All Good Ahead!

Someone pointed out to me lately that you either love me…or you hate me. Black or white. Hot or cold. For some reason, where I happen to be concerned, there is no middle ground.

I can see that. I feel the same way towards the people in my life. I didn’t ask for that crazy filter, but there it is. You’re in or you’re out.

I’ve recently had cause to think about that “situation”, along with the fact that I have a birthday coming up.

I am not making a big deal about my birthday, because too much yuck has happened since the last one, and I don’t want to publicize how old I actually am.

When I think about the last year, though, I have a few thoughts.

First of all, treat yourself and everyone else with dignity. Whether they were wrong or you were wrong. Everyone is doing the best they can, and they are doing what they know based on what they’ve learned from their own (equally dysfunctional) families.

Next.

Our children are everything. They didn’t ask to be born. They were conceived and birthed and brought into the world and deserve every shot of happiness, health, and love the world has to offer. And the “world” doesn’t have too much to offer, so it’s up to the parents and the community of family and friends to help make it happen.

What else?

If people you thought were your friends desert you, no matter. They were good friends for a time, and now that time is over. Don’t dwell upon what happened or ask why. It isn’t worth it. There are always more friends around the bend.

The world is filled with awesome, smart, funny people. Open yourself up to them and allow yourself to trust and laugh and talk.

If something truly tragic happens, don’t lose hope. My sister lost her husband in a fishing accident 18 years ago. She got remarried three years ago.

I have spent much of the past year feeling sad and confused, but I also feel so hopeful, happy, and excited. I am honestly excited for my birthday coming up and for the year ahead. I love everyone who came before and I love those yet to come.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; surround yourself with good people. And if nobody’s around, try and be your own good person.

IMG_2818

It’s Going, and It’s Good.

I miss you all, and I miss posting on this blog! Never, in the eight years since I started this blog, has this much time passed without me posting something. You all know by now that our family has been in crisis for the past ten months. Still, I want you to know that my children are doing well, G is doing well, and I am doing well.

I was thinking this afternoon that in spite of the grief, I have never in my life felt less alone. I am so grateful to have friends and family around the country, state, in my own city, and online that have offered nothing but love and support for all of us, without judgment. It’s not constant, but it’s consistent. It’s exactly what I, and what we, all need to get through this.

The past two months have been good for all. The children finished school after participating in end-of-year drama performances and art shows, and toddler graduations from play group. Vincent was more excited than anyone to see school come to an end (except perhaps, me). We were all so excited to say goodbye to early mornings, homework, permission slips, drop offs and pick ups for the the next eight weeks! Hello to late, lazy mornings, afternoons at the pool, picnics with friends at the river and playing in the lake with neighbors.

I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth. I took a little trip out of town to see a dear friend in May and discovered that I was able to book a flight (and take it), rent a car (and drive it), reserve a hotel (and find it). All by myself. I’ve never done that before. I’ve made a lot of new friends, maintained contact with old friends, and have learned what it feels like to live in relative peace and freedom.

As I said to one of my friends today, I don’t like to tread water. I like to swim. I continue to swim  forward with strength and resolve. We all have. It feels pretty good, to be honest. In spite of the grief that’s to be expected, I sleep well at night and awake happy and hopeful in the morning.

IMG_2717

My sister and I at our other sister’s anniversary cruise.

IMG_3006

Eva as the Queen in the “Stinky Cheese Man” production.

IMG_3023

Valerie sitting next to her BFF, James, during play group graduation.

IMG_3064

My dad with Eva, Vincent, and Val during a trip to Winthrop. G and the kids, and my parents, happened to all be there at the same time!

 

 

 

 

The Sun is Shining

It has been the most wonderful day. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been awesome. The sun is shining, sandals are out, smiles are ready all around. Everywhere I go, people seem to be smiling and laughing. I feel grateful to be among them.

I recently did some behind-the-scenes-work on this blog and lost my three last posts in the process. I am working on getting those back up. In the meantime, I wanted to come and share.

The first and most important thing is that God is good. As you know, I spent the darkest seasons of my life last fall and winter. Even when I felt betrayed, hurt, and wanted to die, I never doubted God’s love for me. I kept seeing it through, for the sake of my children, and having faith that the next season would be better and the sun would eventually shine again.

I am happy to write now that the sun is once again shining.

I am in love with all of my friends, who text me with their support and news of their own struggles and joys. I love the group that I meet with weekly. I went to lunch with my mom today and we talked for two hours. My mom came by my house later on, and we talked for three hours more. My dad came by and did some yard work for me; Mom and I didn’t even know Dad was out there until he came inside to sit and talk with us.

