Monday, June 1, 2015

Stress of a pilot wife

Stress.

Stress is just horrible for your body.  I know that.  I read books that make this point, and it actually scares me.  I try to keep stress out of my life.  I eat well.  I practice yoga. I get massages, although those usually happen when stress settles into an exact point on my back.  I get regular chiropractic care. I get my girl time. I get my me time. My husband satisfies me, if you know what I mean.  Blogging even helps relieve some stress, when necessary.  I have thought about getting into meditation lately.  However, I think stress may always follow a pilot wife.  Nature of the beast, I suppose.  

Despite my best efforts, I am still stressed.  Today was a perfect example of the stress I feel as a pilot wife.  As is typical for a Wednesday, Steve was on a trip and I was working my usual hours.  What wasn't typical for my typical day was double my work.  I won't go into details about my job, but just know I had about double my work...that needed to be done in my short 5 1/2 hour work day.  I was so focused today with my tasks, that my knees actually hurt by the end of the day. Meaning, I barely got up from my desk.

It was about 2pm, and I knew I had at least an hour+ of work left.  Problem is that I leave at 3p.  STRESS!  I have to be home in time to get Ben off the bus. 

I leave every day from work at 3pm.  I pick Cici up from daycare at 3:30p, so that we are home by 3:55p.  I am crazy punctual, so I make sure I get home at this time because Ben gets off the bus anywhere from 4:15-4:25.

All the while I am working, I am thinking to myself that I wasn't going to finish my work by 3pm.  I needed to alter our routine this afternoon. I was working fast so that I could keep our routine...humans are creatures of habit, after all.  But, every 10 minutes I would look up from my task, notice I still had x pages of work to go through, and then realize keeping our routine probably wasn't going to happen.

Steve called me at 2:56p, hmm...he didn't sleep that much after his red-eye, and I picked up the phone basically saying "hey I am crazy busy.  I will call you back in a bit."

I finished up my work, which took another 30 minutes.  I left work 30 minutes late.  I went directly home, got Ben off the bus, and then he and I went to pick Cici up from school.  Cici is very much "go with the flow" so she wasn't bothered at the least with this change in routine.

The stress I was feeling was because it was ME that needed to be home for Ben.  I can't call Steve and say "honey, I am running late. Can you be home for the kids?"  Nope...all me.  When I have my work obligations that extend past my work day, I get stressed.  The above is a perfect example of stress for the working pilot wife.

Oh, while we are talking about Cici and school, let me talk about another stress point in my life lately.  My car.  If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you know that I have been chirping lately about my displeasure with my car.  The car is a 2010. It has about 78K miles on it.  It is in the shop too much.  And a repair isn't just one visit, but three visits.  So, it is like triple the service appointments.

Buick service records for the last two years (on left)
BMW service records for the last two years (on right)


The latest issue happened last week.  Instead of leaving work at 3p, I left at 3:15p. I have learned this is the exact latest time I can leave work, and still get home in time for Ben to get off the bus.  I knew I had to be quick, quick, quick, in order to get home in time for Ben.  I picked up Cici from school, and when we got into the car I went to start the car...problems. It wouldn't start.

Instant STRESS!

I immediately called my neighbor, and as we were arranging for her to get Ben off the bus, the car started.  Thank the good Lord!

On our ride home, I called Steve.  I don't recall where he was, but he was in for the day.  I told him what issue I had.  I told him that our car shopping needed to go from the back burner to the front burner,  I had been test driving cars for the last two months, or so.  He didn't say a word.

I know he knew what needed to be done, but the "cheap pilot" in him was fighting it a bit.  This is when I just stay quiet and let his mind think.  There are a lot of hours to think up in a cockpit, and knowing that I have a car that has grown unreliable would be very much on his mind.

Fast forward a couple days when he was home.  I was preparing Ben's typical egg burrito for breakfast as Steve was trying to talk car with me.  Really? I am getting the kids off to school and you want to talk cars? I forget the exact details, but I was actually getting upset.  I was about to cry over the eggs.  I told him I needed to stop the conversation because I wasn't about to get upset over a fucking car.

