Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aviation Stew

A random collection of aviation thoughts all piled into one post

I've got a new entry in my quest to document all things aviation in popular culture. I found a little known, never played on the radio song by Brad Paisley called If Love Were A Plane. It's sweet. Although any woman worth her salt knows it's an Ogilvie Home Perm not an Oval V Home Perm.

A is plagued by dreams of flying jets and not having a medical. Either he is flying and then remembers he has no medical or he sneaks on a plane despite having no medical. And recently he had a dream about being in the left seat of an RJ and somehow getting lost, off the taxiway and tooling around- in the jet- in the mall parking lot. He said he was more concerned about the company finding out they lost their takeoff slot, but if they could just get back to the airport no one would know they had ever gotten lost. It was quite funny as he was describing it to me.

A also got a call yesterday from the Base Administrator (ie, base office manager) checking in with him. This is the first we've heard from anyone outside the HR staff who handled the disability claim in nearly seven months. The administrator had in her notes that his tentative return to work date was 12/30 and since she hadn't heard from him, she assumed that he would be out for longer. He filled her in with a new tentative date, June/July 2009, and how things were going.

And finally, to appease the neatnik, precision oriented twin half of his personality (the opposite twin from Mr. Yappy McYappy, can't focus to get a chore done that I usually complain about and the one that serves him so well as a pilot), A bought himself a laser level. Now, not only can we be assured that all pictures will be hung straight and level, he can spend the day marveling at the poor craftsmanship of our current dwelling. And then he can yap about it to me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

He never lets me down

In true Gemini fashion, my husband can yap on and on and on about just about anything.

One sleepless night, I was treated to his impromptu outline of a 30 minute discourse on the paint on the walls. What's that rattle noise the car is making? Why, let him theorize. The difference between sneakers and athletic shoes? He's all over it. The other day I was treated to a 10 minute reminiscence/monologue/dissertation on the use of those old school stick on the windshield compasses.

Sometimes his charms overwhelm me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year End Meme

What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?
Took fertility drugs, helped A through cancer, applied to graduate school, and lived in a two story home.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
You know ... I can't remember if I made any or not. Or what they were if I did.

How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
If we can find a sitter, out on the town. Otherwise, probably in front of the TV with A and a bottle of champagne

Did anyone close to you die?
No, not even any relatives.

What countries did you visit?
San Francisco, in January. It's about as far from "the south" as one can get.

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Solvency. And to quit have bad news heaped on us.

What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day in March 6, when A had his surgery. Spending that day not knowing what the outcome might be was worse than the actual finding out he had cancer.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Staying calm, keeping our family together, and setting new goals.

What was your biggest failure?
Paying off debt.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just infertility

What was the best thing you bought?
The cushy, made in America king size bed

Where did most of your money go?
Rent, debt, medical bills

What song will always remind you of 2008?
I don't think we had a song this year

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exploring Jacksonville, using flight benefits while we had them

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Working, worrying

What was your favorite TV program?
America's Toughest Jobs

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. When I say I hate someone, it's usually a passing, 'of the moment' anger thing.

What was the best book you read?
I read a total of 102 books so far in 2008. They all had their merits.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Krishna Das- it's great background music

What was your favorite film of this year?
Hard to say. Expelled and Sex in the City come to mind

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
That was over 11 months ago. I think we just had dinner as a family. I turned 22 (again).

What kept you sane?
Probably knowing that I have to keep it together to keep my family going.

Who did you miss?
A few friends who live in CA.

Who was the best new person you met?
The girlfriend of a pilot friend of A's. We haven't hung out much, but I have high hopes

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Don't give up.

Christmas- photojournal style

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Baking

Kidzilla is wearing a cool retro apron I snagged from my parents- "I've got more time for lovin' since I got my microwave oven".

Monday, December 22, 2008

What happens at my house when I'm not there to supervise

Kidzilla is home with A for the next two weeks. I am working a few days this week and a few next week so today they are home alone. Random things seem to happen when I'm not home, such as:

A decided he couldn't stand the stitches in his face from his mole removal friday so he attempted to take them out himself (itself not an isolated occurance, he also removed Kidzilla's stitches onces). He couldn't get all of them out though, so he's waiting for me to come home and remove the "difficult" ones.

A and Kidzilla were in the car in a parking lot after some last minute shopping. A car honked at A and Kidzilla said to A "it's OK, I flipped them off for you".

A's Christmas gift from my parents came. He didn't realize that it wasn't wrapped and opened the box. Kidzilla took the box and hid it from A so he couldn't have it before the 25th.

I can't imagine what else is going to happen.

A's ultrasound the other day looked good at first glance. We are still waiting for the official review.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another day, another dr visit...

Today A has to go for a thyroid ultrasound to see if there has been any tissue regrowth. Although it's standard procedure and there's nothing that sparked a need for this, I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous just the same.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ALPA's got our back... if we fill out all the paperwork

A few months ago, ALPA, the AirLine Pilot's Association (AKA The Union) ran a series of articles in their monthly magazine about pilots who had been helped by ALPA services in disaster relief, accidents and medical issues. The article was titled "ALPA had my back".

A few weeks ago, a check arrived in our mailbox from ALPA for over $150. There was no note in the memo line and no note attached. Just a check. It arrived at 5:05 pm on a Friday afternoon. We had no idea what it was for and of course, it was minutes to late to call and ask (of course if they are like me, their representatives were lined up at the time clock at 4:55 pm and not at their desks anyway...). My immediate through was "oh god, A's been kicked out of the union because of that post I wrote about scholarships". I spent all weekend fretting about it and had A on the phone with them at 9:02am the following Monday. Turns out, despite all of the leave and dropped trip wrangling that was done in Feb/March to get A to his one year anniversary, he was declared by the union to still be an apprentice member. By two weeks. Yep, once he finally goes back, he'll have two more weeks to go until he's a full ALPA member. So the check we got was a refund for dues he's paid this past year. Thanks ALPA for the extra boost to our Christmas budget, but perhaps you could have enclosed a note?

The ALPA LTD (long term disability) insurance kicks in after one year of disability. Sadly, we are approaching that date and expect to be receiving benefits for at least a few months in 2009. I swear, filling out all of the disability paperwork for A is going to give me my own disability- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome! Form after form, one from this doctor, one from that doctor, one from HR, one from us, filled out in quadruplicate with a black pen (only!) with no more than a fine tip. For months I've thought we were done with the paperwork and only had to provide phone call check in's to the disability rep. Until I realized that A had failed to complete the ALPA paperwork and it had to be in by this month. After much yelling on my part and some driving around on A's, we finally got the paperwork in and can look forward to receiving a bit of additional income sometime after February. Thanks ALPA, for having our back. Even though it's taken a year and I've got a callous on my finger from filling out paperwork.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another check mark on the list

After months of avoiding studying and then cramming for the last three days, this weekend I finally took the GRE (graduate school entrance exam). It was hard. Even though I had worked through all of the workbook questions and some sample tests, the math portion still kicked my ass. But darn it, I got through it.

Seriously, it's not as though I use things like quadradic equations or FOIL (First, Outer, Inner, Last!) or have call to find the area of a circle in my daily life. As matter of fact, the only math I ever do is the basic add/subtract/multiply/divide kind, with a little bit of figuring percentages (40% off would make this skirt how much?) and probablility (what are the chances A will notice this charge on the credit card?). Hard things like figuring how much paint I would need to paint a room or how far can I get on $40 gas get pushed off on A; things like that are why I keep a man around.

The bad news is- I didn't score as well as I was hoping. I was about 40 points below where I wanted.

The good news- I still scored a full 80 points higher than the average GRE score for a Social Work candidate.

The even better news- I scored 110 points higher than the average on the verbal portion. In fact, I scored at least 60 points higher on the verbal than the average for ANY field taking the GRE. And that ain't bad!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What being laid off means to a family

It means:

putting off buying that newer car and sinking a couple thousand into keeping the clunkers you have running for a while longer instead.

shopping at consignment and thrift stores instead of chain and consignment stores.

switching back to conventional foods and products in place of the expensive but better for you organic versions.

wearing more sweaters and keeping the heater set at 60 instead of 70.

wondering if you made a mistake moving to the big new place that you love that is also more expensive.

having to make an extra effort to communicate with one another and not trying to hide emotions because keeping a positive attitude sometimes comes off as not caring.

putting your dreams and goals on hold, again.

November goal- accomplished!

