Thursday, January 14, 2016

An Open Letter to the CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings

This is the week before exams as a teacher and a mom of a sophomore can be a bit stressful. When you add the Lieutenant's exam, there's a whole other level of stress. Our house is still not put back together, there are baseboards and radiator covers still in need of a home, there are paint tools and a Christmas tree that still need to be addressed. I have four rooms of  new beautiful floors, but need to find the time to put the pieces all back together has evaded us. It makes me twitchy to have things not in place. We decided to get away from it all, literally just for an hour.

Sometimes I think we are so caught up in the bigger, better, newest, most technologically advanced ways of attracting customers, that we forget that sometimes plain, ole' boring customer service might be the way to go.  

It was not so pretty.

Sally J. Smith 
Buffalo Wild Wings 
5500 Wayzata Blvd. 
Suite 1600 
Minneapolis, MN 55416 

Dear Ms. Smith, 

      My name is Trina. I am a high school history teacher within the Public Schools. I am married to a Firefighter/Paramedic from the Fire Department and we have four lovely Muppets, the rest of the world calls our kids.

Last night, my husband and I were able to sneak out for an hour – literally, in between me coming home with our oldest and the clock maker coming to look at the 1952 grandfather clock we bought to celebrate our new home this fall.  We decided to go for wings, as were celebrating my husband’s (hopefully successful) completion of the Lieutenant’s exam earlier in the day.

Now, with the hectic lifestyle for firefighters, working shifts of 24 hours on and 48 hours off, you can imagine how throwing in the individual schedules of four kids between the ages of 8 and 16 creates a whole other layer of insanity. And, although the world believes that we as teachers are instantly done at 3:55pm when the kids walk out the door, most days I am not leaving until 5:30pm or later. My homework does not even get looked at until after the two youngest are in bed. We do not get many opportunities, especially during the school week, to get out alone.

       We were getting a bite to eat at your restaurant at 3636 S. 27th St in Milwaukee. I was grumbling about being placed at the booth right by the hostess stand, but in the end, I was thankful to be there.

Apparently, a group of teenagers sprayed pepper spray in the restaurant. As the entire southern end of the restaurant began fleeing, we wondered what the issue was. And then I took a breath to make a comment. My nose was on fire, my sinuses began draining and I could not stop coughing. I know now how I will react to exposure to pepper spray, as it apparently was pulled over to our table through the ventilation system. My husband, being a med on scene, advised your manager (Julio, I believe) to clear the restaurant and call 911. He told my husband he was dealing with it internally and there was no need. There were at least two pregnant servers and two little girls with asthma that were being impacted by this exposure, as well as the throngs that suffered irritation from the spray. The whole while, the teens were brought boxes for their food and never asked to leave. They “believed” they were spraying air freshener. As a high school teacher, I can leave my opinion of that statement to your imagination. They did not leave until Engine 12 and the police pulled up. 

I find your manager’s lack of reaction to be inexcusable. I suffered the whole night and continue to sound like a lifelong smoker while I prepare my students for their exams. I am guessing that my lungs have been compromised from the 50+ pulmonary emboli I developed following surgery in 2014 and that would be at the root of the continued discomfort. But who would have thought that dinner out would be off limits? It is completely inconceivable. 

The most frustrating aspect of this whole fiasco is your manager’s lack of concern; for his wait staff, for his customers and for the reputation of that location and truthfully, your chain as a whole. He truly appeared to have no concern for anyone, except his nightly total.

I paid for our drinks and pretzels, as they were delivered as we were about to leave and sat and shivered in the breezeway. My husband encouraged people to leave and seek medical attention if needed since there was a delay in calling 911, tending to those who were struggling until the fire department arrived, by law, he can’t just walk away. 

I posted a note on your company’s Facebook page and was shocked when I was asked to simply fill out a generic “how was your experience” survey. I felt completely disregarded. I am not sure I will be able to get over that. Slow service, doesn’t bother me. I waited tables through college and my first year of teaching all those years ago. That seems to be the biggest complaint of this location. We come back to watch basketball during March Madness because it is a safe place to watch multiple games with the kids. Sadly, I am going to guess we’ll probably pull out our DirecTV Genies instead this year. My health is significantly more important. Slow service didn’t kill my business, apathy did.

