Snowball Fight in Adventure Field

Sometimes, we just have fun.

We’ve got a structured evening routine, here on Breaking Tradition, but it does leave room for fun and games.

For example, yesterday, I came home and read with Beanie while dinner cooked.  Then, after I ate, I got her started on “homework,” which meant writing a letter to a friend in Michigan. Then, after piano practice time, we played rhyme Dominoes.

After that, we had an hour until shower time.  What were a mother and daughter to do?

Well, we headed out to “Adventure Field.”  There are two good-sized grassy areas in the marina, and Beanie has named them Adventure Field and Chaos Field.  Last night, she wanted to go to Adventure Field.

We couldn’t find her ball, so we brought a bag of cloth “snowballs,” made by one of our friends in Michigan.   A fun (and funny!) evening ensued.

DSC_0101[1]

DSC_0099[1]

DSC_0102[1]

DSC_0103[1]

DSC_0104[1]

DSC_0105[1]

DSC_0106[1]

DSC_0107[1]

DSC_0108[1]

DSC_0108[1]

DSC_0110[1]

I hope your October is treating you equally as well!

 

“House”work

I have written many times about my dislike of housework.  And I have often told you how much quicker housework is in a small space.

So, today I was feeling unmotivated when I surveyed the mess before me. I had been sick for a week, and Rob had been taking care of me, instead of cleaning the boat. So it was truly daunting.

DSC_0080[1]

 

DSC_0081[1]

 

DSC_0082[1]

 

I had made Swedish meatballs the night before, in honor of “Swedish day” (we honor Rob’s heritage, instead of celebrating the Hallmark holiday, Sweetest Day).  And Beanie had been making batch after batch of her addictive “Critter Mix,” that she had learned to create at school on Friday.

And then an idea struck me.  I could do a blog post about the short amount of time I spend doing housework on our tiny boat.  I would take “before” pictures, and then update every 10 minutes.

The first 10 minutes went by smoothly, with the clock being stopped momentarily when Rob came in and wanted to play video games.  When I told him what I was up to, he offered to help.  Normally, I would have embraced this, but in the name of science (and of my blog post) I sent him out with a coffee to “walk around and talk to people.”

Here’s what I accomplished in the first 10:

DSC_0083[1]

 

The kitchen was beautiful, and the dishes were clean!  Washing the dishes is a challenge, since we have lukewarm water only, from our shore hook-up, and our drain empties very slowly.  And Swedish meatballs certainly leave behind a mess!

The kitchen is the most difficult part, so I knew the main salon and quarter berth would go quickly.  However, my second 10 minutes were interrupted…

Our neighbors returned from their cruise.  Beanie enthusiastically found her Critter Mix ingredients and got to work…

DSC_0084[1]

 

And Wanda, next door, was happy to see Beanie and even happier to enjoy her snack mix!

DSC_0085[1]

 

DSC_0086[1]

 

The dogs next door were excited as well.

DSC_0087[1]

 

So, on to the main salon.  As predicted, it cleaned up quite nicely, which Rob was busy discussing photography with Wanda.

DSC_0088[1]

 

DSC_0089[1]

 

DSC_0090[1]

 

Next challenge–the head.  We don’t use the head itself, but the medicine cabinet was a mess after my recent illness.

DSC_0091[1]

 

And here’s Beanie’s room.

DSC_0092[1]

 

I got right to work, with only a few interruptions from Rob and various neighbors.  And here we are, 10 minutes later:

DSC_0093[1]

 

DSC_0094[1]

 

So, now, all that is left is Beanie’s room.  Here’s the current status on that:

DSC_0095[1]

 

She has too many toys, and it is a mess.  But no biggie.

However, the clock had to be stopped many times.

First, Beanie’s grandparents called to say the were on their way to pick her up.  So she had to make Critter Mix.  The we visited with them, and they visited with our other neighbors.

After they left, our other neighbors needed an update on Beanie, and I was informed that I needed to let Beanie know that she owed Deanne a Mario Kart-and-Critter Mix date on her boat  

I told Deanne about my blog post I was working on.  I let her know that cleaning the house took me 40  minutes total, on a “bad day.”  She agreed, “Yes, that’s the best thing about living on a boat!”

But then I added that, with everything else it’s taken me an hour and a half!

Beanie's clean room!

Beanie’s clean room!

Deanne laughed, and said, “You know, I think that’s why boats are always messy.  We just have better things to do.”

