Sunday, November 28, 2010 is going to be a looooooong winter

Here in the midwest, cold weather this time of year is definitely NOT unheard of.  This year is a bit different,  it was a mild fall.  We had 70s through September and 60s through the beginning of this month  To now be at or below freezing is a shock to the system.  Mind you, I have yet to put away my light leather jacket for my winter variant, so it can't be that bad, yet.  Until I remind you that I have 4 kids.

Four kids and a husband who worked last night - combine that with cold weather and you have one crazy house!!  The girls are playing tag in their princess dresses.  The boys are imitating A-Rodg in the family room - here's to hoping none of the Jordan memorabilia falls casualty to the level of energy.  All while Jeff and the geriatric K9s are trying to sleep.  I think I will send my jr NFL boys out in the elements to burn off some of this energy.  As for the princesses, I guess I will just have to deal with their world of pink dresses and clickity-clack shoes.

I know I will miss these days once they are in high school, but some days...

My moments of thankfulness:
1)  Thanksgiving - this year was with my family.  I am thankful for the time with them (and the lack of drama).  I am also grateful that my first attempt with the bird was a success.  The turkey is usually Jeff's job - but his shift was Wednesday and there was no way he would have been home in time.  So, I emptied the cavities (ewwwww) and seasoned the bird and got her in the oven.  See, being a fire wife causes you to tackle the things you would not have otherwise done. (Minor though it may be.)
2) My Nook - My newest toy has gotten me through the quiet nights without Jeff home.
3) My Dad - after a crazy day yesterday, not wanting to cook, my dad called and took us out for burgers and custard at Robert's
4) My Health - I am no longer feverish, puking or hacking up both lungs - first Sunday in quiet some time.
5) Christmas is coming - need I say more!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tonic Sol-fa

For graduation, among his more practical gifts, I bought Jeff tickets to see Tonic Sol-fa at the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh.  Realize I bought this tickets in July, shortly after his "I don't think I can do this" melt down after the awakening as to how physical of an endeavor this was going to be.  I also had no idea as to what is shifts would look like.  It was a gamble, but it would be so worth it.
It was definitely  Something Beautiful .

Tonic Sol-fa came to Lakeland when we were college, probably '95 or '96 and we fell in love with them then and there.  Jeff took the guys around campus, while they tried to drum up an audience and into the Bradley.  The show was GREAT!  Even as I posted in July that I got the tickets, our friends were jealous.  I don't remember too many of the concerts from LC, there were a ton, but that one stayed with me.  We saw them at State Fair a few years later.  Then, I seemed to forget about them.  (I have short term memory loss, its really not my fault!! =D ) Until there was a special on them last year.  I DVR'd it and my kids fell in love with them.  Their Star Spangled, is all I can say.  There are definitely 4 distinct personalities to be seen and their voices mesh amazingly well.  I am glad they have stuck to their guns and stayed true to their a capella beginnings; I am certain if you put instruments behind them, they would be with a major label, but that would so suck!!

Anyway, we went to the 4pm show - one of the drawbacks of parenthood, having to consider the needs of the muppets before your own - and OMG - I think you needed an AARP card to get in!!  We were definitely among the younger demo of the crowd.  I am certain that they all enjoyed it, but no one sang, no one clapped unless prompted by the guys, no one danced.  They all just SAT.  How do you sit during this music??  The guy next to me was less than thrilled because just can't sit still and he did not want to hear me sing, but eh, whatever.  I wish we could have stayed for the 8pm show.  Fingers crossed that they come close soon.  Most of their shows seem to be in MN - probably to stay close to home.  There were some songs I wished they had done, the jokes are still the same, the beards are bit grayer, the laugh lines more defined - but it was a great show.  At date night that was sorely needed.  It was a nice break when everyday seems to be One of Those Days.

One of the most profound moments of the night was We All Need Saving.  I can't find a Tonic Sol-fa version, but once I do - wow.  I will have it when I buy the CD that has it.  New songs I am going to have to find - Long Black Train (the country version I found when looking is just NOT the same!!  LOL)   We just have to remember Grace has brought us to where we are and we need to trust, even when it seems like all is falling apart, that it is the path we are meant to be on.

Things to be thankful for:
1) A DATE NIGHT WITH MY HUBBY - It was long over due and a great time.  It is nice to remember that we are a couple and not just Mommy and Daddy.
2) GREAT MUSIC - Too often, I believe, we don't take the time to truly enjoy live music.  We have our i-pods, the radio is everywhere...but live music.  That can't be duplicated.
3) FAMILY - having wonderful family has made life so much easier, especially as we have journeyed into the world of firefighting, and specifically last night.  My dad took the boys to the Bucks game last night so they did not need to miss out on that due to our date night and my brother took the girls for the evening and hung out with them for us.
4) MY KIDS - being away from them always makes me miss them, which reminds my how significant they are in my life and how truly blessed I am to have them in my life!
5) TERM 2 - I am almost ready for the term to start, which is more than I could say when I got up this AM!  =D    

Friday, November 19, 2010

No News is Good News...Right??

