Friday, May 19, 2017

Divorce

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 me...it 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 it...trust 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 interesting...how 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

Normalcy

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 pilot...my 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'...to 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 extroverted...like, 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.

Gulp!

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 bad...like, 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 great...kitchen, 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.




Saturday, February 11, 2017

Love

Steve and I met at a dance club in March of 1999. We dated for about six weeks before I called it off. Simply put, I wasn't ready for a new relationship. Steve was a great guy, but my mind wasn't in the right place.

The night I broke up with him started with a date. He knew something was coming, because earlier in the day I told him "we needed to talk." He picked me up at my college dorm, and we drove back to his house which took about 45 minutes. We ate pizza and watched a movie (You've Got Mail). On the drive home I broke up with him. He was crushed. He parked in front of my dorm to drop me off. As I was about to open the car door and leave, Steve told me that he loved me. He was truly afraid that he would never see me again, and had to tell me.

At the time, I thought he was nuts for loving me after a short six weeks. Who could love someone after only six week? I went from stranger to loved in six week. Nuts, right?  Now, I know better. Here we are, nearly 18 years later, and I realize how lucky I am to be married to a man who loves me as much as he does.

As I constantly say in my blog, something always triggers my posts. And this post was triggered by a recent cruise we took. It was our fifth Disney Cruise, and as usual it was a delight. For some reason I was hit with this overwhelming theme of love during this cruise.

Our cruise departed on Inauguration Day. I have to admit, I was glad to miss all the news for that week. I wanted to focus on family, togetherness, relaxation, sun...afterall, it was vacation! If you read my blog regularly, you know I was less than thrilled with the election results. I can't change the results of the election, but what I can do it focus on the good around me, the goodness in people, and the love in this world. Love trumps hate. This has been in the back of my mind consistently for the last number of months, and the combination of the new President and the cruise really just set the love theme.

The cruise started off great, and the weather was perfect the afternoon we boarded the ship.


I am a visual person - hence, my large eyes. I am always looking around me, and just taking it all in. I have a very visual memory. Ask me what you wore to an event 2 years ago, and I will tell you exactly, down to your shoes. This is all just elevated when I am around a lot of people...I am constantly looking around observing people.

What happens when you are on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Swimming. Sun bathing. What do you wear when swimming or sun bathing? Bathing suits. Being the visual person I am, I look. Not in a judgmental way...just observing. My body, like most mothers, didn't come out of pregnancy the same way it went into it. Stretch marks. Stretched skin. Sagging stuff. Oh, and I love that my abdominal muscles split down the center when I was 20 something weeks pregnant. That was just lovely. All those years of sports, making for a strong core, down the tubes. A woman's body goes through the ringer during pregnancy and delivery. Why do we do it, sometimes over and over again? Love.

That love starts even before conception. You stop taking birth control pills months in advance of wanting to conceive. You start taking multi-vitamins with folic acid months in advance of wanting to conceive. You make sure your body is prepared as possible to welcome a fetus.

And then when you are expecting, you try to stay as healthy as possible. You don't drink or smoke or do drugs. You eat as healthy as possible. You realize that anything you do to/for your body will impact the child you are carrying. And all this before you ever met your little one. This is all a mother's love.

Back in the day, when I had more time on my hands, I was super fit. I played collegiate volleyball, which carried with me well past school. I worked out. I ate clean. I was strong. I was lean.
cruise, circa 2005. Before kids.
Just noticing this now...Steve was a CA at the time. How can you tell?
Notice the farmers tan on his left arm?! So funny

Now? I wear a one piece bathing suit.

I am still strong, and let's call it somewhat lean. I am not nearly as fit as I once was. Yes, I could devote more time to get my body back into the shape it once was, but my priority isn't to look like a supermodel in a bikini. My priorities are wellness based. The numbers I am concerned with are no longer pounds on the scale, but rather my resting heart rate and the like. My priority is also to raise my children to understand the importance of a nutritious diet and a healthy active lifestyle. I am hyper aware of this because of my daughter. I want her to have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Especially when we live in a country where people are body shaming the very talented Lady Gaga. The woman is an amazing artist, yet some people choose to focus only on the way her body looks. I could write an entire post on this topic...

