Thursday, October 13, 2016


There have been two times in my life where a delivered bouquet of flowers made me cry.

The first time was in the fall of 2001. I came home from Peace Corps in June, and was having a hard time finding a job. I moved in with Steve when I got home, so I didn't have to pay rent or utilities. But, I did have a new car to pay for. So, I took a job as a bridal consultant at a large, local bridal salon. I loved it. It was a wonderful job. Full of beauty and happiness, joy and love. Not to mention, it was like a workout every shift.   Those gowns are heavy, and lugging them around all day, and lifting them over the brides heads,  made my arms incredibly toned.

The one thing that wasn't so great about it was the pay. $7 an hour.

I had a degree from a private Jesuit University, and I was making $7 an hour. That fact wore on me after a couple months. I was growing more and more depressed and upset.

While at work one afternoon, the most beautiful bouquet of sunflowers was delivered to the bridal salon. A dozen sunflowers in a blue vase.  I cried the second I found out they were for me. Steve knew they would brighten my day, and boy was he right. Something so simple lifted my spirits and gave me hope. I was able to find a job after looking for four months...and am still with the same company today. 

The second time I cried from receiving flowers was just last week. I was down. I knew it. Steve knew it. It started the week before. Thursday night: book club. This is when the neighborhood wives get together once a month to talk, drink and eat. There is always a book selected, but I never read it. I look forward to book club, but I can't always go. I have this thing where I don't want to spend money on a sitter, if it means that mom is going to go out and booze it up. So, if Steve isn't home for book club, I will pass. I make it to about 70% of them throughout the year.

I was all set to go to the last one. Steve took the kids to gymnastics, while I stayed home to make dinner. I even got to write my book a bit. I am at 30,000 words now! When they got home, I had dinner set and ready. Tomato soup, Polish style, with sour cream and noodles. Delicious! Bread and salad complimented the soup. We ate. It was a nice dinner, albeit a bit late due to gymnastics. When we finished up, I looked at the clock and mentioned I was going to head out. Book club started at 7, and it was now 7:45p.

Steve asked that I help clean up. Okay. Typically I make dinner and he cleans up. But, he asked. And he only asks when he needs/wants something - that is the introvert in him. So, I helped. Then I headed out to book club, and had a great time, along with the three glasses of wine. I had blood work the next day, just typical check-up stuff, and I am sure there was still some wine flowing through that blood.

All was well.

Saturday morning came and Steve, the kids, and I headed to my sister's house, which is a 2 hour drive. Steve had plans of meeting his high school buddies for an annual get-together. Fine. He was going to do that and my Mom and I were going to take all the kids, including my nephews and niece, to see a movie.

I sent Steve a picture of the kids lounging in the most posh theater seats...and got no response.

Pilot wives, have you ever sent a text, or two, or six, to your wonderful husband, and get no response? I am sure you have. And if you have ever experienced this, you know EXACTLY where I am going with this.

I went along with his plans for his get-together with his guys, which included taking care of the kids, and I sent him a text...and he doesn't have the courtesy to respond?

This set me off. Over the next number of hours I was just brewing and brewing. By the time Steve got home, which was in the 01:00 hour somewhere, I was really upset. Like, really upset. There was a whole range of emotions I was feeling.

The whole reason I brought up the book club night earlier is because both events connect. I was asked to clean up before I went to book club. In Steve's defense he had gotten off a red-eye that morning, so his body clock was all fucked up. He needed assistance. Fine, I can help with that. That is what marriage and parenting is about. But, here I took care of the kids all of Saturday, which then bled into Sunday morning because Steve needed some extra sleep, with no condition. Yet, I wasn't able to go to book club until I cleaned up. See the connection?

And it wasn't really only about the taking care of the kids unconditionally. It morphed into me feeling under appreciated. Me doing a lot, all the time....over and over...without much thanks.

Under appreciated: a word that all mothers know and have felt.

It wasn't until Sunday night, with a slight buzz thanks to impromptu drinks at a friend's house, that I finally blurted out to Steve that I felt under appreciated. He was folding laundry on the family room floor, and I was sitting on the rocking chair. I totally caught him off guard. He wasn't happy. I am not sure how much more we talked that night.

Steve left for a 4-day on Monday, and he didn't leave on good terms. Like, not good at all. Like, I am glad there were no work incidents where powers that be would have asked "were you fighting with your wife?" I try my best to make sure he is all well and good when on a trip, but this trip wasn't one of those times. I don't think we talked on the phone the entire trip. I am sure he called, but I probably didn't answer. Yeah, that bad. A couple texts were exchanged. And then a number of emails were exchanged. We actually communicate very well through email, and resolve a lot of issues through written word.

While still on his trip, we talked things much as you can when you aren't in the same room with a person. With the long email conversations, we started to clear the air. But, clearing the air takes time.  I am never one to follow the whole "don't go to bed angry." If I have to feel something - I am going to feel it, even if it takes a long time.

Despite Steve being initially upset about me telling him I felt under appreciated, he understood where I was coming from. With time, I started to feel a bit better about things. But when it comes to feeling under appreciated, words only go so far. Actions fill out the remainder. And Steve, even while in another country, did the right thing.

