Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review...or Not

I was trying to think of how to summarize the year.  What to focus on - local, national, temporal or spiritual.  After some pondering, I have decided not to reflect today with this post.  I spent too much time with tragedies trying to make sense of things, that is has worn me out.  Instead, I am looking to the future - to O's birthday.  

She is going to be FIVE!  Where in the world did the time go??!!  I can remember sitting by her in that isolette for hours on end.  Now she is officially and firmly in the big girl world!

And being such a big girl, she got some big girl presents over the Christmas holiday, including an Easy Bake Oven, which she has joint custody of with her sister.  It has gone much smoother than I anticipated.  They are sharing AMAZINGLY well.  Perhaps there is hope for the future, yet.

But, I digress...

After reminiscing about the Easy Bake I inherited as a child, which I believe is still floating around the family somewhere, we got down to some serious baking.  The girls had so much fun, making them, serving their siblings, cousin, uncle and grandpa.  I thought, "Hey, perfect!  People can get her these sets for her birthday!"  Which they can!  But, to sustain this habit, would be a bit pricey.  

So, what do you do with such a conundrum?  Turn to Pinterest!  Duh, especially when you're in the midst of a 48.

I found some Easy Bake Recipe posts and got the idea to make a Cookbook for O for her birthday.  

D is so thrilled to be baking!

So, I compiled some recipes, found a site ( to put them together for me - including a mushy dedication page - in a nice neat package.  I am hoping to have it ordered tonight. Cake section is done and ready for press.

Off to the Cookies Section.

Make some cookies with your muppets and let your FFs know how much you love them.

And from my family to yours, Blessings and Love for coming New Year!  Happy 2013!  Be safe out there tonight! 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wounded Warriors

As a fire family, we know that danger looms ever third day.  From structure fires to HIV and meningitis exposures.  It is part of our lives.  Sometimes it is a perceived danger and sometimes it is real.  Police families face the same thing, just 8-12 hours at a time.  But what about our military families, especially when their loved ones are on active duty in a combat zone.  At that point it is very real and ALL the frickin' day long, every day.  Try not letting that consume you, as you wait at home knowing that the knock on the door could be coming at any time, not just every third day.  

And when they come home, we think they are safe.  We think they are back and life can continue on as it was meant to be.  Our country learned its lesson after Vietnam.  We welcome our soldiers back with respect and pride and joy and love.  They are no longer spit on and ignored.  But is it happily ever after?

Is that enough??

What about when our warriors come home?  We have tended to their bodies, made sure their wounds have healed and that they have the proper medical attention. But what about the soul? Have we taken the time to tend to the body, but the soul... What can we do?
Battling Bare for PTSD

With the acknowledgement of PTSD as a REAL phenomenon, we see a very different picture.  We have groups - civilian and otherwise, that know this needs to be addressed.  Wives have seen it first hand and Battling Bare is working to bring attention and healing to issue of military PTSD.  BB offers support and resources to those who see these invisible scars of war. The images are beautiful and telling. They know that the atrocities of war change a person in ways those of at home can only try to imagine.  Killing a child because otherwise they will kill you leaves scars deeper than any mortar wound.  Sometimes we see the damage as soon as our military come home and other times not until something breaks inside of them for good.  The Wounded Warrior Project learned from the past and has worked to help our military come home and adjust to civilian life.  Their work is amazing.

But is it enough?

Our military take so much time and so many resources to prepare our forces for the skills they will need to try and come home to the flags waving and welcome home signs.  But do they do enough to re acclimate them to society.  To deal with flashbacks...with the caution needed to survive there, but is more like paranoia here...with the nightmares that force them to relive some of the most destructive moments of their lives.  Are we doing as much as we can?  Are we doing enough?  What else can we do?

This holiday season our country was rocked by a series of events that rocked us to our very core.  Firefighters being shot at as they report to an active fire.  Sandy Hook.  But one was MUCH closer to home.  One of our suburbs lost one of their own - a police officer was shot and killed right outside of a firehouse.  On Christmas Eve.

My immediate thoughts were for the family.  That damn knock on the door - on Christmas Eve.  The department was tight lipped about things, we knew something was not quite right.

As we prayed for the family of Officer Jennifer Sebena, we found out that she was killed by her husband.  A decorated marine.

How does that happen?

His testimony tells us how that happens.  Faith, love, prayer...all necessary for the healing to begin, but is it enough? 

As I was planning this post out, I had an odd comparison in my mind.  We train our soldiers, our military to be the mighty warrior.  But do we also train them to be bunny rabbits.  After having several bunnies we learned that there sometimes you can't tell when they are sick.  As a prey species, their instincts don't allow them to show vulnerabilities until it is too late.  It is a survival strategy.  Perhaps, is that they same for our heroes?  Especially after active combat when the hunter has also become the prey.

Gary Porter - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Please take a moment to say a prayer of healing.  For the family of  Officer Jennifer Sebena.  For the Wauwatosa Police Department.  For the family of her husband.  For our military - both at home and abroad.  And for her husband.  

I am, by no means, excusing this senseless act of violence, let me be clear on that.  BUT, he left us whole and came back broken.  Was enough done to help repair the damage?  There will always be scars - visible and unseen.  But we need to also tend to the gaping wounds, not just the ones that can be repaired with sutures. Was enough done for Benjamin Sebena?  I don't know what was done, but clearly he still wounds that need to be tended to.

If you love a soldier who has come home, but different, please know that there are resources to help you and your soldier.
Fearless Nation - 1-800-273-8255

Number I actually keep in my phone...just in case.

