UGGs

Uggs

I have a confession to make. I bought a pair of UGG boots. I’ve always hated UGG boots. Because of the imbeciles that wear short-shorts and UGGS together, I secretly think less of people wearing them (except for any of you who happen to wear them, of course) and I think they are a waste of money and a terrible fashion statement. And yet… here they are on my feet.

I have no sensible explanation for what I did. I’m a very reasonable, practical person. I wear clothing that is ‘comfortable’ and does not have to be dry cleaned or ironed. I make my grocery list by store section to save time. I bundle my errands to save time and gas and would never consider any other coffee brand or sock type than I have used for the past several years. Why mess with what works?

My sweet girl is going to be 9 years old in a few months. For Christmas this year, she asked for some specific clothes, some scented lotion and a necklace she’d seen that she wanted. There were toys on the list too ~ but for sure, there were items that were not so ‘little girl’. Anyway… she and I have spent a little time hanging her new clothes and organizing her jewelry. And chatting. Wow, can little girls chat!

Since then, I’ve been finding her next to me at the bathroom counter while I fix my hair or on a rare occasion put on some makeup. She suggests a blouse instead of my boring t-shirt. She reminds me to add some earrings. She LOVES this. And, although I admittedly look at these little additions as unecessary, the time spent with her is wonderful!

For her whole life she has seen her Momma ‘get things done’. I’ve started far too many sentances with ‘C’mon everyone, we need to…..’ She’s grown up with a Momma that takes a 6 minute shower, dresses for functionality, sweeps past the giggles and playing to get to the necessary to-do items. Don’t get me wrong. There is tons of love. Lots of books shared, cuddles given and museums visited. We draw together and help Daddy on the boat. There is TIME together ~ so, so important and for that I am SO very grateful. But, in my haste and in my focus I’ve sometimes forgotten that I have a very gentle, naturally feminine little girl that needs her Momma to show her how to grow into a Lady. Not just an efficient mother. But a lovely lady. That is something I let get buried many years ago, under the loads of laundry and diapers and crackers in my good purse. I had to let that go…. so I could do the rest. But, this little girl needs it back.

So, when Chris called me yesterday to coordinate on our last few ‘to do items’ for the day and I said…. ‘I’m at the Mall’ he was understandibly bewildered. His wife despises the Mall. But, she immensely loves her precious daughter who really enjoys buying shoes. Lord help me to dig deep to find the girl you made so long ago, so my sweet girl can connect with her. Even if it means wearing UGGS. Which by the way, are incredibly comfy. 😉

Christmas is Coming

Christmas Tree

I’m a huge Christmas fan. I start listening to Christmas music in November, and I put my tree and decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. Yep, I’m that annoying person. I try to refrain from posting too many of those irritating ‘inspirational Christmas quotes’ on my FB page… but yeah, for the most part this time of year I go crazy.

Last night, I read a post on FB about how Christmas for many people can just plain suck. There were over ONE THOUSAND responses to that post… most of which detailed personal tragedy and pain like I’ve graciously not had to endure. My heart was breaking for these people who were bravely laying their personal pain out and were asking for prayers and love. What a vulnerable position.

God help me to be aware of the pain that so many people endure this time of year. Our family has such joy, even among our own personal battles and hardships. And there are battles and hardships here. Many, actually. But when I look a little longer… seeing the details of my kid’s freckled noses, their tinkly laughter, Chris’ big voice on the phone talking fish prices and weather patterns… when I feel the warmth my heater puts out and smell the lasagna bubbling in my oven… My hard stuff seems smaller. And when my stuff is smaller, I have more room for offering love to someone who might be running on empty this year.

I’m looking out this year. Eyes open, I’m taking notice of that person who bears the scar of pain or loneliness. Not because I feel that I can fix it. But because if I am aware, maybe I won’t  cause further pain… and possibly I’ll be able offer a gift of warmth and kindness during their difficult time.