Wednesday afternoon a co-worker brought the most beautiful bouquet of flowers into my office.

Bless her heart, because I instantly started to cry. I knew they were from Steve. I opened the card and it read, "Joanna, I love you. xoxo Steve"

They were perfect. In the most simple of actions, he made everything better. The weight I had been carrying over the last couple of days, immediately lifted from my heart. It was all I needed. Just like that, we were good.

Every married couple goes through things like this. Steve and I have been together for 17 years. It isn't always perfect and wonderful. But, when things do get bad we work hard to right everything again. We learn, and grow. We are now in a very good place.

I am passing some of the things I have learned along to all my fellow pilot wives, and pilots, so you can learn from this too.

** To the pilots out there, show appreciation to your wife. She does a lot, every day. You see what she does when you are home...when you are not, it is double! Show appreciation by thanking her for preparing a meal, or emptying the dishwasher. Thank her for making the bed. Tell her she is going a good job as a mother. Bring home flowers from your next trip. When you walk in that door, give her the flowers and a kiss. Give her a box of chocolates. These are the simple things that make her feel special. And, make sure you do these things often. Don't take her for granted. If you do, she will suffer. If she is suffering, the family will suffer.

** To the pilot wives out there, make sure you take care of yourself. I think a lot of me feeling under appreciated is due to the fact that I wasn't taking much time out for myself. With the start of school, and then the start of all the after-school activities, I was too much in mom mode. I hadn't been to yoga in weeks. I hadn't gone out with girls in weeks. I think I was just wore down. Go out with girlfriends. Go get a mani/pedi. Go to Starbucks, grab a coffee and read a book. Go to yoga. Go on that girls weekend you have been wanting to do. It is so important for you to take time for yourself.

** To the couples out there, think about when you were courting one another. Take your actions back to those days. How often did you give her flowers back then? How often did you wear a sexy nighty to bed? How often did you go on dates? Through all our email exchanges, Steve and I acknowledged that we hadn't been on a date in about a month. Sure we had things to attend together, without the kids, but those aren't dates. We were caught up with the busyness of life that we weren't taking time for one another. Court one another.

Don't get caught up in the busyness of life. Don't take anything for granted. Show your appreciation. Take time for one another. Love her, and she will love the world right back.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Friday night the kids and I picked up chinese food for dinner.  I wasn't in the mood to cook, and the restaurant was on the way home.  Plus, Steve was due home that evening, and I always like to have a meal waiting for him.  It was a win-win all the way around.

As I parked the car in the parking lot, Steve called.  19:00 something.  Shoot, he should be flying now, not calling me! I don't normally track his flights, but when he is coming home I have a general idea of when he is in the air. When I think he is in the air and he calls, my heart does skip a beat.

Me: Hi

Steve: Hi. I may not be coming home tonight. I need to take off in the next 50 minutes or else I am going to time out. 

Me: What are the chances that you won't make it out in the next 50 minutes?

Steve: Not sure. I wouldn't have thought we would be delayed this long.

Me: Weather?

Steve: Yeah. Micro-bursts.

Me: I hope you make it home. 

Do you know what a microburst is?  I do.  Pilots know a lot about weather. Duh! And through the years I, too, have learned a little about weather.  The summer we moved into our first house was the first time I was introduced to a microburst.  We were sitting at the island in the kitchen with the sliding glass door open.  In the far distance you would hear the wind coming, and I mean really hear it.  My in-laws were over and we actually stopped our conversation since the wind was so loud.  You could hear it approaching like an oncoming train.  All of the sudden the wind reached our house, and boy was it strong.  So strong, as a matter of fact, that I watched a young tree planted in our backyard actually bend over so much that the top actually touched the ground!  I looked over at Steve with my eyes wide.  "Microburst,"  he said, and then went to explain what it was.


When Steve is delayed like this I will sometimes take to twitter and see if any of his passengers on his plane have something to say about the delay. After the kids and I ate dinner and cleaned up, they settled in for a movie and I settled in to searching twitter.

If you search "delay" and "flight" there sure are some interesting tweets that come up. Believe me, I totally understand that a delayed flight is an inconvenience.  It sucks.  It sucks even more if you have to miss a connection or miss an event due to a delayed flight.  But, what I get bothered by are all the people who don't understand the whole aviation picture but are super loud about how pissed they are.

This one person in particular, who wasn't on Steve's flight I should add, was tweeting the airline directly about his delay and asking what compensation he was going to get for missing the opportunity to put his daughter to bed that night.  This was one tweet in a series of many.  He was clearly upset.

Believe me, I understand how upsetting it can be to expect to put your child to bed, yet not being able to.  I live this...a lot.  I am sure your daughter was upset because you may have promised that you would be home to tuck her in.  She probably missed you.  I am sure your wife was upset because she was waiting for a break after you being gone for the last couple days.  I can speak from experience on this one....believe me. But, asking an airline for compensation for a delay seems like a bit much, in my opinion.

Let's back up all the way and talk about the reason for your delay.  Steve was delayed Friday due to microbursts.  After giving you my very technical definition of the term, do you really want to be taking off in that?  Would one rather risk their life by flying through a microburst just to be "on time" or would you rather play it safe and delay the flight until it is safe?  This goes for all weather delays.  Let's remember that Mother Nature is the one that controls the weather.  Do you want to call her and ask her for compensation for the delay?