What am I getting at? A mother's body isn't the same as the 20-something body it was when you first met your husband. And guess what? It doesn't matter. Why? Because Steve still loves me despite any changes. He sees past any imperfection, and loves me for who I have become. This is true for many, if not most couples.

And the same goes in reverse, the love I have for him grows deeper every year despite any imperfections. Granted his body wasn't impacted from pregnancies. But, his job has taken a toll on him and I can see it on his face. Long days, dehydration, extreme focus, short rest, ect. But, this also shows how hard he works for us to keep us comfortable and happy. And why does he do it all? His love for us.

When I would look around this ship and see all the families...of all different shapes and sizes and colors... I saw so much love. I saw so many people enjoying one another, and enjoying life. You really could feel the love. Whether it be the mother snuggled up with her child on a chair on the pool deck, or the dad sitting by a stroller with a baby comfortably sleeping inside, or the grandparent watching with delight as their grandson enjoyed an ice cream cone. These little moments reminded me that despite any chatter around us, love is an incredible force that can overcome so much, and drown out so much bad.

Now, let me switch gears away from the passengers on the ship and discuss the crew members.  Dwight was an awesome bar server from Jamaica. The man works hard. He was super friendly and quick. He always had a smile on his face. He was great to chat with. He was awesome. He is also the father of two young children back home, and a husband to his wife of nine years. He works hard, and is away from home for months at a time, all to provide for his family. What a great sacrifice - to be away from family - all for love of his family. He is like many crew on the ship. He is providing for his family from the sea. He is missing holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. I think I may have it bad as a pilot for a missed anniversary, but at least I can celebrate two days later...ship crew may have to celebrate missed anniversaries six months later.

Truth be told, I was working on this post for over a week now because I had a hard time writing it. I usually have a direction with each post, and I was having a hard time with the conclusion on this post. I also am driven by the political environment right now, but I don't want to get political on this blog so I need to filter my thoughts. Not to mention, this post doesn't stick with my usual pilot wife theme. I guess what I am trying to get at is that there is so much love in the world. Sometimes it is obvious and shows easily, while other times you have to dig a little deeper for it since it doesn't always show with a hug or a kiss. And to see love, well, it warms your heart. Love lightens your days. Love make you feel special. Love is very powerful. Love is empowering. Being around so much love on the cruise was truly wonderful. It makes you realize, despite the news around you, that people are inherently good. Love strengthens the family bond. To have love is to have a full life.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Listen to the whispers

Black, suede, Cole Haan booties.

"Talk me out of them," I emailed my sister. "I just spent $200 on lamps, tell me I don't need them."

"Sorry, can't do that," she said. "Cole Haan for less than $100? I have to tell you to go for them."

"You are such a bad influence!" and with that I ordered the booties. With Amazon Prime they were supposed to be delivered in 2 days. Well, 3 days for Cole Haan due to extra processing time. Due to be delivered on Friday. Perfect. Just in time for my holiday dinner on Saturday.

Friday night, as I was driving out of the neighborhood to take the kids to Polish School I noticed the UPS truck. I noticed that he hadn't stopped at our house, and was past it. Wait, he should have had something for me!

A bit past 6p, I got the Amazon notice on my phone that the package has an attempted delivery at 5:13p, and will be redelivered on Monday.

Bullshit! I was home at 5:13pm. The driver was smoking crack. After a 20 minute conversation with a helpful Amazon customer service agent, I recognized that I wouldn't be getting my booties by Saturday evening. The outfit I had planned in my head wouldn't happen. At first I was quite pissed. But, this happened to be the day a gunman shot and killed people in the Fort Lauderdale airport. I got over myself pretty quickly.

