Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Fire Wife Life

Yesterday was the first nice day of the season.  The first REALLY nice day.  After a winter that just would not release her grip, there was sunshine and near 70s.  And it was a Friday.  And it was a full moon. And it meant insanity for my FF.  I knew that.  But, as we headed from one side of town to the other, we stopped by the firehouse anyway - just in case.  I saw that the med rig was gone, so we dropped off some artwork at daddy's truck.  We drove back around to the front so N could check and see if they were on their way back.  You don't know how many times he has told me that we just missed him.  The FF that answered the door sat and chatted with my goofy 13 year-old for half an hour.  I couldn't even tell you his name.  My FF's BC came out by me and my crutches, hugged me and chatted with me while we waited to see if they would make it back.  I can tell you that would never happen in the education world.  I bonded with the teachers at one school...nothing like that since.  This reminds me of that, but on a much larger scale.

It is a different world.  It is our life. They are our family.

I laughed at my FF the first St. Patrick's Day he was on.  We hooked up with a bunch of guys (who laughed, but I think also secretly admired) that my brackets were in my back pocket so I could keep up with the games.  And they all called each other "Brother".  When we were alone, I totally busted his chops about that.  Poor guy...but we started at 8am, in my defense. :)  But he had only been out of the academy a few months.  I did not get this world - at all.


I get it.  We, being married to FFs, are kind of caught in between these worlds.  We fit in that world, but we don't.  And the outside world, doesn't quite get it.  And that is where other fire wives come in.  They get it.

A FFW just posted on one our private FB FW pages that she was struggling with the fact that this life leaves her as a single mom far too often.  And what was nice, there were 1100+ women who instantly understood.  Some of us do it for 24/48/96 hours at a time, some of us when the pager goes off at the most random and inconvenient of times and some for months at a time when the land around us becomes too dry for conditions to be safe.  But we all understood.  We all know that the kids will puke and the furnace will go out and the arms will be broken and the water heater will burst - when we are flying solo. The rest of the world sees that our FFs are home 2 out of three days.  Nevermind that they sleep most of day 2 and they still have obligations and interests away from us.  The rest of the world sees the FFs shopping and sitting in the bay doorways on a nice day.  Nevermind that while the rest of the world is sleeping, the FFs are tending to the insanity that comes with those nice days.  

The rest of the world just does not always get it.

But, when you find a group of people who get it, this life becomes a whole different world.  My FF was on shift last night.  My little one bonked her head - again -pretty good.  By the time I got everyone home, ready for bed and actually IN bed, it was well past their bedtime.

I went to check my blog, see how an issue with the board played out, check on the draft results that I missed and I ended up staying up until well into the wee hours of the morning, with wine, playful banter and shenanigans.  Nearly like a girls night out...and yet I was home with my sleeping muppets.  It made my Friday night alone, go by so much faster.  Some of us will be getting together in Atlanta this summer, while others will be very much missed.  These are the women who will laugh with you, tell you you are being an idiot when you need it and share their pearls of wisdom and experience when something comes up.  Some of these women I like more than others.  Some I text/chat with on a nearly daily basis.  Some I have never directly communicated with.  Some annoy the ever loving daylight out of me.  Some feel like my long lost sisters.  But, they all get it.  Are there squabbles, yeah.  Some of them are petty and probably not the most mature in how they handle things that come up. But some will give you the shirt off their back because you commented on how much you liked it. Let's face it, we may wear a cape by day balancing all of the craziness that comes with this lifestyle, we are all still human underneath the Underroos.

There have been some horrible events in the past weeks.  Lives have been lost and those left behind will never be the same.  And there is nothing we can do to change that.  Terror and fear creep in.  But, we have to remember that we are in this together.  We are indeed a fire family and we pull together.  We always need to pull together in times of need.

From the Rockin' and Rollin for Julie
Now, long way around to this point, there is a fire wife in need. Julie Holt Legas, is not a friends of mine nor is she part of any FFW network that I am (That I know of).  There was no tragic event rocking the headlines.  Just a tragic turn in her life that has taken away her independence.  I sit here and fuss because I needed help with the door and groceries and my sock.  And Monday, I will get my boot.  Totally a temporary road block.  But, imagine if it was EVERYTHING and the treatment to make it better was out of your reach because, let's face, even though the world thinks FFs are made of money, they really don't get paid like that. 

If you're in the area, why not go??
Julie has Cerebellar Ataxia.  They will be going to Hope Hospital in Zhuhai, China for stem cell treatment. This treatment is cord cells, NOT embriotic or fetal cells. It consists of four injections that will provide approximately 400 million cells. This treatment has been showing promising results for patients with Cerebellar Ataxia, but it is extremely expensive and not covered by insurance - and she has to go half way around the world to receive it.  