The same goes for mechanical delays.  Would you rather depart "on time" with a plane that needs maintenance, or would you rather take the delay and arrive late, but safe?  Going back to the "whole aviation picture" thing...most people probably don't know that there are some mechanical problems that you can fly with. And there are some mechanical problems that you can't fly with until they are fixed. If you are delayed for a mechanical problem, it is probably kind-of important they fix it.  Remember, these aircraft are machines. And guess what? Machines break.

Now, let's address the timetable and the trickle down effect of a delay.  If a plane is flying, it is making money. If a plane is making money, your ticket prices remain low.  Therefore, planes fly a lot to keep your ticket price low.  A delay in the morning can have a domino effect throughout the rest of the day and can impact many flights. If there is one kink in the system then it may delay things down the line that day.  It happens. You want a low ticket price, right?  Then planes need to fly a lot.

Oh, and with that complicated web of down-the-line delays, you can run into crews running out of time.  This is what Steve was running up against on Friday.  If a pilot gets up at 5am, do you really want him flying until 10pm?  Probably not. And that is exactly why there are rules in place for how long crew members can be on duty. Incidents and accidents can happen when people are tired.  You want your crew to be totally fit to fly.  Again, you would rather arrive late, but safe, right?

You know what else totally gets me when it comes to vocalizing dismay about delays: know-it-alls. (This isn't the first time I have blogged about these characters: A little bit of knowledge is a terrible thing and Do you know who you are talking to). I hate it when people think they know everything about airlines, but they really don't. Now I understand how frequent fliers can think that, and there are some very knowledgeable frequent fliers that do actually know a lot. But then there are plenty of fliers who think they know what they are talking about, but they are wrong.  Totally wrong. Just the other day I had someone commenting to me about a delay, and how the (mainline) pilots were horrible in communication. I insert mainline pilots because this person believes these pilots are notoriously bad communicators.  Um, it was actually a regional airline that flew this person, based on the equipment and route. Yet this person was convinced it was mainline. Sometimes it just isn't worth arguing with people.

There are a lot of people who will comment on their solution to a delay. Yet, their solution is not an option.  No, it isn't always possible to just "get another plane from the hangar" to replace one that has a mechanical. And no, it isn't always possible to just "get another pilot" or "get another flight attendant" to replace a crew member. These people don't endlessly come from some rabbit hole where they can just keep appearing.

Of course my perspective as a pilot wife is unique, so I see things differently from passengers. Believe me when I say the crew is probably MORE anxious to get home than you are, and may be doing everything in their power to get home. Do you think my husband wants to sit for another three hours in a crew room due to a delay? Hell no he doesn't.  Do you think he wants to get home at 1am, instead of his scheduled 19:50? Nope.  Don't think the airlines or crew members are out to get you.

Shit happens. Delays happen. And when it does...go with the flow.  This is my best advice when it comes to delayed travel. This is a phrase my son's Kindergarten teacher taught his class, and it can be applied in a number of circumstances in life.  It makes perfect sense when it comes to flight delays. Whatever the reason for the delay, it is happening, and that can't be changed. So, just go with the flow.  Arguing about it with a gate agent isn't going to help. I don't even know how much venting on social media will help. Now, having a dialogue with an airline representative to help handle consequences that impact you personally, like a missed connection, will help.  Know that the airline isn't out to get you, but rather is trying their best to get you to your destination as quickly and safely as possible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Europe 2016

We just got back from two great weeks in Europe (mostly Poland).  We had a great time and made wonderful memories.  The kids are ages 6 and 8, and there is no question that we are conditioning them to be travelers.  This is something that I am very proud of.  I think the world is a place that needs to be discovered, and sharing these discoveries with my husband and children really is a blessing.

The trip started the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  Around 11pm the night before Steve was busy studying all the loads into Germany...Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt...and even some London flights.

The loads filled up quickly the week before we left, so we decided last minute (like 11:30pm) to go to Plan C - fly to Munich instead of our desired Berlin.  So, we rented a car and drove to Washington Dulles, which was about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  It sure beat a 5:45am flight, and 10 hour wait at the airport!!!

 The plan worked in our favor, and we got some of the last seats on the plane, Ben even got a first class seat...lucky kid!!!

Cici and I were in the back of the bus, and we had a great flight.  Her last international flight was an absolute nightmare (Helpless), so I was very pleased this time around.

We arrived in Munich on Saturday morning.  As the passengers were deplaning I was chatting with the flight attendants about hotel options, because we had none. As our conversation was wrapping up, they were kind enough to give the kids some donuts!!!

After discussing hotel options with the information desk at the airport, we decided upon Hotel Alfa.  It wasn't all that updated, and it didn't have A/C.  But, it was available, had four beds, comfortable, clean, close to the center of town, had great breakfast, and was affordable. I would easily stay there again.

After we settled in, we took showers, and headed right into town.  No nap for us...the best way to acclimate to time zones is to just force yourself right into it.  After some exploration and dinner, we retired around 19:00.  The next morning we ate a great breakfast at the hotel, then headed to the train station where we caught a train to Vienna.

pretzels with butter...amazing!!!!