First Day of School,Take II

School has always been something Beanie has loved, even with the number of times she has been the “new kid.”  She has always gotten excited about going, and she has always chattered endlessly about her friends and about science class.

But this year, something changed.

DSC_0076[1]

Beanie has always gotten into mischief, but she started getting bad reports daily.  And her behaviors went from “normal” trouble-maker limit-testing, to hitting and screaming.  Instead of talking about her friends, she made up a bunch of imaginary friends.  She still enjoyed doing her homework and going to piano lessons, but she began throwing tantrums when it was time for school.

With her ARD meeting coming up (those are called IEP meetings in the other 49 states), I had a lot of correspondence with her case manager.  I learned that Beanie was screaming in class nearly everyday, in spite of the added supports and sensory diet they had her on.  She was needing an aide 4 hours out of the day, instead of the 30 minutes she had needed before.  And the kids were less interested in hanging out with her, due to her screaming.  And all of this was affecting her academically–her reading level dropped from a level F to a level B.

I have to admit I was nervous.  I knew that this was not the best situation for my daughter, but what would be? She really wouldn’t benefit from a resource room, where she would go for smaller reading, writing, and math classes.  She’s not very far behind academically, and this wouldn’t solve the problem of The Rest of The Day.

And she really didn’t belong in a life skills program, which would be a special class just for kids with autism, where she would learn cooking and other independent living skills.  This wasn’t the place for a kid with above average intelligence.

And she certainly wasn’t going into a behavioral program, where she would copy the misbehaviors of her classmates.

Those were the three options I was familiar with.  And I knew that the resource room was the only  one I would be willing to entertain at all.

DSC_0077[1]

So I was worried, but not surprised, when her principal called me.  She took a long time preparing me, which only increased my nervousness and defensiveness (which I suppressed quite well!).  So imagine my surprise when she told me about a program I had never heard of!  Their district has a self-contained classroom for kids who have severe speech and language disorders.  Beanie would be in a class with no more than 5 kids, would get lots of one-on-one time with her teacher, would learn her academics but really focus on getting caught up with her speech, and would be worked back into general education classes, until she would eventually be ready to return to her neighborhood school.

All of my defensiveness was replaced with the question, “How soon can we start?”

DSC_0078[1]

Beanie was hesitant to visit the classroom, but once she saw the puppets in the “break” area and the stretchy therapy swing, she was sold.  Since Beanie is above grade level in math and science, she would be in a general education class, with support, for those subjects.  She would also go to P.E., music, and art with her general education class.  She would work on speech,  reading, writing, and social studies with her special education class.  The speech therapist would come into the room to work with her and the other students, and the class would visit the large motor lab on a regular basis.

Beanie met her special ed teacher, her aide, her general education teacher, and her speech therapist.  She then led everyone on a search to find and meet the principal.  And she charmed every one of them.

Beanie rides the bus to her new school, but it gets her home in time to make it to her piano lesson on her old school on Wednesdays.

So how did her first day of school go?  Beanie came home with a very good report and a smile on her face.  She couldn’t wait to tell us about her new friend in her class, and she was eager to go back.

DSC_0079[1]

And thus, the charmed life of the Bean continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life and Change

There is a song I keep hearing on the radio that makes me laugh, when the singer proclaims, “See, we won’t forget where we came from/
The city won’t change us/We beat to the same drum.”  This makes me laugh, because it’s impossible, in a way.  It’s true, that something beneath it all can’t possibly change, no matter what the circumstances.

But our perception, our worldview, and all that we think is “us,” should always be changing and evolving.

DSC_0052

So, whenever I hear that song, I think of the ways in which the city has “changed” me.  It often feels like a lot of life’s lessons are repeating themselves on a new stage, but I am learning from them and growing.  I see my tendencies and perceptions everyday, so I really don’t get to look at the “changes,” but I think a lot of my friends up north would be surprised if we had a conversation.

2014-09-07_16-20-22_882

Here are some ways I have “changed” since moving down here:

1.  I view race much differently.  Up north, you don’t talk about race.  Ever  It’s the elephant in the room.  So, imagine my surprise when my students started talking about skin color like it was hair or eye color!  It took me awhile to figure out that this isn’t rude here. Racial differences are a humorous part of the human condition, here.  I work in a town where I am a racial minority, and this is surprisingly not a big deal. All it has done is teach me that I did hold subconscious stereotypes, and that they were ALL incorrect.  True, there ARE cultural and racial differences, but they aren’t what I assumed they were.  And they are beautiful.  Every group has something wonderful to add to the tapestry that is our society.  And we would do well to learn from everyone. It makes me smile, when Beanie describes her imaginary friends, who are every color of the rainbow.  Zoe has “black skin,” and Natalie has “brown skin” and speaks Spanish.

