Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Europe 2016

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

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


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

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




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



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


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

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

pretzels with butter...amazing!!!!

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

obsessed with watching the spray paint artist

Mozart Museum


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




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



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


with my cousins

playing with baby bunnies

hiking

the church where my parents got married

cherry season - this girl couldn't get enough!

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




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

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



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

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



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

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

carriage ride around the square was fun

Krakow selfie! 

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



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







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



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


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

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


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

- Family matters.

- Roots matter.

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

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

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

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

We are already starting to plan Poland 2017!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Pilots, here is a reminder to you...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I needed that connection to Steve last week.  I needed him to be there for me last week, and he wasn't.  The busyness of last weekend masked my sadness pretty well, I like to think.  But come Monday I let him in on everything.  He was sorry.  He is sorry.  He and I are working on repairing the damage, and we are pretty much there.  We will be fine...no marriage is perfect and we address problems and work on fixing them.

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

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

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

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

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










Sunday, January 31, 2016

Make Someone Happy

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

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

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




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

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


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

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

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

Here are the lyrics:

It's so important to

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

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

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


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

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

Take, for example, a recent tweet:

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

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

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

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

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

- the majority of marriages fail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, December 28, 2015

Attached

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

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


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

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



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



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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanna see what Steve got?


He got Minion dolls that are balls.

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

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

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









Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Holidays

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






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

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


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

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

Boom.

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





****


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








Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gratitude

I often do laundry at night.  Well, I will start a load throughout the day, but come 10p and I have the "oh shit, I need to take the load out of the washer" moment.

So, there I was one night about 10p in our laundry room.  Our laundry/mudroom is right off our garage.  Before I started the chore of hanging up the laundry, I peeked into the garage so that I could make sure the garage door was down.  You know, because I didn't want any boogie-monster to come and attack me.

As I looked into the garage, yup garage door shut, I made the mental note that I really like my new car.


I turned off the light, closed the door, and then started on the laundry.  As I was hanging the clothes I couldn't help but think about how thankful I was to have a new car.  And it wasn't thankfulness due to getting rid of my always-in-the-shop Buick.  Rather, I was thankful that we were able to afford what I wanted.  I was thankful that money didn't dictate our decision to get rid of my old car after owning it for only 2 years.  I was thankful that my husband wanted me to be happy, and that our jobs afford us to be happy.  My old car really caused stress for me, so to break free from it was really good.  I hate stress. I hate drama.  I like my life easy and simple.  This new car was a symbol of no stress and no drama.

When I do laundry late at night like this, I often have these deep thoughts.  The house is quiet.  Steve is gone and the kids are asleep.  It is dark outside. I am growing tired from the day.  All of this creates the perfect equation for these thoughts.

My thoughts pressed on to how happy I am with life...with my life...with our life.  It has taken a lot for Steve to get where he is today.  He worked hard at it. He deserves to be where he is today.  Luck has surely helped along the way, because success sometimes happens when luck is thrown into the mix...being at the right place at the right time...knowing the right people.  Being where he is today has really benefited our family.  Our family life is full.  We don't really worry about money, and not having that stress is such a wonderful thing.

My thoughts continued to my role in the mix.  Even though I am not the breadwinner, I still contribute significantly to our finances, all the while being able to be a Mom first and foremost.  Being a mother is my #1 priority right now.  I am very grateful to be in the work situation where I am now, with working reduced hours in a day.  These reduced days means that I get the kids on the bus in the morning, and get the kids off the bus in the afternoon. When our oldest started K, I had it set in my head that I would be home in the mornings and afternoons for the kids.  With Steve being gone every week, I felt the pull to be home for the kids, since I am their constant.  Not to mention, daycare had been part of our lives for the last eight years, so I am happy to see that phase of our life over.

When the basic foundations are set right in your life, as they are with us, I really can sense this gratitude I have for my life.  Now don't think my gratitude comes only from jobs and money, because that certainly isn't the case.  I am grateful for so much in my life, ranging from the love I have for my husband and children, to the health of my husband and children.  The list goes on and on,  The topic of my blog posts are usually inspired from an event, and the event that inspired this blog just happened to be gratitude towards my new car, hence my talk about jobs and money.

I think having this gratitude is so important in life, since it makes you appreciate what you do have.  And, in a pilot wife's case, gratitude can also help you through a hard time, like your husband having to work a holiday.  Yes, Steve has to work Thanksgiving this year and it sucks (I don't think him working a holiday will ever be easy) but I am thankful that he has a job and is working.