We arrived in Vienna on Sunday afternoon.  We headed into the main square, saw Mozart's House, and had dinner.  I didn't have the best memories of Vienna from my last trip there (2001), but seeing it again this time around really made me rethink the city.  It is just beautiful!

obsessed with watching the spray paint artist

Mozart Museum

We hung in Vienna until our 22:50 overnight train into Krakow, Poland.  Before dusk fell we played around in a great park about 5 minutes from the train station.  The kids, who had been traveling great!, were able to unwind and be kids here.  It was nice to just 'be' for a couple minutes.

The kids got to experience their first overnight train ride.  Aside from passport control in the Czech Republic (somewhere), the ride was quick and easy and fun, despite the sleepy/pissed off faces below.

We woke up in Poland...beautiful Poland!  We waited in the Krakow train station for about 2 hours until we caught our final train to my father's city.  After four days of travel, we were finally able to settle for a good couple days.  We visited family, drank beer, relaxed, went hiking, played with animals, and drank more beer.
in the village where my father was born and raised

with my cousins

playing with baby bunnies


the church where my parents got married

cherry season - this girl couldn't get enough!

For the weekend, my father drive the four of us into Slovakia where I was able to reconnect with my girlfriend and her beautiful family.  We stayed at Penzion Pramen, which is on Lake Vinianske.  The accommodations were very comfortable.  The beer and food were great.  The views were great.  And all the baby forest frogs were making their way from the lake to the was an awesome site to see.  Baby frogs were everywhere!

After the weekend in Slovakia, we headed back to my father's house just for a night before we headed to Krakow.  Krakow is Steve #1 city, so we made sure to make time for ourselves there.  My father drove us, and joined us in our visit to the world famous salt mines in Wieliczka.

The tour was awesome, and the kids really enjoyed themselves.  It started with nearly 400 steps down, and continued on for about 1 1/2 hours.  Always fun to visit there!

We took a train back to the main train station, and walked to our hotel for the night.  We stayed at Too-Good Apartments, and I can't say enough good things about the accommodations.  Ok, the one issue was incredibly slow wifi, but it was an easy thing to overlook.  By the time we settled into the hotel, it was nearly 18:00 and time for dinner.

We headed to the square, where the kids played with the pigeons and the best street performers (never had I seen bubble performers before...great idea!!!)

this was new to the square (from what I recall) and really cool

crepes with chocolate...who doesn't love dessert for dinner

carriage ride around the square was fun

Krakow selfie! 

We headed back to our room around 21:00. The next morning we went back in the square for breakfast and one last beer before our 12:00 train ride. As fate would have it, my aunt was in the square while we were enjoying that beer!  I hadn't made plans to visit my aunt and cousins since we didn't have time, but we got to see her despite any arranging.

Our noon train was to Wroclaw, to see my mother's side of the family.  This was our last leg of the trip, before heading to Berlin for our flight home.  While in Wroclaw we had dinner, toured the town square at night, had a grill party, and went to a castle.

We took a bus from Wroclaw to Berlin, via PolskiBus.  Since there was no direct train we decided to take the bus since it was direct and something new.  

We sat in the back of the bus, along with a group that was headed to Lisbon for holiday.  Things got super fun when they started offering shots.  We had a really fun time!  These are the moments when traveling where you are so thankful for the experiences.  There are good people in the world. and connecting with goodness is good for the soul.
I still need to work on my panorama photo skills

We arrived in Berlin around 18:00, and stayed at the Ibis hotel right at the bus station.  After a very lovely dinner at a local restaurant, we made final packing preparations, and then settled in for the night. Our flight the next morning was around 9:30, so the morning was a bit early.  There were something like 100 open seats on the flight, so we were calm about making it home.  I had my second taste of international first class. and it sure was nice!  There were two celebrities on the flight: Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth, so that was a pretty neat way to end the trip.

The trip was fantastic.  We had a great time.  The kids did WONDERFULLY!  They were troopers and traveled liked pros.  We were so proud of how well they did.

Being in Europe is always refreshing to me.  It gives me a good, different, and renewed perspective on life.  Here are some of my take-aways:

- Family matters.

- Roots matter.

- People aren't glued to their cell phones there, like we are here.  Dinner at a restaurant is actual conversation, not someone checking their texts, Facebook, or Instagram constantly.  I have been making an effort to not be so attached to my phone.  It is refreshing!  Try it!

- Being friendly makes a difference in the world.  A little bit of kindness goes a long way.

- Travel is renewing. I felt so calm and relaxed when I got home. I feel renewed.

- Travel is an absolute perk of Steve's job.  The four of us traveled for 2 weeks in Europe for the bargain price of about $2,000.  Note, we stayed at a hotel only five nights since the rest of the time was with family, so that helps with cost.  There are plenty of hardships that come with this lifestyle, but being able to fly like we do makes up for it.

We are already starting to plan Poland 2017!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pilots, here is a reminder to you...

In honor of Mother's Day, I want to give a shout out to all the strong-ass, independent women who are married to pilots and keep house and home with grace.

