Archive for Commercial Fishing Wives

G is Off to Alaska. Also, Care Package Ideas for Commercial Fishermen!

George is getting ready to take off to Alaska tomorrow. He has spent over twenty years in Alaska during the halibut and blackcod longline season, catching quota. For the last thirteen years, he’s spent it on our family boat catching our own quota. We recently reduced the size of our quota, however, so instead of spending a few months in Alaska this time, he will likely be gone just a few weeks.

You all know how much I enjoy receiving comments through this site. Most recently, I received an e-mail from a darling gal named Melody. Here is part of what she wrote:

I actually came across your site while on a Google hunt – I am new to being a girlfriend of a commercial fisherman. I would very much like to send him a care package but quickly realized that I have no idea of the wants/needs of a fisherman at sea!
If you could provide me a brief list or ANY ideas, it would be MUCH appreciated!
Thank you in advance :)  

I was so impressed with Melody; not only was she NOT complaining about dating a fisherman who would soon be leaving, she wanted to send him off with something special! I used to do the same when G and I were first dating. So, I immediately went into my blog archives to find the list of commercial fishermen-gifts a few of us compiled years ago.

Here is the revised list:

Care Package and Gift Ideas For Your Commercial Fisherman

  • A package of his favorite treats to take on the boat. Candy, cookies, peanuts, crackers, chips, etc.
  • A special “boat cup” (Not glass, boat-safe, can be bought at fisheries supplies or sporting goods stores).
  • New set of boat dishes; the kind you buy at marine supply stores made of hard plastic with non-skid rubber on the bottoms.
  • New galley towels. They get dirty and ruined so fast, it’s nice to have something fresh and clean!
  • A small photo of yourself, the children, or your pets in a frame.
  • Create a photo book of your favorite pictures together at Shutterfly, Snapfish, or Costco. They are easy and fun to make, and you can add quotes and messages on every page if you want. He can take the book with him on the boat.
  • A photo calendar. These can also be created at Shutterfly. I create one every year and send it with G to look through in the wheelhouse throughout his months away.
  • A book. A light read is usually better (skip the self-help or how to improve your relationship, ha ha!).
  • Have kids? Have them draw pictures that you can bind together (or let a copy shop bind) into a book.
  • Magazines.
  • Warm hat.
  • Gift card to a fisheries supply store.
  • New rubber gloves.
  • A small portable DVD player and a couple of DVDs to go with it.
  • iTunes gift card.
  • iPod.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Dinner gift certificate to use together when he returns home.
  • Massage gift card.
  • A warm, snuggly new boat blanket or sleeping bag.
  • Fresh new boat pillow and pillow case.
  • Nice, fluffy boat shower towel.
  • Long underwear made especially for sub-zero temperatures.
  • An e-reader; Kindle, Nook, iPad, whichever you like. I got George an inexpensive Kindle for his birthday, not sure if he would be into digital reading or not. As it turns out, he loves it! He reads his Kindle all the time whether at home or on the boat.
  • Visit the shopping sites Personal Creations or Lillian Vernon online and create personalized gifts.
  • At Personal Creations you can make a “World’s Greatest Longliner” or “World’s Greatest Crabber” (you get the idea) t-shirt. Another fishing wife and I surprised each other last year when we both made the same exact shirts for our husbands and then posted pictures of the shirts on Facebook!
  • Engraved and personalized beer mugs, pitchers, or shot glasses.
  • Electric blanket for crab season.
  • Binoculars.
  • Head lamp for bunk reading.
  • Pillows, blankets, plates, etc., created with pictures of you, your children, or pets. He’s going to use these items anyway; why not personalize them for him?
  • Wool socks.
  • Talking picture frame. He will love a frame that features a recording of you or his children speaking. He can take it with him to sea and listen to it over and over again.
  • Cards, envelopes, and stamps. Pre-addressed to you! All he has to do is write and mail.

Melody, I hope this gives you some ideas or prompts other good ideas! Thank you so much for writing. It made me recall the days when I was a fishing girlfriend and would send G off with fun stuff. Time goes fast; enjoy these sweet early days together. :)

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

Waiting For The Phone To Ring

I’m feeling a little blue today. Not only is the weather gray and drizzly, but I have no idea where my husband is and I haven’t talked to him in around two weeks. Actually, I have only talked to G about three times in the last couple of months, and it is starting to dawn on me that is kind of a long time to go without communicating with one’s spouse…even for people like us, who are totally used to limited and non-existent communication.

