Friday, November 7, 2014

The Cheating Pilot

When Steve and I started to date, I was a senior in college. I was young, didn't know squat about aviation, and I was falling for a pretty great guy.   He drove a nice car, always paid for dinner, always opened my car door, and treated me like a queen.  In my eyes, this guy was a great catch and I was excited to be in a relationship with him.   

The first wind I ever got of the stereotypical "cheating pilot" thing was while I was at work for my internship. Steve and I had been dating for only a month or so, at this point.  As we were waiting in a conference room for the meeting to start, I was making small talk with a colleague. I mentioned that Steve was a pilot and her response was, "oh you better be careful". Yeah, because you know so much about this man I am dating.  Little did she know that he was flying corporate at the time, with hardly an overnight on his schedule.  His day consisted of flying from point A to B, , waiting at point B for hours on end, and then back to A again.  All with the same Captain.  No flight attendants.  Little interaction with passengers...

And thus started the stereotypical 'pilots are cheaters' ... 


*****
I should add, Steve DID get laid on a trip once. Well, aside from the times where I joined him...

Back in 2010, Steve's pairing took him to Hawaii, and it was the first LAX to Maui flight on the 737.  Because of that, there was a bit of a to-do upon arrival; pictures were taken, and the whole crew got laid.

And you bet that when Steve got home from that trip he was all "I got laid."  Yeah, yeah honey, go on...

*****

Want to know my take on pilots and cheating?  Let me start with one fact.  Of ALL the pilots I know, which at this point in my life is a decent amount, I only know of one that has cheated.  One.  Let me repeat - one.

My point is: in average America, with the average pilot, he is not cheating on his wife.  So there you have it, any girlfriends out there that are worried about entering into a relationship with a pilot. 

The only cheating I know about, on a good handful of occasions I might add, is that pilot wives are the ones to cheat on their pilots.  I have said it before, and I will say it again, it would be quite easy for a pilot wife to cheat on a pilot.  

Take us for example, I know Steve's schedule and when he is due home.  I have multiple websites that track his flights. Hell, I even have ATC websites where I can get an audio confirmation that he is working a flight (if he is the non-flying pilot, of course).  If I call his phone and it goes straight to voicemail, I know he is in the air.  I can track his every move.  I, therefore, could plan carefully for an affair.  Let me add the fact that I have never cheated on Steve, nor do I have any intention to do so.

Have I ever worried about Steve cheating on me?  Never.  

Why don't I worry about him cheating on me?  Good question.

I have said over and over that I believe trust and communication are the two essentials for a successful marriage.  And just this past week I came to the realization that there is another essential when it comes to being married to a pilot. 

When it comes to being married to a pilot, a pilot wife must have high self-esteem. Weren't expecting that, were you?  Took me 11 years of marriage for this to dawn on me...   

I have high self-esteem.  Yes, I think highly of myself.  Now, don't think I am all cocky and high-and-mighty, because I am not. I am actually quite humble.  But, I do know I am good at what I do, and that I very competent.  I have had high self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  I have never struggled with this.  Ok, maybe I didn't think so highly of myself when I gained 60 pounds with each pregnancy and I felt like a cow.  But, that was short lived and passed.  I don't know why I have high self- esteem, but I consider myself fortunate since I know a lot of women struggle with this. Steve also helps with my self-esteem.  I know he loves and and desires me, and that sure does make a girl feel good about herself.

So, when it comes to being married to a pilot, you must have trust, communication, AND self-esteem.  (And here I thought the pilot was the one to have self-esteem. Six Typical Pilot Stereotypes

Trust, self-esteem, and communication are the essentials that give me what I need to know Steve won't cheat on me.  


- I have trust that Steve won't cheat on me.  Steve and I have had mutual trust from our first date, pretty much.  The trust we have in one another has always just come very easily for us.  From the beginning we set the standard and haven't strayed from it.  

- I trust that he will communicate with me if he starts thinking about straying.  I believe that cheating isn't only about sex.  I believe that cheating starts with being unhappy in a relationship.  If Steve is unhappy in our marriage, I trust that he would tell me he is unhappy.  We would fix it before it got to the point of cheating.  (And I am actually speaking from experience here.  There was once a low point in our marriage where I was unhappy and had thoughts of straying.  I didn't stray.  But, I did tell Steve of my thoughts, while he was on the road no less, and we got through it....stronger because of it.)  

- As for the self-esteem part of mix, I don't worry that he wants to get in another gals pants.  I just don't.  I know that if Steve strays then he would be in a world of hurt.  I contribute to this family immensely, and I know he wouldn't risk losing that.  

Lastly, I want to address what happens during cheating...sex.  I think that many couples don't put enough emphasis on the importance of sex and keeping one another satisfied.  Time and time again I hear that couples don't have sex anymore or rarely have sex.  I hate hearing this.  Again, I think it is such an important part of marriage that keeps a marriage happy.  I keep Steve satisfied at home, as he does me.  I wouldn't want it any other way.  As Dr. Laura Schlessinger once wrote (which I blogged about in How to be a Better Pilot Wife), if you serve prime rib at home, he won't go looking for a fast food burger while out.  I think there is a lot of truth in that.  I don't want Steve looking for any fast burgers, so I make a point to serve prime rib at home.  Knowing that Steve is satisfied adds to my assurance that Steve won't cheat on me.    

I don't believe in the whole "pilots are cheaters" stereotype...I never have.  I know too many faithful pilots, wholesome family guys, that override any of the negative talk out there.  I believe people are keeping the stereotype alive because, well, people just like to talk without knowing anything about what they are talking about (like the lady I used to work with...what the hell does she know about pilots, anyway?!).  As a pilot wife, I think it is important to keep the above mentioned essentials alive and kicking, so that we stay happy and successful in our marriage.  And with a happy and successful marriage, I will continue to roll my eyes when people talk about pilots being cheaters.    



