Saturday, August 30, 2014

Being a FireWife is So Not Epic


It is the word of the month in our house.  Things are either Epic or SO Not Epic.  There is no grey area.  There is no middle of the road.

And I feel that.

I am either Epic or SO Not Epic.

This month my FF has been gone more than he has been home.  There have been paybacks and days at the track and Hey, Could ya take this day for me 48s ALLLLLLL over the place.  

And I have been left to hold the fort down...while spending days in my classroom and nights learning how to breathe and handle these times. <sigh> 

I get something done and it seems so amazing and at that moment, I am Epic.  Whether it is in my classroom or with the kids or whatever.

Or, I feel like a complete failure.  We have not eaten as a family in forever.  I have been away from my kids more than I would like.  And when I have been home I have had SO much work to do, that I have been working while sitting in the same room or on the patio.  But not playing with them.

Or when my FF comes home after a 48 and a day at the track and fusses that house is messy.  

Or when my oldest has to ride his bike to and from football practice all week.


It seems like I am SO Not Epic more often than not.

And it SO sucks.

I would like much more boring events.  You know, just sitting around doing nothing. Just...being. 

I will get over this, I always do.  But, someone might want to tell the FireMan that the week of back to work for the FireMan when he has been gone more than he has been home MIGHT not be the best time to say, "Hey, what do ya think about me joining the IRL Safety Team?" if he has any hope for a supportive answer.  Someone MIGHT want to clue him in on timing.  Right now, I don't want to think about weeks of training in Indianapolis or the 4 race commitment (roughly 6 days per race) per season or the two 48s that would come from nearly every race. (That makes a minimum of eight extra 48s - not including his days at the Mile.)  Right now, I'd like to hold on to the last smidge of sanity that I seem to possess...while I prepare a binder for my SURPRISE Field Student who might be a Student Teacher, but is not sure...

Sigh...and two family gatherings this week.  

Custard will make it all better, right?  I am going to need a TON of Custard. 

Custard will make me Epic.  I know it will.

Won't it?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A FireWife's Epic Failure as a Mother

Recently a friend of mine from college sent me a message on social media.  We talk all the time in comments and on each other's walls, but only rarely do we message each other.  If I may so bold to summarize her message, essentially she asked how in the world I was so put together with 4 kids and a firefighter that is gone so much.  I always seem to take things in stride. Whereas she, with three kids and a husband with a more traditional job, felt like she was always struggling to get by...especially when he is gone.

You would think that I would have been thrilled with such a compliment, but instead, I felt ashamed.  I am not put together.  I am a mess.  I have metl downs and yell more than I would like.  I am impatient and snippy when I feel overwhelmed and under supported.  I am stubborn and pigheaded when I feel that it was "someone else's job" to do something...and I refuse to do it. I am not perfect.  I am horribly flawed. 

Even as I am writing this blog, literally sitting down in my living room for the first time since 6:30am (It is 7:40pm...on a shift day.) I am sniping at my youngest in my head. Why, do you ask?  Because she is asking about the Packer game while I am trying to type this post.  Mind you.  Her face time with me has been VERY limited this week.  I have gone back to work.  I was at work from 6:30am until 3:30pm.  At Training Monday-Wednesday from 4pm-8pm. (Oh so IRONICALLY, it was training for teachers on relieving stress through breathing.) Today, I had the most stressful training for a gradebook that I have ever experienced...and got nothing done that I needed to get so I am ready on Tuesday.  From there I grabbed the three youngest muppets...the oldest was at football practice...having to bike because I was at work...and take D to my dad's so he could take her judo.  We ran to Target because my polar bears had NO food in the house, picked up N from practice twenty after seven.  And I am home.  

So, snippiness, driving through rush hour after dropping off D.  (Mind you, this is after driving nearly an hour to make the 25 minute drive there.) B and O were singing as loud as possibly and clapping, horribly off-beat, to And All the People Said Amen by Matt Maher.  And I snapped at them.

Yup.  Epic.  Failure.

I snapped at my kids because the Spirit moved them.  


