Archive for Commercial Fishing Mom – Page 2

I’ve Never Had Much Patience…Delayed Home Remodels Don’t Help.

Well, we came home from our Florida vacation and I saw immediately that we were still a LONG WAYS OUT on this kitchen/family room remodel. I  went directly to the kitchen calendar. Only, since we don’t have a kitchen, it’s now the bedroom calendar. I spotted a week in which nothing was going on for anyone in the family.

“Let’s leave again!” I suggested. Actually, “suggestion” is too kind. “Firmly decided” and “not taking no for an answer” is more like it.

I’d made up my mind. It was a great idea. We don’t have an oven, a dishwasher, family room, kitchen, or otherwise. The remodel, which should have taken just a little over one month to complete is still going on…and on…and on.

As has become my mantra for this summer: Get me out of here!

So, down the road we went to my parent’s beach house in Long Beach, Washington. I looked forward to spending a pleasant week in a sweet little house that actually had an oven, dishwasher, and rooms without piles of junk and chaos. I have been going to my family’s beach house for breaks and fun for over twenty years. I’ve traveled there with my own family,  with friends in college, and while on assignment for National Fisherman magazine.  G and I even spent part of our honeymoon there twelve years ago, crashed out on couches recovering from all things wedding.

I remember traveling to Long Beach for spring break in college one year. My girlfriends and I met up with other friends also there for the break. We were not planning a town-wide party, but for some reason, word got out in the small coastal town that a party was going on. We watched cars and trucks travel down the road to our house until I finally sent my cousin out to redirect traffic back the other way and assure everyone there was not, in fact, a party happening.

Anyway, I am so glad my parents still have the house. As always, it was awesome to visit the coast and fly kites, ride bikes, eat ice cream, and take a spin on the go carts. It was especially nice this year to stay in a little house with everything a house should have, including peace. Clean bedrooms. A kitchen. Dunes. The wide open expanse of beach and roar of the Pacific Ocean. We even celebrated Vincent’s 7th birthday while we were there.

We are back home again, and things are still not progressing very quickly. I’m annoyed and concerned. Honestly, though, my annoyance has mostly to do with our own choices.  We knew from the outset there was going to be a few weeks’ delay due to reasons beyond our control, and we didn’t spend enough time making a thoughtful decision about how that delay would impact the family.  The work that has been done so far is fantastic and all that we wanted. Even though we are still at least another month out, I need to stay calm and patient. I know it will be worth it in the end….

 

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Riding along the Lewis & Clark Discovery Trail in Long Beach, WA.

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Hey, we don’t need the fake baby for this doll bed. We have our own baby!

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Most likely our good old girl Mandy’s last trip to the beach.

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Happy 7th Birthday, my little buddy.

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Don’t worry, it’s root beer.

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Heading home along the trail.

Goodbye, Regular Life. Hello, Vacation!

I had to take a small break from vacation-packing to write a quick post.

We are heading off to Florida tomorrow. Technically, we’ll be in Seattle tomorrow and arrive in Florida on Tuesday.

G and I traveled with baby Eva to Florida, Nashville, and Arkansas when Eva was ten months old. We traveled on the plane again when Eva was four and Vincent three. We have since been back to Arkansas and Florida with Eva and Vincent…and also baby Valerie.

Today, as I helped my eight-year-old Eva, my (almost) seven-year-old Vincent, and two-year-old Valerie pack their bags, my mind started to drift.

While packing Valerie’s diapers, diaper cream, little swimmers, and disposable changing pads, I felt in a different world. Haven’t I been here before? At almost 47 and 40, shouldn’t G and I be past this particular stage by now?

So many of my friends have tweens. Teens. Their kids are middle-and-high school athletes. Graduating from eighth grade. Soccer champs. Dance stars. While I know many my age who have children in elementary school, most of my friends are certainly not still packing diapers, diaper powder, and wondering how to keep a two-year-old engaged for six hours on a plane.

I’m so grateful, though. I don’t want my little ones to grow up too fast. I waited so long for them to arrive.  I recently discovered a note from my little Vincent yesterday. It read “I love Jen. From Vincent. Free Meal.”  The “J” was backwards, and the note included a happy face. It made me smile and filled my heart with gratitude. That’s all I ever wanted; children, sweet notes, and unconditional love. How lucky I feel to have it still.

My children keep me young. They keep me busy, and keep me with purpose.

I cannot wait to leave town tomorrow. I’m excited to leave my state and my entire side of the country.  Bags are packed, airplane activities for three children are sorted, and I am ready.

