Archive for April 2011

Home, Sweet (Messy) Home…

We have returned from our family vacation and are slowly getting things back in order. I spent today unpacking, sorting through little souvenirs picked up along the way, and catching up on sleep. I slept for twelve hours last night–from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. I warned G ahead of time that I was not going to get up early this morning, and he was sweet enough to get the household going without me.

Upon arriving home, it was clear that we left in a rush. In light of everything that suddenly went down with our dear Toby, we ended up leaving a day early for our trip. Our family came over and we had an evening together, and then we bolted. It was the best move; nobody wanted to stick around here for one more second.

So, we left and stayed the night at a super nice, cozy, and warm lodge before boarding the plane. Upon our return from Hawaii–once seeing the pouring rain and feeling the cold–we decided we were in no hurry to return home and stayed at the lodge again for one more night to snuggle and relax.

Coming into the house and seeing the kids’ toys spread around, crumbs on the floor, Toby’s toys, bed, food dish, and blanket still out, and piles of laundry in the bedrooms, reminded me how hastily we’d left, for I usually have the house in great order before we go anywhere.

However, I do not regret leaving early and leaving the house as it was. It was good to just get out of town, plus, having all the unpacking, cleaning, vacuuming, and dishes to do has kept me busy today.

Watching the news and catching up on all of the devastation in the south has kept things in perspective. I’m grateful we HAVE a home to return to, unlike so many in the southern part of our nation. I am also grateful that G has delayed his departure for the halibut and blackcod season by a week or two. Eva was thrilled to go to preschool this morning, and I did some filing of household bills. (In so doing, I discovered that I haven’t filed a thing since 2009. I told G I would try to do better this year, lol).

I also had some fun changing up this blog design a bit. I changed the background image, the Twitter badge, played with color, and added a picture of G to the sidebar. I also took out my Facebook profile badge and replaced it with a Facebook logo.

Can you recognize which Kauai beach I’ve used for my background?

Winner gets the prize!

Eva with the adorable little hula dancing girls.

Can’t We Extend?

I am definitely not looking forward to returning home this week. I love this sun, the ease, the resort, the island. I’m in no hurry to return to our rainy and dreary corner of the world, but we must.

I’ve asked G a few times already if we can extend the trip, but I know we can’t. We’ve been here a good amount of time already.

G has to return home and get the boat ready to go north and catch the Alaska blackcod and halibut quota the next few months, while the kids and I have to…uh…well…keep the home fires burning.

G, the kids, and I spend our days focusing on sun, family, and fun, but at night when all is still, we think about our dear pitbull Toby and his unexpected death the day before we left on vacation.

I’ve dreamed about Toby often since we’ve been here. The dreams are heartbreaking. I dream he’s not passed away…then he’s passed away but come back home…he has two eyes…then glowing weird red eyes…I think I see him…then someone tells me it isn’t him.

When one of my children wakes and calls for me during the night, it’s a relief to get up.

Our trip has been amazing and restful, though (especially during the day), and we are already planning our return to this location. One can only hope for a great longline and crab season in the next year!

Thank You, Lisa

We could not have made it through the last few years without our dear friend, Lisa. Lisa has an ethereal love for animals of all kinds. Dogs, cats, horses, birds, geese…and every other type and species.

When she sees a dog running loose, she takes the time to stop and determine where his or her home is.

Lisa is the one who first noticed that something was wrong with Toby’s eye. She is also the one who guessed, two years later, something wrong when the spleen tumor came to light.

She took Toby to the ultrasound at that time and visited him as he recovered from surgery, even though it was hours away.

When this last, and ultimately final, tumor came down, she was here. At the very end, Lisa came to our house to help out and to reassure Toby late on his last night that everything would be okay.

Thank you, Lisa, for all the love, dedication, fun, and beyond that you’ve shown our pups and to animals of all kind.

We love and appreciate you so much!

(We are still in Hawaii, trying not to think too much. Following are a few more pics from the trip.)

Healing in Hawaii

Thank you everyone so incredibly much for your comments, sympathy, and understanding in light of the passing of our dear Toby. All of your comments warmed my heart and made me cry.

We are still operating in somewhat of a denial mode, so I haven’t even looked at my own blog in a little bit because I don’t want to relive things yet.

We are currently in Hawaii for a few days. This is our first real vacation in five years and was planned months ago. We never imagined Toby would suddenly pass the day before we were supposed to leave.

But as our sweet friend (and Toby & Mandy’s friend) Lisa said, Hawaii is a place of rest and healing, so we are happy to be here.

After the sudden loss of Toby and the rigorous crab season G just completed, this family time in a non-dreary and rainy environment is truly a blessing.

And thank you to my parents and Lisa for taking such good care of our other pup, Mandy, who is also deeply sad but hanging in.

I just keep thinking of everyone who has lost a pet, and those who have experienced even worse (as have we). None of it is easy but friends and family make it better.

Thank you all so much for everything.