The rest of us are examining this under a microscope.  Is it safe?  Why would you go to China for medical care? What if it doesn't  work? But, what if this was your only shot?  What would you do?  I would hope that the Fire World would step up and lend a helping hand.  Scary to be certain, but a risk Julie is willing to take.  And the Detroit Fire Department is working to help her out. She is family.  If you take a look at the link, there are many ways to help out - buying a shirt, a benefit concert, buying a patch, straight up donating.  There are ways to help.  Will you help?? 

We ARE family.  We ARE Fire Strong. We TOTALLY get it. 
We ARE Fire Wives. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pinterest DIY - Dishwasher edition

Okay, I am actually enjoying the satisfaction that comes with making some of these mundane items myself.  I am also okay with the fact that it is saving us a bit of money as we go.  So far the laundry detergent has worked beautifully.  It smells good and even with my muppets, the clothes have come clean.  Now, from the truth and accuracy department, I will probably still keep liquid on hand as a stain pre-treater, because I do still have the aforementioned muppets.

After the success with the laundry detergent, I decided to try my hand at dishwasher detergent.  I found another "recipe" that I thought looked good at Make It or Fix it Yourself.  I might have to peruse other posts, but I should probably wait until after I have all of my current projects taken care of.  Once ideas get into my head, they don't seem, to leave until I give them a shot. 

2 cups of Borax 
2 cups of Baking Soda (there's about 1 1/2 cups in a box)
2 packets of unsweetened lemonade (I used pink lemonade because that was what I had on hand)
1/2 cup of Kosher Salt
1/2 cup of vinegar
ice cube trays (I used heart shaped silicone trays that I use for brownie bites and V-day crayons)
wax paper (optional)

I mixed the dry ingredients and then added the vinegar.  I think will do this with the Muppets because they would love the chemical reaction.  It almost has the consistency of wet sand that has begun to dry out, if that makes any sense.  It is what my mind imagines Moon Sand to feel like, but I have not verified that.  Although, I am most certain the kids would love to test out my hypothesis for me.

It really took no time at all.  After mixing it, I just kinda dumped it into the molds and then used wax paper to pack it in.  It was a bit messy, but nothing terrible.  Play-doh is much worse.  Hmmm, speaking of Play-doh, O would love to make her own.  Pinterest??  Nevermind.  Back to the the dishwasher...

Anyway, the original post set the trays in the sunlight to dry them out, thereby hardening them.  Sunlight here, has become a scarce commodity lately.  So, I thought I would be smart and put them under our growlights for the seedlings.  Unfortunately, our basement is too cool. So, after 24 hours we through the silicone trays into the oven at the warming setting for half an hour.  That was perfect.  They were nicely hardened and ready to go.  And, being in the silicone molds, they popped out oh, so nicely.  The dishwasher is running, I will let you know how they turn out.

It is Friday, enjoy it.  If your FFs are on shift, find something fun to do with your Muppets or your circle o' girls.  In wake of the craziness of the last few weeks, send a text letting them know you are thinking of them.  If they are sitting next to you, put my blog away and go cuddle up with them.  Nothing is guaranteed, share your love now.  Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just me call the Pinterest Queen

From recipes to ideas for the kids to DIY possibilities. When I first decided to try Pinterest it became a black hole of my time.  It has, however, become my go to for ideas on how to do things.  I have used it to plan out what veggies go next to each other in the garden and to keep marigolds on the outside to keep the bunnies out, to make a Barbie House out of binders, to create a chore chart and menu board...I could go on and on.

We reused the Purex bottles.  I will have
prettier pictures next time.  These are camera phone
in the basement - ehh, it works, You get the idea.
Since I joined last summer, I have looked at the homemade laundry detergent.  Yesterday three of the muppets and I tackled that task.  I don't have any pictures of the process as it was a shift day and I was sitting on the kitchen floor - which is no easy task with the stupid cast (that comes off in 5 days, btw) - when I thought of grabbing my camera.  Ah well.  The link of the blog -How Does She? can be found here.  It went beautifully.  It was a three stop trip for the materials.  Walgreens had the Purex as a BOGO, Pick n Save is where if found everything else - except for the bar soap, which necessitated a trip to Wal-Mart, which is not my favorite place to navigate on crutches.  All in it cost us under $28 - including 2 additional bars of Fels Naptha so I would not have to run around the next time.  Now, supposedly, this will last a year.  My money is on 6 months, but I will let you know.  
There are probably 6 more bottles here.  At 2 Tsp. per load,
we'll be okay for a bit.

