Thursday, December 9, 2010

3 months and something something days to go

I don't even know what to write, I'm just so excited to be able to even get to this blog page today!  Connectivity is less-than-reliable sometimes.  Let's see...since I last wrote my little boy turned 3 and I wasn't there to see it.  Thanks to my amazing hubby I was able to feel like I was there, though.  I got lots of photos and videos!

We have reached the 3-month point, but aren't quite half-way yet.  That's kind of a bummer.  I don't know how much longer I can take being away from the ones I love!  I'd be thrilled to be scrubbing toilets right now as long as at the end of the day I'd see my family.  Sorry if I sound negative, but I've got a cold so I'm just feeling crappy physically which isn't really helping me emotionally.  Boo!

I promise I'll try to be much more positive the next time I write!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Day

As I got set to do a little workout today I cranked up the incline on the elliptical, closed my eyes, and slowly marched up an invisible hill.  Soon I could hear the crunch of the leaves, feel the chill of the air in my lungs, hear the kids giggling…  I was in the woods in the coastal Atlantic, or was it the hills of New England?  Was Frank taking us “just 75 feet off the trail” again on the hunt for a geocache, only to spend the next ½ hour bush-wacking in circles?  I didn’t care.  It felt great.  Just as I thought I caught that smell of the leaves decaying beneath my feet the roar of an afterburner and the thump of a catapult brought me back to my reality.  Warm, stale air, water all around, and flight operations in full swing on the deck below.  It was a nice escape while it lasted.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A very thankful day

We're celebrating Thanksgiving out here on the 26th vice the 25th because of "the requirements of the service" and conveniently that means we're really celebrating on the same day as folks back in the states (it's a time zone thing--just trust me).  Though it's a holiday today I don't feel very different from how I feel every day--too far away from where I really want to be.  The kids and Frank are nearing the end of a 2-week stay in Maryland where Frank is taking a class and the kids are enjoying time with the family there.  I am able to admit that I am jealous.  I'm happy that the kids are having fun, but at the same time I'm hurt when I call and they have no interest in talking to me because of all the fun at the house.  I knew it was going to be like this, but it still stinks.

The Culinary Specialists ("CS's") that serve our staff made a remarkable meal of all the traditional favorites.  They were up all night baking tons of pecan, pumpkin, and sweet potatoe pies and prepping for the feast.  It was great and for the most part we were allowed to relax for the day--no meetings! 

I'm thankful for that great feast, for my wonderfully supportive family, and for the friends and family that have helped Frank, Katreina, and Trent in my absence.  It's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bahrain

I've just wrapped my first visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain.  Like any good port visit, my time was split between eating and relaxing and little else.  The first night in town I went to an Italian buffet with some friends I used to work with in Mississippi.  This was not your Pizza Hut style buffet, but rather one with lamb, risotto, cured meats, cheeses, breads, calamari, pasta, and wine!  It was great! 

The second day was my "treat" day.  I lounged on the beach at the Ritz Carlton, sipping a beer and reading People magazine--a perfectly brainless afternoon.  I took a nice, long dip in the lagoon, too.  I could have stayed in there for hours.  With evening came another food extravaganza at a Rug Flop.  That's where a rug dealer brings a selection of rugs, teaches the group about them, then tries to sell them.  I learned a lot, but let's face it--fancy silk rugs really don't belong on a sailboat.  Instead I enjoyed the shwarma, hummus, and wine!

After a day of duty, my final day in Bahrain was a real treat!  I spent the day with my friend Sonja and her girls, Mia and Cecelia.  Mia and Katreina had been best friends back in Everett before they moved to Bahrain and it was great to reconnect with them.  We went to the mall and ate out (a rare treat for Sonja) and had ice cream.  Then back at their house Mia and I did crafts together and took pictures for Katreina.  It was such a great way to spend the day.  My visit to Bahrain was finished with a nice "girls night out" to dinner with Sonja.

It was a decent place.  I can't say I'd yearn to return, but it was alright.  Now, onward...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mail call, mail call!

A recent replenishment at sea brought us something like 115 pallets of mail, and I was a winner!  Got a box of magazines, drawings, and snacks from Frank and the kids that was barely in one piece when I got it, and I got some movies and music from my sis Brandi!  It was all definitely nice to see, especially as I've had some rough days out here.  The funny thing about mail out here is that every package gets sat on by an elephant at least 3 times.  These specially trained elephants work very hard to compact our mail so that more of it fits on the airplane or pallet that it's strapped to, therefore allowing us to get it faster!  Sure...

Today we have the group "Gloriana" onboard to give a concert for the sailors.  That's pretty cool!  Too bad I have a migraine and will probably try to stay as far away from the noise as humanly possible.  :(  I'm still just amazed that they pull this type of stuff off at sea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

From "the big show"

I've been remiss in writing lately, but I've been unsure about what to report.  We're here, flying missions nearly every day, and to be honest every day is pretty much the same.  That's not to say that we're not busy, but it's the same type of tasks, watches, and "fires" every day.  I guess I should be fair and say that the ship does a great job of offering lots of stuff to keep folks going, like bingo, movie nights, and ice cream socials, but my schedule is pretty set.  And I'll admit that at times I find it hard to be "happy, cheery Jody" when I just want to go to my room, flip through pictures of my family, hug my big stuffed penguin, and cry.

On the bright side, Frank and the kids are doing great.  In fact, every time I talk to them they all sound very happy, and Frank keeps them busy with lots of fun stuff.  This week has been chock full of fun Halloween activities and I'm really looking forward to seeing costume pics. 

I'll try to come up with something more interesting to report!  Honestly the best take on life on the carrier is "The Boat Show," an in-house production that's available on the USS Abraham Lincoln Facebook page.  Check it out!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lincoln Arrives in 5th Fleet, Ready to Support Afghanistan Surge and Maritime Security Operations

Lincoln Arrives in 5th Fleet, Ready to Support Afghanistan Surge and Maritime Security Operations

Well, since the press release is out I guess I can go ahead and tell you all--we're here! It doesn't look much different from anything else I've seen thus far on the voyage...water, water everywhere. Water and haze, that is. Just an ever-present fine haze of dust in the air. But planes are flying and props are turning, so we're getting the job done.

As it's fall I'm missing my absolute favorite time of year back home. I love the chill in the air, the freedom to cook everything with cinnamon and nutmeg, the rustle of leaves, and wearing sweatshirts. There is no need to wear a sweatshirt here. And I miss the kids and their excitement to dress up for Halloween. This year Trent is old enough to really get into it, and Katreina is going to be a witch for the second time in her short life. The whole family sounds very happy and I'm happy for them, I just really wish I was there, too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's not all work out here!

Carrier Strike Group Nine has partnered with a Seattle-area family winery to create ":Nota Bene Cellars 2008 Admiral's Reserve Red" to commemorate our 2010-2011 deployment.  How cool is that?  Check it out here--Admiral's Reserve Red!  $1 from each bottle purchased will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project and another $1 will go to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.

Monday, October 11, 2010

KL--Take 2

Yesterday I ventured back into Kuala Lumpur with my friend from work, Kelly, and her brother who was visiting from the states.  We started the day with the most amazing breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton--I had Malaysian coconut rice with lamb and tiger prawns, along with the usual pastries, fruit, coffee, and juice.  Stuffed, we headed to the Central Market to shop for trinkets and work on our bargaining skills.  While there we decided to follow the lead of several coworkers and go to the "fish spa," where you plop your feet into a pool full of doctor fish who nibble away at the dead skin on your feet.  As I'm crazy ticklish, especially on my feet, this was 10 minutes of sheer torture!  Kelly and I were laughing like crazy!



 From there we headed to KL's Chinatown to check out all the knock-off purses, shoes, DVDs, watches, perfume, clothing, you name it!  This is where great haggling skills are rewarded, but I don't really need a Jimmy Choo or Coach bag so I came away empty-handed.  We did go down a back alley where locals were chopping up various meats and veggies...even saw cats in cages there! 

The evening was spent with the rest of the staff to send off one of our shipmates in style and party at an event thrown by those of us who were most recently promoted.  It was at Luna, a rooftop/pool bar with great views of the Menora and Petronas Towers and it was really a good time. 