And for all my fellow firewives, please know you are not alone.  Perhaps you don't have a firewife right next door, as I am so blessed to have, but we are here.  Feel free to email me at anytime. 

You are never alone, neither is your firefighter, police officer or soldier.

Hug your muppets, let them know they are loved.  Kiss your firefighters before you send them off for the day.  Make sure they know you will be waiting for them when they get home.  Ready to get through whatever may come.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Fire Wife Grinch

I was inspired by an amazing sister fire wife and her guest post here, to share my first Christmas married to a Fire Fighter.  Another Fire Wife was miserable about the holiday season.  I was going to send her a link to my first Christmas in this world.  I was certain that I blogged about it.  But, I did not.  I was SO mad, I bottled it all up.

It was 2010.  My kids were 10 - 2.  It was my first year teaching in the school I am currently teaching.  He had been out of the academy for 7 weeks by Christmas.  Talk about baptism by fire.  I knew our world was going to be turned upside down - the academy taught me that.  14 weeks of him being gone from 6:30am to 7 pm M-F, Saturdays being spent at the BIT washing his turnout gear and studying where there were no children - a luxury I was VERY jealous of, as I graded 100+ research papers with four children in my hair who missed their Daddy, terribly.  14 weeks of an exhausted recruit who used to be my husband passing out in his books taught me that our life would never be the same.  Moving my classroom from our garage to my school two counties away - ALONE - with all four muppets in tow, taught me that our lives would never be the same.  

I KNEW our lives were forever changed by this shift in the universe.

But I didn't really learn until Christmas how our lives would never be the same.  And it was a HARD lesson to learn.  His first shift was Halloween.  And Halloween fell on a Sunday - which meant his first day of work as a firefighter, I learned what it meant to be a fire wife.  I had to take the kids Trick-or-Treating - ALONE.  It was O's first time going out.  The boys weren't old enough to totally go by themselves. No worries, we'll go in my dad's neighborhood.  We visited Daddy at the firehouse, where the Captain greeted us warmly and my FF rushed us out, so as not to embarrass him.  And I was grumpy.  Off to T-o-T we went.  I took everyone out, but then I had to drop the girls back at Grandpa's house as fatigue kicked in.  Eventually, I let the boys fly on their own.  My niece was with them and we figured if the three stooges stuck together, they would be fine.  And I made that decision on my own.  His first day on the job was my first holiday alone.  You would have thought I would have learned.  
Daddy's first shift, before he kicked us out - quickly.
I remember it so vividly - yeah, only two years ago, I know.  But you would be amazed at how much my Swiss Cheese wedge for a brain loses.  We celebrated with his family because he was scheduled to work Christmas Eve - which is their day.  I hate it when we celebrate early, truth be told.  Things feel forced and not everyone is happy about it.  So, we knew that would be "off". 

Actual picture from Christmas Eve that year.
None-the-less I tried, I really did.  I tried to make things "normal". The Muppets and I made cookies, we went and saw the Miller Brewery light show, we visited daddy at the firehouse, with our cookies in hand...until he rushed us out the door because his Cub FF self was afraid that we would get him in trouble.  I made breakfast for the guys, which my FF did not get to partake in because he brought a guy back to life - from the jail and then he got transferred   I finished the wrapping by myself.  I put together all the toys myself.  I played Santa by myself - which was no easy feat as my oldest was looking for a reason NOT to believe.  I did not make it to Midnight Mass - which made me VERY cranky.  I got no sleep.
The kids really are in this picture, I swear!

And then he Mandated. 

His number (486) came up and he had to work Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day.  Ironically, he actually got the day off - there were jovial times at the firehouse, only a few runs.  Movies were playing, he got out of housework for the holidays and dinner was made for him.  He actually wasn't too grumpy.  


I got to fight with Skype so Daddy could be "with us" when we opened Christmas presents.  I got to be the one to steal the muppets from their new favorite toy so we could do the round robin of homes on Christmas Day.  I  got to haul the toys and kids who were so tired they were drooling on themselves back to the house.  ALONE.  I tried to rationalize it in my brain, as evidenced here, but it did not work.

And, I got to sleep alone, again.  Probably the worst part of the day.  I still wasn't used to that.

When J got home, I was frazzled.  He was tired.  And I needed to tell him how unhappy I was...but he went to sleep.  Being the Cub, he took watch.  Which meant that even though there weren't many runs, he still didn't get much sleep.  

And I had the four kids - alone - again.

And I CRIED!  I had the messiest melt down you can imagine.  

He looked at me and said, "What are you so angry about?  You got to celebrate Christmas with our family."

And, if my eyes could have literally thrown daggers, I would have been writing this post in an orange jumpsuit.  If looks could kill...

It wasn't a pretty argument.

And I felt so ALONE.  Alone in the marriage, alone in the world.  I was SO much older than the girls married to the guys in J's class.    And there is not much fraternization with the new guys.  I hadn't made friends in this new world we were in.  Many of our teacher friends weren't sure where we fit in anymore.  My husband was asleep.

I was all ALONE.  Even if it was only in my mind.   

This year, the stars aligned.  A FF from J's class was desperate to have off NYE, J asked what I thought.  I flippantly told him sure, he'll take Christmas Eve for you.  It will never happen...but it did. So, my FF is home for both days. And the ironic part is that I would have been totally okay doing it alone.  Because now I am not alone.  We live next to another Fire Family - which is a blessing beyond all blessings.  So when things go stupid wrong, I just go next door.  When I need another set of hands, she is right there.  I have a fire wife in Texas on speed dial.  She and I are friends because her husband took pity on what he saw on this blog, ironically enough.  From the Christmas time shenanigans mentioned above, actually.  It is the friendships that I have made because of my husband's vocation (for him, the truest sense of the word) that has allowed me to make sense of this world.  Of missed holidays and birthdays.  Of Christmas Concerts and school programs - alone.  Maybe I had to go through  that first year of misery to find that I was strong enough, with the right support network.  And I was never alone. Who knows.
The founder of, reached out and
was amazing.  You are never alone in this world.

