Thursday, August 17, 2017

Egotistical, my ass

Did you all read Fucking Flowers? If not, go read it. It is a really good story about our recent wedding anniversary. Long story short, Steve ordered flowers to be delivered to my office. I left 15 minutes before they came. I was sad and felt lonely. That night, Steve had a neighbor drop a bouquet of flowers off in our kitchen while the kids and I were running errands. I cried over the phone, thanking Steve for being so awesome.

I got a lot of comments on the post, and all but 2 were nice. I didn't see Daniel's negative comment until just last weekend. Here it is, in case you missed it:

Hello, I am sorry but I find you egoistical. What did you get your husband on that day? Only drama! It's your anniversary for both of you not just you. If you really miss him well I think the fact that he called you that day (while you were ignoring his calls) was enough to reassure you that he was thinking of you. I want to reassure people that your story is not the life of healthy and stable married couples when one of them happens to be an airline pilot. I have no doubt your husband loves you to put up with your character. You are the wife of what looks to be a mainline guy, life should be good now so instead of complaining because me me me didn't get the flowers, share with us the exciting life experiences you have traveling and how their dad spends days away from home in order to provide the best he can for his family! As much as I understand that your blog is a way for you to vent, remember that pilots talk in the cockpit as well and (with all due respect) you may not want to be "that pilot wife".

Let's just say that his comment didn't sit well with me. I have received negative comments before, and usually they roll off my back. I'm actually really good at things rolling off my back. Everyone has an opinion. I welcome conversations, the good, the bad, and the challenging. But, this comment was different. So much so that I am writing a blog post about it. There are times where I simply have to write out the voices in my head, and this is certainly time for that.

Here are the main points from his comment that rang the loudest to me:
*me me me
*not the life of healthy and stable married couple
*put up with my character
*life should be good now
*spend days away from home
*"that pilot wife"

After I read through his comment, my immediate thought is that he must be going through something with a woman who he finds to be selfish. I say this because of a retreat I was on about a year ago. It was for all the PSR teachers at my church. At one point we were listening to a reading, and then in small groups we were to discuss what we "heard." It was amazing how one person heard something totally different from another. The women who was very tired heard "rest, my child, rest." Where I didn't really hear that at all. See my point? We take what we want based on how it impacts you in your life at that moment. Therefore, I think Daniel is dealing with some selfish behaviors in his life. I did respond to Daniel and wished him well. And I do. But, I think he "heard" me totally wrong. And because of that, I need to set the record straight about the tone of his comment...

Frankly, I don't give a shit if Daniel actually reads my comment. But, I want to speak up as a pilot wife who is raising a family. This gig is, really hard, and I need to voice my side of things. As evident from the above comment, people may have the wrong impression about what it is like to be married to a pilot. Sure Steve's job comes with a lot of advantages. And yes, we do take advantage of those perks. But, it also stinks. I blog about all sides of this lifestyle. The Fucking Flowers post was about another missed anniversary. That stinks. It wasn't our first missed, and it certainly won't be our last. And it's okay that I was sad. Being sad, in this situation, is a good shows how much I still dig my husband. And I know that by sharing my story people can relate, and relating to one another in this wack-a-do lifestyle is necessary to stay sane and not feel so alone.

But first, I want to address his very sexist remark about how since Steve is mainline "life should be good." I am one of many pilot wives that work. I am one of many pilot wives, who is also raising a family, that work. I contribute substantially to our household income, thank you very much. I have always worked, thank you very much. I am incredibly insulted to think that my work and the sacrifices I make to be a working mother goes totally overlooked all because of Steve being a mainline pilot. Yes, life is good for us. But, it isn't due to Steve's job alone. Yet another example of a man overlooking a woman's work.

My job provides Steve comfort, as a matter of fact. Steve is constantly thinking about losing his job. Take, for example, the fact that we are shopping for a boat. With recent news out of North Korea he is afraid something may happen and he will lose his job. Perhaps we will delay buying a boat for a couple more months. I'm sure a Director of Marketing or an Accountant doesn't have the constant internal dialogue about losing his job.  Pilots think this way. And, again, my job provides Steve comfort that if something does happen we would be able to live off my salary. Just putting that point out there because my job provides more than just money in our pockets, thank you very much.

To roll off that point, let's continue to talk about my work and my perceived selfishness. I've been the one to give up on my career progression when we made the decision to have kids. I've been the one to yield to Steve "climbing the ladder" while I take care of things back home. Does that confirm that I'm egotistical? Not in my book. Not progressing my career is the furthest thing from a "me me me" mentality.

When Steve went mainline, his paycheck took a 57% cut.  He also went through weeks and weeks of training. And then he sat reserve in a different state. When he got back to our home base he had shitty schedules for years and years. All the while I was juggling newborn babies and work and being a solo-parent. I supported Steve that entire time. It was hard as fuck, but we got through it. Does all that support make me self-centered?

I can argue that there isn't one pilot wife out there, that is raising a family, that is self-centered. In order to be a pilot wife who is raising a family, you have to put your family's needs first. And the result is that you often put yourself last. It is hard work to be married to a pilot, and even harder work when you have kids with a pilot. The majority of my time and attention goes towards my children. To have that hard work and sacrifice go unrecognized is insulting....again, which is why Daniel's comment hit me so hard.

Let's talk about sacrifice. Based on Daniel's comment,  it seems that Steve is the only one to be impacted by being on the road. Yes, pilots make sacrifices to be a pilot, but so do us pilot wives. But, I think the general public ever thinks about us pilot wives. Do you want to know how often I hear, "but, he is gone all the time, think about how he feels." Ok, the flip side of that is me being a solo-parent for 4 days a week. Do you want to talk about sacrifices I have made because the father of my children is a pilot?

Guess who's social life isn't robust, because getting babysitters can get expensive? Me me me.
Guess who doesn't play volleyball anymore, because it is too hard to manage calendars with Steve's work schedule, the kids extra-curricular schedules, and sitters? Me me me.
Guess who hasn't advanced my career, because of my desire to be there for the kids as much as possible to offset Steve absence? Me me me.

Let's talk about some more of the other un-selfish things I do because I'm married to a man that is gone all the time, just to name a few:
- I've once had to clean up my Father-in-Law's vomit which sprayed all over our powder room
- I've had to go weeks upon weeks of seeing my husband for only 3-5 waking hours a week because he was visiting his mother in the hospital when she was having chemo treatment
- I've had to go to weddings without my husband
-I've attended numerous events, anything from Christmas parties with kids to company Holiday parties, stag
- I've had to be mentally and physically prepared to give birth without my husband present. Thankfully he was home for both births. 

The list could go on. I'm not giving the above examples as bitching or venting or complaining. Rather, I am sharing the above as a way to establish all that I DO give - all that I HAVE sacrificed - all the ways that having a traveling husband impacts me.

It is obvious to say that an airline pilot is going to spend days away from his family. But, what isn't obvious is the fact that when Steve is gone, it is ME, selfish me, that is holding down the home fort. It is me that is taking care of the children and the house, so that Steve has ease knowing that he can be away from home earning a living all the while things back home are good. He trusts me and my abilities to do a good job with the kids. He doesn't think about any troubles at home. He knows I got things covered. This gives him comfort.

For the record, holding down the fort is hard. As a matter of fact, I'm in the midst of getting the kids all set up for back to school. Yes, Steve was the one to take the kids to Target to get backpacks and scissors. But, I'm the one managing their forms, their schedules, their fees, their extra-curricular activities. And when it comes to their first day back at school, Daddy won't be there. I'm the one that is going to have to make sure the kids aren't bothered by this. I'm the one that tries my best at never making the kids think that Daddy being gone stinks. I'm the one teaching them that absence makes the heart grow fonder. And sometimes that isn't easy to do, especially when you find yourself crying on the steps because you feel so incredibly overwhelmed with this lifestyle.

To switch gears to some of the other comments Daniel made, it's too bad that he thinks we don't have a stable and healthy marriage. He should read Divorce, and maybe he can get a better sense of our marriage and how we are actually doing pretty okay. And shame on anyone who makes a broad marriage comment after reading just one blog post. And at that, I don't even think he read the whole post. The post showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is. I was down. Steve went out of his way to make me happy. This, in fact, showcases what a healthy and stable marriage is.

For what it is worth, Steve and I had a great anniversary this year. As established we didn't share the actual day together, but we made the most of it on other days. Not only will this flowers story be forever remembered in a very sweet way, we gave each other some really great gifts. I gifted him a trip to a shooting range, where he shot off nearly 500 rounds. And he gifted me tickets to a U2 concert.

As far as being "that pilot wife" I wish Daniel would have elaborated on what he means by that. Am I "that pilot wife" that usually has a clean house for Steve to come home to? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps a happy home? Am I "that pilot wife" that feeds our family nutritious meals? Am I "that pilot wife" that makes Steve happy? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps my man sexually satisfied? Am I "that pilot wife" that doesn't nag my husband? Am I "that pilot wife" that keeps his children happy and well? Am I "that pilot wife" that works her ass off? You betcha I'm that pilot wife.