Our Dear Toby

Eight years ago we fostered a precious pit bull puppy named Baby. He was only six weeks old and a scared, shivering little thing. Baby was so sweet and got along so well with our one-year-old rescue pup, Mandy, that we couldn’t let Baby get adopted by anyone else. We adopted Baby ourselves, renamed him Toby, and enjoyed almost eight years together.

Mandy and Toby were the best of friends. Just the best. Mandy was bossy and mothering, Toby was a quiet fellow who adored her and followed her everywhere.

Most of you know that three years ago, when Toby was not yet five, he was diagnosed with lymphoma and had his eye removed. The traditional vets gave him thirty days to live. We chose a non-traditional, homeopathic treatment method and Toby lived another three years (in spite of a second surgery which removed his spleen). We gave Toby remedies, vitamins, home cooked meals, and tons and tons of love.  He not only went into remission from the cancer, he flourished!

Well, I can’t write any more for we are all devastated. Out of nowhere yesterday, Toby couldn’t walk. He was droopy, sad, and could not move well. I’ll cut it short and say that Toby passed away this afternoon at 2:45 p.m. George and I were with him.

Toby, you were the best boy ever. All you wanted was to love and be loved. You never hurt a soul, and you loved everyone. You were a working man’s dog and you loved to ride in the flatbed and go down to the harbor to work with Daddy. Mommy loves you so much, sweet boy. I loved to hug your big head and give you kisses. I hope you are playing with your Uncle Danny and your doggie cousins, Inu, Kucha, and Henry.

We love you so much, Sweetheart. You were a soldier and fought the good fight. You can rest now and play forever, okay?

I Love My Friends So Much!

Thank you all so much for your feedback via blog comments, Facebook comments, and messages in response to my most recent blog post and Facebook discussion on food and eating.

I feel so very lucky to have such an awesome network of girlfriends who know just what to say and can offer all sorts of advice and amazing tips. I am going to write a blog post that includes all of the ideas that have been shared with me in the past few days. As women, mothers, wives, and girlfriends, we are always learning and it’s a good idea to seek advice and support from both those who can relate and those who can offer a new perspective.

It was a risk for me to be honest and say “Look. Here is where I struggle.” I didn’t know how the response would be, but it’s been incredible! So thank you my dear girlfriends (and to one of my guy friends, Jeremy, who was quick to offer suggestions on cookbooks based on his time cooking on commercial fishing boats in Alaska).

Here you are by name (and I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!)……




Jill H.

Jill B.






Amanda S.

Cutzi (for the always-helpful info she puts on FB about food and health)

Courtney (for sharing her ideas with me recently in person)



Stephanie S.


Jennifer D.

Stephanie D.

Christina M.


Christina Katz, the Writer Mama and Prosperous Writer, who sent me a hilarious Twitter tweet last night.


Love you all!

Hey, it might be macaroni sometimes but at least we always sit at the table together...:)

I Hate Food

One of my BFF’s wrote recently on her blog about her “little secret.” Her secret turned out not to be what you might think–it wasn’t an affair, a wayward lifestyle, or a financial indiscretion.

No, it was that she allowed her two children to sleep in her king-sized bed with her on occasion.

I would confess that I share the same little secret!

I never turn my children away when they want to sleep with me. We are alone so often anyway that I figure, What the heck? If my son or daughter wants to crawl inside beside me and cuddle and snuggle, that is just fine. They won’t be little babies forever, and as long as they need Mommy, I am here.

But I have a secret of my own.

It’s the fact that I hate food and I cannot cook.

Pretty lame for a stay-at-home and often-solo mom, huh? George is our chef when he is home. When he is not home (which has been the case more often than not the last few years), the business of cooking, food, and the feeding of my children comes to me.

I love my children. I want them to be healthy, well nourished, and know they are loved through every possible means, including food. We’ve done okay so far…but we could do better.

I really do hate food. I became bulimic at the age of 15 and have struggled with it off and on my whole life. I wish we could just go through our days without food of any kind. Food is not fun for me. It is not something I look forward to planning or preparing or producing. I love it when George is home, for he does love food. He loves to cook, choose healthy meals, and he sees that our family is well fed.

But when George is gone, it becomes my duty. I do okay. I can make macaroni, salmon, and bake a few things. But my kids deserve better than that.

I wish I was the kind of mom and wife that I know so many of. They choose organic, they prepare homemade meals, they can their own fruits and vegetables.

Meanwhile, I struggle to open up a frozen bag of corn.

George will leave on May 1 and will be gone until at least September. My goal during the time he is gone is to relax around food, and to calmly plan and try prepare healthy meals for my babies and me.

A SAHM should really know how to cook, and to cook healthily for her family. I’m going to try, come heck or high water.

No Housework? Right!

I learned on Facebook this morning that it’s National No Housework Day! What’s even better than National No Housework Day is one of the images that accompanies the event….