Just know that if you are married to this crazy fire world, you are never alone.  You will have to take your traditions and make them your own, not anyone else's.  You will have to learn to ignore the date on the calendar.  And you will have to learn to stand on your own two feet.  We all know that if anything bad is going to happen, it will be when they are on shift.  But, you are never alone.

So, as we enter the day of celebrating.  Take a deep breath.  Remind yourself that if everything doesn't go as planned, it is okay.  And don't take your FF's head off as soon as he enters the door.  Guys, realize that Christmas is the most stressful time of the year and it is only compounded when your significant other is thrown into the depths of single motherhood because you are at work.  Be patient and loving, even when they are having the messiest meltdown you have seen.  Your girl is still in there, she is just buried under all of the comments from friends and family, under the scotch tape and ribbon that got tangled in her hair, under the layer of chocolate she had to scrape off your kids' faces.  Find her and love her.  She needs the extra pampering to remind her that this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Merry Christmas!  Hug your FFs tight, take some mistletoe with you to the firehouse.  Remind your muppets that this season is not about the gifts under the tree, but the joy and love we bring to the world.  Hug them tight as they are probably missing the FF just as much as we are.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I do really try to be Patient...

...not that it always works.  

But last night, it was definitely a struggle.

My youngest was picked up from the "line" after school by her older brother.  B has never walked a day in his life.  When he started "walking", his big brother knocked him down after flying around a blind corner.  He didn't walk again for another four months.  And I guess that is also what laid the foundation for B's definition of "walking".  He runs everywhere.  Always in a rush.  I am constantly reminding him to slow the heck down.

Well, Wednesday afternoon, the "baby" tried to follow his lead.  She was running up the steps to keep with him...and suddenly I have 3 phone calls from our lower campus telling me to come down right away.  She has a major gash on her nose.

I walk into the office, knowing that O is probably more scared by the reactions of the well intentioned women around her, than what actually happened.  And the tears resume as soon as I walk in.  Her big sister (who loves blood and wounds) is terrified that her sister is hurt.  And now I have my hands full. All the well intentioned ladies offered their help - to drive, to keep the other three, etc.  Nah, I can do it.  I am after all a firewife!

Off to closest ER we go (remember, we live 2 counties away from school) - 4 kids in tow, one bleeding profusely from the schnoz.  Well, the bridge of her nose.   After waiting for a bit (an hour), knowing that the homemade ice pack in the purple latex glove and wad o' tissues was not going to be enough to stop the bleeding, I ask the ladies at registration to see about getting me some gauze.  A wonderfully sweet woman bought sodas for my crew.  The kindness of strangers was sooo heartwarming.  After a couple of hours I called my FF and asked him to come down.  I tap into my teacher friends and one comes and picks up the three stooges for me, feeding them dinner.  She has 2 at home and another on the way.  Again, I am truly blessed and thankful.  She made my ordeal survivable.  My FF drove done to help, in case she needed to be held down.  Her brother at 18 months needs the 2 of us and a HUGE CNA, so I put nothing past the teeny muppets.  They are stronger than they look. 

After 3 1/2 hours or so, we get into a room, but with only an exam chair - think dentist's office chair.  And I think it was because we did not "fit in" with their regular clientele and ironically, they took pity on us. There were a lot of cases of flu and winter illnesses in the waiting room.  A sad commentary on the state of medical care for the poorest among us. The MD came in, said hopefully we can glue her up...we assured him we were well versed in DermaBond...especially with O. 

After another 30 minutes we get into a room with a bed...and a TV.  Polar Express took over  where Angry Birds fell short a couple of hours earlier.

45 minutes later, they come in, had Daddy hold the Lidociane to her beak for 15 minutes, clean her up.  

And we wait again.  Finally, our amazing, over worked doc comes in and stitches up my baby girl.  The most restraint it took with O was asking her to put her arms at her side.  She sat and watched as her doc stitched her up.  I was amazed, but not sure why.  She has always been a tough cookie.  Some say that micro-preemies have a higher pain threshold then the general population.  Maybe it is simply a survival piece, she is the youngest of four.  None-the-less, she continues to charm and amaze all she meets.

In the aftermath, after waiting impatiently  for nearly FIVE HOURS for three stitches  I realized some things.  I realized that I could have made it home (45-60 minutes depending on traffic) and to the ER in our neighborhood and still been home 2 hours sooner.  I realized how much I take for granted with  where we live and the insurance we have.  I realized that we have a long way to go until we are truly meeting the needs of those who need it the most.  I realized that perhaps the Church needs to help those who feel the calling to be healers to see they might need to help those who need it the most through free clinics - donating their services.  The ERs in poorest neighborhoods often become walk-in clinics because they cannot be turned away.  So, fevers and colds and the flu and ...the list goes on, are treated in ERs around the country, when all they truly need is accessible health care.  Going to ERs for non-emergency needs cause a backlog and inflated costs of healthcare.  It will also take a culture shift.  In my years as an educator in the inner-city.  Kids wore their ER bands as badges of honor.  Our families used the hospitals for fear of being turned away at the doctor's office.  So, as I step off  my soap box, knowing it is neither the time nor the place for the discussion at hand, I ask you to think about it.  We need to make come changes on so many levels, in our thoughts and in our actions - both singularly and as a community.

