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? 



Thursday, January 5, 2017

You know you are married to an airline pilot when... 2017 edition

One of my most popular blog posts is You know you are married to a pilot when... I wrote that nearly four years ago.  Time for a new edition!


You know you are married to a pilot when...

- you only make plans once he gets his schedule. And your plans are likely to change - trip trades, delays, ect.


- you are known for saying, "sorry, I can't make it. My husband has to work."


- You have more aviation pictures than the average person.  They range from pictures in the cockpit, to pictures in the engine cowlings...ah, let's throw a blimp picture in there, too.





- you make a point to go to Maho Beach in St. Marteen, just to see the planes arrive. And then you frame the picture when you get home.

Steve is in the navy shirt, with Ben on his shoulders.
Cici is in the blue tank, nearly covering her ears.



- you have a number of aircraft books lying around.  Chances are high they are military books

- you have a number of model airplanes on your bookshelves

- your child looks at a plane in the sky and yells "hi Daddy"

- you make sure his drink of choice is available upon his return home, so he can take a load off



- your duty day begins at 6:45a and doesn't stop until 9:30p every.single.day your pilot is gone. He bitches about a 14 hour duty day, and you roll your eyes.


- when you have a business trip to Vegas, of course he joins you



- you look at your husband while taxiing, and he is already sleeping



- you look into the sky often when he is gone, and smile when you see contrails. You think of him.





- you take the kids to dinner on random nights, just because you don't have the energy to cook. And then you send him a selfie.



- he isn't there for the first day of school.  You live...there is always next year.



- he packs the car. Of course, he packs the car.  Pilots are excellent at packing. And if you even try, he will take it all out and pack it again, his way. 





- when entering his domain (hotels), you stand clear and try your hardest to just blend in



- you pray that your sick dog doesn't pass away when he is on a trip, because how do you manage the death of a dog, and the impact on young children, by yourself?



- you have a ton of pictures with your kids wearing pilot hats





- your kid travels international first class (twice) at the age of 8-years-old. I didn't even fly on a plane until I was 15.



- you believe in only one God, unless you are non-reving, and then you pray to all the non-rev gods out there.


- non-rev international travel is just 6 hours away, but loads on your desired flight look full so you go to plan B. Talk about "rolling with it"


- you spent 10 hours in an airport trying to get on a flight. Finally, you get the last one out. You have to connect to get home. Your children think this is totally normal.


- you are thankful that he is back to work after 7 days off...because that means he has to shave. You have grown accustomed to a clean shave. Stubble hurts when you kiss. Plus, he keeps feeling his stubble, and that gets annoying to look at.


- you field phone calls from his parents. They call you because they don't know where he is. 

- you field phone calls from his friends, because they have been trying to get a hold of him for 24 hours and he isn't responding.

- you know he is calling from the crew room because he is talking very quietly.

- you have been known to yell out "don't move my shit, man!" when trying to find something - that he moved. But you can't call him because he is 37,000 feet above the earth. 

- you no longer think of Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe when you hear the words 'St. Elmo's Fire'

- his activity on Facebook indicates he is awake. Nice to know he hits the internet before calling his beautiful wife to say 'good morning'

- he is due home in one hour. That means you have one hour to get the house back in order and cleaned up. You may have let things go over the last couple of days. 


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

My time, my space, my mess

Sometimes Steve's monthly schedule comes out and it seems too good to be true. I joke that he must be sleeping with someone in crew scheduling, because it's just that good. The reality is that he has taken the time to learn the scheduling system, which has really worked to his/our benefit.

He got a really decent December schedule, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off! Sure the hell beats Christmas's of the past (2011 and 2013). He also had a stretch of 10 days off. During the stretch, he did pick up a turn one evening. But, I have been able to sleep next to his handsome face every night, which is a nice change.

As much as I love and adore him, and as much as I love and adore his consistent presence for 10 days straight, sometimes it wears on me.

