Archive for Commercial Fishing Mom – Page 4

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

Another Night of Nightmares and Restless Sleep

Do any of you ever have boat nightmares? I can’t be the only one. I have boat nightmares about five times a year.  (You can read about a creepy boat nightmare I had a couple of years ago here.) Usually, my nightmares involve our boat rolling over. In this dream, I’m always watching from a distance as the boat leans port and then starboard in a regular manner until she begins to lean too far to port.

“Noooo….” I think in my dream. It never matters; the boat always leans too far until it rolls completely over.

It’s a ridiculous dream, because we have a very solid boat and G is safety-conscious. Our boat has never come close to rolling over. As disturbing as this boat-rolling-over nightmare is, it’s recurring and I’m pretty used to it.

Every once in a while, though, I have a boat nightmare that’s unique and disturbing. I had one of those last night.

In the dream, I was standing on a street. In fact, the street upon which this dream took place is a street that has meaning for me. Anyway, I watched our boat float on down the street. No lines, no captain, no crew, no nothing. Just our big green steel boat, untethered, moving along. My two sisters were with me.

“Look at our boat!” I said. “Someone untied the lines! What will Dad say?”

My sisters and I contacted Dad. “Get on the boat and put it in gear,” he said.

So, in the dream, my sisters and I followed the boat down the street of water. We could hardly move (in dreams, you can always barely move) and a few times, we almost caught up to it.

Then, before our eyes, the boat listed to port and rolled all the way over. It stayed on its side in the water for a while before it righted itself and continued on down the same street. My sisters and I almost caught up to it several more times, but it kept floating beyond our reach. Finally, we got close enough that one of us could jump on board.

We had it! We could rescue our boat, put it in gear, return it to the dock, and tie it back up.

But of course, in dreams, that’s never the way it ends. This dream was no exception. Just as we were going to jump for it, our boat reached a cliff. It was a gigantic waterfall. The boat glided just out of our reach right to the edge of the waterfall, went over the edge, and plummeted into the abyss.

“Valerie!” I said. “Valerie!”

I woke up and remembered Valerie was safe in the next room. So were Eva and Vincent. I assumed G and the boat were safe at sea.

Hmmm. Any dream interpreters out there?

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.

Where Are My Girls At? Thank You, Ladies!

I’ve put off the “Closet Organization Project” for five years.

In general, I’m pretty organized, due mostly in part to a “mild” case of OCD. My stomach clenches up and I have a little trouble breathing when I see “mess” in my house. Not your house, mind you: mine. Just mine.

About five years ago, G and I undertook a major house renovation that involved lifting our house up on a couple of 200-foot steel beams, digging into the earth, and creating an extra 1000 square feet in the form of a guest bedroom, kitchenette, office, and “man cave.”

At that time, I tossed things into bins and boxes and then into a closet we didn’t really need (except to throw miscellaneous crap into).

Five years and one additional child later (for a total of three children), we now need that closet. We’ve needed the space in that closet for the past year, but I haven’t had the time or energy to go through it.

Today, though, I’ve spent about three hours looking through the bins, drawers, and scrapbook caddies within that closet. I’ve found boxes of back-issues of Writer’s Digest magazine from the year 2000—on, and also copies of Journaling magazine (hey, who remembers that one?).

I’ve found ancient (2004) photo-editing programs, a Suze Orman will and testament program, empty and full scrapbooks, and even a stack of original magazines describing the events and aftermath of 9/11.

I love to collect quotes and pictures. While going through my scrapbook organizer today, I came across a few of each that touched me in some way. I set a couple of them aside before recycling and trashing the rest. There was one in particular that caught my attention and gave me pause. I read it and thought I might scan and email it to a few of my girlfriends in thanks for being the encouraging, smart, and loving women they are.

Then, I decided that I would scan and post it right here on my blog in thanks to all of you.

2012 ended up being a good year for me. After an emotionally and physically difficult pregnancy in 2011, I gave birth to baby Valerie Joy in January of 2012. Vincent finally had his hearing loss diagnosed and treated later in the spring. Our family got a summer membership to the neighborhood outdoor pool and spent every sunny day there in warmth and play.

For the first time in about ten years, G took the summer off from fishing and spent two months with us. We celebrated ten years of marriage, and I went to my 20th high school reunion.

Eva entered first grade, Vincent entered kindergarten, and Valerie turned out to be the sweetest baby ever.

Like all moms, I have many balls in the air and juggle a million different things all at once, all the time. I love my mom friends. I also love my writing friends. My Jazzercise friends. My commercial fishing wives and mom friends. My old friends. My new friends. My mother. My sisters. My daughters. My real life friends, and my online friends. Friends I was close to once but no more, and friends I’m close to now but didn’t know before.