Sure, I could try calling the satellite phone, but I always hesitate to do that because once I start calling THAT phone and he doesn’t answer, the more frustrated I become, and then I grow worried. A worried momma doesn’t do anyone any good. I’m not concerned yet; I know G is likely in the Gulf of Alaska without cell phone coverage, working hard to catch that part of the halibut and blackcod quota, and then moving into Southeast Alaska.

George loses track of time easily whether he’s at sea or on shore, and he probably doesn’t even realize how long it has been since he’s called home. I have to admit though, that while everything has been going (and continues to go) better than expected with the three little ones and me at home, time is starting to drag and I’m getting rather tired.

We are still moving forward, however; Vincent finished up one of his pre-schools, Eva’s kindergarten has many end-of-school-year activities planned, and my parents returned from Hawaii. I’ve also been at Jazzercise just about every morning for the past three weeks, working off stress and weight, which is a win-win for me! At this point, if I didn’t have Jazzercise to go and see my friends, visit with all of our children, and bust a move to up-tempo music, I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing this well at home.

Hurry up and get into cell phone coverage, G! (I know he can’t read this, but maybe if I send the message out into the sphere he’ll catch it and call.)

Soldiering on…

As Promised, Feedback From My Commercial Fishing Peeps.

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post that included four of the more recent and interesting search queries that landed people at this blog. I thought about addressing each of the queries myself, but to my surprise, it was easier said than done. I quickly discovered that my thoughts on some of the topics were scattered and even unkind.

Therefore, I decided it would be a better idea (and more fun!) to open up the dialogue and invite you, the readers, to reply instead. I wrote that I might publish your replies in the form of a blog post or in the comments, and that you could remain anonymous.

To refresh your memory, here are the four search queries for which I solicited replies:

1. What are some neat things about commercial fishing?

2. What can we do about commercial fishing?

3. Why do women leave their husbands when they are commercial fishermen?

4. What do commercial fishermen do when they are away from their wives?

At long last, I’ve selected responses from three very different readers: A commercial fisherman, an experienced fishing wife, and a new fishing wife.

I gave the option for readers to stay anonymous (not everyone enjoys a public platform), and so I am honoring the wish of the commercial fisherman to remain so. And in case you’re wondering; no, the anonymous fisherman is not my husband, G! It is, however, a man within the same age-range and a university graduate who comes from a fishing family.

The “experienced fishing wife” is Lori French, from The Faces of California Fishing. The “new fishing wife” is the author of the blog, The Fisherman’s Wife (aka “The Fish Wifey”). The Fish Wifey has an interesting take on some aspects of commercial fishing culture; you may use the link she’s provided at the end of this post to read more. Oh—and when The Fish Wifey references her husband by the initial, “-G-“, it is not the same G as my G!

Got all that? :)

I hope you enjoy the different perspectives of these replies. I wholeheartedly agree with some of what was written, and strongly disagree with some of what was written. Give all of the responses a read and see what you think.

Here we go:

What are some neat things about commercial fishing?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Freedom to make choices of how you fish, where you fish, who you fish with, what kind of fish you fish for. Every day is different with new challenges and highs and lows. Each set, tow, pot, or shackle writes its own story and has the ability to save the day or completely destroy it. Being on the water is pretty cool but has drawbacks as well. At the end of it all, it is a job with no grey area you either love or enjoy doing, or you don’t. It is not a job that you keep unless you are passionate and willing to make sacrifices to keep doing it.


Our freedom to do things our way…..most of the time.

The Fish Wifey:

I asked my husband his opinion for this one:

  • Witnessing some of the most beautiful sights on the planet. Unbelievable sunrises and breathtaking sunsets.
  • Having fun with your best friends.
  • Experiencing the power of mother nature.
  • The “fisherman’s high” when it all goes perfect.
  • BIG MONEY and fast cash.
  • Pushing your body to its limits and knowing just how powerful you truly are.
  • You never stop learning, everyday is different.
  • Getting to eat REAL seafood! Can’t get any better than straight off the boat.