Take Wednesday afternoon. A flash sale came over Facebook for a local salon. Gel manicures for $20. Sweet! After a quick phone call, I was scheduled for 3:45p. It is afternoons like this where I think to myself "so, this is what normal families look like..." Typically when Steve is working, which is something like Monday - Thursday, I dedicate every minute outside of work to the kids. No fun things (ie: yoga, drinks with girlfriends, ect) for me..I leave that for the time Steve is home. A manicure is a rare treat for a Wednesday afternoon.

On my way home I picked Ben up from an after school activity. The two of us arrived home shortly after 5pm. I walked into the house to Cici watching Lab Rats, and Steve folding laundry on the kitchen table. Cici was to leave in minutes to go to dance class, and I felt I walked into a flurry of expiring time. She needed to leave, like, NOW!

I was caught up in the time flurry when I went to put something in the kitchen sink. And that is where I had to pause, close my eyes, and take a couple deep breaths. There was a mess in the kitchen sink. Amazing how a little something can set you off, isn't it.

Let me establish how things look after the kids get off the bus when it is just me running the show: Ben arrives. He places any bottles/containers from his backpack into the sink. He puts his coat and backpack away. Cici arrives. She repeats the above. I then wash all the bottles and containers, and get them onto the drying towel. This keeps the kitchen sink clear so that when it comes to make dinner I am good to go.

The mess in the sink of Wednesday had anything from a pot (mine) to glasses (not mine) to all the kids school bottles and containers. Oh, let's through in some lunch plates (not mine). All of the "not mine" stuff just set me off.

I am sure that many people will read this and think I am nuts. But, hear me out. When Steve is gone and I leave a pot in the sink, I know that pot is going to be there when I get home. My time, my space, my mess. When Steve is home, there is a strong chance that the house won't be in the same status that it is when I left it. This, folks, isn't always easy for me to deal with. Why? Two reasons. First, I think it is a control thing. Second, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we live without our pilots 50% of the week. We get used to our solo ways.

Us pilot wives are a controlling bunch. Have I always been this way? No. Actually, I am the youngest of three girls. My oldest sister is just three years older then me, so very close in age. Because of this I grew up in a world of just going with the flow. I didn't control things...I couldn't control things. I just followed along, and did with what was given to me.

I think I started this controlling thing when kids came into the picture. Steve took 8 weeks of FMLA when the kids were born, which was awesome. When he went back to work, it was all me that was dealing with the kids. For example, if the kids didn't nap on schedule, it was me dealing with their cranky ass that night. Of course I had to control the show when Steve was gone, because if things didn't go exactly as I wanted then it was me who had to deal with the consequences - while Steve was sleeping in some hotel half way across the country. And then when Steve was home, the kids and I were already into a routine and Steve just melded into it.

Take the above, times it by two kids, and by 9 years. And this equals one mama who captains our ship. What this also equals is a mama that may get a bit pissy if she can't control everything, like dishes in the sink.

As for us pilot wives getting used to our solo ways, let me try to relate this so non-aviation people can relate. Say you sit into your car, only to find your seat adjusted a different way. When you sit down you feel out of sorts, right? And then you immediately change it to how you want it, right? Same goes for the house...the house is my domain, especially the kitchen. When someone enters my domain and messes with it, I don't always receive it well. We get used to our ways, especially when it is our way 50% of the time. Adjusting doesn't always come easy to the controlling woman who is solo half the time.

After I blew out a couple breaths, I tried to sweetly tell Steve that it would be nice to not have dishes in the sink when I got home from work. I am sure it didn't come out as sweetly as I intended.

I know I can be too much when it comes to this. And Steve is a very good man for dealing with my controlling ass. But, I guess it comes with the territory. There is plenty of things I deal with when it comes to his job, so having a wife that gets pissy about a dirty sink must be one of the trade offs.






Sunday, December 4, 2016

Welcome Home Honey

Steve flew a day trip the other week. Three legs. Early show, but he was home by 6:30p and was able to join us for dinner. Which was awesome. What wasn't awesome was his crabby ass that evening.

There is always something that triggers my blogging spark, and that evening was my spark. 