Writing this out certainly makes me feel better. For all I know Daniel is some troll who has nothing to do better with his time than to make harsh comments on blogs. But, at least this was a way for me to put some things out there that many people have not thought about before. Plus, his comment was good blog material, and I'm always looking for inspiration for blog posts.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


A while ago, I posted Divorce. I had been working on that post for a month+. To me, the topic was easy to write, but I was very careful in my delivery. Being careful with delivery can take work. I talked a lot about the post with friends, wanting feedback and validation on my draft.

While drafting, one of the best conversations was with a neighborhood friend at our monthly book club evening. She has been married far longer than me, and the perspective was awesome. Not only did she give me validation to my then draft, she also gave me a new term to use in this whole pilot wife thing: re-entry.

Her husband traveled every week: left on Tuesday and came home Thursday or Friday. He wasn't a pilot, but he was gone every week. Many things she was sharing with me resonated, especially the term re-entry. During our conversation I kept thinking "this is totally my next blog topic."

Re-entry: the adjustment a pilot (or any traveling husband) has into the home after a trip. Additionally, the adjustment a pilot wife has when your pilot comes home.

Sometimes re-entry is awesome. Seamless. Perfect. No problem. Super. Validates exactly why you married the handsome stud you did.

And then there are times when re-entry stinks. It's awful. It makes you want your pilot to go back where he came from. It makes you question why you married the man you did.

I think there are three things that contribute to a tough re-entry:
- control
- attitude
- going from solo to couple

I have said this over and over again: I am the captain of our ship when Steve is gone. Period. I control everything. I have to. Let me lay out a couple recent happenings in our home when Steve was gone. Our dog found a low bird's nest in our front garden. Niko didn't eat any birds, thank the good Lord because that would have been horrible to deal with, but we had to watch the nest for about a week to make sure Niko wouldn't get to the nearly mature birds.

The night Niko discovered the nest, Steve called to check in for the day. I gave him the run down on the found nest. "Put chicken wire around it, that will keep Niko away," Steve suggested. The problem was the birds were too big, and that suggestion wasn't totally right. I just reassured Steve that we had things under control. I took care of the situation. I had to.

Ben's glasses broke the other day. We went to get a replacement pair ordered, and the awesome optician simply pulled off the sample frames from the wall, popped in Ben's lenses, and we walked out with new frames. Awesome! When Steve called in and checked in that night, he offered some a suggestion. My response? "Ben already has the new frames." He offered great advice, but I already took care of the situation. I had to.

My point from above is that I manage everything when Steve is gone. I got this. Most times I think I got this pretty good. I control everything. I am conditioned to be the one in charge. I am the one who makes the decisions. It's all me....

...and then Steve gets home.

... and I have to give up some of that control.

... and I'm not always so good at it.

...and Steve may not be so happy that I can't give up that control.

... and I may not be happy because I have been conditioned to be in control for the last 3 or 4 days.

This back and forth of control isn't always so easy. Re-entry.

What is the best way to make re-entry easier when it comes to control? Give a little - on both sides. For you: make a point to give up the control a little. Let your pilot pack the kids lunches, even though he may not spread the peanut butter on the bread exactly the same way you do. Let him help with the laundry, even if that mean he washes a silk blouse of yours. Thankfully, the blouse came out unharmed. 

For the pilot, give her a minute to let you in. Don't just jump in and try to do everything your way. You don't have sex without foreplay, right? Same goes here...ease into it. Remember that your beautiful wife has been running the ship for the last number of days. Ease into it. Steve is great at asking "what can I do to help?" or "what else can I do?"...this means he knows I like to do things my way, but is wanting to pitch in and help. Long ago I gave up the thought that "he should know what I need help with" because, simply put, he is gone too much. He doesn't know all the in's and out's of our life, so he needs reminders.

Let me set three scenes in our home. All of which are true scenarios when Steve got home from recent trips. All three are very different.

Scene 1: Steve left on Tuesday morning and got home late on Thursday. There was an embedded red-eye in his pairing. On Wednesday night into Thursday morning Steve flew into ORD from the west coast. He had a day over in ORD, and flew one last leg home Thursday evening, which got him home-home (meaning in our garage) around 11pm.

Steve has been doing his current gig for nearly 11 years now, so red-eyes are very manageable at this point. He knows what to do to make everything work with his body clock. But, as a pilot wife I realize that as great as he managed a red-eye there is a strong chance that a non-typical mood for Steve will walk through our door at the end of the day.

Around 10ish, the kids went to their rooms for the night, and I took a shower. I was settled in the family room watching Masters of None, when Steve got home around 11ish. I don't even recall if we greeting one another with a kiss. We probably did. As typical, he immediately went upstairs with his bags, changed, most likely unpacked his roll-aboard, and checked on the kids. Cici was still awake, reading. Ben was sleeping. I heated up his plate of food.

Steve came downstairs, got his food, and then come into the family room to watch the show with me. I know better, by now, than to jump on him the moment he gets home. I have to get a sense of his mood, and play off that accordingly.

"How was your flight?"


Ok. He's tired, I thought.

We continued to watch tv.
He continued to eat. I think he also poured himself a beer at some point.
We continued to watch tv, and finally went upstairs after the episode was over. I would imagine this was sometime around midnight.

We got ready for bed, quietly brushing out teeth next to one another.
We climbed into bed.

The actions I wrote above seems rather mechanical. And it doesn't seem like much interaction, right? At least that is my intention. The reason for this is because Steve and I weren't talking much. He was quiet.

His attitude was almost non-existent, it was like he only had enough brain energy to eat and drink. Gotta love those red-eyes. He was exhausted. I let him be. I didn't push. I chose to not get an attitude about him being all quiet. That would have gotten me nowhere. I know Steve. I knew he simply needed to just chill. Ironically, that night we had good know that kind where you can sense that you really missed one another and are glad to be back together....that kind of almost makes it a perk of being a pilot wife. It just goes to show you that even though words aren't always spoken by your pilot, it may not mean anything other than mental drain. By choosing to keep a good attitude, despite his quietness, we were able to set a great tone for his set of days off.

Scene 2: So, if the above scene showcased Steve being very quiet and not very interactive when he got home, this scene is totally opposite.

I don't recall the exact details of the trip, but I don't think it fucked with him too much. It was a short 3-day trip. When he got home that Thursday evening, he did his usual routine of going upstairs, putting his bags away, and getting out of his uniform. After checking in on the sleeping kids, he can downstairs. I warmed a plate of food for him. He ate, sitting at the end of the island. I drank some peppermint tea, sitting on the side of the island. After he finished eating we stayed at the island and talked. And talked, and talked and talked. We must have talked for an hour in the dim light of the kitchen.

A lot of stuff happened that week, from Cici's eye appointment for her ocular migraines, to intense news regarding a friend, to an anxiety attack I had while having dinner with a friend.

Both our attitudes that evening were great. We were both happy, and our behaviors reflected that. We were simply enjoying one another's company. Re-entry was easy this time around.

Scene 3:
 To show a totally different attitude, this is the scene where you are just nipping at one another. Talk about a tough re-entry.

Steve got home from a 3-day trip last Friday. He got into the airport around 1 in the afternoon, which put him home around 2-something. The nanny took the kids ice skating and they got home around 3:30 or so. I ran some errands after work, and then we all had to run to the cell phone store. We finally settled in for the evening around 6pm, just in time to make dinner. We were having burgers, corn, watermelon, and salad.

Steve always gives Niko a voice. And it's funny. The kids will ask "hey Niko, what's 4+4?" And Steve will respond as Niko, in this dopey voice,"6." 

"Hey Niko, do you want to go on a walk?"
"Yes, yes! I would love a walk?" 

"Hey Niko, did you have fun at the boarding place?"
"yes, yes I did! I made lots of friends."

You get the picture. It's something Steve does and it's cute.

Well, as we were sitting around the table eating dinner, Cici tried to do the "Niko voice." I knew she was trying to do it. But, Steve thought it was her doing her baby voice, which is this thing she is into now that we are trying to correct.

"Cici, stop with the baby voice!" Steve directed.

I glared at him across the table. "She was doing her Niko voice," I said in a low tone.

And he immediately apologized, "oh, sweetheart I'm so sorry..."

He was probably tired. He was short-fused, obviously. And that all came across in his behavior. Even Cici felt stung by his direction.

This scene, obviously, is the hardest when it comes to re-entry. Most times when Steve comes home he is good. He is conditioned to this job. But, every once in awhile, he isn't in a good mood, and it shows. The best thing the kids and I do when it comes to this scene is to just let things slide, and realize tomorrow is a new day.

Going from solo to couple:
At night when the kids go to bed, I will sometimes hang in our family room...just me, the dog, and real housewives of whatever county. Just me...and the sleeping the quiet family room.

Then Steve will be home the next night, and I can't watch my housewives. And he is sitting next to me eating almonds. And that "crunch, crunch, crunch" is so deafening that I have to actually close my ear which is closest to him. Re-entry.

When Steve is gone for work and I leave the house in the morning, I come home to the same mess in the kitchen sink, which typically isn't much. When Steve is home and I leave the house in the morning, I can come home from work to my mess in the sink, plus his mess. His egg pan from breakfast, along with his coffee cup. His dirty bowl from the soup he ate at lunch. And let's throw in his water glass as well. Re-entry.

