Archive for Commercial Fishing Kids – Page 2

Forging Gratefully Ahead into the New Year!

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

On the contrary, I choose to look back on the past year to determine what I did well and I did not do well. I spend time mulling it all over, determining which choices could have been different and which lessons I might glean from the year, for better or for worse.

After taking stock of the past year, I move forward, resolving to do better and hoping not make the same transgressions.

As for my family and me, we experienced a lot of change last year. Our commercial fisheries changed for the first time in thirteen years. Our fishing schedule changed, which meant George was home more than ever in our years together. That alone was enough change for one year, but it didn’t end there

One of our good friends met with an unfortunate situation, and we lost that relationship for a while. Our crew changed for the first time in ten years.

And while my son, Vincent, entered kindergarten after surgery that enabled him to hear and a year of speech therapy, my youngest daughter qualified for speech services.

Our beloved and small neighborhood elementary school, for which hundreds of us fought to save, could not be saved.

What else? After teaching Jazzercise for seven years and bringing three children up in the studio, I resigned.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t respond well to change. In fact, I spent a moment or two in tears the last year, lamenting all of this change. I wanted our school to stay open. I wanted our crew to return as a whole. I never anticipated leaving Jazzercise.

However, I’m able to look forward. I also know people who have experience much worse this year. I have discovered along this journey of change that there are nice, friendly, smart, and funny people everywhere where you go.

I may not be at Jazzercise where I’ve spent nearly the last decade, but I enjoy my new friends at the gym. I’m taking classes that I am not responsible for (and have even lost eight pounds since starting) and have discovered that you can be greeted with a friendly smile, engage with others, and get a great workout pretty much no matter where you go.

I miss my friend and our regular crew, along with the nights out and traditions we held for nearly a decade, but there are also other gatherings, new friends and acquaintances with whom to experience life.

George has been home longer this year than ever in the past. In the thirteen years we’ve been together and the eleven years we’ve been married, he’s regularly been away nine months a year. This year was the opposite. It has been a challenging experience to say the least, but we are both still here giving it the good effort just like we always do.

So, yes. It’s been a year of change. Too much change. Change I wasn’t sure I would be able to navigate. But…I did. We did. I hope for calmer waters and smoother sailing going forward, but whoever really knows?

Going into the New Year, I will choose my friends more wisely. I will draw tighter boundaries some places and loosen them in others. Some friendships have crossed lines and need to be reassessed. I will offer more grace and understanding to those directly involved in my life and keep forging ahead along with everyone else. I will remain forever grateful and joyful about my three kind, sweet, and precious children.

I wish all of you a blessed holiday, a happy New Year, and peaceful waters going forward into 2014!





Submit Your Commercial Fishing Family Story!

I have some exciting news to share. After nearly three years of talking and planning, Amanda Babich and I are pleased to announce the very first call for submissions to the commercial fishing families anthology we are publishing.

That’s right!  For the first time ever, among the many books and television programs about commercial fishing, comes a nonfiction anthology that will feature the behind-the-scenes stories of commercial fishing families!

This anthology will feature the stories you don’t often read; accounts from the wives, mothers, fathers, girlfriends, and children of fishermen from their unique on-shore perspectives.

Do you have a story to share? Write it up and send it to us. This anthology will include tales of the great and joyful, as well as the challenging and heartbreaking. This nonfiction collection of essays will be an original and groundbreaking look at real life inside the modern commercial fishing family.

We encourage you to submit your true story even if you have limited writing experience. What matters most is the story you have to tell, not how many times you have been published or whether you even consider yourself a writer.

Think about a commercial fishing family story you would like to share, a tale you like to tell, or advice you’d like to dispense. Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2013. Of course, no essays denigrating commercial fishermen or commercial fishing families will be considered.

Prior to publication, submissions will be posted on the Commercial Fishing Mom blog.

For specific submission guidelines, please click here.

Amanda and I look forward to hearing from you and reading your stories!

A Valentine’s Day Giveaway on!

Is your commercial fisherman home for Valentine’s Day? No? Well, don’t worry; you aren’t alone. Neither is mine!