We wish all of you a Christmas that is warm, bright and full of hope. For those of you who are hurting or lonely please know that you are loved. You are not alone. There are people in the world who have life and love to share, who care about your heart.

Arranging Our Lives

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My week was going along OK, calendar packed full but manageable if all went as planned, assuming I was able to move pretty quickly the whole week. I was chugging along… thinking how weird it was that a whole week was going to happen kind of pretty much as planned.

Anytime Chris calls from the boat, everything screeches to a halt. Just in case. In case there is an emergency. In case he needs something done he can’t do from way out there. In case…. whatever else, you get the idea.

About 5 minutes later, everything was up in the air (as usual). I don’t know why I even write out a calendar sometimes. Anywho…. next thing you know phones calls and texts are zooming. I’m grabbing stuff, tossing piles of random kid stuff out of my car. We are heading to San Diego to bring down a ‘fresh deckhand’ and bring home the, well, not so fresh guy. And some really stinky laundry. And (Yay!) fish for the Market.

It needed to happen. I needed the fish. The guy needed off the boat. We all needed to see Chris. Even if the only time we’d actually have with him was to watch a few fish offload and to take him grocery shopping for the boat. So, 7 hours in the car got us all an hour together at Ralph’s while we provisioned up for the boat and 30 minutes at the dock watching him work. OK.

I’m sure it sounds like I’m complaining. I kind of am, I suppose. But I’m also kind of proud. We’ve arranged our lives (and our children’s tolerance) for this type of thing. It’s NOT easy. But I am very proud that:

1. My husband wants us to bail down to SD, and not just to handle all the shopping, laundering, shuffling of crew stuff (although let’s face it ~ we ROCK those jobs!) … but he really wants to see us all. He could easily tell the crew to get a ride or take a bus and he could hide in the nearest watering hole while the ‘exchange’ happens and the deckhands do all the work. Lots of Captains do it that way. And honestly, those guys more than deserve some hours of ‘play’ when they can get it. But our Captain chooses US. It’s not the easy choice. Kids are loud. And needy. And wives, even the most awesome of us, have a tendency to stand in the wrong spot on deck, and need help with the ladder, and fuss about getting ick on their shoes.

2. My kids heard my conversation, discerned that we’d be ‘going to see Dad’ and immediately went into ‘what can we do to help mode’. Mr. Max helped Little Man to find his constantly lost shoes, My Sweet Girl, faster than you can blink, grabbed clean underwear and toothbrushes and sweaters for all, as if she were a 44 year old experienced mother of 3 already. We all fell into ‘who is going to deal with the dogs mode’ and got it handled right away.

We needed to leave at about 3:30 am in order to get to the dock at the right time to make all this happen before the boat needed to leave again. So at 2am I was in my kitchen sharpening colored pencils. My kids all really love to draw, so I always bring paper, crayons, pencils etc along, so they’ll be entertained in the car. Or at the dock as we wait for fish to come off the boat, etc.

In my sleepy brained fog I was fussing a bit about my broken schedule and my crazy life. Then, I saw all of those colors. And I thought that every time we make one of these trips, or get a frantic boat call about a broken part or a crew issue, or we fight with some politician about our fishery, or we spend another $5000 on some unrecognizable boat part (to me at least), or we have a horrible season or maybe an incredible over the top one… every single crazy thing that happens is like another one of those  colors that are in one of those gigantic boxes of Crayolas that are stored in tiers, because there are so many. The one with the built in sharpener, for on the go sharpening needs. It might not be all in ‘color order’ like when you first get the box…. it’s all random and crazy… but it’s brilliant and gorgeous and full and never, ever dull. When it comes down to it, I guess it’s just a great thing that my kids have a wonderul way of taking all that color and turning it into wild, gorgeous kid art. My life and my walls are plastered with it. That’s just good stuff.

My week did not go as planned. It rarely does. Instead, we had a ‘colorful week’ and made some brilliant memories along the way.