2.  I’ve become much more moderate.  This is a funny development, as we are living a very extremely minimalistic lifestyle right now.  And our neighbors (and best friends) are living similarly to us.  (And, yes, we discuss they joys of Not Having a Lot of Stuff!).  But, in finding peace for myself, I’m seeing how others are finding peace in having their own homes, with their own fenced in yard.  I can see how television shows can make for an easy conversation topic.  I can see how different religious beliefs are very important to the journies of those who believe them.  (And no less “right” or”wrong” than my own ideas!)  I boycott much less, and pretty much don’t get as passionate about causes, in the black-and-white way I used to.  Living in a prosperous city and seeing how that changes reality completely, has led to a change in my thinking.  I am sure this will be examined and evolve in the future.

3.  My driving habits have changed.  I am a much more assertive driver, than your average in-the-woods-of-northern-Michigan person.  But I’m also extremely courteous.  In 6 lanes of traffic,  if someone is trying to move from the far left to the far right, you let them in. It’s karma.  I don’t look at the speedometer or signs; I just keep up with everyone else.  And I love overpasses.  I consider it a challenge to find my way to the top one.

4.  I spend more time on myself.  Maybe it’s because we move here as a part of my journey.  But I am absolutely not a martyr now.  I take a 30 minute walk every morning.  And I get enough sleep every night.  I ate 3 high-protein meals a day, and I will soon be joining a health club nearby.  Rob also spends a great deal of time on himself, and our family has grown stronger for it.

5.  I spend less time online.  You may have noticed. But now that I am not trying to escape anything, I’ve become more intentional with my online time.  I glance through my newsfeed, catch up on blogs when I can, and write when the muse inspires me.  Otherwise, I’m looking at the moon or watching the sunrise.

6.  Family time is very important.  When I get home, I help Beanie with her homework, listen to her read her take-home book, then practice piano with her.  Then, she plays her video games and heads to bed, while Rob and I sit outside and talk, before taking a walk.

DSC_0108

Our life has become very focused on our reality, on our here-and-now. This might be something that evolves later, and I’m sure it will be.  Life is about learning and growing, and I hope that there is much more of our journey to be discovered.

 

36 Lessons I’ve Unlearned

Last year, on my birthday, I wrote 35 lessons that I learned in 35 years.  This year, I will share my 36th lesson that I learned, but first I wanted to share 36 “lessons” that I have unlearned.

DSC_0081

I have learned that all of these are not true at all:

1.  I need to “matter.”

2.  “Others” and “myself” are two separate categories.

3.  There is a wrong way to live.

4.  The things other people say should be taken at face value.

DSC_0067

5.  It is possible to have my needs met through another person.

6.  My actions don’t affect those around me.

7.  It is possible for love not to exist.

8.  Hierarchies exist.

DSC_0095

9.  Selfishness is caused my giving yourself too much attention.

10.  Narcissism is caused by loving yourself too much.

11. The “smoothest” relationships are the most beneficial.

12.  Experiencing fear makes me a failure.

DSC_0088

13.  It is not possible for me to experience inner peace.

14.  There is a such things as a coward.

15.  Character flaws exist.

16.  There are people who have it all together and never experience (or act upon) fear.

DSC_0098

17.  Having fewer possessions is virtuous.

18.  Willpower can solve problems.

19.  There is a such thing as “negative” thoughts and emotions.

20. It is necessary to fight some things in life.

21.  If someone really cares, they will be a part of our life forever.

22.  What we see, is what is real.

DSC_0103

23.  Autism is a hindrance.

24.  I have a “past.”

25.  The past exists.

26.  Judgement exists.

DSC_0102

27.  Hate exists.

28.  It is possible to lose weight without loving your body.

29.  We should always give advice to help those around us.

30. Talking about problems makes them more manageable.

31.  Drama is inevitable.

32.  Conflict is a part of being in a relationship.

DSC_0093

33.  There are dark and light times in our lives.

34.  Strong emotions add color to life.

35.  I am my thoughts and emotions.

36.   There is a such thing as unworthiness.

DSC_0093

It’s been an exciting trip around the sun, to be sure!  What are some lessons in life that you have unlearned?