Kelly and I looking girly.

Petronas Towers just after sunset.

My final day in Kuala Lumpur was very low-key.  After another crazy good breakfast at the Ritz (this time I had some Malaysian rice noodle dish with eggs), I gave myself--body, mind, and soul--to the Spa Village at the Ritz-Carlton.  I began with a massage in the traditional Malaysian technique.  The strokes were long, the pressure firm, and I reached a point of total relaxation.  This is the first time I've had that type of massage and I would absolutely do it again.  After an hour of that, my facial began.  I almost fell asleep during that!  The experience ended with tea and as I sipped it I wondered if anyone would find me if I just hid there...  After the spa, Kelly and I headed over to the Petronas Towers (recognizable from the movie "Entrapment") for a little shopping and an up-close look at one of the city's icons.  It was a nice way to end the trip and while I'm not totally blown away by KL, it was a nice diversion from this little thing we call deployment.  It was so nice to be out with another mom, talking about how we really feel about being away from home, but it still doesn't beat being there.  I miss you guys!!!

Petronas Towers

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hey, it worked!

On a whim I tried the whole pics in the blog thing again and it worked!  Here are the kids hamming it up after the firefighters visited their CDC last week. 

KL--day 1

Well, a cold beer sure tasted good yesterday!  Other than that, not much to report.  I made some spa appointments, ate room service (yes, it is good at the Ritz!), and read.  A few things struck me on my trip into the big city (1 1/2 hrs each way):

1.  Kuala Lumpur is a mix of super-trendy, posh, towering skyscrapers and run-down, crumbling flats.  These are all mixed together.  It's not like there is the "fancy downtown" and the "other side of the track."  It's all mixed together.  Lots of construction is going on so maybe that's going to change.

2.  Walking in most of the city is a life-threatening experience.  Crosswalks are rare, cars are fast, and sidewalks aren't terribly consistent.  I feel for anyone who is limited in their mobility.

3.  Malaysians (thus far) are a very nice, quiet people.  Made me completely embarrassed to see and hear the loud, obviously American sailors that were whooping it up at, of all places, the Ritz-Carlton. 

4.  Radio ads and billboards that talk about ways to conserve energy and resources are everywhere.  I hope they are having success with those initiatives as they at least seem to be trying very hard.

5.  This is not Everett, WA.  Because it's not Everett, WA I find that I am completely disinterested.  I want to experience new places and cultures but it is hard when my favorite travel partner is so far away, working so hard to take care of everything at home.  Liberty buddy rules and duty make just getting out a logistical challenge, but once you do you can usually have a good time.  I'm just too miserable at this point to really allow that to happen.  Hopefully my next trip out tomorrow will be better.

It's duty day today!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finally, a port!

Greetings from Port Klang, Malaysia, the port city of Kuala Lumpur!  I've only seen the pier thus far, so not much to report, but I hope to head into the city in a few hours to check it out.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Isn't it ironic?

We are getting ready for a port visit (YIPPIE!) so there's lots of info getting put out.  First, there are tours being put together that come with helpful  info sheets with great tips like "Bring along insect repellent."  Then there is the mandatory port brief where the ship's Doc cautions everyone to use insect repellent, "preferably one with DEET."  So, what is one item that you can't buy in the ship's store?  INSECT REPELLENT!!!  Even better?  Pharmacies are "off limits" in this port.  Where exactly should I be purchasing this essential item???  I'm hanging my hopes on the street vendors...

Monday, October 4, 2010

A great weekend back home

I can honestly say that I wish I was reporting all of these events to you first-hand!  Frank and the kids had a fun-filled Saturday from what I can tell and I attached a few pics, too.  They started the day fishing, which I heard was more baiting than catching.  The kids entertained themselves by feeding ducks and picking blackberries.   After naps they all headed to the local fairgrounds for a demolition derby!  It was a night full of noise, crashes, and explosions, topped off with fireworks.  Frank and I went years ago and I can just imagine the kids loving it. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Latte time!

As I sit here in the middle of the Pacific I'm sipping my first Iced Dirty Chai Latte.  ?Que? you may be asking?  Well, well, we have a Starbucks onboard!  It's pretty cute, called "Jittery Abe's," and serves a sampling of the beverages available at your favorite Starbucks back home.  The bonus?  Funds raised go towards MWR.  So I've tried this Dirty Chai at the recommendation of one of the AG's in our shop.  I was a little skeptical, but it's not bad!  Kind of spicy, but still with detectable notes of espresso.  Suffice to say, quality of life has changed quite a bit from my days underway on SHOUP.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My underway soundtrack

I hit "shuffle" on the ipod today.  I got Rusted Root, then P.O.D., then Princess Tiana (Disney), then Nelly.  At that point I started laughing out loud.  Folks, this is what happens when you inadvertently combine the iPhone profiles of someone who likes alternative rock and singing with her daughter with a heavy-metal redneck that sometimes has a hankering for rap.  Do not try this at home.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I love penguins!

I'm on my third busy day away from home.  I think I've just about gotten back into the routine of being out at sea, but boy I miss home.  The BEST thing I did while I was home this time was get some new stuffed friends for the kids and I.  Trent and I had a date day at Toys-r-Us where he picked out a huge stuffed penguin to be our new hug buddies.  I had this idea that if the kids and I each had the exact same stuffed animal, we could all hug our animals and it would be like we were hugging the person we missed.  So Trent and I walked out with 3 big penguins.  One went to the ship, and the other two headed back to the boat to make their homes in the kids' rooms.  I told the kids that I'd hug mine every morning and night, and that if they did, too, it would be like we were hugging each other.  I've hugged that penguin about 70 times since we got underway and somehow, it helps! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Maintenance!

So of course we had tons of chores to do when we got back (clean the boat, pump tanks, fill water, laundry, take out the trash and recycling, get groceries), but Frank was really wanting to change the zincs while I was home in case he needed any help.  So he suited up and dove in the chilly water on a rainy day!  Go Captain Frank!  He was done in no time. 

Home and away

There is something sad about rushing home from a wonderful trip with the family just to pack for the next journey. We are motoring back to Everett now so we can wrap up some chores and get me all packed up to leave on deployment tomorrow. I'm lying in my daughter's bed, soaking up every bit of princess perfect that I can before the morning comes.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One last trip (again!)

Friday morning we left Obstruction Pass and headed toward Massacre Bay, the first place we visited in the San Juans last year.  We figured why not end it like it began!  On the way we slipped into Deer Isle for some gas--great marina there--and made it to an anchorage right off Skull Island State Park in the early afternoon.  We paddled around a bit that afternoon, but the tide was high so it was tough to get at the critters.  Instead we decided to explore on foot.  The kids entertained themselves by hauling around a piece of driftwood!

Saturday we had a great paddle around the tidelands, playing with all kinds of starfish!  I love seeing the kids get excited by the stuff we find.  On the beach they would scream out "holy cow" as they'd flip over rocks and send baby crabs scurrying in all directions.  They both got cut up pretty good by barnacles, but they were having fun.  After lunch we hiked again since the tide was up and then made a little sand (a.k.a. barnacle shell) castle on the beach, complete with driftwood bridges and buildings.  It was pretty breezy and chilly, so much to the kids' dissapointment I did not let them splash around in swim suits. 

Today we had to start heading back home sadly.  We went through the Swinomish Channel this time (way less scary the second time around!) and are now anchored in Coupeville.  We had hoped to get on the dock, but there wasn't room.  We made a fun trip, all 4 of us in the tandem kayak, to town for ice cream, playing in a park, and dinner on the pier.  Of course we had Penn Cove mussels since we were in Penn Cove and I was thrilled that Katreina ate some, too! 

I've had such a great time these past few days.  This is what I love and I can't say that I'm thrilled to be heading back home now, then back to the ship, then off on deployment.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

After a slight delay in starting my leave yesterday, I got off work around noon and managed to knock out pre-underway domestic chores in just a few hours.  We've talked about getting me a computer to take on deployment (I really just wanted Frank to get a new one and give me the old one!) so that I can try to send pics home so Frank and I did a little shopping on base before picking up the kids.  Nothing there, so we hit Best Buy with the munchkins and got hit with TONS of options!  Frank ended up going with the newer version of what we have now (faster, thinner, lighter, sexier) and the kids scored new movies for enduring the trip with us.  And then we were off for a weekend in the San Juans!

