It’s Only a Week, After All. Check.

Last May, George took our two oldest children (Eva, 7 and Vincent, 6) on a Larrabee family camping trip. I wrote all about that weekend in a post called “I Want My Family Back, Stat!” For me at home, it was the longest weekend ever. I didn’t go on the trip because I’m (literally) not a happy camper, and I also had baby Valerie to think of. I assumed my 18-month old would also not be a good camper.

I agreed to let Eva and Vincent leave that weekend, assuming I would be able talk to them, see pictures of them, and exchange voice mails while they were away. Boy, was I wrong! I didn’t realize there would be no cell coverage where they were camping the entire weekend. By the end of the third day they were gone, I decided to reach out to someone who had been on the trip. How were my children? Have you seen them? What did you all do? Are you back? Why isn’t my family home yet?

Although some might disagree, I don’t think I’m excessively hyper-protective or over-paranoid about my children.

Well, okay. Maybe I am.

But if you had been a seasonally-single mother for seven years, you might be also! Except for this camping trip last spring, I have never been apart from my children. I’ve chosen to be a stay-at-home mom on purpose, so that when their dad is away fishing for months on end, there is one parent here at home for them every moment of the day, every day. I take them to the doctor, show up for field trips, and allow them to come sleep with me when they are lonely or scared.

Plus, I just love these kids. Of course, they fight and I can’t stand that. My oldest can have a bit of a smart-mouth, and I can’t stand that either. Ugh. I do love my breaks to scoot out for a pedicure or a massage or even just a trip to the grocery store alone when I can!

But I live and breathe my kids and without them, I don’t know what to do.

My two oldest children and my husband departed just this morning for a week-long trip to visit G’s sister and mother in Arkansas. I did not go on the trip because of the same reason we canceled our Florida trip to see G’s dad…Baby On A Plane.

I have dreaded Arkansas departure day for the last month; having to say goodbye to my children and endure without them for a week. I kissed and hugged, and kissed and hugged, my two oldest before they set off with Dad this morning.

My friend at Jazzercise told me to let go and allow my oldest children have this adventure, and for everyone to try and experience it with joy and gratitude. G has missed so many months of our childrens’ lives while he has been at sea, and this is a great opportunity for him to enjoy an extended time alone with his two oldest. After all, I’ve had months and months, added up to years, alone with all of our children.

Can I let go enough to allow them one week with their father?

I don’t know. But I’ll try.

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G marked the date on the calendar.

A Great Day for Local Jazzercise

I’m pausing from regular Commercial Fishing Mom programming to write about how lucky I feel to be a Jazzercise instructor at my local studio.

Our Jazzercise community is incredible. From customers to instructors to class managers, we have an amazing family of women (and one man) that I feel lucky and grateful to be a part of.

This morning, we celebrated my friend Meghann’s fifth year of teaching with what we call a “team teach.” A “team teach” means that during the course of a one-hour aerobic set, a variety of instructors each teach three or four songs. Team teaches are fun for instructors and customers alike, especially when you are celebrating an event or holiday like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or someone’s Jazzercise anniversary.

Later on today, I attended an incredible event; the farewell concert of one of our Jazzercise customers. Our Annie, who would have been a Jazzercise instructor save her career as a Mezzo Soprano in Germany (ha!), put on a beautiful concert that left me and everyone else speechless. She sang pieces from Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Mozart, Alban Berg, and Leonard Bernstein before concluding with the most heartbreaking, beautiful version of Over the Rainbow (Harold Arlen) that I have ever heard. I had to be stern with myself in order to hold it together as she sang.

What else about Jazzercise at my studio? We celebrate and support our customers with cancer and participate in Relay for Life. We host Mother & Child Jazzercise and donate diapers to the food bank. Twice a week, I say hello-and-goodbye to my own sister as she leaves the 8:25 a.m Jazzercise class and I arrive to teach the 9:35 a.m. class. Just today, I watched a new instructor teach a solid four routines during the team teach and felt both pride and respect for her and our studio. I laughed throughout class thanks to the blessed good humor of our friend and fellow instructor whose five-year anniversary we celebrated.