I had a pair of black suede pumps at home that would perfectly compliment my outfit. The botched delivery was simply a whisper telling me that I didn't need the booties anyway. Make due with that you have.

***

I have made it known that my love language is physical touch. When the world gets busy, like around the holidays and when we have guests in our home, my love tank can drain a bit.

I have grown to tell Steve about my emptying love tank. I used to wait until it was fully drained, and then stew and stew over the fact that it was empty. And then I would unleash all that pent up pissed-off-ness. It was a bad situation. I am much better at alerting Steve when it needs filled. I am much better at not allowing my tank to get fully to E. It isn't always easy to tell Steve, because I want him to know my needs. I want him to read my mind. I want him to know my needs before I know them. I want my tank to constantly be full. But, with the realities of our life (traveling husband, and just general busyness) sometimes love tank work falls to the wayside...on both our sides.

I told Steve about my emptying tank the other day. That didn't go over well. His response wasn't what I was looking for, which set me off. I walked out of the house that morning, to go to work, without our usual hug and kiss. I just needed to leave. If I stayed for that hug and kiss I was either going to cry or punch him in the face. Neither of which were ideal. Leaving was the best route.

That day was the pits. I was upset. When I got home I was upset. It is never good when you are pissy with your spouse. Steve and I have a level marriage, meaning it isn't very often where we are pissy with one another. So, when we are, it takes its toll on the both of us.

The kids got home from school, and soon enough the kids and I were off to the church for our weekly dose of PSR (parish school of religion). I teach my youngest daughter's class. The lesson for the class couldn't have been any better timed. The lesson: listen to the whispers.

In a religious point of view, God will speak to you...it is up to you to listen and do as He asks. God asked Noah to build an arc. Noah listened, and did.

Now, push this teaching into your home and your marriage...listen to those whispers.


**

We bought new family room furniture. It wasn't cheap. Steve worked extra in December to help offset the cost of the furniture. He was flying a lot. Oh, and let's add the fact that with the new furniture comes new projects in said family room. Like installing a new fireplace mantel, reconfiguring the stereo speakers, and mounting the tv above the fireplace. Oh, and let's not forget about Christmas and constant travel for three days. This all takes time, and by months end Steve was exhausted. Like, really exhausted. So much so that he voiced how he just needed a break.

I may have laughed in his face when he said he needed a break. Break? With young kids? And with him traveling every week, thus condensing all family/home life in just 3 days a week? Ha!

My laugh didn't go over too well. Why? Because I didn't listen to Steve's whisper. Well, it wasn't quiet a whisper as much as a direct comment to me. But, either way he expressed himself and I ignored him.

**

Why do I bring this all up? Because I learned a lot from these experiences, and of course I want to share to all my readers. It is important to listen to those whispers around you, no matter how quiet or loud, and really take it to heart. When I am lying on top of Steve at night, that should clue him into my need to fill my love tank. (Attack of the 155 pound woman) When Steve voices to me that he is exhausted, I need to not schedule anything for him to do on his next set of days off, and just let him be.

If your wife mentions that she needs to get her roots done, then maybe make the appointment for her and tell her you will watch the kids. If your husband mentions that the house is messy, perhaps try your best to straighten it up before he gets home from his next trip.

Life is busy. Life is loud. But, take the time to listen to things around you. Take those whispers and act. Don't ignore them.

**

To close the story from that Monday, PSR class really lightened my mood. The kids are so sweet, and we had a great lesson. On our way home, the kids wanted Mexican fried ice cream for dinner. Any slight suggestion about eating out and I am all over it. Any excuse to not cook works for me! I called Steve on our way home, and suggested eating out. He accepted. Plus, he is usually gone on Monday evenings...sometimes a break from the norm is fun. We picked him up, and headed out. On our way into town I reached for his hand and held it. Such a slight little action, and it cleared the air. My heart was light. We had a really nice dinner. Just what the doctor ordered! And what a good lesson to have learned from all this.

can't everyone fit a straw between their two front teeth?