Archive for Dungeness Crab Season – Page 2

For Valentine’s Day, the Norovirus. How Sweet.

If you suspect someone has the norovirus, run as far and as fast away from that person as you can! Not to be confused with your basic, everyday flu, the norovirus is an instant, violent, ravaging, wicked virus that will take you down before you even realize what is happening.

Right on Valentine’s Day, I suddenly became so sick with this yuck that I lost eight pounds in twelve hours. I had to miss Eva’s kindergarten Valentine’s party, missed Vincent’s preschool Valentine’s festivities, and was only able to give the dozen roses George bought for me barely a glance before they wilted and died.

With my body still weakened by nine months of pregnancy and childbirth less than three weeks before, I guess I was not strong enough to give this hostile virus much of a fight, and it ransacked me. I tell you—I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. After the initial onslought, you still aren’t done. You go on to spend the next few days in bed, unable to stand, while your stomach cramps up and burns like fire.

Wow. Except for last month in the birth center, when the IV fell out of my arm (taking all pain medication with it) and then a fumbling anesthesiologist could not figure out how to insert an epidural just as Valerie shocked us all by suddenly appearing out of nowhere, the virus is the worst pain I have ever experienced. Ever.

The upside is that G was able to hand the boat off to Bryan to take out and run through the Dungeness crab gear for a couple of days (thank you, Bryan!!), and then a storm blew in on the coast so G got to come back home and help deal with the aftermath. I guess I can also be grateful that as a result of all this  sickness, I’ve been able to start phasing out my maternity clothes more quickly.

The most amazing thing is that, while Eva and Vincent did get mild cases of the virus, Valerie and George emerged unscathed. I was so worried about Valerie; I don’t know how a three-week old infant could have withstood this. Praise God.

So, that was my Valentine’s Day. Never a dull moment around here! I hope that at least you all enjoyed a pleasant and healthy Valentine’s Day! :) There’s always next year.

 

Sweet Valerie, dressed in yellow and scrubbed in sunshine. Happy one-month birthday!

Hello, Extreme Exhaustion. I’d Forgotten All About You.

The baby is in her bassinet for a few minutes and the older children have been taken out to dinner by our friends, so I’m taking this moment to let you know that no, I have not abandoned my blog. I’ve simply been taken over by unbelievable exhaustion. Valerie is three weeks old now and I am STILL dashing to my bed or to the couch every possible second that I can.

When I was a younger gal working as a deckhand on my dad’s seine crew, I thought I was deprived of sleep when we’d go to bed at 11 p.m. after reaching the fishing grounds and then wake up at 3 a.m. to get ready and set the net. And then, once Eva was born, I thought I was sleep deprived when I was up every two hours with a fussy newborn. But wow—nothing compares to this!

Being awake all night with a newborn and then getting up to meet the needs of two young children is definitely not easy. Thank goodness for my parents, who are still coming by to take Eva and Vincent to kindergarten and preschool each day. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to have everyone up, ready, and out the door in the freezing cold at 8 a.m. each day after being up all night. I have worked up to doing one afternoon pick-up each day, which makes me feel pretty good.

I’m eager to rejoin the real world again but wow, this no-energy thing is killing me. I also don’t want to consume too much caffeine or other energy-inducing methods since I’m nursing and don’t want to inadvertantly keep Valerie awake any more than she already is.

Valerie is now three weeks old, and George was recently able to make it home for one 24-hour period to visit with the kids and me. I was grateful that he found it worth arriving home at midnight and leaving the next day just to see us, and it was good to see him while he was here.

While not a huge disappointment, the 2012 Washington Dungeness crab season has been nothing compared to last year, which is not entirely unexpected. You can’t expect to have a stellar season every year! Fortunately, George will turn the boat around and head up to Alaska to catch the blackcod and halibut quota as soon as he ends the crab season. Unfortunately, he’ll be heading up to Alaska sooner than we expected. Darn!

If you are one of the people who has written to me via my blog with questions and comments that I have not been able to get to yet, please know that I have received your inquiries and comments and I look forward to replying as soon as I can! Thank you for taking the time to write, and know that your feedback and questions are valuable to me. As soon as I get another moment when I’m thinking clearly, I will respond, maybe even in a blog post.

My goal for this week is to rally long enough to make popcorn for Eva’s Valentine’s Day party at school, prepare a snack for Vincent’s Valentine’s Day party at preschool, and make sure the kids have made enough Valentines for all of their friends. I wonder if George will remember to send roses to me this year? I never hold my breath but I do always hope.

