We now have a beautiful front porch, and it is almost fully enclosed from weather. Today was also a big day of lot expansion to make room for our greenhouse and for boat/truck parking. Josh and Sawyer were "on it" with the Mustang today. Shawn gets to end the day with watching the A's game on the TV that Patrick gave us (streamed off our satellite internet connection). We even have couches now.
Dear Dad (or Papa, as I often called you),
Thank you for all that you gave me in our very short time together. I caught my first fish with you. I also still have some of those well-composed memos you wrote while navigating our U.S. Army bureaucracy ;). Your service paid for my education. Now I'm living your dream. I think you would like how it's all turning out. Those who knew you still speak fondly of you. I'm lucky to have good memories of you too. Wherever you are in the heavens or cosmos, I hope we meet again someday. I love you.
I really can't remember a better start to Memorial Day weekend. Yesterday started with a spectacular bike ride (thank you again, Patrick!) to greet some POW Marathon participants. I started today with another beautiful ride, followed by taking Itsuro out for the Blessing of the Fleet. We try to do this event every year. This year was even more special, as we had the Anderson Ohana on board with us, and our friends, Ray J and Jo-Anne above us on the dock. Tomorrow, I will honor my Dad. I think it's going to be a good summer season. Hopefully some salmon will show up, too.
Yesterday we finally launched Itsuro. Shawn diligently worked with the cooling system, and it seems to now be working better than ever. We're keeping our fingers crossed.
A smooth launch...
Our Bukh engine is working well.
Over the years, Shawn and I have made quite a few visits to Port Protection, Point Baker, and the northern portions of our island by boat. We had been past Memorial Beach a few times, and had seen the shelter there as we transited through Sumner Strait. But we had never actually been there by land. Sunday was a beautiful day for a road trip (after my rifle practice), so we decided to head north. Memorial Beach is 91 road miles from our house, and Labouchere Bay is about 100 miles away. We picked the perfect time, because there were exceptional low tides with the big moon this week. I loved seeing Sumner from this new perspective.
I had an even better than usual weekend. Saturday I attended a women's shooting clinic (Women on Target) put on by the wonderful folks of the Prince of Wales Shooting Club. Prior to moving to Alaska, I had zero experience with handling any firearms, as I had very little need for knowledge of firearm safety and handling in Santa Cruz. I had taken the Women on Target class a couple of years ago, when we first moved to POW, because firearms are considered vital tools for life in the wilderness areas around here.
Back when I first took this class, the concepts were so new and foreign to me. I also had to get over some childhood traumas to get ready to practice and increase my comfort level. After that first class, I was so busy with other projects, that I never got the chance to really practice what I learned. So I decided to take the class again this year, and this time with the intent to get ready to practice. The instruction for these clinics is really top-notch. I found it much easier to absorb the instruction this time around. It reminds me a lot of what it's like to learn a musical instrument for the first time. This time it all felt a lot less awkward.
The only problem was that my cubital tunnel issue in my left elbow decided to flare up right after the shotgun practice. So I was not able to practice as much as I had wanted during the class, and I had to go home to take a large dose of naproxen, and an wrap it with an ice pack. But I knew it was important to practice the concepts as soon as possible. So the next day, after another naproxen, Shawn and I decided to head out of town for me to practice with his 22-250 rifle. I was a little worried about having Shawn as my coach for this sort of thing, but my reservations about all that were unfounded. He is the BEST COACH EVER!!!! He knew exactly what to say for me to improve my stance, my aim, and what to expect. He was calm, and he knew exactly what adjustments to help me improve with each shot. I think his years at Augusta Military Academy really paid off here. I'm very grateful for his calm approach. I mean, I know he's a good guy and all that, but I was even more impressed yesterday. He told me that when your wife is holding a loaded firearm, it's good to be calm and patient with your communication. Good point. I look forward to working on this more with him.
So most of the time, I'm known for my "peace, love, aloha" disposition. I'm generally nice to most of the people I encounter. You have to go far out of your way to bring out my dark side. Or you just need to be grumpy. Or I just need to be in a "don't trifle with me" state of mind. Replace the word "trifle" with the f-word of your choice. You get the idea.Those of you who know me well have seen this feistier side of me, and you cut me slack with that when I need it. Mahalo for that.
So yesterday, I was dealing with a spouse who had every right to be grumpy with a cold. The only problem was that I was also a little out of sorts with "who knows what" at the same time. So I wasn't about to put up with any whining, sniveling, or any other BS headed my way. I don't even remember what was even said in the exchange, but before I knew it, he looked at me and exclaimed, "You're a contentious little FROG!!!! " I'm not sure if that was in reference to my French side, or what, but I rather like it. I really don't like to be contentious. But being a feisty little frog is ok with me. The little coquís that we have in Hawaii pack a pretty good punch with the noise they make. I don't really want to be that annoying, but it's nice to know that we can pack a punch when necessary.
We went to the Klawock School Spring Concert this evening. This is a cause worth supporting:
Shawn and I often refer to a "heroic journey" metaphor that counselors sometimes use when people are suddenly thrust into situations that require getting out of one's comfort zone, and taking on some kind of challenge that ends with insights that change the traveler in some way. The Wizard of Oz is a classic example of one of those heroic journeys. There are obstacles along the way: "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" And crazy stuff happens during the trip. In the end, Dorothy is a changed person, and "there's no place like home." Parenthood is certainly one of those heroic journeys. Even though I taught kids of all ages over the course of thirty years, and have had lots of parent conferences, I still haven't had any idea of what it's really like to step into a parent's shoes. To me, it's like someone doing a school visit for a day or two, and then think s/he is an education expert because they went to school once. My teacher friends know what I mean here.
