Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Making headway

A got a call from Crew Services today with his base assignment. And of course, since we live on the east coast, he's been assigned to a base on the west coast. No word on when his LOFT or IOE are going to be- that's Crew Scheduling's responsibility and Crew Services can't give us that info...

So what's it mean to us? For now, M and I are going to stay put here in FL. There are rumors swirling about that there will be a new east coast base opening within a year, possibly where we live now. So in order to avoid the major disruption of moving twice, we're staying put until we find out the validity of said rumor. In the long run, we hope to live in base to avoid commuting hassles. And while it would be nice to move in a westerly direction, back towards friends and family, west coast living just isn't finanacially feasible and our QOL wouldn't be nearly so high. So for now, he'll be commuting and we'll be "exploring our options".

A has a friend in So Cal who has offered her couch as a free crashpad through the end of the year. Free is free so I think he's going to take it. It will give him a place to stay until he gets settled in the area and will free up income for important things like payroll deductions for uniforms and chart bags. He's known her longer than he's known me, so if something were going to happen between them, it would have happened already. He knows my thoughts about it and I'm not really concerned.

For now, we are just enjoying our time together. Took a 3 day trip to Atlanta for the long weekend, something we haven't been able to do since we moved here due to schedule constraints. And now it's back to real life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Returning to normal or some semblance thereof...

A did make it home Saturday after all. Even managed to get his ID before he came home so he could use the crew line for security and jump seat on a few flights while he's waiting for his IOE. No idea yet how long he'll be home with us or where he'll be assigned once he officially starts. Right now is the rush to figure out all the new hire stuff, direct deposit, how to avoid the seemingly endless emails from ALPA, how to bid and all the other tasks that come with starting at a new company.

It's been nice to have him home, but it has taken some getting used to on both our parts. He wakes up at 2:30am and panics because he thinks he's late for his sim time. All he dreams about is flying RJ's and emergency procedures. The arms still fly up reaching for controls when I bump into him at night. He's so unused to having free time and not being directed by scheduling or a syllabus of checklists to cram that he spent an entire day doing nothing b/c he didn't know what to do first. We realized that now that his friends have also been hired away by airlines that he has few friends left in town to hang out with. An hour after he came home I told him to go back to IAH because I was already tired of him and his opinions. I'm bristling at having to share the absolute power in decision making for the household. We have different ideas of what we want to do on friday night, Memorial Day weekend, after dinner. Sometimes being relieved of childcare duties leaves me feeling left out, instead of freed up.

But it's also been so sweet to just be able to hang out with him again. Listening to the giggles coming from the bedroom while I'm in the shower, walking hand in hand after dinner down by the river, having him tell me how much he missed sleeping next to me. Being able to have conversations with another adult about things is priceless. So we work through the tough spots and enjoy the tender ones.

Next month we'll be attempting to non-rev out to a family wedding in the mid-west. With 2.5 months of seniority. I'm doing my best to maximize our chances of actually getting on. I've non-reved all my life, but I was born into 12+ years of seniority, so this will be a first for all of us. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Woke up to a text message this morning from A saying he had made it through. Sent him a congratulatory text message back and promptly fell back asleep for another two hours. So now he's done except for the LOFT portion, supposedly to take place Sunday am. Rumor has it that they are rescheduling LOFT's for father out, so he MAY be able to come home as early as tonight. Good news except that preping for that means running the wild dogs out of the house and washing some clothes so I can show up at the airport in something a little nicer than a burlap sack. I've been a little lazy this week...

I'm working on infusing some Zen into the whole situation. He'll be home when he gets home and until then I should enjoy every day as it comes. I never know what it will bring

Thursday, May 17, 2007


First A was supposed to have his LOFT on Sunday morning and come home that evening. Then the sim broke and they got a day behind. And his partner ATR'd which may put him another day behind. And now because of the delays, he's got a new instructor for his session 7, recommendation ride tomorrow morning (2:30am sharp). He certainly is being put through the paces in handling stress with all this.

He's tired, he wants to come home, I want him to come home. Every time I start counting down the days, more days get added. It's frustrating to say the least. I may have to run down to the airport and get a big whiff of av gas to remember what he smells like. At least it would block out the choking smoke blanketing the city due to the rampant fires burning north, east and south of us.