Jeff and I have an agreement to make contact once a day.  His nightly ritual involves making popcorn for the rest of his crew, working out, studying and waiting for the house to quiet down.  Ah, the life of a lowly Cub!  Usually he calls, right after I doze off, which is okay.  It takes me a bit to get back to sleep, but when I get to sleep, it is a restful sleep.  For the first time last night, my phone did not ring.  So, when I wake up at 1am and realize it - I am jolted awake.  Was there a fire that got out of hand - my firefighter is downtown, with the world of high rises, it could be.  Was is just a night of med call after med call after med call?  That is a very real possibility.  Did his battery on his cell phone die?  More than likely - this is the scenario.  But my mind has yet to shut off, and as much as I try, choice number 1 is running through my head.

So, I walk through the house.  There is a peace, that in a house of four kids, only comes in the wee hours of the night.  I talked Bear into staying in the bedroom, while I went up and checked, so as not to disrupt that peace for the sake of a secure escort.  The peaceful looks, the quiet, the light pushing through the blinds, and a peace comes over me.  Had there been some issue, I would have had a phone call or, worst case scenario there would be a knock at my door.  So, my mind is put to rest.  I realize that this is the life of a firefighter's wife.  Accepting the unknown just comes with the job description.  Mind you, it comes to me, this was not the job description at the time of that gorgeous  August afternoon 12 years ago.  And now I realize that this WAS part of the vows.  Supporting my firefighter's quest for happiness and fulfillment WAS part of the vows, and this is where that support comes in.  He was not finding that in the classroom.  Aptitude and skill do not guarantee happiness.  If a few sleepless nights, can offer that for him, so be it.  Luckily, I do not have school tomorrow, so when he comes home in the morning, I will be able to hear about his night and welcome him home, with open arms - literally.

A year of gratitude:
1)  FIRST TERM IS OVER!!!  I made peace with myself leaving the public schools, I ROCKED the first term where I knew NO ONE, had to create my curriculum out of thin air and am ready to take on the same challenges for second term.
2) PEACE - There is a peace tonight that I have not felt since 07/26/2010, perhaps it is true acceptance, perhaps it is the answer to my requests for help to get through this transition, but it is there.  It is a relief.
3) FAMILY - Dinner tomorrow, well tonight considering it is 0248, with my dad, brother and sister-in-law.  Saturday my dad is taking the boys to a Bucks game and my brother is taking the girls, so Jeff and I can go see Tonic Sol-Fa in Oshkosh.  It is nice.
4) MY DVR - Sounds silly, but it saves my sanity on sleepless nights such as tonight, by providing a distraction - an escape from reality.
5) THE HOLIDAYS - For the first time in years, I am excited for the holidays.  Ten years ago, I started mentally planning for my trees, village, gifts, etc - in July.  Then kids came and families started claiming their stakes, regardless of the needs of the babies.  I let it happen and I let it get to me.  Jeff is working Christmas Eve, the date is not important, the family gathering is.  I have accepted that and it has revitalized my holiday spirit.  It is a nice feeling.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Firehouse Bug

You would think that after 12 years in a classroom, an elementary classroom no less, Jeff would have an iron-clad immune system.  But obviously firefighter immunity is different from teacher immunity.  I totally get it - 16 guys sharing that space, all bringing their various germs from home.  Then throw in their calls, especially their med calls.  Lord knows what they are exposed to out there.  Jeff comes home to 4 kids under 10 - it is a ripe formula for illness.  He has been to the doc twice this month.  Right after the academy because of a nasty cold that had turned into bronchitis (and he did not want to go while still in the academy) and yesterday - a viral infection.  Being viral, there is nothing that can be done.  So he has spent the better part of the last 5 days sleeping or working.  It is definitely kicking his butt.

However, here is where the kicker comes - I now have strep throat.  Finals are upon us, so at least I do not have to teach, but it makes for a long drive down to Kenosha at 5:45 in the morning when all you want to do is crawl back into bed and sleep the day away.  Lots of hand sanitizer and throat lozenges. Ah well.  I can be hopeful that Jeff feels better tonight so he can have muppet duty while I finish grading papers and entering grades.  Please send health filled ju-ju  our way!