One of my November goals was to cut down the amount of junk mail we receive, both in our names and in the names of the previous tenents at our place. So every day, I would send emails to the customer service departments at the companies who had sent me catalogs or flyers the day before requesting to be removed from the mailing list and for them not to share my name. It's been working so far and we getting less mail for sure. I finally hit the motherlode for reducing junk mail-, opting out from the Direct Marketing Association.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Quirks of a Pilot- # 523

When I pick Kidzilla up from afterschool care I sign him out in rounded numbers- 4:35, 3:50. As long as I've picked him up, the exact time doesn't matter. For A on the other time, exact time is always important. I chuckled to myself yesterday to see that last week A had signed Kidzilla out at 3:52 and 4:21 last week.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas shopping accomplished

I love me some Christmas. Decorations, presents, food, I love it all. And proudly, today I can announce that I am DONE with the shopping. Yep, everything is bought and hidden away where it should be. I came in mostly on budget. This week is the push to get the cards and gifts that need to be sent out. My only concern is that I had requested that Kidzilla's dad get him this years most requested toy (Lego Agents Mission 6-not 4 or 5, 6!) and I haven't heard back from him about whether he's OK with that. I figured that he'd get hero status for being the provider of that toy. I can already visualize the Christmas meltdown that will ensue if the ONE toy that Kidzilla has asked Santa for doesn't appear. Fingers crossed that he just forgot to reply to me.

A and I are doing alright otherwise. Heads are still spinning about what to do next but we'll get it figured out soon.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

An anniversary note to my husband

Our anniversary was last thursday. We celebrated by going to dinner at the B&B/Restaurant where we got married. And all the staff remembered us.

This anniversary marks:

4 years from the first time we met in person. It was a day full of egging each other on while ice skating, the $100 word challenge (equidistant vs obtuse), and getting to know each other. That first year was full of long distance driving, sharing special places and sharing dreams. It was a year of changes and new experiences for us both.

3 years from the day we got engaged. We relived our first date and you tested my patience by making me wait all day for the big question I knew was coming. You humored my obsession with neat and clean dates and gave me a proposal story I am proud to tell. That next year was full of a cross country move, intense training for you and making due with what we had.

2 years from the day we got married. You humored my aquarian side by agreeing to be married on a Monday, despite the logistical problems that brought on and my insistence on a blue dress. Our wedding exceeded all of my expectations and I will always treasure the memories. These past two years have been full of change of plans, difficult times and decisions and setbacks we never would have dreamed of. But through it all, we've been able to take everything as it came and still survive with love and humor. Everytime I think I've had enough, you come along with fresh sunshine to change my view.

Thank you for the past four years of happiness.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blog, Interrupted

Crud- midway through changing my template I got the call. A got let go from his consulting job with the flight school today. Our income has just been cut nearly in half. Happy Freakin' Holidays!

Leaving the template undone as I go hit the wine and whine instead.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crazy Eights

I was tagged by Nicole, so here goes.

Disclaimer- I'm a free spirited, non conformist Aquarius so my list won't look at neat as everyone elses...

8 Favorite T.V. Shows
(Seriously? I can't even think of one I watch on a regular basis and I couldn't tell you when any of these are actually on. I don't have any fancy TV channels; my cable bill is $14/month. I bet you didn't even know they had a plan that cheap.)

The Sopranos (working my way through the DVD series)
The Amazing Race
America's Toughest Job (now over)
How Weather Changed History
Storm Stories (Kidzilla loves watching this stuff...)
Girls Next Door
Whatever's on the Roku

8 favorite restaurants
The one that serves Panna Cotta
The one where we got married
The one that's not crowded on weekend mornings (does that exist?)
That fondue place in Berkeley
Mom and Dad's house
The one where Kidzilla behaves himself
The one that serves great desserts
The one that serves food quick
The one where I can hang out for hours with my friends and the waiter doesn't care

8 things that happened yesterday (Sunday November 23)
Taught religious education classes to middle schoolers (I know right, who'd a thunk it)
Did 6 loads of laundry
Went to Publix for laundry detergent
Started reading Ralph Nader's Seventeen Traditions
Ordered a Christmas present for Kidzilla
Bossed A around and guilted him into helping clean the house despite being sick
Watched an episode of The Sopranos
Took Kidzilla to the swimming pool to prove that it was too cold to actually go in

8 Things to Look Forward to
Warmer weather
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner
Getting presents for Christmas
12 days of vacation in a row
Getting back in school
Getting a new car
A getting back to work
Getting flight benefits back

8 Things I Love About Fall
Wearing all the winter clothes that have been put away all summer
Baking with Kidzilla
Curling up in the house all day
Seasonal food like Pumpkin Butter and Starbucks coffees
Not having to rake leaves
Less rain (that's just how FL weather works)
Knowing that it's warmer here than where most everyone else is
That my boss takes a lot of vacation

8 Favorite Places to Visit
Whole Foods Market
San Francisco
Folsom, CA
Table Rock Lake, MO
the beach
Anywhere involving an awesome road trip
Capri, Italy

8 Things On My Wish List
Education- complete my Master's and A finish his
Travel- being able to take an actual family vacation
Vehicle- A to get another motorcycle
Friends- feeling like I have a great circle of friends I can count on
Health- A getting a clean bill of health
Money- Our retirement accounts going up in value instead of down
Family- Having a baby

8 People that I tag
I want to tag all those people who read but never post a comment! Leave a comment (anonymously if you want) of 8 things about you.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I will buy or make A rhinestone shoulder bars. Because he is the guy who can carry them off with a straight face. Who wouldn't want to be married to FO Fresh?

And a link A finds hilarious (warning- adult content)-

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Returning to aviation life?

One of the biggest things that bothers me is that there is no end in sight for A's time off. We don't know when or if he'll be able to return to aviation. He's due for an evaluation in March and based on that, we'll be able to make some decisions and have some clarity. But it's so hard to make plans not knowing when/if he'll return to active work, where he might be based, reserve or hard line or if his company will go under and he'll be just another low time guy looking for a job. As a planner, it kills me not to know what to expect.

When he was diagnosed, A was given an approximately 20 year life expectancy. When you are in your thirties, that is a heartbreaking thing to hear. A may not even make it to retirement age. If we have a child, he may not be able to see it graduate from college. I may become a widow in my early 50's, when I am supposed to be hitting the golden years. Yes, I recognize that anyone could die at anytime, but for him, the likelihood is much higher. There is such an urgency to do things and get our life where we want it so that we can just enjoy. It tears me up inside to see A not able to fly and also to know how much time he has left; although I try not to engage in any kind of "count down" mentality, it's always in the back of my mind. Few people seem to really understand all the facets of this diagnosis.

On the bright side, at least we'll have the holidays together. Last year A was gone for Thanksgiving but came home the day after and guarenteed Christmas home when he broke his elbow. I will forever think of Thanksgiving in a negative light, as the precursor of the terrible time to come we had early this year. But I guess this month, we will truely have a lot to be thankful for.

We've got several anniversary type things coming up in the near future as well. I passed another milestone in blogging with 150 posts and two full years of blogging. Shortly after T-day is our anniversary- 4 years since our first date and 2 years of marriage. January brings 3 years in FL and also my birthday. February will mark a year since A left the line and got his diagnosis (and the ALPA LTD $ will finally kick in).

A's new mantra- Life, do it once, do it right

Friday, November 7, 2008

Watery deaths and my affinity for bling

I do not have a good history with cell phone longevity. Or electronics in general. Usually they meet a watery death within months. I've knocked at least three phones off of counters and into sinks or toilets. I lost the earbuds to my Ipod Shuffle when one popped out of my ear and right into my coffee. I promptly stole A's earbuds, which worked out fine because a short time later, I ended up running his Shuffle through the washing machine (in my defense, it was HIM who left it in the cargo pocket of his shorts). I've stepped on or dropped plenty of things too. Once something went into a pot of water I was boiling on the sink. I think something even flew out the window from our moving car one time.

So when A called me yesterday at lunchtime and my phone went straight to voicemail, he knew. Something was up and it probably was going to require a new cell phone. And he was right. 6 hours after taking it's final plunge and spitting out battery error messages as its death throes, it was gone. A did the smart thing though- he gave me his 2 year old LG ENV and got himself the brand new Motorola Krave (promptly exchanged for a LG Voyager). He couldn't get me to consent to carrying one of those idestructable phones though, because it's too heavy and can't be blinged up enough.

And on the topic of bling- I'm looking for the most gaudy, blinged out, tacky piece of airplane jewlery I can find. Like a gold/rhinestone plane the size of my fist with real spinning propellers on a giant gold chain. Along the lines of this, but with more ooommph. Post a link if you find something that fits the bill.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In honor of Election Day

I shy away from posting about politics. Although I do have my own views, I hate getting into political discussions, so I avoid them. But in honor of Election Day, here are a few political topics that came to me while staring into space, waiting for the phone to ring, while covering for the receptionist at work.

