Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking behind, looking ahead

I can't believe we are at the end of another year!

Babyzilla just turned 3. We've lived in our house for over a year (an done pretty much nothing off the home improvement to do list). A's piece of crap car has lasted over a year. It's been two years since we used a credit card! This year we made a big push to get more organized. We continued to refine our budget and envelope system (thanks Dave Ramsey) and attempt to pay off our debt. We made time and worked through One Year to an Organized Life for big picture home organization and Secrets of an Organized Mom for specific ideas for organizing. We'll continue to refine by going back and re-looking at every area in the One Year book once a year.

I had a total of 3 job assignment changes at work moving from Neurology to ICU to Neuro ICU to Newborn ICU. Thankfully I discovered that I really enjoy working in an ICU setting. I love where I am at and don't forsee any more changes. I also racked up a total of 19 comp days through taking extra on call time and used only 3 paid time off days the whole year. I also became a La Leche League leader. I read a total of 89 books this year, all chronicled in my book list on the side bar. There are still 272 books on my to read list... My friend Google Reader was shelved and I switched to Feedly to manage my blog subscription; ironically you have to provide the entire blog URL to get my own blog to show up there...I made 15 dozen cookies from scratch in one weekend to give to our neighbors for the holidays.

A continued to move up the seniority ladder and is in the top 30 in his base, which means he finally gets pretty good schedules. We still fight about him wanting weekends off and me feeling it's more helpful to have weekdays off. Now that he's just a few classes from upgrade, true to form, the airline has stopped upgrades because they don't have enough First Officers to cover for all the people upgrading. The two year journey to upgrade continues as the seven year never ending quest.

This next year will focus on continuing to manage our finances,  getting rid of more STUFF, and figuring out once a month cooking to free up my evenings. With the ever present work out more, spend more time with the kids, blog more and have a million dollars fall into my lap on the list as well.

Wishing everyone a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Letting the steam out

Yet another month has gone by without a post. I hate how time gets away from me so quickly. I feel like I have spent so much of the past month angry at A. Not for any one or two particular things, but a more deep and festering anger at personality traits and feeling overburdened. It's not his job feeding all this, but rather how he handles his time on the road and at home. But how to communicate my feelings to him admits the chaos that is our family vying for attention and Christmas preparations. Without it becoming "A Laundry List of Things That Are Wrong With You." It's going to be hard to find the right time and way to get around this but I know it needs be to done and I need to feel heard before I can let go of my anger. And I don't have a lot of confidence that changes will stick. It feels especially important to get this worked out because This is a momentous year for us in our marriage. We just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary this month. I was married previously and we split on out seventh anniversary. A was also previously married for seven years. Making it to eight is a big deal for us. Our anniversary this year was pretty anticlimactic this year- 13 days later I can't even remember where we went out to eat.

A continues to progress toward upgrade in a steady manner. He's somewhere about 90 spots from the least senior captain and they just announce upgrades for 30 more people. With the droves of people who seem to be leaving, we've almost hit the " upgrade in the foreseeable future". The guy who was once 19 people away from furlough is now bidding in the top 15% of his base. Of course he still gets crap lines, but the are the best of the crap lines. 

Jealousy is always right there behind a thin veil for me though. A guy whom a started his initial flight training, at the private pilot level, completed all his traing with and who went to the same regional a few months prior to A is now in training with a major. When is it our turn? When will we get the financial security that comes with the bigger paycheck? Although I have to keep in mind that this gut had a major inside connection AND a college degree. But A has yet to even get an application together and instead comes home with excuses like "oh they only want pilots that have been FO's for two years because they are easy to train, not six year FO's like me that will take a lot to train to new procedures."  I swear, A needs to start a rumor about a new ridiculous company policy and see how long it takes to get to him and see how people pass it off as truth.

For now, we just take it as it comes and try to remember the good in all we do have.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I can keep it together while A is away flying, that is no secret. But sometimes what constitutes "keeping it together" slips a little and things get messy. There are times (like now) when I just feel tired and like I just can't get ahead. I long for one of the kids to be sick and me to have to stay home with them- so I can spend a day relaxing while they snooze on the couch.