Ok, so maybe it isn't always graceful.  At least it isn't for me.  Take last week, as an example.  Last week was the week from hell. We just nearly completed a kitchen remodel that started in January and extended to about a week ago.  The contractors were in from February into March, but we were doing little things at the beginning and end that book-ended the project.  The details of the project are a whole different blog post, but it is necessary to note the remodel as this is part of the reason for my bad week. In addition I was having some personal issues at work.  Oh, and throw in some sass from a strong-willed daughter.  Oh, and lastly throw in that completely overwhelming feeling from having too much on your plate.

Why did I have too much on my plate, you ask?  Last Saturday our oldest son received his First Holy Communion.  To celebrate we held a party at our house for family and a couple friends.  We knew this party was the deadline for the remodel, and boy did we butt right up against that deadline.

Steve was working his ass off getting the final touches on things before he left for a trip that took him away from Wednesday until late Friday night...and what happens when a pilot has his blinders on and is working his ass off to finish a project when he is home? He leaves the house and home stuff to the wife...again.  Steve has been working his ass of for the last number of weeks now, trying to get this project wrapped up.

We care for house and home when our pilots are gone, and when they are working their ass off at home with blinders on, we have to care for house and home...more.  When we expect and need that much needed break and don't get it, well, watch out.  When we expect a much needed break, week after week, and fail to get it, then we may fall from grace. Which is precisely what happened last week.

I won't go into total details about what fully happened with me and Steve, but let me highlight a couple points that aided in my fall:
- I express that overwhelming feeling to Steve.
- he told me once the remodel was done we would be back to normal and be all good...and that was about it
- in typical fashion, which typically doesn't bother me, I didn't hear from him after that in regards to my overwhelming feeling
- this translated into me feeling abandoned and alone...when I needed his support the most, he was radio silent.

My grandmother passed away in 2003.  She is one of the most amazing women I have ever met.  Her name was Wanda.  Our daughter's middle name is Wanda.  I hope and pray that our daughter has as much love, generosity, heart, beauty, and warmth that my grandmother had.

I received a call on a Saturday morning in November, in the 8am hour.  This was before kids, so Steve and I were blissfully asleep.  When I picked up the phone my mom said "Babcia had a stroke.  She is being taken to the hospital.  Go pick up Dziadzia and take him to the hospital."  (Babcia = grandmother in Polish.  Dziadzia = grandpa).  

She was 82 years old.  She had surgery that morning, but the stroke did too much damage.  She was on life-support after surgery.   Steve had left for a trip on Monday, which had been discussed and agreed upon.  On Monday I had gone to my grandparents house to tell my deaf aunt that they were going to take Babcia off the machines on Tuesday.  That was a hard conversation.  There was such a heaviness in the air since we knew we were going to lose her.  I called Steve on my 30 minute drive back to the house that night.  The call was connected the entire time, but we didn't talk for all of it.  I remember driving, not saying a word, but feeling connected to Steve...he was there for me.  We were physically apart, but he was there for me.

 On Tuesday they pulled the plug, and she died 45 minutes later.  

I needed that connection to Steve last week.  I needed him to be there for me last week, and he wasn't.  The busyness of last weekend masked my sadness pretty well, I like to think.  But come Monday I let him in on everything.  He was sorry.  He is sorry.  He and I are working on repairing the damage, and we are pretty much there.  We will be marriage is perfect and we address problems and work on fixing them.

The reason I am writing about this is for all the pilots out there.  Let me remind you how amazing your wife amazing the mother of your children is. Sometimes, especially with time, I think it is easy to take things for granted.  I think it is easy to get into a groove of life where things just happen, and not realize all the hard work that is done behind the scenes...all the hard work that is done to keep the house and home running smoothly when you are on a trip.

- we are there for 2am feedings and 4am cries because of scary dreams
- we are there for all the homework throughout the week
- we are there for all the school events, knowing the time and the place
- we are there for the school lunches
- we are there for the sulking child getting off the school bus because they had a bad day
- we are there for preparing snacks and meals, and keeping bellies happy and healthy
- we are there for all the extra-curricular activities
- we are the ones walking out of appointments because our child needs picked up at daycare
- we are the ones staying home from work because our child is sick
- we are there for putting our child's need before our own
- we are there to welcome you home from a long trip
- we prepare hot meals
- we keep a clean house
- we care for the pets
- we keep clean clothes on our backs
- we take the trash out
- we keep the house in order
- we keep the family calendar in order
- we are building family relationships
- we are there to figure out the strange noises at night
- we are there to fix the leak in the basement
...and so on, and so on...

And for all the pilot wives that work, let's not forget to mention that we need to add our work duties to the above.

We really are strong women!  We have a lot on our plates, and navigate life pretty well.  But, remember, pilots, that we also have soft spots.  We have times where we are down and need extra reinforcement.  We can get overwhelmed.  When we need this extra support it may not be written on a billboard for you, so look for the clues.  Be responsive to any and all indications that we are falling.