I do hope this makes it to your desk. I realize we are not on your radar at all. But in the grand scheme of things, if your company doesn’t care for its employees or its customer base, which is keeping the lights on, there is really no place for that company in my world.

I hope this is addressed properly and timely.
Thank you for your time.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Test Prep

Promotion season is upon us.

We've waited for this for what seems like a lifetime.

There have been study sessions with other guys from his fire and med classes, there have been suggestions and feedback sessions with officers. We spent all of yesterday (that was not spent at mass or watching the Packer Game) practicing and timing his BQ (Background Qualifications) session.

We discussed how tying his leadership in the educational world, as well as being an educator on its own merit was a SIGNIFICANT piece to discuss. We talked about he went from being a voice of a school to a Cub with no voice at the dinner table, and the impact that had. We painted a picture of how he learned to be a better firefighter, by being a Med and how he learned so many more styles of leadership based on that view, that was nearly the outside looking in. He opted to use my teaching method for his presentation - telling a story. Starting with his boyhood trips to the firehouse with his dad to do truck inspections, moving on to becoming a teacher and ending with his evil wife, who dragged him to the city - kicking and screaming - where you could only be a professional FF. We discussed the significance of Peer Support and tending to the needs of the WHOLE firefighter and how you cannot treat our exceptionally young Cubs, the same way as you always have. Their brains have not fully developed. There needs to be a transition from hazing and busting your chops to mentoring and instruction. 

And we had to make that all fit into 13 minutes. They will be given 15 minutes, but 2 need to be reserved for Q/A by the interview team.

I know he is meeting with some of the guys today, I know he is meeting with an officer while the girls are in practice and I know we will hit the one more time run-throughs tonight when they get home. I feel like the study sessions are the same as they were in the academy, med school...perhaps it is just forever cyclical. 

I am proud of all that he has accomplished. This whole story was one of risk - leaving an established career in education at 34, with a wife and 4 little kids is INSANE, but not as uncommon as I would have thought. 

He is not the grizzled "fireman's firefighter" that you so often see portrayed when discussing this world. Maybe he is the future. Maybe his education degree (although not recognized for pay stipend each year) truly is invaluable to this department. 

We need to make sure our firefighters are well trained, know their stuff, trust each other and all that jazz. But we also need to make sure that our leaders address the whole picture of their firefighters. The stresses that they have experienced on a daily basis, would wear many of us out - if not drive us out of the profession. They have seen losses and experienced saves that create such a pendulum of emotions, someone should be passing out Dramamine. They are berated in the media when lives are lost - because they did not get their in time. They are chastised for eating together. They are fearful of looking too much like cops in the dark alleys. And they are away from their families far more than they would like to be.

All of these emotions and scenarios create a whole picture, which is not always public and not always pretty. But, it needs to be addressed.

I am confident that my FireMan will become that amazing officer.

Far cry my a post I would have had 5 years ago, when I was still trying to survive this insane world.

Send your luck, juju and prayers our way. His orals are tomorrow.

Be safe. Send some your firefighter's way today.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Revisiting "The Notebook"

I have had a few FFWs reach out to me about a post I wrote  for in 2013.

It was probably the hardest and most emotional post I have written.

Revisiting it, that hasn't changed. I haven't looked at it beyond packing it up for the move, in over a year. I guess it was time to take a look, again.

That Knock on the Door – LODD Preparation for a Firefighter Wife

Knowing that I will be a total and complete disaster, I have made a list.  My Secret List.  I have it in a ordinary notebook on my dressing table.  It is not pretty.  It looks like it could be my kids’.  I don’t share it.  I don’t talk about it.  My hands shake whenever I pull it out.  My FF knows I have it, but does not know what it looks like. It has some links and some notes.  My list comes from questions that I have asked him – sometimes on the sly and sometimes rather blatant.

A composition notebook that could be in any backpack in the world…
but, it is my secret notebook.

It has print outs from the local and from the IAFF.  It has spots for scripture passages, pall bearers and speakers.  I have the contact information for the cemetery – luckily we already have a place in a family plot.  I know that the department will take care of much of the details for me when it comes to the actual service, but there is so much we don’t ever think about.

So, without all of the specifics of my notebook, simply because I will never make it through this post with all of the tears, here are some links and lists I have to work from.

