.

Be fluid, you are made of water.

Be noble, you are made of stars.

And those awesome mermaid decals? They were a gift from our friend John. He is like the dad I don't have. Thank you, John. 

This is how the girls reacted when they saw the mermaids for the first time.

The mermaids are art from the Sarah Jane Studios' fabric line called Out to Sea. I'm currently using the fabric to make the girls their own quilts. The mermaids on the walls will match the mermaids on their quilts; I die with the cuteness.

Here's a a sneak peek of the quilts before they are quilted to the batting and back fabric.

The bedding is all custom designed by yours truly. We used the same mattress I had made for the space in our bedroom and then I bought two more pieces of foam, one to extend the bed along the far wall of the room and one to create a second 'headboard'.

The girls sleep feet to feet; they get to feel close while each having their own little area of the room.

The second headboard matches the first one. I had JUST enough of the starfish fabric and white vinyl piping to make it work.

Each girl got a custom pillow case too because I just can't leave well enough alone and stock pillow cases are SO.BORING.

These are made with French seams, because life is too short to not have a pillowcase with French seams.

Am I right?!

Being a stickler for always-having-a-spare-set-of-bedding-for-little-kids, I made a second waterproof cover for each of the two mattresses and a second set of sheets. We have green. We have orange. I can't decide which color I like more.



Or orange?


Or orange?

I also made two little draw string bags to hold the second set of waterproof covers and sheets when the others aren't in use.

When I die there is one thing for sure you can say about me, "that Charlotte, she took her bedding seriously."

This what happens when I ask Lyra to stay still for a photo.

Oh, and lastly, we don't sleep with top sheets. Top sheets are a waste of everyone's time. The girls have their own blankets and one thing that drives me nuts about little kids when they sleep is that they wiggle and worm and kick off their blankets. Then they wake up in the middle of the night because they're cold and well, I really appreciate my beauty sleep and cold kids tend to interrupt that.


I sewed their fleece blankets into little sleeping bags and now the girls scoot into them each night. It's really rather genius and honestly works like a a freaking charm.

If I were truly, super cool, I would have sewn them in the shape of mermaid tails, but a person can only do so much. Besides, it'll be fun to have something to look forward to when we kit out their berths on the new boat.

Okay, this post is done, but I'm still curious on your thoughts.


Or orange?


A Very Kaufman Christmas 2015

Thanks to some forward thinking on my part, I snagged a few $3 crafts at Target at the end of November and got to work with the girls making decorations.

Lyra made this beauty. She isn't even three years old yet. I was so impressed with the time and focus she spent on it. Look at that color and spacing.

Uncle Rich really helped with the final touches to make Christmas happen. He brought us a mini tree and hung lights and decorations.

Soon, the whole place was appropriately festive.

Next up in my forward thinking (hey, sometimes you gotta pat yourself on the back) was considering gifts for the various teachers and important people in the girls' lives. As a former teacher, I remember the holiday gifts I received that were either passed on or thrown out (sweets, sweets, sweets) and the well-intentioned gifts that I couldn't use. Gift cards and presents that showed they actually knew my tastes were the most appreciated.

I numbered 10 fabrics and asked the teachers to rate their top three faves. That way I knew I'd at least be making something for them that they actually liked. 

Bow down to the organization!

Lyra helped a bit more than C during this process. It was fun to do a big project with just this rascal.

I saved  cans of various sizes throughout the year. With pliers, I pushed down any little metal sticky-outies from the can opener and then cut out the fabric to match the sizes. Mod podge was what made it all come together.

Darling little organizers for their classroom or home. These are adorable, am I right??!!

This year I decided to collect all the Christmas cards we received and keep them in a stack, unopened, until just a few days before Christmas. We don't focus on receiving gifts for this holiday (Santa only brings everyone one present each). I thought opening all the cards at once might make things festive and indeed it did.

To all our friends who sent well wishes, thank you!

Sadly, on Christmas Eve day I started to feel sick. I was quickly flat out in bed for the entire day but Eric made sure that Santa and his reindeer received a snack from the girls before they went to bed.

By Christmas morning it was very obvious I was suffering from the flu. I tried to be there while the family opened presents and their stockings, but everything was a blur. C documented that I actually made it down the stairs to see that Santa had come.

I've never had the flu before; I hope I never have it again.

I'm still sick, and still recovering. Eric spent all of Christmas break taking care of me and hanging out with the girls. My miserable spate of days were accompanied by the jovial backdrop of children laughing and playing downstairs. 

The girls have always been very good friends, but there has been something magical about their play lately. I think as Lyra approaches three and is better able to communicate they can truly create mutual imaginary worlds together. 