  • The greatest gift to lazy people like myself is Permanent Absentee Voting. It true, you can vote right from your armchair, on your own time, at 3am if you want to. As long as you get the ballot turned in on time. And it comes with free postage. No longer do I have to stand in line and show 5 forms of ID. I can't extoll the awesomeness enough! Google it and find out how to do it in your state.

  • I would totally move to Sweden if I could. Yeah, they pay tons in taxes, but their social policies rock- months of paid maternity leave, state sponsored child care and well paid teachers, nationalized health care, paid vacations even for Stay At Home Mom's, EU grade regulation of chemicals, pesticides, GMO's. But it's so damn cold there.

  • Republicans- they want less government regulation and government out of our personal life and family life. But yet they are OK with the government regulating what we can personally do with our bodies (ie abortion and right to die issues)? What about allowing big business (ie health care organizations) determine health care policies instead of letting us make our own care choices*. How can they be OK with regulation in some areas but not in others? Isn't that kind of hypocritical?

  • A's workplace union just had a vote on whether to agree to concessions on their contract to keep the company afloat. There was much debate about this on the pilot's forum and in pilot conference calls. It passed with something like 60% of the vote. I wonder, did people vote along traditional party lines for this vote? Did the democrats vote in favor of taking less money for the good of the company and the republicans vote against it with the rationale of "full pay to the final day. no one is taking away the pay raises we earned"? Have votes historically gone this way?

  • If I could have my way, I'd change two things. One, disallowing bill riders that have nothing to do with the bill they are attached to. So much crap is hidden in those that the public has no idea about. And two, paid lobbyists. Politicians should listen to their constituants and vote based on how things will effect their area of representation, not based on the nice dinner they got on behalf of the XYZ industry who has views opposite of what the populace wants.

*Interesting info on how insurance companies are influencing hospital policy and the health care we receive related to some of my favorite topics in this book, this book, this film, this book and the whole mandatory HPV vaccine mess.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Great moments in Parenting

Awards I should receive based on my some of my finest hours:

Meanest Mom/Parenting with Balls Award- For a week we were after Kidzilla to clean up his room. All week we told him that if his room wasn't clean by thursday night, he would not be trick or treating on friday and that we would take care of his toys for him if he wouldn't do it himself. Of course it came down to thursday evening and he flat out refused to do it. Was yelling "you can't make me" and all that other classic stuff. So we said "ok, you have made your decision. You understand what is going to happen tomorrow right". "I don't care".

So friday (which I happened to have off work), Kidzilla came home to a completely barren room. He had several books, a few math/puzzle workbooks, two pencils, a stuffed puppy and a foam headrest thing that A brought home from the hospital this spring. He cried and carried on, but accepted his decision. We stayed home and handed out candy to the 4 trick or treaters that came by and he even told A- "I made a bad decision".

I was pleasantly suprised that he did not end up pestering us to play with him all weekend, but managed to entertain himself with the meager offerings in his room. At one point he was wearing rain boots and playing soccer with the foam headrest- creativity at it's finest! I'm inspired to get rid of a bunch of toys, except that when I add up how much money was spent on them, I can't bring myself to do it. He's earning the toys back slowly, but really hasn't asked for too much yet. And he did get to do a bit of trick or treating at the Zoo the next evening.

The Oh No She Didn't Award- Kidzilla lost a tooth on friday afternoon. Of course I was completely unprepared and didn't have anything to leave as the tooth fairy. I don't know why I didn't plan ahead, it was obvious that the tooth was going to come out soon... So that evening, we told him that the Tooth Fairy probably already had her route planned out and that all orders had to be in by noon for pick up that day. She'd probably pick up his tooth on Saturday night instead of friday. It worked, he believed it and wasn't too heartbroken when she didn't come. Saturday was a busy day and neither A or I had an opportunity to stop by the bank or post office to pick up a gold dollar coin. So I put Kidzilla in the tub and while he was splashing around A raided his piggy bank for the gold dollar from the last time he lost a tooth. We found it and it did it's job. Kidzilla was happy and all was good. It's all about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at our house...

Naming Genitalia Award- A and Kidzilla are quite creative in naming their boy parts. I swear, every day they've got some new term. Bazonga, beziner, walnuts 'n almonds, lollypop and jellybeans... Everytime I think I've heard them all, I hear a new one. I think it's a boy thing, because I don't remember being like this.

Identifying Hypocrisy Award (AKA pointing out things they don't want to hear award)- I gave A a deadline of Nov. 1 to get his Xmas list to me. I don't like waiting until the last minute and usually have all shopping done by Dec. 1. Today is the 3rd and I don't have it yet. I told him I was going to cancel his Christmas since he didn't meet the deadline, much like we had canceled trick or treating. What's good for the goose is good for the gander right?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lies in the name of love told recently in our household

Me to Kidzilla- "sure, I would love nothing more than to spend time with you and take you to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua."

Me to Kidzilla- "wow, that sure was a great movie. I'd love to reenact it with your stuffed puppies."

A to me- "Honey, I don't mind that you spend $600 on shoes this week. I know how much you wanted some new shoes."

Me to A- "That 6 hour training that starts at 8am on Saturday will be totally worth the effort. And much better than taking 3 6 year olds roller skating."

Kidzilla to me- "Mom, I got you this candy. And look, one for me just jumped in my hand too."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thinking of others today

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day-

One and a half years ago we suffered from our own loss. So to those of you out there- I hear you, I know what it's like, the pain will lessen one day, even if it never disappears.

Other parenting tidbits to share:

News on my mind

Ohhh, aviation news in MY part of the world! Not sure what to think of this yet- legit or slow news day? We have an aquaintance who does ATC at this center. Have to ask my pilot's opinion of the whole incident.

And also, we have heard that the government plans to auction off take-off and landing slots at ERW (Newark, NJ) due to overcrowding and constant delays. Which will in turn spell the end of RJ's at that airport and probably disaster for a few small airlines. Big airlines aren't going to fork out massive amounts of money just to have small airplanes fly in, they are going to want the most bang for their buck. And the reduction in flights on small planes will mean the reduction of service to smaller communities.

Oil prices have come down again to the point that if A's branch of his airline had not folded, they would have been making money (the break even point we heard was about $110/barrel). It's a shame they couldn't have held out a few more months until the price of oil fell again. I wonder if the CEO thinks the same thing...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Things about me

To clarify- it wasn't the pregnant friend who asked me to host the shower, it was a mutual friend of ours. I'm sure she just didn't think about how I would feel about it. I am very excited for my friend though, despite my own disappointment in myself- both in my own failure to concieve and in my jealousy.

I'm well on my way to becoming one of those moms who has an overscheduled kid. But it's all stuff he's requested to do, so I don't feel THAT bad. Twice a week afterschool is dance- it's free through the school. Friday mornings is choir, before school (yawn). All I have to do is add in drama and we'll hit the trifecta and he'll be ready for Broadway or a boy band in no time. Then, once a week in the evening is Cub Scouts. That I also got volunteered to be a leader for (because I can't stand incompetent leadership...). Kidzilla also wants to take up a sport, but I just don't have the time or energy (or interest, frankly) to shuttle him one more place.

There's a new song on the radio that I have a love/hate relationship with- Just A Dream. (Nevermind the coincidence that somehow I started listening to country music when I moved to FL) Every time I hear the song it makes me think what if. What if A had died from his cancer? What if he does? I think it hits especially since the song is about a love that was cut short and A and I have only been together for a short time ourselves (not quite 4 years). There is still so much that we want to do. The song always invokes visions of uniformed pilots at a funeral for me. Even though I continue to belt it out in the car when ever it comes on the radio.

Feeling so strongly about this still makes me wonder if I've really come to terms with everything. Have I overblown the cancer? Tried too hard to keep it smaller than it really was? I would find myself a support group, but I know I will just end up annoyed with the other people. I know that A has dealt with it even less than I have, to the point now of almost pretending it didn't happen. The scar and pain have healed, so it's much easier to do that now. And the expectation of being able to return to work in the future.

This weekend I need to work on being greatful for what I have. How do I write that task in my planner?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another day

Well, after the last, depressing post, I feel like I should post something more upbeat.

The trip to Tallahassee was interesting. For a state capital, it really wasn't that great. No golden statues, no sweeping rotundas, just a bunch of non-descript, grey buildings and a lot of might-be homeless people hanging around. In a ranking of state capitals I have been to I'd have to rank it 4th of 4. Kidzilla was terribly excited about staying in a hotel and we had quite a debate about who was going to sleep where in the two double beds. He was a great trooper during our campus tours, department meetings and just general driving and looking around. Things are looking positive for going back to school.