Right now, only Kidzilla is old enough to have outside activities. For which I am thankful because I am not sure how I would manage two sets of extracurricular activities. This past two weeks I have really had to make the effort to make sure that Kidzilla actually makes it to things instead of giving in to the temptation of just skipping it all, again. Skip football because I don't feel like getting out of bed on Saturday morning. Skip Boy Scouts because it starts just when Babyzilla should be going to bed and I can't leave Babyzilla at home alone. Skip youth group because I had a long day at work and just don't feel like going. Even though dinner is provided.

I think there is a fine line we are (I am) currently walking between guilt of not having a normal, activity filled childhood because Dad isn't around to help shuttle and supervise and balancing my own needs. I know not to overdo it- as a kid I had activities scheduled every day of the week and remember times when we left dance class to proceed directly to Girl Scouts. I want Kidzilla to have lots of experiences and opportunities as this age so he can later narrow down into what he's really interested in, but boy, it's hard to get out of the house once I'm in it and thinking of all the things I need to do when we get home. And when do I get my own time to do things?

Maintaining my motivation to keep Kidzilla active is a challenge. I know that part of what motivates me is to be a role model to my son and others- see, it is possible to be successful in this lifestyle, even when Mom works full time too. I take pride in my Supermom abilities. I realize how extremely humble that makes me sound, but it's true. Probably not a healthy motivation, but one nonetheless. And I see how much joy the activities bring Kidzilla once we are actually at them. Sometimes he recognizes the stress it puts on me and sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes he remembers that his brother and I are thrown into boring situations just so he can have a good time. Sometimes A recognizes the stress that keeping it all going puts on me and sometimes I can hide it well.

I don't know how I keep finding the motivation to stay involved in things when it would just be so. much. easier. to stay home with Kidzilla not knowing what he's missing. I don't know how to bring my motivation up to keep on keeping on. I guess its just one of those things one has to push through and fake it until you make it.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Together time

A came home a few days ago start his two week stretch of vacation. We both predict that he'll be driving me nuts by the end of the weekend. At least I can say that my husband knows me, knows my heart, and loves me in spite of my flaws. He's taken the brunt of daycare drop offs, lunch packing, science fair projecting, and vacation planning off of me.

It is so nice for him to be home and in the midst of all of our craziness. It really gives him a perspective of why it is such a pain for me to find time for him to FaceTime with the kids amidst the homework/ dinner prep/ bedtime rush. And why "just figure it out" is my answer for everything complex. It's what I have to do. 

I do admit that I can be a pain to A, yet he takes it all in stride. He may come home from a trip and find me exhausted from work and laid out on the couch watching tv with no dinner plan at 7pm, expecting him to fix it all. But then again he may come home to a clean house and a hot dinner. He can send me a text message question about whether I did something and the response back varies from "thanks for the reminder" to " I have a  f@&$ing Masters degree, I can run this house just fine. Quit trying to micromanage everything". 

Here's to a smooth vacation.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


These last few weeks have just been so busy. In a "just keep forward momentum and we'll get through" kind of way. A came home from a trip on a Wednesday in time to pick up a feverish toddler from preschool and ended up spending the next three days( an extended week for me) as primary caretaker as I continued to chip away at work. A got nothing done during his time off and  neither one of us got much sleep at night with Babyzilla fighting his cold. A went back to work and our family navigated through a week full of evening commitments- scouts, La Leche League, adoption parenting class and then the triple header Friday night where Kidzilla left for a Scout camping trip, A attended a function at church and I attended a work related event. I was exhausted just trying to organize it. 

Saturday was relaxed but not as we tried to catch up the week's errands. We still made it to the zoo for a bit though. Our big break is soon to come though! Once A finishes the trip he's on he will start his vacation and next week I've got mine. We always plan too many projects into our time off and wind up stretched; I'm trying to avoid that this time.

Today the boys and I went to the pool as relief from the hot, muggy weather. Although the boys didn't mind, the water was freezing. I think it was our last pool trip for the year. We might try the beach this weekend, but I don't have high hopes. I'm ready for fall and the winding down of our year. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Planning for the worst

As I have said before, I work in a hospital, in ICU settings. I see a lot of unexpected accidents that result in horrible upheaval for families. Daily. This is a topic that is near to my heart because I deal with these issues on a regular basis. I'm addressing this toward pilot wives, but really it can be applied to anyone.