What can we do about commercial fishing?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Don’t get me started…. There is nothing we can do about commercial fishing, nor should anything be done. Commercial fishing provides access to a food source which benefits millions of people all over the world. Fishing is regulated, scrutinized, and then regulated some more.

Scientific uncertainty in the stock assessments is addressed by taking less fish and not more. Education about commercial fishing is essential because, in addition to the general public, today’s regulatory bodies and many involved in the regulatory process don’t have intimate knowledge of the fisheries they regulate.

The environmental movement is no longer a movement, it is an industry. They need to make money and keep their jobs the same as anyone and they do it by making statements, press releases, and filing lawsuits to generate publicity which scares the public, who have no intimate knowledge of fisheries, into writing donation checks to solve a problem which does not exist in an attempt to save something that does not need saving.

Again, the public does not know the real story and don’t realize they are being preyed upon by these groups. They should be furious and hopefully will clue in and put their money toward a nice plate of seafood and a glass of wine at their local restaurant and relax a little bit.


I’m just going to assume that the question is “What can we do to help commercial fishing?”
Because if the question asker (my own word) means it in a negative way, well, then there is no PG reply.

Now to answer “What can we do to help commercial fishing?” We can help by promoting our husband’s products and our lifestyle by educating the general public. I see a growing trend of Facebook and the internet of blogs, stories, newspaper columns and editorials by women taking the bull by the horns and doing such things. It’s very gratifying and I think we are a force to be reckoned with. Start in the schools, talk at the grocery store, spread the word that USA Wild Caught is the BEST.

The Fish Wifey:

Not totally sure how to interpret this question but I’m gonna say… continue to explore new technologies/equipment which insure the safety of our fisherman. As far as the environmental standpoint, hopefully the future will provide fisherman with eco-friendly options and advancements for the industry.

Why do women leave their husbands when they are commercial fishermen?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Divorce happens to a huge percentage of people in our country. I don’t think the rate is much higher for fishing families. I know people in the industry who have been married forever and raised families either with some or all of them on the boat, as well as just the fathers leaving to go fishing for months at a time. “You’re so miserable without me it’s almost like I’m here.”

Fishing is not “vanilla” and the business is changing all the time with many ups and downs. Everyone sees you buy the new pick-up truck but they don’t stay around to watch you drive it for the next 15 years until you can afford another one.

Women likely leave their husbands because to be a fisherman you have to love what you do and it would appear on the surface that the fisherman loves his job more than his wife, but there is much more to it than that….


I don’t know. We’ve been happily married for almost 28 years. One of the nicest things my fisherman ever said was, “I know if something happens to me, you are strong enough to make it.” When we were in college, it was one of the first things that attracted me to him (besides his Foothill t shirt, the one where the Foothill was well placed) was the fact that he was hard-working and putting himself through school.

I flat-out tell our boys all the time if they are half as honest and hardworking as their dad, I will be happy.

The Fish Wifey:

Why does any woman leave her husband? There is always a “good” or “valid” reason, I suppose. But personally I can’t really answer this question.

I can tell you why I stay… because I vowed to stay…forever. That’s it! NO reasons required. When I ask -G- “Why do you love me?” His reply every single time is “Because I said so.”

Sure, there are reasons why we love each other, but it’s our promise and not our “reasons” which keep our marriage alive.

What do commercial fishermen do when they are away from their wives?

The Commercial Fisherman:

All fishermen think about when they are gone is their families and how to get back to them as quickly and as safely as possible. We love to catch fish but it is a means to an end, supporting our families, enjoying the fruits of our labors and sacrifices together.


I’ve never had any worries about other women.

One time my husband came home so flustered. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “The woman at the gas station was flirting with me, and I had Lorrin with me.” (Lorrin is our oldest son, he was about 2 -3 at the time.)

“Why would she do that? I can’t go back there.” He was dead serious. I had to point out to him that he is/was rather nice looking and doesn’t wear a wedding ring. He never did go back to that gas station, which was pretty hard in our small town.