A and I were talking about one of the great debates in aviation employment. Why do major airlines (the big ones) all require a college degree? Especially when it doesn't even have to be an aviation related degree. A degree in economics isn't going to help you much while flying across the Atlantic Ocean. But maybe it will be of some use in calculationg the exchange rate when you get there... That business degree isn't going to be of much use in running an engine failure checklist. A has come to the point where he needs to upgrade his A.S. degree for a B.S. so he has the opportunity to move up in the aviation world. So now we debate if its better to go the easy route and get a degree in professional aviation that will be useless upon furlough or the harder route of getting an unrelated degree he'll hopefully never have to use. And how to manage to take classes with such a variable schedule.

This weekend I am stuck hostessing a baby shower for a friend. While I am happy for her, I have to wonder- who in their right mind asks a woman struggling with infertility to hostess a baby shower? Really. Did I give the impression that I was happy about my own inability to conceive and wanted to celebrate someone else's apparant ease at it? I can't wait for this to be over.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting bumped

Time finally caught up to A and he got notice that he had to turn in his airline ID badge and SIDA (security area acess)badge. He knew he was supposed to have turned it in when he stopped flying, but because it was one of the few tangible pieces he had from working for the airline, he held on to it. The tags resided on his dresser and every few days he would pick them up longingly. When his based officially closed, they asked for them back. And although he'll get a new set (perhaps with a better picture) when he goes back to work, it was nice to have the old ones as a reminder. It's unknown still when, or even if, he'll be cleared to return to work so the tags had a huge sentimental value both because he had worked so hard to get to the place where he had earned them, but also as a goal to where he wants to be again. Turning them in is a bit like giving up a piece of ones self and goals and dreams.

Yesterday I noticed that the uniform hat seemed to have moved to a more prominent place in our closet. Since it's bought and paid for, I guess it's one thing that cancer CAN'T take away from him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The reality of life is boring

I'm not sure if I'm glad or not, but for the first time in about a year, our lives are settled and there isn't much going on. No big health issues for anyone, jobs are stable, Kidzilla is back in school, there are no storms headed our way and everything seems to be running smoothly. Of course, posting that will be the kiss of death to any boringness for a while, guarenteed.

For the time being, I've mostly run out of aviation topics to get riled up about. There are still times when I wish I could pack A off on a trip for a while and I still laugh at how anytime a plane flies overhead all conversation will cease as he tries to identify the model and company. He's still working in the aviation industry at least.

I realized the other day that packing up and moving to Tallahassee for school while still leaving enough behind for A to live with is going to be much like splitting the house when one is divorcing. Except I know I'll get it all back eventually. We already discuss who's getting the big TV and who has to take the tiny one. Who's getting what dressers? Who's getting all the high end cookware (ME!)? I'm already planning out decor in my head, for once it can be all me without having to take anyone else's opinions into account.

We have plans to visit Tallahassee next weekend and tour the school and area. We put the baby plans on hold indefinetly (feelings regarding infertility are much to intense to discuss right now, but maybe in another post) and it feels weird to no longer have doctor appointments and be taking medications at specified times. We have a plan to pay off remaining debt and manage the costs of two households for 18 months. Things just are.

PS. two new blog entries today

How ALPA DOESN'T support it's pilots

Yep, that's right, I said it. I have a beef with ALPA (the AirLine Pilots Association, the pilot's union). Well, actually it's only a thing to nit-pick about and overall I can't complain because they are helping us out quite a bit with this whole "can't fly, lost the medical" crap.

In my daily websurfing, I decided to check out the ALPA site to see if they offered college scholarships. Hey, I'm going to graduate school, plan to do research on the topic of family life of aviators and the whole A.I.D.S. phenom (or lack there of, as I suspect). They should give me some money to fund my research; after all, it's pertinent to them. And guess what, ALPA does have a scholarship program. That sucks. They blow their wad by giving out a single 4 year scholarship totalling $12k to an undergrad son or daughter of an ALPA pilot.

So... current ALPA pilots aren't even eligible for a scholarship from their own union? What about the pilot who wants to get a BS degree so he can upgrade to a Major some day? Oh, SOL for getting money from ALPA. What about the pilot who wants to get an advanced degree an go into pilot training or alternative fuels or aviation law or something else to advance the aviation industry. Oh, they're SOL too. Or me, who wants to find ways to make aviation life better for families, since most pilots do end up married with families and job satisfaction and lower stress goes a long way towards reducing turn-over and enhancing safety ? Yep, you guessed it, I'm SOL too.

ALPA needs to get with the program and update their antiquated scholarship program. This isn't the 1950's where one goes to college, gets out and is done with higher education for the rest of one's life. Spread the love, spread out the money and be true to your goals to support pilots and enhance the aviation profession.

I wonder if it would hurt my scholarship chances if I called the MEC to complain...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Things NOT to do during a tropical strom

AKA- lessons we learned the hard way...

I always used to watch the newscasts of local natural disasters and see those people out in the background doing stupid stuff. You know, the ones who are standing at the edge of the large crevice and earthquake just left in the middle of a city street or the ones who have to be rescued from their car because they are stuck in too deep of water. The ones you think "what are those jackasses thinking?" when you see them. Yep, we became those people during the storm. I'm so ashamed.

Wednesday we spent half the day at home, waiting for the storm to hit. It stalled over central Florida. Thursday we waited for the storm to hit. It stalled over the ocean. Finally, on Friday the action happened. We woke up and... drove to one of the few open restaurants for breakfast. In the pouring rain and 50mph winds. Then we went home and discovered the power was out. So we packed up and headed out to check out some of the local damage.

First stop was the beach. Stepping out of the car into the gusts that were picking up sand and blowing it right at us was like an instant, full body sandblasting. It was blowing so hard we couldn't even see the water. It took us all of three minutes to decide to return to the car, covered in a fine layer of sand. Lesson learned- if you go to the beach during a storm, wear full body covering. Bored and not too excited by the minimal damages out in the beach area, we decided to head across town, to the older section by the river. The river had overflowed it's embankment and was causing flooding in many areas. Which we promptly proceeded to drive through. Thank goodness we were in A's big, heavy, retired police cruiser (we would not have attempted this in my Honda Accord), because it was quite an adventure. At one point (with me swearing at him in the passenger seat) we went through an underpass with water up to the top of our hood. A bit even leaked in through the back doors, onto the floorboards (thank goodness for the all rubber flooring in that car- no carpet to get moldy from our exploits). The only damage to our car at the end of the outing was a missing chrome tire ring. Lesson learned- if you aren't going to "turn around, don't drown", then go slow but don't stop in the water. And take a car with rubber flooring.

A's office never closed, despite flooding (12 inches in the parking lot), being near the beach (wind and debris issues) and bridge closings. I understand that they needed SOME people there to support the other school locations, but still, they could have let the non essential people off work. A did take Friday off, but not many others did. My theory is that b/c the place is filled with big-ego'd pilots, they had to come in during terrible conditions just to prove themselves. But that's just my theory.
Overall, the storm wasn't too bad. Lots of rain and wind, but our house held up well. And we were only without power for about 7 hours. There is another storm off the coast that may hit Florida in a week, so we are keeping ourselves on alert and our pantry full. It was pretty darn nice to have 4.5 days off with nothing to do.

For now, it's back to the grindstone. I'm busy working through my 12 week GRE study program and lining up a trip to Tallahassee to visit. And Christmas is less than four months away. Our comittment this year is to buy all made in America or fair trade gifts. Nothing plastic from China. It's a lofty goal, so we're getting started early. Now if we could only convince Kidzilla that he doesn't really want plastic toys...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Welcome to hurricane season

Well, our first real storm is upon us, Tropical Storm Fay. It's our third season here.

Schools are closed for the rest of the week (after only 2 days in session this year), work is closing at 12 for the rest of the week for me (no word on A's office closing yet) and the news media is in hyperdrive. A is also in hyperdrive monitoring the weather both on television and the aviation weather service. The path of "Fickle Fay" is changing by the hour, so it's unknown when or where it will hit and how strong it will be, but we know it will hit us. We've got plenty of food and drinks, some flashlights, lanterns and candles. In 2004, our area was without power for 3 days. When we moved, we gave up our gas range and water heater, so it looks like we'll be eating and washing cold if we do lose power. On the bright side, I do get several paid days off work and we'll have some lovely candlelight dinners.