Benchmarks

There are certain benchmarks in parenting. First smile, eating solids, potty training. One I enjoyed was when whoever was older was able to help strap the next youngest into their carseat. Then, the wonderful day when all of them could just pile in and buckle themselves in! Yay!  No longer having a diaper bag is a biggie of course ~ although we’ve just switched to backpacks, since all three of mine are little-hoarders-in-the-making and can’t leave the house without enough gear to hike the Himalayas for a month. So… we are still working on that concept.

Anyway, I remember taking Max to see some Disney movie when he was still pretty small. He REALLY liked movies but he loved to repeat LOUDLY every line he could…. throughout the whole movie. It’s pretty embarrassing when it’s your kid, among all the zillions of others in the theater, that is the SUPER loud one. You can totally feel the other parent’s disapproving glares, even in the dark theater.

This leads my mind to remember the whole long list of things these sweet babies have done to humiliate me…. ooops, I mean to help me grow in Character.  It’s OK, they are just kids…Yes, I get that. But mine have a special penchant for (mostly) innocently saying or doing things that are simultaneously hilarious and horrifying/embarrassing. Shortened examples: My child telling the very large man at a store, while patting the mans protruding belly, ‘it looks like you have an entire chicken in your stomach!’. My child standing on the pew at the quietest time of church and SHOUTING ‘I wanna be a Pastor when I grow up Momma! So I can stand up there and tell everyone else what to do!’ My child telling their pre-school Sunday school teacher ‘sorry we are late… My mom was really PISSED OFF at us all for taking forever to get ready and then, she couldn’t find her bra!’.  And these are only a tiny sliver of my collected memories.

This week I sat at the movie theater, enjoying the latest kid flick, surrounded by 6 Liliputians, each of them well behaved, giggling when appropriate, all using their ‘library voices’.  All except for one of us. This time, the loudest and most prolific laughter and gaffaws and snortles are coming from ME …..and it was my kids (and their friends – hahahaha!!) who were totally and completely embarrassed.

Yes, I consider this a little benchmark in my parenting. It means something wonderful is coming… and I’m cackling a little now, just dreaming about it. When they are all teenagers, and I’m so old I don’t give a hoot anylonger, I will revel in finding ways to embarrass the tuna salad right out of them!! Ohhhh… I have ideas people! Yes! I can’t wait!  I should start practicing a little now…. so that by the time ‘boyfriends’ and ‘girlfriends’ come into the picture ~ I’m all kinds of warmed up. Yes, parenting paybacks are awesome.

 

Crazy House

(photo: Yes, this was my 'office' this week & yes I am wearing my PJ's)

(photo: Yes, this was my ‘office’ this week & yes I am wearing my PJ’s)

Since we just don’t see enough crazy at our house…

Switching seasons is never fun. There’s just a lot of work (on top of the normal heavy load) with a bunch of stress to do it fast, before we all go broke. Plus, of course the unknown factors of if the fish will show up like we hope for and if somehow the weather will cooperate.

This year…. well, I can’t even begin to describe it. It was as if some terrible force was working against us in so, so many ways. Every tiny piece of progress we made was somehow crushed. We finally started our season a full 3 weeks after our normal start date. We’re worn out, stressed and confounded by the barrage of obsticles.

Finally, we got to make our first trip. It was lackluster to say the least. Again, we were just…. mystified. This week, only 1 hour before the guys were finally ready to give it another shot, the Sat phone battery just stopped working. Then, the laptop that Chris uses to basically be his eyes and ears while out…. poof ~ simply stops. These two pieces of equipment are totally essential to having any success. Totally. Essential. You must understand that the possible number of days, which are already very limited, for this season are now just flying by, with seriously nothing we can do to stop them. We were feeling really devastated.