There are real problems in life.  We just put our beloved dog down.

My boss was affected by a tragic event at his son's school. Lives were taken too early.  A dear co-worker lost her pregnancy at 12 week. These are real problems...these are the things to cry over.  I was not going to get upset over a car. A fucking car.

Steve thought about things.  I thought about things.  We talked.  We ultimately decided on a Toyota.  Steve drives a BMW.  It is his third.  Mark my words, he will always drive a BMW because he just loves the brand that much.  I did test drive the X5, but it was just too small for me.  I am 6'1. Steve is 6'1.  My 7 year old son is already 54" tall.  We are tall people, and I need a car that will accommodate our tall asses.  So, I went with the two brands that you rarely hear complaints about, Honda and Toyota.  We drove the Odyssey and Pilot, which were both great.  We drove the Highlander and the Sienna, which were both great.  But, the Highlander actually got me excited.  So, we went with that.

I am thankful that Steve was willing to put aside any "cheap pilot" stereotype and make me stress free.  It is quite possible that he had a bit of stress from the car, too...no traveling husband wants to get the call from his wife that her car won't start.

You know, there are days where, at the end of the day, I am all "I totally have this pilot wife thing down.  I am superstar.  I am doing great.  The house is perfect, the kids are happy, and my pilot is coming home to a hot meal.

And then there are days where I am drowning, where laundry is piled up and Steve comes home to me saying "are you hungry? I can make you a sandwich."  Moments later I will pass out on the couch from the sheer exhaustion of being a single parent for the previous three days.  These are the days where life just get too busy, and it takes a lot of effort to deal.  These are the stressful days.

I wear a night guard when I sleep.

Sexy, I know.  I wear it because I grind my teeth at night, which is wearing away my enamel.  Why do I grind? Stress.

 I have PVCs (premature ventricular contractions).  My heart will prematurely fire, stop to reset itself, and then send out a hard kickstart beat to get the rhythm set right.  Why do I think I have them? Stress.  

I have physical effects from the stress in my life.  One of the "perks" of being married to a pilot, I suppose.

Steve and I celebrate our wedding anniversary this month (12 years).  I have been a mother for nearly eight years.  You would think that I would have this pilot wife/mother thing down by now.  Nope.  Still working on it.  I am pretty good at it, if I may say so.  But, there are moments where it gets the better of me.








Friday, April 17, 2015

Men think in series. Women think in parallel.

Do you have the gift cards?

Of course, I answered.

I had the Cheesecake Factory gift card, along with the Cold Stone Creamery gift card.

Steve, however, was referring to the $150 in Disney gift cards.  He didn't specify Disney when he asked me about the "gift cards" before we left home for vacation.



When this error in communication was discovered in the hotel, five minutes before we left for the Magic Kingdom, Steve and I sure did exchange a number of heated words.

Your Mom was the one to gift us the Disney cards, so you were in charge of those! I repeated.

What do you think I meant by gift cards...when we were going to...Disney?!

As if I didn't have any other things to handle before we left?! 

And this is where the pilot wife stuff enters...

Steve and I now recall this morning argument with grins on our faces.  As a matter of fact, we recalled this argument the other night with friends.  I have blogged about this guy before (Pilot Dork)...he is totally Steve's soul brother from another mother. He is an aerospace engineer.  He is also a pilot, although I am not sure how current he is.

So, as we were replaying this argument to Mr. Aerospace Engineer, he chimed in with his thoughts...which is totally the motivation for this post.

Mr. AE states that men think in series and woman think in parallel.




When Mr. AE travels for work, he makes sure to bring his cell phone, his credit card, and his boarding pass.  Anything that may have been left behind, contact solution for example, can be bought.

Whereas women think of everything: cell phone, credit card, boarding pass, nail clippers, hair mousse, razors, rain ponchos, swim shoes, sun screen, hair ties, brushes, ect.

And my response to this was "um, yeah we have to think of everything!"