That’s a family…and a fishing family…for you.

Man, I love to laugh. I love it. I visited with my dear friend last night via a sort of video visit. I texted today with another dear friend who is flying planes across the world.

I feel so good. Hopeful, peaceful, optimistic, and filled with love.

Even when you want to die, when you feel betrayed and hurt and scared…wait a bit and remember God is good. And the sun will shine again.

 

 

Apparently, the Learning Never Ends.

It has been a good morning. In fact, it has been a good couple of weeks. Before 9 a.m. today, I had Vincent’s laundry folded and put away. He only wants to wear long-sleeved shirts, so now he has a clean drawer-full of them. I cleaned my childrens’ bedrooms, put dishes away, sorted garbage and recycling.

There’s about 45 minutes before Valerie’s naptime, and I have a bit of downtime to think and come here to write.

The first thought that comes to mind is how grateful I am for the community of friends and family I have surrounded myself with. I think about these people all the time. Everyone knows that this has not been an easy five months for my family or me. When I think of the emails, texts, cards, and support that has come our way, I feel really good.

People whom I thought were not my friends have reached out. The friends I hoped would reach out, have. People who have loved me but whom I pushed away for years have continued to reach out. Some of whom I thought were friends have disappeared. I’ve met new friends, seen old friends, laughed, and have continued to take everything one step at a time.

The kids and I had a great weekend; we laughed and laughed. My children think I am funny and I always gauge how funny I actually am by how hard they laugh. I can always count on Eva to be a good sport and for Vincent to be the first to dissolve into giggles. We listen to songs and make up dances. We make jokes. Even little Valerie is catching on. “It’s  my favorite song!” she calls out whenever the rest of us start singing, no matter what the song is.

George will be home this weekend on a break from the Washington Coast Dungeness crab season, and we are going to head to my brother-in-law’s house for round two of the Superbowl. None of us can wait. Valerie will be sporting a Sherman jersey, Vincent will be sporting Lynch, and Eva is boasting Wilson.

I thought some parts of my season of learning were over once I got married and had all of my children. I’ve had a lifetime of learning. Turns out, my journey is not yet finished.

No matter. As long as honesty and forgiveness reign, friends and family surround, and I can make my children laugh, we will make it.

Go Hawks!!

IMG_2372

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Note: This post has received many views which are not showing up in the “like” box below, due to a technical problem. Thank you all for reading and liking this post, and for caring about my parents and our whole family!

 

One thing I love about life is that life just keeps marching on. Regardless of
hurts and casualties along the way, life keeps going.

Looking back on these past few months, the above sentiment rings more and more true. Life marches on.

George left for the crab season, and I was left happily behind with three fish in a bowl, two kittens, one senior dog, and three blessed children to care for and love, the same way I’ve been doing the past 14 years.

We had a great holiday season. Santa came to two houses, surprising everyone with new bed comforters, books, games, and even a Wii game.

Eva had her birthday party, in which she requested her guests bring toys for Toys For Tots. We delivered the toys to the organization and the children were met gratitude and appreciation.

The children and I attended church, karate, organized new toys, and helped take care of our baby, Valerie. Even though Valerie is about to turn three later this month, she remains “our baby and little friend.”

Last night, the children and I met up with my extended family to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my mom and dad. When I told some people recently that my parents had been married for 50 years, they couldn’t believe it.

“Are they happy?” they asked.

“Well, there have been some up and downs through the years, but yes, they are happy,” I replied.

Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Last night, Eva said  ”Grandpa and Grandma are like the King and Queen of our family.”

Mom and Dad, some things turned out the way you and we hoped. Some turned out better than we hoped. Some fell far short of what we hoped.

I don’t know what any of us would do without either one of you! We love you!!

IMG_2218

 

IMG_2151

 

IMG_2242

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, Christmas Eva!

Today is our first born girl’s birthday. My Eva is nine.

The cool thing is that today is a teacher’s workday, so there is no school. Therefore, we get to celebrate Eva’s birthday all day long! She started out her day with a big birthday breakfast from Dad. That was followed by a mother-daughter mani/pedi and lunch. Next, a play date. After that, presents and cake with family, followed by dinner and a movie with Dad before Dad unties the lines and takes the boat and 500 Dungeness crab pots south to the open ocean.