I see Jazzercise friends at the pool, I watch them perform in theater productions, and I chat with them at school board meetings.

No, I’m not as young as I was when I first started taking Jazzercise twenty years ago. I’m nowhere near the weight I was when I started teaching seven years ago. We don’t always all get along and we make mistakes and feelings get hurt. But when I see my fellow Jazzercise friends, I also see the infants we nursed in the studio childcare that now attend elementary and middle school. I see a shared past and I see a future.

If you wonder why Jazzercise still exists, this is why. We not only dance and lift weights to awesome music, we create a community. It’s a thriving community of friendship, mishaps, forgiveness, talent, and growing. I wouldn’t trade my Jazzercise family for anything. If you like good music, exercise, community, friendship, and joy, I recommend checking out your local Jazzercise center. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Some of my friends and fellow Jazzercise instructors!

Some of my fellow Jazzercise instructors after a 4th of July team teach!

More Jazzercise friends/instructors.

More Jazzercise friends/instructors.

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Mother–Child Jazzercise

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Two of my three children playing in the studio childcare.

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Some post–workout fun for the little ones!

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A Day of Celebration: The Christening and Open House of the F/V Northern Leader

On a rainy and cold, yet festive and energetic, January morning (and by morning, I mean 3:30 a.m.) my family and I joined hundreds of others gathered at J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding in Tacoma, Washington to watch the launch of the brand new 184-foot freezer-longliner, F/V Northern Leader.

You can read all about that exciting day, including specifics about the $25 million+ vessel, information about  Alaskan Leader Fisheries, Inc. and other fun facts right here.

Six months later, my family and I joined another crowd of hundreds on a sunny July afternoon at the Port of Seattle to celebrate the Christening and open house of the Northern Leader.

George was unable to attend the launch in January because he was crabbing. (Actually, the captain of the Northern Leader, Shaun, also missed the launch because he was running the Bristol Leader in the Bering Sea.)

Yesterday, though, everyone was there! All of the Alaskan Leader Fisheries partners along with wives and children, mates, captains, the Governor Jay Inslee, and hundreds of others. Nick Delaney, Managing Director of Alaskan Leader Fisheries, and his wife Sally are longtime friends of George and mine. George has previously served as mate and captain on some of the vessels Nick owns, and Nick has served as mentor, friend, boss, and partner to George in both the earliest and later stages of George’s fishing career.

It was exciting to be included in both the launch and Christening of the newest Leader boat, even though we actually have nothing directly to do with the vessel. George was all smiles as he ran into one friend after another, people he fished with and for, and people he hasn’t seen in ten years or more since taking over my own family’s commercial fishing boat and operation.

Yesterday was also our son, Vincent’s, sixth birthday. What cooler way for the son and grandson of commercial fishing captains to spend his birthday than with his father and grandfather at an event celebrating a history-making fishing vessel? (Vincent also had cake and presents to look forward to upon our return home!) My daughters were in attendance as well and all three children were well–behaved, including baby Valerie.

It was fun for me to see G so happy.  In fact, G might even head back down to Seattle for the sea trial of the Northern Leader before the boat heads north to Alaska in ten days. There, it will participate in the longline cod and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands.

Anyway, I took many pictures of the event and one short video of the ceremonial smashing of the champagne bottle. Aside from the fact that this is the largest and most innovative, eco-friendly longline commercial fishing vessel built in the U.S. in over twenty years, it is clear that the teamwork, camaraderie, respect, love, family and friendship that went into building this vessel is what makes it extra special.

The idea for, the building of, and the celebration of the Northern Leader is proof that no matter how large or how expensive your commercial fishing vessel is, it can still be a “family” operation if the right people and the right attitudes are involved.

You can access a few quick videos I took of the boatyard launch right here, or click below to watch the champagne bottle smash at the pier.

Below is a thumbnail gallery of images I took during the event, both outside and inside the vessel. Click on an image to enlarge and get a better view, or watch as a slideshow.