Steve has been great this past week.  He knows I have been down and he has been going above and beyond with helping around the house.  The biggest help is the laundry is caught up, and I don't think it has been caught up for months (no joke).  It is too bad that it I got so low before the realization of my needs were addressed.  Which is precisely why I am writing this blog, as a reminder to all the pilots out there that it is important to support, praise, be connected, and comfort your wife, not only on Mother's Day, but each and every day.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Make Someone Happy

It took us, well me, months to pick out our wedding song.  In a typical bride manner, I would read over internet playlists trying to find the perfect song.  I would read bridal web boards to see what others were choosing as theirs.  There were a number of contenders, and with each song I would play over and over again, trying to visualize the two of us dancing our first dance. Some would bring tears to my eyes, but didn't carry the right vibe. The search continued for a good while.  

It wasn't until one evening when Steve and I were watching Sleepless in Seattle that we found the perfect song for our wedding.  

You may have missed it, but it plays at the very end of the movie when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan walk hand in hand towards the elevator on top of the Empire State Building.  The song is Jimmy Durante, Make Someone Happy.

My first attraction to this song was the timeless, classic feel.   My second attraction was the joy this song has.  My third attraction to this song was the length...a quick 1 minute and 36 seconds.  This is what Steve liked about the song.

My favorite picture from our wedding: the dip at the end of our first dance
PS, the two dudes in the background, they are pilots (of course!)

Nowadays I usually only hear this song when I play it from my playlist.  But, it has recently resurfaced on a commercial.  When it first played I gave Steve a quick glance to make sure he recognized the importance of it.  He did.  Good man.  

The song is very simple, but speaks volumes.  The song, along with a recent article I read (Master of Love) are the motivation for this blog post: Make Someone Happy

Try to listen to the song to get the full effect.  It is light and upbeat, and simple and sweet.  It has such joy and happiness to it. 

Here are the lyrics:

It's so important to

Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy;
Make just one heart the heart you sing to.
One smile that cheers you,
One face that lights when it nears you,
One girl you're ev'rything to.
Fame if you win it,

Comes and goes in a minute.
Where's the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer,
Someone to love is the answer.
Once you've found her, build your world around her.
Make someone happy,

Make just one someone happy,
And you will be happy, too.

I have always believe there are two things that any relationship must have: trust and communication.  After nearly 13 years of marriage, I now recognize a third must-have.  It has been there all along (since our first dance), but I never really thought about how important it really is until recently when I read the Master of Love article.  The article emphasizes the importance of kindness to your partner, which I translate to my third must-have: striving to make your partner happy.  

Think about that for a second - strive to make your partner happy.  

Take, for example, a recent tweet:

The evening of the above tweet probably went something like this: I was quite busy when Steve was at work for four days.  When he got home that evening, I sure took a load off.  When he walked through that door from the garage into our mudroom, I officially punched my time card.  I was off duty!  I grabbed a beer, sat my ass on the couch, and started to unwind.  After Steve put the kids to bed, he came down to join me....just in time for my second beer.  He gladly got my second beer, while I kept my tired ass on the couch.  

Steve is sweet to me, and is constantly trying to make me happy.  The evening described above is testimony to that...he knew I was tried, and he gladly got me a drink.  I didn't make him do it...he did it because he wanted to.  He wanted to make me happy. 

On the opposite side, I try to make him happy, too

Happiness can be as simple as nice comfort food and a beer to welcome him home from a trip. I try my hardest to set the scene in the house when he gets home.  This includes straightening the house and having a good meal ready.  When you make the effort to put happiness out there, it will come back to you.  And when it comes back to you, the cycle continues.  I have learned that if the scene is set right when he gets home, and entire cycle of his days home are set straight. 

The article I mentioned above plays into this blog post as well.  If you read through the article, the beginning basically comes down to these points: (again, taken from this article

- the majority of marriages fail

- of all the marriages, only three in ten remain in happy, healthy marriages

- through scientific research couples were marked on one of two categories: masters or disasters

- master couples felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. This created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.

- disaster couples showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships.  Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked.

- Master couples scan social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They build this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.

- Disasters couples are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.

- after a period of 6 years couple marked as masters were happily married, while disasters were marked broken up or chronically unhappy

And here is the detail that brings me back to making your partner happy, which is a direct quote from the article:
"Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. 

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” 

That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship."

The article continues:
"There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”

In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored."

I want to highlight a line from above: the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

And this is what I challenging you, my readers...I challenge you to be more kind to your partner - I challenge you to make your partner happy. I intended to write this post about a month ago as a New Years Resolution post, but time got the better of me.  Ah, but there is always time to better your relationship.  Strive to be kind to your partners - strive to make your partner happy

When your pilot wants to go out to watch the game with his buddies, even thought he just got home the night before, and you are tired  - let him go.  Let him have fun with this friends. 

When your pilot wants to take a nap because his body clock was fucked with from his last trip - let him.  And let him without resentment (something I always struggled with when the kids were wee-ones.)

When your pilot walks to go on a long run, even though it is hard to accept any more alone time when he is home, let him.  Exercise is always a good thing. 

When your pilot wants to go away on a guys weekend, let him.  (Which is another struggle for me.) Let him go without bitching about it to him. I will allow bitching to a best friend or sister because sometimes you just need to let it out - just don't let him hear it.  He works hard and deserves a little time away too.  

When you all just finished dinner, clear the table yourself even though it is his duty.  Let him sit with the kids for another couple minutes before getting up.