When people say 'you'll miss these days', let me tell you, THESE are days for sure that I will look back on and cherish. Even through the fog of flu, the delight of sisters enveloped in a world of play is something I'll remember and forever miss in my home once they've grown.

And to Eric who has taken care of us and the household with a gorgeous smile on his face, I love you. The girls are lucky to have you as their dad. I'm lucky to have you as my husband.

Santa brought the girls S.T.E.A.M. toys, in this case, Goldiblox! Eric and the girls have been busy putting them to work!

I hope your holidays were wonderful and may your new year bring much awesomeness as well.


How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat | Book Review & Confession

I have a confession to make - I haven't followed a single sailing blog since we lost Rebel Heart. Not a one.

You see all those sail blogs listed over to the right of the screen? I haven't clicked on any save the random link that occasionally led me there via Facebook. For years I avidly followed the fleet of boats that did the yearly Pacific Puddle Jump, dreaming of the day when I'd be one of those boats - with one of those blogs with vibrant French Polynesian pictures in my photo stream.

To use a Monopoly euphemism, when we were dealt our Chance card and sent squarely back to where we had come from, I could not find it in me to follow any of my fellow sailing friends as they finished their crossings and then spent the season in the South Pacific; the season we were supposed to be there too.

I wasn't envious. Trust me, I was overjoyed that everyone made a safe crossing and was having the time of their lives. No, it was the acrid tang of disappointment that curdled at the back of my throat when I glimpsed their lovely photos as they came through on Twitter and Facebook.

We're closing in on the two year mark since the rescue and I'm slowly peeking back into the sailing world. 

I'm still not reading blogs. Not yet.

I'm still not following every post on Women Who Sail. Not yet.

Sometimes, when the girls are asleep and all my tasks for the day are done, I pour a glass of wine, open up www.yachtworld.com and dream.

Enter Deb and TJ Akey's book, How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat.

I'm a sucker for reverse titles and I'd seen enough of Deb Akey's posts in Women Who Sail to know I should at least check her book out. Rebel Heart was Eric's second boat, and my first, so we aren't new to the experience of buying one, still, we plan on buying a catamaran and I thought I'd take a look at the advice the Akeys were giving.

Doing dishes on the dock. San Diego, 2009.

When we first moved aboard in 2007 I read every single liveaboard & cruising book I could get my hands on, especially if they were oriented toward women (there weren't that many back in the day.) The books I kept turning to were written by Lin & Larry Pardey. To quote myself from this post in June of 2007, "I like Lin and Larry because they're simple, straightforward and honest. They're incredible sailors, and good writers." If you haven't discovered them yet, you need to start reading them today! My favorites being Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew and the Cost-Conscious Cruiser.

Why am I touting books by the Pardeys in a book review for TJ & Deb Akey? Because, like the Pardey's, the Akeys are honest. Their advice to you is to be honest too. A huge theme that runs through the first part of the book is the necessity of being honest about why you are looking to go cruising, what type of cruiser you think you'll be, the amount of money you think/want to spend, and if your partner (if you aren't going solo) is really into this lifestyle the same way you are.  The need for honesty doesn't stop there. One can only be so far-sighted. When the Akey's began their search (and eventual purchase) of their cruising boat they thought there were going to be blue-water sailors. After trial and error however, they've learned they are much happier as coastal cruisers. Again, if you can really concretely figure out what about sailing makes you happy, you'll be better equipped when undertaking the purchase of your own vessel.

A few things that stand out about TJ & Deb's book. 

It includes a comprehensive list of books, blogs, and websites for your reading pleasure. I have followed a tremendous amount of sailing blogs over the years and it is obvious the Akeys have too. They break sailing blogs down into specific types of blogs (resource/instructional blogs, log-style blogs, and journal style). I was pleasantly surprised to note that they included our blog in their list of 20 recommendations and I was entirely tickled when they described us with two words: GRITTY HONESTY.  

That's a compliment I can take, thank you very much.

Do you want the unvarnished truth? Then read this book.

A few quotes to show you what I mean. "The amount of work just to maintain and move a cruising boat can be overwhelming to many." Don't dismay though, they tell you what to do to combat that. Or, they say (and I love this quote), "Anyone who has managed to toss the dock lines and gone cruising on an older sailboat should be regarded with a bit of awe. They have overcome obstacles most people cannot even imagine." Having done this myself, I just wanted to reach right through my Kindle and hug the authors tightly. They get it. But again, don't worry, this book is about telling you how you can do it too.

If you buy their book, what you'll get is some incredibly solid and valuable advice from two intelligent and technical people. In the book forward TJ writes, "This was the book we wish we had read before beginning our journey." Deb is a former pilot, motorcyclist, and computer guru. TJ is a former commercial pilot, airplane mechanic, and motorcyclist. As you can imagine, these are two highly-skilled, detail-oriented people and this is evident throughout How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat.

