Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

That was what I said, right??

And I did mean it.

But, what about when it starts to piss you off? What about when you just feel insignificant?  

Your day starts out okay.  But then your brakes, that were just redone the day before started on fire.  And my interview went really well, but I had to wait at the firehouse so I would not be stranded in a less than safe neighborhood.  And then we had to rush off to football.  And after football another firefighter whose kid is in the same league invited J out for a beer.  Usually, no big deal.  Usually, I don't care.  But I didn't get to debrief my husband with the interview.  And the night we had planned for after football was totally disregarded and...I was a cranky b-----.

And there was nothing he could do to make it better.  

I fell asleep while he was gone and when he came home, he wanted to talk about his discussion with the other fireman.  Bad mojo.  I don't sleep well and when you wake me up, I am up.  So, this was just a disaster waiting to happen.  I tried not to talk because nothing good was going to spew from me, so I grabbed a bottle of water and watched the rain from the front porch, until he could get to sleep. 

Nothing good was going to happen.  And he knew it.

So he went to sleep.  He needs sleep to function.  And I was up for an insane period of time.  Once I am up, I am up.  I wish I could go back to sleep like my FF.  But that is not a skill I possess.

When the alarm went off, he opted to stay with me - crabbiness and all - rather than go work out with the guys at 6am.  One, he knows how hard it is for him to have all the social interaction while I stay home and hold down the fort alone - again.  As hard as I try, I find that resentment creeps in when I feel locked into this domestic world all by myself.  We have a wedding this weekend, a bonus dog, a birthday party.  I have two more interviews and I am so not in the ready for any of them, in the manner my control freak personality requires. Two, we really can't go a day without being able to talk civilly to each other.  I know I can't.  It gave us an hour to talk about yesterday, and NOT my car starting on fire!

So, football tonight.  Interview this afternoon for a position I know I do not want.  Tomorrow is this position I wanted oh so badly three years ago.  Fingers crossed for that one!  

Make sure you talk to your FF.  Even if it is just to say I love you.  Keep those muppets in line, loving boundaries are my focus today - cleaning rooms today. You made it half way through the week.

PS - my hubby has 6 more days of this "40" hour week baloney and we can find our normal again!  Thank goodness!

PPS - Artwork by Ariel Rivas.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Fire Wife in Need of Some Creative Solutions

We've all been there.  A perfect date comes along. Someone has tickets they can't use or a dinner invite comes your way.  And you guys could REALLY use a night out.  Or maybe you just notice that the two of you need some time to reconnect.  Bills...groceries...teething toddlers...pagers going off during dinner...dogs getting out...48 on top of 48 on top of 48...

Clearly the "us" component of us, can get lost in all that grown up reality.  

What if it is compounded with a feeling of isolation, meaning there's no one to help you with the kids to allow you to reconnect with your husband.  Grandma and Grandpa are half a country away.  You moved away from home in order to find a department that was hiring.  You haven't connected with the other wives in your department.  But, none-the-less, you are still looking for a way to reach out for your husband because you guys are really all you have in the land if Isolation. 

I have to admit, I have become spoiled with a teenager in the house.  And I was HORRIBLE at making this happen before.  And I know that I can ask for help.  I am doing just that.  There is a fire wife in need of some creative suggestions.

How in the heck do you do it??

So, here's what I am looking for.  I need creative solutions for date nights, when there are little ones and babysitters are usually an issue.  Face it, if there's no family, then you need to turn to teenagers.  And they are demanding wages to equal the price of the gas in their tank.  And as much as the public keeps telling my husband is overpaid, we all know that's just crazy talk. teenage babysitters.

You...your firefighter...the kids. How do you find ways to reconnect?  How do you date, when money is tight and there is no one to help with the kids?  Do you wait until the kids fall asleep and date at home with some board games and a bottle of wine?  Do you arrange a picnic in the backyard?  Send your creative juices my way so that I can pass them on.  PLEASE pick your brain.  Send me an email, send me an IM on Faceboook  or just post here.  But we have a Fire Wife in need.  Let's help her out!!!

Psssssst - this was good excuse to go through the pictures of my muppets.  They are growing up on me soooo fast!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Flame Fest 2013

I have finally slept a night in my own bed.  I said good-night to my oldest last night and good morning to one of my girls this morning. I forgot how happy pups are to see you when you have been away. 