You see what I am getting at.  Even though the above scenarios are all personal to me, I am sure you can relate to some or all the above.  These are simply examples of things you can do to make your partner happy.  As a pilot wife, and a single mother half the time, it is very easy for me to get caught up in...ME.  It would be easy for me to put my needs first when Steve is home, and Steve second.  But, don't get caught up in that.  Of course you need to do what is necessary to keep yourself happy, and that is very important!  But, also make the conscience effort to make your partner happy too!  

Monday, December 28, 2015


My blog posts are usually inspired by a specific event.  Attending church last Sunday is the inspiration to this blog post...Attached.

Wanna take a guess at what attachment I am speaking of?  You would probably guess right if you are a pilot wife....the kids and their attachment to me!

Here are some visuals of this attachment, for fun...

Florida's Gulf Coast, circa 2012.  Picture time...guess what happens when Daddy tries to hold the little one?  Tears.

What does a Mommy do to get a good picture? Hold both kids! No wonder my back is busted.

Niagara Falls, circa 2013. Mommy surely can't hold one without the other.  Again, no wonder my back is busted! 

The specific event that immediately made me think "oh, my next blog post!" is when we were sitting at church listening to the Homily.  Cici was sitting on my lap, slumped over so my left arm was actually holding her head.  Ben was sitting to my right, resting his head on my right shoulder.  Steve was sitting to the right of Ben.

We were sitting like this for about five minutes, and then it hit me.  I had this intense feeling of suffocation come over me.  I was hot. Cici's body began to feel like 100 pounds.  I just needed to not be touched by anyone.  I gave Steve that "engage now" look.  He jumped into action, offered his shoulder to Ben, but no luck.  Ben wanted to stay touching me.

I sat there for the next several minutes drafting out this blog post, when I should have been paying attention to the Priest, the kids and their attachment to me.

I don't know if it is a pilot wife thing, or a Joanna thing, but I am rather controlling.  Ok, maybe a lot controlling.  I do all the shopping in the house, anything from food to clothes, I do all the cooking, ect.  I do it all because I want the control of it.

Why do I want the control of things?  Well, two reasons.  The first reason is that 3-4 days a week I HAVE to be in control.  When Steve is gone, it is all me 100% of the time.  I need to have control, so that this family runs when Steve is gone.  I think over the years the control I have when Steve is gone has just bled over into having control when Steve is home.

The other reason I like the control of things?  Let me tell you about the kids Polish School Christmas Pageant last weekend.  I was super-duper busy all last week and asked Steve to run out to Target to pick up toys for the pageant.  Santa always makes a visit so parents are asked to buy a toy for their child, wrap it, and then Santa will hand out the present.

What would I have chosen for Ben?  Maybe a little Power Rangers figure or maybe some pokeman cards.  For Cici I would have got some coloring thing or maybe a barbie doll.

Wanna see what Steve got?

He got Minion dolls that are balls.

When Ben approached to show me what Santa brought for him, he looked less than thrilled.  This is an example as to why I like to stay in control...because I know what they would LOVE and not just like.  I want to add the fact that I am thankful that Steve got the gifts, because I really didn't have time and he really helped out.  Steve was with a friend when they picked out the toys, and they both thought this was the best option out there as the other stuff was just "junk."  Let it be know the minion balls were put to good use the next day, so the kids really grew to like the presents.

Yes, I like the control of things, especially when it comes to kids.  So, perhaps over the years I have formed the family into thinking that Mommy is going to do it all.  Remember, because I am a pilot wife I am the constant for the kids.  Steve is a great Dad, and engaged when he is home.  But, sometimes I think the kids, Steve, and I all fall into the mode of me doing it all.  Most times it works when we are in that mode, but sometimes I get to a breaking point and just have too much.  Sometimes I get incredibly overwhelmed.

When the kids go off to college, in a short 12 years, I am sure that I will look back at these years and love that I am so attached to the kids.  I often talk about how the kids and I get along so we are like three peas in a pod.  Because it is the three of us a lot of the time, it is easy to understand this bond.  We get each other - we know each other - we rely on one another.  I am thankful for our bond, truly.  But, sometimes this attachment is just too overwhelming, like the other day at church.  But, at least those moments are fleeting, and the lasting memory is the tight bond we have with one another.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Holidays

...and here we are, again, with the holidays around the corner. This is always SUCH a fun time of year for pilots and their families.

Steve has been an airline pilot since 1999.  Steve has been with his current company since 2006.  Yet, it isn't a guarantee that he will be off for Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years.

In October Steve was preparing his bid for his November schedule.  Typically Steve flies out on Monday or Tuesday, and his home by Wednesday or Thursday.  In a typical month bidding works in Steve's favor.  But, when you have to bid in a holiday month that just complicates things.  Ah, and this year we have a new twist on Thanksgiving...we are traveling with my extended family to a vacation rental in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  The property is being rented from Wednesday to Sunday.  Sounds like a dreamy Thanksgiving with a nice long weekend to follow...unless your pilot is working on Thanksgiving.

On the day his November schedule came out, which was mid October, Steve kept checking online....over and over.  Until finally it came up...Steve got his schedule for November!

...and he gets in on Thanksgiving 16:00 something.