You don't know what man is going to walk through that door at the end of a trip. Perhaps his body clock got fucked with. Perhaps he had an asshole CA that wouldn't stop talking about the election, for 4 days. Perhaps he flew three legs that day, with weather, and was mentally drained. 

One thing that pilot wives are very good at is responding to the pilot that walks through the door at the end of a trip. And believe me when I say there are many different versions of the man you married that can walk through that door. They can be crabby, or happy, or normal, or bitchy, ect. Based on his mood, we know how to respond to keep peace in the house. Usually

There is also a tone that us pilot wives carry when he walks through that door after a long trip. Perhaps the last couple days was super easy on us, and we felt like a rockstar pilot wife. The house is perfectly kept and there is a gourmet meal on the table waiting for him. Or, perhaps, the trip kicked our ass. Every kid in the house was sick, puking all through the night, and the water heater broke. 
Your tone impacts his homecoming as well. 

The evening he gets home can play out in a few different ways. So, let's play out some of the evenings...


Scenario 1: Welcome home honey, I am fucking tired. 
Steve comes home and is able to spent time with us that evening.  Maybe he was even home in time for dinner!  After the kids go to bed, Steve and I settle in for the evening.  Around 9p, or so, we open a bottle of wine and settle in to watch an episode or two of a tv series. 

Not even half way through my wine, I fall asleep. I am just so exhausted from the previous days that I just can't keep my eyes open. Steve's presence makes me so comfortable that I fall asleep on the couch, which is something I would never do when he is gone.  While I drift into never never land, Steve switches the tv mode and starts up a game of Black Ops, or perhaps an NBA game.  After a bit, he then checks his web boards in the office. Finally, in the 11pm hour he prompts me to go to bed. I change into my pjs and then almost instantly fall asleep in bed.  He makes his way up to the bedroom, but I am just so exhausted that I don't even notice that he finally got into bed. He curses he isn't going to get any, but knows how tired I am and respects me. 

Scenario 2: Welcome home honey, my love tank needs filled
His flight was the last flight of the night into the base.  He isn't due at the house until after 11pm. Just knowing that he is due home gives me comfort, so when I make my way to bed I am able to fall asleep with no issues.  In fact, I fall into such a deep sleep that I don't know that Steve even got home.  Apparently he sent me a text to say "omw" (on my way) and it went unread. When he gets home and opens the garage door, the dog barks and I still don't hear him.  Around 2am I wake to find a man in my bed, but it doesn't startled me...it comforts me.  Ah, Steve is home!  And then around 3am or so, Steve is attacked by a 155 pound woman.  That can't be fun for Steve...death by suffocation?  Here he finally lays his head down in the comforts of his own bed, and then he wakes a bit later to find me practically laying on top of him.  Admittedly, I can be a bit too much when in this position.  I have said it over and over, my love language is physical touch so I need his touch when he is home. Even if that comes in the form of me laying on top of him. 

Scenario 3: Welcome home honey, now go back where you came from

His flight is due in just in time for him to join us for dinner.  Oh the evening is going to be JUST perfect. I missed him incredibly the last couple days, and was anxiously awaiting his arrival. 
All day long, I play out the evening in my head. We will hug and kiss, and he will play with the kids...all the while, magical pixie dust floats in the air and an angel plays a harp.  

In reality, he gets home and is pissy, which just pisses me off. Buzz Kill...there you go setting your expectations too high!  This is when I can get so pissed that I don't even want to be in the same room with him, and almost wish that he never came home in the first place.  Steve has been known to say "Joanna, don't start off my days off like this" in this scenario.  And this is where my response would be the ever mature "well, you started it."  Eventually I make my way to bed, curl into a ball, of course with my back to him, and fall asleep.  As I fall asleep, I am pissed that I am pissed.  Starting days off in a tiff is never ideal...but, it is the reality sometimes.