Of course this is a mother thing, but I think this is even more fitting because I am a pilot wife.

Why is it more fitting for the pilot wife? Because we have to fucking think of everything, all.the.fucking.time...and, most of the time without our spouses involvement.

Let's face facts, generally speaking Steve is gone anywhere from 42% to 57% of the week. This leaves me a lot of time as being a single mother.  It is all me when he is gone, and because of this I have to think of everything.

Let me share another story with you, folks.  A couple of years ago Steve took part in a wonderful tribute dedicated to the person who started the flight program at his University.  A number of University planes did formation flying over a reception that was taking place for the man.  Steve was flying in the formation, so I thought it would be neat for the kids to see it.  I loaded the kids in the car, and off we went to select a great viewing spot.

Great viewing spot was found.  We got out of the car, place blankets on the ground, and our potty training son started to have some GI distress.  Ok.  Loaded back into the car, drove to the nearest toilet, only to discover that said distress had passed.

Ok.  Back in the car. Back to great viewing spot.  GI distress starts up again, but this time it was fast.  Our son made quite the mess, a couple of times.  I blew through the spare pants, and the spare diaper I had for him.  He ended up wrapped in a blanket by the time everything was said and done.

Fortunately, amidst all this commotion we were still able to see the formation, which was very cool.  But, because of all this I now carry a little potty when we go places where I know a toilet won't be near.  I never want to be in a situation again like I was.  Steve thinks I am nuts since the kids are well past potty training age, and scoffs every time I load the potty in the car.  I simply want to be prepared.

Because pilot wives are conditioned to being a single mother a lot, we make sure we are prepared by thinking of everything.  And with that comes a pilot who is conditioned to a wife that does everything...everything accept bringing the damn Disney gift cards.



**said gift cards have since been used...to book our next Disney cruise.





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Superpower

Do you want to know what my super power is?

Well, maybe it isn't a super power, but it is something that I do that I think is pretty cool.  Some may say weird.  There are certain people that I come across in a regular day where, in my mind, I instantly form their entire life.  All within a couple seconds I think of: where they live, what their family dynamic is, what their job is, what social circle they are in, ect.  

I don't work my super power on everyone, just the people that strike me so.  I would say this happens maybe once a month, or so.  The latest was just this evening, as we were driving home after Cici's dance class.

Let me set the picture a bit before I go into my super power experience from tonight.  Steve left for a trip yesterday, and I miss him like crazy.  There are a couple factors that play into that.  He was off for 17 days straight at the beginning of the month.  He really knows how to bid, and with vacation this month he was able to maximize his schedule.  During that 17 days we had a great vacation, and you know how hard it is to have your man leave after a high.



In addition to his 17 days off, he only had two days off between his last 4-day and this one.  To the non-aviation people reading this post and think "well, I am only off for two days, Saturday and Sunday...that should be plenty of time": you can kiss my ass.  And Steve's ass, and all the other aviation people that side with me.  Two days are just not enough time to reconnect with your pilot, nor him reconnect with his family.  

To boot, Steve left for this trip on a Sunday.  Him working on Sunday is always the hardest day of the week for him to be gone.  Sunday is a family day, not a day to spend apart from your partner.  And to top this all off, we had really good sex the night before he left for this last trip.  Talk about leaving after a high, which makes it all the harder to say goodbye. 

So as I established, I was missing Steve like crazy.  There has been a constant chatter in my head, over the last couple days, about how I missed Steve and couldn't wait until he got home.  When a pilot wife has that chatter in her head, she carries a melancholy mood to her. She may play certain songs. Mine being Van Morrison, Sweet Thing, at the moment.  Maybe she will send more texts than usual to her man.

Or, maybe she will see something and work her super power...

After Cici's dance class, the kids and I piled into the car and set off for home.  I made the comment, as we were leaving the parking lot, that it was still light out.  What a wonderful sign that Spring is right around the corner, despite the -5F temperatures.  I took a right out of the parking lot, onto the main road.