The first page I have written – BREATHE and CRY AS MUCH AS YOU NEED. In big bold letters.  I need to give myself that permission rather than try to play the stoic statue.  I need that permission.  You might too, or perhaps you are comfortable enough, but here’s where you put anything that will help you get through that initial shock.

The next page is a list of numbers and people I want each person to call for me, so that I don’t have to rehash the loss verbally quite so much.  His parents – with all of their numbers, with a note for them to call their family and friends.  My parents – with a note to call each of their perspective families.

I also have the kids’ school numbers there.  I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that would be – trying to manage my grief while breaking such heartbreaking news and watching their world crumble in an instant.  But I digress…

The next number is my firefighter wife next door – cell and work, and her Lt’s number – again, even though he would probably already know.  Chances are, since our FFs work the same shift, she would probably be right there when I got the news.  She would see that department SUV pull up, but just in case, I have them readily accessible.

I also have a few firefighter wives that are not local, but are on this list as well.

I have his partner’s number and his Battalion Chief’s cell number and the Union President’s number and email.  Again, they would all know what happened (probably before me), but if I have a question or  need help with something, I don’t have to search to try and find them.

I have two funeral homes – one close to the Basilica and one my family has used forever – their numbers and a contact person at each.  I also have the number for our parish with this list, with the extension for each of the priests.  The Basilica is a most beautiful place to say good-bye.

The cemetery – their fax number and phone number – made it to my list.

Make this list your own.  Be sure you have a go to person.  One who can take calls when you can’t. One who can organize meals for your family and help spread information.  You might want to make them your number one call just so you have someone to lean on.

I have an entire packet from our IAFF Local printed out and highlighted/marked up.

If needed, call (866) 736-5868 to request help from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Local Assistance State Team (LAST).
No matter what, you are never alone!

Funeral and Burial Plans
This is probably the hardest part of my notebook to discuss – mainly because I have asked him some of these questions and others are just too painful.  I have asked what scripture passages he wants (to which he shrugged his shoulders and so I have put some ideas of my own in to share with the priests) and music.  One of the songs we sang at a friend’s father’s funeral in college, and so it breaks my heart every time I hear it, is one he would like.  Mental note to myself – get a copy of the sheet music.

Class As – if your firefighter does not have one for burial purpose’s Lighthouse Uniform will provide one for free for Fallen FFs.  If you have a local uniform distributor, check with them.  Local is always easier during these hard times.

Wedding ring – I wear his ring a third of the time.  It is important to me.  I will have his wedding ring on his hand for the services, but I will ask to have it removed before burial.  I have a plain titanium ring that I bought him for work – which he doesn’t wear – that I will probably replace it with.  It is important to me that he have a ring with him when we part ways in this world.

Burial – I have a folder of pictures that I will have printed out for his casket.  If I don’t send him into a fire without pictures of us with him in his helmet, how I can I send him on to the next life without them.  This set of pictures is constantly changing.  I have a note in my notebook with their location, but it is not on my laptop to keep my husband shielded from them.

I also want to make sure he his buried with his St. Florian’s Medal and his half of our Mizpah coin. When I touch my half of the coin while he is on shift, it reminds me to say a prayer that he stays safe. When we are separated by death, it will continue to remind me to say a prayer.

A BIGGER question for burial is does he want to be buried?  Would he prefer cremation?  We have one plot.  I will be cremated and under the headstone.  He will be buried.  Not easy questions and oh so awkward to even bring up.  But, easier to know ahead of time.

Music – Speak with your FF, does he have a hymn that he has loved since he was a child.  My husband and I met in our college choir and we did many pieces of sacred music that we fell in love with.  Just as an example I have John Rutter’s The Lord is My Shepherd  and Franz Biebel’s Ave Maria included in my list.  No celebration of my husband’s life could be complete without these pieces that were such a big piece of his life.  But, this also means you need to make arrangements with your church, parish or funeral home for musicians if they are not in your close circle of friends.

Keep that in mind, also.

Readings – If you are at a loss for readings, there are several funeral planning guides out there for the general public.  I have the Memphis Diocese’s Planning a Catholic Funeral bookmarked and I looked at a United Church of Christ guide, but there are so many others.  Don’t feel you HAVE to be this specific.  Your spiritual leader has done this many many times and will be of great assistance to you in your time of need.  I just know that I am a control freak who will be out of control.  I will need this much detail to feel quasi-comfortable.  As with all of this information, do what works best for YOU.

