Monday, December 7, 2009

The Day I Realized I Fit In Perfectly at Walmart

So Christmas this year is on a budget, or so I am telling myself. Fireman isn't bringing in the trusty overtime, but we always save throughout the year for the Christmas event. When the time comes to start spending, it doesn't matter what the budget is for the year, I am a frugal bargain shopper. I find a peculiar high in finding sales on already reduced merchandise. This is absolutely my favorite time of the year.

That said, I always no matter how hard I try to stay out of the Walmart, end up there for one reason or another. Now, I am no Walmart hater. I just prefer to steer clear of the relentless crowds, lines, and picked over items whenever possible. I don't care if sippy cups are $2 cheaper at Walmart than Target. Target is more my idea of thrifty shopping. It has cute jewelry, cute PJ's, fun stylish T-shirts for the sweat pants I wear everyday, etc...oh, and its void of the population who choose to look homeless when they are not. You all know exactly what I am referring to. There is a web site dedicated specifically for the purpose of exposing fashion and social no-no's on an hourly basis at Walmart. Now, these things happen everywhere we go, but for some reason you can count on it at Walmart, every minute of every day. It is just downright awkward sometimes.

Last week, in a valiant effort to finish my stocking stuffers, I went to the Walmart. I prepared my mind for what kind of crowds I would ride in on. I mentally accepted being pushed around by holiday shoppers all in the same isle I needed to be in, parking in the very back. I was perfectly OK with this scenario. It is Christmas after all.

To my surprise, I landed a wonderful parking spot without any problem. I smiled to myself as I strolled into the Walmart with my 4 year old in tow. I was feeling so confident, I didn't even force my daughter to sit in the shopping cart. I had a return to make, so the friendly little lady greeting me at the front door carefully stamped my items and I proceeded to the line of people waiting to do exactly the same.

It occurred to me suddenly that everyone in line looked, dare I say, normal? The only distraction was my 4 year old who would not stop pounding on the open computer kiosk next to us. I just pretended I didn't know who she was for a while. As I surveyed, people watched if you will, it hit me. I am the one this time in sweat pants I have worn two days in a row. My red hair is up on my head in a sloppy clip that doesn't match. There is no make up on my face, though I desperately need it. MY kid is the one running a muck. A women a couple people back is staring at ME!

I chuckled to myself. I kept ignoring my daughter who was by now climbing the wheelchairs next to the kiosk in her high heel dress up shoes. I continued waiting in the return line. I think I maybe shuffled my hair around and threw some lip gloss on. That's what the wheelchairs are for, I figured, and what a nice relief to not have to get out of your pajamas when you go shopping for once! These people surrounding me became my friends. I instantly knew they all had stories of why they are at the Walmart looking the way they do...and basically our common thread in humanity when it comes to the Walmart is; Who Cares????

Walmart is where all the highly educated and rich people go on an off day! It all makes sense now! You can let your hair down and be yourself while shopping up the deals! So you wake up in your mansion and just want some eggos- by pass all the grocery stores that require you to change out of your slippers and stop by the Walmart. You are always greeted warmly and I dont believe anyone would ever turn your business away based on what you choose or choose not to look like on any given day!

I relaxed and almost enjoyed watching my daughter, who I now realized looked as hairied as I did, dance around the carts and wheelchairs. Our return time came, and I found myself just happy to be comfortable. The six and a half inch multi colored nails on the older women checking my return didnt even faze me!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Gym

Everyone who knows me even a little knows I make working out a priority in my life. Some might even go as far to say I have had moments in my life where I can take my love of the adrenaline high too far.

Like the time three years ago after I had spent 4 days in the hospital for Meningitis, I was back on the elyptical the day after returning home. Or the time(s) I have dropped my sniffling children off at the Gym's babysitting club praying their colds would go unnoticed. All in the sake of a workout.

Working out, expending the energy out of my body is something I crave. Daily. Well almost daily.

When Fireman is working his normal 24 hour schedule and we are all in the groove of school and such, I am at the gym at least 4 times a week, or out in my garage boxing my hanging bag. I have a routine that fits into my life and into everyone elses life (as far as I am concerned). Anytime that rountine gets even slightly knocked off its wheel, we all suffer- some more than others, ask Fireman.

So when the kids get sick and need mommy with them at home all day, or say for example on our way to the car in the morning the kids find a trail of ants leading all the way to my cupboards filled with Martha Stewart's finest baking goodies... I usually end up reluctantly taking the day off from the gym.

Not such a big deal, a day off here or there right? Wrong! I find myself crowding my already refined routine with little incidental projects, like cleaning out drawers or photo boxes. Sometimes I even start a new hobby. One day easily slips into three days to even a week!

So we've been off schedule a bit overhere. Fireman is still home. Though we all our finding our way (slowly) life has come between me and my beloved punching bag. Now, Fireman knows what our routine is here at home. He is very much aware of all the time I take to strategicly plan my weeks events including my gym time. He is also aware of his role in our lives. Usually.