With this news, panic and chaos were boiling just below the surface, thinly covered by the last remaining shred of survival mode we have left. Seriously. We were staring at each other, glazed eyed and kind of silent. (The silence is a good indicator that we are at the end of our rope). Well, there might have been a few swear words, but they were only muttered. We were too worn out for anything else. We started Googling replacement batteries, checking for overnight shipping, clicking on the old computer, clicking frantically, unplugging and replugging. So, we’ve got the boat loaded with $500 worth of food, 2 tons of ice (melting fast), nearly $3000 worth of fuel, our deckhand, the government mandated observer (not kidding, an actual person rides along at tax payers expense… another topic for another time),  the federally mandated GPS tracking ‘ankle braclet’ up and working (for which I had to resort to sobbing on the phone to get the ‘furloughed due to the shutdown’ worker to bend all sorts of rules and get me the special code I had to have to be in compliance), and all the big, expensive gear….. and there we stood with NO COMMUNICATIONS.

So we did what any good fisherman would do. We rigged something up. So all week this has been our life: I’m in the driveway at home, the only place I get cell reception, usually in my PJ’s since Chris needs info from me at insane hours ~ with my laptop balanced on my knees, downloading, analyzing and reporting from 3 different sets of information (weather, sea surface temps, wind speeds/directions all of which I have about a Kindergartener’s level of comprehending) …. then, desperately would try to relay this info to Chris who is 75 miles off the coast of somewhere far from home. Oh, and the only way his Sat phone will work is when it is plugged into a ‘car charger’ on the boat, and he stands on the roof of his boat. Again, not joking. And, to top this sweet little cake off, I can’t call him ~ I can only receive calls…. at random times, and for a totally unknown reason I have to SEE the call come in as my phone has decided to take this opportunity to fail to RING when a call comes in. It will only vibrate. If I miss the call, I CAN’T CALL BACK. So, I have to be staring at my phone all.the.time., run to the driveway in time ~ or I miss it. Soooo…. let’s just say all the planets align and I catch the call…. and I happen to have pants on and can get to my driveway…. and the reception is clear enough to make out actual words (about 30% of the time, so far)…. and I was able to grab my laptop so I can read all the numbers and info to him. WELL, then and only then does he have ANY IDEA AT ALL where to fish that night.

Check this out: Somehow, that Man has caught fish this week. My neighbors must be convinced I have lost my mind (as if they weren’t already pretty sure of that), and not one single thing otherwise has been accomplished at my house the entire week and my kids have basically raised themselves while I run back and forth to the ever lovin’ driveway, BUT we’ve got fish on the boat!!!! And, grace upon grace, the FedEx man showed up today with a brand spankin’ new Sat phone battery!!! OH YESSSSS!!!!

Whirlwind

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There are not words to describe our past 2 weeks. It’s been a psychotic whirlwind mixture of what seems to be a special brand of crazy that only our family can produce.

The positive: Sonny and his wife have their little package of sweetness at home! He’s perfect and beautiful and healthy! We are so very, very happy for them all!

Everything else is totally unrelated and weird… so I won’t even go there. Just pretend that inserted here is a long list of happenings that are actually pretty painful to listen to. Then, crank up the volume a little. And add a bad Mariachi band, smells that make you nauseus but you can’t find them, and the awkwardness of a pain in the ass guest that overstay their welcome and never shower or help clean up.  Only then will you be close to feeling my last two weeks. And then, finish it all off with this sweet little flourish…..

Max received an Ant Farm as one of his birthday gifts. The directions state that you should ‘remove any dead ants immediately, to prevent the spread of disease’. Now, for most this would look something like this: Hmmm, a few dead ants. Later tonight, when those biting suckers are asleep I’ll pick the dead ones out. In my mind, this is what you’d get: Hmmmm, a few dead ants. Pretty sure the others will eat them eventually, and if not…. whatever. Now, where the heck is that list of 65zillion-must-get-done-today-to-dos?

You see, this line of thinking was an obvious error on my part.  I forgot that I live with Max. And by that I mean, my kid is the one that read the instructions about 25trillion times while he was climbing-the-wall-anxious waiting for the flippin ants to arrive, packed into their little test tube of deliverence, and then nestled into their padded ‘protective’ envelope. The singular trauma of opeing that intensely awaited package, only to find that about 1/4 of the ants were already dead…. combined with his total lack of disgust that I would just dump the entire thing into his Ant Farm nearly sent him over the edge. And, me with him.