So, here is my challenge.  Do something this weekend and this holiday season that makes a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.  Even if it is simply smiling and saying good morning, you can make a difference.  Too frequently we forget that the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the less fortunate - whatever - we forget that they are indeed human, too.  With all the same needs and emotions.  With dreams and stories and a history.  Sometimes it is a simple as remembering that those less fortunate than us need and deserve to be treated with the same respect we request.

Just something to chew on as we enter the holidays of the coming week.

In case I do not have a chance to pop back on here, please enjoy your families and the holiday season.  If your FF is working, do not despair.  Instead, drop off some treats, help at shelter, enjoy a Christmas Eve mass, love your family, catch a movie, read a book, ring a bell for the Salvation Army...whatever works for you.

Remember the holiday is the time spent with those you love, the date on the calendar is for Hallmark and Target.   Make some memories and don't get hung up on the date.  Spread the love and joy that is the Christmas season.

Hug your FFs, love your muppets, enjoy the time with your family and friends.  Merry Christmas to you and yours.  And may your firefighters come home safe to you after their holiday shifts.

Monday, December 17, 2012

They were just babies...

I seem to always have something to say when there are senseless acts of violence.  Especially with the tragedies we have witness involve mass shootings.  

But this weekend, I couldn't process it.  I couldn't make it make sense in my mind.

I just couldn't.

Connecticut Community Copes With Aftermath Of Elementary School Mass Shooting
It did not help that I wept as they read through the names of the twenty 1st graders that will never be able to have their teeth straightened or celebrate their braces coming off with a big bowl of popcorn.  They will never have their heart broken by the one they thought was THE ONE.  They will never experience they elation that comes with saying "I do" when they find that ONE and the joy when their first child cries for the very first time. Even harder to hear that they shared names with my children.

All of the things they will miss out on, because of senseless violence.  

But even worse, the world will miss out on the gifts that they have to offer the world.  We will miss out the joys and discoveries they offer to us.

And WHY?

I don't know.

I spoke with my kids at school and they want to know "why?".  And I have no answer.  I told them my theory, which I am not sure this is the format to discuss, but I do not know why.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my lovely FireWife neighbor sorting presents that our parish donated for the families in need from our parish school.  My oldest helped sort and carry and label.  And it was no small feat.  And he did it willingly and joyfully.

THAT is what we should be talking about.  The community coming together.  Families preparing for the holiday season.

Not families preparing for final good-byes.  Not communities in despair.  I think of the firefighters and law enforcement and ER staff and...teachers.  And I weep.  

We will be conducting our Lock Down drill tomorrow.  So sad and so very real.

Offer your prayers of healing for the families devastated at what should be among the most joyous times of the year.  Hug those kids of yours tight and tell them how much you love them.  Check on your firefighters and make sure they are doing okay.  They see things we can only imagine in the darkest places of our minds.  And they come home to use to help with the mundane chores we fuss about.  Be sure you take care of the caregivers.  They need us. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Not Really Grumpy

I'm just ready for break.  I need to get the batteries recharged.  Yesterday I was on a bit of a high from the Christmas Eve news.  Today, knowing I still have another week of school...I'm not quite so high.

Maybe it was because I actually slept in my own bed last night and then jumped six feet when I turned to put my arm around my FF and he wasn't there - see I shouldn't sleep there when he's gone.  I don't have that issue on the couch.  Or maybe it was the tones going off right after, "Hi Honey, how are you?....Engine 2...Med 7..." at 6:45 this morning. Or maybe it was B leaving his lunch in my car and having to beg a Lower Campus teacher who is an Upper Campus mommy to drop it off for me.  One of them or all of them, who's to say.  I am just not sure I will make it through the next week until Christmas Break.

I need tomorrow to be the start of my break, not next Friday.  I am kind of to the point where I am not sure I'll make it.  Not because of the kids here at school, we have great kids.  Just because of life.  I tried to make arrangements to wrap presents at my Dad's - dang, we have a prior commitment.  Those COMMITMENTS are what I need a break from.  I need a break from what everyone else needs me to do.  I need some time to sit in my PJs and watch Christmas movies with the muppets.  To sit enjoy the Christmas lights, not just use them to fold laundry or grade papers by.

It will be here.  I just need to be patient, not necessarily something that I am good at by the way.  Tomorrow's Friday.  Baby steps to break, I guess.

Hug your FFs and Muppets, let them know you love them.  Enjoy the preparation for the coming holiday and please don't let it become a chore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


the greatest gifts have no price tag.

Plain and simple.  No money is exchanged, but love and joy are shared.

My FF will be home on Christmas Eve and Day this year.  He was scheduled to work Eve, but another FF texted last night to ask if he could work NYE. (He asks about every holiday!)  I said, "Tell him 'Sure, if you can work Christmas Eve.' "  And my sassy mouth was shut very quickly this morning as I was walking out the door.  The other FF agreed. 

It puts him on a 48 - Dec 30 and 31st.  It means he will sleep the day away on the 1st, but he will be home for the Rose Bowl and with me for Christmas Eve.

There could have been no better gift or way to start my day today.

Happy Half Way to Friday Day!

Love on those Muppets and Kiss your FF.  Advent is upon us and so is the joy that comes with it.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Okay, a musical about Jewish family, even when performed by Legos, really has nothing to do with the post, but it popped into my head when I typed in the title.  I went to YouTube to play it while I wrote and I found this and fell in LOVE.  Even if you don't share my love of Broadway, you might still appreciate the work that went into it.

