Monday, December 28, 2015

Behind-the-Scenes: October & November 2015

You may have noticed, that since mid-October, it’s been VERY quiet here and on my other blog, jennie’s journey.

There are a couple of reasons for that -- the first of which is that my middle sister’s two children came to live with us in late September. 

I quickly learned that when you are caring for three children, ages 3 1/2 (our son), 2 1/2, and 7 months, you don’t have time to shower most days, let alone write blog posts. 

Your days are filled with potty training and formula making, diaper changing and separating (the two toddlers). And of course, lots and lots of playing. 

By late October, just as it felt as if we were settling into our "new" normal, Brian came to me with a proposal: Let’s take all three children to Disneyland in November.

I immediately shot him a “Have you lost your ever loving mind?!” look. 

He smiled, but it was clear to me that he was serious about this idea.

"Oh, I just don't know" was all I could muster initially.

In the days that followed, numerous discussions ensued -- I had lots of concerns about taking three kids under four to Disneyland -- namely, what if we lost a child?!! -- and was definitely more in favor of a beach vacation. But Brian was ever-so-persistent, and in the end, I agreed to his ideal trip:

2 Days of Disney (Th/Fri)

2 Days of Beach Time (Sat/Sun)

And so it was.

I could write a whole post (or two) about our adventures in Disneyland and at the beach, but suffice it to say, we had A LOT of fun and created some sweet memories.

I am ever so grateful to our good friend, Jason -- our beloved "manny" -- for accompanying us to the parks on both days and carrying the youngest in the hiking backpack, so Brian and  I could take the bigs on rides. Jason also captured footage of us with a little Go Pro like video camera, and then surprised us with an awesome video of our time in the parks. Thank you, Jason! (If you know me, you know how much I love documentation!)

I took along my big camera, too, and snapped a few shots.  

Zoey was SO excited to meet Elsa.

 And both Noah and Zoey loved the rides!

I had fun shooting at the beach, too, particularly as the sun set. (We had a blast spending time with our oldest niece who lives in Southern California.)

On Monday, November 23, after two days at Disneyland and two days at the beach, we packed up our car and headed for home. Although we had had a GREAT time in Southern California, I was looking forward to being back at home. Back to our own beds, our own kitchen, our own non-creaky wood floors. Back to our dogs and chickens. Back to our daily lives.

And then, my cell phone rang.
It was our adoption attorney calling.

She said a little girl had been born earlier that morning, and her birth mother was wanting to place her with an adoptive family.

Without a moment of hesitation, I answered YES!! when our attorney asked if we wanted to be presented. 

However, I didn't get my hopes up, knowing we'd likely be one of a dozen or more profiles shown to the birth mother. 

Out of curiosity, though, I did google How long does it take to drive from Santa Clarita to Santa Maria? The answer: 2.5 hours.

After hanging up with our attorney around 11:30 am, we decided to pull off the freeway in Santa Clarita to eat and play and use the restrooms at McDonald's.

Forty-five minutes later, while standing in the play place watching the bigs play, my phone rang. 

It was our attorney delivering the news I'd been waiting TWO years to hear: Jennie -- The birth mother chose you and Brian.  

To be continued...

Photo by Kathleen Galloway Photography

Friday, October 16, 2015

12 Signs You're a Firefighter Wife

This past summer, here in drought-ridden California, wildfire after wildfire burned on and on.

To say it was a busy fire season might be the #understatementoftheyear.

And, as you know, where there are wildfires, there are firefighters.

My firefighter husband was deployed twice; the first time for 16 days and the second time for 10 days.

I'm part of several fire wives Facebook groups, and many of the wives shared that their husbands were also deployed two or three times this summer. 

Now, please don't misunderstand me: I'm not complaining about my husband being gone. Yes, his absence is hard on our family, but it's part of the job -- his job and my job.

See, if you choose to marry a firefighter, you have to be okay with the fact that he'll be gone sometimes. Routinely for a few days at a time, and occasionally, for a few weeks. 

But there's good news, too. Your firefighter husband will be home a lot, too.

My husband works 48 hours straight, but then he has 96 hours off. Two days on duty, four days off.

Brian has been a firefighter since we got married eleven years ago, and recently I gave some thought to how being the wife of a firefighter colors my world. 

What follows is a list of 13 signs that you might be a firefighter wife...

1. DAY OF THE WEEK | You have no idea what day of the week it is. (And when I say "you," I mean "me.") Seriously. It could be Monday or Saturday or Tuesday or Friday. You just know if your husband is on duty or if he's off-duty. I know this might sound strange to some of you. And I totally get that. When I was a teacher and I worked Monday through Friday, Brian would always tell me that he had no idea what day the week it was, and I'd just look at him quizzically and think, What do you mean you don't know what day of the week it is?

2. SLEEP DEPRIVATION | You get used to having a husband who is often tired when he comes home from work. And in my case, a husband who is sleep deprived, but refuses to take a nap. (Getting him to take a nap is much like trying to get a 3-year-old to take a nap. I know because I have a 3-year-old who does not nap. Ha!) You get used to having a husband who falls asleep on the couch in the evening or heads to bed early.

3. FIRE TRUCK V. FIRE ENGINE | You know the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine. And so do your kids, if they are at least two years of age or older. 

4. A MAN IN UNIFORM | You like a man in uniform. The ironic thing is that you'd think I see my husband in his uniform all the time. But that's not the case. The only time I see him in uniform is when Noah and I visit him at the fire station. He leaves our home in jeans and a t-shirt, and returns home in jeans and a t-shirt.