Monday, May 14, 2007


We are in the homestretch for training. Only 5 days until A comes home to stay (for a few weeks at least). Part of me can't believe we've made it though 7 weeks of this. The other part of me thinks- duh, of course you did, was there any question?

Poor A is finally getting sick. It's kind of a wonder he made it this far without. I'm sure the combo of insane hours, multiple people in and out of the sims, unhealthy restaurant food and stress all contributed. But knowing that he is at the end and can come home to recuperate keeps him going. He said his last eval ranked him "above average". Hearing that puts a smile on my face.

While I'm excited for him to come home, his dropping in and out is disrupting to the schedule that M and I have created. It's hard to go from being the only parent, having executive privilege in making decisions, to having to weigh someone else's opinions. And I'm a little disappointed to be giving up the closet space I've been accustomed to in the past few weeks. I know it's as hard for A to drop in as it is for us, so I try to make it easier for all of us. A does his best as well, taking over running errands, doing daycare drop-off/pick-up and anything else I need (ie. don't want to do). Yes, his days here are his days off and he deserves some time to relax, but my weekends off are consumed with business as well. It's not fair to be excused from contributing just because your day off is a Tuesday or because you work far away. Luckily, A is just as committed to making this work and I can be a very persuasive girl ;) It's hard to come out and admit that I'm not 100% excited for him to come home; not exactly the homecoming anyone wants. But we've talked about it already and he's prepped for a possible cold shoulder for a day or two. I'm open to advice on this one- how to integrate the frequent comings and goings with my own desires to be the one in charge and him feeling detached from our lives, balancing letting him be a parent with watching the disaster when things get out of sync.

My parents announced that they were coming out to FL for M's preschool graduation. Good news because a) we haven't seen them since the wedding in Dec. and (more importantly) b) M will happily stay with them in a hotel room, allowing A and I to have some time to ourselves. Outside of a few evenings out at the bar, we haven't been alone since our honeymoon. Certainly nothing so extravagant as an entire night alone. M will be spending 4 weeks with his father in CA this summer, so we're looking for that "aloneness extravaganza" as well.

Something that annoys me lately- that the training department thinks that telling the hotel staff to tell trainee's to go to another hotel when they arrive is ok. Really. They can't be bothered to call the 16 trainees to let them know? Shoot them an email? Isn't that what they have interns for? Being told to show up at Hotel A and being told by them to go to Hotel B just doesn't instill confidence in organizational ability.

I count my blessing every day that we have come this far so easily. And I do my best to share the knowledge and experiences I've gained with other spouses. Someday I'm going to develop a Yoda complex.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Just life

Was up at 4am this morning to take A to the airport for his last training stint. It seems that no one can fold shirts as well as I do. A was stressed, running a little behind schedule, but we live close to the airport and it was early so everything worked out fine. But my eyes feel like sandpaper due to the lack of sleep (and the rampant forest fires causing a nice layer of smoke in the area). This last 10 days has been a whirlwind, with him home after 16 days away, then gone again, then home again and now gone again for the last 12 or so days. This block will be the training in the full motion sims and he's got the fantastic 2:30am to 9am shift. I told that at least if he could function well to pass at 2:30am, then he'll do fine on a 10am flight. he's bummed that he's going to miss out on the free continental breakfast provided by the hotel every morning.

A called from Houston already this morning and said that it seems that the hotel has no reservations for him or anyone else coming from ExpressJet. This is a different hotel from where he's been for the previous 5 weeks. So he's currently stuck at the airport trying to get in touch with the training travel department to find out where he is supposed to go. We had an inkling of an idea this would happen last night when his roommate called to tell him that he had called the hotel and was told the same thing. Hmmm, ALPA's going to have a field day with this one if it turns out that there are no hotel reservations. All A wants is to be able to get some sleep before his session thursday am.

A told me that he's started to read this blog more often now. He wanted me to update and say that they did in fact finally get to do the cabin training evacuation stuff :)

Twice in the last 10 days, we've had conversations about him feeling so disconnected from our lives. I tell him about conversations I've had and he has no idea who the person I'm talking about is. I tell him about things we've done and he feels left out. He's been so deep in training that he has no idea what's going on in the world. It's hard for him. He comes home for a few days off and is torn between resting and getting done what needs to be done. He doesn't have enough time for both. I have to give him credit for trying though. Hopefully things will get better when he's not away from us for such long stints.