Almost sounds like I should channel the amazing Julie Andrews and start telling you about all of my favorite things.

Flame Fest 2013 was an amazing time.  But, what is interesting to me was how much I learned when NOT in the sessions.

So, here goes.  

Laughter is the best medicine.

There is at least one other person with many of the same quirks and sense of humor as me.

Late night talks are just as bonding as they were 20 years ago.

Sticking the ankle you just had rebuilt in an elevator door is not so smart.

The right shoes make the outfit.

I will never be a "good" girl, there is still too much tomboy in me.

We are all Divas.

Bagpipes make my heart drop, not leap.

The Pink Heals program is oh so amazing.

People actually like my photography.

I speak Yankee.

There's only one kind of Coke, regardless of what those funny speaking people think.

My one-liners cause a lot of people to either snort or spew their drinks.

When it comes to tones, it truly is me.

Siri comes out of Droid phones at the most inappropriate times when you have your phone set to "driving" mode.

I make a horrible student when Fire Wife Elly is around.

I still don't like crowded elevators and prefer the stairs.

Augusta thrift stores make for nice trips down memory lane.

My phone really does not hold a charge well, at all.

Sandy Springs has turtles instead of cows or beasties.

I eat like a 6 year-old.

I will find alternatives to a $4 can of Pepsi.

Feathers get in the way.

Window frosting is very personal.

Auto-correct is trouble.

Palmetto bugs are cockroaches that went through the glowing ooze.

There are no quiet nights in Georgia.

Humming "I Shot the Sheriff" in a gas station is awkward when his deputy is standing right behind you in line.

I never want to be a dispatcher for the same department my husband is working on.

Women need to work to build each other up and not tear each other down.  

Other people have every musical in the world memorized like me.

You can make it to the train station even though Chicago traffic is at a dead stop with a little faith, trust and pixie dust.  Or, maybe that was glitter considering the company I kept.

I don't sleep a lot when I am away from home.

ooVoo makes you miss your muppets more, not less.

No one is alone, truly.  (Now I have Bernadette in my head...)

And most importantly, absence does make the heart grow fonder.  I missed my people like crazy.  i missed my hubby and was so happy to see him standing there waiting for me at the train station!! It was nice to recharge my batteries at hear the voices that my mind has been imagining for so long. (And no, I don't actually hear random voices...)  But...I am so happy to be home!

I am so grateful to Lori Mercer for all of her hard work and to my FF for taking on the crew for me so I could go.  To the ladies in this crazy world that joined me, it was awesome.  I was so glad to meet you.  For those who couldn't make it, maybe next year.  No matter what, we need to stand together, because that is what make us Fire Strong.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Calling

Ever just feel it tugging at you and no matter how you try and dismiss it, you still  feel that draw.  You try and ignore it and focus on where you are "supposed" to be focusing your energy, but you lose focus.  This is probably how my husband felt all those years.  Afraid to talk to me about the fire service, but still feeling that pull.  I'm glad he got the nerve up to have that chat, and even more thankful that I was open to it.

That is where I am right now.  


Torn between doing what is responsible for providing for my family and what I feel a true calling.

Torn between doing what is expected and where I see a VERY REAL need.

Torn between my head and my heart.


But, aren't we all.  

Anyway, speaking of callings.  My hubby's worlds have collided.  He is teaching a wellness in-service and planning another for the next couple of weeks. (I'm still anxious for life to go back to normal and for him to be on shift!)  And it is making a difference.  He is focusing on depression, substance abuse and suicide in the fire service.  If any of the FFs refer themselves to EAP it makes this effort a success.  Think of how many others will start talking to their families and thinking about where they are.  And that is all you can ask for.  So amazing to see my amazing teacher husband surface through all that bunker gear. 

So, maybe it is time to follow my own advice and follow the heartstrings.  Atlanta is just two days away - FlameFest 2013, here we come.  Those of you who are attending, I can't wait to meet you in person! Those of you who are not, hopefully next year! My hubby is packing up three of the muppets AND the polar bears and heading up to his parents house.  Crazy and insane, but such a good week coming up.  Wake me up Tuesday, I will probably sleep through Monday.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Keep the Conversation Going

I have to admit, I am ABSOLUTELY amazed at how my LODD guest post at has started families talking.  I thought for sure I would have scared people away.  I thought it was too raw.  I put it off time and again, because I would feel nauseous every time I pulled that notebook out.  When the LODDs kept coming, I finally locked the door, grabbed the tissue and got started. When I submitted it, I figured Lori would send it back my way and have me revise it.  But it was posted last week, pretty much as I had written it.  