I know when he’s gone he takes his metal detector with him for those times when they are in. And I know for a fact that the boat gets more ESPN than we do at home so he is a happy camper. Oh and the fact that when they are gone THEY WORK!

The Fish Wifey:

Here is my personal experience in regards to this question. My commercial fishing husband and I were separated for three years. In one of my recent blog posts, “You’re not the man I married,” I share how he compensated for lack of intimacy in our marriage and the effects it had on our relationship once reunited. Below is a segment from that post:

“I’m married to a man who thinks he is still a bachelor. I suppose I can’t blame him…we did live on separate coasts the last three years. The only way he’s been able to deal with loneliness is by frequenting strip clubs and browsing internet porn. These bachelor tendencies are very much ingrained into the fisherman culture and plus he is a MAN after all. Now that marital sex is back on the table, somewhere along the line -G- has come to the conclusion that I’m a stripper or porn star myself. SORRY TO DISAPPOINT HUBBY! This is not the case. Nowhere in my repertoire of clothing will you find 6′ plastic heals and cheap perfume. When it comes to the bedroom I’m fairly traditional as I have always been. No I’m not a prude but I do have my limits. I suppose I’m flattered and even glad he is very much attracted to me. But let me remind you, I DO NOT want a stripper pole in our bedroom…just saying. Furry handcuffs, sure…whips and chains… I think I’ll pass.”


Here are my two cents, based on my experience, about what fishermen do when they are away from their wives:

They are fixing and repairing complicated engines on vessels worth anywhere from $40,000 to $4 million and hooking up new and updated satellite services so they can communicate with their loved ones while they’re at sea. They are staying busy keeping detailed log books and staying current on the ever-changing and convoluted fishery rules, changes, and requirements. In town, they’re shopping for souvenirs from various ports to send to their children and wondering how their families are doing at home.

They’re feeling bad for missing so much family life and wondering (worrying) how the fishing season will shape up and end up. If it’s been a great season, they might be thinking about where to take their family on vacation. If it’s a bad season, they might be wondering how they will pay for the next year of soccer lessons for the kids.

They are calling around from sea to different markets on land to find out where the best price for their catch will be and determining where to deliver. They’re working smart and hard so they come home safely and alive to their families. They’re reading books in the galley, watching movies in the wheelhouse, sleeping in their bunks, having a barbecue on the back deck, taking a walk in town, or having a well-deserved drink and dinner with the rest of the crew.

I may address the question of why women leave their commercial fishing husbands at a later date…the question is relevant and tempting, yet difficult to answer.

I Love My Crew of Three

Bye bye, Dungeness crab pots. See you in another seven months!

Our Dungeness crab season 2012 has come to an end. The season picked up midway through, so G and the crew ended up fishing longer than we all expected.  Upon their return, the sun came out for a couple of days which was perfect for all the gear work they do to wrap up the crab season and get ready for the halibut and blackcod longline season.

The kids love nothing more than to go visit with Daddy and the gang down at the harbor, so we spent some time down there and G let the kids ride along with him on the forklift, putting the crab pots away and bringing out the longlining tubs.

The switch into the next commercial fishing season is going to be quick; G will have one week at home before leaving for Alaska. Once he goes, we won’t see him again until summer. That’s over three months that I will have alone as a mother of two young children and one infant.

Pizza with the crew.

Crab pots put away, longline tubs come out.

I am a little nervous about the months ahead of me, but I managed to make it through the crab season pretty much the same way (solo) so I’ll just take it one day at a time like I always do and not look too far ahead. I’m hoping the sun will come out and that it won’t rain for the next three months, because that would really help things.

The kids and I have settled into a pretty good routine that works well if nothing else is added to it, like an outside obligation or a sickness. Being the only parent on hand and in charge of all medications, laundry, meals, clean up, activities, and school stuff  for three children 24/7  is doable, but only if I pace myself. For the next three months, I will attempt to not take on other obligations other than the most important one right in front of me; being a strong and happy mother of three children while Daddy is gone. We’ve done well so far and I’m proud of all of us, so I know we will do just fine in the weeks and months ahead.

I actually love having three children! I laugh to myself quite often, especially in the car, when I have all three of them with me. It feels surreal; like I’m driving a small bus full of little people, and it cracks me up. And at home, there is always somebody doing something, or saying something, or drawing something, that either warms my heart or makes me laugh. There’s a warm little baby for me to hold, three little ones around for me to hug and smother with kisses, and say “I love you!” to.