Sometimes it isn't always easy to find gratitude, but it is important to realize the good you have in your life.  And when you do realize the good you have in your life, you will be happy and set with the right attitude to tackle anything that comes your way and enjoy your life to the fullest!






** as a total side, I can't believe it has been 2 months since my last blog post!  I have about 2 posts in the editing stages, and I seem to never find the time to finish and post my blogs.  Not to mention, the transition from the summer to school is always hard on me and that stole time away from blogging.  I hope it isn't another 2 months before I post again, and it really shouldn't be.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Can't turn it OFF

Last weekend, Steve went on a guys lake weekend.  As I explained in this blog post, I was trying my hardest not to be sour about it.  We are now a couple days past the lake weekend, and I am still quite sour.

I know Steve deserve these weekends.  It is tradition.  How dare I get in the way of this great weekend of his.  I keep telling myself these thoughts, but it isn't helping.

Monday afternoon I was talking with a co-worker about it, and we started on a train of thought.  Sunday, when the kids and I got home from our weekend at an amusement park, Steve was sleeping on the couch. Surprise, surprise.  He woke up as we entered the house, and rose up pretty quickly to welcome us.

All you pilot wives know how cranky the pilot can be when he is sleep deprived, so you can totally sense the mood I was encountered by.  He was doing his best, but I would tell his mood was off.  I hated that his weekend wasn't one of those "what happens in X stays in X."  Because he sure brought X home with him.

Like a good pilot wife, I bit my lip.  Steve played with the kids, and I headed out to the screened porch to enjoy a couple drinks.



The world was good for a brief moment.  I thought that the worst was behind us, and I could move on.

I was wrong.

I forget the exact chain of events, but at one point the kids and I went outside to just...be outside.  The kids were getting their helmets on, and, as typical for Cici, she started throwing a fit.

Steve lost it on her.

I lost it on Steve.

How dare he be away from the kids for two nights, and come home and scold her for throwing a fit, all within an hour of being together again.  Shouldn't he be recharged after this weekend? Shouldn't he be a better father and spouse after being recharged?

The previous day, I was the one that battled 90 degree heat, and heavy crowds, at an amusement park.

What was Steve doing on Saturday afternoon, after fixing the A/C on the boat?  Pool bar.  I was the one dealing with Cici and her sassy attitude for two days straight, in hot temperature to boot, yet once he had the first taste of her fit he loses it.

And here is the train of thought my co-worker and I was talking about...when Steve comes in and out of our lives so much, I expect him to step into our line and our life.  This doesn't always happen.  And when it doesn't happen, it sucks.  When he interrupts our schedule, this is where I think "go back where you came from."  Sometimes life is easier when it is just the three of us.  The kids and I are in our groove.  We get each other.  We know each other.  It is us 100% of the time.  Most times he steps into our groove...our line, our life.  But, sometimes he doesn't.  When he doesn't step in our groove, and actually agitates it, that is when it sucks the most.

After talking it out with my co-worker, I thought maybe that would help.  Maybe the fact that Steve didn't step into our line is why I was still sour.  Nope. Talking it out didn't help.  Still sour.

Monday evening was full.  I got home late from a busy day of work, and was able to unwind a bit.  I did some yoga while the kids watched something on Netflix.  Then we went to the bank, then the store to get a necklace for me, and then to the grocery store.  Only to come home quickly and change before Cici's last soccer practice/game of the season.  Once we got home, it was about 8p.  It was a quick shower for the kids, and I made a mish-mosh dinner for the kids.  Mish-mosh is basically a bunch of random quick things.  Tonight they had baguette with hummus, cucumbers, and cantaloupe.  As I was preparing Cici's second helping of baguette with hummus, I had another thought about why I am still sour.

Perhaps I am still sour because there is no OFF button for a mother, more so a pilot wife.

I am always ON.  I am ON both when Steve is gone and home.  When he is gone, I have to be ON.  When he is home, I think that I am just so conditioned to being ON that I can't flip a switch.

As a matter of fact, Sunday night after the kids settled into their pajamas and started watching a movie, I headed into the kitchen.  Steve grabbed me, gave me a hug, and asked me if I was going to be able to unwind "because I had been wound up all evening."

Yeah, I was fucking wound up.  I got home from a busy weekend, to relax for a second, and then it was ON the rest of the evening.  We went on a walk.  I drank salty water from our broken water softener, which then prompted a trip to Target to buy six gallons of water.  Then it was home to make dinner for the kids. Even though Steve said the we would go out before he left for the weekend, as a way to make Sunday easier for me.  Then it was a load of laundry. Then it was pajamas. Then it was cleaning up. Then I asked Steve to put the kids down.  I think that is when I finally "unwound."