We made it to Coupeville last night.  Based on the amount of motoring we may have to do (no wind) and the cold temps at night, we decided to hit their fuel dock to try to top off this morning.  The fuel dock wasn't open and wouldn't be for over an hour, so instead we fueled up on caffeine at Local Grown, a great little cafe right on the town dock.  Next up was slack water at Deception Pass.  While we were heading through we saw EA-6B Prowlers, F-18s, and P-3s flying around Whidbey Island.  Add in the whale and porpoise that we saw after the pass and it was almost like a day at the office! 

Tonight we are on a mooring buoy at the Obstruction Pass Recreation Area.  The beach here is really pebbly, but after kayaking ashore and going for a nice walk in the woods, the kids had a blast splashing around at the water's edge.  It was very cute.  Frank headed back to the boat to prep and drop a crab pot, and the kids and I came along in the tandem in time for dinner.  After birthday burgers Frank made a smiley face out of candles in a little cake and the kiddos helped me blow them out.  It was perfect!  To top it all off, we all paddled ashore again and Frank built a little fire in one of the campsites so we could have s'mores.  While it was getting fired up Katreina and I went on a little walk and found an awesome, west-facing beach.  The sunset was spectacular and I loved my time alone with my little girl.  It was so nice that we went back to get her brother so he could see it.  S'mores weren't really a hit with the kids, but marshmellows were!  It was a fun experience nonetheless and really made me want to go camping!

Frank did a great job finding this fun place to spend the night.  It has been a great birthday!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend escape (almost!)

As my time back in Everett is coming to an end, we finally were able to get underway for the weekend!  We left Friday night under a clear sky with winds out of the north and decided somewhere around the end of Jetty Island that we should head south to Poulsbo and take advantage of some nice downwind sailing.  We sailed into the night, with the moon rising in a glow of amber and stars all around.  We didn't anchor until 10:30, but it was a nice night. 

Saturday morning I got contacted by work to let me know that I had to come in to work for some urgent tasking.  Ugh!  Winds were not favorable for a gentle return to Everett, a cab/bus/ferry would take forever, and I just really didn't want to abandon my family weekend!  In the end, we decided Sunday afternoon would do.  So we spend Saturday hopping around Poulsbo, enjoying some end-of-summer sales and treats for the kids.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time kayaking.  After dinner back on the boat, we went for another paddle to check out some seals and were surprised by a plethora of jellyfish!  They were literally everywhere.  Trent touched a few, but Katreina certainly would not!  Such a great day on and around the water, and I will totally miss days like that.

Sunday we busted back to Everett, another great day of downwind sailing (though I'll admit I got a little sick early in the day!) that got us back around noon.  I rushed over to the ship while Frank was Super Frank and cleaned up the entire boat, pumped tanks, and filled water.  He's a machine!  I managed to finish up at work in enough time for us to hit the Farmer's Market for a few minutes, then the kids and I ran around the grassy area to give Frank some "Dad time."  And what did he do?  To heck with relaxing!  He tore apart the shower drain pump in the kids bath that's been broke and proceeded to repair it. 

We capped the weekend off with a nice walk down the pier after the kids went to bed.  It was a perfect evening.  I can't wait to do it all again!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Visits and repairs

I'm back to work today after a nice visit from my parents.  It was pretty low-key, but we did get underway Saturday and caught a few crab.  The kids really enjoyed all the extra attention and Frank and I really enjoyed date night! 

On a slightly bad note, the boat does not seem to be happy about my unexpected return.  Since my arrival less than a week ago one of the shower pumps had a membrane go bad, the TV died, and now our freshwater pump completely died.  All are easy enough fixes (we hope), but it's kind of a bummer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Woo hoo!

Ok, obviously I should be working but instead I am celebrating the fact that I can actually upload photos to the blog from the ship!  I hope it stays this way when we're underway.  This is one of many awesome photos taken in June when we had Kristin Harris come take pics of our family.

I got home yesterday afternoon and am VERY happy to be back!  Trent is talking way more than he was a month ago and Katreina is getting great at spelling.  We had a nice dinner out in the cockpit of the boat and then went for a dinghy ride.  The kids were very cuddly and the night went way too fast, but I'm looking forward to many more nights like that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Slight communications vent

I try not to complain because we have it way better than sailors did even a decade ago, but GEEZ!  I ordered my pictures on July 8th and I still don't have them!  I'm going to see my babies in person before I get those darn pictures in my hand!  And why is it that ABE seems to be the only ship the the US Navy that won't let people (other than Media department and some super big-wigs) use Facebook underway???  And why, oh why, am I unable to upload photos to my blog on this network???  WHY??  WHY?!?!?!!??

Ok, I feel better now.  Thanks for listening!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Since we pulled into San Diego today I got to call home and talk to everyone and it was great!  Katreina hogged the phone mercilessly, but we had a nice conversation.  She let her brother talk for about a minute, then got back on the phone and told me that when she sees me she's going to give me the biggest, biggest hug and lots of kisses.  If she only knew how much I'm looking forward to that!  Then she said, "See you soon!"  That's kind of funny since Frank hasn't told them that I'm coming home yet.  I can't wait to surprise them at school that day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Don't forget your old shipmates..."

In preps for the "battle" today and the anticipated return home, I'm listening to Jerry Bryant and the Starboard Mess's "Roast Beef of Old England: Traditional Sailor Songs from Jack Aubrey's Navy."  It's a favorite album in our house as we love the movie "Master and Commander" and Frank and I are reading the entire series of Patick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin novels.  Anyway, the song "Don't Forget Your Old Shipmates" is one of the kids' favorites and probably the most popular from the movie. 

Lyrics--"Don't Forget Your Old Shipmates"

So to Trent and Katreina..."Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar Jack...Don't forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!"  Love you guys!

"Mama, I'm comin' hooooooommmmmmmmmme!"

Well, I am happy to report I AM GOING HOME!  Our schedule has seen some flex in the past few days and it looks like we are going to have a few weeks at home before we make the deployment push.  We are wrapping up COMPTUEX now, with battle problems focused on preparing us for everything we will see on a 6-month deployement in the space of just a few days.  It's busy--I'm on watch 0000-0400 and 1200-1600 every day in addition to a full suite of meetings and meals here and there--but I am definitely learning a lot.  In the past month I've seen, once again, that my husband rocks and will do just fine without me, and that with email and phone calls I feel like I'm not too far out of the loop at home.  I think we're going to make it.  But for now....SEE YOU SOON, BABE!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Seattle SeaFair fun

I got the coolest picture and story today from Frank.  The pic was the kids with Johnathon Hillstrand, of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" fame.  The story, well, sometimes it's best to just go with what Frank writes.  Maybe he'll add the picture sometime...  [hint, hint] ;)  He writes:

We had a fun (but long) day today at SeaFair.  It started out great!!  I decided to drive to the park-and-ride near the park where it was held as parking was supposed to be near impossible.  But the iPhone navigated me right past the park and I thought, "Why not just see."  Sure enough, there appeared to be no parking.  Then I saw one space right beside the front entrance with 3 guys at the entrance.  I thought, "Who cares what it costs, it sure will be nice if the kids have a meltdown."  So I pulled in, rolled down the window and said, "Good Morning."  The guy said, "Sir, thank you for your service, just head to the right.  If there is anything you need, please let us know."  I mumbled "thanks" (out of shock that it worked and I didn't even have to pay), and got Super Rock Star parking!  Then shortly after getting in, a man gave me pit passes for the hydraboats!  That was cool, there were whole jet engine motors being craned off boats and new ones put in boats, crews running everywhere, and lots of cranes to lower whole boats into the water.  After that, we walked past a fire truck, and then ran into Johnathon Hillstrand standing there talking to 2 firefighters!  It was pretty neat.  We got pretty good seats for the air show too, although Trent almost bailed on me because of the loud noise.  The kids went into a bouncy-house twice, and were good pretty much all day.  Trent fell asleep about 1 minute after getting in the car, Katreina lasted about 5 minutes because she could see a plane out her window!  I am worn out, but glad we went.