And the first day there was quite a bit of feedback...and then it continued.  I got emails and private messages.  I was tagged in comments. I was shocked. And here we are more than a week since it hit and the conversation is still going strong on our private boards, and hopefully throughout the fire world.

This is an emotional discussion.  We always envision growing old with our husbands.  So the idea that they might leave us in an unexpected, tragic manner is sometimes harder than we thought it would be to handle.  Once we start thinking about what we can control in the here and now,  we start to think about those images that we push from our minds on those lonely shift nights.

But there is chatter in our group.  Some of the chatter is just how hard this whole process is.  Some is how thankful they are to have started it now, especially in light of another LODD.  Some is the venting because the firefighter in their life doesn't want to talk about it.  Some have written letters and some have sat down and started this conversation.  No matter what, the important piece of all of this is that there is a conversation going on, even if it is just in bits and pieces. It is a harsh reality of this life, even though we always home and pray everyone comes home, sometimes they do not. 

So, here's my advice.  Take it or leave it, just putting it out there for further discussion.

Ladies, be patient and be as calm as you can be.  No one is suggesting you be an emotionless zombie, but crying your eyes out will make it difficult to discuss.  Remember, this is a just in case action.  When he retires, you can have a ceremonial bonfire.  That is my plan!

When Daddy was still on the boat team,
I arranged for her k4 class to see the boat
in action after their field trip was done.
Perks of the fire life
Be aware that this discussion might be harder on him than it is on you.  It is his mortality that we are talking about here, after all  Some of the guys do have a hard time admitting, especially to you, that they might not come home.  Be sensitive to it.  Perhaps you can suggest that there is another time he  could choose.  Or, ask him if you can do it a piece at a time - maybe once a month. Send the kids to grandma's, do your section for the month and then open a bottle of wine.  You might find that it is a bonding experience.  You know your firefighter best, read his cues.  If it is too much to handle, save it for another day.  

Be prepared.  Know what questions you want to ask him.  Know he might not have an answer for you at that moment in time, and that is okay.  Know that it might be hard for you to hear and imagine.  This is a necessary topic to discuss, but by no means does that make it easy.

Firefighters,  remember this is a scary topic for us.  You may think we are overreacting, but these are decisions we will have to make should the unthinkable happen.  Your department may be blessed enough to not have to worry about this for your entire career, or even lifetime.  And then, the bonfire I mentioned earlier, can take place.  But what if?  I know, I know.  What if...I get hit by a bus...we've had this discussion, too.  Just humor her because if that "What If" becomes reality, you will have given her the best gift you could have given her for that moment in time.  

Be patient with her questions and checklists.  You have no idea how many sleepless nights there are in your home when you are on shift.  Just like you don't share all of your runs, we don't always tell you when we've had a rough night.  For the same reason, we don't want to worry or burden you.  If this provides a little bit more comfort, isn't that in and of itself worth the annoyance you might feel.  Don't make her feel like this is an inconvenience for you.

Be honest with her. Tell her what you really think.  If this notebook actually does get pulled out for anything other than notes or adding paperwork, know that you will have given her the piece of mind that she needs to get through this heartbreaking experience.  You will take the guessing out of the equation.

Guys, if it is easier to address in writing, ask her if that would be okay.  Women are verbal, chatty creatures by nature.  Not all men are.  A compromise with this topic might be the best way.

Whatever you do, don't end the conversation.  Take a break and come back to it, but always come back to it.  Remind your FF that you love him.  And go easy on yourself, gals.  If it is too much all at once, break it up yourselves.  Tackle it piece by piece.  You are Fire Strong!  Never forget that.

Hug those Firefighters and Muppets tight.  Let them know everyday that you love them. 

The Little Things...