Scenario 4: Welcome home honey, to the perfect evening

I have to say, this is the best scenario out there. Steve gets home from a trip and the evening is perfect.  All the anticipation of a wonderful homecoming is met and it is just good to have your pilot home.  He is in a good mood, and you are in a good mood. The kids go to bed, and then you are able to reconnect with conversation and just enjoy each other.  At the end of the night, you have really good sex. I have said it before, and I will say it again, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  When you can finally "reconnect" for lost time, it is just good.  Plain and simple.  If drunk sex is best, this scenario comes in a close second. You pilot wives know what I am talking about.  This totally make up for any lost time, and sometimes even makes the absence seem worth it.  I may even go as far as saying this is one of the perks of the job.  


Scenario 5: welcome home honey, now get some sleep 
He arrives home early in the morning from a red-eye.  Since I spend the day at work and the kids spend the day at school, he is able to sleep off the red-eye.  The kids and I get home, and our evening begins.
...and then 7pm hits.  Steve hits the wall and gets tired.  He may power through it, or he may take a quick nap on the recliner.  Finally, around 9pm he looks over at me and says "it is going to be an early night, this trip really fucked with my body clock."  We make our way upstairs and the instant his head hits the pillow he is asleep.  This is when I curse that I'm not getting any. But, I have to respect his need for sleep. There is always tomorrow. Even though Steve is asleep, I have the comfort of him being in bed.  I don't mind too much since this gives me control over the remote.  No Family Guy tonight...I drift into never never land with the company of Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia.



Scenario 6: welcome home honey, I want to run far, far away
This trip kicked your ass. You have been at this pilot wife thing for years now, and right when you think you have it down this trip comes and knocks you on your ass. This is due to work issues, home issues, kids issues, or any combination of the above. It sucks. You don't know where your pilot is during the trip, nor do you care. You are dealing with your own personal hell on the home front. You may send him texts here and there about said personal hell. He feels helpless. 

You make it very clear to him that the second he walks through that door, you are punching that time card...you will be officially off duty. 
You don't care what mood he is in, because if you don't get a break you may have a mental breakdown. The second he does walk through that door, you pour yourself a glass of wine, go to your bedroom, shut the door, and don't come out until the next morning. You are tapped out. 

Scenario 7: welcome home honey, glad you made it
Life at home happens with or without your pilot's presence.  When your pilot does present himself he has to meld into your plans. He had a long 4-day. Day 4 included three legs. Day 4 had a 4:15am van time. He is beat. But, when he gets into base, he throws on a sweater over his uniform shirt and drives over to the kids program. You meet him at the location. He looks exhausted, but he wouldn't miss it. You look over at him during the program, and the fatigue shows on his face. You give his hand and extra squeeze. You feel for him, and are thankful that he is there with the family. 


Friday, November 18, 2016

Birthday Weekend Getaway

warning: this is seemingly the post that never ends. Be prepared for over 2,000 words...apparently, I have a lot to say about this past weekend.

*******

There are certain times in your life where you swear there must be cameras on you, because what is going down is just too fucked up for reality. Too much is going wrong. This must be a comedy show, or something.

Steve's birthday was this past week. A couple weeks ago, I had the bright idea to go away for the weekend. Just me and him. We typically get away, just the two of us, once a year. This hadn't happened yet in 2016, so I thought it would be fun.

Despite my fear that he wouldn't receive the invitation well...




...he did!



Great! Let the planning begin. We decided to stay downtown at a hotel within walking distance of bars and restaurants. We even used points for the hotel, so that was an added bonus. My aunt and uncle were going to watch the kids and the dog.

Steve got in Friday evening from a 4-day, and then immediately went to the Polish Center for a program the kids were putting on. He was pretty tired. We finally got home around 9pm, and had to start packing for the weekend.

Here was the plan for Saturday:
8am: Cici basketball
9am: Ben basketball
10:30am: leave the house to go furniture shopping
11:30am: meet our interior designer at the furniture store
- after shopping: drop the kids off at my aunt and uncle's house
- after dropping the kids off, head downtown for our night away


Ok, so here is how the day actually went:
8am: Cici's basketball went well. Steve and I are the coaches, and we were so happy with how the kids (1st graders) did. They showed great improvement!