I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to the organizers of the Seattle SeaFair for taking such great care of my family today!  I'm so glad they were able to go and have such a great time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bye, Eric!

Today I sat in the cold confines of my watch space and watched a live video feed of the flight deck.  Revving up on the catapult was an aircraft that would launch my best friend on the staff off the ship for good.  Thankfully, it had a safe launch and within the hour I was given the news that the plane had landed safely at North Island Naval Air Station, putting him within minutes of his favorite gelato stop in Coronado, CA.  It was a bittersweet day as I will of course miss having him around to chat with at work, but he's off for the better life as a distinguished Olmsted Scholar.  I'll miss you, Eric!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday, Sunday...

So I've mentioned before that Sundays are quite special onboard, with one less meeting and brunch instead of breakfast and lunch.  I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, then went out to find a new gym.  I started in the hangar bay using a medieval contraption called a "Versa Climber."  I managed to "climb" to the top of the Space Needle (which totally made me think of home) before giving up.  That thing is just hard!  From there I headed to the new Horizon/Seaside Gym.  In comments to my last post my mom mentioned that "The Boat Show" (check out the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN page on Facebook!) had shown the great view from the rowing machines in that gym and let me tell you, after weeks of working out in white/grey rooms, it was AWESOME!  I biked while watching dolphins frollick and whales pass by.  Then I rowed, imagining I was helping to power the ship along.  And I did all of this, breathing in deep, sucking in the sweet smell of...BACON!!!  I know, I know, you thought I would say "salty sea air" or maybe even "jet exhaust," but it being Sunday morning the only smell out there was bacon!  It really makes working out a greater form of torture than it usually is, but somehow I made it through.

Sounds like the kids and Frank are having yet another awesome weekend.  He sent me great pics of the kids trying out the new toilet he put in their head (boy do I wish I could post photos from out here!) and of them out enjoying the concert at the marina.  And perhaps my favorite pic of the weekend was one of the great sunset, enjoyed from the cockpit of the sailboat.  I miss seeing that with Frank. 

Getting set for a busy week here as our training and testing continues.  Thanks to all the family and friends that are supporting me and all the other Sailors out here--it means a lot to us!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My "Program"

I hate running, only because of how it makes my knees and hips feel afterward.  I really, really hate treadmills.  But I ran, on a treadmill, to avoid the monotony of trying to find fun, creative ways to work out underway.  And it was boring.  I stared at a white wall.  Blah.  But I survived, so I've committed myself to doing that at least once a week, even if only for 10 minutes, to engage as many muscles as possible. 

Why?  The pattern of the day underway is set by watches, meetings, and meals.  And boy do they serve up some food!  Not always the best, but really not that bad and always in vast quantities.  It takes a lot of discipline not to eat way too much and even more discipline to pry oneself out of the rack, away from those precious minutes of sleep, to go work out.  My motiviation is a little program I call "Frank Deserves Better."  Successful participation in the program results in a Sailor returned to her hubby in a more toned shape than she departed.  Anyone can join the program, and you don't really have to be a Sailor or be underway, but just try to be a little more disciplined for the next, oh I don't know, let's say 8 months.  Any takers???

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homefront Funnies

If you're not a parent or you can't appreciate potty humor, read no further!

I always love hearing about what the family is up to, especially on the weekends because Frank always seems to do really cool stuff with the kids.  Saturday they got to go play around on the Jetty Island beach and Sunday they did some domestic chores and hung out at the Farmer's Market.  But there were a few funnies from Frank's note to me last night that I just have to share:

- After I commented on how the kids look like they've already grown, Frank reports "I do know that Trent has somehow grown over the past 4-5 days because he can now (just barely) pee in the potty without the stepstool.  He is very proud about this!"  Aren't we all!  Gotta love the measuring sticks we use in our house!
- (Quoted directly from Frank)  Trent yelled for me ("I'm DONE") after her was done pooping (like his 3rd of the day, each one just barely a poop), so I went in to wipe.  He said "OK Mr Frank Powers," turned around, and went face-down ass-up.  What can you say in reply?  I found not much!

I love all these silly stories.  Definitely keeps me involved in what's going on at home. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Closure at last!

After lots of tearful phonecalls with Frank, an amazingly supportive email from a professional mentor, babbling my circular arguments to my best friend at work, a few sleepless nights, and one really good, hard ride on the exercise bike, I have officially decided not to apply for a shot at the PhD program.  I just can't pass up this shot at being on the east coast near family and friends that we love so dearly.  I will continue to learn, just not that way.  And now I look forward to the day when Frank will begrudgingly become a resident of Maryland!  :P

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tough decision

The past few days/weeks/months I've been struggling with what should have been an easy decision--whether or not to apply for a shot at a PhD in Oceanography via the Navy.  Free PhD, 3 years in Monterey, and a decent time for the family.  No brainer, right?  Well...I've been penciled in for a job in Suitland, Maryland following this tour and if I apply for and get the PhD, that job will go away.  The job itself is what I was after, and being in Maryland we will be within a day's drive of all of Frank's family and a reasonable drive to my family.  We will also be on the eastern seaboard, within reach of my friends to the north and Frank's friends to the south.  So which is more important?  Throw into the mix that we have a boat that we really want to continue living on and having fun weekend trips in, and this decision isn't really as easy for me.  Family is important to me.  I miss my own terribly right now and am excited about the possibility of for once being within reach of extended family.  I also think we'll be hitting the point where the kids and I need to step up our knowledge of sailing and the Chesapeake Bay will be more favorable for that than Monterey Bay (yes, I fear the Pacific and her hearty swells at my current level of experience).  At the same time, I really want to learn more about oceanography, but I can't exactly narrow down what exactly I'm interested in, but having a PhD would most certainly help me out in the future.  And it's also such a great deal that I know I'd be an idiot if I didn't at least go for it, but...family. 

Frank and I have talked a lot, and I've cried a ton, but I need to figure this out so we can just move forward.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Not-so-sunny SOCAL

Hanging out in overcast yet warm San Diego for a few days and I'm loving getting to talk to the little ones!  Frank has been a SUPER hubby, sending me pictures and little stories from home.  He works so dang hard and still makes time to help me feel connected--LOVE YOU, BABE!

The weekend pics included the kids on the beach and ABE behind them as I departed, the kids meeting Spongebob Squarepants at an Aquasox baseball game, and one of our boat with a "blue star flag" (showing that a family member is deployed) flying high from the yardarm.  Sadly I'm unable to post them from here...I think the guys running the LAN are just a little too conservative with our bandwidth!  Maybe Frank will post some from time to time, but regardless, they really do keep me going.

Talked to the kids last night and it sounds like they are doing great, so really the only one struggling is me!  Figures!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The day has come

Yesterday was our last day together as a family for a very long time.  I went to work very briefly, then to a peaceful breakfast with Frank.  Then we picked up the kids from school and had a nice day playing at the park, snoozing, driving around in the dinghy...all the stuff I love doing with them.  I actually really loved giving them baths last night, too.  I cried as I put them to bed, and was comforted by Katreina telling me to dry my eyes.  She is sweet and sensitive, and while I worry about her being sad, I know she is also usually the stronger one between the two of us and that she will be fine. 

This morning we were all up very early to drop me off at the ship.  Trent was moody (as he usually is early in the morning) and Katreina was tired, but we made it.  They gave me nice, big hugs and kisses.  Katreina was sobbing, I think because she saw that I was, but I asked her to smile for me and she did!  The sun was hitting her face and her eyes were super sparkly green with the tears.  I will totally miss that beautiful face and Trent's sweet, goofy smile!

Now it's time to get to work.  :(

Monday, July 12, 2010

Date night!

After a great weekend of crabbing in Honeymoon Bay (10!!!), we got a super special treat--a babysitter!  Yes, a guy that is trained to blow stuff up for a living, the EOD officer I work with, took on the true challenge of babysitting Trent and Katreina while Frank and I headed out for dinner in Seattle.  It was fun and as we hit El Gaucho, a favorite from our dating days, it brought back lots of memories.  Oh, and the food was awesome!  Tuna tartare, filet Oscar (that's filet mignon with crab and bernaise), and burnt cream, and of course some great cocktails!  But alas, I missed the kids before we even made it to the dessert.  It was great to get back and see them and hear all about their fun night. 