We passed the pizza place where we ordered from Friday night.  Steve was home Friday, and due to the cancellation of Polish School for the kids, we had friends over.  The kids played while the adults talked and drank beer.  It was a really nice evening.  

As I made a point of the pizza place, I noticed a man walking to his car holding a pizza box.  This is where my super power kicked in.  In a matter of seconds, this man's life played out in my mind.

It was 6:23p.  He was driving a late model Jeep Grand Cherokee.  He was wearing a long wool dress coat, black.  If he wasn't wearing a suit underneath, he was at least wearing a tie.  His hair was dark, and conservatively styled.  The town we live in is full of middle/upper management types, and I immediately pinned him as just that.  His wife stays at home.  She called him at 4p, totally freaking out.  She was having a really bad day with the kids, and just needed to talk it out.  His remedy to the situation? "Honey, I will stop on my way home and get a pizza for dinner.  That way you won't have worry about fixing dinner. I will be home by 6:30."

This made me miss Steve that much more.

I want to be able to call Steve and have him come to the rescue, and know it will only be a matter of hours, until I see him again.  

This made me wish I had a husband home every night.

This made me sad that my husband isn't home every night.

Us pilot wives think this...more often than one may think.

When I was a little girl I never thought that I wanted to be married to the man of my dreams...who happened to be gone four days a week.  I always thought that I would be married to a man that worked 9-5, just like my Father worked.  I thought my life would be just like the dynamic that I grew up with.

Steve and I have been married for almost 13 years now.

Quite often, I used to wish that my husband was home every night.  Now, I think about it from time to time, mostly when I miss him.  I am sure that through the years, this questioning will be even more infrequent.

I think it is all a matter of adjustment...adjustment from what I thought married life was going to be like, to what married life actually is when married to an airline pilot.

The adjustments started shortly after I met Steve.

When Steve and I started dating, it was all fun and exciting, which was enough to overshadow any issues about dating a pilot.  The adjustments were little at first, like missing a date night because he was delayed 3 hours.  Over the next couple of months and years, as our relationship grew, adjustments were made to what I thought were normal relationship dynamics.

Can't make it to my sorority dance? Ok. 

You won't be around for Friday night date night? Sucks.  How about Monday night?

Wait, you are going to miss Christmas? Crap.

You better work your bidding magic to get our wedding off! 

I'm ovulating. and you aren't around. Trying will have to wait until next month. 

Honey, I am having contractions.  You better call your chief pilot and get home!

You are going to miss his first birthday. 

Little by little I grew to really grasp Steve presence, and lack thereof, in my life.  Over time, you learn to adjust to being with a pilot.   Little by little you manage the life that is in front of you. You learn how to cope.  Little by little, your reality unfolds. Little by little, you grow to accept this as your life.

Even though I accept this as my life, I still question it...especially on a night where you have a picture perfect example of a family where the husband is home every night staring you in the face, and all you want is to have your husband home.





Friday, February 20, 2015

Disney Wonder 2015

We recently got back from a wonderful trip.  We went to Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and then a 5-day Disney cruise on the Disney Wonder, out of Port Miami.

All in all, it was a great trip.  The fact that we went to the Magic Kingdom for a day added stress on my shoulders, because there was just that much more planning involved.  But, it was worth it.  

Here is a brief outline of our trip:

Day 1: flew into MCO. 



Rented a car from Sixt. Overall, everything was great with this company.  We ultimately picked this company because they had a drop off location in downtown Miami.  And a $12 taxi fare later, we were right at the Disney terminal.  That couldn't have worked out better.

The one thing, however, is the car (Honda Accord) was beat up a bit.  I actually took pictures of the dings so that I could prove, if need be, that they were there before we drove the car.

That night we stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Lake Buena Vista.  I used points for the hotel, so we were looking for a good value.  This place had free parking, and a nice hot breakfast in the morning.  The drive to the park was about 15-20 minutes, but that was okay.  That night we ate dinner at Mexican joint that was right next to the hotel.  It was nice to be able to walk to a restaurant, so both Steve and I could enjoy a cocktail or two.