Of course, it is never No Housework Day when you are a stay at home mom without a housekeeper. Laundry and beds await, as do dishes and everything else. It’s a great idea and an awesome picture, but…maybe next year. That will give me plenty of time to have everything in the house done and in order so I can proclaim the day!

In other news….the boat came home this week.

For the last couple of weeks, G has told the kids “I’ll be bringing the boat home soon.”

That confused 3-year old Vincent, who took G’s statement literally.

“When is Daddy bringing the boat home?” he keeps asking me.

“The boat is home, Buddy,” I reply.

“It’s not home,” he says. “It’s not in front of our house.”

“Oh,” I say. “No. Bringing the boat home means it’s returning to the harbor, not to the front of our house.”

Vincent asks next if Daddy will bring the boat home on the trailer or the forklift.

I’ll let G explain why we can’t dock a steel 58-foot combination fishing vessel in our residential driveway!

As you all know, we always celebrate the boat and crew homecoming. Sometimes we celebrate at home and sometimes we go out. I wasn’t sure if anyone would be up for going out this time, but they were! We had a fun but tame night out this week. We had a great evening of laughs, food, and a pitcher or two.

I just love our entire operation and most everyone involved. It’s family oriented with a splash of silly and a dash of daring. Together we all seem to make one merry and unique family season after season and year after year.

Fishing Families and Flowers Don’t Always Mix

My doorbell rang at 8:30 this morning.

I was snuggled in my bed when I heard it.  Normally, I would have been up and about getting the recycling and garbage ready to go outside, preparing Eva’s lunch for pre-school (and an identical lunch for Vincent to take to Jazzercise), finishing up the laundry and making all the beds.

As you know, though, we just returned from vacation and we are still catching up on rest. So I was still in bed at 8:30 when someone rang the doorbell.

“How annoying!” I thought. “Who is coming to visit us at 8:30 on a rainy, yucky, dreary Friday morning?”

“Mommy!” Eva yelled down the hallway to my room. “A lady is here! And she has flowers!”

“Oh, how sweet!”  I thought next.  “One of our neighbors has brought us flowers for May Day!”

Then I remembered it was April 1, not May 1.

I froze. My mind raced. Why is someone at my door with flowers so early? What’s going on? What happened? What happened that I don’t know about? Is it George? Dad?

Extreme thoughts to be sure. But that is what happens when over a decade ago, vans and flower deliveries arrive unexpectedly and incessantly at your family’s front door, sent by friends and family  in sympathy when your sister’s husband is lost at sea during a crab season. (You can read a bit about that here.)

Here’s a little more of what I’ve written about that experience:

“Within an hour of receiving the news, the first bouquet of flowers arrived at our front door, sent by the wife of a longtime fisherman friend. It was at once beautiful and terrible. Word spread quickly along the West Coast and Alaska about the tragedy and I dreaded the white delivery vans that pulled continuously into our driveway. With each well-meaning bouquet received, our grief pierced deeper and deeper and stabbed more and more.”

To be perfectly honest, most of my family has an aversion to bouquets of flowers because they remind us of that  terrible and nightmarish time. So after my brother-in-law’s father died recently, I did not send flowers. I brought over a card, mini-hamburgers, and a chocolate cake.

Anyway, the doorbell rings again. My mind races.  Eva isn’t sure who it is but guesses it could be “our neighbor” or “Anthony’s grandmother” and that she’s brought the most beautiful flowers Eva has ever seen. I tell Eva to come into my bedroom and wait. She promptly begins crying and covers her eyes with her little fists.

“That woman walked back down the stairs with her flowers,” she cried. “She feels sad that we didn’t want them.”

By this time, I’d figured out exactly who was at my door. I’ve been visited lately by a few regular religious proselytizers. I did talk to them one time months back and it was fine, but then they kept coming back. I can’t blame them. Faith is an exciting thing and I would love to share mine too and have everyone else be excited about it. I’d love to share my faith, Jazzercise, books, music, and everything else I love.

But I don’t want flowers (why on earth would they bring them?). I don’t want my bell to ring early and startle my family. I don’t want my daughter to cry and my mind to race in terror of what those flowers might mean. Fishing families are on edge all the time; I don’t want or need anything else to add to it.

Jen’s Friday Favorites

Too many favorites to count this week!! But here goes…

1. Family (and extended family) trip to Vegas!

2. George, the crew, and the boat wrapping up the Dungeness crab season and coming home this weekend.

3.  Eva and Vincent’s spring gymnastics show.

4. Only three more months until I find out if my submission for the 2011 Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s literary contest is a finalist.

5. Registering for the Bloggy Boot Camp! (And thanks to Mom and Dad for babysitting so Mommy can attend!)

6. My upcoming feature story for National Fisherman magazine! Stay tuned for details.

7.  The most hilarious lunch with my parents, sister, and precious baby niece today. Lots of laughs and the best way to spend an afternoon!

8. Everywhere I went in Vegas, I heard Jazzercise music. It made me feel so at home, at ease, pumped up, and ready to roll.

Have a wonderful weekend!!