Thanks to Eric for making it all possible!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our Independence Celebration!

What a great weekend thus far!  We spent Thursday night on the south side of our beloved Hope Island where we snagged 3 dungees and a red rock on our way to an early morning slack at Deception Pass.  It was a beautiful morning!
Deception Pass, westbound

The kids enjoyed a fun snack to get in the mood for the 4th.

A peaceful day of motoring took us along Cypress and Orcas Islands and up to Sucia Island.  We found an anchorage away from the "crowds" in Echo Bay.  It's really amazing how many moorings are there, and how much other good anchorage is available.  Right away I saw folks hiking along a trail overlooking our spot...very nice!
 Echo Bay, Sucia Island

 Frank relaxing in the sun

We pretty much spent Friday afternoon kayaking, hiking a little, and checking out the beaches.  Saturday morning we kayaked to Ewing Cove (totally cool little spot), then spent the afternoon playing around at the beach.  The kids loved splashing around, even though the water was freezing!  We rounded out the afternoon with a paddle through the anchorages, checking out boats and hailing some folks Frank was acquainted with through Cruisers Forum.  We weren't able to get them, but after dinner while we were checking out the amazing bald eagles and dancing in the cockpit (ok, just Katreina and I there!), the couple came up to our boat for a little tour.  They had hiked something like 7 hours and were pretty hungry, so I think our gift of 2 beautiful, cooked Dungees made them pretty happy!

Sunday morning we did one last paddle before heading towards Deception Pass for the 3:30 slack.  It was a rough day, 2-4 seas, variable winds then gusty 20+ kts, a big swell off the quarter.  The kids were lucky to sleep through most of that.  We anchored briefly in Bowman Bay awaiting the slack, then slid through for what might be the last time.  That was a little sad...not sure if we'll make it back up here after deployment. 

The wind kicked up and a small craft advisory was issued as we headed for Oak Harbor.  Not always fun heading to a new place with 20-25kts blowing!  We did manage to set the hook upwind of most of the other boats at anchorage and it held well, with gusts just about up to 30kts.  We also got a front-row seat to the Oak Harbor fireworks display, though it was wicked cold outside!  This came with some entertaining boating, too, as many small boats were out to see the show and not everyone was real savvy with an anchor!
 I've never had to bundle this much for 4th fireworks!

The fireworks, both pro and amateur, were really good and the kids really liked them.  Partly because of the crazy wind that was forecast to blow until 1am and partly because of the crazies out on the water, Frank stood watch on deck for a few hours after we all went to bed.  He came down shortly after and told me about this big powerboat that we saw set its anchor about a dozen times coming within about 7ft of our stern as they left.  As he's still snoozing I don't have all the good stories from after that, but I can report that the anchor held!

Happy 4th, everyone!  Enjoy that freedom!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nice start to a long weekend

We kicked off our trip this afternoon with 2 nice dungeness crab and are now anchored off Hope Island. Wonderful night...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I was wrong

I like to think that I can admit when I'm wrong, so here it is--I was wrong. My upcoming deployment is pretty much destroying me and my motherly sensibilities.  I am really proud of all those men and women who can leave their families for months to a year and do so well.  I just don't think I'm part of that crew.  As Trent cried out "Mommy!  Mommy!" last night in his sleep I was consumed by the guilt of knowing that he will cry that out and I won't be able to comfort him.  That kills me.  I am "mommy" and that should always be job #1.  In hindsight, though I love my job and have a lot of satisfaction in what I do, I think I probably should have left the Navy prior to this tour.  This one tour I fear is going to scar me for a very, very long time.  I think our family will make it and I'll go on to finish out a fine career, but these feelings will not leave me easily.

Another great family visit

Ok, a little catch-up post here and with any luck I'll get some pics in!

Had an AWESOME visit with my family over the past week!  My sister Amy, her hubby, her 3 kids, and my sister Brandi all arrived Saturday after a very early morning flight.  As luck would have it, there was a concert right outside their hotel that night, but they did manage to get a little sleep.  Sunday we had a photo shoot with Kristin Harris and it was way more fun that I ever thought possible!  The day was a little dreary, so we grabbed lunch, hit the farmer's market, then took to the seas for an afternoon sail.  It was cold, but everyone got to see a whale and get acquainted with the boat.

Monday was another kind of dreary day, so I took the whole crew to the ABE for a tour and lunch.  After all that walking, we headed up the road to Deception Pass.  We had some fun on the beach there, then drove down Whidbey to take a ferry trip back to the east side of the sound.  Busy day!  We kept that pace up Tuesday, heading down to Seattle to check out the eclectic scene of Pike Place Market before hitting Seattle Center and the Space Needle.  I had a blast!  The skies cleared enough for us to get a good view of Mt. Rainier, too.

Wednesday we slowed things down a bit and got the whole gang underway for a cruise to Poulsbo.  That was awesome!  My nephew Jason and my niece Jenny took a turn driving the boat, we saw seals, we saw sea lions, we had great weather...fun day!  We hit Poulsbo in time to burn off some energy in the waterfront park, get some yummy ice cream, and do a little shopping.  To keep it simple we grilled on the boat, then played in town a little more.  Of course we hit Sluys' Bakery before heading out Thursday!  Another nice day on the water and we returned to Everett for a family night out at Alfy's pizza and some dancing to the free concert at the marina. 

After those calm days on the water, we stepped it up again Friday!  Just the out-of-towners and I headed out for a great, Class III white-water rafting trip on the Skykomish!  Everyone seemed to have a great time--I know I sure did!  We stopped by the cabin while we were out there, just long enough to see that it had been broken into again.  Ugh.  Frank was out racing a sailboat that night, so the rest of us headed onto base to eat at the galley there.  I think we were pretty tired after that!

Today was their last day here and it was a nice, laid back day.  We hit Kate's for a hearty lunch (because everyone visiting Everett should check out Kate's!), then just hung out at the boat.  We dropped the kayaks and all took turns paddling around the marina.  The highlight was when Sarah and I were in the tandem and Frank and Katreina were in the other one and we had a seal totally playing with us!  It grabbed our rudder a few times, kept coming to the surface right be Sarah's paddle, and would rub up against the bottom of our boat!  It followed us all the way around the marina! 

Sadly that was the end of the fun. We headed to the SeaTac area for dinner and to drop everyone off at a hotel for the night.  It was great to see everyone and see the kids playing together.  It was one of the best vacations I've had in a very long time and I'm going to miss all of this fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Visitors!

VERY excited that my sisters and the entire Webb family will be here in just 2 days!  Already have a few awesome events planned, including family photos on Sunday and white water rafting on Friday.  Now I'm looking at a little lunch at the Space Needle, perhaps....  CAN NOT WAIT!!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

CA Vacation!

This is a quick recap of our last week, a family vacation to San Diego.  The kids were awesome for the flight--this one was pretty short compared to their cross-country jaunts! 

As soon as we got in to CA, we all piled into the rental car, loaded up on food at Santana's, and headed east for 6hrs to get to Phoenix.  A few days before the trip we decided we should take this opportunity to see Frank's Grandma Roegene.  Monday morning we had a nice visit with her for a couple of hours.  She looked wonderful and though her memory isn't what it used to be, we had a great time chatting away.  We were also surprised as Uncle Tom stopped by, too!  It was really great to see them both, but around noon we took our leave, hit In-and-Out, and headed back west to visit the rest of the family. 

Tuesday Frank's sister Fawn retired from the Navy after 20 years of service.  Great ceremony, and great "adults only" reception that night!  After that it was a little rough...both kids had been coughy really bad during the trip and weren't sleeping well so we took them to the ER at Balboa to get checked out.  Katreina had just finished medicine for strep so we wanted to be sure they were ok.  Despite the fact that Trent threw up right in the ER waiting room, they checked out ok.  Trent got a heavy-duty cough suppressant and we headed to the hotel to try to get some sleep.  That day was a rehearsal for Fawn's wedding in a cute little park on Coronado followed by a bbq at a park that some of her friends put together.  It was all a ton of fun, but Trent was a little tired and as he was tossing about during a fit he managed to get nursemaid's elbow again so we were off to the ER for the second time that day!  It was a quick fix, and we were all completely spent after that!

