Archive for Halibut and Blackcod Longlining Season

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…

Three Weeks To Go!

We are down to less than a month until G gets home from this year’s blackcod and halibut season. Unfortunately, so far, the season has been painfully slow and the guys have been grinding away for not much reward.

The upside is that the annoying portion of the fish plan is now completed and they are moving on into the middle and end of season, which should prove to be a lot better fishing.

At any rate, the real upside is that in about three weeks it will all be over and the guys will be home. I know that after over four months alone with three kids aged six and under, I am looking forward to having another parent at home.

We have done very well, though! I am so proud of the children (and me!). I never imagined that we would make it this far and largely trouble-free. Eva and Vincent have worked hard to follow directions and try to get along with each other and with Mom so that we could have a nice time.

And of course, little baby Valerie remains as sweet as ever. She smiles at everyone and honestly appears so happy to be in the world with us!20120527-130923.jpg

My parents have helped me quite a bit since Valerie was born last January. George has fished two seasons since Valerie was born and he has really only spent one week at home in the last four months. When my parents left for Hawaii two weeks ago, I was nervous about how I would manage truly on my own and being solely responsible for getting everyone everywhere on time.

Although I have no energy left over at the end of each day and the kids and I are in bed at 8 o’clock each night, we are managing decently. I have also returned to Jazzercise, which was something I’d look forward to!

One of the greatest things that has happened during this time is the opening of our neighborhood swimming pool. We moved up high enough on the waiting list this year to be offered a summer membership, and I couldn’t be more pleased. While the 20120527-130844.jpgweather has not been great, anytime that the sun comes out and it’s over 60°, and the kids and I race to the pool.

I absolutely love packing our lunch and snacks and towels and suntan lotion for an afternoon at the pool. Valerie looks adorable in her little swimsuit, and it’s fun watching Eva and Vincent play in the pool and go down the slide. It is not easy juggling a six-year-old, a four-year-old and an infant all at once at a swimming pool, but it’s totally worth the effort to be outside, getting exercise, and watching the kids have so much fun.

I have been surprised how many families we know also received pool memberships this summer! I have seen families from the neighborhood, from preschool, and ballet.

My parents will be home in another week, and George should be home two weeks after that. I am looking forward to everyone returning home safely and soundly, and I am equally as happy and grateful to have had all this quality time with my little ones.

It’s tough being the only adult on duty and I’m in survival mode (doing what HAS to be done and not much more), but I’m sure the children and I will always remember the memories we’ve made and the laughs we’ve had this winter and spring.

20120527-192522.jpgI happened upon a booth recently that sold engraved rings. I bought one and had the names of all three children engraved upon it.

It’s not easy being a “seasonally single” parent, but I love my kids and there are no other three people I’d rather spend this much time with.

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Finally, a Phone Call From Sand Point. Ten Days Down…

One thing about me that bugs George to no end is my rather untimely way of getting to the bills. It wasn’t always this way; having a touch of OCD and understanding the importance of responsible finances, I always made sure I knew how much was in my accounts and each penny was accounted for. I also sent in my bills on time, for I didn’t want to put even the slightest dent in my good credit.

As the years have gone by, though, I’ve become increasingly slower and less interested in getting to the bills and balancing the household checkbook. (Never mind the business accounts; George doesn’t let me NEAR those!) I don’t know; I think it’s the limited amount of time I have to sit at my desk and open envelopes, review their contents, write checks, seal and stamp envelopes.

Having three children, including one infant, doesn’t leave one with much desk time. Oh, and when I do find time to sit at my desk, there are other things I’d rather do, like Facebook…and this blog…maybe a little Twitter thrown in for fun. Ha.

George has put as many bills as he can on autopay and when he’s home, he just takes over all the accounts to make sure everything is done on time. So when it is time for him to leave home, he gets a little nervous about leaving me in charge of the remaining bills.

“Please pay the bills on time while I’m gone,” he said before he left for this year’s blackcod and halibut season. “Please!”

George doesn’t ask too much of me, so I said I would definitely try to stay on top of it.

Valerie slept this morning for a bit, so I took the opportunity to get to those bills. When I opened the checkbook, I discovered a sticky note George left for me with instructions on which bills to pay and out of which checkbook. Lol! That’s my guy. Well, he needn’t worry; I managed to pay all the bills this morning and even balanced the checkbook. One month of bills down, two or three more to go.

Now that I’m truly the only parent on duty, I’ve started having ridiculous mom nightmares each night. Terrible dreams that don’t even make sense, like I can’t remember where to pick up my children or at what time. Or dreams in which I have a child with me one minute, and then I turn around and she’s gone.

I had one ludicrous nightmare already this week in which I’d become a loser mom who spent an entire day at the local casino, won $100 and was so excited that I lost all track of time and never made it back to town to pick up my children from school. Okay—now, I don’t even gamble (we work too hard for our money to throw it away!) and I obviously would never waste an entire day at a casino or forget about my children! For Pete’s sake.

These nightmares scare me because I am the exact opposite. I check on my children multiple times when they’re playing in our own backyard. I know exactly where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with at all times during the day. I get up and check on them several times during the night. And when I’m the sole parent on duty, I’m hyper vigilant. This is my subconscious rearing its ugly head while I’m asleep, and I don’t really appreciate it.

I finally got a chance to talk to G yesterday. I hadn’t heard from him in over ten days and was starting to worry a bit, but I abide by the saying that no news is good news. I didn’t know if he was going to start out in Southeast Alaska, the Gulf, or head all the way out west, so I just waited. Turns out he’s starting out west which takes a long time to get to, and he called me once they made it to Sand Point. He said the weather was good so they were going to get right out and get to it.

Here’s hoping they get on the fish quickly and wrap up that part of it sooner rather than later. Fishing out west is no fun; I’ll feel better once they move into the Gulf and then Southeast. It was good to hear his voice, though, and now maybe my subconscious will settle down a bit.

G Has Arrived…Will Summer Follow Suit?

Well, I’ve finally made it to the second trimester, but I’m not feeling any improvement in yucky pregnancy symptoms yet. I feel awful most days, which accounts for the continuing delay in blog posts! The good news is that so far, all blood tests and ultrasound measurements show a healthy little baby in the works, so that is a relief.

In each ultrasound, the baby’s been flipping and twirling around, which is amazing to see. At the last one, the baby even appeared to give me an excited wave with its tiny hand before the machine was shut down. I keep that image in my mind when I start feeling sick and frustrated. I won’t be able to find out whether it’s a girl or a boy for seven more weeks.

George and the crew arrived home last Saturday. They arrived in port accompanied by rolling thunder several hours earlier than expected. I knew they were going to be early, but I was a bit startled when I looked out my window and saw the boat coming across the bay. You couldn’t miss it; the rows of bright orange buoys tethered on top of the substantial steel shack can be spotted miles away.

My heart pumped with excitement as the kids and I flew out the door, down the stairs, and into the car in a race to the finish. Who would be the first to arrive at the harbor; George or me?! George won by less than ten minutes.

The next day, they unloaded the final halibut delivery (George took some pictures for me, seen below) and the kids and I went down to visit later in the afternoon. Vincent has been asking to drive the boat for the past few months, so G waited for us before moving the boat over to its normal spot in the harbor.

The kids wore their life jackets and boarded the boat, settling into the wheelhouse with Dad. The crew was cute and played along; after the lines were untied and they were ready to move away from the dock, Bryan yelled “All clear, Vincent!” up to the wheelhouse. That made me laugh.

I met them over at the dock across the harbor where I climbed aboard. Johnny showed the kids around the deck and answered their questions and Brett gave them donuts while we all got caught up on the past few weeks and months.