But, my stress level was stronger than I was.  


The people driving recklessly in the parking lot formerly known as I-94 and the two syllabi I have yet to finish writing and the picnics that we need to attend and host even though I am SO not ready for that first day and I have so much to do. I need to pick up fabric for a table in my room and my hubby has to help me mount my map bracket and I need make 200 copies of syllabi and print out rosters and...


I am missing that part.

And because I am missing that part, I am missing out on the joy that my people bring just because the song that moved their soul came on.  Because I have let life consume me.  I have given up control to stress and life is now controlling me.

So not a happy place for a control freak to find herself. 

I am going to leave you know.  As my muppets are enjoying the Packer game...and I am trying to set up my last prep in my grade book.  It only has 6 pages of standards.  And each standard needs to have 3 pieces of evidence. And...I am trying so hard not to be an epic failure.  I am a FireWife and I am Fire Strong. 

Just not today.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Epic Firewife Return to the Classroom

So, yesterday, I shared with you the chaos that comes with organization in education.  I must have my chaos organized. But, it is still chaos, none-the-less.

This week is not different. I go back tomorrow, to the "organization" week, which has nothing to do with getting organized in the grand scheme of things.  It has nothing to do with setting up the new year, but instead implementing the new student management system, learning the new best practices that are researched based and better than the years before, meeting the new staff, rah rah sis boom bah kinda stuff, but nothing really to do with actual ORGANIZATION of anything dealing with the kids. 

And where does that fall...on the back half of a 48, of course, in true firewife fashion.  BUT, it gets better... 

I have a 3 night training...that might be amazing or might be  the biggest waste of time.  I have very little literature on it, so I will let you know.  What that means is that B will miss his middle school youth group kick off tonight, D will miss her judo class tonight and N will have to ride his bike to and from football practice for three days.  And I have three 12 hour days to kick start the year.  

So, Wednesday, FF comes home, nope he is need at the Mile.  Thursday he is back on shift and so I will see him Friday for sure...and perhaps if my eyes are open Wednesday night.

INSANITY, but we'll get through this like we always so.  Now, if only I had a time machine and a sonic screwdriver...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to School CHAOS

So, I have spent so much of the last two weeks in my classroom.  I think what happens is I wake up, shove some cereal in my face and head to my classroom for 10 hours.  No joke, no exaggeration. (so much for those over paid teacher theories, huh?  My first paycheck is 3 weeks away!)  I have unpacked and purged junk left behind my "new" classroom and organized and decorated and ...oh muh gosh.  But, I will be thrilled to have it all done.

We go back to work officially on Tuesday.  I will not have to spend my in class time decorating, but instead, planning.  I have 3 new preps this year.  One that I have never taught before and has only been taught by one teacher in our district and the other two I have not taught in 4 or 5 years.  It will all be great, but it will be so nice to just focus on the academics of it all.

So, please forgive me if I seem to be neglecting my blog, but there is a definite juggling act, especially as J continues his 48s to pay back his trades from all my hospital stays.

In the meantime, here's a view from my workplace...

I have 2 cabinets and a drawer that are locked, with no keys to be found anywhere.  So, we took the 100 year-old lock out of an open closet and took it to a master locksmith and he made a key for me. I got the cabinet open - full of CRAP - and found a place to store part of my bibliophile addiction units, now to get plexiglass for the lower part of the glass door.  There is also a mystery cabinet - they are in a few rooms and NO ONE knows what they are for.  I was so excited to find out...but sadly it was much like Al Capone's vault, only did not open.  Something was broken off in the lock over the years. <sigh>

This class is enormous compared to my tiny little science lab that forced my kids to play the role of sardines.  I started with 30 desks...and then we looked at my class list.  49

But, I thought 47 would suffice.  And my Bossman has assured me that I will be at least 10 down from that...hopefully.
Here was the first look at my new class...30 desks.
Here are alllllll the boxes, well some of the boxes and a CRAPload
of extra cabinets and furniture and a TV??
See ya..
I was bored during football and taking pictures...
truly what I do when bored.
My class is in the section that jets out
so far, hence the extra space. <3 <3

My epic poster!  I AM the Force, Unleashed!