Thursday we had a pretty low-key morning before the afternoon wedding!  It was a great ceremony and the kids had fun, especially during the butterfly release.  The reception was a great dinner party and the kids had their own little area with 2 of the greatest babysitters I've ever met!  Trent was still pretty needy, but we had a great time.  He fell asleep the second we left the reception, but Katreina and I ran to Nado Gelato for a treat and she made a MESS of herself eating in the car!

By Friday we were all pretty healthy and had a great time playing at the beach with the whole family, including new cousin Alexa.  She is such a sweety!  I took Trent back a little early to get cleaned up, but I hear that Katreina had a great time splashing around in the ocean with "Uncle" Stephan.  The whole big group went out to dinner at Miguelito's.  It was great, but Trent and Laurel CRASHED at dinner, and Katreina snoozed for a few minutes.  The beach was definitely fun!  We said goodbye to the Baranko family and headed off to get lots of sleep!

Saturday we had great weather, reasonably good health, and a fantastic time at Sea World with Grandma, Logan, and Laurel!  I will admit the Shamu show "Believe" caused me to tear up because it reminded me of how I felt when I was a littke girl seeing all of that for the first time.  I loved seeing the kids' faces light up.  Finally we grabbed a sushi feast and headed back to Coronado to hang out with the g-parents and cousins for one last time. 

Ok, so maybe that wasn't such a quick recap!  Fun, exhausting trip.  It was really great to see everyone and celebrate all of Fawn's big life changes!

Friday, June 4, 2010

DhjaakshhshydgjzkjjhxhdhdjxkzlLhhcljchkkfsg

And this is what happens when you let a 4-yr old hold your iphone and "practice letters."  Too funny to delete!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Let me start off today's post by saying that I'm proud to serve with so many outstanding Americans!

Yesterday morning we left the beauty of Eagle Harbor on Cypress Island after a hearty pancake breakfast.  With the current we made very good time to Deception Pass and went through on slack just as the kids were having lunch.  It was a pretty gorgeous morning and lots of folks were out on the beaches there.  We just enjoyed the trip this time, fully realizing that it may be one of the last times we get to make that transit for a while.  Just beyond the pass was Coronet Bay, a nice little refuge with floats and docks that are part of the state park.  We managed to get on a dock that was right on shore and tied up with ease.  The weather kind of went downhill, but after nap time we all went for a nice long walk down a trail to a beach.  Along the way we chatted with a family who also lives aboard in our marina.  Small world...  The kids even found a bulldozer to play on!
Despite the rain,  Katreina wanted to play on the beach after our walk so she and I got nice and messy while the boys headed inside.  She happily dug at the sand with a shell and managed to find a few crabs!

The whole time we were here there were crowds of people fishing for smelt off the dock.  It was crazy!   They were even here at 6:30 am today!  Nice to see so many families enjoying the outdoors together.

This was definitely not our typical trip.  We usually head to a location, spend a few days at anchor there, then head back.  Though different, I kind of liked this weekend.  I think it gave Frank more time to hang out with all of us and we got to see a lot of places.  Now we're headed home, and of course NOW the sun is coming out.  Looking forward to scrubbing the boat with my little girl!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cypress Island

Now this place is just a treat!  After the excitement of the morning, we decided that if Cypress would work we'd just stop there.  Our cruising guide listed Eagle Harbor as an anchorage, but we were surprised to see a great spread of free, well-maintained mooring buoys!  What luck given the state of our windlass!  This place is just gorgeous and peaceful.  The mist rising from the trees, the bald eagles overhead...paradise.

 
While the kids napped we got the kayaks down and both Frank and I enjoyed a little solo paddle around the harbor.  Then we took the munchkins for a paddle and a nice trail walk between two beaches.  Katreina really took to running in the woods, and the kids loved checking out all the massive slugs along the trail!  We had such a good time that after returning to the boat for dinner, we headed back out for more kayaking, and looking at starfish and jellyfish.


I really like this place...it's been a very relaxing night for the big kids, too.  :)  But due to the timing of the tides, we're planning on heading out tomorrow morning to get through the pass.  Totally fun day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Underway, La Conner, and a series of unfortunate events!

It was a typical start to a long weekend for us...a short week of work, rushing to get the boat stocked/laundry done/work caught up after a week of leave, then aaaahhhhhh, the lines were cast off Thursday evening!  We didn't really have a solid plan for the weekend, but headed north.  That night was just a quick jaunt up to Elgar Bay where we anchored for the night.  Our big treat there?  The anchor windlass stopped working properly!  The "down" would work, but not the "up"--bummer!  We did a bit of trouble shooting that night, but couldn't get it going.  Oh well, good ole' fashioned brute strength (a.k.a. Frank) got the anchor back on deck and we were underway just fine on Friday morning.

Tides and currents weren't totally favorable for getting us through Deception Pass so we decided to try something new--the Swinomish Channel.  We tried to time it so that we would be at a "0" tide and rising for our trip into the channel.  THAT was exciting!  We heard another vessel on VHF report that is was "now clear...no longer obstructing Swinomish Channel."  Great.  Then we saw it at the mouth of the channel right as we started in.  It was nerve-racking for Frank and I honestly could have done without the power boat that insisted on passing us right in a bend with another sailboat coming at us, but we made it!

Once we made it through the channel we decided we might as well check out La Conner.  It gets a lot of hype and we were honestly a little spent after that stress.  We scored with a nice city dock right in the middle of town that was only $.50/ft/nt.  It was rainy, but we geared up and headed into town to play in mud puddles and shop a little.  We scored at an awesome olive shop right up the pier.  YUMMY!  Frank got some ridiculously hot ones, while I went for sun-dried tomato stuffed.  And since the kids had been really good, we got ice cream!  We all got a little cold, but it was delicious!  The kids played around a bit in town, but we were getting hungry so we headed back to the boat.


This is where it gets good!  I had ribs in the oven and was about to cook corn when I realized that the gas was out.  No big deal, right?  We always keep the spare filled.  Well not this time!  We were OUT!  At this point it was after 6pm and no where was open.  We salvaged dinner and looked up a place to go in the morning, right on the water, that had propane.  According to the website it opened at 8am which would allow us to get out of the channel on the north side before the tide got too low.

This morning was less than ideal.  As we went to get underway the current was tearing along, right into our stern, and the boat got pushed well away from the pier before I could get on.  I freaked, but Frank kept his cool, got the line onboard, flipped around to point into the current, and got right up to where I could jump onto the port side.  I decided I hate current.  Next we had to find a place to tie up by this marine store.  Well, its dock was full of over-nighters, so we pulled into the fuel dock (which sucked with the current and the no-cleat piers they favor there) just to be told we couldn't pull up there to go get propane next door.  Grrr....  So then we tied up to the northern guest piers (which thankfully had cleats) and Frank ran to go fill the propane.  It was about 8:15am when he left and he returned, soaked from the rain, to tell me that the store doesn't open until 9am.  Curse you, stupid stores that don't post the correct hours on your web sites!!!!!  So we waited.  We didn't want to have to try to pull in anywhere else.  The cool thing was that they Skagit County dockmaster (where we were tied up) didn't give us a hard time about hanging out there and not paying for the hour.  He was really cool.

Ok, so at 9am Frank got BOTH propane tanks filled and we got underway ASAP.  We wanted to be out of this channel before the tide dropped below "0" level just after 10am.  It was honestly tight.  We were behind, and I can't believe I'm saying this, a slow power boat.  At least yesterday when we were coming in if we grounded the water was rising and we'd shortly float off.  Today, the water was dropping and we could be stuck for hours.  But....WE MADE IT!  I'm happy that we "did" La Conner and the channel, but I'm happy to be headed out to the islands right now.  Not sure where we'll end up tonight...Cypress or Sucia???

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is it May yet? Why yes, it is!




This weekend we are out with our friends from North Carolina, Jesse and Rachel. After a week of fun in Seattle we got underway for Port Townsend. We had fun there and even got underway on the tall ship Lady Washington for a battle cruise! The kids loved the canons and it was great to see the crew work all those sails.

Now we're heading back to Everett for the night. It's going to be tough going back to work tomorrow!

Friday, May 14, 2010

"I put on my uniform today."