Monday, November 3, 2014

It doesn't mean he doesn't love you, it means he is a pilot

Blogging has been a great way to connect with other pilot wives.  One main thing I have come away with, over the years, is the fact that many of our pilots have similar behaviors.  It is great reassurance to hear from others that their pilot acts the same way mine does.  That way, we know it isn't us, but them!  This makes us feel like our crazy is actually normal.

There are so many instances where I have just rolled my eyes at certain behaviors and immediately think that the pilot in him made him do that.


** Take this as an example:
You know he is in the air.  You think of him fondly and you send him a text so that he has it when he turns his phone back on.  The text expresses how deeply in love you are with him.  When you send the text you have butterflies in your stomach, because you love that man so very much. You miss him dearly, and long for his return home.

He never texts back.

Hello? Is this thing on?

Typical.  I know Steve loves me.  But, I also know that Steve doesn't always respond to text messages.  Did he get the text? Probably.




** Or, how about this one:
You haven't spoken to him all day long.  You have been waiting all day to talk to him.  You are husband and wife after all.  You do share this life together.  So, you want to share details of your day.  You know he has a full day so you don't bother with calling him, but rather you eagerly await his call.

It is 8pm, and he finally calls you.  You talk to him for all of 46 seconds.  You could tell immediately that he was exhausted, so you just keep the conversation short and sweet.  I guess you will share the good news...tomorrow.





** Ah, and how about this...
He has been gone a looooong four days.  You have been anticipating his arrival for days now, and plan to take full advantage of the warm body that will shortly be next to you in bed.  If you catch my drift.

He gets into bed.  You finish up in the bathroom. Eagerly, you climb into bed.

He is asleep.

You understand he is tired, so you don't bother waking him up.  You figure you have three more nights to take advantage of his warmth before he leaves for his next trip.



The above scenarios are just a couple snapshots into our life, and I know other pilot wives go through the same.  At first these situations used to bother me, but now I just realize it is all part of this crazy lifestyle.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Under appreciated

Steve had a short 3-day trip last week that ended in a red-eye Thursday morning.

He got in quite early that morning, and was actually out of uniform and in our bed by 7:30am. He is usually just pulling into the driveway around that time after a red-eye.
Steve had just crawled into bed, and Ben was so excited to
show him the new book he was reading about insects

By the time we left at 8:30am, Steve was sawing logs.  I had the thought that he would get some good sleep and the day wouldn't be typical post-red-eye shit.  You know, grumpy, grouchy, cranky...

Boy was I wrong.

4pm: Cici and I got home from school.  Honest to goodness I was just three steps into the mudroom when Steve sternly says "I just have to get this off my chest...the clutter in the mudroom drives me nuts. Please don't let it get this way again."  Or something to that effect.  No kiss.  No "how was your day?" No "it is nice to see you"  Hell, I  didn't even get a "hi"...he went straight to the barking.

BOOM!  I was just three steps into the house, for crying out loud, and he lays into me. This, pilots of the world, is not how you treat your wife after being gone on a trip.  We want to be loved on when you get home, not critiqued about what we haven't done.

I immediately shook off my feelings.  Cici was having a friend come over in a short 30 minutes for a play-date, so I had to get dinner started and make sure the house was presentable.  Lucky for me Steve had cleaned the house.  I prepared dinner, and then Cici's play date showed up.  After a 2 hour play-date Cici's friend left and it was time to address the comment that hurt me so much.

Steve was at a flag football game with Ben so I sent him a text:
Listen...watch your words with me.  I wasn't even 3 steps in the house when you just *had* to get that off your chest.  Guess what...I am busy. I work. I care for the kids. I am planning stuff for tomorrow. I run errands. I go to meetings. I take the kids to activities...I am teaching PSR...all without you.  Steve, I can't do it all. Instead of barking at me...help out because you want to lighten by load. Put yourself in my shoes.

He responded with:
I was getting it off my chest so I wouldn't snap at you...I simply told you and felt better...you could have totally not listened to me and that would have been ok...I just had to say it out loud...I cleaned the house to help, but clutter drives me crazy.

My response:
Imagine how you would feel if I barked at you when you were 3 steps into the house

His response:
I didn't mean for it to be a bark...I just didn't want to keep it welled up inside...if you notice, I was fine after I said it...sometime you just gotta get it off your chest

And my final response was:
You get it off your chest and it crushes me...

His final response:
I didn't mean for it to crush you...I meant to prevent me blowing up at you...I guess that backfired.



So, there you have our text dialogue about the event.  Shortly after our texting Steve and Ben got home, we had dinner, the kids went to bed, and Steve and I finished up preparations for an aviation event on Friday.

The next morning Steve knew I was still upset.  He gave me the candid "don't start off my days off like this."

I responded with the fact that this was his doing, and to not make this my fault.  It was his words that stung me.

Women are not light switches...we can not just simply switch our emotion from upset to hunky-dory in a second.

You want to know why his words hurt me so much?  I feel under appreciated.  And since this one comment rocked me so good, I must have been feeling under appreciated for a long time now.

These last couple weeks have been so incredibly overwhelming for me.  School has started, and the first couple weeks went smoothly.  But, in the last couple weeks all of the after school activities have started, so this is very much a transitional period for us and I am still trying to get settled.  Every day of the week is taken up by activities.  I have had meetings upon meetings in the evenings.  I am even teaching PSR (parish school of religion) at our church.  Not to mention, Steve and I have been planning an aviation alumni event that happened this past Friday.  So, the last two weeks was really full with those plans.

The last thing I was concerned about was the fucking clutter on the counter in the mudroom.  The clothes were cleaned, the house was straightened up as best as I could, there was food in the fridge and pantry, and the kids were clean and happy....I got the basics covered, because that is all I could do with my schedule.

I do not need to be praised for all that I do, and Lord knows I have a lot on my plate when Steve is gone.  But, I need to feel appreciated.  When I get barked at for the counter top clutter, yet no praise, I can't help but feel under appreciated.