Sections not to miss:

1. What kind of cruiser are you (and why do you want to be one)?

2. How capable are you of doing work? (Be honest and don't be disheartened).

3. How willing is your significant other?

4. Blogs & websites, books, classes, charters (super comprehensive lists)

5. Surviving online boat shopping. Direct quote from book, "Boat shopping online is addicting. Ask any person currently looking for a boat or any person who has recently purchased one and you'll either get a flat denial, a horribly underestimated count of hours, or a sheepish grin." Haha. ALL THIS!

6. The Akey's own checklists of requirements in a boat they were looking for (helpful as a starting point if you don't yet have a list or to compare to yours.)

7. How to survive boat surveys, sea trials, and con men (no really.) As well as eight mistakes they made in buying their boat.

8. When to walk away. I put those words in bold because I cannot emphasize the importance of this chapter enough. Their wisdom and experience is really laid out bare in this one. Read it slowly and consider their words seriously. Favorite quotes from this chapter:

I know sailors like to give their hearts to a boat. Trust me, the boats do not love us back. A boat is a collection of fiberglass, wood and metal. Maybe, after we have been with one for while, it will share a bit of our soul. But it will not come with one of its own. The only rational way to approach buying a boat is with a mindset that, if a boat really is necessary (and if the plan is to go cruising, a boat is certainly necessary) any particular boat is one that should not be bought. That's right, look at any boat as one that should be walked away from, and then try to find reasons not do so.

Once a real deal is in the works, never be committed to seeing it through.

A specific instruction to any surveyor must be that every single item on the equipment list is actually on the boat and functioning properly in every single mode it has. Any that do not function perfectly should be stricken from the list and the price adjusted accordingly.

No boat is perfect, but don't let that be an excuse for buying one that should have been left alone.

Walk away, walk away, walk away. This phrase is repeated often in this chapter and I found this section to speak to me the most as someone who is just about to embark on buying their own [used] boat again. The Akeys words of warning are strong in this chapter. I repeat. Don't skip this one. Read it word for word.

Doing laundry by hand - on the list of things I will NOT do.

9. Maintenance, engines, rigging. My eyes glaze over when I read this stuff but this is no fault of the author's writing style, these are just three things I dont' do. Eric, on the other hand, said the entire section would be invaluable to someone looking to buy a boat for the first time.  One piece of advice offered in this section:

Any component that has oil that gets changed as a maintenance item -engines, generators, transmissions, v-drives -should have a sample of that oil sent in for analysis.

Did you know you could do that? Send oil samples somewhere for analysis? Well, I didn't either. See, another piece of sound advice. (Eric is nodding and saying yes, he knew that, but he admits, he could see how someone new to all of this would not. Thanks, Eric.)

You'll need some baby equipment too!

10. Boat equipment - a long and detailed list of all the types of goodies you can get for your sailboat. Again, more lists and a great of explanation to start you on your way. This might be the longest chapter because it covers so many different sub-sections: auto pilots/wind vanes, heat pumps/air conditioning, hot water heater, VHF/AIS/SSB/Sat Phone/EPIRB, Radar/Chart Plotter, Power Generation/Battery monitoring, Galley Equipment/Water Delivery, Lighting/Entertainment, Head types, Dodger/Bimini/Full enclosure, Safety Equipment, Dingy & related handling, Line handling equipment, Anchoring equipment, Sails/Furlers/Related Gear, and lastly, Outdoor water. WHEW. One of the coolest things about finishing this chapter was the realization that I knew everything the Akeys were talking about in each section. There is a lot involved in buying and maintaining a boat. Don't let all this info get you down. You'll eventually be able to wrap your head around it, I promise.


I could stop my review here and say this is a book I recommend, highly.

I can't stop though, because I still haven't mentioned the end.

I wasn't expecting the last three chapters of the book when I dove into them. They contain a gorgeous depiction of the lifestyle I miss and love so much.

People I miss. Fellow adventurers.After going through all the finer points of what you'll need to do to buy a boat (or NOT buy one), the Akeys then talk about who cruisers are, and they get it. Boy, do they get it.

If you are wondering if you are inherently fit for the world of leaving the shore and becoming a cruiser, read everything in the book from the chapter We Be Gypsies until the end.

If I could, I'd copy the entire aft section of the book and paste it herein for your reading pleasure, but I'll leave you to purchase it on your own and enjoy it in solitude. 

On the lifestyle transition (from Deb Akey): "Nerves can become frayed, patience thinned, and unless communication is frequent and filled with a boundless sense of humor, relationships can become strained."