Diapers, diaper cream, sippy cups, and all. :)

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Goodbye, Dear Larrabee Elementary. For Real This Time.

I’ve spent much of my (largely non-existent) thinking and quiet time the past year deciding how I would write my final post regarding our dear Larrabee Elementary and the closing of a small, historic school. I know that many of my Facebook friends have likely grown tired of my Larrabee posts on the subject. However, each of my posts was well-thought out and crafted before I clicked “post.” I thought each snippet and picture was important to help capture the closing process, and I wanted to honor in some small way our school, children, and families.

I love history, community, friends, and moments. The last two years, from the initial motion to close our school, to the school board vote to close it, to our last year spent celebrating and honoring our Larrabee families past and present, have been an experience most of us never wanted to experience, but one in which we have learned and gained so much.

There were several families, who upon hearing the final vote to close Larrabee, pulled their children from the school. I don’t blame them. I half-considered it myself as I weighed my options. I could integrate my children into their new schools more quickly, avoid what one parent called “the slow death” of our school, and basically just cut ties and move on. My son entered kindergarten this year; should I have him spend one year at a school doomed for closure, or put him in the school in which he’d finish his elementary years?

The principals from the two schools our children will now attend, as well as our own Larrabee principal, have been supportive and kind during this transition for our children and families. I remain surprised and unimpressed by some personal friends and parents from other Bellingham schools who could not have cared less about our children or the transition and offered no support or care at all. I hope when and if your school closes or you ever need help, you will meet with a different and more caring response.

Anyway, along with many other families, I decided to stay put for Larrabee’s final year. My daughter is delightfully happy at Larrabee. My son would have a great year. I was committed to helping give Larrabee Elementary the closing year it deserved after serving as a public elementary school for 124 years. I have to say that I am proud, pleased, and have a peaceful heart about what we ALL did this past year to make that happen.

Throughout this entire process, I grew closer to many folks at Larrabee than I would have otherwise. We grew to appreciate and respect each other while engaging in the challenge to save Larrabee, discussing the bond and school board issues, attending community and school board meetings, and finally, to the acceptance that we had lost on all fronts. We grieved, we hurt, we felt angry. Finally,  the only thing left to do was pick up the pieces and move on in the most positive manner possible for our children and families.

And so it ends. I am proud of what we did. We held the jog-a-thon fundraiser even while people wondered why we would waste our time for a school to close. We held our movie nights in our little gym, where the kids wore pajamas and the parents popped the popcorn. We continued our after-school enrichment activities (the most active in the city). We held our evenings of hip hop, choir, drama, and strings performances. Children painted salmon that now hang along the Larrabee fence; a permanent mark of their time at our school and a symbol of their migration to the next.

I sat at the bottom of the stairs near the gazebo with my toddler most every afternoon this year, waiting for my two “big kids” to emerge from the doors and descend the Larrabee steps. I gathered my kindergartener and second-grader to my side for after-school hugs before releasing them to run and play on the school grounds. I talked with some parents, annoyed others, and laughed with many. All the while savoring each moment, for I knew it was all about to end and it was going to be a very quick year. It was.

We participated in the parade, featuring bright yellow-and-black  banners.  Hundreds of Larrabee Bees and their families dressed in Larrabee spirit wear and cheered. We held a “Then-And-Now-Night” that honored the old-timers and the rich history of Larrabee. The PTA spent our last Larrabee funds on bouncy houses, pizza, music, and ice cream for the Larrabee community for the end-of school block party, which everyone enjoyed and earned a front-page article and great video in our local newspaper.

So, this is it. My final Larrabee post. It’s sadly, officially, time to move on. Some friends will travel together to our new schools and some will not. We will always see each other in our side of town, at activities, at the grocery store.

The closure of our school is not what most of us wanted, but it is what it is. Am I sad? Yes. Angry? Yes. It’s a sad day for small neighborhood schools everywhere. Although I don’t always succeed, I remind and encourage myself regularly to not give in to my feelings of anger and sadness.

I try to look at it as a great lesson for the little ones and a reminder for the parents; things don’t always happen the way you’d like. Regardless, you must pick up the pieces, put on a smile, learn something, and move forward.

And that’s what we are all doing.

Love you, our little brick Larrabee Elementary on the hill, and all of your staff, children, and families! Thank you for 124 years, and for one final lesson in how say goodbye with grace and dignity.