This is just my plan.  Feel free to use it as a starting point, but it does not have to be a replica for your plan.

Readers and speakers – I have not yet asked him about this.  Who do you want to speak?  It can be a joint decision or just leave it up to him or have people in mind should the need arise.  Make a note and be sure to add their phone numbers to your phone list.

Photographer – I would like one.  The images might be more than the kids and I can take at that moment in time, but they will eventually be a beautiful reminder of a beautiful service commemorating a beautiful life.  Your department might just provide one. PLEASE be sure to check with you church or parish BEFORE the service.  Many are okay with photographers as long as no flash is used, but you want to be certain.

Pall Bearers – Another list of people I have not been able to ask him about.  Does he want our oldest son, both boys or none of the above?  Only if they are adults? Only FFs or family as well?  I am sure there is a protocol for an LODD, but I want to make sure that I have his input.

Badges – When my FF retires, he wants to give each of our muppets (our nickname for our lovely children) a set of replica badges – one of each level he achieved in the department.  For my funeral plan section, I thought it would be a nice touch to give each of the Muppets a replica of his current badge, as well as a mini shield key ring  from his current helmet shield.

ME – I have a note to make sure someone makes appointments for me to get my hair and make-up done.  I am not going to be able to stop crying long enough to put on mascara, so I am hoping someone else doing it will be enough of a distraction that we can get through that part.

I have taken the section of the Survivor’s guide that provides a Contact Form (p. 15) and printed out several copies of that.  You need to know who you are talking to, about what and when.  This just makes it so much easier to recall.  You are going to be calling sooooo many people.

Along with these, you will need death certificates.  The  guide suggests that you get 20, I have a note to get 25.  It is cheaper to get them en masse than it is to order a few more at a later time.  Make a list of all the places  that will require this – banks, insurance, etc.  And then order extras.

This is such a personal issue, please read through this section of the guide carefully.  It does indeed vary by where you are in life.  Make sure to research what benefits you are entitled to, through your department, state and the federal government.  There are many scholarship opportunities for children of firefighters who gave all, please take advantage of them.

One Last Thing…

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.  No matter how you feel like you are on a desolate island, all by yourself, you are never alone. Your family, your department and firewives from around the world are here to lean on.  Please be sure you reach out any of these resources, even if you only need to hear that things will be okay.

Don’t let this overwhelm you.  Don’t try and plan this all in one day.  Take to your firefighter and your family.  Simply know that there is a reference that is available for you in your time of need.
Love those firefighters like there is no tomorrow.  Don’t waste a single minute.

So, some of the things I have added in here since I wrote this post, nearly three years ago...

  • I bought him a Thin Red Line Qalo ring earlier this winter. I want to make sure that he is buried in that ring after we switch out the diamond ring. I want that small part of me to stay with him. If that ring is damaged, I have the company's number in case I need to replace it.
  • Now that he is on the TEMS team, I would like his TEMS gear there and I will request that their SUV be in the procession behind his Engine.

  • Marriage License - I am SO slacking on this one! When we got married, we never got a copy of our license. We he came on the job in 2010, we needed to get a copy so that I could be carried on his insurance. And I never thought to get a second or third copy. I need to get that and get it in my Notebook. I have one of our wedding pictures in there to attempt to remind me to head up to that courthouse.

  • Prayer Cards - I have to talk to him about I sit with another FF's prayer card on my dresser.
  • Music that he has mentioned in the last few years has been added, along with specific readings.
  • Phone numbers - They change more frequently than you would think. I just made sure that I updated them, several of them were out of date.
  • Our oldest - He is active in our Explorers program. He is planning on following in his father's footsteps. If he is a cadet or on the job, that had a whole other dynamic to this discussion - for both of them.
Please don't be afraid to reach out if there is anything with this you'd like to talk about. If you have ideas for what should be added, please let me know. I know there is probably more. Make this work for you.

Have a good day. Have the tough talk. Reach out to those around you. Kiss that firefighter.


Friday, December 18, 2015

A Letter From a Fire Wife, to a Fire Wife

Dear Julie,

I know you don't know me, but at the same time you know me better than some of my closest friends.