Day 2: Magic Kingdom.  Got to the park around 9am, and stayed until the fireworks at 8p.  We got back to the hotel around 9p.  Stayed again at Fairfield Inn & Suites. 


It's a Small World...my favorite! 

Jungle Cruise selfie

After a long day, back on the Monorail, back to the parking lot.  


Day 3: We drove to Miami, and stayed at Courtyard Miami Lakes.  We thought about doing an airboat tour on the Everglades, but the weather was a bit spotty.  Instead, we just swam at the pool.  We had a great first floor room that had a slider out into the pool area.  Really nice and convenient. 

That evening we drove about 15 minutes to a nice outdoor shopping area.  Steve needed water shoes, and they had a DSW.  Also, we had a Cheesecake Factory gift card to use, and they had one there. It all worked out great.


Day 4: The Cruise!  I discovered I broke my favorite sunglasses, so we had to make a detour to Marshall's so that I could get a new pair.  Have you ever driven in MIA?  Holy shit, the highways are confusing.  It was cool, however, to drive on the highway right next to the airport! 

We finally got onto the ship around 1p, and headed right up to eat, drink, and swim!  Well, the kids swam while Steve and I drank beer.

What was your favorite thing about the cruise, Ben?
The ice cream!

Setting sail selfie


Day 5: Day at Sea, and Pirate Night

Morning snuggles




movie poolside
Ready for the pool


pirate night
Nice photo bomb, Steve!

seemingly thrilled about pirate night



Day 6: Grand Cayman

This is a tender port, and thankfully the seas were fine and we were able to get there.

We did the Dolphin Adventure excursion.  Highly recommend it!  It started with a tour of a green sea turtle farm.  I love turtles, so it was just so neat for me!



We then went across the street to where we got in the water with the dolphins.  Since the kids are so young, and aren't strong swimmers yet, we went with the low key excursion.  We all got to touch the dolphin, Esmeralda, and do some tricks with her.  Being so close to such a beautiful creature was really amazing.  We also got these great pictures, at a bargain price of $35 each.




After we got back to the ship, the kids got some pool time.


And that evening, Ben tried escargot!




Day 7: another day at sea. The kids had some time at the lab and club, while Steve and I had some time at the adult area of the ship.

The evening concluded with the formal night.  Well, I say formal night...Steve counted, and at dinner there were only three males wearing jackets, and Steve and Ben were two of the three.  I really don't understand why people don't get dressed up anymore.

Cici was too busy dancing to get into the picture


Day 8: Castaway Cay
But, due to the 37 knot winds they were not able to dock the ship.  After four attempts, they decided to abort.  So, another day at sea.

After the Captain made the announcement, I immediately thought of Renewed Pilot's Blog post about the exact same subject: Do You Believe Me?

I spent the day in shorts and a fleece, so the weather really wasn't ideal for swimming.  We watched a movie, took a fat nap, and just enjoyed the last day on the ship.






Day 9: Travel day back home.  Flew out of FLL.  And lucky us got our seat assignments when we checked out bags!  I mean, how freakin' awesome!  I think there were 88 open seats that flight.  That never happens, and made for a very relaxing trip home.  So relaxing, as a matter of fact, that Steve was dozing even before we took off.  I don't even think the cabin door was shut yet when I took this picture:



Steve did wake up when we were taking off. I love these picture of Cici...you can see the awe and magic in her face as we were speeding down the runway and then lifting off into the friendly skies:




Another great trip on the Disney Wonder.  As a matter of fact, we have already booked our next cruise!  We are doing 7-nights on the Disney Fantasy next winter.  We have turned into the biggest Disney Cruise fans!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wanderlust

I was 15-years-old when I first stepped foot onto an airplane.

The second time? My second date with Steve, when I was 20.

Our children's first time on a plane? I think they were both around a year old.



guess that air train



first class? um, sure! 


savvy traveler


actually studying the instruction card - their first international leg


Our children are lucky as hell that Daddy is an airline pilot.  In their young lives (ages five and seven), they already have quite a number of stamps in their passports already.