How do I manage going from solo to couple? Honestly, I bit my tongue a lot. I remember that Steve lives here too, so sometimes I just have to let things be. Now, don't get me wrong there are certainly times where I have to voice myself, like the dishes, because I simply can't take it. But most times I like to think I let things slide. I try to not get upset about annoyances, but rather let the moment pass.

If you live this life, you get it. Re-entry can be HARD. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it depends on my mood. Sometimes it depends on Steve's mood. Sometimes the wind blows out of the east, and that throws everything off. I'm kidding here, just making the point that sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why re-entry can be hard when it was perfect the trip before. And take comfort in the fact that all travelling households deal with these exact same situations.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fucking Flowers

Today is our wedding anniversary. 14 years.

When Steve got his June schedule he noted he would be working today. I noted that he would be spending a lot of money on having flowers delivered today.

Knowing he would be gone today, Steve and I exchanged gifts on Sunday, the eve before he left for this trip. Exchanging gifts on a random day is very typical for a pilot household, be it birthdays or anniversaries. Steve gifted me U2 concert tickets, and a night downtown. I gifted him a trip to the shooting range, which is something (shooting a gun) he has never done before.

In my head, we will celebrate our anniversary the evening of the concert. Today, this year around, is simply a date on a calendar.

Wednesdays are challenging for me at work. On this hump-day, I receive a lot of money for my clients. And with these clients, it's my job to post the money. I delegate a bit of the work out, but I handle most of it. It's a lot of numbers, for many hours. By noon-ish my brain hurts and I need to step away from my desk. It was about then that I thought more about not having received flowers in the office yet.

With every sound of the company door opening, I thought that maybe it was the flowers. With each person passing my office I looked up. Nothing. Did Steve really not send me flowers today?

Around 2:30 Steve called me. Note that I leave my office everyday at 3pm. He was just "checking in." He was in Chicago and got settled into his hotel for the rest of the day. When he was asking how my day was going, he lingered a if to say something.

"So, did you get anything delivered?" he asked.
"Well, you should have..."
"Well, they have, like, 30 minutes to deliver them if I get them today..."

Here is the breakdown of the flower order:
- Steve ordered the flowers on SATURDAY! (he certainly planned for this)
- Steve ordered the flowers through FTD, online.
- FTD guarantees the delivery between 9am to 5pm.
- Note, again, that I leave every day at 3p.

I left work at 3. I didn't have any flowers.

Steve sent me a couple texts about how sorry he was. This was after I ignored his phone call. It wasn't his fault the flowers weren't delivered when I was there. I told him it wasn't his fault. But, with any situation where you are feeling something, you want to blame someone. I wanted to blame Steve. Why couldn't he get this right? I told him he should have just placed a phone order with a local florist. He agreed.

I started my drive home from work defeated. Deflated. I had a thing come up at work that upset me, yet again, and I was down from that. And then no flowers. I told Steve I felt alone.

Feeling alone on your anniversary sucks. Welcome to the world of a pilot wife. 

I tried to control myself on my drive home, and I did until I got a text from a co-worker. It was a picture of the bouquet of flowers that were just delivered.

Stargazer lilies. My favorite. The centerpieces at our wedding. Steve did good.

That picture triggered the tears. Steve is so thoughtful. I went through two tissues. Work pissed me off. Flowers pissed me off. Typically I'm not so emotional, but I have been ready to start my period for the last week, it seems and it fucking sucks, so I really wasn't in a great state. I let it out for a good couple minutes, and then I had to get my shit together because I was coming home to the nanny and the kids.

I got home, happy as can be. It really is amazing how your kids can switch your bad-mood off, and put a smile on your face. I needed that.

The kids and I loaded into the car around 4p because I had to go to the chiropractor. After that we headed to an outdoor mall. I wanted to get a pair of new sandals, which I did. And a really cute cross-body bag. There is always a promise for the kids to feed the ducks when we go to this outdoor mall, and today was no exception.
There is a Mama duck with three babies in this picture.
Super-duper sweet.

Steve "checked in" here and there during our outing. I figured he was calling so much since he knew I was upset.

We then headed to Aldi. I love that store! My latest find are these most awesome chocolate wafers (made in Germany) that taste like Europe. I may buy them out of those next time I'm there, and I'm not even a sugar lover. We are headed to the lake this weekend, which means lots of sugar, carbs, and beer. Have you ever tried to cook a meal on a boat? Not so easy. While at the lake, I switch my "gotta eat nutritious foods" mode off, and turn on my "gotta eat foods that are easy and fast" mode on. Aldi is a great place, in general, and an even greater place to get "boat food."

After Aldi, and nearly three hours later, we finally made our way back home. I commanded the kids help with putting the groceries away once we got home. I needed their help. I was tired. I was hungry. My heart was still heavy.

I opened the car's back hatch and added one bag to the load I was already carrying, being my handbag and a cup of water. I greeted the dog as we entered the house, and then I placed my load on the kitchen island. I went back to the car for another load of grocery bags, which I then placed on the kitchen island. As I turned to head back to the car for yet another load, I stopped...

There was a bouquet of flowers laying on the kitchen counter, next to the sink. Red roses, with white hydrangeas.

I started crying. I stopped dead in my tracks, and just started crying. My cry, then, turned into that ugly cry.

You know how you sometimes carry that weight on your shoulders when something is in disarray? And then when the situation is resolved, you feel that weight lifted? Well, those flowers lifted that weight. My heart felt light. It was exactly what I needed to make things right. Despite a time zone and a couple thousand miles, Steve made me feel so special...and so loved. Those flowers made me no longer feel alone.

Ben had been helping me with bringing the bags in, and was in the kitchen when I saw the bouquet. As I cried, Ben was relating to the 'happy cry' thing, and shared some stories with me. It was very sweet. I think it's good when your children see you multi-dimensional like this.

After I placed the flowers in a vase, and put away all the frozen/refrigerated food, I called Steve. I opened the conversation with the fact that Ben saw me ugly cry. He knew exactly why I was calling. As I was recounting the chain of events to finding the bouquet, I started to cry again.

"It's just fucking flowers," I told him, trying to laugh through my tears. But the truth is, it's much more than just fucking flowers. I felt alone this afternoon. Like, really alone. Even though I know it wasn't Steve's fault for the late delivery, somehow it made me feel distant from him. I am way okay with this aviation lifestyle, and I like to think that I handle it pretty well, most times. But, today this one thing hit me *just* right.

Steve knew how down I was, and worked his magic to make it right. When I was driving home from work, he was running. While running he kept thinking how he can make this right. He had an idea.

He enlisted a friend to help him. Steve told said friend that the $80 bouquet that was delivered to my office today was now just a paper weight. Said friend totally understood, and jumped in to help. Said friend, and his daughter, delivered the goods while we were running errands. They entered through the garage door key-pad. Remember how Steve kept "checking in?" He was keeping tabs on us to help orchestrate this flower delivery.
this was the picture sent to Steve, showing the drop was successful

This anniversary, though apart, will go in the memory books for sure. I am reminded, once again, how lucky I am to be loved by my husband the way he loves me. And now, I think my favorite bouquet is red roses with white hydrangeas.

Friday, May 19, 2017


Steve and I met 18 years ago. I was a junior in college, and Steve was flying a Saab for a corporate flight department. He picked me up at a bar. I first noticed his blue and yellow plaid shirt...who the hell wears spring colors on a cold late-winter Saturday night? He still has that shirt since I won't let him get rid of it. I gave him my phone number that night. I also gave my # to another guy (Greg, the accountant). The next night he called me, Steve the pilot that is, and a couple weeks later we went on our first date.

Steve always felt home to me, even on that first date. You will be happy to know he dressed much more appropriately on that first date: brown boots, jeans, and a green sweater. He still has that sweater since I won't let him get rid of it. But, he did back into a car that first date. And then two dates later he spilled a beer all over my lap. Pretty impressive guy, huh! I did experience his jumpseat on our second date. That was pretty cool, I have to say. He says he was nervous with the landing. I thought he did great. What the hell do I know about a good landing?

It didn't take long to realize this guy had something on me. But, I didn't realize he was "the one" until I went into the Peace Corps the year after I graduated college. Funny that it took an entire ocean for me to realize this about such a great man. In June we will celebrate 14 years of marriage.

In spite of all that love first felt when boy meets girl, when you think this love will last forever, divorce happens. And folks, it's upon seems like I have reached that age where divorce is all around me. I mean, lots of my peer group are getting divorced. I've been warned about this time in my life, so I knew it was bound to happen. That still doesn't lessen the sting of the news of a newly initiated divorce.

There are marriages that end after a couple years. I have lived through those. The fact that kids weren't involved makes the news a little easier to take. Still sucks. Still require get-togethers filled with bottles of beer and wine to process it all. But, now I'm around marriages that are ending after a decade + and kids are involved. It sucks. Plain and simple. Divorce sucks.

So, why do I bring this up? I'm a writer...I have to express myself. And since there is a lot of divorce around me, I need to write about it. Being married to an airline pilot isn't easy. Hell, marriage isn't easy. I'm just putting my truth out there in an effort to support one another. This blog is all about being married to an airline pilot: the good, the bad, the ugly. I keep it real on here. I keep it real outside of here. I hear from my readers, and I know that keeping it real is refreshing. It helps validate this whack-a-do lifestyle of being married to an airline pilot.