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G with Baz. Baz was the cook on the Shemya and Bristol Leader when G was the captain and mate. Now Baz is the first mate!

Open house schedule of events.

Open house schedule of events

Reserved for Jay Inslee 3

Offical NL Pic

Official Northern Leader portrait.

Captain Shaun's leather sofa and gigantic flatscreen. Eva giving it the thumbs up, and so did I. That was the most comfy couch I've ever sat in.

Captain Shaun’s leather sofa and gigantic flatscreen. Eva gave it the thumbs up, and so did I. That was the most comfy couch I’ve ever sat in.

George and me. Look how excited we are!

George, the kids, and me.

 

For more information on the Northern Leader and Alaskan Leader Fisheries, Inc., please see the post The Epic Launch of the F/V Northern Leader.

 

 

 

Wapato Point. Who Knew?

George and I try to get back to Florida every few years for vacation and to visit his dad and some friends. Last summer, we packed up all three kids and flew across the country to Anna Maria Island and enjoyed every second of beach and condo life. Once G got home from longlining this year, we sat down with the calendar and planned this summer’s trip to Florida. We rescheduled dentist and doctor appointments, worked around swimming lessons, and I found subs for two weeks’ worth of Jazzercise classes.

But then, we took an impromptu week-long trip to my parents’ beach house out on the coast of Washington. We have been going out to my family’s beach house for the past twenty years, in all seasons of weather and life, and almost always have a good and relaxing time. Our  most recent trip out there, however, is where we discovered that traveling with a walking, teething, grumpy, and curious eighteen-month old “might” be considered less than pleasant. (Why we didn’t realize this after our first two children, I don’t know!)

George and I don’t agree on a lot, but following that trip, we readily agreed that traveling across country on an airplane for six hours with a young toddler was not something either of us wanted to experience. Now, Val is a sweet, smiley, adorable little babe. However, she isn’t nursing anymore, she’s walking, she has teeth coming in, and she does not yet talk or in any other way listen to reason.

Florida trip: CANCELED!

Where to go, then? We decided to stay in-state. We consulted with my friend, Leanne, who also wanted to get out of town, and we eventually settled on Lake Chelan. Specifically, Wapato Point at Lake Chelan! This turned out to be the best Florida replacement we could have come up with.

First of all, it was HOT. Not mediocre Western Washington heat; true Eastern Washington heat. That’s what I wanted! To soak up real sun.

We got a three-bedroom condo for four children and three adults and although the condo featured the exact same 1984 kitchen cabinets as the ones in my own home, I didn’t care. I felt right at home! The overall space was open and inviting, clean, and easy to maneuver. The resort features a family–friendly beach, a huge grassy field, and playgrounds strategically placed around the property. Also strategically placed around the property are several “mini–pools.” I loved this. Wherever I was and no matter how long I pushed Val in the the stroller in the heat around the resort, I could stop off and jump in one of the pools to cool off.

G rented a pontoon boat and we took the kids on a four–hour cruise around the lake. I was shocked and nervous when the inflatable tube came out and I realized the kids were to sit in it while G towed them behind the boat, and I admit I was not at all pleased with this activity. I also didn’t realize we were not going to be stopping for lunch and we’d all be near famished before we docked the boat and all but ran to the Beach Shack for some good old–fashioned beach eats.

However, the children had a blast on the boat and so did G. In fact, I think G had the most fun on that boat of everyone!

Anyway, Wapato Point in Lake Chelan is awesome. It’s big, yet has a small feel. You feel safe with your children running around, and there is plenty to keep your family occupied and happy. We found the families on the beach to be courteous and friendly, and the restaurant on site offered child–friendly spaces for kids to run and play while you participated in wine tasting or waited for dinner to arrive.

Val slept well each night and the big kids wore themselves out with swimming, walking, playing, and fresh air.

I can’t wait to go back. If you are looking for a family-friendly place in the sun to have a nice time for a week or two, I recommend Wapato Point!