One morning after coffee, I looked over my list for the day. I decided in my head today would be an "off" day for the gym. It must have alarmed Fireman greatly when he looked back over his shoulder from the computer to see me dressed in clothes and not strech pants and a tank top because he uttered words that make my hair and skin do really weird things.

"So no gym for you today?" this was delivered with no eye contact whatsoever.


Within about 45 seconds my mind had raced over all the possible responses ranging from," Why? Do you think I need to go to the gym today?" to "Well, no I decided that since I am adding taking the dog to the vet to my already busy day of grocery shopping, laundry, dinner prep, dropping overdue books off at the library, and picking up a gift before 1:00pm with a four year old on my coat tails that maybe today I could take the day off!" All followed with a look that delivered my message fairly well.

I decided on, "No." Also with no eye contact.

Although his remark, and he makes this remark often, almost always sends me into a crazed thought pattern for most of the day, I decided to drop it. I have told him on my verbal crazed- head days NOT to ask me about the gym, and it's not registering for some reason. I have explained to Fireman why he shouldn't say or imply his stance on my workouts. It is, to me, just like him saying ever so gently that my butt better find a way around everything I have thought to be the priority over my workout and make it happen some way, any way.

This comment has been known to lead me into long bouts of self doubt. Doubting my structure, doubting my ability to plan, doubting my committment. You name it, I can end up finding a way to doubt myself with this one small seemingly benign comment.

All within 45 seconds, I had decided to keep my power for the day and go on as planned. I pushed the comment out of my brain...I decided I was too busy to give it anymore thought. I was even too busy to let Fireman know exactly where he could put the gym.

Those 45 seconds was the best time I had spent that particular day, even if it wasn't in the schedule.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mommy's Kitchen

Well, I decided to try and earn that silly Mom of the Year award and cook a really delicious dinner. Quite a feat in this house filled with Costco frozen meals. It's officially time for Martha Stewart to show her face in my house...she has been on a very long vacation, just ask Fireman!

I was turned onto a recipe blog called Mommy's Kitchen...the meals are easy and kid friendly, well my kid friendly! I got sooo excited after trying out a couple of different recipes, I choose to venture out and try something requiring a little more brain power. So while Fireman took the kids pumpkin shopping, I gathered my ingredients, donned the $75 apron, and did not open the bottle of wine. I needed all my brain for this one.

I had some red potatoes that about to go bad, so why not peel and mash em up? Everything was off to a great start...potatoes boiling, onion caramelizing, and chicken browning... Even Fireman was impressed (well, he is always impressed when I actually cook) While he helped the kids carve their pumpkins, I worked steadily on preparing a meal close to Thanksgiving good. I opened my bottle of wine and savored my glass of white...piece of cake!

Then it happened. The final step called for broiling the chicken dish for a mere 5 minutes to crisp up the bacon I had so carefully placed a top halved chicken breast basted with a Merlot sauce and caramelized onions...why were the bacon pieces not crisping? Oh well, I'll add a couple more minutes to the timer. I called the kids in to wash their hands and set the table, dinner had to be just a few minutes away. Still the bacon was looking nothing like the final picture. I downed the glass of wine.

I said out loud, "why is this not cooking? Is there another setting besides broil I am missing?" Fireman, seeing his cue and seizing the moment came over to the oven and peeked in. He quietly picked up the recipe. I poured my second glass of wine. "Well doesn't it say broil? Here is the broiler honey..." He opened this magical little door placed purposely on my oven to confuse me. All this time I thought it was storage! I mean that's what my mom used it for...the traditonary storage drawer for the oven safe dishes you never use. I removed the dish from the oven and quietly placed it in the secret oven. The Broiler.

Not a word was exchanged until Fireman saw my second glass of wine was finished, and everyone had raved over my cooking. And even then it was really quite funny. I mean I can not believe I didn't know the drawer was the actual broiler!

Laugh all you want, I know some of you don't know what that drawer is either and to top it off, I know you store your dishes there too! My mom wasn't the only one... at least it makes me feel better to think that!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I have yet to tell the story of our littlest most powerful member of our family...she is all of 4 years old.

It's my fault, I am not in any type of denial. She just LOVED shoes before she could reach her feet. Her clothes are of better fashion sense than mine ever have been. So I may have provoked a little of her inner diva. We call it self-expression.

Our day with this little lady goes a little something along these lines; She wakes up (in our bed, because Fireman just cant say no to the raspy voice asking, "Daddy? Can I sleep with you?" This is a very sensitive task. The way she wakes up will determine how our entire day will run, so we have been known to try multiple tactics to get her to at least not kick us while squealing whale noises as she climbs out of bed.