It's interesting to me to see all of the buildup. Having spent most of my life in earthquake country, we never had warning of an impending event, just after (it took me about 6 months to stop waking up in the middle of the night with earthquake dreams). Here, the local channels canceled all programing at 4am and went to 24 hour weather coverage. Every 30 minutes is a report with the updated closures and path projections. I think it adds to the hysteria to have it constantly on. But at the same time, I can't look away.

This might be a little stronger than the washing away I mentioned in the previous post...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Turning point

Results are in for the furlough/base assignment list. And A made the cut by 28 people. He'll be based in EWR (blah!!!) when he goes back and will have marginal seniority, but at least he'll be based and not furloughed. Condolences to everyone who didn't make the cut (some 360+ pilots). Our friend was the #2 guy to get furloughed.

I am so thankful b/c there is no way we can afford health insurance without a subsidy from his company. And this really isn't the time to be without it. And unemployment insurance doesn't even pay what we get from LTD. And of course, A is so looking forward to going back. I think he's secrectly counting down the days until he can reapply for that medical

We are working on making big changes for me too. I have become so incredibly BORED at my job that I am finally looking at going to graduate school. The nearest school to me with the program I want is in Tallahassee, about 2 hours away. So Kidzilla and I will move there for 1.5 years and A will split his time between being on reserve in NJ, working for his school in Jax and visiting us in Tally. It will be tough going, but I know we can make it through. I figure I'll be home alone while he's up in NJ anyway, I might as well be doing something that makes me happy during that time and it won't really matter where I'm alone at.

Of course, all of this could be upstaged at any time by the offer of a new more fulfilling job and/or finally getting pregnant. But I finally hit the point where I just can't put my life on hold waiting for what might possibly happen some day. So I'll go for what I want and make adjustments along the way if I need to.

A is very supportive at making this work. He knows what I gave up for him to move here to Jax a few years ago and knows now that it's time to return the favor. Once, I did someone else a favor to help them go to school and I'm still getting burned from that. Hopefully that decision won't effect my own chances at fulfilling my dreams.

Kidzilla started school yesterday too. First grade already. In true boy style, he couldn't tell me a thing that he did in class yesterday, nor the names of any one in his class. This weekend I've got to stock up on some winter clothes for him to get through the year.

We are expecting a tropical storm (Fay) to hit here late tonight and tomorrow. It shouldn't be too bad, unless it swings far east, over the ocean, and then back west to us.

A good storm to wash and blow away debris will be a fitting start to us turning in new directions.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Furlough or no- the results...

Yesterday was the day the airline put out the list of new base assignments. The info said that if you didn't have a base assignment, you could expect to be furloughed. So we waited... and waited... until 5pm central time. On pins and needles we logged in to find out our fate and found that....... wait for it ....... the bid announcement was delayed until Monday 8/18.

Super secrect word from a guy who knows a guy (whom I trust) says that the numbers will reach into the 360s, which is about 30 people below A. So maybe we are a smidgeon happier today due to that news. And life can go on semi normally through the weekend. We're guessing A will have a date with a crashpad in ERW (Newark, NJ) in the future.

I haven't forgotten about my blog. All is well on other fronts- we've moved to a bigger place, A is officially cancer free (for now), school starts for Kidzilla on monday, and I've become distracted by a new pursuit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Storm clouds gathering

Word is there will be about 430 furloughs from A's airline. He's in the 390's from the bottom of the list. We are holding out hope that 40 more people than anticipated take the early out options that are being offered.

Although we stand to lose the small amount of disability income that we are getting (55% of first year regional salary, remember), it's the slowdown of the industry overall that worries me. We'll be in much worse shape if he gets laid off from the flight school where he is currently supplementing his income a bit as well.

On the personal front-
I didn't get the job offer I was expecting. Turns out, a would-be co-worker wrote a marginal review of me. Turns out that a former co-worker of hers ended up getting the job. It's left a bad taste in my mouth but I'm not sure I want to give up the benefits I have here to start over with another company. But I'm keeping my eye out.

14 months of unexplained infertility and 3 failed rounds of fertility treatments are wearing on us. I never thought (who does?) that I would be in this position and I hate it.

Kidzilla came home from his 5 weeks away. It's nice to have him home, but goodness, it's like having a tornado in the house.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The perils of living with a pilot- Episode 34

While driving to the library during a late afternoon thunderstorm:

S: Geez, I can't believe it's raining so hard. Are you sure you can see anything? I can't see for crap with this rain. I'm glad I'm not driving.

A: It's not that bad, I've still got about a half mile visibility. No need to file for IFR, we can still go VFR.

This past weekend I was also forced to watch Air Force One so that A could point out all of the airplane and flight inaccuracies and impossibilities.

Also this weekend, I met a Navy Flight Engineer while out at a bar. We live in a town with two Navy bases, both of which have active flight lines- we have a lot of posers who say they are pilots to be cool. So I promptly asked him to recite his after landing checklist. I even had to give bonus points because he couldn't keep his hands still while he was doing it- they kept reaching for imaginary switches and dials. I've caught a couple of fakers with this little trick.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Clearing out the cobwebs

This spring has brought us the urge to do some much needed cleaning and updated in parts of life. It feels so good to be able to let go of THINGS, both tangible and intangible. A's recovery from cancer has given both of us an excuse to start things fresh.

I spent a few hours this week (boss is out of town...) cleaning out old emails from my personal account. The 2005 angry back and forth emails from the crazy roommate I had to kick out, who then had the nerve to turn around and ask me if I would leave the cable on so she could come by and tape things during the day b/c she couldn't get cable at her new place. The emails from all of the people who contacted me via my profile in 2004/2005. The emails from the men I dated before I met A. I did keep all of the sweet emails from early on in A and my's relationship; when I recited some of the sappy stuff, he could not believe he had ever said it. Par for the course I guess. It was funny to go through all that stuff, but there's no need to keep it anymore.

We're moving out of the apartment finally. Well, we will be in another month. To a larger townhouse nearby. I'm so excited to not have to: park 500 feet away from my apt., listen to the downstairs neighbor's TV at all hours of the night, schlep my groceries up a flight of stairs. The new place is larger than what we've had so we're going to have to find some new to us furniture to fill it up a bit. And I've never, ever, lived in a 2 story place before.

We're taking the opportunity to purge a bunch of stuff again too. We really cleaned out when we moved to FL but we've accumulated a fair amount in the last 2.5 years. Books that we can check out from the library if we ever want to read them again. My wedding dress from my failed prior marriage (A was not happy about dragging that all the way to FL, but I insisted). Old aviation manuals and knee-boards. All that stuff that's been thrown in closets to be dealt with later. A put some old music on my ipod so I've been rocking out to the likes of Depeche Mode and Erasure lately. Always reminds me of the photos of A rocking the permed hair and trendy clothes in the 80's. Nothing like humiliation to bring your love closer...

I'm up for a new position at work. More responsibility and more in line with my college education and previous experience. Looking back, I seem to change jobs about every 2.5 years, once I've completely mastered them, so this new hunt is right on schedule.

There are a few things I'm not yet ready to let go of, like Kidzilla's baby toys, and a few things I wish I could let go of, like the student loan of Kidzilla's father that I'm still listed as a co-signer on. I think all that will come in time.

A is doing well getting back into teaching ground school. He quickly found out that not only were all his reference materials outdated, but he needed to brush up on some of knowledge. Going back to teaching initial instrument ground school in a single engine plane has reminded him of how much he used to have to remember. His schedule is much better this time around. He still gets called out with "this is the guy that happened to" when story time comes up. He's best well known as the instructor who had several students freak out in the plane on him- like the student who grabbed his arm and said "I've got a wife and kids" in a panic while doing a complicated (upside down?) training maneuver. A must have nerves of steel.

Kidzilla's been in California for 2.5 weeks now. He had a wonderful camping trip with Grandpa and Grandma to Mt. Lassen and Lava Beds National Monument. Camping and exploring caves at Lava Beds was one of my favorite trips as a kid. I miss Kidzilla, seeing his empty room and his artwork on the fridge, brings up a sigh every time. But, I do have to say, A and I have been living it up as child-less adults as well.

There hasn't been much aviation related to write about lately, haven't found any inspiration in A's return to flight instructing. It's been 4 months since A last flew. Which feels like an eternity considering everything we've been though since then. Any topic requests or book reccomendations are appreciated.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A belated though for all parents in honor of Father's Day-

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.

- H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The A320 Day

This week I sent Kidzilla to CA for 5 weeks. My father (UAL Retiree) came out to get him and non-rev'd him back out. Here are some excerpts from an email he sent me about their trip. They were up at 4:45am Eastern time and finally made it home at 10:45pm Pacific time- what a long day! I am not envious of that or of the struggle to finally head west out of ORD.