Sweet Vincent hosted a tea party for Eva, Mommy, and Frog.

Eva and Vincent making Valentines.

Dad swaddling the baby on a quick visit home.

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Eva's Valentines for the crew.

And Sweet Baby Valerie Makes Five.

Valerie Joy

You may have guessed, based on the amount of time that has gone by since my last post, that our precious baby Valerie Joy has indeed been born. She decided to make a very rapid appearance on January 19, 2012 and was born in literally a matter of minutes! Valerie is a tiny little thing who weighed just 6 pounds, 5.8 ounces at birth and measured 19 inches long.

While at the hospital, she dropped down to 5 pounds 8 ounces, but within just a couple of days was right back up to her birth weight. So far, she is a very mild baby who sleeps quite a bit; and thank goodness for that, because each time she sleeps, I race to my bed and sleep as well.

George was home for the birth (although ironically, he almost missed it; he was eating lunch in the cafeteria with my dad, Eva, and Vincent when Valerie suddenly decided to burst forth. Boy, was he shocked when he ambled back into our room and realized what was transpiring!). George even got to stay for two extra days with me at the hospital thanks to a storm and its accompanying twenty-foot seas that kept the crab boats in the harbor on the official start of the Dungeness crab season.

Sadly, George did leave over a week ago and the kids and I have been holding down the fort. We have had lots of amazing help from my family and friends; everything from school pick-ups and drop-offs, to meals, the sharing of baby supplies, the folding of laundry, and even a slumber party for the kids at the home of our friends.

All of this help has been a surprise and a blessing. I don’t know what I would have done here with a newborn, two other little ones adjusting to not only the arrival of a baby sister but also the departure of their dad, and a household of chores that need to be kept on top of without such help offered to me.

We are off to a good start thanks to so many. George and I also enjoyed some pleasant and uninterrupted time together at the hospital before he left which allowed us to reconnect with each other, enjoy the blessing of Valerie, and get our new family of five off to a positive and peaceful start. I will never forget how sweet it was to spend that time with him in total relief that Valerie had finally arrived safely and soundly, and be able to let go of the worry and anxiety that defined the pregnancy.

I feel such physical and mental relief, such gratitude, the likes of which I’ve rarely felt on this level. My heart sings and leaps for joy each time I look around me and see these three amazing little blessings that God somehow saw fit to allow me to love, cherish, and raise. Astonishing.

Eva holding Valerie at the hospital; her dream come true at last.

Vincent and Valerie. My sweet buddy is slowly adjusting.

Eva swaddled her pink bear.


May the Dungeness Crab and Baby Party Begin Already!

The boat left with a load of Dungeness crab pots last weekend. Although it is always sad to hug G goodbye and wave the crew off, it’s also kind of a relief. Especially this year. There has been so much waiting, wondering, and anticipation as to when the gear work will end, when the boat will leave for Westport, when the season will start, and if the weather will cooperate.

And of course, this year we have the added anticipation of a baby due on the exact day George and the fellas will dump five-hundred crab pots to the bottom of the ocean, hoping the season will be profitable and safe for the five families—including at least a dozen children combined—who are relying on it.

No pressure!

Ah, what can you do? That’s life, moving forward the way life tends to do.

Here are a few pictures of this year’s Dungeness Crab Season 2012 Departure Day:

What an awesome, sweet, and tough crew we have in Bryan, Johnny, Brett, Oscar, and George.

Precious and resilient commercial fishing kids watching Dad pull away from the dock.

Johnny on top of the pots.

George will have a few days at home in between getting the boat to Westport and when the season officially begins, so here’s still hoping the baby decides to arrive during the window in which he is home.

I’m ready.

The kids’ bedroom switch and redesign is complete; Vincent has cool new bunk beds, Eva has her rainbow/butterfly/flower room. Holidays are over, children are back in school, preschool, and activities. House is clean, Christmas presents are put away, writing invoices have been sent off.

I’m tired of waiting; I’m looking ahead already to springtime, capris, sandals, renewed energy, evenings of sunshine and bayside cocktails, and a body I can actually move with ease and feel comfortable within.

Time to get this party started! :)

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I love this picture of Vincent; he looks like he just climbed off a Dutch Harbor fishing vessel.

Relying on Grace.

We knew December was going to be a tough month around here; getting ready for the Dungeness crab season, celebrating Eva’s sixth birthday, preparing for Christmas, entering the final weeks of pregnancy, and doing a major bedroom overhaul here at home was never going to be smooth or easy.