So, as we are making our way toward the holiday, I am counting down the days of school left, just like the kids.  I am so excited to get to the holidays.  I am looking forward to it in so many ways!

As we enter into the season, I am hoping to make some traditions that my people will pass on to their people, as I have passed on some that were passed on to me from my family.

We started the Elf on the Shelf this year.  The kids LOVE him!  It makes for very motivated children getting up so early in the morning! I will probably buy 4 of them so that I can give them each one as they leave my nest.  It will tie them back to their childhood and make them smile.  

We do Christmas socks filled with little gifts and candy on Christmas morning.  I am certain that will get passed on.  They get to go through their socks while waiting for present time.  It makes it easier while waiting for Daddy to come home when he is on shift for Christmas Eve like this year.  I make a big breakfast and presents come after that.  Sometimes my Dad joins us, sometimes my Mom.  But, my french toast casserole only comes out twice a year and this is one of those times.  This year I am going to try using Challah bread. Mmmmm, I am so excited!  I also hope that if my kids aren't at my house for Christmas morning, they continue this with their family.

Grandpa Pat and my Baby Bear
We leave cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, and in turn Santa leaves "snow" footprints.  I go to midnight mass, hopefully soon I won't have to go alone because J will be home and I can steal the older ones.  Or, J will be home and we can all go...once the girlies are old enough to go.  It will come.

There are never presents under the tree before Christmas morning.  No shaking and squishing to guess.  But the impact when you see all those presents on Christmas morning is worth it.

The kids are getting older. There has always been that AWE that comes with the sheer amount of gifts - big and small.  But as they get older, we are noticing that there are less presents.  So, I proposed a new tradition.  Once the muppets reach middle school and join the ranks of Santa's helpers, their gifts change as well.  I believe someone mentioned it was a Victorian tradition.  There are six gifts, something you want, something you wear, something you read, something you made, something you share and something to surprise you.  I think it is a cool idea.  And a practical way to pull the reins in on crazy spending.  I mentioned it to J and he pretty much "yes dear"ed me.  We'll chat again.  

My other hope is to add a tradition of giving.  Not the anonymous dropping off toys to the Toys for Tots.  As noble as it is, to actually put human faces to people in need of a pick me up makes it so much more real - actually giving where the kids see what the joy of giving looks like.  I'm looking for ideas for Christmas Eve, especially since FF is working. I really want them to take an experience and a humility with them into their lives.

So let me ask, what traditions do you have for Christmas?

I hate fighting

It was just a perfect storm of fatigue and stress and foolishness.  It was a silly fight.  

And then he went to work and I missed him horribly.

My dad must have known that and came over with pizza and watched some football with me for a couple of hours.

And now he's teaching 4th graders for Miss America's mom who is on chaperone duty after the football game last night.  And he will be sleepy when we make it home.  We'll probably eat dinner and get the kids to bed and he'll be out cold.

And I will still miss him.

And then I will go to school tomorrow morning, see him for a few hours tomorrow night and we are back on shift when the sun rises again.

I hate fighting.  

It wastes time that is far too valuable.

Hug those kids and kiss and make up with your firefighters as soon as you can.  No grudge is worth it.

8 more days until Christmas Break - yes, I am indeed counting!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Time to Burst the Bubble

I feel like such a grinch.  We have been discussing when the best time is talk to B about Santa.  He will be going into middle school next year.  My high school kids are very patient and sensitive to issues like this, but the middle school kids downstairs - they are way too busy trying to be "grown" and could care less who they trample on.  We have one 7th grader that I know still believes and N has worked very hard to shield him from the nay sayers, for which I am very proud of him.  But the middle schoolers are viscous.

B will be in that same boat and I am not sure if there will be anyone to shield him from the verbal abuse.  I don't want to ruin his Christmas, so we won't be saying anything now.  I thought maybe a Christmas in July celebration where I could pull him aside and have a talk over a root bear float or something.

With N, you could hear in his questions and statements that someone had gotten to him and he knew.  But when we talked to him and told him the amazing thing about what he now knew was that he became Santa. HE got to help carry on the spirit and traditions of the season for the little ones.  I had this beautiful speech in my head and this glorious happy family moment.

Te Reality is never so Norman Rockwell-esque.


Yeah, an all out tears and screaming MELTDOWN.  And N's meltdowns (thank GOD they have subsided) are not pretty.

And it was J's first year on, so guess who got to deal with the fallout ALL BY HERSELF.  Yup, that would be me.  I was never so grateful for the Christmas to be over.

B on the other hand, I think truly believes.  For a bit, I thought he was trying to make sure I knew he still "believed".  You know, to make sure he still got his Santa presents.  But, as I am sitting here in the darkness of my bedroom on this kind of lazy Saturday morning and I hear him talking to his sisters, watching Rudolf. AND HE STILL BELIEVES!  He is LOVING the Elf on the Shelf and sees himself as the resident Santa expert.  It is so adorable.

So, now, how do you politely and thoughtfully burst that bubble?  I will probably put a speech together and NOT do it during the Christmas season.  J thinks he will handle it so much better than his brother.  And he probably will.  He is much more of a go with the flow kind of a guy.  It will probably be okay.  We have another girl on the compound in the same spot.  Maybe a Compound Christmas in July event where we have a middle school kids only pow-wow or something.

But B is the embodiment of the season - family, giving, faith and service.  He is the Christmas season.

Hug your muppets and kiss your FF.  Keep the spirit of Santa, of giving alive throughout the season and the year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Being a Servant

We talk about it on a regular basis in our school, in my classroom, at home.  We talk about service requirements - is it really service if it is required.  If we don't require it and only HIGHLY encourage it, how do we motivate our teens (who can be sloths at times) to serve willingly in order to experience the joy that comes with it.