Disclaimer- I work in Florida and am most familiar with the laws here, some may vary by state.

Contact- What if you went into labor and delivered your baby at 28 weeks? If your toddler fell off your dining room table, hit his head and needed emergent neurosurgery due to a bleed? If you had a car accident and had to be hospitalized? If your pilot's parent had a stroke? And your pilot was on a 6 hour flight, or out of the country where you couldn't reach him easily. Do you know how to really reach your pilot through his company? Not a vague idea, but how to really do it? Is the number to call saved in your phone and not buried underneath toddler art and wedding invitations on your fridge? If the worst happens, are you going to have the time and presence of mind to search out how to reach him? Likely you won't get any help by just calling the customer service number with your pilot. Sit down and really clarify how to reach him and how to get his company to work on how to get him back to you even before you've been able to notify him. What number specifically? Who does that go to? Is it 24 hour? Will you be on hold for 30 minutes before someone picks up? It is easier to be prepared for the worst and hope it never happens.

Decision making- Are you listed with your pilot's company as his emergency contact? If you are married and something happens to him, you will automatically be tapped as his primary medical decision maker if he is unable to make them. If you are not married, no matter how long you have been together, you will not be allowed to make medical decisions. Even if you live on a different coast from the rest of his family. In Florida, alternate decision making follows a set list- spouse, living parents, majority of adult living children, majority of adult living siblings, other blood relative, interested friend. If you are not married and show up at a hospital, expect to provide the phone number of a next of kin. I have had to track down next of kin by rummaging through people's wallets, mail brought in by friends, and calling doctor offices and apartment buildings out of state.Who would be the decision maker for your parents or his? If there are siblings, are they all on the same page or would one want to prolong life at all costs while the others might not? Parents can also nominate specific children to make their health care decisions using the method listed next.

Alternates- If you are not married and your pilot would like you to make decisions (or him for you) the way to get around the set list is to nominate a Health Care Surrogate. This is a notarized document that allows you to make medical decisions on a person's behalf. But it must be done ahead of need. Once a person can't make medical decisions, they can't nominate a surrogate. This forms can be found online or at office supply stores. These forms are different from Power of Attorney forms. POA is limited to financial decision making unless medical is specifically mentioned. Health Care Surrogate is limited to medical decisions. Keep the form safe but accessible because hospitals will ask to see it if you ever are in a position to make decisions.

Health Choices- If you were placed in a position to make decisions on someone's behalf, do you know what they want? If your pilot had a head injury that left him alive but ventilator dependent would he want to live that way? Would he want a feeding tube if he couldn't eat? A great document to discuss decisions and record information is the Five Wishes document, usually put out by hospice agencies, doctor offices or hospitals. It is accepted in most states and is very comprehensive. Print a copy of the document or contact your local hospice agency to obtain a print copy, completed it and place it in a safe place.

Now, what I've asked seems fairly easy- track down a phone number and complete a few forms and get them notarized. It really is that easy. It can make life so much simpler for you, parents, single friends and siblings, anyone really. But it is so difficult to follow through on. Let me share the story of my parents...

While I happily reside near the shores of the Atlantic, my parents are mountain people and live in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California. They are both now in their 70's. They are healthy, but spend the winter dealing with ice, snow and storms. Let's walk through what would happen if they both happened to slip and fall on the ice in the grocery store parking lot and be knocked unconscious. They would be taken to the local hospital and I would probably not be notified. Because they don't carry my number anywhere. The police would visit the address their car is registered to and possibly find a neighbor. Who likely knows they have a single child, a daughter in Florida, but can't provide any further information. Eventually, if I ever was tracked down, I would have to make my way to California to take care of them. I would have to break into their house because I don't have a key, nor do I have any neighbor's phone numbers. According to my mother, the information for the lawyer who set up their trust is "maybe in a box in the garage somewhere". Being their only child I am the default decision maker for healthcare, but I have no idea what their financial arrangements are- they keep putting off telling me. So I would root through their garage looking for something to tell me what their wishes might be. Instead of being at the hospital with them. I would also have to root around the house looking for my mother's phone book to notify her side of the family because I have lost touch with them since I moved to Florida.