 

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I’m Happy, But Not a Happy Camper

“Jen” and “camping” are not two things that mix very well. I do enjoy being outdoors, when the weather is decent. I  always love hanging out and socializing in and out of town, day and night. I love watching my kids run and play, free and wild and safe. I don’t even mind sleeping in a tent for one night.

But I  don’t enjoy camping in general. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s not having a private bathroom immediately at my disposal in which to brush my teeth or wash my face. I have tried to figure out these last two years just what it is I don’t like about camping, while so many others enjoy it.

I’m not a wimp; I commercial fished in Alaska for years and paid for my college education that way.  Actually, commercial fishing was perfect for me! I could be in the rugged nature of Alaska, explore remote islands, bounce and roll with the ocean, and embrace the solitude and peace.

But on the boat, I could also shower. Alone. Brush my teeth. Shave. I had the best of both worlds; I was in the midst of nature most people don’t experience, but also with a few regular comforts.

There are a group of families from Larrabee Elementary that gather to camp a few times a year. While George, a fishing captain and Eagle Scout, eagerly gathers our two oldest children and gear for the adventures, I have never gone. I’ve always had my baby, Valerie. I’ve also always had my reservations about camping.

This last Memorial Day weekend camping trip with all the families to Lake Wenatchee outside of Leavenworth, Washington, though, had me curious. What will they do? Where will they go? What will I miss if I don’t go?

I made reservations at a cabin nearby. I wasn’t going to camp, but Val and I would be close. We could come hang with the gang during the day and early evening, and then retire to our cabin a few miles up the road, to our bed and shower….or so I thought. As it turned out, the cabin did not work out. After several unexplainable hints, I realized that something beyond me was telling me to leave the cabin, and to leave now. So I did.

It was not just the remoteness of the cabin that had me rattled, but an additional feeling telling me to go. So, even though I’d already paid nearly $300 for the lodging and received the key, I buckled Valerie back up in her car seat and headed to the camp site where George and the whole group were set up. I felt confused, sad, and out of my element. And tired, after a three-hour drive.

George took one look at me and said to forget the cabin.

“Why don’t you try and call the lodge we stayed at last winter?” he suggested.

“I doubt they have any rooms left,” I replied. I called the Beaver Valley Lodge, anyway. I liked the lodge, and it was nearby the campground. When we joined several families for a winter trip in Leavenworth/Plain last winter, we stayed there. I felt safe and cozy there.

As it turned out, someone had JUST cancelled their single room at the lode just before I called, so Valerie and I were able to get in. And, for a price much less than the cabin.

One of my friends (who was camping) drove with me back to my original cabin to get my things out of it and return the key. I had to pay the cost of the cabin in full before receiving the key, so she was also going to try and help me get some of my money back for not staying there after all. Unfortunately, it did not work out and I was out $300.

I high-tailed it to the Beaver Valley Lodge. I’d felt rattled, shaken, tired, and generally off most of the day. By the time I arrived at the Beaver Valley Lodge, I felt calm. Happy. Relieved. I don’t think it was a coincidence that a room perfect for Valerie and me happened to open up just when I needed it. And our front desk helper was fantastic. She was kind, helpful, and even walked us to our room.

I knew then the camping trip was going to work out after all. I fell asleep peacefully each night and woke up to a view of pastures, barns, farm houses, and mountains. Val and I visited the Lake Wenatchee camp site and all the friends, and then returned to our room. When my Eva got sick one night and threw up in the tent shared by her father and brother, she came and stayed with me at the lodge.

I read a book, blew bubbles with Val on the lodge porch, visited the General Store and Hardware Store for food and treats, and also used the laundromat. I did not get to enjoy the camping trip the same way as all the others, but I certainly enjoyed the weekend. I got to watch my two girls nap side-by-side. I visited the campsite, enjoyed visitors at the lodge, read, rest, and slept.

While I didn’t officially camp, and still don’t have a full understanding of what exactly these Larrabee family camping trips entail, I left the weekend feeling happy, satisfied, and grateful for the weekend I did have.

Please enjoy some pictures from the Beaver Valley Lodge and Lake Wenatchee. Thank you Norene and Leanne for allowing me to borrow some of these images!

 

 

“Do Not Tell The Boys”: Archiving Another Year of a Family.

I first started keeping a journal when I was seven years old and in second grade. It was a yellow Care Bears journal, complete with lock and key. I don’t think the lock worked too well, because the last time I looked through its pages, I’m pretty sure I saw what could be identified as my oldest sister’s teasing writing within. Regardless, it is the first journal I kept.