George is rarely home for Valentine’s Day. Way back in the day, he would plan ahead and have a dozen roses sent to me. Twelve years ago, ten years ago…I could always count on those flowers! In fact, I looked forward on Valentine’s Day to vacuuming, dusting, and making everything clean and beautiful in our home in preparation for those roses.

It’s been a while since then, though. Clean and sanitize the house? Light a special candle? Make room for roses? Yeah, right! I’ll be lucky if I get to the dishes or put folded laundry for three children (and me) put away in drawers and closets.

But, hey! I’m not complaining. I don’t get hung up on Valentine’s Day. And I know that you don’t, either, because we are tough and that’s how we roll.

In honor of all commercial fishing wives, girlfriends, and mothers on this day, I’m offering a special Valentine’s Day Giveaway.

Yes! I am giving away three free copies of my book, Captain of Her Crew: The Commercial Fishing Mom’s Guide to Navigating Life at Home. All you have to do is leave a comment, send a message through my blog’s contact form, or connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

You will have the option of receiving a free PDF or a paperback copy of the book. If you already own a copy or have made contact with me before, you are still more than welcome to participate! I know we all have friends and acquaintances who would enjoy the book.

I’m getting a late start on the day, so the Valentine’s Day Giveaway will stay open to entries until tomorrow (February 15) at 4:00 p.m.!

I look forward to hearing from you and I wish each of you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I will be sharing a heart-shaped pizza from Papa Murphy’s and presents with the little ones, followed by books in bed (Ramona the Pest and Runaway Ralph).

By the way…while I did not receive roses this year, G did plan ahead and sent cards to all of the children and me. Each card included a $1 bill….even mine!

Love to you all!

Captain of Her Crew

Goodbye, G. Love and Miss You Still.

And just like that…he’s gone.

After what was supposed to be a decent amount of time off—and was caught unbelievably short by the problematic installation of a brand new $150K main engine and other projects—G is underway towards the 2013 Dungeness crab season.

We pulled off a fantastic grand finale: I managed to secure a babysitter, and G and I went out with Bryan, Brett, Johnny, and two additional family friends. We all shared some drinks, some laughs, a few stories, and a few insults before calling it a night.

If you know G and me, you know that this has been a more difficult time off than usual for us. But I tell you, these guys are all my family. When I get to spend time with my “family” I feel renewed, energized, and better able to handle what’s coming next.

My heart sank when I watched G leave tonight. My chest tightened, my throat constricted, and I waved him off quickly before the tears began to stream and the children noticed.

And then, he was gone.

Watching the boat glide out of the harbor on a cold and dark night is both sad and beautiful.

Watching the boat glide out of the harbor on a cold and dark night is at once sad and beautiful.

I Ask You. Who and Where Will Be Next?

I haven’t watched the news in a few days.

I’ve read the news, but I haven’t watched it.

Normally, my big kids (7 and 5 years old) and I wake up early each morning and sit together in the oversized recliner in the family room. I drink coffee, watch the news, and snuggle with them  while we wait for baby Valerie to wake up. At that point, we start the official morning routine. Get dressed, eat breakfast, gather backpacks, choose toys for sharing day.

For the last few days, though, I’ve let them watch Disney Junior rather than put on the news.

I don’t want them to see what has been going on. That children their age, precious children just like them, have been gunned down by yet another madman. I don’t want them to see or hear it. I don’t want them scared and terrified of school and people and of life. Because you know what? Mommy is scared enough.

Whenever people say “It could never happen here!” or “I never would have expected this here!” I shake my head. I think by now we have all learned that it can happen anywhere. By anyone. At anytime.

I wonder. Will my children’s Sunday school class be shot up? Will someone enter church and fire rounds at everyone inside? Will someone come to our school or the gym and kill dozens inside? If we go to the mall, will we leave alive?

I can hardly read the news. My heart twists up in pain when I see the beautiful faces of the children and teachers and principals whose lives were cut tragically short. I feel angry. I can hardly even think. To be honest, I feel fearful. I don’t know who is going to strike next, or when, or where.

My children have not seen the news and they have no idea what has transpired. But when they each asked to sleep with me last night, I didn’t refuse. When I turned to my left, there was little Vincent sleeping soundly. When I turned to my right, there was Eva, reaching for my hand. I kept my ear out for baby Valerie. When I hadn’t heard from her in a while, I went to check. There she was, asleep in her crib.