So, we will enjoy this last week with G, and then it’s onward and upward. The children and I will get by with a little help from our friends…and my parents…and my sisters…and my blog friends…and my Facebook friends…and sunshine…and…knowing we’ll have the summer ahead to spend with Dad!

Happy Two Months, Valerie!

Another Great Time at Pacific Marine Expo 2011!

Attending Pacific Marine Expo (also known as Fish Expo) each year is as much a fall tradition in our family as Thanksgiving dinner or choosing a Christmas tree. It is the perfect way for us to kick off the holiday and Dungeness crab seasons, and we always leave the event looking forward to and pumped about all that lies ahead.

This year’s PME brimmed with heightened energy and cheer. There were more vendors than ever, the freebies at each booth were awesome, and almost the entire crew from National Fisherman magazine came out to publish the Show Daily after the show publication was put on hiatus for a couple of years.

I was excited to see the Show Daily back in effect because I have great memories of a decade ago when I ran around the Convention Center with my recorder and notebook, attending PME workshops and listening to speakers, taking notes, then running upstairs to sit down and type it all up into short news bits for the Daily.

I can’t believe what little-to-no-turnover occurs with the editing, publishing, and art gang at National Fisherman. Seriously. Even after ten years, I still see Jerry, Linc, Jen, Michael, and Michael at Fish Expo. These are the original characters that were in place when Jerry Fraser first gave me my fiFrst professional writing gig as a correspondent for the magazine long ago!

So, I feel pretty okay when I see Jerry in the NF booth at PME and make my annual pitch for work I’d like to do or see in the magazine.

“Hey, how’s it going?!” I say. “Great! It’s good! Yep, here’s Eva and Vincent. George is around here somewhere. Yes, Dad’s here, too! I know, crazy, another one on the way, huh? Say, about what we talked about last year, here’s what I was thinking…”

I try Linc next.

“Hey, Linc! Longtime no see! Remember when we ordered those Cosmopolitans years ago? Mmm, those were good. Hey, what do you think about this idea I’ve been working on….?”

I see Jes, who actually took over as senior editor of NF last year.

“Jes! Hi! Great to see you. Magazine looks good! Yep, pregnant! Due in only eight more weeks! Can’t wait! Hey, I wanted to get in touch with you about this thing I’ve been tossing around….”

Then I have a laugh.

“No? Still not interested? That’s okay. I’ll be back again next year!”

We spent all day at PME and saw fishermen we knew, a neighbor or two, a relative, some of George’s longtime/sometime business partners (along with the spec sheet for the new $10 million Bering Sea longliner they’re having built).

We also ran into one of our favorites, Fred Wahl, along with his lovely wife. Of course, Fred Wahl and National Fisherman magazine is how George and I first met. You can read more about that here.

“There they are!” Fred called in our direction when we spotted each other across the aisle. “No strollers this year, eh?” he asked.

That’s when I pointed to my seven-months pregnant tummy.

“Ah!” he said.

The children also had a great time and were incredibly well-behaved. Their first stop was the Xtra Tuff booth, where Eva and Vincent received their free pair of Xtra Tuff boots. They also got t-shirts and red cups at the booth this year, and I came away with two luggage tags made out of my business cards.

George scored a free hooded sweatshirt and ball cap from the Redden Marine Supply booth, I went around collecting tons of pens, and the children collected candy, flashlights, and keychains. George also scooped up lots of tablets with lined paper (including one with his favorite…graph paper!).

The guys at the Toyota Industries booth were especially kind; they let Eva and Vincent sit inside the enclosed forklifts pushing buttons, honking horns, and pulling levers for the better part of an hour. Vincent also had a good time helping the ice-maker demonstration folks pick up renegade ice from the floor.

We spotted a fancy Porsche in the parking garage on our way into the show and again on our way out. “Must be a Deadliest Catch guy,” we said to each other. When I spotted a fellow wearing a Time Bandit jacket during the show, I did wonder for a moment if that Porsche belonged to him!