9am: Steve drove to Ben's basketball game, while I took Cici home. First, we stopped at the store to buy flowers for my aunt, and also at the dry cleaners (of course) to get Steve's uniform. Once we got home I was going to finish packing and get everything ready so that when Steve and Ben got home we would leave.

9:45am: I made Niko go outside. He has a tendency to put in nose into everything, and then steal it...




...so I wanted him out of the way when I had bedroom doors open. Outside was the best solution.

10:10am: I am sitting at the kitchen island, ready and waiting for the boys to get home so we could head to the furniture store.

10:15am: Steve barges into the house "WE HAVE TO TAKE NIKO TO THE VET, NOW!" Problem #1.

Our property boarders deep woods, and a creek.
picture taken after we had about 30 dead trees removed.
Nothing like spending a lot of money to actually get rid of something!
We love our property, but with the location comes lots of wildlife, including rodents. Because of this, we have a contract with an exterminator. They put out mice bait, which contains poison.

Guess who got into the mice poison?

When Steve got home, Niko came running from the backyard with chewed plastic in his mouth. Steve put two and two together, and made a bee-line to the vet. While Steve drove, I called the vet and let them know they were en-route. I then had to call our designer, to let her know what was going on. Then I had to call my aunt, to let her know what was going on.

Turns out the poison was an anti-coagulate. Had left untreated, Niko would have had no symptoms for about two weeks, and then he would have just started bleeding from everywhere. He would have died. But, he was treated, and should be fine. They induced vomiting, which was tinged blue, confirming he did ingest the poison. They gave him charcoal, which helped the contents of his stomach and bowels bind together to be eliminated. And he is on Vitamin K pills for 30 days, which is a coagulant.

Steve came home, without Niko, to get showered up. They wanted to keep him for just a bit to make sure he wasn't going to vomit anymore. I called our designer and we rescheduled our meeting for 1:30p.

Noon: we picked up Niko. The stinker...that cost us $178. So much for the "free" hotel room that night...the money was out of our pocket one way or another. But, with this face, it is easy to forgive. And, of course, we are so thankful that he is and should remain okay.



1pm: dropped the kids and dog off at my aunt and uncle's house. This was after having a weird run-in with an agitated lost driver looking for directions while scream out of his car. And then almost getting into an accident from a oblivious driver. Problems #2 and then #3.

1:30p: met our designer, and picked our family room furniture. No issues around this, thankfully.
navy couch, leather ottoman, accent fabrics
sitting chair fabric will be a dark brown with a pattern in cream, not pictured


5pm: wrapped up our appointment, and then headed downtown. Finally, we were on our way! Let our night begin! I was really looking forward to it. Steve and I haven't be getting enough quality time together, so this was very much anticipated.

I even got a new shirt. A gold shimmer sweater, to be worn with dark jeans, black heels, and a black velvet jacket. As I was drying my long/thick hair (noting this because it takes FOREVER to dry my hair) I was getting really hot. Being a bit agitated, the tag on my sweater started to bother me. I turned off the hair dryer, walked to the bed where Steve was lounging, and asked him to cut off my tag with nail chippers. The first snip went well, but the next snip caused a hole. "Oh shoot...sorry!" Problem #4

Without a sewing kit in our possession, I ended up changing into a black sleeveless blouse...fine. Thankfully I packed a couple shirts, just in case I wasn't feeling my original idea. Or, just in case my husband, with big hands, can't be delicate with fabrics.

Out the door we went. First we were going to get drinks and appetizers at one restaurant, and then head over for dinner at 8:45p at an oyster bar. We first had margaritas and chips with guac. Guac with goat cheese, actually. A really great combination! At the next place we had a cocktail while waiting for our table. Then at the table we had bread, shared appetizers of calamari and shrimp stuffed peppers, oysters, dessert and coffee. I am being descriptive with the food we ate for a reason.

The evening was going well. It was so nice to share quality time like this. Not to mention, this was in the same area (now redeveloped) where Steve and I met. We went down memory lane. The location was awesome - right on the water, where cargo ships were coming through. The scene was just perfect. Again, just a great time.