I did not sleep, but I had my children with me, safe and warm.

I am so sick of this. I hate it. Things have to change, and they have to change now. It’s not just a matter of gun control or mental health. It’s all of that and so, so much more.


National Fisherman Blogroll: Fishing Families Matter!

If you haven’t checked out the new blogroll at National Fisherman magazine lately, now’s a good time to do so. You’ll see a handful of newly added commercial fishing—industry blogs to check out, including Highliners and Homecomings.

As I considered the inclusion of my bio and photo for the NF blogroll, I felt a bit of panic. Although I’ve written professionally for over ten years, and Highliners and Homecomings has existed for over six years, I felt some personal pressure.

“I need to publish posts more often! All those drafts? Need to edit and publish more quickly!”

I saw the list of blogs also included. Active fishermen and women! Although I come from a multi–generation fishing family and fished several seasons alongside my sisters aboard the family fishing vessel, I don’t fish now.

Now, I’m a mom! A wife!

Do I still count?

Do we count?

I told myself that as soon as my daughter Eva’s birthday celebration was complete, and my son Vincent’s VIP week at school concluded, and baby Valerie recovered from the croup, I would start rolling out posts more quickly.

In a commercial fishing family, however, things rarely go according to plan.

The week of birthday, VIP, and even the croup will pass. But you know what? Other “things” will always come up.

We’ll say hello to the holiday season and goodbye to Dad for the crab season. Art, Jazzercise, choir, homework, writing, doctor appointments, PTA, and likewise will all come a’calling. And like you, my fellow commercial fishing wives and girlfriends, I’ll be tackling these things from shore, often alone.

That’s how I roll and exactly what I write about: Life, one fishing season at a time.

We may not be at sea, and we may not be fishing, but we still count.

Believe it.


Thankful for Awesome Commercial Fishing Kids and a Great Crew!

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’ll say that I’m very thankful for G and the crew, who work hard in scary ocean weather all over Washington and Alaska throughout the year to provide for their families.  I’m especially thankful to have had the same group of guys around the past five to twelve years. We get to hang out each pre-and-post season, celebrate marriages and the addition of children (there’s about a dozen kids among us all), sympathize during hard times, and continue strengthening bonds year after year. It’s not that common to have the same crew season after season, and we are fortunate.

I’m also thankful for my fishing kids, who never  complain or feel sorry for themselves that they have a father who must go to sea and be away from home. On the contrary, they are proud of their dad. They understand who he is, what he does, and they have pride in their family and heritage. They also love Brett, Bryan, and Johnny, and visiting the harbor to see the operation at work.

As a matter of fact, I am proud of all the little fishing kids I know in my community. These little ones range in age from ten months to seven years old and beyond, and they could not be a sweeter, more caring, smarter bunch of children. They come from  responsible and hardworking families, and their resilient spirits are a credit to their parents.

Vincent’s best friend in kindergarten is actually a little fellow whose father is also a fisherman. When I told Vincent that H’s father was also a crab captain, Vincent could not have been more thrilled.

“So we have the SAME DAD?!” he asked, beaming from ear to ear.

Uh, not exactly…lol!

A funny thing happened yesterday for which I’m also thankful; G sold his flatbed truck. He’s used that faithful Ford for years to tow thousands of pounds of Dungeness crab to various fresh markets, as well as stack it sky-high with crab pots and tow forklifts and everything else.

G recently bought a new truck for the same purpose, but hadn’t yet listed the original flatbed. It was on his “to do list” along with a million other things.

However, out of nowhere yesterday, a random man at an electric shop the same time as G leaned his head out of his own truck window asked if G was interested in selling his flatbed. Interested? Heck yeah! Two hours later, the truck had a happy new owner. No listing, fielding phone calls, or detailing necessary. Sweet!

Now, getting back to Dungeness crab gear work in the pre-season…

After buoy painting, George and the crew move into splicing lines and rigging crab pots.

For readers unfamiliar with the term “splicing,” it involves taking apart the end of a line (rope) and weaving the strands of the end back into itself to create an “eye.”

The guys go over and through each of the 500 crab pots, checking for holes, making repairs, putting on the new zincs, and getting them ready to load on the boat.