I kept journals all through high school and each summer commercial fishing in Alaska. Working as the leads-and-web-gal on our crew in Southeast Alaska, I’d write page after page on our way out to sea, on our way to  the next opening. The crew would even tease me as I sat hunched over the galley table, writing furiously.

“Dear Diary…” they’d say as they walked by.

No matter. I wrote and wrote about the last fishing opening, pounds caught, money made. I’d describe in detail about our days and nights in Ketchikan. The pizza dinners, bowling nights, and nights sneaking into the bars to play pool and shoot darts before the wise waitress kicked us out for being 17 20 years old, not 21.

George and I are getting ready for the last major remodel of our home. This has required that I address stacks of photographs and miscellaneous items I’ve put off dealing with. Today, I skipped the gym. After I dropped Eva and Vincent off at school, Val and I came home and got right on it.

New photo album empty and ready to receive, I looked at and sorted pictures of George and me in Dutch Harbor. George and I hosting parties in our Ballard beach front apartment. Later, in our Ballard house. I found pictures of our now deceased pup, Toby. My car pre-children, an Infiniti sedan. Our nine-month long basement project of seven years ago, which involved digging into the earth, under the house, to create a man cave and an additional one-thousand square feet of living space.

I don’t write in a traditional journal these days, but I am still the family archivist. This blog, my scrapbooks, and photo books all help capture our family history.

In years past, I would use embellishments, dye cuts, and fancy stickers to decorate my scrapbooks and albums. These days, as a mother of three young children, I’ve found that their own creations serve as both decoration and content.

What I especially love are the notes my children leave around the house. I smiled more than once this morning as I glued their special notes in the book. Here are a few:

“Hi Dad. Come bak. I love you. From Vincent.”

“Happy Jen. Are you Jen? Mom Day.” (Vincent)

“Happy Mom Day. From Big V.”

“I love you so mush!” (Eva)

“Pleas don’t take my tooth. Thank you! Tooth Fairy!” (Eva)

“Jen Rocks.” (Vincent)

“I love Mom. XOXOXOXO.” (Vincent)

“Please don’t take my tooth. Thank you.” (Again, Eva)

“To Eva, From Vincent. I howp you well be fiyn at the E.R. It is going to be betre soon.”

“I love Mom. Love Vince.”

Last but DEFINITELY not least, from a little girl in Eva’s class:

“Dear Eva, come to my party in the Girl’s bathroom. DO NOT tell the boys. It will be after lunch.”

I may not be able to sit hunched over a galley table or comfortably reclined on a couch in my living room to write page after page in journals these days, but try as I might, I will capture these blessed days of children and family.

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Great Wolf Lodge and Smooth 70’s iTunes Radio

Each week, I begin doing laundry on Sunday mornings. By Monday afternoon, I’ve finished washing and drying laundry for four (not including George). I toss all of the fresh and clean laundry into baskets in the hallway. I like to walk by and observe the baskets of clean clothes until Wednesday morning, when I fold and pile it all on my bed. At bedtime on Wednesday night, I move the piles neatly to the floor. I admire my floor piles for a couple of days until Friday, when at last, I finally put all the folded laundry away in various dressers and drawers throughout the house.

That’s basically my laundry routine. Yes, I stretch it out. There’s just so much! Eva’s outfits are many and layered.  Vincent insists on wearing a new pair of pajamas each night. I have two set of clothes each day; workout and regular. And let’s not even mention two-year-old Bunny and what she goes through each week!

This week, though, I’m hustling more than usual. I’m trying to get the laundry done, folded, and put away by tomorrow morning because come tomorrow, we are leaving town! I’m so excited. We are making our annual trek to the Great Wolf Lodge. We go every year about this time. The holidays are long over, spring has yet to arrive, and it’s just time to get out of town. G takes a break from the crab season and we go. Some years I have met him at the Lodge and some years he travels with the kids and me.

I got a text message from G last night telling me he’d be home to travel with us this year, which takes some pressure off of me as far as preparations go. I just love going to the Great Wolf Lodge. I am not one to go on the slides or have the giant bucket of water dump on my head (for one thing, I have Valerie to care for, and for another, I have a shoulder that dislocates. Also, I don’t like buckets of water dumped on my head). Still, I love going. We park the car in the lot and never look at it again for three or four days. Meals are taken care of. Housekeeping is taken care of. Kids’ entertainment is taken care of.