So, maybe that is why I am still sour...because Steve CAN unwind. Because he has the ability to turn it all OFF.  I can't do that.

Steve was texting me Friday night and Saturday morning and was actually responding to all the pictures I was sending him.  Then, his responses stopped.  He was obviously involved in something else.  I used to be bothered when Steve would be unresponsive to my texts when he was on the road, but then a wise pilot told me that I shouldn't expect responses.  Just send them, and know he loves them, and not expect a response. I have grown to be okay with Steve being unresponsive on the road.  But, I wanted a fucking response this time around, and I wasn't getting them.  This adding fuel to my already sour fire.  This just goes to show you that he is able to turn it all OFF when he is away.

The last time I went out for the night was to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday.  Her husband put together a great night including hotel, limo, and dancing.  It was a great night.  I had a great time.  But, as the room was spinning at the club, all I could think of was "you better stop drinking...you have X, Y, and Z to do tomorrow,"  I am sure X,Y, and Z included things like laundry shopping for household stuff, cooking, ect.  Sure enough, I was home by 9:30a the next morning.  I just can't turn OFF.  I just can't.  Maybe it is the mother in me...maybe it is the pilot wife in me.

Perhaps the timing of it all created the perfect storm, as I currently feel like I fucking do everything all the fucking time.  I know you pilot wives can relate...where it feels like it is all you...all the time.  And all you want is a fucking break.  But, you don't get one.  You never get one.  You just have to suck it up, go forth and be the pilot wife you know - doer of all...all the fucking time.

**

The reality of our life is that "this, too, shall pass."  As the days pass, the less sour I get.  The more distance I have from the weekend the better.  The fact that Steve was away a couple days for work has been a good thing.  I needed the distance.  Pilot wife perk, perhaps?  Quite soon, our world will be back to normal.

The reason I have been so blunt and so thorough regarding this guys lake week is to just put it all on the table.  Time and time again I get people telling me how great it is that I am so real on my blog.  That is one of the best compliments.  I make a point to be real...I make a point to be real because I know that I am not the only one going through this.  To relate to someone else helps validate your feelings.  And in this crazy-ass aviation lifestyle shit, we need all the support we can get.












Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My tongue is gonna be sore after biting it all weekend

Steve's Father has a boat, which he keeps on a large lake.  As long as I have know Steve, his Father has had a boat.  He started out with a Sea Ray, and now has a Marinette.  Boating is something that I have come into, and something that I have really grown to love.






As long as I have known Steve, I have known about this guys weekend at the boat.  Steve, his Father, and his buddies, get together annually for a weekend on the boat to talk, drink, and catch up since everyone lives in different cities and states.

When Ben was just a couple of weeks old, Steve enjoyed his lake weekend.
When Cici was just a couple of weeks old, Steve enjoyed his lake weekend.

Just sayin'

In the past I have been very accommodating to this lake weekend, Steve asks for one weekend a year to go away, and I have to respect that. Right? Right.


A couple years ago I blogged about a certain lake weekend, that happened to fall over my 32nd birthday: 
When Steve planned this year's lake weekend, I was made aware of the weekend after the plans were already in motion.  There was no going back once I caught wind of the details.  When I first learned of the date of the lake weekend, despite it falling over my birthday. it didn't sting so badly because we had so much going on with moving.  My mind was occupied with other things.  As the date approached, my side of the family decided to have a weekend at an indoor waterpark. We would have fun, too!
On Friday afternoon, Ben, Cici and I loaded into the car, picked up my Aunt and headed down to my sister's house.  On Saturday we headed to the water park, and had a fabulous time.  It really was great!  Ben was not afraid of anything, and just had a wonderful time.  We got home, ate take out, and had some delicious birthday cake - complete with 32 candles.  Overall, it was a great way to spend my birthday.
At one point at the water park, my Sister, Nephew, Ben and I were sitting in the hot tub to warm up.  I looked over at my Sister and said "you know, I was getting over this whole lake weekend thing, but now I am upset again.  We are having a great time and Steve is missing it. This is just one more thing that Steve is missing from our lives." 
So, here is the conundrum: Steve is already gone a lot with work, so how is he able to leave us again, willingly, for his fun.  However, this is one weekend a year he always does, so I have to give him that.  Right?
How do I handle this?  How do I get over Steve being gone again, when this one weekend a year is all he asks?  How do I tell Ben that Daddy is gone again because he is at the lake for fun?  When Ben says "I want to go to the lake, too" how do I answer that?  How can I balance this? 
I am asking all the questions because I really don't know.  I really don't know how to handle this.  I am upset about this weekend, but I don't really want to be.
I know some people are probably thrilled when their spouse is away.  You can watch whatever tv you want, you have an entire bed to yourself, you can eat cereal for dinner if you want.  But, things are different when you are married to a pilot.  Having your pilot home is cherished time, mostly. Having your pilot away from home is dreaded, mostly.  It isn't fair that Steve goes away again, and leaves me home with the kids again. Is it?
Oh, the life of a pilot's wife!