Here are a handful of pictures of George and the crew (Bryan, Brett, and John) overhauling pots five years ago:




And here are the same fellas just yesterday (along with Eva and Valerie. Vincent was still at school).

Happy Thanksgiving, all! Time to take it down a notch, relax, and enjoy a day with the fam. :)

Fall Means Transition Time for the Commercial Fishing Family

It’s definitely that time of year again…fall. I see the wind blowing leaves all over the neighborhood and I stand in the window, watching white caps roar across the bay. The rain pours, the kids are in school, and George is long gone down to the harbor and the boat in preparation for the Dungeness crab season.

When the fisherman returns to work, whether he’s at sea or just down at the harbor, it’s a somewhat annoying transition for us here at home. Commercial fishing wives everywhere know what I’m talking about! Our husbands are technically “home,” but not home. They’re home, but distracted. They’re home, but not available.

In the last couple of weeks, G and I have had a succession of conversations like this:

Me: “Oh! I see you’re going to work this morning. Can you run the big kids to school on your way so I can stay here with the baby?”

G: “I can take one, but not two. I’m driving the flatbed.”

Me: “I’m getting a ‘low tire pressure’ message in my car. Can you meet me at the tire place so I can get it fixed without sitting there with the baby for three hours?”

G: “Um, I can’t today. Or tomorrow. Maybe Thursday. Oh, wait. I can’t then, either.”

Me: “Well, great. Then I guess my tire will just explode while I’m on the freeway.”

Me: “Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”

G: “Uh, at some point. I don’t know when.”

Yep. That time of year has definitely arrived. Summer, as phenomenal as it was, is a distant memory. Time to forge ahead through the next nine months of fishing so we can get to next summer. The best bet is to jump on board (so to speak) and accept that it’s that time of year again and adjust accordingly.

I sat down and made some notes this weekend on how I can maneuver this adjustment so that I don’t feel resentful and bummed out. Actually, I didn’t sit down. I walked around the house holding my iPhone and baby Valerie while I talked to Siri, my faithful assistant, who took dictation. Here’s what we came up with:

1.  Get up thirty minutes before everyone else in the house. This way, I can sit in peace and quiet for a few moments and mentally gear up for the day ahead before the questions, demands, and obligations of a busy family set in.

2.  Create a schedule that works. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know this is a big one for me. Last year, the schedule I created for the children and me was not a success. I was determined to do better this year. So far, it has worked very well. I have, however, run into one glitch surrounding the day and time of Eva’s dance class. After two weeks, I knew it was not going to work for me or our family of young children throughout the stormy fall and winter ahead. So, I had to make the tough choice and switch dance studios. The good news is that Eva still gets to attend dance, and we’ll all be home for dinner at a normal time.

3.  Plan dinners, however loosely. G is the better cook at our house, so when he’s home, he enjoys preparing most of our dinners. Now that he is not available to do that, it’s my task. I hauled out my cookbooks, Pampered Chef stoneware, crockpot, and visited the store to buy the kinds of things I know how to make. So far, so good. I don’t plan an official menu for the week, but I do have some idea of what we’ll be having. I’ve even cooked the dinner ahead of time on some days when I had a moment, and warmed it up at dinnertime.

4.  Cozi. I am still in love with the Cozi app. It saw us through an entire summer of doctor appointments and trip schedules, and I am using it now to enter in the kids’ activities and my own appointments. I enter our appointments in the Cozi calendar wherever I am, and G and I can both easily reference what’s going on each day. He can double-check the day and time choir, dance, speech therapy, etc. are on, and there are no “I didn’t know that was today!” surprises.

5.  Don’t count on help from spouse. I can’t rely on G or assume he will be around to help out with meals, pick-ups, drop-offs, or anything else. He’s back to work, and it saves me a lot of frustration if I accept that. I must outsource other help if I need it, or simply do it myself. I’m lucky that George is so helpful when he’s home; but when he’s not, I have to quickly transition.

6.  Keep the house warm and smelling good. This creates a feeling of coziness and relaxation. I’ve put Scentsy burners in every room of the house. I don’t turn them all on at once, but they are there in case I want them. If I’m working in the living room, I turn that one on. If I’m folding laundry in the bedroom, I turn on that one. Watching TV in the family room? I plug in that one. I read recently that if you are prone to anxiety, the scent of Jasmine will work like a valium in promoting calm. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m going to.