At times I struggle with missing my family and wonder if I made the right decision to keep pressing on in this career field.  While this underway period has been hard on me (and probably on them, too), I know that this was my choice, a choice that I made after lots of discussion with Frank.  A lot of people can't understand why we've chosen this, and honestly it's hard to explain.  But yesterday I was forwarded the excerpt below.  It was read at the retirement ceremony for a Chief Petty Officer in my community and it really touches on themes that resonate throughout the ranks of our all-volunteer military.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

"I put on my uniform today."

A Navy Chief sat behind his desk, just down the hall from his Commander's office.  As the Chief started on a second cup of coffee and finished the last of the morning messages, the commander stepped into the office.  "Chief," the Captain said, "I hate to ask you this, but you are needed in Southwest Asia in six days for a 90-day rotation.  Can you go?"  With no voiced emotion and without looking up, the Chief replied, "Ma'am, I put on my uniform this morning."

The Captain, somewhat taken aback, thought to herself, "The Chief doesn't usually talk in riddles.  Has this veteran of 20 years gone off the deep end?"  The old protector of the enlisted corps smiled and began to explain.  "Ma'am, I made a promise to myself more than 20 years ago, that I would only put this uniform on as long as I'm available for duty.  You see, while it is obvious to most Navy members, it seems to completely escape others.  'Available for duty' means more than the desire to negotiate and select the premium assignments.  It requires us to go any place in the world the President or officers appointed over us determines, at any given time.  This doesn't mean we shouldn't want or receive our preferences.  It does mean we'll go when and where we are needed and called.  Now this may seem overly simplistic, but I think everyone can agree--when it comes to defining service to our country, the answer is just that simple.  In today's world of 'What can you do for me?', it's very easy to lose sight of what 'service to country' is all about.  Service goes far beyond the individual; it affects the well-being of our nation.  Sitting in comfortable surroundings, at your dream base in CONUS, it's easy to forget the sacrifices we agreed to endure in service to our country.  Sitting in Saudi, Iraq, Bosnia, Japan, or maybe Korea, the sacrifices become much clearer.  The bottom line today is that we are an all-volunteer force, and though our force has been reduced by 30 percent in the last five years, it remains a highly mobilized, continually-tasked 'corporation.'  Everyone is vital to its continued success."

The Chief continued by saying, "The Navy will go on tomorrow with or without any single one of us; however, the efficiency of any one of its specific units may be adversely affected by the loss of only a few.  All of us have the responsibility to report our availability for duty.  If someone has a family problem or special circumstances that preclude them from being available, they need to report it immediately and especially prior to being deployed.  If any member does not deploy when called upon, another member must fill that slot.  So, any time someone cannot or will not deploy, the ripple effect is felt throughout the Navy.  Everyone's family would like them to be home for the holidays.  I can't think of a single person wo would intentionally miss their child's graduation.  And we're all aware of the pain of losing a loved one and know how the grief can be compounded by not being at their side in the final moments.  Yes, we are all continually asked to make sacrifices.  Yet some seem to forget that we are serving our nation, and that we are all volunteers.  Who said it was going to be easy?  The leadership of our country depends on us for being good and true to our word.  Every day, each of us needs to look into the mirror before getting into uniform and ask, 'Am I available for duty?'  If the answer is 'No,' then we need to notify our supervisor, division chief, or commander immediately!  Then the next step is to determine if the non-availability is temporary or permanent.  Then the toughest question must be asked--should the person resign, separate, or retire?  There are no grey areas.  Everyone must decide for themselves."

Finally the Chief looked at his commander and said, "Ma'am, as I said earlier, I put on my uniform today, and I'm available for duty.  Do you still need a 'yes' or 'no' answer to your question?"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's a little shout out to the women who bore us and then put up with our antics for 18 years (ok, maybe more)--thanks, Gretchen and Sue!

As for me, even at sea I'm having a good Mother's Day thanks to my awesome hubby.  Before going onto watch at 0230 this morning I received emailed photos of a card from Katreina and colorings from both kids.  But that's not all!  After watch I was very surprised to find an email with an audio clip of the sweet voices of my loving family.  It's so nice to know that you're being thought of!  I think I'm going to listen to this clip at least 100 times today.  Love them!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

DV Dinner

So last night I got the pleasure of dining with Mr. Yoshimi Inaba, COO of Toyota Motor North America, and his wife Yoko as they were guests onboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN.  I will be the first to admit the following:  I personally love my Toyota and want to buy another; I think Toyota could have been more forthcoming about the issues they identified; and I think that the company has been beat up severely by US lawmakers to make it look bad so more US cars will sell.  But that's beside the point here.

My first impression was this was a guy I was going to like.  He's a major figure in a large international corporation and he arrived sporting Dockers.  No showing about from either he or his wife (who I must say is lovely!).  Throughout the meal, Mr. Inaba and the Admiral talked about the challenges of leading a company and a strike group, and how similar they are in many ways, but they also talked about golf and family.  I was most impressed to hear him talk about his 42 years with Toyota.  This is a company he's been with since college and despite the challenges it's currently facing, he is not going anywhere.  I truly respect his dedication and hope that I can find similar character within myself when the going gets tough.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

News from home

Last night I got to talk to the family again.  Everyone was excited to tell me about "new plates and cups!"  Apparently Trent's cup (yes cup, he has one and we wash it at every meal--limited cabinet space) broke so the family went shopping!  Princess and Cars dinnerware and coloring books were all the kids could talk about.  It was so cute!  Then Katreina was talking to me and said, "Mommy, tell them to bring the ship back."  Of course I told her I would try, but then she said, "no Mommy, now!"  I love her determination!  That sent me into a fit of sobbing, so I had to get Frank to end the call.  I feel like I tell them I'm coming back all the time and I wonder how long it will take until they give up on me.  Kills me.

Today I was happy to get a note that Trent said, "kisses and hugs, coffee?"  He and Katreina love to help make coffee with the Keurig and I loved that he thought of me so far away!  I got word that they were all headed out fishing today.  Hope they had fun and caught something!

Sundays are special on board...brunch and a surf and turf dinner.  Yes, the world revolves around meals here.  And I am quite excited to go grab some ribeye and scallops!  :P

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A phone call!jdklxldldnshlnflddbfjfjjfjjfkdkfk

I called home tonight!!! It was bitter-sweet, really. It was so great to hear everyone's voices, but it made me cry, right there in the office. I know it's only been a few days, but it feels like an eternity. And Frank is awesome for not complaining about me calling right in the middle of his attempts to cook dinner for the family. The kids were interested in me for about 10 seconds before they turned their attention back to the TV, but it was still awesome.

I miss you guys!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Haze grey and underway!

Taking a moment during a drill here to give you all a glimpse into my life aboard.  A typical day is:
0200 Wake up
0300-0700 Watch
0700 METOC watch turnover (I like to stop by there)
0715 Breakfast
0800-0845-ish Admiral's Brief
0930-1000 Future Ops Meeting
1100-1300 Lunch (sometime in there)
1400-1500 or 1530 Planning Group Meeting
1500 Workout
1600 Dinner
1900 METOC watch turnover
19?? BED! (Usually NOT because of drills and general noise about the ship until 2200)
0100 Workout if I didn't get to go earlier...

In all the "white space" in this schedule I get to do training, be part of ship's drills, listen to all the alarms for ship's drills, work "emergencies," do more planning, etc.  Every day is a little different and getting settled into this routine is just about killing me.  But....

Frank likely has a schedule something like this (M-F):
0500 Dad wakes up
0530 Kids wake up
0600 Waiting outside to get into daycare
0615 On the bus (this would be a VERY good day!)
0635 More than likely getting on the bus
0745 Worky work
1545 Depart work to walk to the train/bus
1610-ish Get on train/bus
1720 Arrive Everett
1730 Arrive at CDC to pick up kids
1745 Finally leave CDC with kids (they seriously take FOREVER some days!)
1800 Home sweet home
1830 Dinner
1900 Baths
1930 Stories, potty breaks, etc.
2000 With any luck there is silence throughout the house
2030 Awesome Dad is sending Mommy pictures and a note about how exciting the day was or maybe cleaning up the dishes, or putting a little girl back to bed...