A great day for all, to be sure. Can’t wait for next year. Even if we’ll be hauling the stroller back out. :)

Do Girls Like Commercial Fishermen?

I’ve written before that one of the most fun parts of writing this blog is keeping an eye on the search terms people use when they are directed here by various search engines. Many people who land here are looking for information on the Dungeness crab season and rigging crab pots, searching for longline vessels or other boats I’ve mentioned by name, or looking for quotes about commercial fishing and commercial fishing photographs.

Every once in a while, a search term comes through that really makes me smile. Yesterday, I received two such searches! Here they are:

1. Pics of a chick with the Walther PPS

2. Do girls like commercial fishermen?

Now, I think the person looking for pictures of a girl with the awesome Walther PPS (a 9mm semi-automatic pistol made in Germany by Walther Sportwaffen) made it to my blog because I’ve written before that I have my very own Walther PPS that I absolutely love.

Although I do have some video and pictures of me popping off a few rounds from the PPS at the range, I don’t think I’ve ever published them here because I know that guns are frightening to many people, and I don’t want to make my mom nervous.

As for the question of whether girls like commercial fishermen, the answer is YES!

Here are some reasons why. The following list is off the top of my head and in random order.

Why Girls Like Commercial Fishermen

1. They are adorable in their baseball hats.

2. They look hot in Carhartts.

3. They are strong.

4. They’re tough.

5. They have endurance.

6. Fishermen will work through sickness, injury, and weather to get it done.

7. They enjoy sitting around a galley table, telling stories and laughing.

8. A fisherman is a man’s man.

9. Fishermen are grateful and appreciative of everything their wives and girlfriends do for them.

10. They are tough and brave, but they don’t boast about it. They simply let their work speak volumes.

11. Fishermen are generous with their money and will help out friends and family in need.

12. They generally have good taste in music.

13. They’re usually up to go out and have a good time in town.

14. They are smart.

15. They can read charts and navigate a boat through storms.

16. Fishermen are not afraid to get their hands dirty and their clothes greasy.

17. Fishermen clean up very well.

18. They like to read.

19. They don’t have to be entertained every second of the day. Are fine with solitude.

20. They can kick a** when they have to, but they don’t let anyone know that until it’s already been done.

21. Fishermen are quick to forgive and move on.

22. They are cute.

23. They have a sense of humor.

24. Fishermen can tackle house projects and complete them with ease.

25. They’re able to identify and troubleshoot almost any car or house issue.

26. They look good riding around in their trucks.

27. Fishermen have steady natures for the most part.

28. They’re quick to smile.

29. They’re loyal to their friends and family.

30. Fishermen are easy to please and are not overly demanding at home.

31. Most fishermen can cook.

Okay, there’s my first thirty-one reasons why girls like commercial fishermen. As always, feel free to chime in with your thoughts!

Benefits of Being Married to a Long Distance Spouse

Everyone knows—or can at least imagine—how difficult it is to be married to someone who is gone more often than he is home. Some spouses are gone during the week and home on weekends, some are gone for three months and home for nine, others are gone for nine and home for three.

We’re all aware of the difficulties of being responsible for each meal, clean-up, laundry, running around, paying bills, feeding animals, maintaining exercise, making beds, shopping for and putting away groceries, and filling the vehicles with gas. By ourselves, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I was thinking about this last week, when the lawn mowing service was set to come and I needed to get in the backyard and clean up the dog poop before they arrived so they would mow it.

I put on my dog poop shoes, grabbed the shovel, and entered the section of the yard designated “dog yard”. I was three piles into it when my eleven-week-old pregnancy hormones kicked in along with the smell and sight of my work, and I began throwing up. Repeatedly.

“It’s okay, Mommy!” my five-year-old Eva called. “I’ll go get you some water! Just stay there!”

“It’s okay, Honey!” I called to her, eyes blurry from tears and nose running, still gagging. “Mommy’s okay. But can you get me some tissue, too?”

I stood heaving next to the shovel for the two minutes my daughter hustled to help me out. I thought about stopping my task, as it obviously wasn’t going well. But I quickly remembered the lawn service won’t mow over the poop, and then I’d be stuck with overgrown grass and even more poop later.

Next, I thought about the dinner that still needed to be made, teeth that needed brushing, dishes that had to be cleaned, and the tuck-in and prayers that needed to be said. All still ahead of me, and I was the only one who was there to do it.

So, of course, I did it. A couple days later, as I reflected on that especially long day and evening, I thought it would be fun to play a game and see how many positive aspects of married single motherhood I could come up with. The following is my list.

Benefits of Being Married to a Long Distance Spouse

1. I’m Perfectly Capable of Doing Things Alone. I have no problem talking to doctors, looking at ultrasounds, getting kids to birthday parties, and attending functions by myself. I can shut the house down and get everyone into bed, snuggled and peaceful, all by myself. I can also get everyone up, fed, dressed, and out the door in the morning. Not saying that’s without a certain amount of raised voices or whatnot, but I get it done!

2. I Have Physical Strength. I can haul eight bags of groceries up my stairs, four in each hand, and then walk back down the stairs to retrieve sleeping children and pack them up the stairs one by one and lay them on the couch to continue their naps without waking.

3. I Value Women’s Friendships. I enjoy talking to my Jazzercise friends, fishing moms, preschool teachers, ballet and gymnastics moms, writers, bloggers, book group moms, and online moms who all offer so much support, encouragement, advice, and humor on all aspects of parenting.

4. I Enjoy Lots of Snuggle Time with the Kids. Each morning, we sit together on our extra-wide recliner to drink milk and coffee and watch the news. At night, we sit together on Eva’s bed for prayers, a song, and a group hug. I get the privilege of enjoying all this bonding and memory-making.

5. I Can Make My Own Decisions. If I constantly waited for G’s input or go-ahead to do things, I would do absolutely nothing. I’ve adopted two dogs, fostered dogs, purchased a couch and a chair, and looked at potential houses to buy all on my own. While I wouldn’t make any major decisions alone, G has full faith in my ability to make good decisions and to act on them.

6. I Am Available to Attend All of the Kids’ Activities. I’ve never had to miss a ballet performance, gymnastics show, preschool graduation, or swimming lesson. We have also taken road trips together, just the three of us, and have a good time listening to music, stopping for food, and making up new jokes.

7. I Have Total Remote Control. At night, I can flop on the couch and catch up on all the programs I like but that totally annoy G when he’s home.

8. My Kids Have a Special Bond With Their Grandparents. They absolutely love spending time with my parents. My dad recently spent a week building them a playground in the backyard, complete with an extra slide, telescopes, monkey bars, swings, and ship’s wheels. My mom took them to the mall last weekend to get pictures taken with their cousin and rode the mall train with them a time or two.

9. I Get To Hear All the Funny Things They Say. I laugh and then record in a journal their sweet little sayings. A couple of recent gems:

“You aren’t as smart as me, but you’re still a sweet Mommy.” –Eva, 5.

“You guys are ballerinas. We are working mans.” —Vincent, 4, referring to Eva and me, Daddy and him.

10. I’m Always Grateful for G’s Help When He’s Home. Each and everything he does to help out is huge, no matter how small or large the task, and I’m grateful not to have to “do everything.” Taking out garbage, sorting recycling, emptying the dishwasher…it’s all noticed and appreciated!

11. My Marriage is Never Boring or Annoying. Each time G arrives home from a fishing season is a momentous occasion of celebration. And because he’s not usually here for long after he does arrive, each hour and day and week is spent just happy to be together again. We never repeat conversations, badger each other, or become bored. There’s just no time!

Fishing marriages either disintegrate quickly or last forever. After eleven years of being together and nine years of marriage, I’m grateful that we’re as excited to see and spend time with each other as we were following the day we met.

12. My Kids Learn How to Get Along. The children are aware that it’s just them and me holding down the fort when Dad’s gone, so we have to cooperate and get along. If we say or do anything regretful, we quickly apologize, forgive, and move on. If the day was a total disaster, we sit together before bed and talk about how each new morning is a fresh chance to start over, try again, and do better.

13. My Kids’ Daddy Is a Hero. The kids ask every day about their dad. They want to know where he is, what he’s fishing for, who’s on the crew, when he’s bringing the boat home. When Daddy comes home, he’s their hero and he fills their little worlds with amazement, joy, and excitement. Then I get to sit back, relax, and let the three of them create their own memories and strengthen their bonds.