What did I learn?  The kids LOVED dumping the stuff in, especially when it created a cloud o' soap.  O loved stirring and sticking her hands in as I filled up the smaller bottles.  And don't use your Ninja's food processor, use the good old 1970's stand by from the basement- there's a reason why it is still around!  It took us about a half an hour.  Most of that was the learning curve with breaking down the bar soap.  So, I am planning on 20-ish minutes next time.  That works for me.

So, today (since the bug has bit me) I am off to make DIY dishwasher detergent.  Significantly quieter, which is good since my FF is on the couch sleeping.  Four runs after midnight, plus a PNB right at the end of his shift, ehh, I guess he deserves a snooze.  Especially since he took me out for breakfast this morning.

Have a great day. Today, sit down and talk to your FF, but let him be the chatty Cathy.  (Hard for me, to be certain!) And do something fun with your muppets - play hopscotch outside, make sundaes after dinner, watch a movie and make popcorn even though it is a school night.  Love them all to pieces!  Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I hate teases

Yesterday, waiting for the kids to come out of school, with
the window down and the sun shining.
A Mother Nature is being a horrible tease.  Winter will not seem to let go for long.  Yesterday, the sun was out, we were in the 50s and WOW, it gave me the WORST case of Spring Fever EVER!!!  I picked up the kids with the windows down and the music blaring.  We played outside without our coats.  We had our cookies on the front lawn, ran in the sunshine and rode bikes.  It was a glimpse into what was yet to come.  And I want it NOW.  I don't need swimsuit weather, but I need open up the house weather.  I need sunshine on a regular basis, not just once every few weeks.  I am ready for a true spring, I guess.  We don't get those too often.  Either winter hangs on until June or Summer begins in March.  I am looking for something in between. And so are the Muppets.

She is clearly flying, not running.  Notice how BOTH of O's
feet are off the ground at the same time. 

We have been gathering materials to make our summer escape in the backyard happen. I have been looking for ideas on the devil known as Pinterest.  I bought 100+ year old street pavers to use to form the flower beds.  I bought gorgeous pavers for our patio.  I have a perfect table that we can all finally fit together at - for the first time.  (We have always had two smaller tables pushed together.)  And I am ready to put all of the pieces together.  My flowers have literally all sprouted over night.  I am ready to plant them.  I want to get J's family lilies out on the front walk and the angel golden in her flowers.  I am ready for spring.   To bad mother nature is being a tease.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Monday!

We made it.  We (collectively speaking) made it through the Boston Marathon, the West, Texas fire and the Boston lock-down manhunt.  We must take a moment today and say a prayer for the families, the victims, the amazing emergency personnel.  We must take a moment to remind ourselves that we are blessed to be here.  I found myself doing just this very thing this weekend.  I was grocery shopping with B.  The last motorized scooter was taken (in a snotty way) right in front of me by someone who "did not need it as much as I did" and I was FUMING!  For just a moment.  By the time I got into the produce section, which is literally right in the door, I reminded myself that I would walk again.  I reminded myself that the scooter was a luxury, but not a necessity.  My crutches and awesome boy served the same purpose and we rocked it - with some amazed glances along the way.  We need to remind ourselves of what we have and not focus on what we wish we had.  We need to say Thank You for what we have and not demand more.  

It is Monday.  The sun is shining - which is a big deal around here. My FF is off at his Fire Instructor I class. My cast comes off in a week.  Our veggies and flowers are starting to sprout under the grow lights on my hubby's work bench. (I am worried about a new knock on the door - one where they look at the lights coming from the basement and the increase in our electric bill!) My hubby picked up the patio blocks for our patio - I can't wait to sit out there.  My patio safe dishes came.  I am ready for summer in case you couldn't tell.  I just need to find a reasonable patio set, now.

My first marigold, in the early stage of its
bloom, brought such a smile...
Enjoy your life, no matter what stage it is in.  You are still here.  Fight through to find happiness, even if it is simply from the smile of a baby watching you or the waggidy tail hitting the door as you walk in.  Find the light in the darkness, even if you have to make your own light.  However, don't use a lighter under your bed for the light...I digress.  Hug your FFs and Muppets.  You never know what tomorrow brings, so enjoy the day.  Leave nothing unsaid...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Good Out of Bad

This was a week that stretched the emotional boundaries.  We saw the Boston Marathon breaking down due to pressure cookers filled with shrapnel stuffed in backpacks killing and maiming innocent people for reasons unknown.  I sat glued to my phone as I was waiting to pick the kids up at 2, just as the story was breaking.  I sent the kids upstairs and watched in horror as the pictures and storied unraveled before my eyes.  I am a news junkie.  When I got home, I had my laptop on Facebook, my phone on Twitter and Fox News on the TV.  I just couldn't believe that, yet again, this was happening.  I remember watching this in Beirut as a child, never expecting that it would happen here.  Never.