We talk about it at home when the kids whine that it is not their job.  Or when they want to get paid for chores. (We don't pay for chores - it is just part of being family.)  Or when we are putting stuff together for toy drives or food drives.  Or my super double secret current service project that I can't talk about it.  The kids see it in action and I hope to God that it becomes part of their being as their enter into their own space and time.

My Social Justice Classes are working on BIG service projects - Dress a Girl Around the World, Sandy relief, Shantytowns, etc.  And ENJOYING IT!

Service means helping others because you can.

My FF had a long night - a fire that kept him out for most of it and just as they neared quarters at 4:15am, they got called back out for a messy call that took at ton to handle.

I got a call at 6:20 on my way in to see if the FF could sub at our Lower Campus, they were really short staffed and he wasn't answering his phone.  I woke him up and he wandered out of the dorm, probably with his eyes closed.  And said he would.

My FF had a long night.  He still is willing to help.  He had a lunch date with his mom and was okay rescheduling it.  It is his birthday.  And he is still going in.  How many people take off to celebrate their birthday?  He is working a 32 hour shift on his birthday - in service.  The people in his area really need his services.  The kids he will be teaching LOVE having him there.  He will be back in the school on Monday - another 32 hour shift to help out Miss America's mom and take over her 4th grade classroom so she can help Laura out.  He is a servant.  Always willing and humble.  And that is why he is  a wonderful role model for my boys.  He is a great guy.

Now, if only I could train him to put  away his laundry... 

The weekend is upon us.  Enjoy the time with your kids as you prepare for Christmas.  Love them and be sure your FF knows how much you appreciate them. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Difference Between Mommies and Daddies

There is indeed a difference.  Some believe it is a Martian vs. Venetian thing.  Some people believe it is a difference in our brains' wiring, blah blah blah blah.  BUT, I saw it in full force last night.  And it got my goat, even though I really tried for it not to.

I love and hate this about him - he will help anyone - with anything - at anytime.  Regardless of what else needs to be done, he will drop everything to help anyone.  That was yesterday.  He was supposed to help me out with cookies for our auxiliary's Cookie for Friends gathering.  Cookies brighten spirits.  We put together a ton of platters of cookies for Walter Reid, the Sojourner Truth House, the VA, some of our injured FF families, our mourning get the idea.  We all bring 5 dozen and put the trays o' treats together.  Life did not allow me to get to it. His response, "Don't worry, I'll do it for you."  Awesome!

I got home from school, expecting that my firefighter would have my house smelling of baked fresh goodness.  And it looked and smelled exactly the same as it did when I left at O'Dark Hundred.  He hadn't been home all day.  

And there were no cookies.  

I called him - he was TWO hours away.  " I was going to make them when I got home."  Ummm, yeah, I will be running off to my meeting by the time you get started.  That simply won't work.  :(

So, I cancelled the math tutor (I was too insane to be seen in public by anyone outside of my crew), fed the kids, made sure the k9s were fed.  Took care of the gift for the exchange. I worked with what I had and made the pretzel, Rollo, M&M thingies.  It worked and took me 15 minutes.  Toss them in the freezer to cool, life is good.  I tried to get ready and festive, but the FF called.  And then my dad called.  All while all of my people needed my undivided attention RIGHT NOW!

Why, yes, that is fur at the top!
Went through the meeting.  Wore the ugliest Christmas socks known to man, thanks to my gal pal fire wife next door. Won a door prize, weird.  Packed the bags of cookies and skidaddled on home - around 10pm.  

When I walked in, the house still looked the same as when I left at O'Dark Hundred that morning.

I left the muppets in charge of one chore each.  And asked my hubby to get the dress clothes together for tonight's concert, since my time for that was taken up making the candies for the meeting and I did not want to drive an extra hour and a half to do it.  And today is a Green Shift.

None of it was done.

And St. Nick had not stuffed the stockings.

And the dishes were still in the dining room.

And his clothes were still piled in the hallway, waiting for him to go through his dresser.

And laundry had not been switched.

And lunches had not been made.

And O was asleep in her clothes and their room was a mess.


And I went and started to do it all BY MYSELF.  

I cleaned the girls' room and put O into her pajamas and into her bed.

And I stomped.

No showers were given.

And I huffed.

And the Elf on the Shelf wasn't done.

And I was miserable.  

I don't "do" things outside of the house (very much) anymore because I feel like I just don't have time to get it all done.  He wants me to go out with the girls like I used to, but then stuff doesn't get done and I freak out.  It is the nature of this beast.  I must have order in my kingdom.  And it doesn't help that I feel unheard and disrespected when I ask for help and am essentially blown off.

I need him to understand that.

He didn't see that.

He saw an opportunity to sit and watch Christmas movies with the kids, without having to compete for their attention with me. O, does not want Daddy if Mommy is there.  :(

He fell asleep, because it was quiet.  And even though he did not have a crazy night the night before, it was his first night back to work in nearly two weeks.  There is a re-acclimation  to be sure.  And then was his amazing helpful self with both of our mothers, the entire next day.  Again, I have an on-going love/hate relationship with this side of him.  It drives me crazy, but who doesn't love a man who is willing to serve his friends and family at any time?

He needs me to understand that.

I wish I was perfect and could smile and say that's okay.  Strap on my apron and pearls and get it done.  But, I am a sleep deprived, stretched thin, hard working, firewife teacher, mommy of 4 who is not inherently perfect.  I have a quick temper, especially when I am tired.  Am working on it always.