Steve and I have a good marriage. We are both happy. We acknowledge this to one another. Certainly we aren't happy all-day, every-day...who the hell is?! But, overall we are happy. I work on our marriage. We work on our marriage. I read books on marriage. I read relationship articles. I talk with girlfriends, and guyfriends, about marriage and relationships. I blog about marriage. My intention of this post is to establish what has worked for us to maintain a happy marriage, and what I have learned from my friends that are divorced. 

I need to start with establishing Steve's character. I think it's important for me to note this, because I know that a principled man isn't always a given. Steve is a honorable man who respects me, honors me, and wants me to be happy.  He loves me. In fact, I think he loved me from the moment we met. After our second date he told his captain that he "was in trouble." His love for me is deep. Steve is a good man, plain and simple. His head is on straight, and his moral compass is pointed in the right direction. He admires me. He listens to me. He encourages me. He believes in me. For all this, I am grateful. I am thankful that he pursued me the way he did, and never gave up on me.

I had been editing this post for about a month. At first I was writing about the vows we took on that beautiful June day, and I was going to break those down. Commitment, sickness and health, richer and poorer, blah blah blah. But, we know all that stuff. Of course I believe in that. Of course! But, I'm not here to tell you what you already know...what everyone already knows. I'm here to tell you what I have discovered are the keys to a happy marriage, a successful marriage, outside of all that stuff.

When Steve and I first got married, I thought the keys to a successful marriage were trust and communication. I still stand by those. In fact, I will always believe that trust and communication are vital, the base, to a successful marriage.

I'm not sure if I am in the majority or the minority of pilot wives when it comes to trust. But, I trust Steve. It's as simple as that. I never challenge Steve's trust. Period. It has always been there. On our first date, I could just tell he was trustworthy, and that has remained consistent throughout all these years. When he is on the road, I don't worry about him hooking up with a flight attendant, or a female pilot. I just don't. I don't care who he goes to dinner or drinks with. I don't care who he talks to. His initial training sim partner was a woman, as a matter of fact...didn't bother me in the least. In fact, I am thankful for her because she helped name our son, in a way. I was insistent that my very unique maiden name be used as our first born's middle name. Steve was resistant...until his sim partner shared her middle name (her mother's maiden name) and her story with him. Steve's love, actions, and words towards me are enough to keep this trust going. I wish I could add more to this point, but there isn't much more I can say about is just there with us. Always has been.

As for communication, this can certainly be challenging when married to a pilot. On a day to day basis, you have to make the most of what you have. If he has a busy day where you only talk for 2 minutes on the phone, and you can tell he is disconnected, let it be. There will always be time to reconnect after the trip. Steve and I have grown into this pattern (of not talking much on the road and reconnecting when he is home) and we are both okay with it. We don't always call one another to say "good night." I don't make him call me after every leg. When he's on the road we may not talk all that much, and that's okay. Sure there are times when I text him multiple times and he doesn't respond. I can get pissy about it, but I just bite my tongue. Perhaps he is busy. Perhaps he is tired. We'll reconnect when he is home.

As for the really heavy stuff, when it comes to things that are hard to say, we have been known to email one another. This may sound odd to some, but it works for us. I express myself best through written word, so writing things out helps me express everything I need to get out.

I also want to emphasize the point that when it comes to the really heavy stuff...the stuff that is really hard to say...say it. The hardest thing I ever had to tell Steve was that I had thoughts of cheating on him. I told him when he was on the road. We were talking over the phone. We were at a bad point in our marriage, just a couple years into our marriage. When I told him, he got pissed. Like hung-up-the-phone-on-me pissed, which is something we never do. Like so pissed he took a while to call me back, pissed.

And here is the next part in the whole communication thing...despite me saying something that cut so deep...he heard me. I told him something that was really hard to say, and he heard me. Hearing that helped him realize how low I was, and how much I was hurting. I never cheated on him, for the record. But, imagine if he didn't "hear" my words and our marriage would have continued on the same negative path. We learned a lot from that experience, and are only stronger because of it. And it is testimony for how important it is to communication with your spouse, both saying something and really hearing those said words.

Okay, so trust and communication. Got it. What's the next thing I think is important for a successful marriage? Happiness. And this isn't just your own happiness, which is very important (but I don't want to make this post super long). The happiness I want to focus on is about striving to make your partner happy.

This is something that I came into the last couple years. Looking back, I have done it all along. It's in my nature to make people happy. I try to make Steve happy, and Steve tries to make me happy.  I start it when he gets home from a trip. I try my hardest to have the house in order upon his arrival. I want him to come into a happy home. I know that doing this makes him happy. And when he is happy, he makes me happy...and the upward spiral of happiness continues. Read the blog post I did about this, which gives more detail on this topic. When both partners strive to make the other happy, it keeps the marriage healthy. I swear by this.

He gets my travel coffee cup ready in the morning. He gets a drink for me at night, when we are both settled in on the couch, and I ask with a slight whine. Will you please get me a bubble water? He will put gas in the car so that I don't have to stop on my way into work. I put my shoes away. I clear clutter before he gets home. I have a meal waiting for him when he gets in after a trip. It is the little stuff like this that really do add up.

Keeping things real, also helps keep my marriage in a good place. I know that our marriage isn't perfect, and I accept that. I know there will be bad days, hell there are even bad weeks and bad months. But, that isn't going to dictate the overall health of our marriage. There have been nights that I have slept in another room simply because lying next to him would have either brought me to tears, or made me want to punch him in the face. We have had bad fights. I have looked him straight in the eyes and said "fuck you," on a train in Slovakia, no less. On our way to meet friends for dinner, no less. 2 days before he was leaving back to the states, no less. I still remember that fight clear as a bell, nearly 16 years later. He has left for trips were I didn't kiss him goodbye, or even tell him "goodbye." We have been to marriage counseling in the past. You see my point...we have had bad times. But, I know these times are only temporary. "This too shall pass," and with a bit of understanding and forgiveness and communication we can move past the troubles. Despite all the problems, we got through them and are only stronger because of it. I don't think that every day is going to be perfect, and I think recognizing that is important. I realize that a down time isn't going to break us. We don't give up when the times get tough.

Another reason why our marriage is successful is because we are in this together. This marriage is a partnership. Obviously when Steve is on the road he can't help out at home. But, when he is home he steps in. When he is home, I am still the one to get up with the kids on school days. But, I recognize I am a morning person, and he is NOT. I keep with our routine, and he jumps in if in the right mindset. Most time he helps out, although sometimes he feels like he gets in the way. But, there are times when he just sits at the island with a cup of coffee...this especially happens if he got in at 1am the night before and his internal clock is all fucked up. Us pilot wives know when to let an exhausted husband be.  Yes, there are times when he is so exhausted that he forgets to put the coffee cup in the Keurig. These are the times I give him the time and space he needs to get back to normal. Partnership, right?

We split the laundry duties, although lately he has been doing about 70% and I about 30%. We share duties on cleaning the house. If I ask him to run an errand he will, and vice versa. When I go grocery shopping, he will help bring the bags in and put things away. When I make dinner, he will clean up afterward. He helps get the kids ready for bed. You catch my drift at this point. If he didn't help out with all this, I would be burnt out.

Being married to an airline pilot may certainly feel like you aren't in this thing together, and you question the whole partnership thing. How can this be a partnership when he is gone all the time? It may feel like you are going through this life on parallels. I get that, believe me. Those nights when you are rocking your sick baby at 4am, for the third night in a row. Those events that he misses, like a friend's wedding or a company holiday party. Those times when you receive devastating news, and you won't be able to see one another for days. Those times when you have a home disaster and you have to deal all by yourself (Shit Happens). Those times when you feel like you are just giving and giving, and can't catch a freakin' break. We have all been there. But, through all those times when you feel like you don't have a partner in this partnership thing, never hold his job against him. Never hold his absence against him. Through all those shitty times, I am positive that Steve would have rather been home, right by my side, rather than thousands of miles away. Remember, he isn't away on vacation, he is working. Sometimes it is so hard to remind yourself of that, but if you don't keep that top of mind then you may be entering into a very slippery slope.

If you read my blog you know the concept of love languages, which is my next key to success. And if you pay attention, you know that my love language is physical touch, followed by words of affirmation. Steve's love language is acts of kindness. The other two, making a total of five, is quality time and gifts. I researched love languages after Steve got pissed at me about my shoes in the garage. He told me I was "disrespecting" him when I didn't put my shoes away neatly. I found his choice of words to be very can shoes be disrespectful? So, I looked into things more...enter love languages. It wasn't just the shoes, it is the fact that he asked me over and over, and over and over, to put my damn shoes away...and I ignored him. I disrespected him. All he wanted me to do was put my shoes away. How hard was it to do that? I eventually got it. I understood that by my small act of putting my shoes away, I made him happy. I was pleasing him in a way that he needed to be pleased. I could give two-shits if my shoes are neatly put away, but I make an effort to do so because I know it fills Steve's love tank.