You know how I juggle practices and games, with homework and chores - on my own a third of the time. You know how I sleep in my bed alone every third night. You know how I plan everything by counting days in threes. My friends listen to me fuss, but they don't really know. You understand how powerful that Daley day is to the family, just as we plan on breathing on PO days. You know me. You know why I hate this picture, even though you don't know me.

You know how grateful I am to catch that phone call while he's on shift or to hear the keys on the counter when he comes in the door. You don't know me, but you totally do.

We all say that we can't even imagine, but the truth is, we all have. We have all imagined. Every FireWife has had that thought of "What if?"  And then we shove it back into its dark hiding place because that is how we survive.  Now you are living and know what we most fear to face. We know that your heart is breaking. We know how your dreams have been torn to shreds by carelessness. We know.

You know me. You know how it was to meet the love of your life so young, just as I did. You know what the faces look like when you tell people you got married at 22, just like I do. I know you.

You are living our greatest fears. You are the reason why having them work on Christmas Eve is really not that big of a deal. You are heartbroken. And we mourn, right there with you.

I am just over the border. MFD, CFD, fire departments around the world...we grieve together. I know that will not stop your heart from hurting. I know that will not give you the answers when the questions from the kids come. I know that Christmastime will always leave you trying to catch your breath when you least expect it. I know. I know birthdays and holidays and weddings and babies will never be as you ever imagined while you were dreaming your dreams.

I know.

But, please know, you are never alone. You truly have the whole family of firefighters and those of waiting for them to come home surrounding with love from near and far. Know, you only need to say the word and we will be there with anything you might need. Having dear friends in the CFD world, I will quickly come down and grab them along the way if whatever you need will make you breathe a bit easier, while you try to learn to breathe alone. 

You are never alone.

We will bring Santa and sing caroles. We will bring food and fold laundry, We will listen to you however you see necessary. We will tell the world to leave you alone. We will rake the leaves that did not get swept up. You just say the word.

Please know, we are all here. We are family. You know us. From one FireWife to another, we are all here. There is a sisterhood that is forged by fire...and it is stronger than the rest of the world can image. Send me a note, let me know what I can do. Please know...

I have watched in amazement at your grace and read your letter and admired the strength that it must have taken to write that through the tears. I am sending you love, support, prayers and hope.

You don't know me. But you do. Just as I don't know you, and yet I do. I know you are hurting. I know you will be angry. I know this will never go away, completely. But, please know, you are never alone. We will walk with you, just say the word.

In love, peace and support,
Wife of Jeff - MFD FF/PM/TEMS

Photo credit - ABC 7 - Chicago

Monday, November 16, 2015


Friday, I spent the end of my second hour and all of my third hour class in the basement cafeteria of our school. I was there with the entire fourth floor. We had no idea, aside from rumors, as to what was going on. Because of the looks on the faces of staff, the kids knew this wasn't a drill. They were beautiful, in spite of the fear. I was so very proud of how they handled it. I was one of a handful of people that had any cell service in the depths of our centenarian fortress. So, I texted the FireMan to find out that he could. He gave me info about what was on the outside, but that TEMS had not been called in. Eventually, we got the all clear.

All of this came about from a threat on social media. Stupid teenage drama on social media.

From our freshmen.

It was a week of "She said that you said" on some bogus student created FB page. THOTs is an acronym I wish they would toss out of their minds. Focus own building themselves up as females, instead of tearing each other down for the attention of an adolescent male...seems to be insanity to this old mind of mine. But that was the root of the whole week's drama.

And from our babies.

Being a junior teacher, I am really out of the loop. BUT, I could feel it in the air. I had said something to admin the day before.

Anyway, Friday after our debriefing meeting I walked out with another teacher...just beaten down from the week. I am stretched so frickin' thin. I was/am so dang tired.  And I looked back at the building as we were being grumpy and miserable together and saw the evening sunset lighting up my building.  That moment reminded me that there was a reason I was doing all of this.

And I went home a smidge less grumpy.

There was our first fire waiting for me in the fireplace. Chili to warm my insides by that lovely fire. 

And the news was on.

And the blood.

And the fear.

And the panic.

Suddenly, I wasn't sure I could really keep going with this. I have not even shared this insecurity with my husband as of yet.  It just seems that it is everywhere. That it is surrounding me. 