And then the Facebook world blew up, my text messages went a mile a minute with the West, TX fertilizer fire.  And that hits so close to home.  It could be any one of our firefighters that might not come home after a fire like that.  I know the guys joke about accidentally on purpose hitting the ditch with their rigs in the case of these kinds of fires, but they would all go in willingly to a scene just like it.  It could be anyone of our loved ones at any time.

And, as Americans, in a time a of crisis, we pull together.  We support each other and we donate.  We give our hearts and souls; our time and our pocketbooks.  One of the most profound ways I have seen are t-shirts.  They make a stand.  They share a message.  They tell the world that we are strong and you cannot break us.  

I had to literally remind myself of this.  I have 9 more days in my cast.  This morning, I took B to the grocery store with me.  As we got in to the store, someone took the last motorized cart and found myself grumbling that they did not seem to need as much as I did with my crutches.  And I literally scolded myself out loud.  There are way too many people whose images have made their way around Twitter and the mainstream media to have 9 days until they get their leg back.  And it will never happen for them again.  I felt like such a spoiled brat.  I am just fine on my crutches.  And I was not at all tired by the time we were done; I am fire strong.

A local company, Ink to the People, have been asked to print the Boston Strong t-shirts. The people behind the shirts were hoping to sell 110 shirts to support Boston.  Instead, they have sold over 12,000 (as of yesterday morning) and raised over $80,000!!!!  I have ordered one and will wear it proudly!  We are Boston! put together a few shirts to help as well. Men's and women's shirts are available.  There will be a donation made to the West Texas families for each shirt ordered, as well as a tangible reminder to us in the fire world that we are Fire Strong.  We all know that the water heater will explode and the kids will puke when he is on shift, that is just the way life goes.  But, we can handle anything that life throws at us because we are Fire Strong.  We can even handle the worst case scenarios, because we are Fire Strong and we will have the whole Fire World standing behind us and lifting us up when we stumble.  Be Fire Strong! West, Texas - we stand behind you!

And as if one is not enough another group of Fire Wives at has also put together a t-shirt to raise money for the families effected by the tragedy we watched before our very eyes.  We in the Fire World are an amazing group, if I do say so myself. 

Please consider buying a t-shirt or donating to one of these amazing causes.  There are people who are at the lowest moments of their lives.  They need to know that they are not alone and we are standing there with them.  Please, if you donate money, be sure that your donation is legit.  There are far too many people willing to take advantage of our hearts at moments like this.  Don't let them.  Do your homework.  You can indeed trust all of the above links.   If you are looking to donate to the West, TX families, the National Fallen Firefighters Fund is accepting donations. 

NFF Fund for Fallen Firefighters & EMS

Mail donations to:
NFFF c/o West, Texas Fire and EMS Fallen Hero Fund
P.O. Drawer 498
Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

If you are looking to donate to the Boston families, you can do that online through the One Fund or send a check by mail to:

One Fund Boston, Inc.
800 Boylston Street #990009
Boston, MA 02199

Now, if only we could give of ourselves when there is not a crisis, but just someone in need.  A family that is struggling, the homeless going hungry, the lonely in need of companionship.  If only we could remember that we are our indeed brother's keepers, just because it is a day ending in Y and not because CNN brought us images that we can't erase from our minds.  Just because it is right...

Allow this to change you.  Allow these HORRIBLE experiences to bring out the best in you and make you a better person
Just because...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Insanity and Heartbreak

It is everywhere in our world.  I see it with the homeless in our city, as people try not to see them.  I hear when my husband tells me of the obscenities screamed at him for being a lazy s.o.b. or in the stories when the LEOs on the scene of a call joke about the heroes getting yelled at, too.  My heartbreaks.

And this afternoon as I was leaving to pick up the kids, it broke again.  My stomach dropped, not unlike 9/11.  How do you cause TERROR at the Boston Marathon?  There are nearly 100 countries represented and just about every recognized religion.  WHO ARE YOU ANGRY AT?  What do you hope to achieve?  How will this help your cause?  I don't understand senseless violence and this is just insane.  This will be one of those days that I add to my list. Sandy Hook and now the 2013 Boston Marathon.