Yesterday was one of those are days where we had NOTHING going on.  And it was so nice. Home from 8 o'clock mass and the day was  ours.  And was that an amazing feeling!  I made J run to Office Max with me to grab the penny and quarter school supplies - yes, I have started school shopping already.  But, I buy them when they are on sale.  Especially when the middle school muppets need more supplies than the kindergartner - things that make you go hmmmm...but I digress.  Not what my post is about.  The reason I made the fireman go was so that he could help where the limits got in my way.  So, I think we have a good start.

When we got back he decided he was going to clean my car.  And it took all afternoon.  My girl next door and I hit some of the other sales - $2.99 backpacks are good to have around when they die in January and all the backpacks are $30.  And when we got back from our second run, he was still cleaning my car.

But, let me tell you, when I ran an errand this morning, I was amazed.  Not only did he buff out all of the errant scratches and vacuum all the mini polar bears floating around my car, remove Toys R Us from my back seat,  he also cleaned the insides of windows. You don't realize how accustomed you become to looking through nose prints and slobber stains, until you have a clean set of windows. WOW.

And all I can say is that I have missed him cleaning my car.  He always did when we were in college and early into our married years.  But as the muppets came along, it became a bigger task to tackle, with less time in which to tackle it.  And it just got pushed aside and forgotten.  In the grand scheme of things, no big deal.  

But, for today...I am going to enjoy the bright clarity of this world through the front windows of my car. And it will take me back to our younger days...and make me smile.  Sometimes it is the little things that make the marriage amazing.  This is indeed one of those times.

Give those FFs some love.  Find a way to have some fun with your muppets and enjoy the beginning of this week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Until they all come home...

from the Local 215 store...
A few weeks ago, on a Friday, I pulled out my red shirt, just because.  I think this was the same day my hubby went through both of his at work... Anyway, I thought about how cool it would be to get a few shirts from other departments, seeing as fire shirts have become my casual wear.  So, I posted it in one of my wives groups and, aside from a relatively local wife (whose hubby's department did not participate) most of the women had no clue what I was talking about.  And it made me a bit sad.  Not because I wasn't going to add MORE shirts to my ready to explode t-shirt drawer, but because it is something so simple that helps us remember that not everyone is home yet.  

I remember in high school, when we first invaded Iraq, there were yellow ribbons and support our troops signs everywhere.  I still have my Milwaukee High School of the Arts Supports Our Troops - Operation Desert Storm shirt around here somewhere. Families proudly displayed their starred banners.  After 9/11, and Operation Enduring Freedom, there was a resurgence.  And now...

Now, maybe it is too harsh to say we have forgotten, because we are no where near as bad as we were with the conflicts/police actions of the mid 20th century, but we clearly have lost a touch of our reverence and acknowledgement for the sacrifices of our troops.  Maybe we are just over it because we have spent most of the last 20 years fighting off evil and our attention span doesn't cover that period of time. Perhaps it is just my perception and I am totally off base.  I don't know. All I know is that me even bringing this up is itself a travesty of what is deserved.   

My FF at 6's a few weeks ago.
I was pleased, an a touch surprised, to see most people stand for our vets during our neighborhood 4th of July Parade, but why wasn't everyone standing.  Where are the Operation Comfort Drives?  Why have they gone away?  Why aren't we pushing the "To Any US Service Personnel" letter drives?  Have we forgotten that not everyone has come home.  That mommies and daddies have missed out on first steps and graduations.  That limbs and lives have been lost.  That souls need help finding their way to the surface.  Have we  really forgotten...or just let it slip, perhaps?

To some degree, I have been just as guilty of this.  We have had a flag out everyday since 9/11...until last summer when we moved back to the city.  Our brick house did not really allow for mounting a flag bracket...and I let it go.  10 years ago, I would have had my own personal MacGyver take care of it on day 1.  And I didn't.  Finally had him help me think of something earlier this month.  Our porch light is on 24/7, so that I don't forget to turn it on.  We just can't swing a spotlight, yet.  But it is on my list of necessities.

We have all let it slip to the back of our minds.  Perhaps it is time to bring it back to the forefront.  Be the sand in the clamshell.  Produce that pearl.  Go through your ladies auxiliaries or straight to the chief.  Maybe an editorial to your newspaper.  Find a way to bring red shirt Fridays to your departments. We are all buying t-shirts for this cause or that.  Why not for the lives that have been put on hold for us?  Is that not a worthy cause for our $12 or $15?  Or, at the very least, wear red on Fridays, just to say we remember... 

