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One Wild and Precious Life | Remembering Kitty

In memoriam to Fiona "Kitty" Grace, 2010-2015

The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


(All photos in this post are shared with consent from Kitty's family.)

The sailing community joins Kitty's family in mourning her passing. Here are other posts that do a better job of putting into words what I cannot.

From Melissa: http://littlecunningplan.com/2015/04/for-kitty/

From Amanda: http://www.asabee.ca/archives/5883

From Behan: http://www.sailingtotem.com/2015/04/some-good-must-come-from-this-tragedy.html

From Brittany: http://www.windtraveler.net/2015/04/the-world-lost-bright-light.html

From Anne: http://frompinetopalm.com/2015/04/23/in-a-moment/#.VUfDivlVikp

From Laureen: http://theexcellentadventure.com/ea/2015/04/23/sheltering-from-the-wind/

From Cindy: http://zachaboard.blogspot.ca/2015/04/kitty.html

Kitty's family has asked that donations be sent to Equusearch in memory of Kitty.


Camping in Cuyamaca with Kids | Green Valley Falls 2014

Hurricane Odile hit Baja California over a week ago doing significant damage to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, both cities that we spent time in while cruising Mexico. Club Cruceros of La Paz has a GoFundMe site set up to help local sailors recover from the devastating loss to the Maritime Community there. To help the people of Mexico directly as they recover, we suggest donating directly to the Red Cross.

Our thoughts are with the sailors who lost their lives in this hurricane, one of whom we knew personally, and to those who lost their boats (and homes) and are rebuilding.


Last month we loaded the girls up on a fine Friday afternoon and headed east towards the mountain to Green Valley Falls. Three years previously we met our friends Ella, Gray, and their baby, Wes, to camp at the same location. I love comparing then and now to see the kinds of changes that can happen to your life in such a short time period.

Charlotte, Lyra, Wes, and Cora

Lyra, Eric, Cora, Wes, Gray, and Miles

This time around each family had two kids instead of the one. Cora and Wes are four days apart and are currently four years old. Lyra and Miles are six months apart and were 17 months and 11 months, respectively, at the time we went camping in August.

Flashback: Wes and Cora corralled at 11 months in June 2011.

This time it was Lyra, at 17 months, that was occasionally corralled in the Pack-N-Play. Her buddy Miles was either up in the Ergo, up in arms, or causing mischief, as was Lyra...

Beautiful boy. Beautiful mama.

Lyra loved to hang out with the big kids as much as possible:

And when she wasn't hanging out big kid style, she was hanging out with mom, because Lyra and I are like THIS, man.


This time, like last time, we took a walk down to the actual falls the location is named after. In this short video from three years ago you can see there was actually running water in 2011 (bonus: hello Eric's muscles). Three years later, the long-standing drought in Southern California was evidenced by a complete lack of falls and only a couple pools of murky, woodsy water.

Flashback below: Eric and Gray babywearing back in the day, circa 2011 :)

And the whole lot of us in 2014 either babywearing or ushering children underfoot:

Cora and Wes had a ton of fun playing together:

But then again, they always do.

When I saw this photo of them, I had a mom heart-melt moment. Because it was the exact pose they sat in for their first birthdays at the beach three years previously:

Flash back to :heart melt:

All children love Ella. She gets them to take goofy pictures like this:

And this:

And this:

Those cheeks! MUST.SQUEEZE!!

At this point I'm just going to admit that we are all goofy:

Breakfast, anyone?

A special thanks to Sandee, Frankie, and Mele for letting us borrow camping gear. Camping gear that let us eat meals like this:

Sheepherder's Breakfast in a Dutch Oven. Inspired by this post at www.wildinkpress.

Now that we are back in the rat race and the long trek of lots of work to save for another boat, we don't get to see much of Eric like we used to. On camping trips like this I soak up spending time with him and love that the kids get to hang out with their dad too:

Eric snuggling Lyra, 17 months old, August 2014.

Flashback to Eric snuggling Cora, 11 months old, June 2011.

Which of course led me to this:

Flashback to Cora, Eric, and Charlotte ~ June 2011.

And now Lyra, Eric, and Charlotte ~ August 2014.

The only bummer about the camping trip was that we had to cut it short. The weather started out lovely but by the second day the rain started and wouldn't let up. That was good news for thirsty SoCal, but bad news for camping with little kids.

So we packed the kids up a day early and headed home. Cora and Wes now "hate the rain because it ruined camping." And Cora will remind you of this and that she, "USED to love the rain, mom, but not now. Oh no."