First impressions are so important.  I start with my door... 

I got 47 desks, 2 teacher desks, a SmartBoard, some file cabinets and bookshelves...and I am almost there. The void in the corner of the chalkboards...waiting for maps to be moved from my science lab turned history class to fill it.

So, I guess, I'll finish up later this week...and give you a better tour.  But, this explains my absence.

Now...send your good juju my way...I am back to work on Tuesday.  My FF has a 48 starting tomorrow...after which he heads to the track and back to work the following day.  Meanwhile I have a 3 night conference and 3 days of beginning of the year PD/Staff Meetings/ I have soooooo much to get done...all while trying to get all the muppets where they need to good.  Wish me luck.

Happy Sunday.  Hug that FF...kiss your muppets as they head off to school...and send in sanity keepers.  C/O TOO Hot to Handle Insanity Week!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Found My Words

Robin Williams' death turned the world on its ear.  We will see this again, but every time we do, we look at these people and wonder, "How?"

They have the perfect life, with more money than they can spend in a life time. The world caters to them.  How can they not be happy?  So many lost talents. So many lost lives. How can that possibly be?

Even though there are so many lost souls that the media spends no time discussing, what this should tell us is that there is so much more TO be discussed.  We need to discuss that these rich and famous idols, are still people, with the same failings and dreams and hopes and demons that we all harbor.  We need to discuss that mental illness, like cancer and so many other horrible diseases does not care who you are, what you Klout rating is or how much money you make?  Poverty or wealth, depression, mental illness and suicide hit all areas.  It rears its ugly head, without prejudice or bias.  Some times it runs in families and sometimes the atrocities of life bring it out in the happiest of worlds.  Mental illness knows no color or gender or social class.  Even those who have all the services and treatment options that money can buy, still succumb to its evil grip.  There are families that are destroyed and hearts that are broken and lives torn to pieces because of mental illness. 

And like the other million bloggers out there that are writing about this, we all have opinions.  Don't glorify suicide, others will emulate.  How can you mourn someone you have never truly known? White privilege.  What about the thousands of kids we are losing on streets?  But we all need to remember is that it all these lives that are lost are valuable, significant and our instructors.  We can learn from all of these losses.  THAT is what they all have in common.  We can all learn.

I know you are all tired of my soap boxes, but too fricking bad. I am okay being the squeaky wheel.

Mental health is significant.  I have had kids attend my classes and then take their lives as soon as they left.  I have seen my husband so close to that point, where I thought I would be certain to lose him if I didn't keep my guard up.  I have seen alcohol destroy families.  I have seen those people try to fight for their loved ones, only to lose them to the streets. I have seen the scars left in the minds of public servants who stay strong while others have their world falling down around them...only to realize that those images just don't go away. So many mentally ill walk among us.  And there is such a stigma and prejudice.  So many judgements to be made. So many suffering in silence, thinking they are alone.  Thinking that no one understands.

Some of those immediate responses are merely human, when we see someone suffering. Makes no difference if they are homeless or schizophrenic or manic or whatever.  We are unsure how to proceed or react or simply begin.  Fear from someone you don't know. Voices you can't hear are everywhere.  However, the path you take after that initial, "What am I supposed to do know?" reaction, is no longer a reaction, it is a choice.  Saying Hi and smiling.  Carrying happy meal cards.  Asking how they are.  All possible choices.  Just show the people of the world that someone cares.  That everyone is important, regardless of the socio-economic status or baggage.  

Think of how many people wanted something from Robin Williams - a picture, an autograph, his time at a benefit.  How many people truly asked, "How are you?  Are you doing okay?"  You never want to let your immediate family know you are in pain, because that brings unnecessary pain to them.  We just don't know what he might have needed, nor will we ever.  

We need to make sure that we reach out to our friends, co-workers, neighbors and even strangers.  Sitting and just chatting might be the most powerful medicine there is.  I might not be a cure all, but it might make a difference.  Something so simple. 

Take care of the firefighters in your world.  Know who to contact, who to call when you see that things are not quite right.  Don't be afraid to confront them.  Don't be a afraid to reach out, even if it is to a complete stranger.  People might just amaze you.  

I have written about suicide and depression before.  I watched one of my closest friends work through her father's suicide, to make the world less dreadful for those left behind working with S.O.S - Survivors of Suicide.  I tried to help my kids at work muddle through the heartache losing a classmate and friend. I have often talked about my fears with my FF and so many others on the job.  Please don't hesitate to reach out to any of these resources.

Some of the red flags to look for...

Please don't be afraid to reach out. If you are hurting, a loved one or someone you have never met in the real world.

Good-bye Genie, you're free.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Thanks for the Laughs

If you watch no other clip, watch this one from Mork and Mindy.

My words will never do justice.  

I can only imagine the monsters that lived in your world.  I can only hope that you are now at peace from their torment.  I can work to make sure others know there is always someone who will listen, even if they cannot grasp the depths of your despair.

RIP - Mork, you gave me an excuse to sit on my head and wear the most amazing 'spenders ever. Peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Time to Bite Your Tongue

...and a time to not.

I tend to stay out political discussions on this blog, as well as theological debates.  I have found that my views don't always sit well.  It often comes to a point where it causes a rift and I am truly trying to make my life about building bridges, regardless of where others stand on the other side.  

The Easter before last, my opinions and focus on social justice were formally called into question and I began to question where I stood.  Was I standing in the right side? Was I just causing another rift?  What direction should I be heading?  Not always a bad thing.  Questioning where you stand on thing, that is.  It is a healthy reflection, even if it is a bit uncomfortable.  I was in physical pain and a bit of a spiritual crossroads.  A new pope had JUST been chosen, the year of faith was well underway, my purple cast was a visual sign of the Lenten reflection that I was silently going through.  And then I got to mass.

Fr. Alejandro, my favorite Cuban Franciscan (who sadly will be assigned to an Australian parish this fall) focused his homily on this very topic.  Talk about a spiritual neon billboard!  His message was, yes, this is a year of faith, but perhaps we are too busy talking and verbally evangelizing.  What if instead of talking about what it right,  we just do what is right.  What if instead of passing judgement based on the rules, we focus on the one rule that reminds us to love.  Unconditionally, even if it is not warranted.  Now, understand, he calls himself Fr. Feelgood and I smile every time he refers to himself with such a title.  He clearly has a tendency to such dogma.  But, every single time, it makes me feel as though he is indeed speaking to me. 

From that moment, Pope Francis has only reinforced that in my head.  To which I fail, miserably.  All the time.  Kids drive me crazy and I snipe.  I question parents' parenting values.  I think things in my head that are less than loving.  Realize, I am not saying that I have mastered this, by any stretch of the imagination.  I suck at, truthfully.  But, it is the direction that I am moving toward, even if I get lost because Droid Siri doesn't like monsoon-like storms and I lose my way. (Real life reference that  I will save for another day.)  Imagine what the world would be like if we could remind ourselves of that 5 times a day.

Instead of hating, judging, condemning, whatever, changes need to be made.  What if instead we asked, "How can I help?"  Instead of passing judgement because people aren't doing what we feel to be prudent or reasonable we sit and talk.  You might be amazed at what people will share with you.  Do I need to work on this, duh. Yah.  More than you know.  

Our city is seeing kids shot far too regularly.  Our news talks about it, but realize it occurs far more than the news reports. We have amazing Meds and ED staff.  They have become amazingly skilled at keeping GSWs from becoming fatalities.  How many gang members do you talk to about their gang affiliation and they talk about that is not their gang, it is their family you are referring to.  WHAT DOES THAT SCREAM TO YOU??  These kids that we are judging and condemning as gang bangers are looking for love and acceptance.  The unquestioning, unending kind of love that families should provide.  