10 Surprises About Marina Life

It been 53 days since we moved onto Breaking Tradition full time.  This isn’t the longest amount of time that we’ve lived aboard (that would be 91 days), but it’s the longest we’ve lived aboard while living a daily life that consisted of more than vacationing.  Every morning, I get up and take my turn in the shower, then greet the two other professional women who live on the East Pier, as we head off to work.  After I get home each day, Beanie and I do her homework at the dinette, read her take-home reader, then practice her piano lesson on her battery-powered keyboard, which fits perfectly on the kitchen table.  After that, we either play Wii or head out to the grassy area (our “back yard”) so that Beanie can run around and kick her ball.

DSC_0067

Unlike our cruising days, we have consistent electricity and water, and our stove is dual-powered, so cooking fuel is not an issue.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker (although it has the same beam), so we are living in more than 100 square feet, although definitely not more than 200.  We have about the same fridge space, and slightly less storage area in the galley.  Also, we don’t have a working head in the boat at this time, and we won’t be using the boat’s bathroom for more than emergencies, until we have a working engine and can make it to the pump-out area.  Fortunately, our slip is right next to the restrooms.

DSC_0070

Here are some other surprises that we have found, from marina life:

1.  Daily life is surprisingly “normal.”  When I go to work, it’s like it always has been.  Sure, everyone was initially fascinated by our new lifestyle, but now my focus is on my students, their progress, and the daily reality of teaching seventh grade.  The same is true for Beanie, at her school.  Her school is in Clear Lake Shores, and there are more golf carts than cars picking kids up, but when she’s there, it’s down-to-business.

2.  It’s kind of like living in a floating commune.  Most of the slip-tenants in the marina don’t live there full time.  But those of us who do, have a shared world all of our own.  We don’t own property, we don’t have houses or apartments, and we don’t even have patios of our own. And so we pool our resources and share.  Then men in the marina have gone in together and rented a large storage unit that they have converted into a workshop.  Everything there is for everybody to use!  There is a large vanity in the ladies’ room, and I have claimed a drawer.  I leave my blow dryer out, and everybody uses (and appreciates!) it.  Somebody else has contributed an iron.  There is also a communal grill, as well as lots of coolers.  We often brainstorm ways to create an outdoor eating area on our pier.

3.  Beanie gets her village.  There are only two full-time live-aboard kids in the marina, and only one on the East Pier, so Beanie is well-known.  She’ll talk to our neighbor while she’s on the deck playing under the tarp (her “tent”).  Sometimes, she will hang out by the vending machine, hoping to bum a soda off of one of the live-aboards.  Everybody knows her, and everybody looks out for her.  As a result, I’m able to give her more freedom.

4.  Weird things sometimes happen.  This morning, our dock was blocked by two photographers and two models, shooting photos for something.  Two of my neighbors, one of them in his bathrobe and the other in her pajamas, waited awkwardly by my slip, wondering how to get past them, to the restroom.  Wearing the dress I’d worn the day before, with my hair disheveled, I led the way past them, commenting that I’ve never had anyone have a photo shoot in my front yard.

5.  Having a shared bathroom is worth the inconvenience.  During the week, 5 ladies share the restroom on the East Pier.  Somehow, we all shower at different times.  It gets cleaned once a day.  And I don’t have to do it.  That’s right.  I now have to clean zero toilets.

DSC_0073

6.  Living in a smaller space is not much of an adjustment.  Breaking Tradition is 6 feet longer than Moonraker, so instead of living in 100 square feet, we’re probably just under 200.  And that hasn’t changed our life much at all.  If we’re inside, we’re probably reading, using the Internet, or playing video games.  Otherwise, we’re not inside.

7.  I spend a lot less time online.  And I’m more intentional with the time I do spend online.  I’ve unfollowed a lot of people on Facebook, and just check in with them periodically.  And I hide all forwarded posts.  If doing something online doesn’t enrich my life, I don’t do it.  Instead, I’ve done a lot more reading and writing, and I’ve spent a lot more time with my family.

8.  I’ve simplified our meals.  I also spend less time cooking.  Our kitchen is tiny, and getting our any large appliances is a pain.  So we eat a lot of wraps and salad.  If I do cook, it’s something that requires very little clean-up, such as  quesadillas or pasta.