All clean and completely tuckered out from their camping adventure, which of course reminded me of:

Flashback to Cora all cleaned up and totally konked out from her first camping adventure too.

Here's to more camping adventures while we are land locked!


Cora's 4th Birthday | A Birthday at the Beach

Cora and Wes Turn Four | Amazing photo by Ella ShermanThree years to the day that we celebrated Cora and Wes turning one year's old, we headed up to another North County Beach to celebrate their turning four. 

Living in Mexico has created a piñata tradition that we shall carry on indefinitely.

Eric and Dominic (Dominic is the author of Americano Abroad and To Be Frank San Diego). 

Mele and Lyra

Ella, Gray, Wes, and Miles were all there. 

Me, Renee, Leo, and Helen

Helen and her vivacious girls came.

Renee, Xavier, and Leo joined the fun! (Renee and her husband Dan were one of the families that opened their home to us after the rescue. I was at their home when I wrote this post.)

This is Steve and Monique. They also live on a sailboat, s/v Sea Conquest, and lived in Mexico at the same time we did.

They had this hunk of love, Ronin, only a few months after we had Lyra down in Mexico.

Sacha, Monique, and Cora

Cora has memories of playing with their son, Sacha, in Catalina Island, La Cruz, Mexico, and San Diego. I love world travelers and I love sailing families.

My friend Paige's two munchkins, Maddie and Colin. Paige, and our friend Mollie, are now the talent behind Red Charlotte.

It was a day to reconnect with all kinds of people in our lives, friends, new and old.

Renee and JenDana, Ivy, Jen, Stella, Mike, and Elsa

We played soccer, soaked in the rays, hit the piñata, and had the kids decorate their own donuts (a true crowd pleaser):

Xavier and Leo show off their piñata candy haul.Auntie Mele holding Lyra, and making magic in the water with Cora and Sacha.

It was a day to be happy and to show gratitude for the friends and family in our lives.

Three years ago Ella took this photo of our family on a beach in San Diego:

Me, Cora, Eric | Cora's first birthday

It was both perfect and bittersweet that she was able to take this photo on a beach in San Diego three years later:

Eric, Cora, Lyra, Me | Cora's fourth birthday

We had planned on being somewhere in the South Pacific for Cora's fourth birthday, but it is really, truly, hard to complain when we are in an incredible city, surrounded by friends and family, and so connected with love and support.

Happy birthday, Cora.


Post script: Eric sums up the day of intense beach fun perfectly in the photo below.

Is it bedtime yet?


Things to do with Cora & Lyra: Trail Hikes

This past Sunday we met up with two other families, for a total of six adults, eight children, to do a 5k trail walk through Mission Trails.

Like a true boat kid, Cora buddied right up with the other kids and was almost immediately holding hands and chatting away.

Cora and Maya

Seriously, it is like they have been friends for ages.

Maya is the daughter of Sandee and Frankie. I've been friends with Sandee since 1997. We went to University together, traveled through Mexico together, I read at her wedding, and now, our kids hang out together.

Me, Frankie, Erin, and Sandee in Melaque, Jalisco, Mexico, July 1998.

Me and Sandee, both pregnant in San Diego, July 2010Sandee and Frankie and their two oldest kids went sailing with us on the day I went into labor with Cora. Three weeks later, their youngest son was born.

And four years later, here we are again in another July. I hope we get to spend a lot more Julys together as life continues:

Me and Sandee, NOT pregnant in San Diego, July 2014.Here are the two munchkins that Sandee and I were carrying in July 2010:

Augustin (Auggie) and Cora

Francisco (Tuti) and his brother Auggie.

Frankie, Sandee y su familia!

Then there is Sandee's awesome sister, Maria, or "Tita," and her husband Julio.

And their sweet kids, Sol, Citlali (Lali), and Noe:

There aren't a lot of people I know who you can call up and say, 'wanna meet me at 7:00am on a Sunday with all your kids, at a trail head, and walk a 5k?' And they'll say, 'you bet, see you then,' but Sandee, Frankie, Tita, and Julio are four of those people and their kids are the same. 

Sandee and Frankie started having kids before me and Eric and I watched how they parented and was always inspired by them. Having little kids never stopped them from traveling, hiking, camping, or adventuring. They kept doing what they loved as each kid joined their family and I used them as examples when trying to persuade Eric to have children. "Just look at Sandee and Frankie, they do EVERYTHING with their kids!"