Even though I am a super advocate for health care planning, I realize how difficult it is to get people to follow through. I have pointed out the missing pieces of my parents planning and provided them with multiple copies of Five Wishes on multiple occasions but they still have a "it won't happen to me" attitude. So I do the best I can. I encourage everyone to follow through with health care planning for themselves and their loved ones. Do it early, review it occasionally and have peace of mind that things will be done to your wishes.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dating pilots

Three articles came across my view in the past week. All in the same day actually.

What every girl should know about dating a pilot
Top six reasons you should date a pilot
Why it is imperative you land a pilot

The last one is probably my favorite. The last two share a remarkable similarity in the first two topics. A wasn't a pilot when we met. I encouraged him to leave his job and become a pilot. And, admittedly, there are plenty of days when I regret it. But now it's all we know. And if I were ever in the position again, I probably would marry a pilot again.

A few days ago we went to the wedding of a pilot friend of A's. The girl seemed nice but I wondered if she really understood what she was getting into. A life of attending family events alone, trying to fit in a call on skype while prepping dinner and running a load of laundry, going to your kid's award ceremonies and orientations alone, wondering if he's going to make it home for the birth of your child or any holiday. Of having to support the family while waiting for the endless upgrade to captain and then on to a major. Of him always being to tired to do any projects around the house when he is home. Having 23 hours at home between four day trips.

But at least he's employed.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The true life of a commuter

A commutes to his east coast base from our east coast home. It's about a 2 hour flight each way. Luckily he can usually commute on his own airline which at least means he has priority for the jumpseat. And it's only a one leg trip. A few years ago, when he was based in Southern CA, it was an all day, two leg (or more) trip. But back then he was new and the mystique of being a pilot had yet to wear off.

We have discussed moving so he didn't have to commute. Or at least moving closer. Neither one of us is interested in moving to his base or even near it. While I can tolerate some snow, and actually used to snow ski regularly, I have no desire to live where there is more than the occasional dusting. I don't DRIVE in snow. I don't even like driving in rain. And what if we move to base and then he gets on with another airline that is NOT based there. Is it worth it to uproot now and possibly again later? Or just suck it up for now? I am open to moving to one of the southern bases but then again, the hassle of selling the house, buying a new one, moving, getting to know a new community and all that comes with it just leads to apathy on my part. And again, what if he moves to a different airline in the future? So for now we stick it out and A loses several days off a month commuting in the night (or sometimes noon, depending on the flight schedules) before and home the morning (or sometimes noon, depending on the flight schedule) after. I admit- sometimes it really sucks to commute.

Here is a rundown of the last four trips that A has had:
Trip one, everything looks good for an early morning commute into work and then a 3 day trip. We go to sleep. Upon waking at 3am, A checks the flights again to discover that his commute flight is now EIGHT hours delayed due to mechanical issues. There is no way he can make it in time for his trip. He ends up calling scheduling, using the commuter clause (the no pay but you don't get busted for not showing up get out of jail card), and two legging it up to base on another airline in hopes that scheduling can build him a trip and he can still get paid. He ends up deadheading to a nearby airport and flying an empty plane back, a three hour trip. Scheduling doesn't have anything else for him so he ends up flying home and arriving around midnight, 20 hours after he woke up. Spends the extra days off at home.

Trip two, A commutes up the night before his trip due to an early show, leaving home about 4pm. He eats at the airport before taking the shuttle to his crashpad to get some rest. He wakes up in the middle of the night with food poisoning and has to call in sick. And suffer through his illness with no food or drinks besides tap water in the crashpad and no way to get any. He flies home on what would be the second day of the trip to a wife who is angry because he JUST missed a trip, didn't get paid, only has about 4 hrs of sick time to cover this trip and we have a barely balanced budget. To appease a wife who professes to be out of sympathy for his "constant illnesses and misfortunes" and who is also "tired of being married to a big talker who never follows through" (oh yeah, I went there...) A spends two full days in the 90+ degree heat weed-eating and mowing our overgrown backyard. And in the end winds up with a muscle strain in his right hand so bad that he can't even close it. Especially around the yoke of an airplane to taxi, take off or land. Which leads to...