This is certainly tough for all of us, but we have a routine.  I might be off a little on Frank's times, but it's an idea.  Thankfully his job allows him to telecommute sometimes so he can let the kids get a little more sleep and he can catch up a bit. 

Ok, my eyelids are closing but I have to go to training!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brief stop

After yet another week in San Diego I was lucky enough to snag a standby seat on an early flight and got home well before bedtime last night. Just that one hour with them was wonderful.

Today Frank is working from home and I went in to the ship for a few hours. After waking up I came out of the bathroom to find both kids in bed with Frank and I just had to jump back in and snuggle with them! Now I'm trying to knock out a bunch of domestic duties to help the hubby out before I leave again tomorrow. Yep, leaving again and this time it's for about a month.

"This is a test of the momma away system. Had this been a real deployment, momma would be gone for 6+ months..."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Beautiful, breezy day!


Today we invited some friends to head out for a day sail with us. We only had one taker, Eric, and we had a blast! The winds were very gusty when we got underway and we were heeling like crazy, pulling 10 knots under reefed sails. After a while the wind settled in at 10-15 knots and we had a nice sail around Hat Island. Eric (in the pic!) took the helm way more than I ever have and did awesome! The funny moment of the day was when I was at the bow messing with the genoa furler as we pulled into the channel and got SMACKED by a wave! So cold and wet! The boys got a kick out of it. Despite wind right on the stern we moored easily, cracked open some adult beverages, and relaxed in the cockpit. Another great day out on the water!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Home again to the world's greatest hubby!


I just got back from yet another week in San Diego and will be heading back there on Sunday. While I was there, Frank was super-Dad once again. Here he is washing dishes, even after I got home and offered to help! He even somehow found time to do laundry AND install a new toilet in the forward head! He is absolutely awesome!

Hopefully we will head out sailing with some friends tomorrow!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hoppy Easter!


Though we've been pinned to the dock this weekend with high winds and I've been sick, we did manage to relax a bit and have a fun Easter. This morning I snuck out to do laundry and hide eggs, then Frank brought the kids up to hunt! It was so cute watching them run around. They even shared nicely!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back home

Our departure from Eagle Harbor was great, with down-wind sailing that had us going 8 knots at times. However today we saw it all! Steady 15, calm at 5, steady 25 with gusts of 30, sun, rain...Frank got lots of practice in varying conditions and quite a workout! We're expecting gale force winds at the pier over the next few days...should be exciting!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Last weekend in March

We got underway just before 9 this morning and headed out for a mixed day of sailing and motoring--very relaxing. We were shooting for Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island and made it around 4. At first there wasn't any room at the city pier so we hitched up to a linear moorage. We were hoping that a small sailboat that was at the pier wouldn't stay all night and we could get in. Just as we got settled on the linear moorage, the small boat left so we fired up the engine and snagged the spot!

Our patience resulted in a nice spot at the end of the pier. We headed into town to play at a park and walk around. Ended up doing pizza for dinner and got ice cream as a special treat.

Being on the pier has been nice for the access to town, but I think we prefer anchoring. It's just a little weird having all sorts of people walking the full length of your boat while you're hanging out, washing the kids, etc. We have more shades drawn right now than I think we've ever had! Still, a very nice night!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Travel, and not the kind I like

Well, I'm on my way back from San Diego after a week of training in preps for deployment. Honestly it wasn't bad training but logistics were a nightmare (sharing cars, staying 45 min from the training site, NALO flights...) and some of the days were crazy long. So we flew through some stuff early in the week and showed up this morning for one brief. That left me with something like 7 hours to sit and do NOTHING before my flight. So frustrating...if I'm going to be away from my family I want it to be for a good reason! Erg...

While the long days didn't allow me to see my in-laws in the area, I was able to have some good meals with my coworkers and get to know them better. That's important when you're about to spend 9 months together.

With any luck I'll be kissing my munchkins as they sleep within the hour...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Short weekend


GeoTagged, [N47.98509, E122.34679]

Since our plans for an overnighter were crushed by my job's social and travel requirements, we're out for a little day sail. While the winds were light and variable this morning, we've had 8-10 kts this afternoon. The real treat has been grey whales! Nice day for gawking and hanging out with the kiddos.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Going mobile!

Tonight I'm trying out mobile blogging...seems easy enough! I might have to go for the "full" version of this app so I can do photos, too!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The sadness starts

I ended up sobbing like a baby last night.  Yep, it's true.  I'm ok now, but last night the realization that I'm about 3 months away from being away from my family for 8 months, coupled with my weekend with them being reduced to 1 single day, got the best of me.  Their little faces change so much when I'm gone for even just a week--I can't imagine how drastically different they'll look when I get back after 8 months.  Frank, as always, has assured me that I'll get through it and that they will too, but somehow I don't have much faith in myself!  Between now and then I'm hardly here, too, and I just feel like I'm going to slowly slip away from them.  I hate it.  I want it to be over.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Heading to Maryland???

I've been in touch with my detailer this week since it's just over a year before I'm done at COMCARSTRKGRU NINE.  Seems early to most, but in my community if you're not all over this a year ahead, then you're behind.  We ended up looking at 3 possible jobs--one in San Diego and the other two in the DC metro area.  We'd been hoping to head to the east coast to be near family (and the boat life is more our speed there!), so I focused there.  After considering commutes, jobs, and the prospect of having people again, I asked to have an XO job at the Naval Ice Center in Suitland, Maryland.  Next step?  Wait to hear if I'll get it! 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A few chores...

Today was a BEAUTIFUL day!  However, since Katreina has a friend's birthday party tonight and her own tomorrow, we're not underway.  We did go on a nice long paddle in the kayaks this morning though and spent the early afternoon doing some chores.  Mine?  Cleaning the year's growth off the dinghy!

Our big girl is 4!

The title says it all...Happy Birthday, munchkin!  We had a mini-celebration tonight since her party is Sunday.  She chose to go out to eat at the "cheese quesadilla place" which is also known as El Paraiso.  They surprised her there with a birthday song!  Back home she got lots of clothes and gear for baby Sophia, an outfit, a loud music player, and a new game for her Leapster.  Good times!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lonnnnnggggggg night

So I'm on watch right now, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, a Sunday that I hope to spend with my kids since I'm on travel this week.  I'm so crazy tired right now that I really hope I can even manage the drive home at 0700. 

Today, or I guess yesterday now, was pretty fun.  After a pancake breakfast, Simon, a friend's 6-month old, came over to spend some time with us so his parents could make a brunch date.  He was so cute and it was fun to have a baby around!

I didn't sleep hardly at all before this watch, and my triple latte is wearing off.  I just want to make it to breakfast at Kate's and then through the morning so I can collapse at nap time!!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A little cleaning

So when we got back today we decided to give the anchor locker a good cleaning.  Trent was napping, but Katreina wanted to help so I turned the windlass controls over to her and I manned the hose.  She did a great job letting out all 100 feet of chain plus about 60 of rode, then she brought it all up while I sprayed the mud off.  I love having a helper!

  
After we finished I was just going to spray the boat down real quick to get the salt water off, but the lady insisted that we use the "scrubber."  Who am I to argue?  She did a great job!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend in Manzanita Bay

After spending way too long tied to the pier, we escaped for a short weekend! We're still getting used to the new slip and had to jockey lines around a bit just to get the dinghy docked before we set off. We set off under a beautiful clear sky and a great 45F. I drove a little more than usual as we made our way out of Possession Sound, then we were able to sail for a few hours. It was really an awesome day.
Katreina checking out the scene on deck.
We checked out Treasure Island, but it seems all the anchorages have given way to mooring balls, so we moved on through Agate Pass with me at the helm! Manzanita Bay at Bainbridge Island was a little more open and we found a nice anchorage. It's a little bay with lots of gorgeous houses, private docks, a nice view of Agate Pass, and still quite a few mooring balls. It was a beautiful afternoon so we cracked open some beers and fired up the grill for steaks. It was a nice night for reading books and going to bed early!

We're heading home now under another cloudless sky. Winds are pretty light and variable, so I'm not sure that we'll get to sail, but it's still nice. WOW! We just experienced our first log encounter! Heard a massive thump along the port side and it was only about 4 inches in diameter and 4 feet long. Crazy!