When I speak Steve's love language, I fill his love tank. When Steve speaks my love language, he fills my love tank. I am most happy when my love tank is filled. It's that simple. If Steve bought me gifts all the time, which is probably the lowest rank for me, but never held my hand, my love tank would be empty. If my love tank is low, I'm down. Remember how I told Steve I had thoughts of cheating on him? Yup, all because of an empty love tank. I'm at the point now where I recognize when my love tank is getting low. And if my love tank is getting low I tell Steve, and he knows exactly what to do. It's that simple. A marriage counselor once told me I had abandonment issues...nope, my love tank was low. I swear, after reading that book our marriage became so much easier. This is the one relationship book that I recommend over and over.

One last point: Steve and I work at our marriage. Marriage takes work. Marriage takes effort, which we recognize. A garden isn't going to grow if the soil is toxic, but if the soil is rich it will thrive. We make an effort to keep our marriage in a good place. We go on dates, although sometimes I wish it was more often. We have good sex. We make time for one another. We get away, just the two of us, every now and again. We hug. We kiss, which is always more funny when the kids catch us...Cici is at the age where she will scream out "ewww" and Ben is at the age where he quietly turns away and doesn't mention anything due to embarrassment. We don't neglect one another. Try to remember how hard you worked at your relationship when you first started dating: planning dates, trying to make your partner happy, writing loving words to one another, ect. And think about now. Don't become roommates. Remember to put that effort into your marriage.

As I wrap up this post, I want to point out that all these keys to a happy marriage are intertwined. If we had the best communication, but my love tank was low, I wouldn't be happy. If I looked straight into Steve's eyes when he was telling me something important, but I really didn't hear him, then he wouldn't be happy. If I worked my ass off, both when Steve was away and when he was home, I would be beat and incredibly overwhelmed all the time. See how it all intertwines? All the above really are, in my eyes, keys to a successful and a happy marriage. Wishing all the married couples out there much happiness.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

No distractions

My husband is an overachiever. When he does something, he wants to excel at it. When something needs done, he puts his full attention to the matter. So, when it comes time for his proficiency check (PC), or is it recurrent training?...whatever the hell it is called now, he takes time to prepare. He has been flying the same airplane for 10 years now, so he is obviously very skilled with the aircraft, but he still studies. He prepares. All of the above makes him distracted and somewhat stressed on the days leading up to his time in the sim. I just smile and grin my way through those days. Even the kids can tell he is a bit out of character. He admits that he puts the pressure on himself, even when he doesn't really need to. Again, overachiever.

Steve left for his PC early Wednesday morning. He got home late Thursday evening.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 1pm or so, I got a call from the nurse at my daughter's school. "This isn't an emergency, but Cici came in here telling me she couldn't see out of one eye..."

The nurse and I continued to have a conversation that over the weekend Cici told us the same thing, but we didn't react much to it. We did the whole "how many fingers am I holding up?" thing, she passed, and we went on. But, now that it happened again, I grew concerned.

I called Cici's pediatrician, confirmed she needed to be seen, and scheduled an appointment for Thursday morning at 8:20a. So there I was Wednesday afternoon, sitting at my desk at work, googling these symptoms. Detached retina came up, and I started to freak out. Then I started thinking brain tumor. Of course my mind ran away, and I grew more and more concerned. Tears came to my eyes a couple times, but then I turned on the "don't cry at work...everything will be okay..." mood. I distracted myself, and tried not to let my mind get carried away.

When I picked Cici up from school that Wednesday afternoon, I certainly asked her a ton of questions. Here is the summary: during an episode, of which she has had three, she will have blacked out vision out of her right eye. Her whole vision isn't black, just block objects. Say she is looking at me, my silhouette will be black...and then there will be pink or purple auras around me. And if she blinks, that blacked-out silhouette may switch to our dog, or whatever object is next to me. Each episode will last for a couple minutes. The right eye will go numb for a bit, also.

I asked her to draw what she sees. "N" is for normal. "S" is for strange, which is what she sees during an episode.

Once Cici told me she was seeing auras, which wasn't discussed during my conversation with the school nurse, I took to google again. Anything from migraines to spiritual mediums came up. I have to say, I did find some peace with those search results...and the fact that Cici was her total normal self.

Steve called me around 9pm or so, Wednesday night. "How was your day?" he asked.

"Oh, just fine." I could tell his mood was more light. He said the day went well. He was about to head out to dinner with his captain. For a brief second, again since his mood was light, I thought about telling him. I refrained. Don't distract him. 

We were out the door at 7:30am Thursday morning. Trash needed out to the curb. Cleaning lady was coming, so that took prep work. The dog needed walked. School snacks and lunches. All before 7:30am. Ben was dropped off at the neighbors and caught the school bus with a friend.

During Cici's appointment, the MD checked Cici out and asked a lot of questions. He also gave her an eye exam. He thinks this is a type of migraine, perhaps an ocular migraine. He also mentioned "Alice in Wonderland Syndrome." He didn't feel the need to do any scans at this point. He didn't seem overly concerned. He did ask that we keep a diary of these episodes, and he gave me the name of a neurologist, whom I will call if she has another episode or two.

After the appointment, I dropped Cici off at school, and then talked to my mom and sister. They knew the whole run down of everything. Others knew the full story, and Steve had yet to find out anything.

The last thing I wanted to do was tell Steve and have him worry about this, especially since it wasn't an urgent issue. If he were on a trip, that would be one thing, since there wouldn't have been the stress of his PC. But I wanted to keep his PC time as distraction-less (is that even a word?) as possible.

Steve called me around 4pm on Thursday afternoon. He was at the airport and ready to catch his flight home. His PC was over, and he was ready to get home. I give him the full run down on what happened in the last 36 hours. He asked a couple questions here and there, and I was able to answer them. All was well. I handled everything like a pro...he trusts my parenting...and the day goes on...


I wanted to add a bit more to this story, but wanted to keep it separate from the story above...

As I mentioned above, Cici's MD appointment was Thursday morning at 8:20a. We were out the door at 7:30a. I prepped Wednesday evening as much as I could to make life easier on Thursday morning.

One of these "prep" activities was to get things ready for the cleaning lady. This entails getting all the clutter put away so she can clean and do her work as efficiently as possible.

Well, truth be told, come Wednesday night at 9pm, I was tired. I had been up and active for the past 14 hours, and I was a bit stressed with Cici's vision trouble. The whole solo parenting thing isn't always easy. When it came time to getting the kitchen ready, any excessive papers went into a pile on the side counter. This side counter is our "hub" of sorts...electronics are charged there, papers are stored there neatly in a wooden organizer. This newly formed pile-o-papers were not in the wooden organizer, but rather stacked *next* to the wooden organizer.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon when Steve addressed said pile-o-papers. "You know I don't like clutter."

"Well, then go through it," I responded. And so he did. He was two papers in, asking me what to do with each of the papers: keep or pitch. I wasn't in the mood, so I told me that I didn't want to do this now. He got pissy. I could tell. I ignored it. I think he went on to sort through the papers without my input.

And then I got to thinking a bit later, and took my thoughts into the laundry room where he was folding items out of the dryer. I told him that he needs to watch his words with me. I explained that I had a ton of shit to get done all because of Cici's out of the ordinary vision issue/appointment, and the only energy I had for the papers was to put them in a pile.

I told him to have mercy on me. I told him I can't do everything all the time. He emphasized that he wasn't pissed. I know better, I've know the man for 18 years. I know he was pissed...he really hates clutter. But, I also know that he saw my point. Steve is a good man, he really is, so I know he heard me. He didn't push back.

Sometimes he just needs a bit of a reminder that I can't do it all.

I am adding this last bit to the story, because I think it is a good reminder to all the pilots out there that we deal with a lot of shit on the home front when you are gone, and a lot of it you don't even realize. All-the-while we make it look all pretty for when you get home. Don't take that for granted. And perhaps before you criticize when something is not done, or not done the right way, think about how things looked on our end.

Monday, April 24, 2017


For the good while now I would joke that Steve was sleeping with someone in crew scheduling. He was getting really good schedules. Like, "pinch me this can't be real" good. We have grown accustomed to a nice schedule. However, we knew that wouldn't last forever. And, we were right - his schedule for March and April was less than ideal.

Steve worked two Sundays in March. He will be working two Sundays in April. I hate when Steve works on Sunday. Sunday is a family day, not a work day. Not to mention, I work Monday - Friday. The kids are in school Monday - Friday. See where I am headed with this? We haven't been getting as much time with Steve as we have in the past. Our routine is slowly becoming disrupted.

Ok, so we have Steve working a couple Sundays. Why don't we add an overnight camp to the mix to disrupt things even further. In early April, Steve and Cici went to an overnight camp for two nights. They left on Friday and got home Sunday. They had a really good time, and it was great bonding time for the two of them. Great for them, but not for family time...nor for Joanna and Steve time.

Working Sundays, and an overnight camp - what else can we add to the mix? House guests.

Steve was home for Easter, which was awesome! But, family was with us for 3 nights over Easter weekend. Know what that means? No time for filing my love tank. Oh, and to add one more poker to the fire...although we had house guests for 3 nights over Easter, Steve was actually home 4 nights. He got in Thursday evening before Easter, and our guests were arriving Friday. Awesome! One night alone! One might guess what was on the table that Thursday night. Nope...didn't happen. Guess who cock-blocked me? That's right, my period. 2 fucking hours after he got home it came. I knew it was coming, too. I was praying it would hold off until the morning. Talk about cruel, fucked up timing. Cruel. Very, very cruel.