My list of gratitude:
1)  Exams are almost over - I only have 1 to give tomorrow and this term is DONE!!
2)  Livy is almost potty trained - we are making it all day in one pull-up.  This will mean we will go w/o a diaper bag for the first time early January 2000!!!!!  YEAH!!
3) My family will be together for Thanksgiving - well not everyone, but a good portion.  Jeff will be coming off shift, my dad and his parents and Jeff's uncle will join us for lunch at my house.  Dinner will be at my grandmother's (other side).
4)  I love my job - think that says it all
5) Curly  - my 17 year-old golden will be with us for another holiday season.  We thought we were going to lose him 2 Christmases ago and here he is still kicking, romping with a much larger puppy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Month for Giving Thanks

We spend one day a year, grateful for what we have and who we love, and yet seem to forget about that as the year rolls by.  So, here is my challenge, perhaps and early New Year's resolution, for myself.  I will make a list of 5 things each day that I have to be thankful for.  When I post here, I will (try to remember) to add the list as the conclusion of my post.  So, here's my start...

1) My family - through 4 very rough pregnancies, we have been blessed with 4 healthy and wonderful children.  I have a wonderful husband, whom I hold so near and dear.  And for my dad, who has been there through everything.
2)  For a job I love - who would have thought I would find comfort and peace in a private Catholic high school, when I was such a proponent of saving the inner-city schools.
3) My health - as ironic as that is to say.  As damaged as my brain is, I should not be a functioning adult.  Luckily I was not aware of the damage until 26, my brain rewired itself and here I am.  In many cases - against all odds, but I am here.
4) MFD - After 2 years of lists, CPATs, oral interviews, written interviews, checking the city's website over and over and over, EMT classes, MFD 7/26/2010, Jeff is a FIRE3FIGHTER.  He is happy, I am thankful.
5) My K9s - no matter how bad the day, they are there.  You can snap at them and literally a moment later apologize and they forgive you.  They are comfort and companionship - even when the rest of my crew is on a mission elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I hear the disappointment in his voice...

We made an agreement a few weeks ago that we would talk at least once a shift when he was working.  Jeff called around 10:30 last night and of course I asked how it was going.  They had ONE call.  And it was an med call - nothing too interesting.  You could just hear the disappointment in his voice.  All of the guys from the academy have been off to fires, some of them several in a shift.  And to date...he has had a total of...NONE!!  No fires.  Most of his EMS calls have been nothing too exciting or they have been called off.  Which leaves more time to clean.  Let me tell you, that is NOT one of his favorite activities.

On my way into work this morning he calls to check on my hand.  And again, how was last night.  They had one run - smoke at a nearby hospital.  I actually felt excited for him.  BUT, when they got to Sinai - it was just a steam vent.  Someone called because they noticed steam from a steam vent.  AYE!

But, here is my dirty little secret, I am relieved.  I am nervous when he is at work.  Mind you, being a high school history teacher with 4 little ones at home, does not leave much time to worry about it.  But, when it is finally quiet at the dinner table, it pops into my head.  The first moment when the "MOOOMMMMAAAAA" calls from the dark bedrooms cease and there is a peace in the air, it creeps into my to-do list.  When I realize that I am waking up alone, I can't help but hope and pray that he had a quiet night.  I know that is not what he is looking for, but I am okay with this lull.  The thought of the high rise pack having to be pulled out, does not thrill me.  The possibility of my doorbell ringing at 3am is not something I want to even think about.  When I get that 6am, "Hi Honey, another quiet night" call on my way down to Kenosha - I feel his disappointment, but also breathe a bit easier.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A bit of an eye opening...

We have 3 big dogs as members of our family.  Willow, a 12-year-old golden is the leader of a pack.  She has been the big boss since we got her.  Will was our first and last pup.  Everyone else has been from a rescue.  Curly is our resident old-timer, he is a 17 year-old golden.  We got Curly Q at the age of 9, thinking he had a paralyzed larynx, finding out he had mega-esophagus instead.  After 8 years, we are still making Curly Shakes for him for breakfast and dinner.  2 years ago, we found out he had cancer, the doctors told us to just hope we could make it through the next few weeks, so we did not lose him on Christmas.  And then there is Bear.  Bear is a 2 year-old great pyrenees.  He is definitely a polar bear.  His original owner began to train him as an assistance dog, not realizing how monstrous in size he would become.  So, if Bear wants ice - he gets it from the door dispenser.  If Bear wants some fresh air, he opens up the casement window, after pushing up the lever and turning the crank.  When Bear wants Bread, he does not have to get it from the bread box - I had to put that away, he could too easily access it - he opens the microwave and gets it from there.  Don't let his dexterity and size fool you, he is the biggest of my babies.
My Polar Bear in summer's best.
The Geriatric Ward - Curly and Willow

Bear is used to getting what he wants.  Last night/this morning Bear was chewing on a bone, moved on and went back to sleep somewhere else.  Willow came to snuggle with me and picked up where Bear left off and gnawed on the bone for a while.  Bear decided he wanted to claim it back.  We had an argument on our hands, I reached down to move Bear away and CHOMP - I literally stuck my hand in his mouth.  At first it seemed not so bad, but as I walked out to the kitchen to clean it up, my ears started ringing, tunnel vision started and I had to sit down. As is was sitting at the island, I realized that would probably end up on the floor as my head starting spinning.  Better to do it voluntarily.  Jeff took me to the ER, got me settled and came back to tend to the kids.