But, in the vaults of my damaged brain, I am aware that these 129 lives lost cannot be in vain. That is must make our resolve stronger to make this world less broken...starting with me. Starting with my muppets. Starting with my kids at school.

I am aware of that.

But, am I strong enough to make that happen?? You know, while I am setting aside my curriculum to focus on literacy since our kids are going off to college unable write a coherent essay or read a college textbook. How can I address literacy and peace in society when neither are truly valued and both can be construed as signs of weakness?

I am still processing. I don't know where to start. I know that this is not about being married to a firefighter and I will get nastygrams pertaining to that. Instead of wasting your time and mine, move along. I am a firewife. This is who I am. This is my blog. From there very beginning I have fought with people to remind them that I am the sum of ALL my parts and I do not fit into any one pigeon hole. And, I am human - with all the human failings and glories. I am a teacher. I am lost on this journey right now. But, I have kids all around me that I need to help find their way on this journey. No time to be lost. Only time to find our way through this. Violence and hatred never end well.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Making a House a Home, Again

I feel like a military family. Like we are always moving. I think we may have finally found our forever home. I won't bore you with the details, but it was an insane, unexpected turn of events. It happened very quickly and my husband is now on top of the world.

All of which is good. 

He LOVES the house. We finally have enough room to have all our family over and not feel like we are on top of each other.

We have a family room and a living room. We have a game room - in process. We have a two car garage and a real fireplace.  We have a legit dining room. Not a living room we turned into a dining room. Not a heated breezeway that we put our china cabinet in. Not a bedroom that we opted to use instead of jamming into a tiny kitchen. A real life dining room. All so good. We have a 2nd FULL bathroom, which we have never had before. We have an amazing fenced in yard and entire neighborhood of truly amazing people. The kids LOVE this house, even though they are still sharing rooms. I have my own office, in the most amazing of purples.

But I am not feeling like I am at home, yet.

I don't completely relax when I come home. My shoes are not unpacked, yet. I know - first world problem for sure. My closet still has the clothes just tossed in there. I hate the color of my bedroom - but he liked it, so we had to give it a try. I HATE IT. Dungeony and dreary and belch. So, now I have to find a day to paint. The carpeting was horribly stained and needs to come out - in the living room/dining room and game room carpeting smells like you would not believe. I know these are all minor. I will get my hardwood and laminate. I know  that. But I am letting all of these things get in the way of making this a home for us.

I just need to let me self relax and accept it as home. I will get my bathroom unpacked, some day. I will find my shoes and organize my closet, over Christmas break. I will have the rest of my life to make it my own. I will. I started with our menu board. It is my mark on this kitchen. It ties our family to this house and forces us to stop unpacking and running around so we can eat together.
I hoped that the Halloween decorations would pull me in. They definitely pulled the neighbors in, all so very nice. But I felt like I was decorating a store front. 

I wish I had the answer. Maybe the Christmas trees going up will light up my heart. Maybe it will just take time. Maybe it is just that all of the work obligations I have found myself carrying around are just not allowing me to love it like the rest of the crew. Maybe it is just some combination thereof.

Anyway, after all my grumping, here's my favorite room of the house. I can't wait to have a fire in it. I can't wait to get the tree up in here.  I can't wait to enjoy it.

I need to take a new picture without the 2nd TV in there and with all the turn of the
century canvases up!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Context of the TIme

Image: FoxNews
As I tried to watch the debates last night, I finally had to concede defeat. Not because of pandering or disagreement with any one of the speakers. Not because I had a ton to do. Nope, it was simply because my polar bears did not like the sound of the 'Time's Up' ding dong thingy.  The barking session would last 3-4 minutes...and mind you, I was up in my bedroom so the boys could watch TV down in the family room (since the game room is really not ready). You know, the bedroom that shares a wall with the sleeping girls' bedroom.

So, I have it DVR'd. But, sadly, I am rarely without a dog. AND I doubt I will have time to sit down and watch it before it becomes irrelevant.

And so I move on.

These debates were held here. Literally 12 minutes from my house. We got to see the Trumpo Jet pull in to the airport and the media circus taking images of itself. 

I was thankful the FireMan was not on shift. 

I have no idea if their services were warranted through any of this, but I was grateful to not have to worry about it, with him helping my boys get some stuff put away in the garage we are digging out. (I still hate moving!)