*****

Do y'all remember my 35th birthday disaster last year? (Let Him In)  To recap, Steve got me flowers and we went to dinner to celebrate my birthday.  But, that was it.  No gift.  Nothing.  This comes after previous birthday disasters where Steve went away on my birthday for a guys weekend, or when an entire birthday morning passed before Steve said Happy Birthday to me...and that was only after he found me crying in my bathroom because I was the one to remind the kids it was my birthday.  No gift on my 35th was just icing on the cake.

Yep, I spent the night of my last birthday crying my eyes out.

Steve sent me an email as I was upstairs in the bedroom crying, and here is a bit of it:
what I can tell you is that I think after fucking this up again, I might be getting a little clarity on what your birthday means to you ..... I know you ,and I know that you are not a materialistic person, so this is obviously not about a gift per se....but I think what you are looking for is some validation for all that you do.....lets face it, you keep the ship running.....the laundry is done, the house is clean, the kids are happy and I am happy.....but you don't really ever get a big THANK YOU for all that you do to keep the ship together...and for you, one place you expect to be shown the appreciation you deserve is on your birthday.....your are working overtime to make things work, but yet I have not expressed my gratitude to you for this....I have not shown you just how much I appreciate what you do on a daily basis for our family.....for that I am sorry, because you DO deserve to be pampered....and you deserve to be pampered on more days than just your birthday.....lately it's been all take and no give....I am sorry that this has happened.....

***

I hate myself for hurting you and letting you down again....really, you make me so very happy and I never express that to you.....I want to make you happy and I want you to feel appreciated.....You are a wonderful wife and an even better mother....the kids and I are so blessed to have you in our lives....you give and give......you are so selfless when it comes to us....you always put us before you.....I want to ease your load and make you happy....if you will let me, I would like to start to relieve some of your load.....I can cook dinner when I am home....I can take the kids to Polish class, Gymnastics, etc., I can take CC to school and pick her up, I can give the kids baths and put them down....I can do anything else you want me to .....I just want you to be happy.....

As you can see from his writing, he admits that he doesn't give me the appreciation for all I do.  He doesn't express it to me.  I have said over and over that my love language is physical touch, but I sure do need those words of affirmation as well.

*****

A pilot wife can only take so much of being under appreciated before she cracks.

Pilots...remember this!

I will say it again: pilots, remember this!  We keep the house running well when you are gone...we do the job of a mother and father when you are gone.  It is tough, even though we make it look easy.  It is a large load to carry, even though we do it with a smile week after week.  But, remember behind our ease and our smile is a lot of stress and work.  And the catch? You never see the stress and work because you are gone.  We keep that smile on when you are home to make the house happy for you. But, you have to remember that there is a ton of work and stress behind that smile.

Steve left for a 4-day trip on Monday.  I was still hurting from those stinging words when he left.    Yup, still after 3 days.  This is when the physical distance his job gives us is a good thing.  I need my space from him because I can't look at him without feeling upset.  There was a lot of distraction this past weekend, so at least our weekend was okay.  I hope when he gets home I will be better, but there is no telling.

Usually I like to tell Steve's side of the story in my blog to be fair, but I am having a hard time with this post.  His words really stung me, and I am hurting.  I know pilot wives can relate to me and my experience.  And, I hope that any pilots that read this will now understand how much we do when you are gone, and how much pressure we can be under, and how we need to be shown and told that we are appreciated.

Friday, September 5, 2014

watch your words

We received an invitation to a 40th birthday party a number of weeks ago.  Of course we were going to attend!  I had planned for a babysitter for the evening.  Kids were welcome at the party, but for some reason I had it in my head that I would rather keep the kids at home so that Mom and Dad could enjoy some adult time.

The party was last Saturday.  Let me lay out a bit of a timeline before Saturday:

Thursday - Steve got home from a 4-day trip late in the evening.  He saw the kids for maybe 30 minutes.

Friday - The kids were at school all day. The late afternoon was spent together, until Steve hosted a fantasy football draft party at our house.  Steve and I were downstairs while the kids watched a movie upstairs.

Saturday - I went to the farmers market in the morning while Steve hung with the kids.  Steve watched a football game in the afternoon while the kids and I went to the pool for one last time before it closed for the season.

As we pulled into the driveway after a great afternoon of swimming, Steve had just finished mowing the grass. Since we were soaking up as my sun as possible, I was cutting it close with timing.  As I was getting out of the car I told Steve that I had to jump in the shower and he had to help with the kids...or however the direction went.

His response was something like "do we really have to go? I haven't seen the kids a lot and I want to spend time with them."

Yes, he actually said that to me, and boy did this just set me off.

For the next 45 minutes I was pissed, and I mean pissed.  It wasn't until I finally got myself a beer that I started to calm down.

There are so many aspects about his comment that pissed me off.

#1. God forbid we do something with my friends.  He was all for having his draft party with his friends. He was all about enjoying his beloved college football game Saturday afternoon, while the kids and I went to the pool.  Yet when it comes to something that I want to do, I get pushed to the side.

I have been known to say the following sentence before "it feels like what I want to do gets pushed to the back-burners."  There have been plenty of times where I do what is best for my family, while pushing off my desires and wants off to the side.  That is what a wife and a mother does at times.  I understand that, and do it most times without making a fuss about it.  But, this party had been planned for weeks, and in a split second just one comment was made to me that totally pushed aside a want that I had been planning for weeks.  There is nothing worse than having excitement crushed in a second.

#2. Don't be a slamclicker on me.  When Steve gets a slamclicker CA, I hear about it.  The last one was in Hawaii of all places! In beautiful Hawaii, all the guy wanted to do was stay in his room.  I received numerous texts from Steve about how much it sucked to be in Hawaii with his CA.

When his overnight allows, Steve is all about enjoying the city he is in.  I like that, and I hope that it continues throughout his career.  However, I worry that Steve will turn into a slamclicker at home.  The older he gets, it seems like he wants to go out less and less.