Now, given my deep and enduring love for that boy, you’d think I’d immediately drop ALL that other stuff that was currently pressing in on my frail sanity already, in order that save the precious ants. Wouldn’t any kind hearted momma? Let me fill you in. I didn’t . I was confused somehow and mistakenly thought that things like paying the veryimpatient IRS, replacing broken boat parts so we can earn a living, filing proper forms so our every step can be monitored by the US government in order to continue our business (NO I am NOT kidding), administering medication to the littlest guy who had a fever of 101.5, showering occasionally, and oh-you-have-the-general-idea might have been a tiny bit higher on my excruciatingly long ‘priority list’. I was wrong. Don’t worry, I’ve been re-educated and I’ve adjusted my will. NOW, I see so clearly. How could I have possibly NOT considered the dead ants and their still thriving commrades? I must seriously have been daft to have so blatently DISOBEYED the clearly written official instructions given by the whateverthehelltheirnameisantfarmhawkercompany??!!!

What kind of fresh hell is this, that has iced the top of my seemingly bad LSD laced cupcake that is this never ending 2 weeks?

I am grateful to report that after a ‘sweet chat’ with my wonderful husband, I’m back to semi-lucid. And, by ‘sweet chat’ I mean one of those times that the still sane parent shakes the off-the-rails-like-a-crazy-train parent by the shoulders and whispers (or shouts, depending on who you marry) words of wisdom into their ears until they finally get a hold of themselves…. and realize that the Lilliputian inmates are atttempting to take over the asylum. Oh, how I thank God that the rare times that Chris is home, he always brings a big old dose of Common Flippin Sense with him. God knew what he was doing when he paired the two of us.

The ants are fine. They’ve also learned a valuable lesson. You bite the Daddy ~ you get smashed. The rest of the ants have fallen into line and are happily chewing on their fallen brothers. I am hiding in the corner of my closet ‘cleaning and organizing’ (ie: avoiding all of them for a few minutes) and praying I come out to a fresh set of children that haven’t been truamatized by their ‘real life lesson in how nature works’. Bless it all.

Baqueta

Baqueta Recipe

If you haven’t tried it ~ Baqueta is a white fish, firmer texture that Halibut, and taste wise is somewhere between a Halibut and Sea Bass. It’s great for baking, steaming, pan frying… I would do tacos with this, as well as roast a piece in the oven as this fish usually yeilds a nice thick fillet.

On Being Mom

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Any time now, our deckhand Sonny & his wife Jenna are expecting their first son. Their boy will grow up on the water, like ours has. He will spend many a naptime and diaper changes at the dock. His first pair of Xtra Tuffs will be a Christmas gift when he’s four.

Like us, they are starting their family at Sword season. Daddy will have to be away to fish… and Momma will be spending those precious first few weeks basking in & totally overwhelmed with that squishy, astoundingly perfect creation in solitude.

13 years ago this week, this was our little story unfolding. 3 babies later, I am finally seasoned enough to know that any advice or little quips about ‘enjoying the time it passes too quickly’ or ‘don’t worry, it gets easier’ are really not helpful. These are things that sink in slowly as first smiles bring tears of joy, and warm little hands grasp yours. When all those little newborn onesies are stretched to their limit and the realization sets in that most never were even worn, before he grew up into the next size.

Besides, I can’t think about advice right now. This week my sweet son forgot his Xtra Tuffs. They called from the boat, needing to get out to sea but Max had no boots. Then, his slickers were too small. So he wore my boots. And they fit. And Sonny’s slickers were there. And they fit.