 

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Grateful For A Fantastic Summer So Far

The weather has been perfect and I have been loving every second of this brilliant sun I’ve waited nine months to see. We have been so lucky all of July!

I’ve also loved leaving the rigid school-year schedule behind. It has been so great not having to get up and rush out the door with three children and get them to two different schools and juggle the baby. No meetings, no homework, no dance classes, no real obligations. What a much–needed and appreciated break!

We are taking the mornings slow, spending each afternoon at the pool, and then coming home for dinner and a casual evening before bedtime. We have hosted some planned parties with friends, enjoyed fun spontaneous gatherings, gone for bike rides, and are just soaking in and enjoying our community of friends and family along with the weather.

Two nights ago, as Vincent was going to bed, we noticed his tooth was missing. It had been wiggly for one day, but we never expected it to come out that same day. Nobody knew where or when the tooth fell out, but we had a good laugh over the fact that Vincent truly and literally lost his first tooth. He is turning six at the end of the month and is excited about his shark pool party.

Of course, there are always tough times when the whole family is around. Valerie is now eighteen months old, and she is getting her first teeth and doing a lot of whining. She doesn’t talk yet, so she sort of yells in different pitches when she needs to communicate something, which becomes rather grating. Vincent and Eva go from room to room making messes and sometimes fighting. (Of course, G and I aren’t exempt from any of this; I have to admit we do some of these same things, ha ha!)

A commercial fishing family living all together in one location is not always easy when you are used to being a family of one or a family of four, separated by states and seas most of the year.

It’s never easy, but when things are going well, it’s the best ever.

P.S. I’ve had some trouble with links and pictures on this site ever since I moved it over to its new location. If there is a picture or link you try to click on and it doesn’t come up, or you get a notice saying “access is denied,” please tell me and I’ll fix it right away. I appreciate your help!

Here are a few pics from the last month or two:

 

Submit Your Commercial Fishing Family Story!

I have some exciting news to share. After nearly three years of talking and planning, Amanda Babich and I are pleased to announce the very first call for submissions to the commercial fishing families anthology we are publishing.

That’s right!  For the first time ever, among the many books and television programs about commercial fishing, comes a nonfiction anthology that will feature the behind-the-scenes stories of commercial fishing families!

This anthology will feature the stories you don’t often read; accounts from the wives, mothers, fathers, girlfriends, and children of fishermen from their unique on-shore perspectives.

Do you have a story to share? Write it up and send it to us. This anthology will include tales of the great and joyful, as well as the challenging and heartbreaking. This nonfiction collection of essays will be an original and groundbreaking look at real life inside the modern commercial fishing family.

We encourage you to submit your true story even if you have limited writing experience. What matters most is the story you have to tell, not how many times you have been published or whether you even consider yourself a writer.

Think about a commercial fishing family story you would like to share, a tale you like to tell, or advice you’d like to dispense. Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2013. Of course, no essays denigrating commercial fishermen or commercial fishing families will be considered.

Prior to publication, submissions will be posted on the Commercial Fishing Mom blog.

For specific submission guidelines, please click here.

Amanda and I look forward to hearing from you and reading your stories!

Summer is Here…And So is G! Without the Boat.

Summer has arrived! The best–or at least, great–thing for the children and me is that our fishing boat has gone north for the Southeast Alaska seine season….and George is not on it! G is staying home for the summer. Without his boat. This means that George is stuck available to do family things with us for the next two months without any reason to run down to the harbor, miss calls due to no cell coverage, or any other thing.

I’ll always know where he is. Instead of somewhere at sea in Washington or Alaska or unloading crab or halibut or otherwise, he’ll usually be right here. At home.

Lol!

The first summer event I planned for the family was an outing to the Josh Turner concert. I got the tickets for George for Father’s Day because it’s not often a Nashville star comes around here, and while G is not a big music guy, he does like Josh Turner a lot. For that matter, so does my seven-year old daughter, Eva. So I got tickets for everyone! Off down the road (for three hours) we went.

Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain before and during the show, so I had to take baby Valerie and head back to the lodge an hour before the first act even got on stage. That’s okay, though. Although I’d really looked forward to seeing the concert, having a baby outdoors in the rain at night is totally unacceptable. So we went back to our room, where Valerie fell asleep in my arms. G and the older kids stuck it out in the rain as long as they could, with a beer and some hot chocolate, before they too headed back.

At least we got the drive over together, enjoyed a clean, cozy room out of town, and the next day the kids got to go swimming while I walked around with Val in the stroller before heading home.

 

Cowgirl Eva ready for her first country concert.

Cowgirl Eva ready for her first country concert. Vincent, keeping it real with an Alaska Ship Supply sweatshirt.

What’s next? A trip out of town to my parent’s beach house. Another long drive, but I haven’t been south of my town except one time this year, so I’m excited just to turn right onto the freeway and go in a new direction! We’re packing up the bikes this time, but even if it rains the whole trip (which it probably will), I won’t care too much. All five of us (six, counting our dog, Mandy) will be together, and that is a rare adventure all on its own.

Oh–a note. If you were an e-mail subscriber on my former blog, Highliners and Homecomings, and you’d like to continue receiving notices about when new posts go up, please re-subscribe!

Have a fantastic day.

Hello, Again! Testing the First Post on Commercial Fishing Mom.

Welcome to my new and updated blog! As I mentioned last week, before officially making the switch, you may not notice a big difference between the former Highliners and Homecomings and the new Commercial Fishing Mom. Most of the blog changes are internal and unseen. Please let me know if you come across any links that do not work or any other kind of glitch. This site has been rebuilt from scratch and we worked hard to bring over all the posts from the past six+ years, but there are a few that did not make the transfer, as well as most of the comments and “likes.”

If you are just joining me for the first time, thanks for visiting! I am a freelance writer, mother, wife, and Jazzercise instructor who has been blogging about my multi-generation commercial fishing family for six years. Here’s a little bit about my philosophy and why I love writing this blog, as told to Christina Katz during the Every Day In May Book Giveaway:

“I try to be honest about my life experiences and share them with my readers, whether those experiences are considered “good” or “bad.” Every inch of my being believes that it is our responsibility as human beings to share what we have lived through and learned from. Whether our path has been filled with joy or pain, or some of both, it is our obligation to share what we have taken away from the journey.

In my life, I have often relied upon the experience and wisdom of others to make me feel less alone and to find common ground. Therefore, I feel that I must also contribute to this process through my blog, my e-book, my professional writing, and even things as simple as Facebook posts.

I started my blog seven years ago because I wanted to specifically address the issues and lifestyle of the commercial fishing family and build a similar online community. Prior to launching my blog, there was next to nothing in the public realm focusing specifically on life inside the commercial fishing family. We had commercial fishing TV shows, books about tragedies and narrow escapes, and a few memoirs, but nothing focused specifically upon the modern-day commercial fishing family.

The response and affirmation from readers throughout the years has been incredible. I have a varied audience that ranges from commercial fishing insiders, to family and personal friends, to those who do not know or even care about the commercial fishing industry. The latter group connects with me through my writing on topics like “seasonally singe motherhood,” the loss of pets, childhood hearing loss, anxiety, school, and marriage.

I do this because I love to write and connect with others. Writing about one’s life is not always easy, and it can create a certain amount of fear. However, this is what I’ve been called to do since I was a small child. If my words and stories can make one person feel less alone and uncertain, it is all worth it.”

Again, thank you for visiting Commercial Fishing Mom, an updated and slightly different version of the former Highliners and Homecomings. I have some fun things planned for this blog in the coming months, so keep checking back. And again, please let me know if you run across any glitches or broken links while navigating the site!

I Want My Family Back Home, Stat!

On Friday, George took our two oldest children (Eva, 7 and Vincent, 5) on their first ever camping trip with several other families from our elementary school community. G spent two days gathering bikes, canoes, and paddle boards from all the families to take along in his truck, along with tons of food, a tent, life jackets, and a picnic table. The children and G were so excited to go! I did not accompany them on the trip, because I have baby Valerie and there was no way she was going to sleep in a tent for three nights.