Ok, Ok, I get that he is gone 4 days a week, and when he is home he wants to be home.  I am totally aware of that...really, I am.  I try my best to make sure he is balanced at home.  But, when it comes to a once in a lifetime party, he wanted to stay home?!  This is what scares me...that he will become a homebody.  Don't forget that I want to have a social life too!  Don't forget that when he is home, our house is complete and I want to live our life.  Don't forget that I was home for the last 4-days by myself, so I want to get out.

#3. Don't make me feel guilty for taking you away from the kids.  Because it was my friends that were hosting the party, I instantly felt guilt when Steve said he wanted to spend time with the kids...like it was my fault for taking him away that evening.  Remember people, I don't take criticism well.  Then I got some sense about me and remembered that it was Steve's choice not to go to the pool with us that afternoon, and it was Steve's choice to host a fantasy football draft party the night before...so fuck this guilt stuff.  Steve knew this party was coming, so he should have planned accordingly.

I was sure to express all the above feelings to Steve as I was showering and getting ready.  Steve is a good guy, so I know his intention wasn't to hurt me like he did.  I really have the sense he was just making a casual comment.  He sure tried his best to right the situation, but his words really stung and it was hard to get over that.

Like I mentioned above, I calmed down after a beer and we enjoyed the rest of our evening.  I think Steve will now watch his words when it comes to similar situations.  At least, I hope he watches his words, because I will be sure to lose it if words like that are said again.












Thursday, August 21, 2014

So Fucking Busy

 Did you notice that I haven't blogged since May?

Wanna know why?

...because we have been so fucking busy.

The kids were done with school the first week of June.  The second week of June we went on vacation.  Since then, we have been gone every.single.weekend, except for maybe 2 or 3.  It is now August, school has just started, and the summer has just gone by in a flash.

So, hopefully that means that I will be back to blogging more.

Here are a couple pictures from the summer, just for fun, and to establish that I have not fallen off the face of the earth:



Sandbridge, VA...great place!!








amusement park fun


hiking in caves with cousins


weekends at the boat


sleeping in, on the boat



Birthday Party for Cici!



Studying for his PC


of course, work


Vegas, baby!


More birthday party fun!


decided to road trip it, because nonreving isn't always fun 



Air and Space Museum



White House Selfie


watching planes take off at DCA




learning how to ride a bike





back to school!



Thursday, May 29, 2014

First time for everything

Early Monday morning, Steve leaned over me, being sure to hold his tie down, said goodbye, told me be loved me, and gave me a kiss.

Off for a 3-day.  Typical....or so I thought.

***

8:14am 
My cell phone rings.  It was my Mother-In-Law.  Hmmm  My Father-in-Law had an emergency triple bypass the Wednesday prior, so I was on alert to his well being.


Hello?

Hi.  Where is Stephen?

He is at the airport.  He just left for a 3-day.  Why?  My heart starts to pound HARD in my chest.

Well, Lynn had heart arrhythmia this morning while getting dialysis, and he had to be ventilated. At this point, this is basically all she knew.

The conversation continued on for a couple of minutes.  The question was whether or not to call Steve.  He was heading to the west coast and his push was 8:33am.

Margie, if I call him now, he will walk off that plane.  

What to do? What to do?

If I call him and he walks off that plane, with 15 minutes to push, what implications happen with work?

If he doesn't walk off that plane, he has a good 4 1/2 hours to think and think...and think about his father who is critical in the hospital.

What to do?  What to do?

After talking a bit more, the decision was made that I would not call Steve.  I looked at flight possibilities, and noted that there was a return flight back to our base that left 1 hour after his arrival.  I told my Mother-in-Law that if we need him to come home, we can get him home by 6pm.

I got off the phone with my Mother-in-Law, and instantly called my sister.


8:20am
Did I do the right thing?

After discussing things with my sister, I felt a little more calm about the decision.  The truth was that we didn't know what was happening, aside from the fact that he had arrhythmia and he was intubated.  I did have that sick to my stomach feeling though...should I have listened to my gut?  

Since my phone calls were happening in the morning as the kids and I were getting ready to school, I ran out of time to pack lunch and get Ben on the bus.  So, when Ben's third complaint of the morning saying "my stomach hurts," I made the quick decision that we were taking the day off of school and work.  Again, I had that sick to my stomach feeling, so I really wanted to be on standby in case anything happened.


9:25am
My Mother-in-Law calls me with more information, and here is the short of it:
My Father-in-Law actually coded that morning while getting dialysis.  The first code wasn't as bad as the second.  But the second code was intense.  Paddles, CPR, epinephrine, blood transfusions...the works!  He was now listed as critical in the ICU.

At this point, the nurses suggested that the children come to the hospital.

Ok Margie, let me call the Chief Pilot.  I will get Steve home.  There is a first time for everything.

***
9:29am
Hello, XXX Chief Pilots office, this is Jim. (name has been protected)

Hi Jim.  I am a pilot wife.  Please excuse me if I get a little emotional.  I started to choke up.  Poor Jim, probably the last thing he expected on the other end of a phone was a crying wife.  My husband is on the flight to xxx, and his father is in critical condition in the hospital.  We need to get him home.  

After a couple of minutes after an exchange of details like his employee number and his flight detail, Jim was going to work things out and get Steve home.

9:52a
Jim called me back and gave me the flight information for Steve's return flight.


I told my Mother-in-Law to make me the point on contact to get to Steve.  I was home, so I could track his flight.  Not to mention, a lot can transpire in 4 hours, so I wanted to compose all details into just one message to Steve.  I made a point to text him about 10 minutes before his flight landed with the latest detail:

You are coming home on the xx:xx flight back to XXX.  Flight XXXX.  Your dad had heart arrhythmia while getting dialysis.  They had to intubate him and preform other life saving procedures.  His is in a "serious/critical" state.  I contacted the chief pilots office (talked to Jim) and you have an emergency drop.  Check yourself in at the gate.  Call me.  I love you.

Apparently Steve figured something was going on while in-flight.  Some report printed out, something about his CA going somewhere but he wasn't.  He thought maybe his CA was reassigned...or that he was heading home.

As he walked off the plane, the gate agent met him and gave him the details. Heart arrhythmia...critical condition...