When I found this quote, I had to share it with all my women friends who have helped out, shared their lives, and supported me with their offer of love and kindness, humor and understanding. Whether real or virtual, old or new, you have all been a friend to me in some capacity in 2012. I hope I have been the same to you!

Women's Friendships

At a Commercial Fishing Mother Crossroads

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for a while, or you have read my e-book (also available in paperback) then you know that about five years ago, I came to a crossroads. George was fishing a lot and not readily available to the kids or me. Eva (two at the time) was sick with staph and pneumonia, and I also had baby Vincent to care for. Our young dog, Toby, had been diagnosed with cancer.

Ugh. It was a lot, and I was starting to falter under the pressure. I had to make arrangements to ease my load and get some relief, and I did.

Everything went a lot better after that. Now, I’m at another crossroads. I feel again like I’m faltering under the pressure of being a seasonally single mother of three. I am vacuuming, mopping, attending events, returning phone calls and making appointments, reading e-mails, attending meetings, buying and wrapping Christmas presents, sending Christmas cards, hosting parties, opening mail, and making meals. 80% on my own.

George may be “here” but he’s not “here.” He’s at the harbor for ten or so hours each day, installing a huge and expensive new main engine on the boat, and this extra work has cut into his “home time” by three months. When you are married to a fisherman, he may be gone several months a year, but when he’s home, he’s usually “home”. Home to play with kids and help with shopping or even just watch TV. When your fisherman has been gone and then returns, yet he’s still not home, this causes a lot of strain.

I’m starting to get short of patience. I’m annoyed. When will we relax and enjoy the holiday? How lucky for the crew (whom I love and appreciate dearly), who always get to go home and have time off with their families while G still goes down to the boat each and every day to work. I can’t believe some of my girlfriends, who whine about how sick they are or how they couldn’t possibly get through a sick day on the couch without their husbands’ help.

Seriously? I was throwing up all day yesterday. I still had to get up and scrub toilets from sickness left over from my children. And I’m also nursing a baby and mopping floors and trying to organize Christmas alone.

If I sound annoyed, it’s because I am.

Just as I was five years ago, I’m at a crossroads.

In the New Year, I plan to reassess the areas I need extra help (regular housecleaning, for one) and create a new schedule that includes that help.

Mind you, I know how hard George is working. He’s not down at the boat sipping cocktails and laughing with his buddies. He’s crouched down, greasy and cramped, in an engine room. He’s sore and tired and equally as annoyed as me. I know he would rather be home with us than on the boat 24/7.

This is our life, and this is our reality. We live it and for the most part, we love it. The commercial fishing life has its rewards, to be sure.

But when the rewards seem fewer and further between, it’s time to reassess and adjust accordingly.

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.


Family, Friends, and Free Goldfish at Fish Expo 2012

Vincent looked around tonight at the dinner table. It seemed something (or someone) was missing.

“Where Dad is?” he asked.

“Westport,” I said. “Don’t worry. He’ll be home tomorrow.”

It’s 6:00 in the evening and G is at the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen Association’s annual meeting in Westport, Washington. The kids and I are at home; it didn’t work out for us to attend this year, although it is an event I do enjoy. Who doesn’t like dinner, drinks, and chances to win tons of of cool things any fishing family would appreciate, like pallets of free crab bait and hand-woven doormats made of crab line?

Meanwhile here at home, I’ve got baby Valerie asleep, all three children fed, and I’ve snuck away to my new Mac for about the next three minutes to write this blog post.

We had a great time at Pacific Marine Expo (Fish Expo) last week. I spoke at a fishing families keynote address along with Lori French and fellow fishing family blogger, Robin Blue. We each took a turn at the mic and distributed handouts, and then I spent the rest of the day walking up and down the convention aisles, running into tons of people I know and haven’t seen since last year’s Expo.

As always, I was blown away and overwhelmed—in a good way—by the event. I look forward to Fish Expo as much as I do to Thanksgiving. I often link the two events together, as they run side-by-side each year in November, and each event is filled with friends, family, love, fun, smiles, and genuine goodwill. All three of my children attended, as well as my dad (Grandpa Jack), George, and Brett.

Brett somehow secured Eva a “free” goldfish at Expo. She brought the “free” goldfish home in a rinsed out 7-Up bottle. Now, her “free” goldfish is enjoying a $120 starter aquarium with three additional fishy friends. Thanks, Brett!

I plan to have my Fish Expo handout from the fishing families forum available soon as a free download on this blog.


I love this picture. Lori French, of the Faces of California Fishing, is at the podium. Robin Blue, of The Fishing Blues, and I wait on deck.


David Hills, everyone’s favorite commercial fishing photographer, and me.


Grandpa, Jack Karuza, with our newest Fish Expo attendee, Valerie Joy.

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!