Until every one comes home... 

PS - I am not done with this crusade.  :)  Send me your FF's Red Shirt Friday pics at mfd dot wife dot trina at Happy Friday!


And not the fun part of it, either.  The stressful, why was I in such a hurry to grow up again? kind of life.  It has taken over and I am so fighting to take it back and not become a soul sucking entity.  It has distracted me from my writing (I have FIVE started posts sitting there waiting for my attention.), from the Muppets, from my FF, from the polar bears...and it officially SUCKS!
You know you need to snap out of  it when your 7 year-old
brings you these.

I am doing better than I was two nights ago and better than I was yesterday.  I will be happy when I get my groove back from the life that has stolen it so I can live fully again.  

Until then, bear with me...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Impromptu Date Night

Nothing fancy, but it was so needed.  I ran to the store an bought some chicken strips and chips (with some fruit tossed in for nutritional value) and some bomb pops for dessert.  The kids would have some yummy deliciousness.  N had orders to fire up the popcorn machine, pass out the gourmet orange soda I bought and toss in a movie.  I haven't really seen my FF in a few weeks.  We have been running non-stop when he is home and awake.  

Having a babysitter in the house has its perks.  It will cost me a Minecraft download later today, but oh so worth it.

I stole my husband and headed off the Miller Park.  TGI Friday's isn't anything fancy, but decent food, cold beer, TVs with the Home Run Derby and NO MUPPETS TO MEDIATE, sounds heavenly.  

We got to watch as they transformed the field into Paul McCartney's playground.  Watch the Derby, while only explaining it to our bartender.  So simple, but so necessary.

We have been stealing time for a while.  A run to Home Depot, that could have waited for tomorrow.  A walk with the polar bears, so N does not have to do it. Nothing spectacular, but time that reminds us who we were before the kids, before the fire department - when it was just the 2 of us in that tiny little two bedroom apartment.

Make time for you and your FF, even if you just do the grocery shopping together.  Or a beer and a TV that is not your own, watching grown men playing a boys' game.  It is all good. 

Hug those FFs tight.  Remember how happy you were to see them come home two weeks ago.  Don't let tragedy be the only thing that brings that emotion out.  Have fun with your muppets.  Get the sidewalk chalk out, run through the sprinkler, laugh at a silly movie together.  Live your life, everyday.

Monday, July 15, 2013

But I'll Be Home Every Night!

My FF has been in discussions with our Health and Safety Officer regarding the state of the mental health of our department for some time.  Starting last week, my FF is running one of the training sessions regarding this uncomfortable topic.  And it does make my heart happy for so many reasons.  First of all, our department recognized that there is an issue at hand and is doing something to address it. Twenty years ago, would this have been discussed, probably not.  The Fire World is full of testosterone, which is not weak.  And far too often depression is seen as a weakness.  

These discussions also make me quite proud, because my FF gets to spread his teacher wings for a bit.   He has walked in these shoes and pulled himself out of it, through so much work (almost literal blood, sweat and tears), that his personal experience makes his perspective real.  Definitely not as dry as the canned PowerPoint.

So, I had to get that out there first.  He is doing good things.  He is indeed the perfect man for the job.

That being said, I want him to go back on shift.

When he came to me and said, "But I'll be home every night", I thought - oh perfect!  Summer is the ideal time.  Nah.  Nope.  Not liking it.

He is home for dinner, a little bit of catch with the football and bed time.  And last week, if he wasn't at the BIT, he was at the race track.  So...we really didn't see him much.  This weekend was PACKED, crazy in a good way, but very little unscheduled time.  And today he is back at the academy, again doing great things, but not here.

Ah well.  This is just a testament to how this goofy world becomes normal so quickly.  I think he goes back on shift after the first week of August, so it is not all that far away.

Plans for the week are going to involve some day trips - today, the wading pool in out neighborhood.  Tomorrow the public museum - where yes, I will be chatting with the boys across the street so I can avoid the parking garage. (Convenient to know FFs around the city.) Wednesday, we might do the Art Museum. Thursday, hmmmm, we'll see where life takes us.