***

That night Steve landed around 7p.  He got home around 8p, and was almost immediately off to the hospital.  He was able to see his Dad around 11pm that night.

As of today, my Father-in-Law is doing okay and with each day is gaining strength.  He is out of the ICU, and is on his way out of the hospital to a rehabilitation center. But, he sure did scare everyone good!

***

As I was talking to Steve, before he headed on the flight back home that day, I told him that I needed to get something off my chest.

Steve, I made the decisions not to call you this morning.  This is weighing heavy on me right now.

The weight I was bearing was heavy...I mean heavy!  I had very bad thoughts in my head that something would happen to my Father-in-Law, and it was my stupid decision not to call Steve.  It would have been my stupid decision that would have caused Steve to not see his Father one last time.

Thank God the day didn't end with my greatest fear.  And to give me comfort, Steve did tell me he turned his phone off 13 minutes before push (funny that he remembered that exact time).  Even if I did call him at 8:20a, he phone would most likely have been off.

This job can sometimes complicate life.  Like, being on a different coast when crisis happens in your family.  Like, being unreachable for x hours at a time. Like, having a pilot wife make a decision about whether or not to call her husband when a parent is in critical condition.  But, with each experience I learn.  And with each new experience, Steve and I discuss how to handle things.  Just when you think you have this pilot lifestyle thing down, you get thrown another first.









Saturday, May 17, 2014

overwhelmed

I started this blog on Tuesday night:

My car got hit while it was parked at a restaurant.
This now means that I have to have it towed and repaired.  My cheap pilot husband didn't add on the car rental insurance (once he gets home we are going to discuss this), so that means we have to finagle around borrowing cars from different people. Know that I am the one doing all the organizing.  And don't be fooled by the dent - it threw off something significant and now the car can't be driven at highway speeds without shaking like mad. Notice the rub on the tire?  That is surely the cause of the shaking.

I have been having PVCs (premature ventricular contracts).  I started noticing these in February, and since the frequency picked up I had to see my MD.  This last appointment I had to take the kids since Steve was working. Nothing like trying to listen to your MD about your heart...your lifeline...while your daughter is talking up a storm and trying to pull your earrings out.  I did try to schedule a sitter during my appointment, but it didn't work out.

My daughter had trauma to her front tooth late Friday night, which made for her tooth being pulled on Monday morning.



















Steve was there for the trauma, so I had support that night.  But, I had to manage the scheduling of the pull...with school and work.

I had to buy gifts for my son's PSR (parish school of religion) teachers. 
I have to buy my Mom her Mother's Day gift. 
I have to go to my chiropractor appointments. 
I had to pull out stuff for donations, since they came to our house this week. 
This is all on top of my normal schedule as a working mother.  I get the kids ready in the morning, drop them off at school, go to work, and pick them up.  And then the rest of the evening is full of cleaning the house, doing gardening here and there, doing laundry...that is just house chores.  As for the kids, I have to cook, clean up, make sure they are prepared for school, bathe them, read books, and put them to bed.

The above was really just a way for me to vent out all that I was feeling.  I was simply feeling incredibly overwhelmed....which doesn't happen all that often.  On Wednesday, Steve was due home at 19:something.  Finally, I would have some help and I would get time to relax and be still for a minute.

I was at the computer checking his flight.  Due in 15 minutes early, awesome!  I just finished up a glass of wine, and was in the middle of taking that all important selfie...

...and then my phone started to ring.

7:15p It was my Mother-in-Law calling from her mobile.

Hello?

Joanna.

Hi.  How are you?


When does Stephen get home? We are in the hospital again....


My Mother-in-Law went into all the details of what was happening.  My Father-In-Law was not feeling well, and they went to the ER.  At the time of our phone conversation, my Father-in-Law was currently getting a heart cath because his EKG was way off from the last time he had one.  We spent about 10 minutes on the phone, and we signed off with me telling her that I would pass all this details along to Steve.

7:30p: Steve landed.  I had texted him a quick note of the situation so he had some idea when he called me.  When he called me I told him that his Father was due to come out of the heart cath at 8p, so we would know more at that time.  Steve was purposeful is not calling his Mom right away as he was driving our neighbor's car, so he was trying to be as mindful as possible with driving a new car.  He figured he would call his Mom once he got home.

7:45p: My Mother-In-Law calls me again.  Open heart surgery.

"They will either do it tonight or tomorrow.  Oh what? (she said, as the nurse came in to interrupt her conversation)...Joanna, they are getting the team ready now.  He is going into surgery now."

7:46p: I called Steve and told him open heart surgery.  Boom.  It was established that Steve would be driving to the hospital to be there for the surgery.

And just like that, my world straightened up really quick.

Immediately I went into helper mode.  Any bad anythings that I had in my mind were erased instantly.  I packed Steve's bag, I arranged the car situation so that I wouldn't be left stranded without a car.  I made a quick meal for Steve.

Steve got home.  He changed his clothes, he hugged on the kids, he ate...and he was off.

My Father-in-Law ended up having a triple bypass.  He is still in ICU as of today.  He is doing okay, and it seems like they are taking their time with things.

It is amazing how, in an instant, your world and attitude can change.  When something of this significance happens, it really puts things in perspective.  Here I thought I was having a bad day...


Friday, May 2, 2014

Empty love tank

Have you heard about the 5 love languages?

It is a great book, by Gary Chapman, that I read a couple of years ago.  The book was incredibly enlightening for me and Steve.  The catalyst for me reading this book was when Steve told me that I disrespected him when I left my shoes out.  Really?  Shoes disrespected him?!  When he used the word "disrespect" I knew that my lack of shoe control was more than just tidiness.

After reading the book I realized what the love languages are, and what a love tank is...and how important it is to speak the right love language to your partner in order to make sure their love tank is full.

Steve's love language is acts of kindness, or acts of service.  When I do things for Steve, like put my shoes in their place, his love tank gets filled and things are great.  And when I don't put my shoes away, his love tank gets drained, and he gets pissed and our relationship suffers.  This is why I make such a effort to have the house clean and tidy when he comes home from a trip...to fill his love tank.