I was simultaneously excited for and dreading this weekend. G has never had the kids alone for this long of a time, and I was happy that they would have this time to bond, but I also worried. Worried about the lake, the campground, not being with my children. I know that camping is something G loves to do; he’s always been great in the outdoors. Not only is he a fishing captain, but he’s an Eagle Scout and well-prepared in all ways for anything related to camping or otherwise. I reassured myself that they would all be fine and they would all have fun.

Meanwhile, I’d stay home and enjoy the long weekend with my baby. I’d clean the house right off the bat, and it would stay clean. I’d invite my friend over to visit and watch a movie on Friday night without interruption. I’d read my book, rest on the couch, attend the Memorial Day parade and all of the Ski-to-Sea festivities my town offers.

And all of that is what I did, in fact, do. The one thing I did not anticipate was that I would not be able to talk to, see pictures of, or in any way be able to communicate with my dear oldest children.

“Send me lots of pictures!” I said before they left on Friday. “Call me!” I took their picture, told them how much I was going to miss them, and cried as they left, even though G warned me against doing so.

What I never expected was that I would have NO CONTACT with my children from the time they pulled out of the driveway until even now. They still aren’t home, and I have not spoken with or hugged any of them since Friday at 3:00 p.m. I never expected that they would be out of cell phone range this entire time.

My children have spent the night at their grandparents, and I was without them while giving birth to Valerie, but I’ve never been out of contact with them. Ever. Not in seven years has been there a day or even a moment when I could not reach, or see, or communicate with my babes. I have to say that I absolutely hate this. I’ve gone weeks without speaking to G, and months without seeing him, but never my children.

I’m never allowing this to happen again. It’s been pure torture! I could not sleep and woke up last night in a dark, lonely, and quiet house from 2:00 a.m. until 4:00 a.m. I read the news and even researched mysteries and conspiracy theories on my iPhone until I fell back asleep. I miss the way Eva wakes me up in the morning, telling me she’s “going to start my coffee.” I miss the way Vincent sneaks into my bed “like a ninja” and falls back asleep next to me. I miss the way we sit in our oversized recliner in the morning for one more snuggle before the day begins.

Next time, I am going, no matter what. I will have G rent a camper or RV since I am not a good camper, and I’m going. I don’t ever, ever want to be without my children again. I am sure they had a great time, a great bonding weekend with their dad, and all is fine. But they aren’t home yet, this is dragging on, and I don’t like it.

One night and one day of quiet and time to chill for a mommy is great, but more than that is just lonely. I want my family back!

 

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We Love Larrabee! Save Our Small Schools.

On Friday, I attended an ’80s dance party at our neighborhood school, where Eva is in first grade and next year, Vincent will be in kindergarten. We had a great time. Eva dressed up as an ’80s aerobics instructor. She wore one of my old gymnastics leotards (circa 1988), tights, a headband, and fluorescent pink shoes. For the special occasion, I let her wear blue eye shadow and hot pink lip gloss.

For my own ’80s look, I did my best to create “big hair” but had trouble achieving it. Even my husband, George, who’s a nice guy and graduated from high school in 1985 (when I was in fifth grade, ahem) told me I hadn’t quite captured the look I wanted. I made a part in my hair, tossed it over, and showed him. “You’ve got it now,” he said.

My two older children and I went to the party. It was a blast. We danced, the kids won cakes during the cake walk, and we chatted outside with parents until we had to go home. There was even a photo booth at the event! Here is one of the picture slides I took with Eva. The photo booth company provided props for the pictures.

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This is what I love about our school! “The little school on the hill” is what one of our parents calls it. We create events, show up, have a few laughs, and go home.

Unfortunately, our “little school on the hill” appears to be doomed. Yep, the powers that be want to close our school down. We are the smallest school in the district. Isn’t it usually the smallest that are the easiest to target and bully? Who knows. What I do know is that we may be small, but we are not weak.