The day started out ok. M got to go into the flight deck and make a welcome announcement on the plane. The captain gave him a A320 trading card. We sat in first class and had breakfast. That was the best part of the day. Waiting in ORD was the worst. We missed several flights; the Denver flight had over 75 standbys. Mom finally got us to try the flight to PHX. We were in the last row on the plane along with a United Express pilot. But getting on the plane M got to go into the flight deck and talk to the flight crew. He got another A320 card. M says it was his first flight on TED. It was a TED flight from PHX/SFO with the same cabin crew but different captain and F/O. The captain put M in his seat and let him try on his hat; the FO gave M a set of wings. We were finally home at 10:45.

I do have to say THANK YOU to all of the crew who made the trip so exciting for Kidzilla. A was a little jealous that HE had never gotten to sit in the CA seat of an A320 or wear a CA hat. It really does make a wonderful impact and make a crappy travel day into a great experience.

I am always proud to see crews who take the time to chat with kids and invite them up to the cockpit. Not only does it show the public that pilots are people too, not just seemingly well paid adulterers who never leave the cockpit, but I think also that when a kid sees all those buttons, dials and levers it enhances that whole pilot coolness factor. I think it's great PR for pilots and someday in the future people will remember that time when they got to sit in the CA seat for just a moment and remember that that CA is a person too and yeah, he does deserve to be paid according to the responsibility that he shoulders.

So pilots- invite a kid into a cockpit for a moment- make a kid's day and probably an impression for a lifetime.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

He Survived

A finished his radiation treatment yesterday. We are both so excited that he is done, done, done and currently cancer free. Here is a picture of his neck-

Currently it's at about a second degree sunburn stage. Radiation burns tend to lag about a week behind treatment, so it will contine to worsen and will peak next week. Near the bottom you can see the scar where they removed his tyroid. The burn is quite asymetrical too, a result of the tumor having crept up the side of his neck on one side. Although his skin should heal, it will always have a distinct look and texture. But for the most part it's covered by clothing.

This is the mask that A had to wear while receiving treatment. It's a hard plastic mesh that was form fitted to his face. The bolts around the edge were for bolding his head to the table to keep him from moving and misdirecting the radiation beam.
Today begins the waiting period until he can go back to work. He can reapply for a medical in 6 months, but any body scans won't show him as cancer free until a year from now (has to do with residual cells and ?). We aren't sure yet if the FAA will take his dr's word for it or insist on a scan. His dr. feels it's best to wait until 1 year if they request a scan. So we'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, we are all doing well and doing our best to keep tabs on the aviation ups and downs of late.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Some random thoughts on pilots

Found these two quotes while reading "Pilots of the Line" by Sky Masterson ( a collection of fictional short stories about flying).

This one about where a pilot feels most at home-

For a pilot, home is not a building with four walls and a roof, neither is it wherever his hat is laid; it is that area in closest proximity to his plane... It is the only place where an aviator knows for sure he belongs, the only place he knows what day it is- exact Zulu time for that matter. Home is Chicago, San Juan, Tokyo, and Berlin, all at once, so long as jets rumble his hotel room window there. Home is walking the beach in Tampa with shiny black Florsheims, sandals in Milwaukee in January, paying twelve dollars (US) for a hamburger at the hotel restaurant, and administering parental advice over the telephone from a thousand miles away. Home is sharing dinner at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico with four people you met four hours before. Home is the Ramada in Buffalo on Christmas morning.

This one about those spectacular women aviators call their wives, written about pilots-

They recognize how command changed their personality over time, forced them to believe that though they must accept input from others, they are the ultimate decision makers, because they are ultimately responsible. And since they must maintain control in all cases in flight, only a superman can turn off this trait on the ground, on a whim, a trait that only a super wife can live with for every long- only a super wife could command the house for a few days while her commuter was gone and relinquish command to "the captain" when he returned. They recognize this. They also recognize the implausibility of finding such a flesh and blood woman in a lifetime.

There is a new Kenny Chesney song out (say what you will, the guy is good looking!)- Better as a Memory. In the first verse, near the end, is a line "My only friends are pirates" that for the longest time I thought was "my only friends are pilots". I was convinced of it because pilots just seemed to fit. It was only after searching the lyrics and listening to the song very loudly that A was able to convince me that it was an R, not an L that I was hearing. Even then it took a while. I still think it should be pilots there. The imagery and suggestion of the song- leaving before becoming committed- lends itself well to the pilot image of always moving on, a girl in every port, dropping in and out unexpectedly. But pirates? The image of plunder and pillage just doesn't seem to fit. Maybe I'm biased.

We have a friend, I'll call him Mavrick, who totally fits the pilot image. He's the nicest guy, always friendly and outgoing, almost always with a cute girl by his side. Tall, handsome in his uniform, still in his twenties. Usually can be found flying off to new and exciting places when he isn't flying for the company. Dad is also a big time pilot as a major so he's got an "in". But strangely, when I think about it, he's the only pilot I can think of who fits the bill. All of the other pilots we know are settled, in relationships, some have kids, some have dogs, some have expensive morgages. I guess it's easier to keep the public perception of that handsome, rakish pilot (and more fun for the pilots) than it is to present the reality of the life.

Sometimes I don't relish facing the reality of my life either.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The epic struggle between good and evil...

This time taking the form of our most recent battle with the HR dept. I swear, it's like some form of torture to get information out of them. Forget about anything useful being tossed our way. We spent last week trying to work out with them: when our insurance would be reinstated, whether A was on LTD yet, whether we need to apply for COBRA coverage in the meantime. Phone calls go to voicemail, so it's hard to actually get in contact with a REAL LIVE PERSON. Luckily I'm resourceful and managed to get ahold of an email for someone to get the ball rolling. They have assured us that A is now on LTD and our insurance coverage will be made retroactive so that there will have been no lapse in insurance. Although several days AFTER they said that, I went to get an RX and we were still listed as having been dropped at the end of April. Try getting ahold of someone useful at 4pm Friday on the eve of a 3 day weekend! So, we wait. We have received absolutely nothing from the LTD company to give us some clue about benefits. For the love of all that is good and holy, we are trying to deal with cancer here, perhaps we could be given a break and just be given some useful information instead of having to fight tooth and nail for somewhat helpful scraps!

On another note, branching off my observation last week that life would be different now that A was back to flight instructing, I found a post on another blog that I happened across (how? I can't remember) talking about the psychology of pilots (see May 26, 2008 post). I'm pleased to find some validation in my thinking that pilots are a distinct bunch.

Here in FL, we are just wrapping things up. Spring is almost gone bringing the oppresive summer heat and humidity. Schools almost out for Kidzilla. We (I) are (am) preparing (mentally) to pack Kidzilla off to CA for a block of time soon. It will be his 3rd summer away. I miss my constant sidekick like crazy when he's gone, but I can't deny that it's nice to have a taste of that non-parent freedom for a few weeks as well. We ended up postphoning the relocation to the IAH area and instead are moving to a townhouse here this summer and I'm still working out angles on a more fulfilling job as well. Our time in flux just seems to continue on and on.

OHHH, and I've added some new stuff to the sidebar as well- reader map, new blog link and updated aviation books. Enjoy

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coming full circle

A is now re-employed with his former flight school. We got the nod from the LTD company about what type of side employment is permissable while on leave and here we are. He'll be working with the new hire instructors and running sims for the time being, no medical needed. It's a great break for us, both financially and to get him out of the house. Although it was a funny feeling yesterday when I whipped out my phone to call and let him know I was on my way home and he wasn't available to talk.

I guess the lesson here is- never burn your bridges because you don't know when you will need to cross them again. A lot of instructors never bothered to return once they got hired by an airline. A did, and finished out the people he was training. He also worked hard when he had students, instead of slacking off like some. That made a good enough impression on the right people that they called him up when they needed work done.

I think there is going to be a slight shift in the dynamics of our home again. I noticed this previously when he was instructing and I'm curious to see if it will happen again. When one is instructing and in the bosses seat, it's sometimes hard to turn it off outside the airplane. So he comes home and forgets that we aren't students and don't need to be "taught a lesson" or generally seconded guessed in our decisions. With me being as headstrong as I am, this usually doesn't fly well in our house and gets nipped in the bud thankfully. We had an incident last night involving a vomiting kid, a towel full of ickyness and some yelling about "teaching a lesson". But we'll get this adjustment worked out too, just like we always have.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On a trampoline

Things just go up and down with us. As soon as one problem is resolved and we are feeling up, another one crops up and we are down again. I guess the most important part is that we are able to keep bouncing back eventually.