Oh wait...there's one more thing to add to the mix. Yes, I'm serious. More house guests! It's like we couldn't get a break. We were to have house guests for 3 more nights the week after Easter, exactly the evenings when Steve was home after his post-Easter trip. This sure did put a damper on any opportunity to fill my love tank, thus pushing us into a 2 week point of having no alone time. Cruel. Very, very cruel. This is when one has to resort to creative locations for sex, so that said house guests don't hear you through the adjoining bedroom wall.

All I want is normalcy right now, and this past weekend we finally got it! All the Easter leftovers and crap food is out of our house. Back to our normal diet. Back to our normal home. Our son even made the comment that it is nice to have the house back to ourselves...yes,the kids were feeling it, too.

I need to add the disclaimer that I know that we are making memories with all these activities and house guests, and I am truly grateful for that. I agreed to all the activities and house guests because it is the right thing to do. But, when these activities and house guests come at you rapid fire, especially after already missing your pilot because he hasn't been home for a full weekend, it just adds up.

I really dig Steve, and I crave our time together, so when I don't get that time it wears on me.  Our time together is already shortened because he is on the road so much. So, it can really suck when we don't get our time together. As a matter of fact, he actually turned down drinks with the guys last night because he wanted a normal Sunday night with me. It was nice to have a normal Sunday night.

Pilot wives are good with going with the flow, and typically I am. We are an adaptable bunch. But for the last couple of months we have been out of sync with our normal schedule, so getting back to normal is incredibly refreshing. Steve got his May schedule, and he isn't working weekends! I am very, very happy about this. Now, if we could just keep our house guests at bay...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My social life

Steve was due home Friday evening, late. He left on Tuesday morning, early.

Steve didn't make it home Friday night.  When I learned he wasn't coming home as scheduled, which was around noon on Friday, I was in a funk for a good couple hours. Just like our son, I crush when expectations aren't met. I expected him home. I wanted him home.

For Steve, day 4 consisted of 2 legs. His first leg was delayed nearly 7 hours due to a maintenance delay on his inbound aircraft. He didn't make it into ORD Friday night Saturday morning until 2am. He spent the night in an airport hotel, and deadheaded home Saturday afternoon.

Of course this change in his pairing meant that I had to change plans. I wanted to go to yoga on Saturday morning. I also had plans to meet a girlfriend for appetizers on Saturday afternoon. But, I chose Steve. I couldn't run out the moment Steve came home. Which was a good thing because he come home a zombie, and then took a 1 1/2 hour nap. Sure, there are times when I do this, but not this time around. Not after being gone for 5 days. Plus, I missed him. I wanted to spend time with him.

I had Saturday morning to really get the house in order. I made sure to have good food,
roasted chicken, which I've never made before. It was actually pretty good.
and beer/wine, in the house when he got home. I gave up alcohol for Lent, but that doesn't mean Steve should go without. I figured after the trip he had he may have needed to take a load off. After a 5-day trip, with a day-delay in getting home, I certainly made a point to set the stage in the house to welcome him home. (How to be a better pilot wife)

As always, something inspires my blog posts, and this change in schedule has inspired my need to express that times like this is when it sucks to be married to an airline social life struggles. As I mentioned, I had to cancel plans with a girlfriend. A girlfriend, mind you, that I haven't seen in probably a month. It seems like my schedule is at the mercy of Steve and the kids. Sometimes it feels like there just isn't enough time in a week for me to be 'me' do the things I want to do.

Let me paint the picture of how our week is typically structured:
Monday - Friday: I work outside of the home. The kids are in school.
Monday evening: PSR at our church. I teach, and both kids are enrolled.
Tuesday evening: NOTHING. Yes!!!
Wednesday evening: Cici has dance
Thursday evening: both kids have gymnastics
Friday evening: Polish school
Saturday: this, that, and whatever
Sunday: church, and evenings are reserved to get the kids back to bedtime routines

Now, let me paint the picture of Steve's typical week for work. Generally speaking, it would be any one of the following:
- 3 day trip: leave on Monday, come home Wednesday
- 3 day trip: leave on Tuesday, come home Thursday
- 3 day trip: leave on Wednesday, come home Friday
- 4 day trip: leave on Monday, come home Thursday
- 4 day trip: leave on Tuesday, come home Friday

Steve could be out the door on day 1 at 4am, for a 6am flight.
Steve could get home as late as midnight or 1am on day 4.

On any given week, Steve is home and 'available', if you will, two or three nights. Say he has a 3am alarm on day 1, he isn't available the night before because he is in bed by 9pm. And say on day 4 he comes home at 11pm, well, he isn't too available that night either. For the nights he is available don't think that translates to "free time" for me. We have to have some family time in there. Oh, and let's not neglect Joanna-and-Steve together time. Wait, but I have friends and want to hang and have my girl time. Oh, and let's not forget about Steve's friends, and his need to hang with his guy friends.

See how there is a struggle with balancing this all? I know pilot wives can relate and live this very same life, but so many people just don't get it.

Say I get an invitation to hang out with girlfriends on Thursday night...well, the kids have gymnastics and Steve is out of town. "Sorry, next time!"

Say, I get an invitation to hang out on Friday night...well, the kids have Polish School and Steve gets in too late. "Sorry, next time!"

Sure, there are times when I get an invitation and get a sitter for the kids. I do this for birthday dinners or maybe a school function that leads to drinks afterward. But those events need to fall on a day where I don't have to cart the kids to an activity. Also, I have a thing about not paying for a sitter just so Mama can go booze it up. I have this response to our neighborhood book club, for example. If Steve is gone on the Thursday night of book club this month, well I'll catch it next time.

All these "sorry, next time!" responses I am certain mean that I am not on as many invitation lists as I would like to be. There are plenty of times where I see friends post pictures on Facebook, and I have the thought "oh, I wish I were invited to that." But, I understand. If I don't show face for a while, my face can be overlooked. I get it.

I also want to point out that I am, a lot extroverted. I get my energy from people. I like to be around people. I need to be around people. I thrive when I'm around people. And when I'm not as social as I want to be, it can get to me.

If I am the extroverted one, well guess who is introverted? You guessed right, Steve! When he isn't working, he needs to recharge at home. I can't pull him away from home all the time to do one thing or another. I know he needs to 'just be' at times, and I have to plan for that. We actually cancelled plans, a couple weeks ago, for a road trip because Steve was going to be gone from home too much. One could argue that if Steve needs to be home, well let him stay home while you go out. The only problem with that is that I actually really like Steve, and want to be around him. I enjoy his company. I like being with him. Say Steve is only available two nights a week, I may very well want to spend that time with him. We are married, after all.

Wait, let me add one more thing to this social thing...I work. I can't join other women for their 10am yoga session, and then head to lunch afterward. I would love to, but I can't. The time left in my day for social activity is very limited, if available at all. There are only so many hours in a day, even a week...

Don't take this blog post as whining or depressing or bitching. That isn't my intention. I am merely stating the reality of my life married to a man who is gone every week. As the kids get older, their need for me will decrease. This, in turn, will allow me to become more social. I get that. But, for now, this is my reality.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hot Topic

Fall 1999, Steve starting flying for a regional airline. He was based in the New York area, and had a crash pad. I was a senior in college. I was living my life. He was living his. He flew in every now and again and we would go on dates and hang. It was nice. I would often drop him off at the airport - that way I could keep his BMW to drive around. His car was much better than my crappy 15-year-old station wagon, which my sister's and I loving call the "power wagon."

He wasn't based in New York too long. I honestly can't remember exactly how long he had a crash pad, but it was only a couple months. Apparently, the crash pad, in a hotel, was notorious and carried a ton of stories. I know some of these stories, but no need to share them now...let's keep this post PG. Steve also shared stories of his roommates - it is always fun for Steve to point out said roommate on a flight and say "remember about that one guy who..."

I clearly recall picking him up from his last commuting flight. This was before 9-11, so I met him at his gate. "Smell my bag," Steve directed me. "Um, no!" thinking it was full of smelly socks or something. Turns out, he gate checked his bag, and while in the cargo bin a crate of fish broke all over his bag. It was horrible. We drove back to my place with the windows down. Picture us, winter in the north, driving 65mph on the highway with windows down. We had to, the smell was that bad. When we got to my house, Steve kept his rollaboard on my front porch. He would douse it with febreeze often. Eventually the smell went away, and he went on the use said rollabroad for years!

After college graduation I joined the Peace Corps. When I got home, I moved in with Steve. This was in 2001. We have been living in the same area, more or less, since.

In 2006, Steve was hired at his current mainline airline. He had a short stint with sitting reserve at a base in the New York area, but that was short lived. Soon enough, he was back home, and based at our home airport. Aside from these two short stints, adding up to maybe six months, we never had to deal with any long-term commuting.

After he got hired at his current airline, we started having kids. This was all very much planned. Any hardships we faced with Steve's schedule/pay was before kids.

A couple years ago, right after we got back from a cruise, I read on twitter that our home airport was no longer going to be a hub for Steve's airline. Our son was in Kindergarten, and our daughter had yet to start school. We figured that we would move before the kids got settled into school. We figured we would make the move, and be set.