Wanna know what my love language is?  Physical touch.  As stated on Gary Chapman's website, physical touch is when "nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch."

Folks, see where this physical touch love language can be an issue when your husband is an airline pilot, and gone days at a time?

To lay it all out, that is the point of my blog after all, my love tank recently went dry.  It sucks.  I was in a sour mood.  I got pissy with Steve.  I had a general pissy attitude towards a lot of things.  And here is the tricky thing...it wasn't really Steve's fault.

It all started a couple weeks ago when we hosted Easter.  Actually it really started when Steve was gone on a trip before Easter weekend.  When Steve is gone on a trip, guess what?  No physical touching.

As for Easter weekend, it was a wonderful weekend.  A very full weekend, but still very wonderful.  On Easter Sunday we had our entire family, both sides, at our house.  Dinner was casual, so not much work in the kitchen.  This meant for a lot of relaxing and talking and visiting and drinking.  The weather was perfection, and after a long winter we all just loved it.  The day really was about as perfect as it gets.



The only thing not perfect?  Well, guess what doesn't happen when family is in town?  Physical touching.

Then Steve left for a trip.  Again, wanna know what doesn't happen when Steve is on a trip?  Physical touching.

Then Steve gets home from a trip, and sees that lovely box of tampons on the back of the toilet.  Which, has to be the biggest bummer for a pilot coming home!  Wanna know what doesn't happen when the box is out? Physical touching.

See where I am going with this?

And see how this really isn't Steve's fault?

See how slowly, over a couple of weeks, my love tank was drained?

See how this is an occupational hazard that impacts the pilot wife whose love language is physical touch?

I believe communication is key in a marriage.  So, I let Steve know that my love tank was empty.  At this point in the game, he knows how to remedy that.  But, keep in mind that nothing is instantaneous with little kids around.  Not to mention, my "switch" can't be flipped in a second to make everything all better again.

In the meantime I was still stewing and sour.  I was laying low and not doing much around the house.  I just needed a breather. If you recognize what it is when your love tank is low, you know how it truly does effect your attitude about pretty much everything.  At least it does for me.  

While laying low, Steve was doing a great job of managing the kids and giving me space.  He even started a project of making me raised garden beds.

He even made the beds counter top height for my tall ass with a degenerative disc.  I know my chiropractor appreciates that.  As he was making the beds I was sitting on my ass drinking beer, and the kids were happy as clams playing in the sand box.

The day continued on just fine, with a quick trip out to Lowes and dinner. Things start getting really good when we got home...

As the kids were playing in the sawdust on the garage floor and I was covering the sandbox, Steve put a philips head drill bit into his finger.  The drill slipped as he was driving some deck screws into the wood.  I heard it happen, and immediately went into the garage to see Steve holding his finger.  I saw blood.  I walked briskly into the mudroom to get a washcloth.  After dropping about 35 drops of blood on the driveway, yes Ben counted the drops, Steve wrapped his finger in the cloth.  

I knew it was bad.  I asked Steve if we had to go to the ER.  He told me to give him a minute.

30 seconds later he told me we "had to go."

I ran to our neighbors to see if they could watch the kids.  They was able, thank the good Lord.  We ran back to the house, where Steve was really suffering.

Our neighbor told me "I got this" as I ran to get my keys, phone, and handbag.  Steve and I were off to the ER.

On the short 5 minute drive, Steve felt like he was going to get sick, and was sweating profusely.  I was driving 85 miles on the highway.  I had no idea what was happening, so I just wanted to get to help fast.  At that point, I thought he actually cut his finger rather than a puncture.  I had no clue how much blood he was losing.  Hell, I have no clue how much is a lot of blood to lose.

We arrived and he was seen in about 1 minute.  I guess ERs are quiet at 7:30p on a Saturday night?  By that time, everything was starting to calm down.  Steve's pulse was all of 55, and his BP was something like 107 over something.  He rated his pain as "4".

While there, he got a tetanus shot, a Rx for antibiotics and pain meds.  He got x-rays to show the bit penetrated 2/3 of the way.  No bones or ligaments were hit.  He washed and soaked the wound  thoroughly.

All in all, Steve is okay.  The pain has been consistent this past week and he is having some nerve issues in both his finger and up his arm.  With time, I am sure the pain will be all but a distant memory.  I pray the numbness goes away.

Ok, ok.  So, let's get back to my love tank.  Here I was all sour and stewing in my own pissed-off-ness, and then my husband goes and does this.  Of course, I kicked right into loving wife mode and any sour went out the window.  It is funny how something like this can kick your ass into the right gear.

And all through this, Steve was still trying to fill my love tank...bum hand, and arm, and all. Bless his heart (in the Northern sweet tone, not the Southern tone).  
  
So, what lesson have we learned here?  For the men reading this blog: don't let you wife's love tank get low.  For the women reading this blog: don't let your love tank get too empty before telling your husband.  Nip it in the bud so it doesn't erupt into a huge issue where it takes a man drilling his finger for you to snap out of it. 

Sometimes it takes a dramatic event to step back and really focus on the blessings and love you do have in your life.  


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Words left unspoken

I went out over the weekend to celebrate a friend's birthday.

The party started at a hotel.  We had a couple of drinks in us when the "entertainment" showed up.   Let me set the record straight...he was nothing spectacular, so please don't think it was anything more than what it really was.  He was high as a kite and nothing much to look at.  Ok, so he worked out and had some muscle, which is good.  But, he was short.  I am 6'1"...so short man don't really make my head turn...nor do men that are high.  Oh wait, I already mentioned that.  

As he was gathering his tips we headed out to the limo, we couldn't get out of there fast enough, which took us to a bar/club.  I do have to mention, Steve did come up on the limo ride out, as he is the only husband in the group who wears a uniform to work.  All the ladies agreed that Steve should have shown up in his pilot uniform!  Now, that would have been a blast!