We walk around the grounds in sweats and flip flops, adult sippy cups in hand, watching the kids have a great time and having a great time ourselves. Some of my extended family is coming this year, too, as they’ve done in years past. I can’t wait to get there!

After I got home from the gym this morning, I began folding this week’s laundry. As I fold, I like to listen to the Smooth 70s station on iTunes Radio. Don’t laugh! It’s calming. A little James Taylor, Don McLean, and Van Morrison can do a girl some good. Anyway, as I was folding laundry today, G was home and nearby. When the song “Brandy” by Looking Glass (1972) began to play, I sang along. “Brandy” has long been a favorite of mine.

“I love this song,” I said.

“I always have, too,” G replied, surprising me.

All of these years, and I didn’t know we both liked the same song.

See you in a few! Great Wolf, here we come.

Brandy

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day.
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes.

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down.
They say “Brandy, fetch another round,”
She serves them whiskey and wine.

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl; 
What a good wife you would be.
Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.”

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loves.

He came on a summer’s day,
Bringin’ gifts from far away.
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay;
No harbor was his home.

The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl;
What a good wife you would be.
But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea.”

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor stories.
She could feel the ocean foam and rise;
She saw its rage and glory.

But he had always told the truth; Lord, he was an honest man.
And Brandy does her best to understand.

At night when the bars close down,
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around.
She still can hear him say:

She hears him say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl;
What a good wife you would be.
But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea.”

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl;

What a good wife you would be.

But my life, my lover, my lady, is the sea.”

More Than Just a Pink Suede Coat

I have been dealing with sleep disturbances for quite some time now. I can pretty much count on waking up from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m. every early morning. I’ll start thinking about my children, my marriage, our school, whatever transpired the day before, and what is coming up, for good or not-so-good.

The other night, though, I suddenly burst awake, startled by something different. My coat! My pink, suede, leather coat with lamb’s wool. Where on earth did that coat go?

Ugh! I totally forgot to clean it up from the dry cleaners…four years ago! I remember the day I dropped it off. It was not at my regular dry cleaners, but it was close to where my then-four-year-old Eva took ballet. While Eva was at ballet, I walked with three-year-old Vincent down a block and dropped off my coat at the cleaners.

I have been known to leave things behind, but I usually figure out what’s missing within a week or two. But four years?

I called the dry cleaners this afternoon. I began with “This is the craziest phone call you’ll likely receive today, but…” and went on to explain.

“Hold on,” the woman said. I heard voices in the background. I didn’t hold my breath; for one thing, it had been four years. For another, the coat is not one I would wear around town today, and it wouldn’t even fit if I wanted to wear it. I guessed it really didn’t matter whether they still had it or not.

“Yes!” she said. “We have it!”

“Are you serious?” I said. “No way.”

“Yes,” she replied. “I won’t charge you. There is some sun damage to one of the sleeves from being in the window so long.”

“Oh,” I said. “No, of course I will pay you. That is not your fault. I left the coat there for four years. I will come and get it!”

I smiled in disbelief as I hung up the phone. You know what? It’s true that the coat will not fit me now. And it’s true I would likely not wear it around ever again.

I began to reflect. When I was 28 and desperate for a baby, this is the coat I wore when I traveled from Ballard to Renton to take line dancing lessons with my sister at a wonderful big old barn. Having just had surgery and diagnosed infertile, after years of trying to become pregnant, this is the coat I wore when I cried each week alone along that drive from Ballard to Renton.

I wore this coat and my gold-tipped cowgirl boots along the drive to the line dancing lessons each week, tearful, regretful, mourning the children I would never have, blaming myself, and hopeless about my future as a would-be mother.

I mourned that whole winter following surgery and my diagnosis. The one thing that made me feel better was meeting my sister and line dancing. I remember smiling and laughing together as we learned dances to Suds in the Bucket by Sara Evans and Christmas Cookies by George Strait. After class, I would get in my car and drive alone home to Ballard, where I would resume blaming and regretting and mourning.

Thank God  for doctors who can at times work past infertility with hope and a prayer. Thank God for my first miracle baby, Eva, who arrived the following year. And my second miracle, Vincent. And years and years later, little Valerie.

My pink suede coat does not fit any longer. I wouldn’t wear it even if it did. But it is there waiting for me to pick up, and I am going to go get it.

Always Looking And Learning Along The Journey

I like to stay alert to what is going on in the world directly around me, remaining on the lookout for messages I need to pay special attention to and heeding lessons I’m meant to learn.