Unfortunately, we had no choice but to do everything in four short weeks and it has been as overwhelming and tiring as we anticipated. There have been some highlights; our friend and neighbor’s help with the room switch, Eva’s birthday party turning out better than I’d hoped, and receiving Christmas cards from friends and family have all been little spurts of joy throughout.

I’m probably a little more burned out than usual because I’m on new medication for the last four weeks of this pregnancy that makes me nauseous and tired. Of course, I’ve felt that way from the very beginning so it’s not a real change for me…just that I’d hoped for some relief before the birth.

At one of my three-times-a-week doctor appointments, I finally asked one of the nurses why this pregnancy  has been so much more difficult than the others.

Is it my age? Is it the being watched like a hawk by medical staff that’s a spirit-dampener? Is it the mental challenge for someone who doesn’t deal well with surprise or change? Is it from exhaustion having two energetic children already at home? The physical strain of a third pregnancy?

Most likely, it’s all of it. There is really nothing to do but see the rest of these few weeks out with as much grace as possible and hope for the best when it’s time to deliver.

Speaking of which; we still don’t know whether George will be here for the event. As you know, the baby is due on January 25. We finally received word that the official start date for the Dungeness crab season is January 24. For those of you that don’t know, that means they’ll set gear (dump 500 crab pots) about three days before, which is January 21. In order to get to the boat and out to the middle of the ocean, George will leave home on January 19.

My best hope is that the baby up and decides to make her way out by herself on January 15.

We do have an alternate captain scheduled to take the wheel and relieve George for a couple of weeks during the crab season, but George absolutely has to be there for the first setting of 500 crab pots. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, the safety of crew, and several families with children all depending upon getting the season off to the best financial and safest start possible.

If the crab season had begun when it usually does, around the first of January, George could have set the first critical round of pots, got the season started, and then handed it off to the relief captain and come home for the baby.

However, the season starting so late in the month put a big wrench in that plan. As I said, all I can do is stay calm, have a plan in place, and try to see these last few weeks through with as much grace as I can muster.

I want to take a minute and pay a small blog tribute to my old Southeast Alaska fishing friend, Monte, who passed away suddenly and tragically this week of a heart attack at the age of thirty-two. Upon learning this news, I literally doubled over and sobbed, unable to believe or comprehend what happened. I was sure my eyes were tricking me, that it was some terrible joke or hoax.

Of course, it wasn’t.

Monte, who leaves behind a wife and six-month-old baby, was the sweetest, toughest, kindest, most original character you’d be lucky to know. At his funeral yesterday, I think everyone felt comfort that the music, stories, pictures, and video perfectly captured Monte’s authentic spirit and person. His love of fishing, the outdoors, creativity, wife, baby, friends, and helpful nature were all represented at his final departure from shore.

Rest in peace, dear Monte. You will never be forgotten.

The Launching of Dungeness Crab Pots AND a New Baby. All at the Same Time. Literally.

George told me today that the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association has a new Facebook page, so I immediately went over and “liked” it. I did some looking around while I was there and could see right away what a great page it is. Updates on the season and the fleet are regular, and Washington Dungeness crab fishermen are also encouraged to post boat and crew pictures.

I love a positive and informative commercial fishing-themed Facebook page (if you do too, check out Commercial Fishing Families & Friends, the Facebook group I started with a couple other commercial fishing wives), so it’s great that the WDCFA has joined the fun.

Speaking of Washington Dungeness crab fishing, George went to a meeting this morning for an update on the season’s start date. We’ve known for a while that the season is going to begin either (roughly) January 15 or January 25. I eagerly awaited word all day as to the firm date, but the only new thing I learned was that we’d all know in 48 hours what the final and official start date will be.

Now, I normally do not get too hung up on the start date of crab season. I know it’s always sometime between December and January, and I just hope each year that G will be around for Christmas. I was a little nervous six years ago when I was expecting Eva, but George was able to be here for her birth on December 12 before leaving shortly after.

A crab season start date of either January 15 or January 25 does not do me any personal good, as that is the exact date range that our third baby is due. Seriously—I’m not kidding. Her due date is January 25 and she will likely be encouraged out slightly before then, hence, the January 15-25 range.

So, I will be waiting impatiently for the next two days until we found out exactly what we’re looking at. I do have plans in case there is no way G can be here; my parents are on board to help with my two children and dog, and I have three friends lined up to keep me company at the hospital and some more who have offered to help following the birth, but it’s still a messed-up situation.