There are still two baskets of laundry in the living room waiting to be folded, with another couple in the wings.  My village still does not have a skirt - in any section and in fact the "back woods" is still hanging out in my messy dining room.  I am still in need of groceries.  My bedroom looks like it did when I was 10.  And that will all still be waiting for me this weekend. 

Tonight is the three stooges Christmas concert.  I am sending my oh so cool 7th grader home with another teacher to tend to the dogs.  We should be home around 9ish.  

And all of that stuff will still be there.

Friday is my FF's birthday, he will be the same age as me again and will no longer be able to attempt to lord that over me for another 41 weeks.  And we are celebrating by getting my dad's tree up and decorated.  Grandpa will feed us and give J his present.  Life will be good.

And all of that stuff will still be there.

My FF is amazing and I love him.  Hopefully, he can put up with my type A personality who must have everything done - perfectly...yesterday.  And hopefully I can continue to appreciate the relaxed nature he usually brings to our crew.

The weekend is almost upon us.  Enjoy your kids.  Laugh with them and love on them.  Enjoy your firefighter.  I am trying to realize that the laundry will all still be there waiting for me.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ugh, I Can Smell Myself!

Okay...I might have some undiagnosed OCD tendencies.  Smells get to me.  I hated the Axe phase about 10 years ago and hate it when my girls spray body spray in my class.  N had to make sure he had deodorant with him after practice, because I just could not handle he funk! <shiver from the thought>  Okay, focus...

So, Black Friday, BBW had an awesome special and I had a coupon.  Perfect storm.  So I got my usual Moonlight Path - stuff.  I hate mixing scents!  I have to have the shower gel, the body spray and lotion in the same scent.  Otherwise my scents clash and I can't STAND it! 

Moonlight Path Shower Gel - Signature Collection - Bath & Body WorksBut the amazing part is, I found a NEW scent.  Wild and crazy, I know!  I never like anything else and often find myself holding my breath while I hug other people because I can't handle with added scent.  So annoyed with myself, but I can't help it!

Anyway, my FF was thrilled.  He is such a girly-man sometimes and bought me the new scent.  Here we are, nearly two weeks later...and I just tried them

Twilight Woods Shower Gel - Signature Collection - Bath & Body WorksAnd all day, all I can smell is ME! Twilight Woods.  I am not hating this smell.  I like the smell, but it is not my smell.  My kids (at home) love it - the girls got their "spritz" for the day.  My girls here at work have checked for me and used my lotion.  Every once in a while, I move and notice it and it bugs me.  

Sad, don't you think.  Such concerns of a crazy lady!

Anyway, half way through the week.  FF works tomorrow and the 3 stooges have their winter concert tomorrow - it is guaranteed to be insane, at best!  Hug your muppets and love your FFs, prepare yourself for the holiday season and enjoy the experience!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas has Exploded

I am not sure what got into my Firefighter yesterday, but he knocked out more of his Honey-list in one day than he has in MONTHS combined.   Some of these are things I have been asking for, for, I don't know, 6 months.  Silly things like putting up the screen door.  He did that without me saying a word.  I had just given up on it.  

The outside lights are up at the house (now I just need lots and lots of fluffy snow!), the village is up and just in need of some minor tweaking and skirting of the tables, the door is on, the TV is mounted on the wall (again I have been asking for this for months)...all done within 24 hours, with mom stopping by for lunch, while my dad was over AND the Packer game was on.  You have no idea how impressed I am.  

He even wore out the polar bears!

He is back to work today...

Photo: There's that sassy elf!I will be missing him after having him home for almost 2 weeks.

So, what has your elf been up to??  I am in love with the Elf on the Shelf.  And my husband is amazingly patient with it.  I think he jsut happy that Christmas has really made its way back in to our home.  So, ours is named Max, after the Grinch's lovely, patient K9 unit. My girls LOVE looking for him and were so excited to see him make his appearance.  I think I will chronicle his shenanigans throughout this season.  It will be fun!

Hug your muppets and enjoy their eyes lighting up with the season that is upon us and love on your firefighters.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas is here!

You heard of me trying to put up my tree early and all of the chaos that ensued.  I think that was my penance for breaking the "not before Thanksgiving" rule. Yesterday, officially being a week and a few days AFTER turkey day, we got the village up.  It was literally an all day, where did all those power strips from last year go, I think we need new snow kind of a day.  It took a few trips to the store and buying a fountain when I went for ornaments (it was $55 instead of $300, what was I supposed to do!) to get it done.  But, it is indeed up and looking beautiful.  The kids love it.  Hopefully the scat mats will keep the k9 tails and noses from making it look like Hurricane Giovanni has struck.

Our Downtown
The Neighborhood
The Municipal part of town - train station, firehouse, school,
police station, town hall, etc.

The Back Woods still needs to be put out.  The table legs still need to be covered.  But we knocked out a huge part of it.  I will post pictures that not of the quick cell phone variety once all is said and done.  I was just thrilled to have it look like Christmas.  Today - outdoor decorations.  It will be nearing 60, you cannot ask for a nicer day in December to do that.  Once everything is settled, I will indeed get some nicer pictures on here.  Look for it!

After 10 days off, my FF goes back to work tomorrow.  Amazing how quickly we become spoiled!

Enjoy the day, kiss your firefighters and let your muppets know how much you love them.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Next Journey of Our Lives

I knew it was coming.  Genetically it was only a matter of time.  We have seen J's parents deal with it, his uncle...and now it is our turn.

J failed his sleep study.

We knew this was coming.  He had one a few years ago and they said, "ehhh, not now, but probably pretty soon."  And here we are.  