While at the club we danced the night away.  We were having a great time.  And in typical Joanna fashion I started talking to a table of four guys.  Their table was by our "camp" so naturally I started to talk to them.  Anyway, turns out the four were lawyers.  Turns out that one became somewhat fond of me...and let it be know that I made it VERY clear that I was happily married and had kids.  Just because I was making conversation doesn't mean I was hitting on them...too bad the one thought otherwise.  After a bit, he most definitely wore out his welcome.  Which lead to my tweet towards the end of the night: At a club...no occupation impresses me more than an airline pilot

The night ended with me drifting off to sleep next to the birthday girl...thankful that I started drinking water when I did...

Sunday was a very slow day for me.  After I had some coffee and showered, I left the hotel and picked up some donuts for the kids.  I walked into the house, and Steve made sure to take care of me...and give me ample rest time.  My body just doesn't handle a night out like that very well.  I wasn't hungover, per say, just off...I just felt off.  My legs hurt. My back hurt.  I haven't danced that much in years.  I was starting to get a cold.  Having said all that, when nighttime fell I was not able to give Steve his proper send off before his next trip.

The reason I share the above details with you is simple: being around what I was around on Saturday, and the attention I got at home on Sunday, made me appreciate what I have all that much more!  And since I wasn't able to get my love tank filled on Sunday night (my love language is physical touch), Steve left for his trip Monday morning and I missed him right away.

*****

Come Tuesday about 9:30 at night, and I looked over to see an empty chair.  Steve usually sits in that chair when he is home and we are relaxing at night.



I missed him.


A lot.


I wished he were home...


At that exact moment, he was in Vegas sleeping for a redeye.  I knew better than to text him.  I thought about putting a message on his facebook, but was afraid to be all ooey-gooey lovey-dovey on his page...he is almost 40-years-old for goodness sake.  Some people would find a lovely message from me to him to be about as classy as the 50-year-old couple sucking face at the club the other night.  For goodness sake, take your girl out for a nice dinner and get a hotel room! 


The next morning when I woke, I still missed him.  I wanted to text him, but I still wasn't able to call him. You see, this time he was sleeping off his redeye.


Words were left unspoken...


Words left unspoken happens a lot.  I will get these thoughts in my head and want to share them with Steve.  Who doesn't want to hear the words "I love you" or "I miss you."  But logistics stop me...of course his sleep comes before a text or phone call.

Words left unspoken...



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My name is Joanna, and I am a nervous flier. Did I mention my husband is an airline pilot?

There was a recent CNN article about being a nervous flier and also a tweet from Heather Poole, which has given me inspiration to share my journey of becoming an anxious flier and dealing with it.  And the irony of all this?  I am the wife of an airline pilot! Who, by the way, was sick and tired of dealing with my anxious flying ass.



My first flight was at the age of 15.  I flew to Poland with my grandparents and sister.  The flights were all uneventful, and I was totally fine.  Of course I remember when we first took off, and that incredible pitch.  I also remember the constant hum of the engines while en route.  You know, they never portray that on tv, so I never even thought there would be constant sound.

The second time I flew?  On my third date with Steve.  Pretty fancy, huh?!  He was flying corporate at the time, so after they dropped off their passengers, they had to fly the plane to a hanger about 20 minutes away.  I joined them on that 20 minute flight.  It was very cool, as I was in the jump seat.  Steve, on the other hand, was the flying pilot and was nervous as hell.  You see, he dug me pretty good after our first couple dates, so he really wanted to make a good impression.  And what better way to fuck things up with a gal, then to fuck up a landing!

After that I started to fly more and more.  Trips here and there:
Alaska: including a helicopter ride over glaciers!
Norfolk: my first non-rev experience...where the ticket agent actually laughed at us as we were trying to get onto an oversold 16-seat airplane.  We somehow made it!
Vienna: overseas for Peace Corps.

I clearly recall all those flights being totally fine in terms of anxiety.  I was not scared or nervous on any of those flights.  Every flight was cool and an adventure.

If I had to guess when I started to get anxious, I would guess it happened slowly over time.  Because slowly over time I heard stories from Steve.  His buddy once had an engine fail in flight.  Everything ended up fine, but that was the first time I heard the term fuel contamination.  His buddy once had his stick shaker go off in flight.  Steve, himself, had to call mayday once because they hit a goose that came through the windshield....blood everywhere!

In addition to these stories, I had the added knowledge from asking Steve questions here and there. Although, in hindsight I probably shouldn't have even asked (ignorance is bliss).  With this very limited knowledge, I just became to freak out more and more.  "Did they start that second engine? I don't think I heard them start it!  They should start that engine within 2 minutes (or whatever the time frame is) before we take off...I hope the engine is started." This got me into trouble because I became so overly aware of every single thing...and all the while really not knowing shit about flying.  Again, ignorance is bliss.

But, I have to say that I did have one experience that tipped my anxiety over the edge:
I was en route from SAT, I think it was SAT, to MDW.  I had joined Steve on an overnight. We were in a low point in our marriage, and I thought a little time together would do us good.  So, even though Steve's loads were really tight we made it work the revenue route.  I bought a cheap ticket on another airline.  

Well, on the decent into MDW, something happened...

the blue light was on - sterile - below 10,000 feet. 

I noticed that a man took his young child to the bathroom. How dare you do that!  We are below 10,000 feet! Don't you know anything?!  

As the two of them were walking back to their seat, which happened to be right in front of me, the plane dropped.  

And, I mean DROPPED!  The man grabbed his son, and shuffled back into their seats.  The plane dropped so much that I actually braced myself, as did most everyone else on the plane.  Instantly, the engines started to roar, and we regained the altitude that we just lost, or so it seemed.  

The passengers on the plane turned from rather quiet into quietly chatting about what just happened.  My heart was pumping hard for a good couple minutes after that.  

Once I got home and told Steve was happened, he didn't have an answer for me.  But, I kept asking all his pilot buddies.  One pilot told me it was probably wind sheer...and that makes sense.