On whether it is all worth it (from TJ Akey): "Do I wish the the path to this place had been far, far less difficult? Could we have done without the emotional and financial beating administered by an industry apparently set on being as hostile and uncooperative as possible? Of course. Do I wish Deb had never leaned over the railing of our condo and asked, 'What do you think about retiring onto a boat?' No. It has been an adventure of a lifetime in a life full of adventures. And now I can't imagine never having come this way at all."

On rejecting society, just a little bit! (from TJ Akey): "...but "going cruising" and "leaving" are synonymous terms. Doing the former requires that one do that latter. And that is not always an easy thing to do."

You also won't want to miss the chapters called Life is short...eat dessert first as well as the chapter called Understanding.

The night I finished reading the Akey's book I was practically in tears. In those last few chapters TJ and Deb had managed to put into words exactly how I feel about not only the cruising life, but life in general, which just goes to show you the common bond all cruisers have.

Living on the ocean means admitting life is fleeting and capricious instead of living on land and pretending life is permanent and predictable.

Their book reminded me that I hadn't dreamed it all up. That life on the water was as I remembered. I turned off my Kindle, picked up my laptop, and opened YachtWorld.


Deb & TJ have graciously offered to give away a copy of their book How NOT to Buy a Cruising Boat. To enter the givewaway, leave a comment on this blog post and tell us which section of their book you'd find the most helpful. The giveaway runs through Monday evening, PST.


All thoughts in this book review are my own. I purchased my own copy of the Akey's book. I truly don't recommend things that I'm not completely enamored with. Enjoy! 


Palomar Mountain Observatory | Camping with Kids

In September we packed up the car and headed up to Palomar Mountain Observatory Campground. Every few months amateur astronomers hold "Star Parties" at this campground and when the sun goes down, their telescopes are up, and available for anyone who'd like to stop by and take a peak at the universe.

We had no idea if the kids would stay awake late enough into the night to actually be able to see any stars, but even if we missed the party, camping with our family is always worth a trip.

We stayed in spot 29 which is, randomly, my favorite number. The girls were thrilled by this.

During the day we took long walks circling the campground and exploring nature, different walking paths, and the mini-amphitheater provided for educational meet-ups.

This image series demonstrates Lyra to a T:

Me to Lyra: "Lyra, don't touch those. You'll get sticky sap all over your fingers."

Lyra to me: "Touch what, mom? Touch these?"

"Nothing to see here, mom. I touched nothing."

And then she is off to a giant pile of leaves on the hill next to her.

If you know me and Eric, you know we eat fairly clean; camping is an exception. I love making comfort food when we are out in the woods.

And there's coffee. Always coffee. We each have a West Marine stainless steel, insulated coffee mug, and a stainless steel Frieling French Press, so we just bring those along. Why have a camping set and a home set? Keeping things streamlined is the name of the game.

My latest decadence is pouring a bit of Baileys into a mason jar and dipping roasted marshmallows in to create an explosion of heaven in your mouth.

(Yes - :sigh: - adults only, do you even really need to ask?)

Plus, a nip of Baileys in your coffee in the morning isn't the worst thing in the world...

Eric and I try to split being in charge of meals while we are out. I love a man who cooks. A buff man who cooks is even better.

Growing up in Alaska, I spent a lot of time in the woods and a lot of time learning survival skills. When we take the girls to these very tame car camping spots I still try to teach survival skills throughout the day.

We collect kindling and practice different techniques for starting fires and discuss and demonstrate fire safety.

Of course collecting kindling is also a great time to talk about local flora and what to look out for!

Is this poison oak?

Or is this? (Or are they both?)

When we explore we talk about orienteering and situational awareness.

Where is our campsite from here? Can you show us how to get there?

What do you do if you get lost? Who is a good person to ask for help?

Where is a good place to shelter if you need to? What could you use to keep warm?

Children wake up talking and don't stop until they fall asleep at night, but we try to talk too. We are constantly trying to pour our knowledge into them, giving them as much as we can, while we can.

After the learning and exploring, a mid-day nap is always a great idea.

And once naps are done? Performances!

Per the kids' requests, we each took turns giving performances. Here is one of Lyra's:

This child adores animals, of all kinds. If we ever end up with a pet (and this possibility is next to ZERO,) it will be via persuasion from Lyra.

Thanks to Dan and X who came out to join us for the weekend. We hope to be back out camping soon.


1 Second Everyday | Kaufmans in September 2015

Via the 1 Second Everyday App. (Everyday is spelled that way purposefully, as explained by the app here.) Check it out!

Because of C's retirement from social media, her video is now private.