I fell asleep to a very Trump heavy, politically filled SNL episode from the weekend.

And life was good.

11200636_1070955672916249_3658267464395682453_nUntil this morning, when I saw the flag burning pictures and free speech rhetoric. The veiled and not so veiled racism was abhorrent. And the history teacher in my wept.

Some things that I need to clarify...and I do this with the right to bear arms as well. BUT, I am going to focus on the Freedom of Speech tidbits, I keep reading/hearing.

First Amendment - Religion and Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Some things to notice - it does not say Freedom of Expression, that has become our interpretation of this amendment. 

Notice, it does not say that you have the right to break other laws while you express yourself. (Insert Madonna earworm here.)  This is a FIREWIFE's blog - YOU CAN'T BURN ANYTHING IN PUBLIC PLACES AND HAVE IT BE OKAY!  All materials being burned need to be in the proper receptacles and NOT in public thoroughfares. 

It also may be legal to burn a flag, but that does not mean it is not a jerkface move. 

There are many things that you CAN do, but that doesn't make it right or nice or good or non-jerkface to do them. It just means that you can't be cited or jailed for being that jerk.  But, burning the flag (or anything, really) in the middle of the public street while there are a ton of people in that general vicinity for an NBA game, the presidential debates and general downtown businesses is really not legal, safe, get the idea.

So, instead of me focusing on the jerkface who decided to break the law while invoking amendments in the most convenient context of our time, I am going to focus on MPD. Kudos to Milwaukee Police Department, you made this city and this FireWife proud in your handling of said flag.  Media reported tear gas, it was actually extinguishers. People of Milwaukee should be proud. I know I am. 

Jedidiah Thompson, Jutiki X and Joel Rossman - thank you and be safe!

 There are more images that can be seen at jsonline, as well.  

So, morale of the story, legal does not equal right. And, if you are going to tell me that the Constitution guarantees you the Freedom of Expression, be able to defend that statement. AND, finally, don't break the law and get upset when the police arrest you for it and yammer about they are infringing on you Constitutional rights...because breaking the law is not protected.

Okay, I need to I am tired and about to start preaching on other topics as tangents pop into my head.

Be safe. Come home. Hug your family.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hug Tightly

It seems like my FF and I are ships passing in the night. Life is SO insane that we just don't see each other. Last night, I took the night off of duties - of any kind - and made the nearly two hour ride up with him to the wake of a childhood friend from his hometown. It was just time to talk - with no muppets interrupting. N was at a JV game that they asked him to play in (Perks of being a Varisty underclassmen), girls were at judo with grandpa and I think B was just enjoying the peace and quiet of his gaming world. 

This friend had been battling cancer for nearly seven years. His family seemed almost relieved. Watching him walk in (in uniform) to a room full of firefighters from his hometown/area was interesting. Watching Dan's father tear up at the mere sight of my FF - all grown up. Listening to the stories of his childhood, I got a laugh imitating one of the old admin from the high school (I student taught there), and realizing that this is a world I will never know.  I watched some of the VFDs look at my husband in big city department uniform - trying to figure out why he was there. (He's been gone since 1997.) There was a bit of bravado. But, I was proud that my FF was just there to say goodbye. He was in uniform to say, "See you later, my friend, my brother." Nothing more, nothing less. It was a moment of bonding and not bragging. The fire family knows no borders. He will be missed by all who love him. 39. Gone far too soon.

And then the ride home, hearing about the KCFD's loss. The saves. The heroes we must now honor and the family we must now support. Firefighter Larry Leggio & Firefighter John Mesh - you will be missed.

My lunch is almost over. I will need to brighten my teary eyes and add my pictures later. But, this morning, on our way out the door together, I hugged him tightly. And then again...and again. He probably shook his head at me once he got in the car. But, tomorrow, it is not a guarantee. And this life, there is some uncertainty to it. I wanted to make sure that he was certain that he was loved.

Hug those FFs and all your family tightly. Tomorrow is not promised.

All a Matter of...




We always place things into a box that makes whatever it is feel like everything will be okay. We remind ourselves that there is always someone else who is worse off than we are. We remind ourselves that there are families that would love to have the ability to struggle with their kids over getting their rooms clean. We consider the fact that there are people literally starving, while we are complaining that there is "nothing" in the house.