Only moments ago, this precious baby was tightly swaddled and permanently cradled in the warm crook of my left arm. I can still smell his sweet baby head and see clearly the tiny fists as they finally find their way into his mouth. Is there something crazy going on in the time/space continuum, where my first son is somehow wearing adult sized slicks and boots? How is it possible that he’s ‘going fishing’ now… to actually work?  This is no longer just hanging out with Dad for the day. My mind just doesn’t get it. My instinct is to just make it stop.

In a few days some strong, kind men who love Max dearly will be down on the dock with him. There, we will mark this passage into the beginning of his impending adulthood. 13 years. Really? Yes, thirteen years. I will be there…but will force myself to not stand plastered next to him. This is the time for him to transition from the tiny boy, attached to Momma ~ to the strong and courageous young man that he was made to be.

From one Fisherman’s wife to another...

Dearest Jenna,

This time that you’ve spent learning to live as a Fisherman’s Wife has helped to prepare you for your role as a Mom. This lifestyle grows your strength, bravery and resolve, such necessary pieces of  motherhood. Just a few thoughts as your family grows:

Cling to one another in the stormy times, together pouring everything into your son. The exhaustion will be present, the challenges will rise & fall like the tides and in the midst of it, he will grasp your finger with his tiny little hand and your heart will swirl and nearly burst with love, and your sense of time and years will forever be altered. Be gentle with yourself and with each other, and above all marvel in the tiniest moments of the sweetest creation that has been given to you.

Love you guys!

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Gifts

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My kids got ‘just because gifts’ in the mail from their Grandma this week. They were so happy! My little guy got this super cool vintage Circus set (the same one I had around his age). I don’t even want to know what my Mom had to pay on Ebay to find this little treasure. She had to have gone to great lengths for this. Then, the other two kids were similarily lavished. All was package and mailed, and organized in a way that they’d all arrive at once so nobody was left out. How fun to watch them play and rediscover all the same little pieces I remember from back then. I was totally having a great time too! We had about 20 minutes of this bliss. Playing all together, wrappings and boxes everywhere, kids sharing kindly… birds chirping… (ok, you get it).

The idea of a ‘just because gift’ was very well received! 🙂 You can imagine I’m sure. But in the excitement, there was near immediate panic….. Do we have to do extra chores for these? … Well, if it’s not our birthday or Christmas NOW does that mean we won’t get a Christmas gift later? OR…. do we STILL get gifts then, too??!! They loved the gifts ~ but were VERY concerned that it would affect their future gift receiving potential. I explained about ‘just because’ meaning exactly that.  It’s just because your Grandma loves you and is thinking of you…. You could see the little gears whirring. All 3 came up with it almost at once. ‘Mom, can you show us on the calendar when the NEXT ‘just because day’ is? And, can it be tomorrow!!?

Wait.. what? Wasn’t everyone just in a little Uptopia of playing and sharing and kindness? Yeah. Ummm, note to self: Add a Lesson Plan on Contentment to the lineup. STAT!

The thing is… I think they come by it naturally. I hear so many moments in my own head. Oh yes, I love staying home with my kids! BUT I’d sure love some time alone! OR, SO thankful Chris had a great trip! BUT if he could just do that one more time, we’d have enough for ….. (fill in the blank). 

I think I see things sometimes from a weird view. Too close up…fuzzy. When I talked to my kids about being content, it was easy to see. I pulled back my view a bit, and reminded them that:

We have a safe, clean home

We have abundant, healthy food & clean water… clean clothes too

We all are So Very Loved, by each other and by a merciful, good, and gracious God who continuously and undeservedly provides all we need ~ all the time ~ JUST BECAUSE.

And… on top of all of that is all of this other stuff… like toys and gifts and beach trips and ice cream on Saturday nights.

It’s very easy for me to get caught up in worry. Will he catch fish? Are they safe out there? Is it enough for the bills be paid? Will my kids be OK?  Will it all be OK?

Teaching my kids makes me pull back, change my view. I’m forced to really see the truth, not the self focused, fuzzy-worry. Not the out of my control anxieties. The truth? It’s all covered. Stop. Be grateful. Be content.

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