Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Boat US Magazine article

We were honored to be recognized in a Boat US article this month on our boating adventure.

Looping With Little Ones

By Gary Kramer
Photos by Danielle and Craig Parrent
Published: August/September 2014
Tackling the Great Loop with three young kids turns out to be doable and rewarding for this family of five .
Besides education, safety was a crucial issue. The kids are all good swimmers, Danielle says, but "there wasn't a day they stepped out of the cabin without life jackets." The boat's bow was their front yard, so it was wrapped with safety netting, increasing Craig and Danielle's peace of mind. They coached the kids not to panic in an emergency, and established strict safety procedures. Clear, written instructions at the helm explained what to do if a parent fell overboard, how to make a VHF call, and how to stop and shut off the engines. On an overnight, 160-mile Gulf of Mexico crossing from Apalachicola to Clearwater, Florida, the kids slept in the main saloon so they would be close at hand if an emergency occurred. An unexpected safety boost came early in the morning, Craig remembers, when Morgan became "absolutely invaluable" with her fresh eyes helping spot crab pots.
Photo of travelling with tandem bikesTandem bicycles helped broaden their range in port.
Photo of young child bouncing on a trampoline
It was easy to get a little antsy, but the kids kept themselves amused.
"We did everything together, always," says Danielle, including laundry. They used grocery shopping as a rich source of hands-on learning. They used a dinghy and kayaks to explore places only accessible by water, and used tandem bicycles to venture beyond marinas and harbors. Danielle says the children really didn't develop bad attitudes or fight, but they did miss playing with other kids. The solution was to schedule weekend opportunities to interact with other children. Craig says that when the trip started, the kids weren't particularly outgoing. But as a result of the random interactions with other children, they quickly learned how to make friends and easily adapted to the weekly gatherings of home-schoolers in Marathon, Florida, where they spent a month.
The kids remember getting a little antsy on some long, slow cruising days. To counter that, Danielle and Craig worked to stay upbeat, organized, and focused, and learned that a positive attitude was contagious. Activity planning at family meetings helped smooth over differences of opinion about where they should go and what they should do. It also became a group function to help cheer up a family member who was a bit down or unhappy.
Photo of a exhausted little cruiserJaxon Parrent may be the youngest Looper to complete the whole circuit.
"It was the best trip," reflects Danielle. "We didn't have the day-to-day challenges that most people face with work commitments, mortgages, and keeping up a house, so we had time to focus on our family. The more time we spent with the kids, the more patience and understanding we had with them. They thrived."

Epilogue: On The Road Again

Three years have passed now, and Danielle says there are constant, ongoing reminders about their grand cruising adventure. "The kids have a never-ending source for writing assignments. In history class, they frequently bring personal photos to school of the site being studied. Our house is filled with their collections and mementos picked up along the way, each item connected to a place and time we fondly remember."
Looking back, the Parrents wish they'd taken more side trips, which they now realize were a treasured part of the cruising experience. They also wish they'd taken two years for the trip. "Oh, and we could've done it in a smaller boat," says Craig, "which would have saved significantly on fuel and slip rentals." In June, the Parrents take off again for a few years, on a road trip of sorts, headed first to Alaska. Craig has customized a 48-foot car hauler so the front part has a kitchen, bathroom, and separate sleeping spaces for all. The rear part holds bikes, ATVs, and a 13-foot Boston Whaler. The rig is self-contained. The kids will follow the state of Michigan online curriculum so when they do return to school, it should be seamless. For more of the daily details of their voyage, visit 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 is going to be a great year!
We look forward to new and exciting adventures and another chapter in our lives.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life on land

Our life on land has been an entirely new journey than that on the water. The people we meet, conversations each day and relationships moving forward take a whole new perspective than our cruising life.  We love our life and still hold the memories close....I hope we always do.

I love waking up at 5:30 with Craig and watching the sunrise.  This is the view from our living room window. 
Craig has taken a position as Site Superintendent at a well known high end large home builder in town.  It'll be a welcomed change to the higher stress and laborous work his days are filled with now. It truly reflects our goals moving forward and we're celebrating the new path. The girls are sporting some of the new clothing he received. 