The Coalition to Save Larrabee Elementary, of which I am a part, does not want our dear school closed and we do not agree with the so-called reasons for the proposed closure.

Here are some of our reasons why Larrabee should remain open:

  • At Larrabee, we maintain an environment of student and family “belonging” versus alienation.
  • We notice (and care) whether a student shows up and/or where that student is supposed to be after school.
  • We are sensitive to Larrabee’s diverse family/economic/social/academic needs.
  • We have superior parent and community involvement.
  • We immediately address and put a stop to inappropriate behavior.
  • We have a historic, cultural, and community attachment to our school.
  • Our pleasant neighborhood includes the ability to walk to school or to park easily nearby.
  • Informal discussions and check-ins are a regular part of the day between parents, teachers, and staff at Larrabee.
  • Larrabee is a village where all children are known, recognized, and validated.
  • Children are not lost and/or alone at little Larrabee. They cannot hide.
  • The parent community is friendly and welcoming, not exclusive.
  • Stewardship and care. We nurture our building and each other. Small classrooms mean that children learn flexibility, creativity, boundaries, and respect for one another’s space.
  • Larrabee embraces and builds a community that understands economic and other forms of diversity.
  • Our classrooms are enriched beyond the building because of neighborhood support.
  • We model sustainability and efficiency because we can walk and bike to school.
  • Our Larrabee Elementary, the smallest school in the district, has the most robust after-school enrichment program. Larrabee is an economically diverse population. With daily opportunities until 4 p.m., our enrichment program helps cover childcare gaps while offering classes in chess, math, basketball, woodworking, choir, art, strings, theater, and field games. Larrabee has become a model for other schools in this regard.
  • Larrabee encourages regular communication among its students, teachers, and parents both inside and outside the school.
  • Discussions regarding events, progress, behavior, and celebrations are not limited to formal, rigid, and scheduled check-ins.
  • Children and parents are known to an uncommon degree.

In addition to the above, here’s why I love Larrabee:

Last fall, our principal celebrated her own birthday by hosting an evening school-wide pajama and movie party in the gym! How excited the children were to show up with their blankets, pillows, jammies, as well as with their sisters, brothers and parents for a movie and popcorn. And how kind and generous of our principal to host such an event for her families. What fun to gather as a school in our little gym and enjoy a movie and popcorn together.

As a mother, there is nothing I love more than waiting with the neighborhood parents for my child at the bottom of the Larrabee stairs at the end of the school day. When the bell rings, I look with anticipation for Eva’s teacher to open the door and for my little girl to emerge with her big smile. Eva scans the small gathering of grown ups until she sees me, and then waves as she waits for permission from her teacher to descend the stairs to my open arms. When the sun is out, the children play on the playground after school until their parents insist it is time to go home.

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to wait with parents at non-neighborhood schools who have only a long line of buses, cars, SUVs, congestion and exhaust fume to look forward to during after-school pick-ups!

Last year, after I gave birth to my sweet baby, Valerie, everyone at Larrabee, from the lunchroom attendant to the teachers to the students were (and remain) excited and supportive toward my children and me. And, as a mother who is often a “seasonally single parent” because my husband is a commercial fishing captain and often away from home, the staff at Larrabee is unfailingly kind and understanding about our unique situation.

I love Larrabee. I love the size of the school, the community, the families, and the students. It saddens—and yes, even sickens—me to think of retiring this lovely school and losing all of the above.

We have a historical and unique school full of character. And this school works. Many of us moved to and live in this area because we wanted our children in the existing elementary schools. And now, our reasons are being dismissed, disregarded, and decimated.

A neighborhood school that is quaint and safe and friendly is what is ideal for my children. It is why we moved here. It is why so many of us moved here. I am not interested in having my children attend a mega-school on mega-property surrounded by buses and apartment buildings and traffic.

Preserving, renovating, modernizing, and keeping our historic Larrabee open should be an option. On May 8, we have a chance to convince the School Board of our thoughts and opinions. Will they care?

I don’t know.

But they should.

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