Anyway, enjoy your week. Love on those FFs.  Ask the hard questions found in this post. If you need anything with that, you know where to find me.  If it is too hard to talk about face to face, write a letter to your FF, but don't let it go because it is too hard.

Have some fun with your muppets - even if it is just some hot dogs and the Polish Water Park. ;)  Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 14, 2013 Takes on the Tough Talks

We have had a rash of LODDs in recent weeks, it seems.  Following our Honor Guard and their service to the fallen at Prescott, makes all more real.  These were husbands, sons, fathers, boyfriends and best friends.  They could have been the FF sitting next to you or his buddy from the academy.

And that is what scares us.  We all know about it.  We all have it creep into our minds when we hear about a greater alarm fire.  And we all push it away.

But it is still a possibility.  Close calls happen more than our FFs share, especially if there is not a news crew on scene to catch film of a FF jumping out a window just as the flash over hits.  It is the nature of the beast.

Knowing this and knowing that I am SUCH a control freak, I have a plan in place.  Now, know that even the best laid plans are doomed to fail.  But I need to have some sense of control, when things seem like they are spinning out of control.  And so I have my notebook.  I have written about it before.   

Some notes about it - I have added it to a binder, with sheet covers and a three hole punch in it.  I have ordered extra copies of our marriage license and put a copy of the kids' birth certificates in there. Another contact to add to it - the Public Safety Officer Benefit.  More paperwork, but the benefit at this point is $328,000.

This was probably the hardest post I have or will have written. I was honored when Lori at asked, but overwhelmed all at the same time.  I was going to be opening my heart and soul at its very barest and most vulnerable moment - to the entire cyber world.  I did it and she published it yesterday. I had no clue it was actually out there until my Facebook notifications were blowing up.  I was dishing out hot dogs and brats while flirting with the old retired guys at our Muster.  When I stopped home to get the girls, it was there. And it still hit me hard to see it published.  I was not going to post about it here, but after chatting with my lovely fellow FFW blogger and friend, She's Fully Involved, I figured I should help get this out to as many FFWs as I can.  

Read through it, bookmark it, make it your own.  Read it while he's at the gym and the kids are on a play date, but probably not while he's on shift.  I was fighting the tears skimming through it this morning (avoiding this post I am writing now) and I wrote the dang thing.

Your plan, is your plan.  It does not have to look like my plan.  Just have a plan. And know that your department, your auxiliary and the rest of the fire world will be there with you.  

For now, if your FF is home, spend the day with him - no matter how boring.  Hang out with him while he's mowing the lawn, run errands with him, take pictures while he plays catch with the kids, go for a walk, whatever.  If he's on shift, just send a text letting him know that he crossed your mind.  Share that love today, tomorrow is definitely not promised.  Peace and love to you guys.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I am SUCH a boy

My Twitter is filled with FFs, some FFWs and sports, a smattering of history related people and that is really it.  I don't really follow celebrities.  Sports and Firefighters.  I countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting right after the Superbowl and OTAs when the boys of summer are breaking my heart (like this year).  My hubby buys me hockey jerseys for  Christmas.  I watch SportsCenter and pick the TV at BW's.  I love sports talk radio and actually watch the game when we head to Miller Park (although I don't keep score anymore, but I did as a kid).  I am a boy.

Well, a boy in drag...I do wear make-up.  But I would rather be in a jersey of whatever season, with jeans and my Chucks.  I HATE dresses.  Even when I was a size four, I had no boobs and no curves, I hated dresses.  They really don't make dresses for boy shaped females, like me.  So, I avoid dresses.  I even tried to get out of wearing one for my wedding.  

I just don't do dresses.

So, Flame Fest its very nature requires me to be a girl.  It is a gathering of FFWs...hard to be one of the boys there. to buy a dress.  

I tried on so many dresses.  I tried red, but nearly all of them were black and white, just how I am.  

One of the red ones - was a draped dress...when I see my kids wearing them at prom and homecoming, I think casket lining.  And that was all I saw when I was wearing it. are the good, the bad and the ugly.   My face is not in the pics, because I SUCK at taking selfies, better to just avoid the stupid expressions altogether.

I actually didn't mind this one, until I thought, wow, my mom would have worn this...(sorry mom)  and I took it off the possibilities list. 

I like this one, and one of the gals suggested a red belt with it.  But, I would wear this to work, not an evening out.  Might still go back and get it for that purpose...