Trip three, A extends his sick call since he now can't fly a plane or grip anything. He  ends up driving to South Carolina with me to watch Babyzilla while I am at a three day La Leche League conference. It's difficult for A, since he can't grip Babyzilla's hand or pick him up with his right arm, but he manages and somewhere along the way I forgive A for being so intent on atoning for his previous sin that he physically injured himself. We make it home safely and all is well.

Trip four, everything goes according to plan. A commutes up the day of his trip, flies all his days with a still not right hand and finishes his trip late on the last day. He spends one night in the crashpad and comes home the next day around noon. And commences moaning about how much he dislikes commuting.

We have yet to come to a resolution to our issue. It's not like we stay where we are because we are near family or have lots of friends here. We've only been here 7 years, minus the time in Tallahassee, which is enough to set down some roots but we haven't developed friendships the way we hoped. And our nearest relatives are 6 and 10 hours away. But we LIKE it here. So we continue to suck it up and work with what we've got.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flying safe with baby

A and actually had this discussion about a year ago, but I don't remember ever posting about it. What sparked it was an incident where a family traveling with a lap child had to disembark from the plane because there was not adequate oxygen masks for all the lap children on the flight.  On A's plane they can only accommodate four lap children and they have to be seated in particular seats. Hmmm, who knew? I asked my dad, the former aircraft mechanic, and he agreed. Some planes have an extra oxygen mask at every bank of seats and some do not. I asked on a pilot bulletin board but got any definitive answers on what has them and what doesn't. So always take the time to ask your FA if you are seated appropriately when traveling with a lap child. Even if you are non-revving and the last people on. It's not only a federal regulation and your right, it's also your duty as a parent.
Babyzilla is two and a half now and too big for me to carry very long anymore, but I used to carry him all the time in slings and wraps. Which you are also not allowed to use on a plane. Because that extra layer of fabric holding your baby to you in addition to your arms in the event of a crash is not a FAA approved device. Despite how much sense it makes to add an extra layer of protection to keep the baby with you AND it can free up your arms in the event of a crash and emergency landing. But no mom and pop sling maker is going to tackle the FAA. But they can be used after take off at least.
The best travel tip I got was to take a small blanket and tuck one side under the baby's seat and the other into the front seat pocket to make a little catch basin for dropped toys. It doesn't work well for lap children, but if you've ever had to root around for a dropped toy while you baby is screaming, there's drinks on your tray and the seat in front of you is reclined, you'll thank the heavens for a way to keep that from happening more than once!

Monday, July 15, 2013


counting the sleep I'm losing before the alarm goes off

a heavy toddler
on my chest, latched on in his sleep

I hope that's a cat
licking my knee

I can't remember
my husband is
     in this state
     in this region
     in this country
     getting more sleep than I am

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Switching it up

A few weeks ago, Kidzilla's Boy Scout troop went on a canoe trip down the Suwanee River. It was a parent- son event and I had every intention of sending A until another m begged me to go so she wouldn't be the only mom. I agreed, and then informed A of the plan. I think it was a "let me prove I can do it" weekend for both of us. I used to be real outdoorsy and spent many years attending and working at summer camps in addition to camping with my family. I am a life long Girl Scout. And I have this hidden compulsion to prove myself to all the Boy Scout fathers running the show. Plus, I had never spent a night away from the baby. Nor had A had to run the household (basically him, Babyzilla and the cats) for an entire weekend. A had some fantasy that two nights away would cause Babyzilla to wean from nursing (yeah right) and I would finally get some long overdue unbroken sleep (also, yeah right).

So Kidzilla and I set off Friday afternoon with the group. Babyzilla cried when he figured out I was not returning home with him in the car but it didn't last too long according to A. For me, the trip was great except for the having to sleep on the ground without my usual five pillows and the part where the leaders assumed we all knew how to canoe already. Canoeing is not in my current skill set. Saturday morning we all loaded up in the canoes with our gear and took off. Kidzilla and I were near the end of the pack the entire trip, but after the first few miles my " I am woman, hear me roar" pride kicked in and I probably would have refused to change canoe partners any way. And darn it, we made it 15 miles down the river over two days. I did get some instructional help along the way, but it just didn't click for me.