7.  Plan time wisely. I have about ninety minutes of “free time” three days a week, when Valerie is napping and I’m not running kids around. I have to decide what to do in that time. Learn new Jazzercise routines to teach? Write a blog post? Flop on the couch? Return e-mails? Once I decide, I need to stick with the decision and not spend the ninety minutes flipping from one task to the next and accomplishing nothing.

8.  Most past failures. If I’ve hit a roadblock, a glitch, forgotten something, or otherwise, I just forget it and move quickly forward. Hey, we’re not new at this, and we’ve got a long nine months ahead to try again and do better. Plenty of time!




Fishermen Always Miss Out

Robin Blue, of the blog The Fishing Blues, has done an incredible job in her latest post capturing the schedule–or lack there of–of a commercial fisherman and a commercial fishing family. It’s an honest and beautifully written post, true to Robin’s form. What’s normal in a “regular” family is not the norm in a commercial fishing family, and her description of the missed birthdays, weddings, first days of school, anniversaries, Mother’s Days and close calls at Christmas is right on the money. Beautifully done, Robin!

Goodbye, Sweet Summer. You Were One Of The Best.

It pains me to no end, but I spent this weekend packing away our summer tank tops and shorts, replacing them in our dresser drawers with pants and long-sleeved shirts. What hurt the most, though, and I mean really hurt, was deflating all of our water wings, inflatable tubes, and baby floats we used at the pool the past four months and packing them into a box that I took downstairs to the garage.

20120916-145558.jpgSeriously. It was awful! We had the best summer ever together as an actual family. We couldn’t get to the pool soon enough most days, and it seemed once there that we could not stay long enough. Several guests spent time with us basking in the sun and water, too, which made it even better. My parents, sister, niece, a handful of friends and their children…we even rented out the place for Vincent’s fifth birthday party!

I wasn’t sure if we’d get to the pool again after we returned from Florida, but we did get in a couple more visits. This past Friday was our final afternoon; we even took the last hanging flower basket home with us that pool management was giving away. 

I can’t even talk about how the box that George shipped home from Florida with our beach towels and souvenirs inside arrived last week…when I opened it up, there was sand from the beach scattered within, and I inhaled the beautiful scent of beach, sand, and suntan lotion. The last scent of an incredible summer.

Of course, I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating. A little over–the–top. Dramatic. I am those things, honestly. But I am serious this time. George is not around very often due to his fishing schedule and the never–ending work of boats, engines, gear, permits, taxes, regulations, and planning. When G is home, he often is not actually “home.”

But—for the first time in about a decade, he was really “home” this summer. I treasured and savored each moment of the sunshine, George, the children, my parents, my friends, and all that was good. And there was lots of good. I got to watch G forge a relationship with his infant daughter, whose first five months of life he missed. I love watching the way Valerie smiles at George now when she sees him, rather than crying and looking frantically around for me.

No, we didn’t adopt two new puppies. We’re just holding them.

Today I am vacuuming the house, filling out PTA paperwork, and getting ready for Vincent’s surgery tomorrow. I’m doing what I always do when I have a “patient,” which is pull out what the kids call the “bed couch” (hideaway bed) and fixing it up with fresh sheets, blankets, sleeping bags, and lots of pillows.

Vincent goes in tomorrow to have some work done on the matter of his eustachian tube dysfunction, and he’ll have two weeks of recovery ahead. They have warned us repeatedly that the first week will be painful for his ears, nose, and throat. Lots of milkshakes, popsicles, smoothies, and jello to come for my sweet buddy! Movies and reading books, too.

We hope that this surgery goes far in fixing a lot of damage that has accumulated over the past five years. We set all of this up earlier in the summer and then set it aside until fall, choosing to focus on enjoying the blessings of sunshine and family that were at hand.

Now, even though I’m dragging my heels in saying goodbye to sunshine and the luxury and rarity of having G and his attention around, I know that now is Vincent’s time. We’ve been waiting for this a long time.

Wish us luck tomorrow and please keep Vincent in your thoughts and prayers!


What does this picture have to do with this particular post? Nothing. But it gave me a smile, and I thought it might give you one, too.