It was 10:30p something by the time we wrapped up. By this time, I was feeling quite full. To note, Steve and I aren't the biggest eaters. We prefer good conversation, good drinks, good atmosphere, before food.  We like tapas or sushi the best...little bites of great flavor. Totally our speed.

As we were walking about to our hotel, Steve was talking about food. I actually told him to stop talking. I was just really full and not very comfortable. We had it to our room, and I immediately looked to see if they had any peppermint tea by the keurig. Nope.

And then the feeling come over me. Gag, gag...puke. I emptied the entire contents of my belly into the toilet. Yup, everything. Problem #5

Poor Steve. As he heard me getting sick he put water on my nightstand. And laid out my nightie. He thought I had what Cici had earlier in the week. She had a fever for about 2 days, but only got sick once. He was totally prepared for me to come out of the bathroom, crawl into bed, and sleep the night away.

And wouldn't you know it...after I composed myself and walked into the bedroom, I felt totally fine! My body simply had too much, and needed to reject it. I am actually thankful I got sick, because had I not, I would have been miserable all night.

We proceeded to have a nice evening, and a good nights sleep. The next morning was uneventful, as was picking up the kids and going home.

The above certainly is a replay of our weekend, but in my effort to keep my blog the talk of being a pilot wife, let me start sharing pilot wife stuff.

First off, it is so important to make sure you spend quality time with your partner. I blogged about this a bit in my post from last month, Flowers. Steve and I have just been so busy, that our quality time is mostly hanging out in the family room after the kids go to sleep. Wine, beer, netflix, or sometimes just conversation. Typically our date nights are Friday nights, but as of late our Friday nights have either been camp outs, Hoe Downs...



...Polish Programs, or Steve working. Getting away for the weekend was such a good thing for us. I know the both of us really enjoyed the evening, even though it meant Steve was in a hotel yet again that week. Throughout the whole evening, I was reminded over and over how much I really dig Steve. Being together over 17 years, and married 13, I still really dig this guy. I think a big part of this is the fact that he is gone a lot. I have said this over and over, and some probably find this so bizarre, but our marriage works so well because he is gone. When he is gone, I (mostly) miss him and anticipate him coming home. And when he is home, I (mostly) appreciate his presence. Absence has truly made my heart grow fonder. And then when you have a getaway where you reconnect, all is right in your world.

Ok, so moving on from mushy stuff to the realities of life, being married to a pilot. Steve was originally supposed to work Thanksgiving. He was to leave on Tuesday and come home Friday of that week. I was upset at first, but you simply gotta roll with it. Wasn't the first holiday worked, and certainly won't be the last.

One afternoon, I got home from work and as I walked into the house Steve said, shyly, "so...I may have just done something that could either help us or hurt us...I dropped my Thanksgiving trip." He didn't think he actually could (min. coverage, blah blah blah) so he kind of took a chance. But, the trip actually dropped. As did 25% of his November pay.

To offset the lost trip, he picked up a couple days trips and turned 2 or 3-day trips into 4-day trips. He has been working a lot, it seems, but at least he will be home for Thanksgiving!

Ok, ok, now that that has been established...Steve had a day trip this past Monday, the day after we got back from our little getaway. He had an early show, flew three legs, and was home by about 6:30p, The kids had school, I was working, and then we had PSR. We were busy, and the fact that Steve was working on an original day off really didn't impact us much at all.

The entire day I was high on life. My heart was so full, I could have jumped from mountain top to mountain top. Yes, the getaway was that great.

The kids and I pull into the driveway after PSR, and Steve's car is in the garage. He was home, and my heart was full.

I pulled into the garage, parked the car, and was barely out of the car door when Steve said, with that tone, "why did you take Niko?" When Steve is working, I take the dog in the car when we go somewhere. He loves it, and it keeps him out of the kennel at home.

Ugh. Cranky pilot. Been here before. I did what was best and bit my tongue.

I proceed to make dinner. Honey Garlic Chicken. Good stuff! And I casually mention to Steve that we need to call the appliance store because there is a squeak in the refrigerator door. Of course Steve has to investigate and diagnose, like a good pilot.

So, for the next 5 minutes, or so, Steve was opening and shutting the doors, and opening and shutting. And then asking me questions, and then opening and shutting more. He then discovered the appliance was actually rubbing the cabinet built around it. This set him off pretty good. "Look Joanna, it's rubbing!"

My advice: "call the contractor."

That wasn't good enough. Then he started trying to move the fridge within the cabinet space. It is a tight space, so moving it wasn't easy at all. Steve was very focus on this task, all the while carrying a certain tone and mannerism.

So much for a full heart. I was annoyed and incredibly bothered. I wanted to come home to a hug and a kiss, but instead I came home to a pissed off, tired, and cranky pilot. I even told him at one point that I loved that he was home, but not when he was like this. This, folks, is the reality of being married to a pilot....one that flew three legs that day.

Steve's birthday was the next day.  We celebrated that evening: presents, chicken parmesan, salad, and cake. Happy Birthday!

He left for a 3-day trip Wednesday morning.  He is due home tonight. Once again missing Friday night date night. Insert sad face. It will be good to see him when he gets home.

Back to reality, and telling it like it is.









Friday, November 11, 2016

Election 2016. My thoughts.

Election night. Steve was on the road. We talked briefly on the phone that evening. He was venting about his captain, who spoke of politics in the cockpit. Even I know you don't talk politics in the cockpit. Steve was sitting in his hotel room in SFO, and I was sitting in the family room of our home. Had he been home, I am sure a bottle of wine and conversation would have kept us up late into the evening.

Around 9:30, I went upstairs. Our youngest was fighting a fever the previous 24+ hours, which included a very interrupted night of sleep. I was tired. I knew the election results would take many more hours, so I called it in a night.

While getting ready for bed, and even while in bed winding down, I flipped between CNN, NBC, PBS, and HGTV. I just love Chip and Joanna...Chip is hilarious, and his comic relief was a great way to end the evening.

I fell asleep sometime around, oh, 10pm with the tv on. Around 4am, I woke up to a heavy downpour. Our master bathroom has a skylight, so it magnifies the sound of the rain on the roof. My first thought was good maybe it will be raining for our morning walk. Niko and I always go on a 7am walk, and a break from that is always nice.

And then I thought of the election...who won? I immediately turned to CNN and saw the winner. This was not the result that I wanted. Stunned. Shocked. I then felt sadness. And then a feeling of being scared came over me. I actually felt scared. I then said a prayer.

I took to Facebook and Twitter to see what people were saying. A lot of people echoed my thoughts and feelings. I have to say, seeing people on social media motivated me to actually blog about my thoughts and feelings. I have been quiet this whole campaign, for the most part, on social media because I didn't think my political views needed to be expressed. My presence on social medial (aside from my personal facebook profile) is that of a pilot wife. I have tried hard to maintain that presence without cluttering it with other aspects of my life, including politics.

However, with the results of this election, I need to speak up. When a President is elected that actually makes me scared and sad, I need to speak up.

Let me start with a main point about me: I am 100% Polish. My father immigrated in the 70's, and my maternal grandparents, along with my aunt and mother, came over in 1952.

My maternal grandmother was taken by Nazi forces and forced to work at a labor camp in Germany in WWII. When first captured, yes captured...how barbaric a word, she was stripped and paraded in front of doctors to check her health. A doctor remarked how she would be worth having an affair with. Fucker. Boys will be boys, my ass. She was humiliated.  She sewed medicine bags for soldiers. She slept on straw at night. She had one blanket to sleep with in the winter, she was chilled to the bone. Her nutrition was so poor that her teeth were loose in her gums. The last time she saw her mother was when she was 17-years-old. She was ripped from her family.

She rarely spoke of her experiences in that camp, and when she did, she cried. I clearly recall one morning sitting at the breakfast table at my uncles house, in Poland. She started to share some details, with tears in her eyes. She got into a trance, certainly playing out more memories that she wasn't sharing.  She then told me she wouldn't wish her experiences on her worst enemy.

She lived through hell.

My maternal grandfather was a soldier in the Polish division of the English Army. He liberated the camp she was in. Three weeks later they got married. They left Germany for England, where my mother was born, and ultimately made their way to America.

Do I consider them refugees? Yes. They left their country due to war. Displaced? Yes. Immigrants? Yes. With open arms, they were greeted by a sponsor in Ohio.

This story runs in my blood. This story is my family history. This is part of me. Behind my white skin and western clothing, is the story of refugees and immigrants. But, unless you asked, you don't know my story.

And because this story is part of me, I get very connected to stories about refugees. I want to cry when people speak of refugees with such disgust. These are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children, who need to escape war. To think that my grandparents, my aunt, and my mother wouldn't be greeted with open arms when they came here, crushes me. They were showed support, compassion, and love. This is what I believe American should be about.

To further, I teach PSR (parish school of religion) to my daughter's class. I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic schools my entire life, including University. I consider myself a religious and spiritual and faithful person, albeit rather quiet about my beliefs. I am one to pray silently. My way of spreading my faith is through teaching children.

Do you want to know what one of the first lessons I teach to 1st graders? Love. Be kind. Walk like Jesus walked. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you - the Golden Rule.

As a Christian woman, knowing what my faith teaches me, and what I teach our little ones, I am stunned to hear of other Christians wouldn't help out our neighbor. I can't imagine where my family would be if it weren't for the help and support they got when they came to this country. It is my duty to help others in need, to show love towards others. Not only as a Christian, but also as the descendant of people who left their home country due to war.

Having been through this election, and having to come to terms with the results, I have learned a number of things.

To start, I am no longer going to remain quiet like I have in the past. I am not one to cause drama. It is in my nature to be the peace keeper. I don't like confrontation. But, if I ever find myself needing to support someone who is being discriminated against, you bet I will stand tall for them.

One of my facebook friends posted this and I can't help but share it here. This is a tweet from Caitlin Rosberg (@crosberg) and it is perfect, in my opinion.

If you are wearing a hijab, I'll sit with you on the train.
If you're trans, I'll go to the bathroom with you.
If you're a person of color, I'll stand with you if the cops stop you.
If you're a person with disabilities, I'll hand you my megaphone.
If you're an immigrant, I'll find you resources.
If you're a survivor, I'll believe you.
If you're a refugee, I'll make sure you're welcome.
If you're a veteran, I'll take up your fight.
If you're LGBTQ, I won't let anybody tell you you're broken.
If you're a woman, I'll make sure you get home ok.
If you're tired, me too.
If you need a hug, I've got an infinite supply.
If you need me, I'll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me, too.

My children are 7 and 9-years-old. When I told them who our next President would be, they didn't react much. I was totally okay with that. They are so young, they don't need to react to the election results. But, because of the election results I will be sure to continue to teach them certain things.

I will teach my children to love others, no matter differences.
I will teach my children to understand, then to be understood.
I will teach my children tolerance.
I will teach my children respect.
I will teach my children to be caring.
I will teach my children to take a stand against wrong.

It is my duty as a mother to bring up my children to love others and do good, to drive out hate.  This starts at home with my actions and words. It has always been the way in our home, but I will continue to emphasize these points.

Here we are, days after the election, and I am still sad and down about it. I find myself purposeful in not watching the news. I just need to process everything, and feel. I am one to always look at the silver lining in things, so I know good can come from this. I have already found myself being more kind to people in these last couple days: smiling at strangers in the hall, sitting next to the mother wearing a hijab at gymnastics, giving my children extra hugs and kisses, ect. Spread love and kindness, that is what I am going to do more of. Why? Because, love trumps hate.





Thursday, October 13, 2016

Flowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All was well.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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












Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Delayed

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

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


Me: Hi

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

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

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

Me: Weather?

Steve: Yeah. Micro-bursts.


Me: I hope you make it home. 



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

***

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Europe 2016

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

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


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

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




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



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


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

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

pretzels with butter...amazing!!!!

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

obsessed with watching the spray paint artist

Mozart Museum


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




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



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


with my cousins

playing with baby bunnies

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!