So thanks you guys for convincing Eric that kids would not mean a lifetime sentence of boredom.

Anything but!

Tuti, Lali, Sol

Little Lyra is the youngest of the bunch and spent the morning alternating between wanting to be put down to walk, and picked up and carried.

We tried to take a family photo and this is what we got:

I have no idea how children's photographers do what they do. They all deserve awards.

Thanks for the wonderful day, friends.

Here's to more adventures to come!


Cora Turns Three

Three years ago today, Cora Rose came into our lives:

While today is her official birthday, we actually celebrated a month ago when we were in San Diego. We wanted to have it so that her grandparents and all her friends could come and celebrate with her too. Cora, if you are reading this when you are older, I'll be the first to tell you now that we just went ahead and said that it was your birthday and told you that you were three for an extra month.

Hands up in the air. Totally guilty!

Mele helps me set up a simple birthday banner for the birthday girl.

What I wanted to do was have a big, themed, perfectly set up party, just like in all the Pinterest sites. But in reality, I was dealing with days like this and like this at the time, and I was exhausted and just barely making it through. Plus, we were on a super tight budget. 

So I thought. And my tired brain thought some more.

And what I kept going back to were the birthdays of my youth. I loved them. I'm from a big family and the way we celebrated was like this: a sheet cake with some kind of decorations, a few balloons, maybe we dressed up, maybe we didn't, we had our friends come over, we played games, and then everybody got some cake and ice cream. 

A 2 year old brother would have no idea that that Strawberry Shortcake cake was aimed at his 3 year old sister. Well played, mom. Well played!

My younger brother was born 364 days after I was (Irish twins!) and I think I celebrated every birthday of my life until I was 21 alongside him. Heck, even later in my twenties, we were still celebrating, so, really, how bad could home grown birthdays be?

Chad and Charlotte celebrating their 25th and 26th birthdays.I distinctly remember how much fun this birthday was:

I'm in pink dress center, brother Chad to my right, sister Sariah in the long pig tails to his right.

Attach a balloon to your ankle and attempt to pop everyone else's before they can pop yours. Pure genius. As long as the adults are wearing ear plugs.

Big brother Rich holds our sister Sariah on far left. Chad and I are the birthday boy and girl.

How to decorate for a birthday party: have the older kids blow up balloons and tape them to the walls. Younger kids think their older siblings are Madison Avenue quality interior decorators + parents don't have to do it = everybody wins.

First, we needed a location for the party, and our friend Glyn was gracious enough to let us invite everyone over to his place. Thank you Glyn. Cora was thrilled :)

Mele graciously picked up some balloons, I grabbed some Elmo hats, plates, and cups, and Eric waited in the car with the girls while I got libations for both the younger and older set.

POOF, a birthday party for one adorable three year old.

Who needs Pinterest when you have poster board and markers? Pin The Nose on the Elmo, thank you very much!!

The best part of the game was watching Cora pull her blind fold down to place Elmo's nose in the correct position and then walking over and assisting Wes with where he should put his nose too.

Kristine held Lyra so I could grab some cake. Still couldn't resist a nuzzle though.

Boat families: Eric, Lyra (4 months), Charlotte + Alex, Stella (3 months), and Ryan.

Gray and Ella explain the finer points of having a younger sibling to Wes. They are due in a few weeks with their second boy, so Wes was curious about little Lyra.

Dan, Renee, and Eric + plus assorted munchkins.

While yes, the day was a day to celebrate Cora's birth, it was also a chance to connect with a bunch of our friends. Friends who are in the same trenches as we are have the same age kids as we do.

Three year olds can entertain themselves all day long, so the adults can actually collectively breathe for a moment while the young runs amok and we all look on wondering, how did we go from being in our twenties a few years ago to being responsible parents in our thirties...having birthday parties for our preschoolers? How??

Gray, Eric, and Ryan. Good men. Good dads.

In summation: Cora loved her day.

Mele adds the finishing touches.

She asked in her super sweet voice for seconds, and then thirds of cake and ice cream, and who was I to say 'no' to a birthday girl who used please and thank you so perfectly?

She was so excited to open her presents. At age three she gets it now that this day is entirely about her and that the pile of gloriously festooned gifts on the table were for her to dig into as well.

And to the friends and family who brought her boat-kid friendly gifts, thank you so much. Books!! Art supplies!! Learning tools. I love you!!

I hope her third birthday blends into a long-lasting happy collage of many childhood birthdays. From the grin on her face, I have a feeling it will.