Since I posted that blog post, I read a book that gave me good perspective on this.  The full post about the book is here: How To Be A Better Pilot Wife.  The part of the blog post that pertains to this post is here:
Now, as for the extra time away from home, this I still struggle with a bit.  With Steve being gone 4-days a week I have the hardest time accepting him being gone even more time away...especially if it is for something that is extracurricular.   
However, after reading Dr. Laura's book I know understand why Steve needs time away, and I am working on really making myself ok with his extracurricular time away.  He needs the extracurricular time away just like you need that quiet trip to Target with your coffee in hand.  He needs it like you need your girls nights out.  What you expect FROM him, you should also GIVE to him. 

Each and every time you have alone time, it is bettering you as a person...which in turn will better your relationship.  Pre-Dr. Laura's book, I hated that Steve was headed up to the lake for his "guys weekend".  I hated that he was going to be gone...again...and that I was going to have to be solo with the kids...again.  I didn't put up a stink up-front, because I knew Steve deserved it.  But, it still sucked and I know Steve knew, deep down, I wasn't totally pleased.  Well, after Dr. Laura's book, I am actually encouraging Steve to do these things.  As a matter of fact, he will shortly be making a trip to Florida to visit his soul brother (I swear these two were split from the same egg or something).



He is a college friend that is his best friend.  I have blogged about him before in Pilot Dork.  Well anyway, Steve will be joining his buddy and I am encouraging him.  I know they are going to get into shenanigans and act like they are 21 again...and that is good!  Steve will come back hopefully not too hungover refreshed and happy.
Perhaps I need to read the book again, as I am struggling with this lake weekend thing this summer.  It is happening this weekend.  This time around, Steve was planning the date for this weekend as I was planning the annual amusement park trip with my side of the family.  Occupational hazard of not communicating every day.  By the time Steve and I exchanged calendar events, we noticed the overlap.

On Friday, after Steve drives the boat out to the islands, he will be sipping, lounging, and having fun.  What will I be doing Friday?  I have to work my normal hours, which will be extra busy since it is the last day of the month.  When I get home from work, I will need to leave right away.  I will load the kids and our crap into the car, and set off on our four hour drive.  We will get to the amusement park around 8p, that is if we don't make any stops, and we will stay until the fireworks around 10p.  The next day will be filled with sun, rides, heat, pop and funnel cakes.  If you are a parent you know how taxing a park can be, and it will be all me managing the kids.  I am a pilot wife, I am used to this by now.  Yes, my family will be there, which is great, but having family help isn't the same as having your husband there.

By the time we come home on Sunday, I am sure I will be super exhausted.  Long, hot days will have gotten the better of me.  I am sure Steve will be exhausted too, from the late nights and beverage consumption. Typically, he will get home from the lake weekend, plop on the bed or in a chair, and nap for a while.  I am going to be the one needing a nap this time around.

Yeah, maybe I need to read that book again to remind me to be gracious about this lake weekend because I am really struggling with it.  I think only a pilot wife can understand these feelings.  Was Dr. Laura a pilot wife?  She couldn't have been.

Yeah yeah, I know that when Steve is gone, he is working.  I am thankful for his work, because his occupation affords us a nice life.  I know that Steve would rather be home than working.  I know that being on the road isn't all fun and games.  But, I still can't help be salty about this upcoming weekend.

The man is out of our lives so much already, that adding even just a couple extra days a year really is hard to deal with.  He misses so much of our lives already. and to miss yet another thing is a hard pill to swallow.  Maybe I don't mind these lake weekends so much when the kids and I have no plans.  When our days our ordinary it isn't like he is missing all that much.  When he misses these moments, that is when it stings.

At this point, all I can say is that he better come home on Sunday with the biggest fucking bouquet of flowers.