So I don't think one can truly understand parenting, until one becomes a parent. That said, I think I gained a couple of insights after last week's heroic journey. I’m still no expert on parenting, as I have no kids. Yet 30 years of teaching and working with kids of all ages has taught me a few things, including the fact that kids thrive on consistency and follow-through. Last week I had the same feeling of almost nervous anticipation when Ash and Kade get off the school bus, that I had when I waited to greet the kids coming to my classroom: be ready to be “present.” We established a good routine, and after a little resistance, they really got into doing their homework with me. The only difference for me is now I get myself psyched up with an espresso so that I can bring that energy to the table ;). This is where I think younger parents might have an advantage, with greater physical stamina. This week, I only got short taste of what it takes to have it 24/7. Just as I was honored to earn the trust of parents of my school kids, I am honored to have earned the trust of Ashlyn, Kade, and Sawyer's folks. And nobody died or had to go to the emergency room.
I’ve never really had much of a “maternal instinct” and I’ve always wondered how parents keep things running the way they do, with jobs, sports, school schedules, etc., without losing their shit. Or at least I didn't think I had that instinct. This past week, I’ve learned that you “just do it.” And things just seem to work out, most of the time. Shawn and I were both a little shocked that I was able to get into this previously unknown “mom-mode” that I thought didn’t exist in me. Previously, I would have never said yes to taking care of kids in this way, not even for my own relatives. So Shawn was pretty impressed with me this last week, in that he saw a side of me that neither of us knew existed. I was also way more appreciative of him, and of my quiet, orderly life, and my relative freedom in life.
There were also so many great moments that gave me a little insight into why it's all so worth it for parents. Cruising around with these kids, storytime with Sawyer, homework and school with Ash and Kade, the really unexpected adventures with all of them, and all the love and cuddles. Funny, I was not really much of a cuddler before. What's HAPPENED to me??!!!
Last night I got to come home, sleep in my own bed, and I have now "stepped back into my own movie." Shawn is also really happy to have his wife back. Even with this new insight, I still have no regrets about the direction our own lives have taken.I like being an "auntie", and I don't feel like I'm missing anything. I'm still in "recovery mode" from last week.
There's a bouquet of flowers sitting here from an "adult kid" in my life (first time that's ever happened to me near Mother's Day), and a very sweet card that coincidentally showed up in the mail yesterday from another friend, almost 3,000 miles away. Since my own mother passed away a few years ago, I've had a lot of mixed emotions on previous Mother's Days. Today is one of the brighter Mother's Days I've had since she's been gone.
Happy Mother's Day to all you amazing Moms out there, with fondest aloha.
Spring has made another appearance here, since last night. Shawn and I now have the kids' school/headstart/baseball schedules firmly engraved in our heads. We don't even need to look at our cheat sheets, or my bullet journal to figure out where we're supposed to be when. As Sawyer says, we've "Got it!"
Kade and Ashlyn have the misfortune of having a former teacher running their ship this week, so the "I don't have homework," or "I forgot my homework at school," doesn't work. School is close by, and it's easy for us to go back and get it. And we now have the ritual of getting it done (or pau, as I like to say) before ball practice, and on non-ball days, before TV or anything else. With homework out of the way, we can have some pretty enjoyable evenings here. As my Hawaii friends already know, "Pau" means "finished" in Hawaiian/Pidgin. "Pau hana" means the end of the work day, and time to relax and have fun with family and friends.
While Ash and Kade are practicing baseball, Sawyer likes to take me on really wonderful beach adventures. He now can spot trollers, or "salmon catchers," because he knows that Shawn and I normally would be out there with our troller. We had a good walk along the beach and through the woods, where we found all kinds of interesting bugs, mushrooms, plants, and lots of rocks.
Since everyone got their homework done, and because these are awesome kids, we decided to go to Papa's Pizza for dinner. (That's also code for "Tonie wanted a break from cooking dinner.")
Then we went back to the Anderson home. Because it was so nice out, we had a hard time going back inside, even though we were getting close to bedtime-ish. So we enjoyed a beautiful sunset in the yard. I didn't let Shawn go home until Sawyer was pau with the axe and hammer. The young man is very adept at cutting wood. He also now knows how to test spaghetti for "al dente" doneness. After building us an evening fire, it's "pau hana" time for Shawn, and he goes back to our house for the night. I summon Shawn by phone in the mornings, so that he can help me get the kids going. Each night I'm having a harder time watching him go home, even though it's only a couple of blocks away. I guess all this makes me appreciate Shawn more, which is a good thing, after 33 years of marriage (36 years of togetherness).
I know nothing about raising chickens.I know even less about baseball. And last night, Kade asked me, "How can you not tell the difference between girls' bikinis and boy's underwear??!!" when he found some of his sister's underwear mixed up with his in his drawer. I dunno. The butt sizes looked approximately the same to me, and I'm wearing a really old pair of glasses while I wait for my new prescription. I told him that I've never had kids, so I really don't know the difference. And when I was a teacher, I wasn't spending my time checking out kids' underwear. As for chickens, Kade and Ash are pretty good chicken-wranglers. Shawn knows a thing or two about baseball, and the parent volunteers who coach and run the practices really amaze me.
Because I'm finally caught up with house chores, I now have the luxury of getting a couple of hours during the day, while the kids are in school, when I can visit my own house. I can now get a few things done at my own home, and even have a little quiet time to reflect on all this. Then I can get ready to pump myself up for the afternoon and evening activities with a double-espresso. I used to only drink tea. But now that I'm once again following a "school schedule," with kids, I'm almost at the same level of sleep deprivation as when I was teaching full-time. I wish I were a little better at taking naps.
Lifelong learning: gotta love it. I just looked in the mirror briefly this morning, and I noticed that my hair has gotten a bit grayer this week.
A few things I'm passionate about: