Sunday, June 3, 2018

Upgrade complete

We made it through upgrade training. I always knew that A had the skills, but I admit there were times I didn't think we were going to make it. The stress of upgrade threw him into a major gout flare up and when he set off for the first two weeks of class and sims, he could barely use one of his arms. But he persevered and made it through. And then he would come home and try to one up me on the stress levels (as if, I work full time, have three kids at home, and manage our home, our health, our extracurricular activities while he went to class 9-5 and slept alone in a hotel room...). His first trip out ended with a dropped trip and left him with only 13.5 hrs of CA time, so he had to do a second trip to finally get signed off. And this second trip made up for everything the first trip didn't have- 4 and 5 leg days, cancellations, delays, the works. But it's done! So much for prime vacations and schedules, we are back at the bottom of the list. A has three weeks of vacation to take this year, but it's all during the fall, when the kids are in school and the weather is hot and humid here and cold in the rest of the US. This upgrade is huge to us though because we have been struggling along financially having two kids in daycare and another in extended day at school. It's still worth it for me to work (After 7 years, A finally brings home more than I do again!) but I'll tell you, it's been a struggle. Especially with 2 12 week maternity leaves in three years. A could have gone to upgrade class sooner, like 6 months ago. I don't know why he didn't, but it's moot now. At least we will have some breathing room now, although there are no dream vacations in our near future. I know for a while I will see him even less, as he spends 5 days away on reserve at base. Hopefully he can learn to work the system and get himself home more. But with the way people are leaving, either to the majors or lateral moves, he should move up in seniority smoothly. We're outsourcing lawn care and housekeeping so we can have time to just be when he is home, instead of frantically trying to cram chores in. I guess this means we've made it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Finally There?

The day has finally come and A reported in for upgrade training. What was an 18-24 month upgrade back when he started turned into an 11 year journey. But he’s there. He is worried about making it through but for years the trainers and check airmen he’s flown and trained with have told him he’s ready. So for this week and next he’s at the schoolhouse. I know many pilots go into study mode ahead of time for training events and get really stressed out- but not A. He remembers best from hearing things, not reading, so reading a manual would do nothing for him. And he can visualize the mechanics like no ones business. So he just shows up and stuns everybody else when he arrives and never writes anything down. So far he says everything is going well.

Last week A was at union meetings all week. They met with ALPA leadership, the company CEO, and several other important players. They are going into contract negotiations so talked a lot about that. It’s intetesting, A being ‘the ALPA dude’ in base now. He gets a lot of ‘I like you A, I voted for you, but what the hell are you doing for us’ kind of comments. And a frw’you tell management I said...’. If these people are so disgruntled, why aren’t they volunteering themselves? A says he used to wonder the same thing- what are those guys doing- now he knows. And is bound by confidentiality.

Things on the home front are. They just are. Manageable (barely), tolerable (mostly), busy (always).  Youngest brother (2.5) finally had the awareness that dad comes and goes and has started asking about dad when he’s gone. Not crying for him (yet), but asking for him. And now both boys fight over who gets to talk to Dad on FaceTime first. I swear sometimes I wish we didn’t have that technology and we were limited to a 5 minute call at long distance rates. But it is sweet that even Baby Girl recognizes he daddy’s face and voice when he calls.

Just like always, we’ll make it through. But it is nice to finally be not just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but actually near the end of the tunnel!

Friday, March 30, 2018


Spring is the season of change and rebirth, especially this year for us. In March, A finally had his interview for the pilot flow through program thing between his regional and a major. We've been looking forward to it and it's been in the works for a while. He took the personality test portion what feels like forever ago but kept missing the interview sign-ups because he doesn't check his company email daily. Approved pilots are pulled out of the program in seniority order and they aren't near his number yet, but it's nice to have the interview portion out of the way as well. That required an overnight stay out of town. He has done well and was approved for the program. Except for that pesky lack of a 4 year degree thing. We recently found out that they will let you get all the way into the process and then at the "final review" hold your application. A is still convinced that they have hired some without the degree so we are pressing on. We are still held up on spending the time and money for a BS in professional piloting. It would be the quickest route, but probably the least useful for fallback skills. Which is why he would need to get a degree in the first place. As if a degree is going to magically change him from the guy who interviewed. So it remains to be worked out.