I wrote a lot last year about all of the (mostly unpleasant) changes that kept being thrown my way. I won’t rehash them all again, because at this point I am just grateful that things are starting to calm down and 2014 is getting off to a much smoother start. Yes, I’ve faced difficulty and discouragement before, but never in such a relentless manner. Needless to say, I learned a lot of lessons I won’t soon forget.

On Facebook recently, two messages came through my feed that struck a chord with me. They weren’t directed at me specifically, but I took special note.

The first was from my friend, Katie, who posted a picture of a beach at sunset with the caption “Relax. Nothing is under control.”

The second was from my friend, Molly, who wrote “An amazing part of having faith in the Divine is the reassurance and peace that comes from knowing that everything will work out for good.”

As I move into this New Year, I am also forming my writing plan. Each year, I set publication goals,  jot down essay ideas, and see what I can realistically accomplish as a busy seasonally-single stay-at-home-mother of three young children. I had a telephone conference with my writing mentor, Christina Katz, who has been indispensable to me these last many years as I have transitioned my writing career from that of a gal with nothing but time to travel and write, to that of a wife and mother.

We discussed many things over the hour, and I took five pages of notes. Christina helped me see that some of my goals were simply not realistic and would take me in too many new directions, which would only create more chaos. She showed me where I could simplify and streamline. We also talked about steering clear of toxic people and negative situations that would also pull me in directions away from what I want for my family, my writing, and me. Here is some of what she said:

“Draw a circle around your family and let the rest go. You are the orchestrator of your life and you decide where your energy goes. Don’t be thrown off track or taken out of your process. Don’t fall into all of the potholes you come across; run around them, jump over them, do any and everything to avoid them. Don’t let the world toss you around like a ship at sea.”

Thank you so much, Christina!

Yesterday, I got to read at our local bookstore from the most recent anthology in which I have an essay. The anthology is called “Journeys.” Although my essay was  about an event from over a decade ago, in which I suddenly changed course and decided to go down a different road from the one I was on, I think the title “Journeys” is relevant to each year of our lives.

George is at sea, so he was unable to attend the reading. My parents came and I also brought my two oldest children with me. In fact, my eight-year-old, Eva, stood right next to me as I read into the microphone. I held her close as I read, hoping she would always remember her mommy this way.

Not her mommy who is so often torn in many different directions, but her mommy who likes to write stories. Her mommy who likes to read books. Who especially likes to read from her own stories in books, with family and good friends in the audience and her firstborn girl by her side.

 

Bon Voyage, G and Happy Birthday, Valerie!

These weeks are flying by. Even my 8-year old, Eva, said as much last night. I don’t know where the time is going but I wish it would slow down for a minute!

George and the crew steamed out of the harbor a week ago, Westport-bound for the January 12, 2014 dungeness crab pot “Dump Day.” G had a couple of days to spare after arriving in Westport, so he drove home for one day to attend an important meeting regarding boundaries for the schools our children will attend following the closure of our own dear school. I was glad G came home for that. He even went and blew up a map of the proposed boundaries, put it on poster board, and glued a printout on the back that explained why we were (are) contesting the proposed boundaries.

But he went away the next day, and it has been just the children and me since then. Back to business as usual! Of course we miss G very much and think about him all the time, but this is what we are used to!  I am accustomed to being on my own.

George is out in the Pacific Ocean dumping 500 crab pots, picking them back up, running back to town, running back out to sea, and trying to catch a couple of hours of sleep in between. In fact, I just heard from George and he said to not expect to hear from him for a week or more, as he will be well out of cell service. G and I are sort of old school; we don’t Skype, Facetime, or even simply call much when he’s at sea. He is busy working on the boat, and I am busy working at home. He always calls when it is a good time for him, though, and I always answer. This is the best system for us and the one we’ve used  the past fourteen years!

Our youngest daughter, Valerie (aka Bunny), turns 2 on Sunday. I am celebrating her birthday this evening with my  family and some cake. I just love this little doll, Valerie Joy. We all do! She was such a surprise, such a wonderful blessing.  We laugh at the way she runs down the hallway and adore the way she is starting to talk and give kisses. Even after two years, we still can’t believe we have somebody as young as Bunny in the house! We love dressing her up and giving her baths, and picking her up for hugs and kisses out of her crib every morning. Little Valerie is just too precious, as are her brother and sister. I don’t know what I would do without any of them.

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G and the Dungeness crab crew, 2014.

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Happy 2nd Birthday, Bunny!

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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!

 

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