5. MISS INDEPENDENT | You've learned to do some things around the house on your own. When something breaks, you have to figure out a way to fix it. You can't call your husband home from work or wait until he gets home from work that evening. Although, to be honest, I did have to call him home from work one day. Our then 1-year-old son had pulled the digital thermostat off the wall, and although I got it back on the wall, the heat just ran and ran and would not turn off, no matter what I did. Hot air kept blowing and blowing until our house was a balmy 93 degrees. Thank goodness he was able to fix it.

6. ANOTHER MANDATORY | In your mind, mandatory is a bad word. It means your hubby won't be coming home; he'll be at the fire station for another 24 hours. Again, it's a necessary part of working in the fire service, and although mandatories can happen any time of the year, they are particularly prevalent during the summer. 

7. GOODBYE | You've heard "Got a call! Love you! Bye!" over and over again. In time, you've gotten used to getting off the phone quickly, and picking the conversation back up later on, sometimes when your hubby gets home from work. 

8. HOLIDAYS | You've spent many holidays by yourself or with your (or his) extended family. I'm actually okay with this most of the time because I'm pretty independent. Having said that, Christmas is tough, particularly now that we have a young son.  

9. FIRE BUDDIES | You know your husband's co-workers, some of them by their first name, but most by their last name. And then you get totally confused when you meet them in person and your husband introduces them by their first name when he's only ever referred to them by their last name. Or maybe it's just my husband that likes to do this to mess with me!

10. FIRE PRIDE | You have a firefighter sticker on the back of your car or you're sporting a license plate frame that says, "I'm a firefighter's flame!" Yep, that was me for several years. Brian used to get the funniest looks when he was driving my car. And if you're husband plays in the Guns & Hoses charity football game, you cheer for the dogs! (That's me in the photo above decked out in fire red.)

11. SECOND DRIVER | When your husband is driving the car, you automatically look right when he's turning left, check for traffic, and say, "Clear right!" -- particularly if your hubby drives an ambulance, fire engine or fire truck.

12. NO SUMMER VACATIONS | You don't plan any big vacations in the summer time because it's likely that your firefighter husband will be out on a strike team or working overtime at his station to cover for the firefighters who are deployed. (We've found that fall and spring trips rock because there are fewer people traveling!)

Fellow firefighter wives or husbands: What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Around Here | September 2015

Welcome, fall!

I love this time of year, although right now, it's still pretty warm here in Northern California. Today's high was near 90 degrees! I'm looking forward to wearing my warm sweatshirts, breathing in the cold, crisp morning air, sipping on some hot apple cider, and donning my brand new rain boots from Costco.

Here's a look at what has been happening around here this month.

  • Recently returned from his second strike team deployment.
  • Is enjoying all the football on TV, especially the Notre Dame games. Go Irish!
  • Is commissioner of his Fantasy Football League.
  • Recently built a wooden bridge near our chicken coop. (It makes getting across the bed of rocks so much easier.)
  • Is growing a mustache for only the second (?) time since we started dating 15+ years ago. He calls it his "strike team 'stache." I call it "early Movember." Noah doesn't like it, I'm kind of indifferent, and Brian loves it. 
  • Just celebrated his 37th birthday!
  • Loves watching Peg Plus Cat, Curious George and Wild Kratts -- all great PBS shows.
  • Completely undresses himself now. The last piece was learning how to pull his shirt off over his head, which he accomplished last week. 
  • Goes to preschool two days a week now. 
  • Is glad to be back singing and dancing at Music Together on Tuesdays.
  • Is very into puzzles. He has several 12-piece puzzles that he can do all by himself, and we just started working on a 24-piece puzzle. He only needs a little help with it (the edges mostly), and then he can do the rest by himself.
  • Is carrying his new leaf blower around wherever he goes -- even in the car and in bed as we read stories. (But the leaf blower "sleeps" in the hallway. Why? So Noah doesn't wake up and play with it at 3:00 am like he did last Tuesday.)  
  • enjoyed a "goodbye summer" root beer float recently, and as he was eating it, he looked at me and asked, "Mom, do they have root beer sink?" (I love how kids are so literal.)
  • Insists he wants to be Captain Hook for Halloween, and although most kids change their minds a hundred times in the weeks leading up to Halloween, I don't think he will. I think his mind is made up, so Captain Hook it will be!
  • Is selling eggs to the neighbors for $5 per dozen. (Which, so far, has covered the cost of a 50 lb. bag of grain. Sweet!)
  • Is researching engineered hardwood flooring.
  • Is using her iPhone 4 until December when she's eligible for an upgrade.
  • Is editing maternity photos of her sister and brother-in-law. (That's one of my favorite shots above.) Their baby girl is going to be a beauty, that's for sure.
  • Is sprinkling hundreds of ladybugs at the base of the tomato plants, hoping to rid them of aphids. Go ladybugs, go! (Next year, I'm going to plant marigolds near them.) 
  • Is marveling at the generosity of a community member who made a Little Free Library for her, and then wouldn't take payment for it. (Per his request, she made a donation to a local food bank on his behalf.)
  • Is enjoying fresh-picked carrots from the local farm. They're so much better than the ones from the grocery store!
  • Is moving slower and sleeping more. (She'll be 12 soon.)
  • Is getting more stubborn (if that's possible) as she ages. 
  • Is still taking 16 units of insulin twice a day.
  • Is back to eating Kleenex out of the garbage cans, which she hasn't done for years.What gives?
  • Can't hear very well anymore. Sometimes, though, I can't tell if she's just ignoring me or if she really can't hear me. 
  • Loves to wander and roam around our property.
  • Is so mellow, I really wonder sometimes if he is truly part Lab. 
  • Enjoys hanging out with the chickens. Seriously, they're buds. 
What's happening in your neck-of-the-woods?

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