I can't wrap my head around it and I can't pull myself away.  The pictures, the stories, the tragedy is oh so real. Please say a prayer for all of the victims of another event of senseless violence, as well as for the first responders.  Pray that they not only come home safe, but also that their training helps them to reach out to their patients and comfort them in their most desparate time of need. Pray for the families of the victims and the first responders, that they may indeed offer the support that their loved ones will so desperately need.

Send love to your FFs wherever they are - at home, at the station, or further away.   Please take a moment and say a prayer.  

Better Late Than Never

I promised to tell you about my amazing morning last Monday.  Sorry it has taken me nearly a week, but here is my oh wow, life is good story.

Monday was  the kids' last day at their old school.  We gave them the morning to say good-bye to their friends and get their stuff.  J was supposed to go with me and make a morning of it, but one of his classes started that day.  I wasn't going to drive down there to turn around and come back 90 minutes later.  The extra 90 minute round trip drive was really not worth the cost or energy.  So, I hit Starbucks for a bit, watched an episode on Netflix.  But I found that the coffee shop scene is not nearly as exciting when you are flying solo and have nothing in particular to work on. So I left after a bit.  Ran to Target to grab a backpack for N.  He was definitely going to be in need of one since the new school does not use e-books. As I pulled into the front spot that I can use with the pretty little red sign hanging from my rear-view mirror, the heavens are pouring down upon us.  I waste time, my FF calls, we chit chat until there is a lull.  Now, please realize that the luxury of driving that comes with a broken LEFT ankle, also restricts your movement in and out of the driver's side of the car.  By the time I get my seat back, my purse on and my leg and crutches out, WHOOSH!, down comes the rain.  And I am quickly soaking wet.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see someone hightailing it from their car, presumably because of the rain.  BUT, it was actually that she was rushing to come see me - to come share her umbrella with me!  How absolutely AMAZING!  The sheer kindness of strangers! I thanked her and asked her name.  She smiled and told me to have a good day. And she left joy in my heart.

After crutching through there, I hit another store that we don't have here at home.  On my way in, I found $100 bill in the parking lot.  I took it to the manager.  She told me that this particular store does not take possession of found money for liability reasons and no one had called inquiring, so the money was mine. Normally, my first thought would have been to donate the found money...and it did cross my mind. Money is tight and my kids are going from a uniform school to a public charter school, so there is a need for school clothes.  I hit the clearance racks and was able to get a few new outfits for everyone, a new notebook for everyone and lunch money for J's next shift.  I will be sure to make sure that St. Ben's gets some of my time and energy to make up for it.  

It was a wonderful morning, on what could have been highly depressing.  A prayer of thanks was more than warranted.

Today, a dreary day.  Raining...again.  Find a reason to say thank you, no matter how small, and smile and enjoy it.

Say thanks for your FF and your muppets, be sure to tell them you are thankful for them.  

Have a great week, look for the amazing things all around you.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life Changes

And that is just the way things go.  We have had a major life change in our home, surprisingly brought on by my "scandalous" blog.  There were people who were in my life who found my blog and jumped to conclusions based on the title and my button.  The person should have really read the description, if nothing else, the scripture might have caught his eye, but I digress.  Life changes and we go down the path the Lord puts out for us.

The muppets started at a new school today, after taking the morning yesterday to say good-bye to their other school friends.  N came out in tears.  He held it together until he hit the door with the contents of his locker in his bag.  The drive home was a long drive for him.  We met their teachers yesterday afternoon.  B and D just slid right into place.  Sat in their desks, introduced themselves to their tablemates and away they went.  It has probably been most difficult for N, so he opted out yesterday and came home with O and myself.  O, she was just looking for time to spend with momma.  :D

This morning was amazing.  J and I got up early to make a big breakfast, they LOVED picking out clothes and looked adorable this morning.  It was a DOWNPOUR of a morning and they were sooooo excited.  The best part was the drive was FIVE minutes. After driving 200 miles a day last fall for football and 100 miles the rest of the year, it was such a nice change.

So, peace to those we leave behind and welcome to those we are yet to meet.

Tomorrow, I will share how AWESOME yesterday was for me.  I have some AMAZING stories from my morning of wasting time waiting for noon.  And maybe some of the stories my muppets bring home from their adventure today.  School lets out in 2 minutes - they'll be home in 10.  How AWESOME is that??  (my word of the day, clearly)

Hug your FFs, love your muppets and if you are around here, enjoy this stormy weather - but stay safe.
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