As I drove Eva to her afternoon playdate, she told me this was the “best day ever!” That made me feel especially good, because Eva has had a lot on her plate this year and there is nothing I want more than for her to enjoy her special day. Between starting a new school after our own school was closed, and the difficulties at home, it’s more than any third-grader should have to endure.

G and I chose “Eva Grace” as the name of our first child for a reason; after years of infertility, we were blessed at last. Eva means “life.” I chose Grace because I wanted Eva’s life to be filled with grace–or at the very least, for my daughter to learn grace and how to respond to life with grace.

Eva definitely has. She is a smart, sunshine-filled girl whose heart is filled with love for her family, friends, school, and God. She is sharp as a tack, observant, and misses nothing. As the first born, Eva takes the weight of the world on her shoulders; so much so that the adults surrounding her must be continuously aware and vigilant about taking that weight from her.

She is like a little Border Collie pup, herding all of us. “Vincent, no. That wasn’t nice. You shouldn’t do that.” “Valerie, no. Come here and let me help.” “Mom, don’t forget we are supposed to do this.” “Dad, remember I need this or that.”

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. You fill all of our lives with joy, purpose, beauty, fun, and grace.

IMG_2067

IMG_2096

IMG_2098

Not “Just” a Mom and Housewife

I gathered with a group of people last night. In answer to a question from the group leader, I replied “Well…I am just a mom…and housewife.”

My reply has bothered me since I made it.

“Just” a mom and housewife? That’s not what I meant when I answered. This morning, as I tracked down lost lunch boxes for my oldest children, as I cleaned and vacuumed their rooms, as I fed my very youngest lunch, my reply of being “just a mom and housewife” continued to bother me.

There is nothing I love more than being a mom and housewife. I do have a Bachelor’s degree in English. I have worked in law offices, at my family’s seafood store, and as a West Coast correspondent for National Fisherman magazine and as a Jazzercise instructor. As it turned out, I was terrible at working in offices. I did well at teaching Jazzercise and continue to enjoy freelance writing.

But most of all, being a mom has been the most natural gig for me. I enjoy making the kids’ beds in the morning and vacuuming their floors, knowing they will have a clean, organized and cozy room to come home to and go to sleep in. I love having my little Valerie with me as I run errands. I like folding the kids’ laundry and putting it in their drawers and on their shelves, knowing they will have clean clothes to wear.

I like getting new things for the children and placing them on their beds so they will be surprised when they get home from school. I eagerly await their emergence from the schoolhouse doors or the school bus doors, depending on the day.

The Dungeness crab crew is here getting ready for the winter crab season, and G is preparing to head out for a good portion of the winter. The thought of a husband and father leaving for a stint might strike some wives as frightening or cause for panic. Not me. This is what my mother did, as well as my grandmother and great-grandmother. It’s our time to be of special value and comfort to our children and ourselves.

I can’t wait to jump back into my natural role.

And that’s what I am thinking about today. Children, mothers, and homes. As long as I have my children, my job as mother, and a cozy home, I am beyond content and happy.

333

Always Grateful, Always Thankful.

In spite of trouble, I am thankful for many things this holiday season. I am thankful for loyal family. Fun friends. Fun and loyal family and friends. Confusion and sorrow may be in the midst, but they cannot possibly win against forgiveness, joy, hope, and redemption. I couldn’t think of how to incorporate all of this into a regular post, so here is my list of things for which I am thankful this season.

  • Vincent’s surgery. Vincent underwent a second surgery to restore his hearing and speech. I was blessed to spend each day of Vincent’s recovery with him, lying by his side, cuddling and reassuring my only son. All I ever wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom so I could be there for all of my children, no matter what.
  • My children. 8-year old Eva, 7-year old Vincent, 2-year old Valerie. They have always made life worth living and then some. Their jokes, hugs, kisses, and snuggles are beyond compare.
  • My family. My family is comprised of some of the most funny, honest, loyal, and giving people I know. They don’t give free passes, but they do communicate, understand, and move forward.
  • My house. I love my house. It is a space I have created that represents healing, joy, love, and security. My children spent all of yesterday cuddled on my bed, watching Christmas movies, happy and content. It was the best day ever.
  • My friends. My friends offer words of support, insight, hope, and laughter. They offer love and understanding, a movie, an open ear, a cup of coffee.
  • Friends I’ve made along the way. I have met so many smart, funny, and honest people in the past three months. They make me smile and help give me the courage to keep marching forward.