The post halibut/blackcod gear work finished up in what seemed record time, and the crew was picked up by friends, girlfriends, and wives within four days. Now, if our summer would only begin…it’s cloudy, windy, and cold today. Vincent has a bad cold and stayed home from preschool. I love November in July!

 

The Light At The End Of The Blackcod Tunnel’s In Sight!

I know I’ve been going a while longer in between posts, and it’s not that I don’t have anything to write or say (that would be a cold day in you-know-where!). It’s just that every time I sit down to type something, this 11-week old pregnancy nausea kicks in and I just can’t do it. It’s still pretty bad and again, much worse than I recall with the first two children.

I do remember that this horrible feeling did go away at week fourteen each time, though, so I hope that within a couple of weeks I will feel a lot better. I think G feels for me; he’s called me twice from sea via satellite phone which is something he does not do. I can’t even get him to pick the phone up 95% of the time on the rare occasion I call it!

Anyway, the first time he called, I wasted no time whining about how awful I’ve been feeling, how overwhelmed with the house and getting kids to and from activities, taking care of dogs, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, shoveling dog poop, and everything else that we married single mothers do mostly alone. I said there was so much to do, I didn’t even know where to begin. Further, even if I knew where to begin, I was too tired to do so.

This is not like me at all, and nothing l’d say except when pregnant (or the kids and I are all sick). I come from stoic and hard-working stock on both sides of my family. We don’t whine and we don’t cry over being alone or working hard. But, hey. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. And the minute I heard G’s voice, it did.

“Just pay the bills, Hon,” George said. “Get the mortgage and credit card paid. Get the bills paid on time and don’t worry about the rest. And there will be checks arriving; get those in the bank. Do those things first and I’ll help you with the rest when I get home.”

“That’s not a lot of help,” I sniffed. “You won’t be home for like two months.”

“Actually, I’ll be home in about two weeks,” he said.

I was too ill too express much relief and joy over the news right then and there, but I’m thrilled. G and crew caught the halibut and blackcod quota quickly this year and the fish were big. Both of those things are excellent, especially the part where he comes home around three months earlier than last year.

Now, not only will G be around to help out for a bit without having to rush and get the boat ready for the next fishing season, but he’ll be able to attend the county fair with the kids and me, watch the kids’ swimming lessons, and even go to my parents’ beach house for a mini vacation. He’ll also be able to view an ultra sound in a few weeks and be there when we found out if our unexpected baby-in-the-making is a girl or a boy.

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.

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.

Good Luck. Catch the Quota Quick and Come Back Home!

G and the gang made it out of the harbor around 8 p.m. on Thursday, bound for areas all over Alaska to catch our halibut and blackcod quota. It was a sadder send off for me than usual; I think it’s because G wasn’t home long before leaving again, and the house is especially quiet without both George and our Toby. Poor Vincent is the only guy in the house now! :)

Ah, we’ll survive, though! We always do. These are not the most exciting pictures, but I tried to get a shot of each of the guys so their wives, children, and girlfriends could see them as they left the harbor.

Falling asleep on Daddy the night before.

Johnny, George, Brett, Bryan, Oscar...and future crew, Eva and Vincent.

Bryan on the shack.

Johnny on the bow.

So long...

Happy travels to you all. Hugs and kisses!

Traditional blast of the foghorn and around the breakwater they go.

Hurry Up and Wait

G is due to leave….45 minutes ago.

So here are some pre-departure pictures. Vincent woke up crying this morning because Daddy is leaving for Alaska without him. Grandpa is going to go to the harbor for the send-off, with the kids’ bikes, to help ease the pain.

Send-off is currently behind schedule…I’m selfishly hoping something happened so I can have one more night with G. Or rather, two more nights, since it is bad luck to leave for a new season on Fridays.

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Packing. Bah!

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Don't Leave...

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Picnic While We Wait For Dad to Leave

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You Don't Need That...

Ah, I posted too soon. G arrived home–ready to head out–the moment I clicked “publish.” Here we go. Everything will be fine like it always is!