I find myself doing a lot of that lately. Mostly for good cause. I need to remind myself of how good I actually have it. I need to remind myself that work is what makes it amazing. I will be missing the chaos of 4 kids going in 4 different directions sooner than I think. A year ago, I wasn't sure I would be around to complain about everything.

And I remind myself of that, daily. Sometimes hourly. 

I am still here. Exhausted. Frustrated. Loved. Here.

But I also remind myself that it is okay to be human. I don't always have to wear my Superwoman UnderRoos. Especially at work,  I really need to learn that it is okay to ask people to help you carry the load. I need to remember that I don't need to make change happen all by myself. There are a ton of people who can help make that happen. I don't have to save the world single-handedly. There are a ton of super heroes just waiting for me not to be a control freak. If I fail, I just head back to the drawing board to analyze what worked and what didn't. And from there, you build your next game plan. From there, you come back stronger.

I failed this weekend. My on-line format for my classes was going through a major update and I could not get it to play nicely until Monday morning - 2nd hour. I did not get any of the grading done that I wanted to. As a teacher I failed. I didn't understand that their update meant such a headache for me. I figured two hours of no access, in the dark of night and then all would be well with the morning light. I know better than that. It was so not the case and I failed. And yet, my classroom is still standing and my kids were still goofy. Life went on, even with my imperfection. AMAZING.
There were two TVs because we can't find the
base for the one on the stand. Sigh.
It is in a box.

But, I did get the common areas of the house unpacked and my walls are no longer bare. My lovely FF is currently working on my office (He is that amazing) AND we all got the Halloween decorations up, The kids had so much fun with that. We are taking this big (to us) house and trying turn it into our home. And that is all that matters. 

We got the curtains hung this weekend because I felt like singing
"I'll Be Watching You" in a minor key every time I walked
past the window during the dark of night.
The meetings that seem to control my day, will still be there. But my kids will not. They will move on to their lives, separate from our home. 

Home. Hopefully they will always see this house as home. Hopefully the teenagers will keep wanting to hang out here. Hopefully this will be filled with the chaos of toddlers again, someday. Home is where the heart is. Boxes and meetings, they are part of life. They keep the lights on and the comforts going. Those are just the details.  The big picture includes Ghosts in the Graveyard and giggles at the table. The big picture is what we make it and what we remember.

It is all a matter of making it memorable.  They won't remember the boxes that seemed to stay piled up forever, they will remember the movies and the giggles and the running around. Memories.

Memories make the home, not the zip code.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Free Time

There's not a lot of it at this moment in time. Kids are up at 5:30-5:45 am, so unless I want to be up at 4ish, I don't get it on the front end of the day.

I teach all day, run kids to activities - sports, debate, chess, lessons, church activities...

Come home to boxes and the remaining Muppets who rightfully seek my attention. But I am so tired, that I feel I am not giving them what they deserve. 

And now my lunch hour is being demanded...not requested, by my students. Pounding on the door. Upset when I leave to go to the bathroom, never mind that my day started with two meetings and I teach 3 classes back to back before lunch.  I find myself grumping at them. I know they need my time and love, nearly as much as my muppets. But, to demand it...  It is just not going over well with my exhaustion.

In one breath, I am saying to myself, "NO! This is my 30 minutes of freetime." I don't get it at home, I live in meetings lately (confirming my choice to NEVER go into administration) and I just need quiet. I need to quiet my head and make my lists. I need to breathe and eat my unhealthy food in my desk. Then my Catholic guilt takes over...these kids really need me. I know that they do. But there is a right way to approach things - pounding on my closed door is not it. And it is okay for me to want peace. I have an administrator who scolded me for not answering my door last week, feeding into my guilt. Sigh...I just need a time machine.

Ah well, ramblings. There are two teens in here at the moment. I tried to call my FF, but of course, they caught a run. My bell will ring, my class will come. I will tap dance through my 51 minute one woman show, before I head down to a meeting, only to complete the day with one more class. 

Then on to get the little girls - who I am keeping out of judo today because one of our Asst. Chiefs is speaking to N's football team on leadership for their dinner and I should really be there since the FireMan is on shift. Tomorrow is the Homecoming game, Saturday is the dance, although N is going to another school's HC with another FF's daughter. No rest for the wicked.

Happy Thursday! 
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