One of my fave quotes of all time.
J is sleeping off a LLLOOOOONNNNGGG night.  Insanity, much of it drug related.  How many heroin and meth overdoses does he see?  Far too many.  We all know that.  BUT WHY?  Why do people turn to drugs?  How often is it because reality if far too painful to take?  Physically and emotionally.  It is easier to escape the pain through drugs, than it is to actually face it or to fight it another day.  So much is personal choice.  I am not debating that.  But, what if they knew that there was a whole WORLD standing in their corner.  How many people would choose to send a text for help or support knowing that someone would answer it?  How many parents feel their hands are tied because they can't reach their kids?  How many spouses see the loves of their lives vanish into an addiction, but for fear and shame don't reach out for help?  How many kids have built walls because alcohol has drown their parents and they can't do it another time, they can't excuse the hateful comments that come from the V.O. and not the parental unit?  How many lives are taken because the world has told them they should not feel the way they do, look the way they do? How much anger is the immigration debate bringing out - the HATEFUL spewings remind be of the images taught in my Civil Rights unit. All of this easier  It is easier than facing judgement another day or living in fear of what change might bring.  What if we looked at the world through the lens love and compassion instead of fear and hate?  What if instead of putting ourselves up on a pedestal, telling the world how our way is the right way, we just did what we would hope someone would do for us?

Sorry for such a serious Weekend post, I am sleep deprived and had way too much time to think. However, perhaps we need to spend more time thinking, of  how we can make this world a better place, without passing judgement.  Instead of focusing on what we that makes us different, focus on our humanity that brings us all together.  Instead of focusing on who someone might love, focus on just being loving.  Instead of talking about what we don't like, focus on what is amazing and build up from there. At some point we have to make a decision to make this a better place as opposed to what we think is right or fair.  Cycles are perpetuating hate and anger and hunger and fear.  We must find away to break this spiraling pathways to hate or things will only get worse. The pursuit of happiness will become more of a myth of a bygone era. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Some Enchanted Evening

Our second Muppet was born on our 4th anniversary.  I knew that was going to happen from the moment we got our EDD - Sept 13.  I knew he would be an anniversary present.  It was the worst delivery, scarred me forever, but he was so worth it.  But, it has meant that we gave up our day, for all these years.  Until this year.  
The day before our anniversary, he was acting weird.  I couldn't go pick up a Harley-Davidson jacket that I bought off of Craigslist and I could not run to school in the morning.  I knew something was up, but he really did good.

It started with roses being delivered...on our pre-anniversary.  The kids were outside and came along as a  squealing escort  to the door.  With my makeup just begun - so attractive.

Hmmm, reservations at 7?  He gave me too much of a clue and I guessed the first time.  But, oh, such an indulgent treat!!

From there we had to be somewhere downtown by 9pm.  He was very clear that it had to be 9pm.   We parked at the firehouse, of course. Hmmm,came up to the Pabst theater...but kept walking.  We were waiting by the PAC and Phantom is in town, but 9 is not a time for a show to begin.

A carriage ride through downtown, of course!! So wonderful.  Nick, the beautiful percheron steed of the evening was a wonderful tour guide and Carla, his owner was so much fun to talk to.  It was a lovely evening!!  And it ended all too soon, but I loved every minute of it.

From there, we went to my favorite dueling piano bar.  Again, so much fun.  

He could not have planned a perfect evening if he tried!  My Prince Charming planned the most ideal Enchanted evening.  It was the most romantic night.  Not too shabby for a silly fireman! ;)

Monday, August 4, 2014

48s Then and Now

At one point he was gone soo much,
they wanted to make him a welcome home sign!
My first 48 nearly killed me.  And for the next year or two they were a point of contention.  The kids were miserable, I was not confident enough in myself too handle everything by myself. And everything that could go wrong, did. And...I was just not what I had envisioned.  It was not what I had prepared myself for.

Now, totally different story.  Things will still go wrong, because it is a 48.  And I do find myself with a grumpy instant response when he asks about a 48,  even though there is no need for that.