If a five-to-seven-day coastal storm blows through around the due date, making it impossible to crab, that would help. If not, I’ll cross my fingers for a different kind of miracle. Hey, my dad rushed in from salmon fishing in Puget Sound just in time to make it for my birth, and I know someone else who managed to take a sea plane off of his boat in Alaska, fly to shore, get to the airport, fly two hours to his home state, rent a car, drive two more hours home, and made it in time for the delivery of his daughter.

I overheard George talking with Brett today about all of this.

“I’m in a bit of a pickle,” George said.

Um, yes. That’s one way of putting it.

Fingers crossed!

Just a few short weeks left to go! I also received a 3D video today of the baby moving around and looking cute.

dungeness crab

First Week of Kindergarten: So Far, So Good.

Well, here Mommy sits. Alone. In a quiet house. About to nod off for the lack of little voices, activity, and general family energy. Thank goodness for my dog, Mandy, and the baby twirling in my tummy, or I’d really feel lonely! If it wasn’t for this harsh fall cough I’ve developed, I’d be at Jazzercise with the rest of the moms!

Dad’s down at the boat, fixing crane leaks and getting ready to haul the boat out before the Dungeness crab season festivities begin. I’m not sure why he’s hauling out the boat this time; it seems like he just did it not too long ago, and our boat isn’t the kind you just haul out of the water at random. I was surprised when G emerged in Carhartts this morning, even though he insisted he told me he was resuming boat work today!

Vincent, of course, ran immediately back to his room to put on his work clothes as well, and I took him to preschool dressed in brand new Carhartt overalls just like Daddy.

Eva started kindergarten last week and so far everything has been fine. I was pretty sad the first morning and just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my first-born baby was sitting in a classroom and would be there all day long. Without me. Eva has been involved in preschool, gymnastics, ballet, and Jazzercise since she was born, but these are things I’ve been involved with right alongside her, and they were controlled environments with parents and children I knew and approved of.

It was strange not recognizing any parent or any child at school. I did see my neighbor, though, which helped. And I am so glad that I know Eva’s kindergarten teacher personally and have full confidence in her professional, family, personal, and educational ethics. Other high points included the fact that the school is tiny and there is just one small kindergarten classroom and one kindergarten/first grade split.

I returned several afternoons last week to have lunch with Eva, I joined the PTA, and filled out classroom volunteer paperwork. You better believe that Momma will be at school with her eagle eye out, sharp and focused, as often as I can. It’s important for me to see who Eva is sitting with at lunch, how the other kids behave, and get a feel for the parents. In fact, I was there so often last week that some of the kids on the playground thought I was on official duty and came over to show me things like the lady bug they’d collected and saved in a jar.

We don’t live far from the school and there’s no real reason for Eva to ride the one bus that services the school and the neighborhood. I was not planning for her to ride it this year at all and was only half-considering it for next year. Eva, though, had other plans.

“Ke’ala rides the bus! Danielle rides the bus! Isaac and Zane ride the bus!” she insisted.

I agreed to “think” about it. Then, I met with the bus driver one day after school. I met with the driver again the next day and accepted the bus paperwork. I asked questions about exactly who rides the bus, what the rules were, and how they ensured safety.

“We haven’t lost a child yet,” she said, smiling.

On the third day, I boarded the bus with Eva and sat her down in the front seat closest to the driver. I explained that this was the only seat I would allow her to sit in and she had to follow Mommy’s rules. I observed every child that boarded the bus before I left Eva.

I stood and waved as the bus pulled out, then drove promptly to the bus stop where I picked Eva up. George and Vincent were there too, along with our dog, Mandy. Vincent wouldn’t look at us, though, because he was mad he couldn’t ride the bus with Eva. When the bus arrived and Eva climbed down the stairs, Vincent ran to to her and wrapped her up in a big bear hug.

It looks like we’ve got a school Open House this week and a school-and-church sponsored Southside Community Meal that we’ve been invited to. I have Eva’s daily class schedule here with me, so I know exactly what she’s learning and what she’s doing every hour of the day.

Quick stop at Lowe's before heading to a princess tea party.

First day of preschool. Dirt rocks!

My little scholar.

A Special Father’s Day for G…Father of Three?

About eight years ago, I started to wonder why G and I didn’t have any children. Specifically, I wondered why I could not seem to become pregnant. Everyone else seemed to have the answers, though. Here’s what I heard when the matter was brought up in discussion:

“You’re too anxious.”

“You drink too much.”

“You should stop smoking.”

“You worry too much.”

“George isn’t home enough.”

“You need to relax.”

“You just need a vacation.”