This Thanksgiving has been strange. I know, however, that I am by far not the only one for whom this Thanksgiving was strange and different. I am grateful for the community of friends and family that help keep all of our ships afloat, when otherwise we feel we might sink.

IMG_1969

IMG_2043

IMG_2021

IMG_2056

IMG_2012

God is Within Her; She Will Not Fall

I have just entered my eighth year writing this blog. My blog has taken a lot of different turns over the years, all of which are recorded here in the blog archives. There have been children born, pets who have passed away, celebrations and goodbyes with crew, consistent and inconsistent fisheries, departures and homecomings, parties and sorrow. And always, family.

The past two months, however, have passed without a word from me online and hardly anywhere else. I know people have been checking the blog and my Facebook page, wondering where I’ve gone and what is going on. I have not been able to come up with words for where I’ve been and what’s been going on, save that my immediate family has been rocked by shock and grief. For the first time in my life, I have been unable to do much of anything but sit and then put one foot in front of the other, and only when I have to.

I don’t want to go into details, but I want you all to know things are getting better. As time passes, I feel better. The hurt decreases a bit and the pain lessens. Some days I feel betrayed and angry, and some days I feel happy and hopeful. Other days I feel filled with apology and regret, and then those are replaced by relief and optimism.  Some days there are tears, and some days there is laughter.

Through it all, my community of family, friends, church, and professional support has carried me through. It is never good to be alone, and all of these people have made sure that I am not alone, my children are cared for and loved and secure, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ll be back with a more lighthearted post later; one that describes how wonderfully my children have settled into their new elementary school since our previous school was closed, and the way they were both honored with the Leadership Award at a school assembly.

The way both Eva and Vincent trained and successfully tested for their next level of karate belts. The way Valerie “graduated” from speech therapy after a year of regular sessions.

I’ll write about how George and I noticed Vincent’s speech seemed to revert to some of its previous characteristics (loud and somewhat garbled) and how it turned out his hearing has decreased since having surgery to restore it two years ago. He’ll be having surgery again on November 10.

For now, I leave you with some verses that have sustained me the past two months. The entire book of Psalms has lifted me up and carried me through on days I felt hopeless and helpless. Here are a few of my favorites:

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

“Be merciful to me, oh Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” Psalms 30:9

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” Psalm 46:5

The Summer of Friends and Family

I wasn’t sure how this summer was going to go. The only thing I could see ahead of me for two months was home construction chaos. My entire house has, in fact, been in an upheaval due to the kitchen, dining, and family room remodel I’ve wanted and waited eight years for. And while I’m grateful for progress, it’s true that my house has been in a total upheaval since the remodel started.

My family room is in my living room. I still can’t file my childrens’ schoolwork from the last school year because my filing cabinets are buried in boxes of dishes and surrounded by end tables and large framed pictures and art. Our pantry was minimized and rendered down to three industrial shelves in the basement. For anyone who has anxiety and OCD (like me), you can only imagine what this has been like to live with the past two months.

However…I do always try to look at the positives, and as far as this summer goes, there have been many. More than ever, actually. For one thing, because there was nothing to clean in my house, I didn’t have to clean. This made me feel free to take off and leave town whenever we had the chance. We went to Florida, to Long Beach, and even down the road to Whidbey Island. The kids took karate, swimming, and diving lessons. Vincent, George, and I all had birthdays.

Something that we didn’t exactly plan for, but happened anyway, was meeting up with family and friends the entire summer! In Florida, we met up with family from George’s clan as well as mine. Back in Bellingham, we got together with more Karuza cousins. In Whidbey Island, we met up for a day of singing and play with family on my mom’s side. We helped celebrate the birthdays of friends–adults and little ones alike–all summer long. We checked out the water slides, the fair, the go karts, went on morning bike rides, and enjoyed lazy afternoons at the pool.

When I look back at this summer, I feel frustrated about my physical house. However, I feel satisfied and happy about my house of friends and family. I feel lucky to be part of a community that is fun and loving and considerate. I’m not looking forward to the start of school, in which alarm clocks must again be set and schedules must be adhered to, but knowing we are all doing it together makes it so much better.

IMG_0707

Some Schile and Karuza fam in Florida.

IMG_0744

Schile Fam in Florida.

IMG_1290

Karuza Cousins in Birch Bay.

IMG_1279

Some Karuzas at an undisclosed location ;)

IMG_1305

George and me at my 40th birthday cruise.

IMG_1375

George family (mom’s side, not my G) camping on Whidbey Island.

IMG_1387

Music, family, and more music.