Super comfortable maxi dress, but the angled lines were just drawing attention to, instead of away, from where I wanted them.

The red casket dress...

Oh, flirty 50s pin-up could be fun, especially with a red belt for some color, if  there were any curves involved...

I kinda liked this one, but not enough...

<sigh>  There were many others.  Some, just, no...we won't even discuss those.

So, here is what I walked out with...

For Thursdays meet and greet, comfy.
But I am short, so I need heels...
...and these needed new life.

So here is the dress I decided on for dinner Friday - two stores and about 15 dresses later.  This dressing room - had no a/c, ugh, yuck.  And, for that splash of color, some awesome shoes.  I will never wear them again, but oh so fun!  It is Flame Fest after all.  My FF just shook his head, smiled and made some smart comment about where he had seen those shoes before.

The FF liked the fashion show, the girls were excited that mommy actually bought clothes and D is DYING to be 16 to wear those shoes.  (we'll see about that...)

My FF is home this weekend, but it is officially NON STOP.  The Ladies Auxiliary is hosting the Muster tomorrow at the BIT as a fundraiser for Fire Bell.  Right after, we heading out of town to meet friends of ours who are visiting family.  They are in LA now, so we don't pass up these visits.  Sunday, another FFW invited us to a screening of Honor Flight in the afternoon.  Since the muppets were at one of the welcome homes, it would be good for them to put it in context.  And then back to insanity on Monday.

Gotta love this life!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Some Sundays I feel like I am saying that (shhhhh) more than "Amen".  Some Sundays I would much rather just stay under the covers.   Some Sundays I can't believe from the way my girls are handling themselves, that we actually go to Church every week and that they go at school as well.  Some Sundays...

Before we moved back to the city, we had a hard time finding a parish.    My FF is either working or just coming off shift two out of every three Sundays.  And it seems like if there will be a PNB, it will be a Sunday morning, which means lots of time lost waiting for the ME and paperwork and... So, two out of every three Sundays I am taking the muppets to church, alone.  O was 3, D was 5 and the boys were embarrassed.  I cried on Sundays, down there.  More than once I was told that the crying room might be more appropriate our family. I know there was judgments being made with my FF "suspiciously" absent from mass.  I know my kids were out of their comfort zone looking around them, taking in new scenery.  I know...   How will they learn to behave in church if they are never allowed in the church?  UGH!! Jumped from parish to parish, hoping to find a home.  And it was horrible.  I felt, alone and like an outsider.  Exactly the OPPOSITE of how I should feel after leaving mass.

Last summer, when we moved back to the city, I started looking for something on this side of town, I had no idea what was down here.  There is a parish literally three blocks from the house - how cool would that be. I had this Mayberry image in my head of walking to Church and walking home and making breakfast with my pearls, apron and heels.  Except there is only one mass in English and most of the Spanish I know has no place in Church. Soooooo, that was clearly not going to work.  And then my lovely FFW next door and the retired teacher on the other side of us, invited us to mass at their parish.  And one Sunday, a few weeks after we moved in, we tried it.  Just me and the muppets.  I have to have an 8 o'clock service when I go alone.  O has had breakfast and is not yet on her way to mid morning munchies.  She also hasn't hit her full stride yet, so she is still rather sublime...until the end of mass. D is starting to really enjoy Church, but not necessarily quietly.  B gets a kick out of  instigating  with his sisters and N, well, he enjoys church, but is embarrassed by their shenanigans. I need to keep all of that drama to a minimum.  4:30 pm on a Saturday is right in the middle of their drama filled swing.  10:00 and Noon require food to be distributed for snack and lunch, so 8:00 it is.  And I  get them up and out the door by 7:30am, all by myself. Usually they are properly dressed - except for last Sunday when my FFW gal picked up O to hug her...and to my shock and horror, there was nothing under her skirt.  <sigh>  Yesterday I was very clear in the requirements for undergarments when I laid out their clothes - they must be included in the wearing for mass.  <smh> 

Our Basillica is indeed the most beautiful church I have ever seen.  Built through the blood sweat and tears of the Polish neighbors at the turn of the century, using hand me down building materials from Chicago's post office and Customs House, it continues to be a cornerstone of the community more than 100 years later.   It is truly breath taking.