And there, despite Steve's best efforts, our plans needed to change from what we hoped for, which was driving to the property on Wednesday like every one else.

This is the real life of an airline one month at a time, hoping for the best and getting what you bet would happen.

This is what I hoped for our Thanksgiving: the kids would get home from school on Wednesday, and we would set out on the 4 hours drive to the vacation house.   We would arrive rather late that evening, but that is okay because the evening will be filled with food, booze, and togetherness.

On Thanksgiving morning Steve and I would wake up to the wonderful smell of coffee (my Mother, Sister, and Brother-in-Law are typically the first to rise) and we would come down to hot coffee, and beautiful scenery.

We would start preparations for our Thanksgiving Day feast, perhaps while still dressed in our pjs, and over the next hours we would all have our hand in the kitchen doing our assignments.

Around 1p, dinner would be served.  The rest of the day, after clean up, would be lots of resting, talking, and chilling. Perhaps we would include a nice walk/hike to help digest.  Fresh mountain air is always such a nice thing after a large meal.

But guess what, the above scenario isn't going to happen.  Instead, Wednesday afternoon the kids will come off the bus and we will have a somewhat typical evening.  We will have dinner, perhaps take out, and then I will let the kids watch a movie.

Thanksgiving morning will be lazy.  Perhaps we will watch the parade and more movies.  The kids and I have been invited to our neighbors, who are so gracious, for some afternoon appetizers.  Somewhere in the day I will make sure the car is totally packed so that when Steve gets home around 17:00 something, we will hit the road and head out to the vacation home.  Then our Thanksgiving weekend can begin...about 24 hours after we had hoped...missing Thanksgiving dinner.

We gave thought to me taking the kids down on Wednesday evening, and having Steve drive separately after he got in.  I have come to realize this thought is only in the heads of people who have a pilot in the family.  It isn't "normal" that a family travel separately for a holiday...only "normal" for a pilot family.  But, I am deciding against driving separately.  No need to put extra mileage on the cars.  Not to mention, there isn't really a way to celebrate a holiday when your spouse isn't there.

When you husband isn't there on a holiday, there is a void in your heart.  You can be in a room full of people...even family...yet, you can still feel so alone.  You can feel so isolated.  No one understands this feeling unless you spend a holiday without your spouse.

I have felt this loneliness many, many times over the years, and I don't think it will ever get easier.  There are two times I miss Steve the most: on Sunday (these are family days, not work days) and holidays.  I can handle Steve missing our anniversary or a birthday...I have grown accustomed to his absence over the years. But, it really just stinks when your husband isn't there for a holiday...plain and simple.

Do you know that I have actually cried at Christmas mass before?  It was because Steve wasn't with us. Yes, not having your husband with you on a holiday really can get to you.  You think certain aspects of this pilot wife thing can get easier, but not when it comes to missing holidays.


Steve's December schedule came out, and he is off Christmas Day.  He actually gets in on Christmas Eve around 19:00 something.  Typically Polish people, as I am, will celebrate Christmas Eve with a very nice meal.  I am not sure how we will handle this next month, but I am glad Steve will get in at a decent time, and that we will be at our house Christmas morning.

As stated, I am Polish.  My Father is an immigrant, as is my Mother.  Growing up I knew Christmas Eve as the special event, not Christmas morning.  We would eat a dinner of beet borscht soup with mushroom pierogies, followed by fish and other delicious foods.  After dinner we would open our presents.  Santa Claus wasn't really in the picture.  Waking up Christmas morning and running downstairs to see what was under the tree never happened with us.  I didn't have that as a kid, but Steve did and loved at how magical it was for him.  He very much wants to have one year where the kids run downstairs to see what Santa left them under the tree.  Believe it or not, the last Christmas morning we had at our house was 5 years ago when the kids were still toddlers and don't have any memory of the event.

Our oldest child is 8-years-old...this may very well be his last year of truly believing in the magic of Christmas.  Steve very much wanted to be home and he worked his magic and was able to get Christmas Day off.

He surely had to work at his bid to get the day off...he really strategized his bids.  At one point he was asking me if it was okay if he worked all weekends in December, just to have Christmas Day off.  In these instances I always answer with "whatever you want to do."  Isn't it something that a father would sacrifice all weekends off, just for that magical morning.  While other people may take for granted a standard work day/week, families with alternative work schedules really have a lot to consider with their schedules and how it impacts the family.

We are going to wake up Christmas morning at our house, and for that I am very thankful.  Steve also has all weekends off in December, so that means he will be enjoying Christmas parties and pageants. all of which he has missed before.  I am beyond thankful for his presence this December.

New Years?  I haven't even gotten that far in life yet...

Despite the melancholy mood of this blog post, I am very thankful for Steve's job, even though we have to deal with what we deal with. I also realize that I am very fortunate to actually see my pilot on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, as I know many fellow pilot wives won't see their beloved on these holidays.

I want to wish you a very very Happy Thanksgiving.  Wishing you happy times of togetherness with your family and friends.


In case you missed them, here are some past blog posts about holidays: (gosh these really are all very melancholy posts!)
What a Pilot Really Wants for Christmas
A Pilot Wife Kind of Lonely