We looked at different cities, different suburbs, school districts, houses...all the normal stuff families look at when relocating. We narrowed it down to two areas. We were going to give ourselves a year to make the move. We had told family, we even started clearing out our basement.

...and then Steve had breakfast with a dear friend on a random Friday morning. They have been friends since college. They were in one another's wedding. Steve is the Godfather of one of his children. That afternoon I got home from work to find Steve weeding the front flower bed. He looked up, gave me a welcoming kiss, and said "I don't want to move. I had breakfast this morning with Dave, and I won't be able to get that anywhere else..." And that is true. We have been in the same metropolitan area since the mid 90's...the same suburb since 2002.  We have good friends here. We have family nearby. We are rooted here.

"I am glad you said that, because I don't want to move either."

And with that, we decided to stay put - at least until the kids graduate from high school. Steve and I talk/dream about our plans after the kids graduate. Our needs will be so different then, but right now our focus is raising the kids.

Like I said, talk of moving was a couple years ago. Since then we have truly settled into our home, our town, our life. Steve can hold up to 18 days off a month. He has been working 3-day trips. He has been getting weekends off. He has been mostly getting holidays off. All has been peachy...super....perfect...pinch me because things are too good. We always recognized how great things were, and how we just need to enjoy it, because nothing lasts forever.

Recently we have been talking more about changes, like something is in the air. Steve is working two Sundays in March. Last March wasn't an ideal schedule, but there was a reason for that. This shitty March schedule came with no excuse. Apparently the flying is being spread out between bases....or whatever exactly Steve told me. I do know that there wasn't a "problem" with this bid, like there was last March, so this could very well be our new schedule reality.

The kids are in school five days a week. That leaves just Saturday and Sunday as family days. And if Steve is soon entering a world where he only gets one family day a week, well, time to think about commuting. Why would he stay based here with a shitty schedule, when he would get a better schedule at another base.


Commuting. A dreaded word. I take that back. I didn't dread it before. I dread it now that we have kids. I can go with missing Steve...I am a grown woman, an independent woman. I am not cool with the kids missing Steve. These are the years that matter the most.

Steve is senior enough, company wide, that he will have ways to manage commuting. Captain? What base? Wide body? Same equipment? Weekends off? Reserve? Crash pads? Hotel rooms? Buy a property? Back to back trips? There are lots of different scenarios that can play out since he will have a decent amount of flexibility with his seniority.

Or does Steve just stay put until the pilot base closes, all the while getting schedules that go from shitty to really shitty. His base is pretty senior, so when flying leaves that will only make his schedules worse.

Steve and I talked about this hot topic when we had a fire going in the backyard the other weekend.  You know, when Steve told me he felt like an outsider in our home. We also talked about it this past weekend while at a dinner/dance for our kid's Polish School.

A girlfriend sent me the below picture, totally unprovoked, with the caption "that is some deep conversation." This picture was taken exactly when we were talking about this hot topic.

It just goes to show you how much this topic is weighing on us...that in the middle of food and fun (and wine!) we still talk about the hot topic.

Wanna know my biggest concern with change? I don't want to fuck up my kids. We are in a comfortable home. They are in an excellent school district. Steve is present, as much as you can be as an airline pilot. The kids were born into Steve's pilot base, into Steve's schedule. I don't want a decision to impact the kids in any negative way.

I am sure as the months and maybe even years progress you will find me writing more and more about this hot topic. We are still very much in the "possible scenarios" talk right now. What if this? What if that? I am sure that Steve is looking at lines in other bases to see where he would stand. I am sure he already knows how much money each possible move would make. I am sure he is researching this far more than I will ever know.

There certainly could be upside to change. I am very much an optimist person, so I know that I can make the most of a situation. Perhaps Steve will go to the 777, and I will stop working and the kids and I will join him on trips during the summer. Perhaps we will buy a property somewhere close to his new base, and we will teach it as a retreat house of sorts. Perhaps Steve will ultimately be home more with commuting?

In the meantime, we will just continue to be, all-the-while playing out possibilities. Working two Sundays a month isn't as bad as it gets, so there is that.

I want to hear from you...Do you commute? How much does it suck? Or, does it work in your favor? What do you do to ease your commute? Talk to me...I wanna hear from both pilots and pilot wives on how commuting is for your family.

ETA: Based on comments, I wanted to add that if/when Steve does commute it would be just one leg. Depending on the base, his flight would be between 1 to 1 1/2 hours, and a drive would be between 5 1/2 hours to 9 hours.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I'm an outsider

This past Friday, I met some friends for dinner and a movie (50 Shades Darker). Dinner was great. Company was great. The movie was okay. For the record, I loved the books. I read all three in a matter of a week or two. People remark that the writing is bad, but I found the story interesting and fun. The sex scenes are frequent, so while reading the books I found myself skimming through the scenes...after you read 10 scenes it gets a little monotonous. You can't fast forward the movie, and that was the one thing that got to me a bit, the frequency. And the size...seeing a 30 foot naked body, bent over a bed getting spanked is a bit much, visually.

Anyway, so after I got home from the movie, Steve and I stayed up and caught up from his last trip. We do this often: kids are in bed, we pour a glass, or two, of wine, and we talk. We don't really talk much when he is working - that is just our thing - so when he gets home we have days to recap.

Saturday was a beautiful day. Springlike beautiful! Gorgeous and perfect. We had a chill morning, then I headed out to yoga and to shop for a dress for a dinner/dance coming up. The kids spent the day playing in the creek, and Steve just putzed around the yard doing little things here and there.

We went to church Sunday morning, and then came home and had breakfast. My Aunt came over to discuss carpet for her basement project.We went to Home Depot to select the carpet, then we grabbed lunch. The kids were playing in the creek and Steve was cleaning the cars. After my Aunt left, I had to run errands:
- Target: dog food, and a birthday gift for Ben's friend
- Aldi: dog bed
- Walmart: dog food storage bin, and rubber boots for Ben
- two car wash places, but both were crazy busy and I just didn't want to wait

When I got back it was around 4pm, and I was tired. Since about 11:30 I was go-go-go, and I was tired...tired and pissy. Steve was still cleaning the car, and the kids were happily playing in the creek.

Finally, around 5, I started a fire in the firepit.

I cracked open a beer, and chilled. Steve took Ben to a birthday party/sleepover at 6p. When he got back we set Cici up with a movie, and Steve and I sat by the fire, drank beer, and talked.

OK, here is the pilot wife stuff - I needed to set the stage a bit...

When Steve gets his mind set on something, he is hyper focused about it. I can't say this is a pilot things, necessarily, but it certainly is a Steve thing. He wanted to clean the cars, and he sure did! He cleaned them for 5 hours.

On another note, he wants to add more miles to his running, and he sure is doing it. Let's go back to Friday afternoon: he got home from his trip around 3:45p, and wanted to run immediately. Fine. He was the one taking the kids to Polish School, so he needed to get the run out of the way. He talked with a CA who said you shouldn't run a dog until 1 1/2 years old, so he didn't take Niko on the run. Instead, after Steve's run he came back to get Niko and then took him on a walk.

We leave the house for Polish School at 5:15, which really means 5:20 or so. While Steve was walking Niko I was the one left to get dinner for the kids, get their school stuff prepared, get their kindles set in the car, get their costumes prepared (they were having a Carnival). The costume hunt set me off since I couldn't find Cici's most recent costume. I called Steve, to ask him where it was, and it went to voicemail. I called him three times. Nothing. This got me going, good! I was not happy. Not to mention, it was now around 5:10p, and they had to leave in 5 minutes, and he wasn't even home yet. Oh, and I was supposed to meet girlfriends at 5:30. I had to get myself ready, too!

Finally, Steve walks around the bend in the road as I am in the car getting the kindles set. I was pissed - that fuming kind of pissed. Like, not talking pissed because if I said anything it would be very hurtful and that isn't fair to Steve.

My silence was enough to tell Steve how I was feeling.

"What can I do?" he asked, the second I walked back into the house.
"The dog needs fed and the costumes need to go in the car."

Steve jumped on the tasks, got himself changed, and he and the kids were out the door by 5:20. As he left he kissed me and told me to have a good time with the girls. He took a second to slow down and make it known that he wanted me to be happy and have fun, which was nice. I poured wine into a metal bottle (gotta make the movie more fun!) and I was out the door. I showed up to dinner 10 minutes late.

As Steve and I were discussing Friday afternoon around the fire, I established how upset I was since it was me doing everything for the kids to prepare them for Polish School. Steve was focused on this run, and walking Niko. This right after being with the kids for three days, and doing everything for the kids for three days. A pilot wife looks for a break when her man gets home, and it can get to her if she doesn't get that break.

As Steve saw it, he needed to feed the dog and get the costumes in the car...easy jobs, quick jobs. No stress about that. Why? Because I was the one bearing the stress leading up to that point. As I went down the list of all the things I was doing when he was walking the dog, my voice was getting elevated. Perhaps the five beers I had consumed up to that point in the evening didn't help with my volume control, but I was getting a bit worked up.

And then Steve hit home. "Joanna, I'm an outsider. Even if I would have been there to help, you would have done it anyway. You know that. You would have done things your way."

I'm an outsider. 