But, pretty pictures don't make a church - the people and the priests do.  The people are amazing.  We are always getting compliments on how well behaved the muppets are.  They are so warm and so welcoming.  I absolutely love it.  And if I had any doubts, they were all answered Easter morning.  Daddy came off shift and joined us - still in his uniform.  My foot was only a couple of weeks post-op.  And the homily slapped me in the face.  I don't claim to speak as eloquently as Fr. Alejandro, but when he said something to the effect of perhaps it time for us to tone down the memorization and evangelism (and he made reference to this being the Year of Faith, and was unsure how this message would be received) and instead LIVE our message and let THAT be our evangelism.  Don't preach the Gospel, but live it.  Reach out to those in need and truly strive to live a Christ like lifestyle.  I melted and teared up.  I had recently been told I was doing too much of that and not enough of the other, and here, Father Al told me I was on the right track. 

I knew I was home.

Now, you are asking, "Where the heck did all this come from, lady?"  Well, I'll tell you.

Facebook, the modern version of telephone, does have some bright spots, especially in the blogosphere.  A friend of mine posted a letter to parents of young children regarding their place in the church.  It came from a blog called I am totally *that* mom. And it spoke to me.  Just as the kindness of the strangers who have become my family in faith, who reached out to me those first few weeks, this post will reach out and encourage families to go to church, to attend mass.  Your muppets will learn through observation what is proper and what is expected of them.  Your church will get the joy of watching your kids grow in sooo many ways.  And your family can begin their faith journey.

I am not here to preach, I was just so glad to read that I was not alone in my apprehension.  Especially seeing as this life doesn't let my firefighter spend much time with us actually in Church.  

Moral of the story, no matter where you are in your journey through life or your faith, meet people where they are.  Don't expect them to be at the same place you are.  Don't expect them to have the same ideas as you.  Simply take a look at who they are and smile.  Truly, meet them where they are, because you are just a traveler as well.  None of us have yet reached our destination.

Have some fun with those kids today, love on your FFs no matter how much they are bugging you and know that the weekend is almost upon us.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Never Alone

Taken by one of our amazing FFW from
I am watching the memorial service for the Prescott 19, who left us only 9 days ago.  My muppets come and go, my youngest son was watching the pipes and drums...and I am trying to hold it together.  Tears are streaming for these families that I have never met, but somehow know so intimately.

I was fine until the reading of Isaiah's passage, and I lost it.  I have that written in my FF's helmet to remind him that he is never alone, never.  And to hear that at such an event, broke my heart, and the dam that was holding back the tears.   We all put ourselves in their shoes at this moment.  But, the tears come from the helplessness that I feel right now.  I cannot comfort them or reach out to them.  I cannot make the pain ease or their loneliness subside.  I can send my prayers and cry along with them, but that is it.

So, to Brendan McDonough and the families of those 19 amazing souls, thank you for giving them so that others may be safe.  Thank you for sacrificing the past and future for the common good.  And know, like our firefighters, you are never alone.  Never.  To all of our fire families, firefighters, firefighter wives, you are never alone.  Just say the word...


Monday, July 8, 2013

Make do Monday

We are not a family with a lot of money.  Sometimes we are barely eeking by, paycheck to paycheck.  

But, we make do with what we have.  We are blessed to be sure, but much of what we have is from before our switch to the Fire Life or hand me downs that we have inherited.  And some how that seems to be just enough.  And so far, even without big vacations or new toys.  So here is the midway point for our summer shenanigans.

Polish Water  Park - in various stages...

Daddy has to take it to the next level.

Twister - one is spinning, she was just too little to reach all sides.

Dinner with the family at Organ Piper.

Waiting for the parade to begin

Post parade and ice cream chilling by the lagoon

Patriotic toes...

Look who is riding without training wheels.
Doesn't everyone color while their Daddy's bunkers dry?
Last one to be swinging - all by herself.

or hanging on the swing all by herself...

So glad we bought this all those years ago - 4 kids, countless neighbors
and birthday parties.

My artist in residence

How many muppets does it take to drive the engine??

None of us are ready to admit that football starts in a few weeks and the summer will then be winding down.

Enjoy the summer with your muppets.  Send some pics to your FF when he can't join you, with an adorable love note.  

Happy Monday!

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