Jaxons kindergarten teacher, Mrs. VanEizenga, is a sweetheart!  School is going very well for all of the kids and it seems our homeschooling and life experiences have only enhanced their education.  A sigh of relief on our part and it's amazing how well adjusted they are.  Making friends, getting involved and bringing home great grades is not a problem...YEAH! 
Jaxon and his best friend, WatchOut, playing in the puppy's 'bedroom.'
The "Healing Field" at Cannonsburg ski lodge in Rockford (Grand Rapids area) had one flag for every person is passed in the 9/11 tragedy.  It was purely touching to see and thousands gathered for days to view and mourn the loss.
WatchOut on the beach was hysterical!
He never stopped!
Jaxon getting a little air time.
A walk on the pier at Grand Haven and picnic on the boardwalk with my parents.  The dog was carried half the time because he was so tired.  After this photo was taken he literally sucked down an entire fish from a nearby fisherman...YUCK!
We will miss the sunny warm days of summer.
He actually loves taking a bath!
Salmon festival in Grand Haven had many crafts and activities for kids.
Michigan rat snake climbed up Ryanns shirt so quickly.
Grandma really fooled Morgan with fake poop.  We convinced her to help clean it up and she was such a good sport.
Thank you grandma and grandpa for my doggie stuffed animal and treats.  It actually has a water bottle inside so it makes a crackling noise he loves.  
Our dear friends, John and Carrie, just got a cute little dog named Petri.  They gave WatchOut an adorable poop purse and this squeaky toy from his little girlie dog friend! 
My nephew, Alexander, turned 12 and we gathered for fun family times! 
 Ryann's friend, Helen, came for a visit and taught us Origami.  The girls had fun and she lives only a quarter mile away.  Looking forward to many more play dates with her. 
 Morgan continues her training with the dog and she was able to capture his latest moves of high fives!

The sunset at the pier head.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Watch Out" its the Parrent Six

After saying "NO" for THREE years to getting a dog, I ran out of excuses.  It is the perfect time in our life to add a new member to the family.  Our GoldenDoodle's name is "Watch Out."  He is 8 pounds, 9 weeks old and ALL puppy!  He is actually 75% poodle and 25% golden retriever, so he's a non-shedding, hypoallergenic easy going little guy that loves attention, car rides and a good nap!
 The first day at his new home with us we had a terrible storm and these two were watching it!
 He has figured out that the only way to get down the big step from the tile floor to the hardwood flooring is to do a running jump. 
 Backing up a few weeks, my Aunt Cindy, sister Michelle, niece Elizabeth and nephew Derek came for a visit to see the house and walk the trail to Lake Michigan.  It was fun to spend time with them again.
 The girls wanted to swim so bad, but the rip current was very strong that windy day. 
 Craigs mom, Debbie came with Alexander and Emily for a walk back to the lake too. 
 The kids built sand castles and did gymnastics for hours. 

We haven't had a mailbox in so long that Ryann runs at the opportunity to get it each day!
We have gone blueberry picking a lot this summer.  The kids seem to fill their bellies every time we pick and once home we always end up making blueberry pies too.
The pole barn/Craigs shop has a three story firemans pole.  It goes from the loft bedroom to the guest house and down into the shop. 
My parents bought a Thunderbird to add to their car collection!   It's very clean, metallic color and now their new favorite ride!
Another walk back into the woods is a good reason for a photo!
The walk back in the woods as you turn a corner and can see the lake.  It's so pretty that we stop to stare every time. 
My Dad brought this huge kite that we use to have as children.  He gave one to us and other will go to my sister.  Brought back great memories and the kids had a ton of fun with it.
It was a windy day!
Optimus Prime Transformer payed a visit to our home this week.  He is a friendly Transformer (Autobot) that sleeps upstairs now!
The cleaning crew got to work in the guest apartment area.  It looked and smelled great. They even washed the windows!

The kids have a constant playmate everyday now.
He seems to have made himself at home.
We take walks on the boardwalk downtown and to north shore beach.  The kids actually tire him out.

We met another Goldendoodle named Morgan.  I guess Morgan won't even leave the house without her sunglasses on.  She was a cool dog and so big!
The kids were drawn to where ever grandma was!
The doggie door is working out well and WatchOut loves his kennel that Craig made.  He's loaded up with fun toys and treats everyday.
We spent a day building a special area for the dog to relieve himself.  Craig put up a fence and we brought in stones (since we can't grow grass).  We live on a sand dune and it use to make for a very messy dog.  Now the doggie door (bottom right corner) allows him to explore whenever he wants.  My mom was a huge help that day too and proceeded to rake the entire yard of sticks, leaves, etc. We're quite sure it had never been done.  Thanks Mom!
(See pic above): The kids took turns getting sick this week with fevers, colds and other fun stuff.  There were days of school missed, but were hoping to shake it out soon...

First day of school went really well.  Kids were very excited, love their school and teachers and it's going to be a great year. 
Our fellow Looper family friends have been in the Grand Haven port this week.  We saw the Samway family (from Miami, Florida on a 48' Kady Krogen) last weekend and plan to see the Fallon's (from Virginia on a 36' Carver) this weekend.  They both have two children.

Life is changing so quickly...