I was giving him a hard time about leaving me alone on a non-shift day - he has been home for a week and a half.  And, I have gotten spoiled by having him there to sleep with every night.  I even gave him a hard time about leaving after dinner, because at least when he's gone all day "I don't notice you're not there."  <snicker> Poor guy.

He called me on my way in this AM, sounding kind of downtrodden about the whole scenario.  They woke him up at 2:30am to tell him he needed a CPAP for the rest of the study.  Not a good sign.  But, I knew it was coming.  So many nights when his snoring has woken me up, I spend the next few hours waiting for him to stop breathing so I can throw and elbow into his ribs.  Not a good thing when you get up at 4:30am.  And he wonders why I doze off at 9:30pm, while watching TV with him.  I can't wait for this to become normal and sleep to be my friend!

I look at it totally differently.  He is unhappy about his instant elephantitis.  Ehh, who cares.  If my babies were tough enough to use them in the NICU, my FF can man up and let me get some sleep!  If he can stay awake on a Sunday and watch more than a quarter of a Packer game with me, or he can get up before 10am on a Saturday or he is not grumpy about getting up to go to mass with me on the Sundays he is home, it so totally worth the fashion compromise.  It might even help with his depression.  I'm in.

He won't wear it to work, mainly because he really doesn't sleep enough to warrant it.  He's also concerned about how it get in the way with 2am tones.  That may change with time and a slower house.  I know there are a few guys on the engine with CPAPs and it is just part of life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

So Thankful For My Internal Clock

I woke up this morning at 4:19, wishing I could have slept the next 11 minutes I had left before my alarm.  I got up, went to the bathroom - which is what woke me up in the first place and realized I did not charge my phone last night. I plugged in my phone and it said it was 5:23.


I checked the FF's phone and it said the same thing.  

I literally ran into the kitchen and checked the clocks on the microwave and the stove.  

<sigh>  They all agreed with my phone. And it is now nearing 5:30. <sigh>

I woke J up and pleaded with him to get the kids ready for me, since I needed to leave SOON!

We figured out why - my FF had 77 things on the same circuit and blew it last night (while I was recording Charlie Brown's Christmas).  And I fell asleep on the couch.  When I looked at the clock in the bedroom, it didn't NOT make sense that it was that was that time.  

I hate waking up in a panic like that.  Usually when I do, it is 30 minutes after I went to bed and I SWEAR I have slept all night.

We were out the door by 6:05 am.  I was pretty impressed with the flexibility of my muppets and how my FF just took over clothes and lunches us out the door.

I am so glad, for once, that I am always awake by 5:30am.

I will be happy for this week to be over, to be home tonight to hug my FF and say thank you.  Make sure you do the same.  

Happy almost Friday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Bad Day

It is rough being in 1st grade.  You are a big girl, doing big girl things.  But kinda fall apart and become mommy's baby again.

That was my D this AM.

Today is a Sun Day Fun Day for her class.  They don't have to wear their uniform, they can bring a stuffed animal.  There are games to bring joy.  

But, at 7:15 in the AM, it has already crumbled.

She and her sister destroyed their room last night.  So as I was cleaning it up at FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING, I said she had to wear uniform bottoms.  She is in a navy skirt - with adorable tights.  But no jeans. Mean Mommy. 

And, the teddy bear from her grandma that she was so excited to bring to left at home.  I picked it up when I noticed she forgot it, but I must have set it down when I noticed something else was forgotten.  It was just not in the car.  And we live 2 counties away,  Daddy is not bringing it down.

So, I left my little big girl in tears at Before Care at school.  We were running late from other shenanigans this morning, so the lovely mommy that is running Before Care at our Lower Campus took over the comforting role for me.  And I was responsible, getting to work on time.  And it sucked.

I hope it gets better.  I hate leaving her that way.

It's Wednesday.  Friday needs to get here.  Hug your muppets, especially if they are having a bad day.  Kiss your FFs and remind them how much you love them.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Naughty Teachers

Love notes on my front door on gauze pad packaging.
Doesn't get more romantic than that!
Found it!
I have always said that teachers are the worst students.  Today we had 6+ hours of Doctrine inservicing.  By the third presenter's 2nd hour, we were lost.  We got into our discussion groups and got off track, but not totally. We were talking about love and distance. And they asked how it impacted our world.  I started looking for a picture I have of us "having dinner" with the fireman.  It as during that stretch this summer of like 5 million 48s in a row.  Okay, maybe that million part was an exaggeration, but I do think it was 5 48s in a row.  We were missing Daddy hard core and so we called him on ooVoo and set him up on the dining room table so we could eat dinner "together."  I have a picture of it and was looking through my phone to try and find it.  I could not find it, but I did notice that nearly all of my pictures of Daddy and the kids from this past summer involve bunker gear or the firehouse.  It amazed me how much time he spent away from us.
Firehouse Ice Cream tastes so much better than the ice cream at home!
The teacher is still in those bunkers!

Dang tones - we were only there 2 minutes - literally.
HEO in training??
3rd of July Fireworks downtown, stopping by to see Daddy

The crazy fireworld even influences the fashion sense in this house!

And then I realized...

these are the memories my kids will take with them into their own families and tell their children.  My kids and these pictures, these are the memories that they are creating, with their Daddy - at the firehouse.  It is part of our world and his home away from home.  Those FFs are his family just as much as we are.  And that needs to be preserved, just as much as the memories created in our backyard.

Amazing how inspiration and revelation strikes when we are off task.  Something I need to remind myself of in my classroom!!

Hug your muppets and kiss your firefighters.  Be thankful and loving of them, even if the distance gets annoying.  

Happy Monday!
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