Because of that experience, my anxiety went from "did they start both engines?" to the thought of falling out of the sky without notice.  The Buffalo crash was around that time too, which is when I was told that planes really CAN fall out of the sky.  And no, an airplane stall is not like a car engine stalling.   

So, there you have my journey of becoming a nervous flier.  

The turning point in my behavior was when our oldest child was a couple years old.  I would NOT let my anxiety show to my children.  Imagine their confusion when Daddy was at work for days on end flying airplanes, while Mommy was afraid of them.  I would NOT be the cause for my children anxiety towards flying...and perhaps anxiety when Daddy was away at work.  

So, I went to my primary care physician and got drugs.  Ativan to be exact.  I love my little pills.  



Over time I have learned the appropriate "flight cocktail" for me, which is a 1mg pill with one beer.  If I am a bit more anxious than usual, then I just drink an additional beer.  Repeat the beer as many times as necessary.  I have made the mistake of taking more pills, but that leads to memory loss (of a whole night on one occasion where I tagged along with Steve on an overnight) so I regulate with beer. 

To the kids, they possibly see Mommy opening a pill container before a flight, and have a drink before flight and maybe a couple during the flight.  For all they know, I am taking a vitamin and behaving normally.  And that is okay to me...I never mention my anxiety and they don't know.  I will keep it that way!  


I make my anxiety known to whoever wants to listen...because, I have a real problem and I have been able to deal with it!  And any anxious flier out there can too!  My anxiety was taking control, and I was afraid that I would get to the point of not flying anymore...and that is just nuts.  

The more comfortable flights I have, the more comfortable I am, as a whole, with the flying thing.  Before flights I would dread them weeks ahead of time.  Now, I may have a twinge of anxiety here and there, but because I have had uneventful flights, one after another after another, my anxiety has become less.  

As for Steve...he actually likes flying with me again.  I know he used to dread when we were sitting next to one another, as I was always bug-eyed and squeezing his hand and asking him question after question.  Now, I do my thing, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.





Saturday, February 22, 2014

Disney Fantasy

Leading up to our Disney Cruise last year, I waxed myself at home.  (Pilot wives making things user friendly)

Leading up to the Disney Cruise, which was just a couple of weeks ago, I puked on the eve of our vacation....and Steve was working.

Is this a trend I am starting to see?


Despite Steve's best efforts to trip trade, his last pairing before vacation got him in the eve before we left.  We were planning on leaving on a Friday to get into Florida, and Steve was due home Thursday.  However loads were quite full, so we decided (on Monday, mind you) that we would leave Thursday night, overnight in a connecting hub, and then fly the last leg into Florida on Friday.

So, with this last minute schedule change, yet another vacation was happening where yours truly has to prepare everything in Steve's absence.  Although, I have to say at this point in the game, I have grown to expect this.  What I have not yet had to deal with was me vomiting while I had to prepare the house and ourselves for a 7-day cruise.  Ugh.

On Wednesday evening, I took the kids to Target to pick up the last little things (fun things for the plane, travel wrinkle spray, ect).  I figured, to make things easy, we would just eat dinner at Target.  The breadsticks sure did taste good, but boy did they not sit with me well.  When we got home, my sick feeling was elevating quickly.  The whole time I was feeling like shit, the kids were running around screaming their heads off.  I could barely move my body.  I was screaming at them, yes screaming (proud mom moment), that I was sick and they had to get themselves ready for bed.  Finally, around 7:30p, I was bent over the toilet.

At least that made me feel better.

I texted Steve that I just puked, and his response was something to the effect of "great...this is going to be a *great* vacation."

At this point in the game, I didn't know how sick I really was.  Was this one episode? Was this just the start? I was thinking it was the breadsticks, and praying it was over.  I also said a couple prayers that the kids wouldn't get sick.  Because that would really fuck things up.

The kids finally settled down, and eventually made it to bed.  Ben read Cecilia a book that evening...super cute!  I was feeling okay enough to get the rest of the packing done and the house straighten up enough for the evening.  I figured I would get good sleep, and wrap things up on Thursday.

Thankfully, I just had one episode of getting sick!  On Thursday morning I was still rather weak, so I figured that I would just leave work about 45 minutes early, get back to the house to do my final prep and then we would be off.  And that is how it went...I left work a bit early, got home to make the house look good, then I was off to pick the kids up at school.  Once I got the kids, we drove off to the airport to meet Steve, who finished up his trip about 30 minutes prior to our arrival.

I pulled up to the departures curb to meet Steve.  We unloaded the kids and bags, and Steve drove off to park the car while the kids and I checked in and made our way through security.

Steve met up with us after we waited for him in the terminal for about 5 minutes...and then I could finally start to relax.  I made it.  We made it!


******


Last year we cruised the Disney Wonder.  This year we cruised on the Disney Fantasy.  The Fantasy is bigger and newer than our last cruise.  Although, I am not saying bigger and newer is better...we actually prefer certain aspects of the Wonder over the Fantasy.  The kids "club" and "lab" were just outstanding on the Fantasy.  The ship was outstanding.  I couldn't recommend the cruise enough!


Here are some pictures of our trip:


Captain Benjamin! 

view from one of the adult bars

formal night

class on paper airline making?
You betcha!

Delta arrival
St. Maarten 

here comes the big one!
St. Maarten

the most perfect picture ever taken
I am awesome.
Although the back story of this picture is hilarious...
perhaps my next blog post.


Pirate night. Argh!

Pirate night. Argh!

Flight simulator game? Of course he had to
give it a whirl.
lounging my the pool with my cocktail in hand
Disney allows you to bring on a bottle, so with a little mixer
the Moms and Dads are happy.


Donald pool


Disney's Private Island, with Minnie


Enjoying the sun

Poor thing had a stomach flu the last night of the cruise
(perhaps I gave it to her?)
thankfully it started to end when we got to the airport.
She napped like this for 2 hours! 

Name that airport.
Ben was "driving" the train.
And I was carrying a barf bag. 




Disney Fantasy 2014