The kids have been on: two cruises (about to be three)



Canada, Poland, and Slovakia.





In addition to the travel just mentioned, we have made multiple trips to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, and one trip to DC.  These kids know travel.  They know the difference between a city, a state, a country, and a continent.  They know different languages are spoken in different countries.  For this, I am proud.  This surely is one of the perks of being married to an airline pilot.  Wanderlust...what a great thing!!!  This is something that has come to me, and I hope the same for our children!  Travel is one of the greatest gifts.  

In preparation for our upcoming trip, I was making arrangements with our neighbors to watch our dogs.  We got into a conversation about travel and kids, which is the spark for this blog post.  

When I was a little kid we didn't travel much...at all.

My Father immigrated from Poland in the 70's. My oldest sister was born quickly. and then my older sister was born quickly.  And then, yours truly came along so fast that my Mother didn't announce her pregnancy to family for a good while.  My parents had a lot on their plate in those first number of years, and not a lot of money.  Travel wasn't really on their radar.  I am being honest-to-goodness serious when I say that I can count our family trips on one hand.

When I was in grade school we loaded up the family station wagon and headed out to Maryland and DC.  That was the first time I heard the roar of the ocean.  The only other lasting memory of that trip was the extreme, and I mean extreme, sunburn we all got.  The sun blisters above my Father's lip was the reason he grew out the mustache he still wears to this day.

I went to Walt Disney World when I was in the 8th grade.  We drove.  I am from small town USA, and I remember getting into the eight-lane highways in Atlanta and thinking this was the most confusing thing I have ever seen. 

Before my junior year in high school, my Sister and I joined my maternal Grandparents on a six-week trip to Poland.  As I stated above, this was the first time I rode on an airplane.  My Grandmother got me so excited about the flight..."there is a point over the Atlantic where outside one side of the plane is dark, and the other side is still light." ... "and after we land, everyone applauds the pilots."  I don't recall those things as much as I recall the constant hum of the engines, and the feeling that the plane was pitched up the entire flight.  I prayed Hail Marys at take off, and proceeded with the prayer for the next 10 minutes or so.  I still pray before every flight. 

My junior year in college, is when Steve and I met.  For our second date, Steve took me on a flight and then out to dinner.  I was actually in the freakin' jump seat!  Kinda cool, although I was freaked out a bit.  He was flying a Saab turbo prop at the time, and after they dropped off the passengers at a small airport, Steve and his CA had to fly the plane about 30 miles to the even smaller airport to get to the hangar.  Steve was the flying pilot, and was nervous as hell.  He is a very competent pilot, but I sure did shake his nerves.  I doubt he would admit this, he isn't one to be all lovey-dovey eww-e-goo-e, but I do believe it was love at first sight for him.  So, on that second date he was really smitten with me...and he really didn't want to fuck up the landing.  I still remember what he wore...navy chinos and a plaid short sleeved button down.  

2 weeks after I graduated University, I took to the friendly skies again, and this time it was for Peace Corps.  I served in Europe, and I traveled extensively in Slovakia.  I traveled into Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic a bit.  I think Peace Corps was really the thing that fueled my wanderlust...being with a pilot only helped.

Once I got home from Peace Corps, Steve was working at a regional carrier.  We settled down and eventually got married.  Over the years we have traveled a lot.  We have done anything from cruises to Poland to Paris to Switzerland to the Caribbean.  Sometimes with the kids, sometimes without them.

Alaskan cruise, circa 2006

Ben - Spis Castle, Slovakia

Train travel - a must in Europe


What is Krakow without a visit with the pigeons! 


St. John - heaven on earth

Paris

Switzerland



Rick's Cafe, Jamaica
Yes, that is Steve jumping.

Jamaica 


As I mentioned, we are about to leave on another cruise.  We will be sailing the Disney Wonder again.  You can read about our first trip here: Pilot Wives Making Things User Friendly.  I hope this post inspires you to get out and travel!  And if you have travel privileges...use them!  This really is one of the best perks about being with the airlines...and makes this whole aviation lifestyle worth it.