I have never heard him say that before. But, you know what? He is right. He is right in that I would have wanted the control over getting the kids prepared for Polish School. And, he is right that he is an outsider. Not all the time, but often enough.

Steve may or may not know that Cici's lunch container is blue. He may or may not know that Cici needs two snacks for the day at school. He may or may not know that we are currently reading Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox before bed. He may or may not know that Cici has an Art Show at school this week. He may or may not know that Ben has a new gymnastics teacher. I could go on...

It isn't that Steve and I don't talk. As established above, we can talk for hours when Steve gets home that first night. It is just that I can't fill him in one every second of our day when he is on the road. Stuff can get left out, especially the mundane stuff.

It isn't that Steve isn't an involved father, there is nothing further from the truth. It is just that he is physically away from us so much. By the time he gets back in step from a trip, he is off again on another one.

Certainly, there is nothing I am doing that is intentionally making Steve feel like an outsider. The kids and I have a bond, a solid bond. As much as it can wear on me, like at church when both kids are touching me (Attached), I think it is really special. I am a constant for the kids, and am with them pretty much all the time when they are out of school. This constant presence strengthens our bond. We are always there for one another. Steve isn't always there for us, physically. Again, a reality of the job. And, again, a reason I think he feels like an outsider.

I don't know if this bothers Steve. When he said that around the fire, I stopped talking. I didn't push anything further and thought it best we switch gears. I had five bottles of beer, and there is a certain state of mind one should be in when having deep conversations. If I had to guess, I don't think it bothers Steve all that much, because if it did we would have been discussed it before now. I think it is just a reality of his life as an airline pilot...a reality of our life.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Disney Wonder 2017

In January we took our fifth Disney Cruise. We cruised the Disney Wonder from Galveston Texas to San Juan Puerto Rico. It was wonderful, as is usual with Disney cruises. The four of us traveled with both Grandmas, just like we did last year. We booked this trip on our last cruise. It was 6 nights, and the ports were Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth, Jamaica.

We used points to fly direct to IAH. It was on an EMB 170, and the flight (made longer due to weather) felt long on the plane. So be it. Ativan and a beer did its job. It was direct, which was my request.

When we got to the airport, we got our luggage and met our driver. Steve had researched the best way to get from Houston to Galveston, and we ultimately decided on a limo. Since we were traveling with 6 people, the cost wasn't all that much more than a shuttle service. Car rental wasn't an option since returning it was nearly impossible. We used Royal Carriages, and were very pleased. We got the black stretch limo, I think it was a Lincoln. It was perfectly nice and clean and new.

The kids calmly freaked out when they saw we got a limo! They still talk about how that was the coolest part of the trip.

Our driver was great. About halfway through the trip he rolled down the partition and asked if we wanted to stop by the space center. Sure...why not, even though I had no idea what we about to see.

We only spent a couple minutes there, but it was very cool! At one point I mentioned to the driver how cool this was for the pilot in the group.

We made our way into Galveston. What a cute little town! We stayed about three blocks from the pier. Steve picked out the Tremont House, and we were all very pleased. The hotel had a old-school, classic elegance to it. Our room was adjoining with the grandma's room. The rooms were very spacious. The ceilings were nice and tall (we were on the top floor) and the sofas were a nice touch. Steve and I enjoyed the rooftop bar that evening. I had two glasses of wine, but could certainly have had more since the atmosphere and company were perfect.

The next morning we relaxed and walked around some shops before we checked out and boarded the ship. As usual, the check-in wasn't bad, and before we knew it our boarding group was called. It was a matter of minutes before we got ourselves to the pool and started to enjoy the sunny afternoon. Luckily the weather was perfect for swimming - mid 70's and sunny. Since this was our third time on the ship, we already knew where everything was so no need to explore the ship. We just drove right into vacation mode!

Our first day was at sea, so we just did stuff around the ship. Swam. Relaxed. Drank. It was all good.

Day 3 took us to Cozumel. Not one of my favorite ports...never has been. I actually don't care for the main cruise ports in the Caribbean. Steve and Ben went on a submarine excursion, while the gals just shopped. Cici's treat for the day was to get her hair braided. I hadn't done that for her before, and I have to say it was awesome. She can get very fussy with brushing her hair, so this reduced a lot of fights. It was simple and easy for the rest of the cruise.

The kids also got bracelets. And wouldn't you know it, they actually had one with "Cecilia"! I was so excited for her, since in the states you just don't find her name to be common.

Before we headed back the ship, we made sure to get a selfie. The Magic and Wonder (sister ships) were docked next to one another:

We met up with the boys back on the ship. That afternoon many men were happy that Disney was playing a playoff game on their huge screen at the pool.
Beer, football, sun...yes, please.
And what happens after beer and sun? A nap.

The next day was supposed to be Grand Cayman, but due to rough seas we didn't make it. It is a tender port, so rough seas makes for a potentially dangerous situation with the tender boats. I was sad to have missed Grand Cayman, but vodka and grapefruit kept me company that afternoon. The kids hung at the kids club for a bit, so we got some adult time at the adult pool.

Pirate night was that evening. Seeing how it was our 5th Disney cruise we decided to forgo the deck party and show. Instead we hung in our cabin and watched the fireworks from our balcony.

We went to Falmouth Jamaica the next day. We just LOVE Jamaica, and our stop there just reaffirmed our love. We did an excursion to the Green Grotto Caves which then lead to a lunch on the beach. Our bus driver was, so bad I needed an IV of Ativan, like pronto. He was driving a coach bus like it was a BMW. He was driving fast, taking turns too quickly, and braking too late. I was not happy. Aside from the driver, the excursion was great. Well, Cici had her moments. But, so be it. 

Steve addressing Cici and her sassy attitude.

Again, Steve talking to Cici about her sas.
Lunch at the beach was really nice, until Cici decided to not follow rules. The host told us to wear shoes in the water, since there are sea urchins. What did Cici refuse to do? Wear shoes. Homegirl wasn't going to go into the water without shoes. So, she decided to throw an epic fit.
from zero to...

100, in a matter of seconds.

There was no "irie mon" happening. Her fit was horrible, and lasted probably 15 minutes. During a recent date, Steve and I were discussing this. She is one tough kid to parent at times. My hope is that her strong will carry into adulthood, and that is where this attribute will be advantageous.

Our last day was a day at sea, and just wonderful. 

The cruise ended in San Juan Puerto Rico. It arrived on a Thursday, so we planned to stay two nights. We figured we would extend the vacation, explore the area, and take a direct flight home on Saturday. We stayed at the Hilton Caribe, based on a solid recommendation. We were very pleased. We ended up staying in a suite, I think the Governor's Suite, due to the fact that we had 6 people in our group. That space was really, dining room, living room, 2 separate bedrooms, 4 balconies. The pools were nice. The beach chairs were plentiful. The beach was fine, even though I saw a bit of trash on the beach, as in a couple bottle tops and maybe a plastic bottle here or there. Coming off a Disney ship my standards were high, so I had to remind myself of that. 

One of the great things about the Hilton was the shop across the street. I loaded up on beer and snacks there, which was much easier on the wallet than Hilton prices. Next to the shop was a small diner, let's call it, with really good and reasonably priced food. We ended up eating dinner in the room both nights. We got take out for the Italian restaurant across the street. As Steve and I would wait for the food we would have a drink at the outdoor bar. Beer the first night and then sangria the next. It was nice to have a little one on one time.

The day we arrived at the Hilton we just chilled at the hotel. The morning of the next day we headed into Old San Juan. Steve and I fell in love. It is the perfect blend of European and Caribbean. You could get lost in the streets. We really enjoyed our time there...but with two little ones we knew our time was limited before they totally melted down. That afternoon and into the evening we got some beach time. It was great.

Here are a couple pictures from San Juan.
the iguanas were plentiful, and very fun. They would swim in the pool, and even hide under your beach chair.

the kids had their hand at snuba 

breakfast on the balcony...we were on the top floor and the view was just amazing

pigeons in a square in Old San Juan. Very European.
Ben's rash that developed a couple days later may or may not have come from these guys.  
my favorite street, with my favorite tree...reminds me of Mr. Snufalumpagus

fort in Old San Juan

the kids with the grandmas

the kids loved the parrots in the hotel lobby

Our direct flight home departed around 13:00 something. We had a nice relaxed morning, and the kids and Steve even got a little beach/pool/hot tub time.

Steve knew both the CA and FO on our flight. Knowing about the guys up there always help ease my anxiety. Ben and I got first class, which was a perfect way to end the trip.

Cici is only 7, so in a short couple months she will be allowed to sit up front too. She can't wait!

So, there you have it, our 5th Disney cruise.

Sadly, we don't think we will be cruising Disney again for a bit. As much as I just love the magic around the Disney ships, I think we are aging out of them. Ben is 9, and he didn't really get into the clubs this year. He wondered the ship a decent amount, and found himself bored at times. The next age group for a kids club is 11, so I think we will rethink once Cici is 11.

We have, however, booked a fall cruise on Royal Caribbean. Steve and I have cruised Royal about 4 or 5 times already, and we are looking forward to the upcoming trip. Now that the kids are getting older, we may find the bigger ships to be more suitable for them.

So, there you have it, a summary of our recent cruise.