Meanwhile, at home A kept the home fires burning and even managed to get the laundry done AND folded in addition to taking care of Babyzilla. They had both donuts and ice cream out. They watched movies. They spent Friday night sleeping on the couch as Babyzilla was insistent on being there when Mama came home. They survived and A got a taste of what it's like for me when he's not there. Minus the working  eight hours a day, trying to cram errands in after work then coming home, fixing dinner and preparing for the next day part. But it was a start. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Out of sight, out of mind

Goodness it's been a long time since I posted. I think about posting all the time, but the getting around to actually doing it is the hard part.

Babyzilla is now nearly 2.5 years old. He's capable of walking, running, climbing and turning things with his hands. Things like deadbolts on doors. I knew it was coming and kept telling A that he needed to put some up high locks on the doors so I wouldn't wake up one morning and find Babyzilla out on the front porch. I had a young cousin who wandered out and was subsequently murdered and found in a ditch when I was young. I spend 8 hours a day in a place where children are brought when bad things happen and work with parents to survive after the trauma regularly. I have been in the room with parents who know their child is dying. A knew all of this and STILL didn't get around to putting up the locks on the doors. I attribute it to his being able to leave the house for a 4 day stretch and not having to deal with the paranoia of Babyzilla getting out every time my back was turned. He could just fly away and pretend it wasn't happening. Pretend that retention pond wasn't just a few houses down. Pretend that I have nothing better or more interesting to do than shadowing Babyzilla around the house constantly. It got to the point where I said to A "if something happens to Babyzilla, even if it's while you are not here, it will be YOUR FAULT, and I will always BLAME YOU for not listening to me when I asked for locks." Even that didn't seem to spur him on. It wasn't until I walked into the bathroom while A was showering and informed him that Babyzilla was on the porch sweeping and he's better go get him that he finally got busy. Locks went up that day. Because it happened when he couldn't ignore it any more.

Going on a trip and pretending everything is fine is a common tactic with A. It happens with bills, the tags on our cars, light bulbs that are out... If you are wondering why I don't take care of these things myself, it's because my attempts are likely to be met with much huffing and eye rolling and will need to be redone "the right way" anyway. And I'm lazy so if it's not bothering me too much, I'll let it go. It's like A goes on a mini-vacation from household responsibility when he goes on a trip. And then he complains about his 4 hour sit at the airport when he could be making doctor appointments, shopping for gifts or paying bills online. Or making a prioritized list of things he needs to do when he gets back. I'd love to have a four hour sit where I could just chill and read a book. Or check my email unmolested by children. Or a time when I could just put off everything that's pressing and make A responsible for everything. An opportunity to be out of sight and put everything out of mind.

Monday, March 11, 2013

When did it all get so complicated?

I remember several years ago when Kidzilla and I could pick up and go to the zoo on a whim. When we had nothing better to do on a weekend than watch a movie while the laundry was going, interrupting only to do the occasional switch and fold. Somehow, insidiously, our weekend days have gotten just as hectic as our weekdays and I can barely schedule a time to visit the zoo. Laundry is punctuated by trips to the grocery store, target, gas station, and where ever else we've put off going all week. When I plan my week I try to add one small task per day to my night schedule- making a list, research, calling family- but even that is sometimes too much. I commented to A yesterday that I am usually good until Wednesday but by the time Thursday and Friday roll around all I want to do is crash when I get home. A does his best to help when he can but he has just had horrible schedules all year. Every line he gets is not good for commuting and gives only one, maybe two, days off at home. I guess it doesn't help that I'm now working a job that has me much busier and more on my feet than I was during that idyllic time but Kidzilla's and Babyzilla's demands of me are still small- stay home and play all day? Sounds great mom! And that I have been working on (and recently achieved) a personal goal of becoming a La Leche League leader. Somehow, I've got to find a way to get my groove back.