It's hard for me to get sympathy from friends as well. When ever I make mention of missing him or having to do it all myself, all I get is "Well you knew what you were getting into". Well, yeah, I did. But I'd still like some recognition that I have a hard life sometimes. I have a few friends who have long distance relationships. They see their boyfriends less often, but for longer blocks of time. They say to me "well, you see him more often than I do". Yes, that's true. But when you see yours, you are on vacation and can focus on just him. A comes home and I still have to go to work, make sure we have enough milk and clean laundry and do all that other day to day stuff. I think that being in a transition right now makes it harder. Once he's settled and has some regularity in his life, things will ease up. But right now it's hard- end of training and we are all getting worn down.

I did get a boost to my flagging spirits yesterday when A gave me some Mother's Day gifts. I was so suprised because they were great things that I never thought about getting. He used his per diem money to get a gift certificate for a local spa and an Ipod Shuffle. I don't know which one I am more excited about using.

Counting down the days until the end of training...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Thoughts on training with a family in tow

In response to a question on JC about going through training with a family in tow, I posted this-

Been there, done that about this time last year actually. We were in Jax, did the PPL and then the ACPP and instructing. It really wasn't all that bad. Our son was 3-4 during all this.

Here's some things that kept us sane:

- Studying had to be done outside of the house- at the airport, partner's house, library, apt. clubhouse. If he was home, it was too easy and distracting for all of us. I didn't care how long he was out studying,I knew there was a lot he had to learn, as long as when he was home he was ours. There really was no place for him to study in solitude at our apt. anyway and Kidzilla wouldn't have been able to leave him alone (with a younger kid this might not be a problem). Occasionally he was able to get in some study time when everyone else was sleeping.

- Some time had to be carved out for family each week. Didn't have to be daily, but we tried to go out to breakfast every sunday so we had some special family time. Ignoring your family completely is a sure path to an unhappy wife who will make your life miserable.

- Divide up tasks appropriately. I knew I couldn't expect him to be home helping with dinner every night, but he was still expected to pitch in. Gas stations and the dumpster are open 24 hrs, so are the library drop off bin and the post office... We divided up who was resposible for what so that I didn't feel like I was stuck with EVERYTHING. But I knew going into it that I was going to have to take on a large majority of household running.

- Aviation gets left at the door. Really, I don't give a crap about windspeed and weight and balance sheets. Airport gossip was another thing entirely though...

-Make a list of local "family" things to do. We keep a list on the fridge and whenever we have some family time, it's easy to find something special to do. It's all too easy to sit and home and waste the day. I refer to it when it's just me and Kidzilla to keep us busy too.

-Get your wife to join jetgirls.net. It's a great support group of other pilot wives.

I may come off as a harda$$ with my "rules" but they really did help us out and everyone who knows me or A-dub knows I'm not really that way. I see it as protecting my investment- in both his flying and our family.

-Make sure you tell your wife how much you appreciate her. For leaving whatever she had to leave behind so you could do this, for supporting you in attaining your goal, for keeping everything running smoothly while you are occupied... Just a little "thank you for being so good to me" goes a long way. Hearing about how you would rather be at home than in a hot, sticky, cramped seminole with a flight partner who forgot to pack his deoderant and snores like a freight train for your 4 day cross country makes us feel like at least your sacrifice is equalling ours.
And our son thinks that the pens/pencils/soaps/ etc picked up from different FBO's along the way are the greatest treats ever.

I've noticed in the last few months, that our son will ask mama's permission or for help for things, even when Dad is sitting right there. Not sure if it comes from my being the stable one in his life- before the divorce he's too young to remember, when we were alone and now- or from A being away from home so much flying and training. Probably a little of both. When A is home, I always remind M, "there are two adults here, you don't always have to ask mama for everything, dad can help you too". After a few days of A being home, M gets used to asking him again too, but there is still, always, a 3:1 ratio of requests to mama vs. A.

I think a lot of the topics can also carry over to managing a family for a professional pilot. The same time/distance/mind occupation are still obstacles to overcome. It's still important for both partners to help out with what they can and both to feel appreciated for their contributions and sacrifices...

A's been home yesterday and today. Returns to IAH tomorrow and come homes again 3 days later. It's been nice to have him home, he's been extra cuddly lately, but at the same time, it's hard to adjust to not being the adult in charge anymore. And he's a cover stealer...