Not only were these comments offensive and uninformed, they made no sense. After all, I was relaxed. My days consisted of going to the gym, walking my dogs, doing a little freelance writing, with no real obligations or anything asked of me. Vacations? George and I went on vacations all the time back then, usually to sunny Florida where we enjoyed rustic beachfront hotels, sun, and surf. I had nothing to worry about or be anxious over, for G took care of everything.

I finally went in to see a doctor who could help. While G was in the middle of the crab season, my mom came down to stay with me for a week and I went in for an exploratory surgery. The surgery confirmed what I knew all along; there were two reasons why I was not conceiving any children. The doctor made a temporary fix and told us we had about three months to conceive before the fix ran out and I’d need to have surgery again or explore alternative options.

Long story short, we conceived Eva during the second month of that window. I called G via satellite phone in Alaska (now in the middle of the halibut and blackcod season) and shared the amazing news. When our miracle Eva was ten months old, and not wanting to take any chances on more delays or problems, we tried for a second baby and that’s how our second miracle, Vincent, came to be.

Flash forward six years, and we have two sweet, smart, and precious children. They are close in age, good friends, and the light of our lives. Now that they are “big kids,” we got rid of all of our baby things. Bye bye two changing tables, two cribs, two car seats. Goodbye bottles, pumps, Desitin, baby bags, tons of diapers in two sizes, high chair, swings, play gyms, blocks, and stacking toys.

Hey, pack your bags everyone! We’re taking trips again! The house is free of baby clutter! We have everything in order with a bit of energy to spare. The kids dress themselves, they’re easy to take everywhere, and becoming more independent everyday. For our baby fixes, we get to love our niece and cousin, “Baby Autumn” and go to Jazzercise and see sweet smiley Bella. Everything is perfect!

But wait…I don’t feel good. Something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe I should count back some days and study last month’s calendar. Then I move to the computer for some quick research. Next, I go to the store for an unlikely purchase and make a joke to my friend, who is working the register. Cross your fingers, I say.

Back home, I unwrap the box—a three pack. (You girls know what I’m talking about.) I take one. My eyes must be tricking me. I try the second. What? I move onto the third. No way.

I sit on the surprise and shock for ten days before I can reach George, once again in the middle of the Alaska blackcod and halibut season, via satellite phone.

“You’re going to be really mad,” I say. In retrospect, that was probably not the best opening I could have come up with. George thought I had bought a new car! By the end of the conversation, I’m sure he was wishing it was only a new car.

Now nine weeks along and slowly overcoming the shock, it looks like George is going to be a father of three. This has been an extremely long several weeks. Wow. How to sort it all out? With thanks to my Jazzercise friends, the crew, our families, and a book or two, we are slowly getting used to the idea.

I’ve seen the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen and could not believe my eyes. That little peanut with the strong beating heart blew me away. It reminded me what a miracle growing life is, and what a strange thing to be experiencing it again after all the heartache and grief we went through to get our family started in the first place. 

I have a lot of questions, though. Aren’t we too old for this? How on earth did this happen? How will I ever nurse a baby all night and then get up to take my two other children to kindergarten and preschool every morning? How will I take care of three children under six, often without G? And for that matter…will I be giving birth without him this time? The baby is due during the most critical portion of the crab season in January. He absolutely cannot miss that part, for it’s a huge amount of our income for the year. If he cannot be here, which friend will I choose to help me?

Aaah. As my dear friend Amanda pointed out, that’s why we have nine months of pregnancy. Time to get used to the surprise, time to work it all out and get used to the idea of a new direction for the family. G has been a real trooper; shocked and confounded at first and experiencing a bit of denial, he has come around as he always does. Thanks also to our crew; you guys are beyond awesome. They were genuinely excited and full of congratulations for George, and as I’ve experienced, that support, understanding, and joy carries you through the doubt and concern.

Oddly, once this new baby is born, there will be about a dozen kids among G, Bryan, Brett, Johnny, and Oscar. What a great boat family, Jazzercise family, and blood family to belong to. Love all of you so much!

So, Happy Father’s Day, George. I love you for your hard work, loyalty, dedication, strength, perspective, humor, and acceptance for what is. Your two—possibly three—children love you, and so do I. More than words could ever, ever express. I would not want to go through one day of my life without you.

No Housework? Right!

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

Hilarious.

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

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

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

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

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

“The boat is home, Buddy,” I reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen’s Friday Favorites

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


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

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

3.  Eva and Vincent’s spring gymnastics show.

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful weekend!!