For the movie buffs, another movie with an aviation inaccuracy- Catch Me If You Can. When Leonardo DiCaprio looks out the window of an airplane and says "oh, runway 44". There is no runway 44, there can't be when there are only 360 degrees in a circle.

I can't believe we are STILL waiting to find out what is going on with the Long Term Disability. I can't imagine that A will be denied, there is no question that he has cancer, but it would be nice to have some communication on that front. The good news we received though, was that A can work at another job and receive income without jeopardizing his LTD status. So that means that we won't be completely broke- just mostly.

We also found out, without anyone telling us, that A had been switched to Medical Leave retroactively. He's been active with the company, just dropping all of his trips for the last few months. Then one day, he showed up as on leave. The problem with this is that unless you are on FMLA (which we had never applied for, since dropping trips seemed to do the trick) medical insurance is not covered beyond the month in which the leave is started. In essence, we found out in mid May that our insurance should have run out at the end of April due to the status change. Of course, there's always COBRA or FMLA options to get medical insurance up and running again, but mid treatment, at $1300/day for radiation, is not the time to find out that our insurance is up. It's not like we can just cover the costs until the insurance is worked out. Especially if we are billed retroactively. Some quick calling and pleading and A is now approved for FMLA starting mid-May. We are praying that the insurance will continue uninterrupted. There are so many complications and considerations of having a major illness that no one ever sees. Incidentally, a few days ago, we happened to watch Michael Moore's film Sicko and reflected how much easier OUR lives would be to not have to worry about health insurance.

I think the biggest concern facing us soon is the potential buyout of the company. Offers have been made, meetings have been attended, theories and opinions have been posted online... It's hard to follow everything and separate fact from fiction at this point. I figure we'll just have to take it one day at a time and deal with it when it comes up. Right now, word is that there will be a furlough or loss of 700 pilots, which would include A. We don't know yet what that means for us- would his LTD be discontinued, will he be out on his ass with nothing? It's one thing to be facing this with the option of going to another airline, but facing it when you have low time and no medical for a while makes it even worse. By the time A is cleared to fly again, he may not have the total time needed to get on with an airline. And he may lose the ALPA benefit of having the aeromedical committee's help of getting his medical back. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. And luckily, A is still well regarded at his previous flight school.

Another bit of good news did come our way. We received paperwork from the ALPA aeromedical office for A to share with his doctor. The paperwork reiterated that if the tumor had metastasized then he would have to wait for a year after the conclusion of treatment to reapply for a medical. The doctor said that the tumor HAD NOT metastasized beyond the original site (I guess it was just stretching out it's tentacles) and that meant that A should qualify to fly again in just 6 months after treatment. Good news! But it makes me kind of sad because even though I bitch and moan about him being around the house all day, I also love it and will miss having him there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The perils of living with a pilot- Episode 23

While watching a movie the other day-

A- "hey, wait, they showed a 767 on the outside view, but thats totally a 747 first class cabin. And I don't even know what the back is; I don't think any plane has any short cabin configuration like that."

S- "Babe, it's The Wedding Singer, I don't think the accuracy of the plane layout is pivotal to the plot."

A- "But still, you'd think they could get it right"

In other news- it's been 2 weeks tomorrow of radiation treatment. It's kicking A's ass. It's so hard to watch this happening and knowing it's going to get worse before it gets better. Sometimes I feel like my heart is breaking for him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catching up

There are years that ask questions and years that answer
- Zora Neale Hurston

A friend found this quote and sent it to me. I think it sums things up appropriately for us. I hope that we are soon able to transition into a year that answers.

Catching up a bit- A's body scan was fine. He spoke with the oncologist and there was no evidence of cancer spread beyond the neck area. I was so relieved when I heard the news and I know A was too. Radiation treatments begin tomorrow and will go for 6-8 weeks. Sadly, A had to shave off the goatee he was finally able to grown because it was uncomfortable under the head placement mask that A has to wear during treatment. The radiation is supposed to affect hair growth on his neck, so we'll see if he's able to grow it back again.

We finally got in contact with the ALPA aeromedical office in Colorado. The confirmed that we are on the correct treatment path and said that A did have have to wait a full year after the conclusion of treatment to apply for his medical. A's oncologist, a former military flight surgeon, says that he thinks A only needs to be out for six months and will write a letter to the FAA clearing him early when it is time. So we'll see what happens with that, but no worrying about it until December.

Until then A is stuck at home with little to do. He's taken on a few big projects, mainly tranisitioning us to a new main computer and making our living space more environmentally friendly, as well as spending some time on some new hobbies. The problem is, unless you are a retiree or a stay at home mom, there are few chances for interaction with others when one is home all day. By the end of the day he's staved for interaction and I'm exhausted by work. It's not an equation that is working out well for us. So we're looking into ways to get him out of the house a bit. Maybe he'll go back to school.

We got put off by the LTD company until the May meeting, even thought we had our paperwork in in time for the April meeting. So another month until that gets settled. He's been off since February, I thought for sure it would be worked out by now!

It's been 8 weeks since A left work and we found out the cancer news. On one hand, it feels like it's all been a whirlwind. On the other, it's hard to remember what life was like when he was an active pilot. A lot of friends who jumped in to offer help have disappeared again. Other friends are just now getting the news. The hardest part for us so far has been the setback in acheiving our goals. A had finally gotten a good foot into this dream career- on hold. We were about to acheive some goals financially- on hold and partially lost. Moving out of an unsatisfying job for me- on hold.

This past year has forced us to ask a lot of questions- of ourselves and others. It hasn't always been the easiest to ask those questions and we haven't always liked the answers we've gotten, but we've made it this far and that's what counts.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Turning the tables

Yesterday we had a bit of role reversal and A had to take me in for a procedure. It was a small thing at an outpatient center, but for once, I was the patient and he was the caregiver. He did a great job, even when I was at my worst. I don't do well with the "don't eat for XX hours prior to coming in" rules b/c I lose all pretense of politeness when I am hungry. A found out the hard way during our 5 day drive to FL that I give a 20 minute "I need food" warning and if I don't get fed or a have a concrete plan for when I will get fed, my head will spin around backwards and I'll start spewing profanity laced missives at him. But nevertheless, he sat patiently in the waiting room during the procedure, drove my loopy person home and went out to get the prescription pain meds. Despite how much neither of us wants to be in the positions we are in, I think it's eye opening to be put into the other persons shoes.

A went for his body scan today (CAT? PET?) where they checked to see where all of the radiation from the pill had collected. He said it took 1.5 hours in the machine, him having to lay still the entire time. He left there somewhat worrisome because they took a bunch of extra scans of his abdominal and pelvis area after they completed the initial scan. We are hoping that this doesn't mean that the cancer has metastizied and spread. His initial diagnosis was at a Stage 3 based on size and spread, on a scale of 1-5. We joke that of course his has to be more serious and invasive b/c he's the guy who doesn't do anything in a half-assed manner. We expect that we will hear some results on Monday, when A has his next appt (for beam treatment simulation), if not tomorrow from his Dr. Not looking forward to another weekend of trying to pretend everything is OK, when we don't know if they are.

Today I finally got A to call the ALPA (union) Areomedical office to get them involved in his case. He's been in such denial that he hasn't yet notified the FAA that he's been grounded. They will help him do that, help monitor his case and help him prepare is case for submission for reapproval of his medical when he is ready.

On another note, I hit over 30,000 views on my blog. I can't believe it! I never thought that I would reach a number that high. I changed up the poll and put a new one up. Please vote! It's anonymous- there's no reason not to!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We made it!

Woohoo! Several items of good news today.

We made it past the one year mark and now qualify for FML time. This is huge for us because it means we'll get to keep our health insurance and won't have to pay for coverage out of pocket. Also, we have, almost in hand, the long awaited, completed LTD paperwork. We can now send it in and get qualified for LTD (income and insurance protection). AND we found out from the Dr (who is familiar with the FAA) that the after treatment waiting period is only six months, not one year, before A can reapply for his class 1 medical. Of course, with government processing time, it will take several more months to actually GET the medical, but at least the wait time is cut down. Hopefully we will contine to get the good news we so desperately desire.

A took his radioactive pill on monday. Having to keep away from him has been strange, but doable. Monday evening he slept most of the time and I puttered around the apartment. Tuesday we attempted to complete some paperwork and bickered from opposite corners of the room. Tonight we can actually spend time sitting next to each other. The next phase of treatment, the beam radiation, will begin in a few weeks and is estimated to be concluded by the beginning of June.