Waiting Impatiently

I’m currently waiting for G to call from somewhere around Kodiak because I have a message for him. The last time I talked to him was ten days ago for a few minutes. I hoped he would check in via e-mail or the satellite phone in the meantime, but he hasn’t! I take that as a good sign that they’re into the halibut and blackcod and he’s so busy and exhausted he doesn’t have one spare bit of energy to call. I’m anxious to hear how the fishing is!

I never call the satellite phone myself because it just makes me more frustrated. And I always end up calling the wrong satellite phone from the wrong phone which can be costly. Several years ago we had a home phone bill for about $4000 and just recently, my cell phone bill was around $400 or something because I didn’t realize it was an international call and I was being charged. Whoops! George doesn’t often answer the sat phone anyway because he’s on deck working and I end up just calling repeatedly and getting more and more frustrated when there’s no answer. So it’s better just to chill and wait impatiently for him to get into cell coverage and give me a call when it’s a good (and cheap) time.

Vincent had a virus and cough for about two weeks, and just when we thought it was over, it settled into the croup. It actually hit me as well for about ten days, and I never get sick! And just when I thought Eva was going to skate through free and clear, she got it as well. We did make it through the fall, winter, and most of the spring without any sicknesses, though, so I still think we did well this year. Hopefully soon the sun will shine and that natural vitamin D will do everyone a bit of good.

Until then we keep on waiting….

Couldn't resist picking up this bottle of red.

Sick sleeping Vincent.

Sick sleeping Eva.

My dad, hanging loose in Honolulu with Mom! Could I be more jealous?


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When Your Fisherman Leaves And You’re Sad…

Here are ten helpful tips I’ve come up with that have helped me get by in these first two days since George left for the halibut and blackcod season this last time around!  Normally it is not that big of a deal when he leaves. We miss him of course, but we are used to it as part of the way we live. This time was just a bit different as G did not have hardly any time off in between seasons and of course, we are missing both G and Toby this time and that is all new. Anyway, here are my personal tips…

Jen’s Tips:

  1. If you have to get up the next day and get going, get up and get going. I knew that Eva had preschool early the morning after George steamed out of the harbor, so I set the alarm and we just got up and got to it. There was no other choice, and it was important for Eva to stick to her schedule and see her friends.
  2. Get your exercise. After we dropped Eva off at preschool, Vincent and I went directly to Jazzercise. I was tired, sad, and felt like a ton of lead, but it was equally important for Vincent and I to see our friends and for me to hear good music, have some laughs, and get some endorphins moving. (Thanks, Cutzi!)
  3. Clean. I love to clean. I find the white noise of the vacuum cleaner comforting and the folding of laundry therapeutic.
  4. Stick to your plans. As much as you want to cancel your appointments and the things you have lined up, don’t. You’ll feel good that you are moving forward and accomplishing things already all on your own.
  5. Go grocery shopping. The kids and I went shopping and filled the fridge and cupboards with good and healthy food. We even received compliments at the store regarding how much we picked out and how well behaved and helpful the kids were! And now we have plenty of milk, orange juice, cucumbers, and meat.
  6. Put a status update on Facebook. I updated my status and posted a picture of the boat leaving and was immediately warmed by the encouragement and well wishes I received in return.
  7. Have a friend as back up. When I returned home from the harbor, my friend Lisa was already here. She helped with my dog Mandy and was good company to us all until she had to go.
  8. Don’t drink extra glasses of wine. You may think you’re doing okay, but that extra glass could send you in a direction you don’t want to go. Not that I would know anything about that. :)
  9. Make a big bowl of fresh buttered popcorn and curl up on the couch to catch up on 90210 on the DVR. I was a fan of the original 90210 and I will go ahead and admit that even at my age, I’m a fan of the new one, too! The combination of popcorn and 90210 always makes me feel better. Just ask George!
  10. Hug your kids. Laugh at the funny things they do and say. If you don’t feel well, let them spend time away so you can think and get organized. Love them and kiss them. Be proud of them. Feel grateful for your whole family, your friends, and all of the people you interact with each day who love you and support your family’s lifestyle.