9.  I’ve overindulged my addiction to take-out.  Since we’re currently not paying any rent, and we pay almost nothing for electricity, I have money to spend at restaurants.  We’ve theorized that there are enough restaurants in Clear Lake Shores for all 1000 residents to eat out at once, with nobody waiting for a table!  At least once a week, I pick up take-out and enjoy a lovely dinner on the boat, without having to cook at all.  So far, we haven’t gotten food from the same restaurant twice.

10.  I have the best morning routine ever.  I shower at night, then wake up at 5:30.  I get dressed, enjoy 15 minutes of coffee and conversation with Rob, then drive over to the island.  From 6:00 to 6:30, I treat myself to a walk around the perimeter, along with all of the islanders.  Not since I moved out of my childhood home (in a very safe, 1950’s style neighborhood, complete with a milk man!), have I lived in a place where I would feel safe talking a mile+ walk before sunrise.  But here, everyone is out and friendly, and all dogs are trained and on leashes.  My walk is the perfect way to start my day!

DSC_0074

I have to say that we have enjoyed our new life, and we love all of the surprises.  I’m sure, as we approach our 92th day living here, we will only discover more!

The Cat Came Back

The time has come for me to tell you a little about our boat kitty, Popcorn.

Rob and I got our first cat, Espresso, right before we got married, and we were happy to be a one-cat family.  Espresso was happy living in the trailer park with us, and adapted well to our move into the house.  She eagerly greeted us when we returned home from the hospital with a newborn Beanie in tow.

We lived in a small town in the woods, and once a week we drove 40 minutes away to the nearest non-tourist grocery store (the the farmer’s market and the food co-op!).  It was on our way home from this town that we noticed a dead cat in the middle of a rather busy road through farm country.  Rob slammed on the brakes, drove the car onto the shoulder, and threw it into reverse.  When we got to the cat, he darted out the door.

Before I could ask what was going on, he returned to the car and handed me a tiny grey tabby kitten.  Apparently, this kitten had been sitting next to her dead mother in the road.  She squeaked, and I set her in the back seat, next to a beaming two-year-old Beanie.

Some Internet research indicated that the kitty was 4 weeks old, and may or may not survive away from her mother.  We bought some cans of meat baby food and poured her some of Beanie’s Amish whole milk, which she happily gobbled up.  Within a couple days, she was eating canned cat food.

We ran ads in the paper and on Craig’s List, but nobody was missing the little barn kitten.  After two weeks, we had bonded with our little buddy and took the ads down.

DSC_0017

Popcorn was much wilder than Espresso, and she escaped from our house for a few days one time, which resulted in our finding an Amish veterinarian to “fix” her cheaply.

Due to her wild disposition, Popcorn spent the summer of 2012 living with my parents, while Espresso joined us on Moonraker.

Espresso didn’t live long enough to join us on the move to Texas, but Popcorn and her litter box piled into the back of the Volvo.  In our apartment, she put our pet deposit to good use as she tore up the carpet, only escaping once for a few days.

In contrast, the life on the boat seemed to mellow Popcorn.  She could often be found curled up on a dinette seat, or sunning herself on the deck.  After falling off of the boat once–and swimming to the dock and climbing up underneath, so that we had to remove a board to free her!–she seemed to have no desire to travel to the land.

Then her food dish started to get empty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She was outside when we went to bed, but we thought nothing of it.  She did that often, then either scratched at the door or let herself in when she was ready.  But, the next morning, I awoke, realizing that I had not heard Popcorn come inside.  We looked around and figured she must be hiding somewhere.

But, after two weeks, it became clear that Popcorn had ventured off the boat.

After that long, we figured that she was not coming back, and talked about getting rid of the dishes and litter box.  We pondered new uses for the quarter berth.

Then, we heard rumors of a tabby cat on the island in the marina, mooching food off of the boaters.  Rob spent some time looking for her there, to no avail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We kept an eye out, until Friday, when Rob received an interesting call from the marina office.  There are almost no stray cats in Clear Lake Shores, so the owner of a local antique shop thought it was interesting when a cute little tabby with a collar (someone else she met on her adventures gave her the collar!) showed up, hungry.  While she lived there, the owner heard from the Boater’s Resale shop above that a family in our marina was missing a cat.  So they called the office, and Rob took little Popcorn home.

Enjoying her time in the antique shop, Popcorn was reluctant to leave.  But after filling her stomach and taking a LONG nap, she’s settled back into the routine on Breaking Tradition.  And she still likes to wear her new collar.