But, I enjoy the time without him.  I am not sure if that is bad, but I enjoy my time and not feeling guilty about watching what I want or working on this blog or watching Doctor Who with the muppets.  I enjoy not having to be quiet when I wake up.  I have even learned to enjoy having the whole bed to myself.  
I was making the bed...emphasis on was...
If you would have asked me about that four years ago, I would have laughed...and then cried.  I would have gone into my room and cried because I felt like such a failure.  Like I had let the universe down because I was not adjusting to this new life with a seamless transition.  Instead, it is more like a learning experience.  I learned what I could handle - which is more than I thought possible.  I learned that I can say no, and if the world doesn't like it, they can either accept it or take the next exit.  I am still working on implementing this, but I am better at it than I was.  I learned that I can enjoy the candles in my bedroom and the calm that they bring, with my Nook and a drink, even when he is gone.  And that it is okay.  I have learned that laundry can wait until he is home to help and I can teach my girls how to through a football and baseball and skateboard, without feeling like I am stepping on his territory.  I have learned to embrace these 48s.  This is my time to be me. To me mom.  To enjoy the perks of being a firewife.

I did not marry and firefighter.  Many local firewives giggle at this blog and my FD t-shirts that I have accumulated through photography and social media...and firewife friendships.  But all of this has helped me to reach this place of contentment.  I have accepted that I may just be an introverted extrovert...that needs this time alone.  And that is okay.

Tomorrow he comes home from his 48.  Last night he was on the box and ran all day and all night.  Tonight he is actually at the engine he is assigned to, weird, really. My girls are at my in-laws and boys and I are bonding.  Life is good.

Friday, August 1, 2014

In Sickness and In Health

Apparently I took those vows a bit too seriously.  And I worry that I am pushing my limits.

My health appears to the rest of the world to be lovely and sunshiney.  But, my insides are so goofed up, I scare most doctors and hence the reason why I stay with my docs so long once they been vetted.

Blood pressure, brain damage, strokes, cancer scare after scare, pregnancies that nearly killed me, periods from hell that led me to anemia and Raynaud's Phenomenon that leaves my hands blue and my toes numb. He has been here with me through it all.  He has held my hair through the morning sickness and taken me on a city wide search for mittens and hand warmers in April because my hands were so bad.

This round of trials was no different.  He held done the homefront and took care of the laundry while I was in the hospital.  He has been amazing.  My FF took city owed trades, which threw him into 48s,  he kept the kids quiet so I could sleep the day away and he sat with me in the hospital, each and every time. 

I don't give him enough credit for how amazing he is.  I find myself being too worries about the day to day stuff that consumes us if we are not careful.  While he is definitely the man taking care of the big picture.  J was amazing with the muppets and wonderful about running interference when I needed to sleep.

He did all of these feats of valor and patience, without complaint and always with a smile.  There is nothing better that I could ask for.

Last month, you know the week after I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary emboli, we had a funeral to attend in his hometown.  I had every reason to say we couldn't go and he had every reason to talk me out of it. The funeral was for the phenomenal teacher I student taught under at the high school level.  He was an amazing gentle giant and the teacher I am continuing to strive to be.  J took me up there, tending to my needs as we waited in the winding line to see his amazing wife, Grace.  He was patient as I struggled to breathe from standing a loving when I asked to stop for some selfies at all of the places that took us in our early life to where we are now.  They were all on the way home and he obliged, while still monitoring my breathing. No lectures, no eye rolls, all with a smile. 

Our Romance in Four Pictures or Less... First comes love, then comes marriage...


Simply put, this is my moment to gush.  Our rule with the kids is that if we fight in front of them we need to make up in front of them.  This is along those same lines.  If I am going to fuss when he drives me looney, I have to brag when he proves, once again, what an amazing husband, father and friend he truly is.  

He is the love of my life, in times of plenty and in want, for better or for worse.  The last sixteen years have been an amazing journey.  I can't wait to see what the next 50 bring us.  Happy anniversary to the most amazing man, teacher, father, and friend.  

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