We also just took advantage of his last vacation time that was at a time we needed. We have been lucky that for the last several years, he has been able to take vacation to be home during spring break and summer vacation. Seniority does that. But now with upgrade around the corner, who knows. Although the company is hemorrhaging pilots so a trade may be available yet. We didn't do anything fancy, but did have some family come to visit. And he played househusband with our 7 year old in tow.

Just a few more weeks until upgrade training. ITS FINALLY HERE! I can tell A is stressed about it, but I think he'll be fine. He's never had any kind of trouble in training classes- not initial training or retraining when he hadn't flown for two+ years. We'll make it through the same as we always have.

My biggest boy, Kidzilla, is about to be 16 this weekend. I can't believe it. Although he no longer lives here with us, we see him regularly and keep updated. He'll be here for a visit this summer again. I can't believe he's grown so big and looks like a teen. I still remember being in the hospital with him, our first playgroup, the time a Cracker Barrel he ate all the shrimp tails with the shrimp... It's been amazing to watch him outgrow me- physically, in math, and as a primary caretaker. I hope that we are able to maintain our good relationship and he continues on the path he is currently on.

Here's to all that the Easter Bunny can bring!

Monday, March 5, 2018

The difference between mom and dad- # 546

A is totally the Disneyland dad at our house. He sweeps in and either surprises the kids at school/daycare or slips in overnight. He plays with the kids so I can clean and do laundry. He gets sent to all the birthday parties, soccer tryouts, and scout events. He works on the big school assignments and I take care of the daily homework. It works out for us this way because by the time he gets home, I just want a break from the kids. And he is more creative on projects than I am- after college, graduate school, and a 10 year career in summer camps and educational events I am DONE with crafts, poster boards, dioramas, decoupage and anything involving building with dry pasta. But A, he will tackle it once assigned.

Most recently, the biggest little kid came home with a project to research and animal and create a habitat in a shoe box. I immediately passed on the project and assigned it to A to assist in completing. All went well until we realized on Sunday night that it was not due AFTER the following weekend, when they had planned to complete it, but the Friday before. And A was gone Monday-Friday. Which meant I had to finish up the project. On top of the regular homework, chores, lunch making, and dinner feeding that normally occurs on a weeknight. A did the leg work, decided on an animal with S and bookmarked some websites for research. All went well until we had to go hunt down a plastic replica of our animal for the habitat. Which entailed me driving around town, in commute traffic, with three kids in tow, to multiple stores looking for a specific animal. Which might not have been so bad if it was the weekend and just the A and S. But it was a pain. And I admit, there was some moaning and complaining on my part. But, the animal was found, painted the appropriate color with some nail polish (see, everyone needs green and orange nail polishes at some time in their lives!) and placed in the appropriate habitat.

It made me realize how differently we approach projects. Upon finding out the assignment, I, the ever practical, tactical, long range thinking mom, would have instantly cataloged my brain Rolodex for animals and habitat items we have on hand, calculated the easiest to assemble project and then gently steered S toward that animal. A on the other hand, immediately thought "hmm, what's the coolest animal we could do?" Without regard to what we had on hand or how hard the items might be to come by.

Thank goodness we each have unique strengths, otherwise each of our kids would be doomed to turning in the same projects each time they were assigned as they progressed through the grades. And no one would be wearing clean clothing.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Spreading wings

A is off at a union training this week. He’s spending the whole week at the headquarters in trainings and being wined and dined. There was an opportunity for spouses to attend as well, but really, who am I going to find to watch three kids for a week. Plus I’m still nursing baby girl. Plus I’m out of time off right now due to maternity leave. So maybe another time. But he says he is learning a lot. I can’t wait for him to come home and tell me how tired he is after sleeping alone, undisturbed, in a hotel room and not having any early shows and late finishes...

He has about 9 weeks left before he finally goes to upgrade class.  Being gone for training and back on reserve is going to be a big change for us. But it’s a step that is very needed and well overdue on several fronts. I think A is actually a bit nervous about a big training event. Even though he did fine at his most recent training event. But before he goes there, he’s finally scheduled an interview with the big dogs. It’s through a quasi-flow through type program with his airline but an interview is an interview. And moving to a legacy would change our lives.

We have friends from church whom the husband was recently diagnosed with cancer. We have brought dinner and generally reached out to provide support. But the thought of cancer STILL brings up anxiety in me. I don’t think it will ever go away. Blessedly, we are all healthy and the kids are growing well. Baby girl has gained 9 pounds in her first six months and recently had the honor of modeling a onsie with A’s company logo; the same one her two older brothers have worn.

Happy weekend!