Although I do my best not to get too caught up in all of this, I can't deny that it does take a toll on me. My emotional side gets so angry at times at A for making us have to go through all of this and thwarting all of our (my) plans. Even though logically I know that it's not his fault and he's not particularly happy about it either, which makes me feel guilty for being angry at him. I know that I'm going through a normal range of emotions with this, but it still feels like this guilty internal struggle. I can't wait until I can look back on this from a distance.

I added a poll to the blog because I'm curious how people found this (meaning this, the Oh The Life blog, at either location)blog. Cast your vote and fulfill my curiousity!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things to think about

This is the first week in the past 7 (!) weeks that we haven't had a dr. appt, biopsy, surgery, or test done. Seriously, for the past 6 weeks, we've had between one and four appointments a week between the two of us. Hooray for a breather! Next week it starts up again with A going radioactive for a week. But for now- it's nice not to be waiting on test results or a visit to a new doctor.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in some horrible version of Flowers For Algernon when I spent time with A. His lack of a thyroid has effected his balance, coordination, energy and short term memory. This wonderful, smart man who previously flew airplanes with ease is now tripping, uncoordinated and has to ask me 3 times what we are getting at the grocery store. It only seems to come in waves and is a totally expected side effect of the treatment that will go away when his system is balanced again with medication. But it's still strange.

We made the decision not to put the baby quest on hold right now. It actually seems like a good time for it because A will be able to be around for a pregnancy, delivery and early weeks with a baby since he'll be off for a year. Although money will be tight, the family time is more important to us. So we're working with another specialist on that front. A may have cancer, but I'm doing my best not to let it effect our dreams and goals any more than it has too.

We are still considering the move to IAH. Although it will have to be deferred until treatment is concluded and A is stable, it still feels like the right thing to do. With the LTD, it won't matter where we live, but if there is a potential for supplemental income, we'll have to consider that as well.

For now, it's just one day at a time and enjoying life as much as we can.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Welcome to my new home!

Be sure to leave a housewarming comment

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Finally some sunshine

It's been so hectic lately that I haven't had time to blog. I've finally got a spare moment. So many times I've been driving or doing something at home and a thought that I want to blog about pops into my head, but I don't have time to write about it at that moment.

A made it through surgery and is home doing fine. He is healing well and the surgeon says he is on the right path. The surgery was intense, but went well. He'll now sound like a grizzled old veteran pilot instead of the fresh faced youngster he is. We finally got a break and found an Oncologist who is also a pilot (CMEL) and previously was a flight surgeon in the AF. Not only has he worked with pilots in the past, but he understands all of the FAA regs and intricacies of medicals. And, he'll complete the LTD paperwork that we've been stymied with (b/c, it seems, that not a single Endocrinologist here "does disability paperwork"). I feel great about having him as a physician. The next step is for A to take radioactive iodine (on 4/1) and then later to have daily radiation treatments for 6 weeks.

The airline continues to be wonderful to us. Many generous pilots donated to our paypal account, most are people A has never even met. The Chief Pilot and Base Administrator have been working to keep us active (fingers crossed it's going to work...). The company is offering COLA's (company offered leave of absence or voluntary furlough). It doesn't bode well for the company to have an excess of pilots, but for us, it's a lucky break. If A can get one, it will give us not only insurance, but also flight benefits and seniority protection for another few months. If we make it to one year (just one more pay period now), then we'll also be eligible for FMLA protections.

Emotionally we are doing well. A says it's hard for him to believe he really has cancer because other than the surgery recovery he feels fine. It's almost surreal for him. It's a bit more real for me, as the one dealing with all of the doctors, company, friends and family. But we are doing well. I'm not one to get wound up about things b/c I know it won't change the outcome. I did finally have a crying session yesterday while talking to A and felt better about things afterwords. I can't complain about having a househusband around to help take care of things I don't have time for.
I think one thing I miss the most is my alone time. I'm either at work, in the car with Kidzilla (we commute together) or at home with both the boys. My bed has been invaded full time and I just always have someone wanting my attention. We've had (some sincere and some not) offers from friends to let them know if we want/need anything. Well what I really want is for someone to steal me away for a manicure, pedicure and an afternoon to read a book. But then again, I just want to be with my boys b/c I am away from them nearly 40 hours a week. Sometimes it's hard for this caregiver to find time to care for herself.

It's frustrating sometimes, to have to deal with whiney people who have lame excuses. It's prime time at my job right now, the busiest it is all year. Lots of paperwork being turned by people and lots of excuses about why they couldn't get it in on time and the like. All I can think about is- I'm sorry, you think you have problems? Let me tell you what I have on my plate b/c I guarentee it's more and I'm still getting my shit done on time. To each their own I guess.

This weekend we are going to enjoy the fine FL weather before it gets too hot. We've got a family hike planned on a trail we haven't tried yet. That's me, blazing trails in more ways than one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The eye of the storm

Now that the surgery has passed and we are just waiting it out until the next step of treatment I feel like I can breathe again. The last two weeks have just been a whirlwind. Although I feel we managed pretty well, it's nice to have a break. We're still facing issues on several fronts, but we've had some people who have been absolute rainbows in the storm.

Medical- A made it through surgery and is home recovering well. He can only whisper and occasionally will make a nice croaking sound when he tries to talk. Some of the vocal cords were pretty damaged during the surgery so we are waiting to see if they heal. Surgeon said he could have just cut them out, but wanted to give them the chance to work again. He'll have a different voice next time it comes over the PA. Not having a thyroid is already starting to show its effects- he's sluggish, tripping more often and can't remember so well. We are having to switch Endocrinologists (his managing/treating physician for this ordeal) because the one he was referred to "doesn't do paperwork"- office policy. So she won't complete ANY of the paperwork we need for FMLA, short term disability, long term disability, FAA. We've got a referral to a new office and I am working on setting something up with them soon. The next treatment step is to wait for about a month and then take the radioactive iodine to knock out the rest of the cancerous cells.

Company- We've been in contact with HR, the Chief Pilot, the Base Administrator, ALPA Aeromedical committee, ALPA LTD/LOL committee, the LTD company, an FAA physician. Sometimes I feel like I am in a game of telephone because I only hear what gets filtered down to me and it is sometimes incomplete.

From what I understand, we are just weeks short of being with the company for 1 year (4/2 is our anniversary). Because we don't meet the year mark, we don't qualify for FMLA time, which would preserve our medical benefits for a few months. Instead, when A ceases to be paid and goes "inactive" we'll have to go on COBRA until the LTD kicks in to help us out. Also, the LTD pays out at a percentage of the rate you were paid while working. There is a huge difference between first and second year salary, so if we could just hold out until April, we'd see a lot more disability income. The pilot staff is doing their best to keep A active until April, but HR is being hardline about it. We brought up the idea of a sick time donation for A and had many positive replys from people willing to donate. However, the company doesn't have a sick time donation program so it seems like we won't be able to go that route. It's incredibly frustrating on our end, but there is not much we can do about it. So it remains to be seen whether we will meet the deadline.

Mostly, the company has been great. We were able to fly A's dad out to help us during the surgery push and we have had many well wishes come our way. A message about A was posted on the company pilot's forum and we were encouraged to set up a paypal donation account so people could donate towards our medical expenses. (Want to donate? Click HERE ) It's been wonderful to actually receive help from people we do and don't know as well as advice on things we need to watch out for. Several people we haven't heard from in ages have called to wish us well after seeing that post.

Friends- It's been interesting to see which friends have really come through for us and which ones seem to have disappeared. Our friend Bob who has worked to coordinate the sick time donation and forum updates. Our friends Erin and Tom (whom we only know electronically) helping us navigate company and ALPA info as well as recovery issues. My JetGirl friend Hillary and her husband for trekking out one evening to bring us McDonald's at the hospital even though they weren't anywhere near the hospital. And all our other aviation friends for sending their well wishes and calling and my local friends here in Jax for offering to babysit and more. Although we've been disappointed in some, I think A is feeling bolstered by the amount of people who have called with support.We were talking the other day about how generous people have been to us and how this is really a turning point for us to be more generous with other people as well. Although now is not the time for us, in the future we hope to be able to spend more time working with the same comittees that have helped us and giving more money to relief programs. Hopefully putting a face to the people who benefit from this kind of thing will make it more relevant for other people as well.

(related to old blog)-Some blog related issues- If you've been trying to leave a comment and were told you were spam, I'm sorry. I think the security has been raised on the site to prevent spammers. Nothing I can do about it, but I really do appreciate comments. I've been checking out other blog sites to compare so a move may be in the future.