This is the bite they are concerned about.

Holy Swelling, Batman.

Now...had this been tomorrow, what would I have done?  4:30 in the morning.  My first response is to say I would just pack them up and take them with.  But I don't know if I could have driven.  Especially not with 4 kids in the car.  Now, I was done by 7am.  Perhaps I could've left Noah in-charge,  armed with cereal and Nick Junior, but I am not so sure I like that.  My dad would be up at that time, so I guess I could have called him to get the kids ready and see if his parents would be willing to watch the girls once they got up so my dad could get to work.  So, homework for this firefighter's wife - figure out your emergency Jeff's not home back up plan.

So, off I will go, with my very sore mummy hand - to make my contingency plans.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath...

My firefighter is still adjusting to his schedule.  He has offered to take the "Watchman" position through the night. Simply put, he monitors the radio traffic and answers the phone and door calls through the night, while the other guys sleep upstairs.  This leaves him trying to get back on a sleep schedule on his off days.  Especially after his last shift - it was radio only, no tones.  That makes for a very long night for him.  I am trying to be patient and let him sleep as long as he needs, to nap as much as he needs to.  But that leaves me as a single mommy on his shift days, as well as a good portion of his off days.

Today, I kept the kids quiet while he slept.  Our favorite firefighter joined polite civilization around 9:30am and instantly announced he was going to run down to Engine 30 to grab a light he ordered from one of the guys.  I kid you not, the moment he left, our lovely muppets - who had been so nice and quiet while Daddy slept - erupted in a sea of screams.  Livy was ticked off that Brennan was cleaning the toy room, Brennan was furious that Liv made a mess (even though I tried to tell him that is just what 2 year-olds do), Desiree was mad that Daddy left without taking her, making sure everyone knew that she was dissatisfied and our oldest, Noah, was making his indignation at my request to clean up his desk, VERY well known.  I left.  In my bare feet and fire academy sweats, I went out and stood on the deck (in 28 degree weather).  I counted to 10, counted again and again and again and again...

I know everyone is having to adjust to this new lifestyle, but I feel like I am the only one making the adjustments with the kids.  I feel (knowing full well that perception is not necessarily reality) as though Jeff is making the adjustment to HIS new lifestyle, but not ours.  Please tell me that we will hit our stride and find our routine, please.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

2nd shift is done....well in 21 minutes

Jeff is almost done with his 2nd shift at Engine 2.  He had a captain on his engine for yesterday's shift and they seemed to gel quite well.  The radio system has been down since yesterday, so he noticed guys  flying down the poles and was wondering why - turns out the tones did not go off. So, Jeff had radio duty, he had to monitor the radio traffic last night.  He will be a bit tired when he gets home.

I am still working on finding my way.  My dad stopped by after his haircut, when the muppets were in bed.  It was nice to have a grown up conversation.  The kids went to bed without a problem, got up without a problem - I just have to figure out how to sleep while Jeff's at work.  I got 4 kids up, fed, dressed, cleaned up and out the door by 5:45am.  Pretty good if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 2nd shift is underway

The Halsey Fire Crew
Jeff's first shift was Sunday - Halloween.  It was a quiet shift - 2 calls, one he could not find the bp for (oops, out of practice on the EMT side of things - so he and the other cub practiced back at the station) and a GSW transport from Sinai Samaritan to Froedert.  Other than that, he had a day of cleaning (did you know he could wash dishes???), popcorn making (for the rest of the crew while they watch TV! <snicker>).  I met his captain when I took the kids down to trick or treat by Daddy.  I really liked him.  The bay is HUGE!  I think I counted 6 firemen poles - which I think is the coolest part of it all!!  I am looking forward to the time when I can get a grand tour.
Hanging with Daddy at Engine 2

This morning was our first day of a school day/combined with Jeff going to work when we have school.  It was pretty painless.  Although, truthfully, it does go smoother on the mornings when he is not home.  I am not sure if it is because I don't have to stop to find what he needs or because I can pop out of bed at 4:30, rather than taking that last snooze or two, or just some combination there in.  He took the girls to the sitter and life was good.  Tonight is when it will be hard.  Having to do all the parent duties at night is a handful.  Ah well.  Tonight I think we might  treat Grandpa to dinner since he has been helping out so much.
So cool, Daddy!
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