Once that has been accomplished, we make her usual for breakfast...waffles and milk. Any variation is unacceptable. So if Costco is out of waffles...I'm screwed. She also needs a little chill time in the morning. So on mornings she doesn't go to school, I sit with her and sip my coffee for as much GMA I can possibly get in. So sweet you may think...I also sit with about 13 of her newly "can't do without" toys, a blankie that inevitably always stinks, and Cissy is also trying to wrangle our defenseless, small yorkie-poo into sitting on our laps. So, if coffee isn't spilled, its a miracle.

Getting dressed is the worst time of our day. I always dreamed that once I had my daughter, my days would be filled with dress up and makeovers. I was wrong, oh so wrong. She loves to dress herself. So after about a year of fighting this every morning- I decided to go with the flow most mornings. After all, she changes her attire at least four times a day and usually ends up running around the house with only her princess underwear on. Her taste in clothing and mine are no where near close. For example, I would prefer not to have my darling little girl dress as a modern day punky brewster. I mean, two pairs of different colored tights with socks along with a bright pink polka dot tank top that is 2 sizes two small is a little weird, right? I mean some days she even manages to get her baby doll shirts over her head and we actually go to Costco like that, because she does this exactly 2 minutes before I am ready leave the house. Occasionally I get the, "oh how cute" looks, but more often than not I am getting the, "How could her mother let her out of the house that way?" or probably more like, "Where did that outfit come from?" looks.

She has this thing lately with her silver shoes- so those are worn everywhere, along with what she calls bracelets...these are really just over sized ponytail holders of all colors. She wears them on her ankles and her wrists. Just darling. I almost forgot the purse- she changes her purse everyday. So if she is wearing Ariel's dress-up costume for the day, it has to be a red purse filled with her 13 can't so without toys of the day. Under NO circumstance am I allowed to offer any suggestions with regards to her wardrobe.

So what, right? I guess at least she is clean and fed? It really is my issue... who cares what everyone at Costco sees or thinks. At least that is what I try to tell myself every God forsaken day of my life right now.

Until the day she actually cares that what she is wearing is well... different, I am choosing to relish in the absolute carefree attitude my daughter has. Her lesson to me is so much greater than having her clothes match head to toe. She is teaching me every day that it is OK to be caught up in doing what you want to do, not what other people expect. She is so much her own spirit, and I find myself envious of her naive ability to run around in princess panties. I want to twirl around with her little hands in mine singing princess tunes.

So for now, and as long as I can have it, I accept this little rambunctious precious energy as one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Well, I am definitely not going to be receiving Mother of the Year for 2009. Not just because of my track record this year, but most definitely because of my actions, or in this case, lack of.

I call myself CFO because my home is run like a business. There is a time and place for pretty much every activity involved in our lives. Laundry is no exception. OK- this week it was.

Mondays are always the busiest day of the week. For myself it is the start of my work week. I am always overwhelmed with the list I make for myself and I usually feel as if I have to accomplish the complete list on Mondays. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you- I have a problem. I am OCD in many ways...but that's for another day.

As I am driving my two boys to school this past Monday coffee cup in hand, I just happened to glance over at my 12 year old's jeans. Were those grass stains covering both knees? I quickly looked back at the 9 year old who was dazing out the window. His jeans were covered in mud.

My mind raced. Yes, I started to panic. "WHY ARE YOU BOTH WEARING DIRTY JEANS?" I was on the verge of yelling. They are very aware of my rule. I don't care what kind of fad or style they try to pull off through the years, but they HAVE to be clean. Clean clothes and clean bodies are a must.

They both immediately sang the same tune. "I had no more clean jeans!" says the 9 year old. "I didn't have any clean jeans or shorts, mom." As soon as the vision of my children walking into school with dirty clothes became my reality, I did what any mom would do in a pinch...I immediately called Fireman and told him to rummage through their hampers to find the cleanest of the dirty jeans and I turned that car around as quick as I could. No kids of mine would ever go to school dirty, I didn't care if they were late or not!

Laundry was on my to do list, of course, but now I was in full panic mode. Guilt and shame clouded my brain. That's what I get for taking the weekend off. What was I thinking napping both Saturday and Sunday? I am battling a head cold but that is NO excuse! After 12 and 1/2 years of my job as a mommy, I should know better than to take a sick day, let alone two!

Now Fireman thinks I am crazy. Although he is home nowadays, he never really understood why when he was on shift I would still be doing laundry until late hours of the night watching my TiVo. He now understands. He has been shown the light on my business operation quite a bit lately. He has actually told me he can't believe how much I pack into our day. He has acknowledged I don't really sit on my butt watching Oprah and eating bon bons. You laugh, but talk to any of my stay at home mom friends and their husbands will jokingly say that is what we all do. (They joke because it would get ugly if they were ever precieved serious). Along with, "your always on the computer" or "Geez! Our children know the story line of General Hospital (or in some cases Dr. Phil)" all the while inferring we pack our day with TV shows and ice cream.

So after two whole days of laundry, and cleaning the house Fireman is right smack in the middle of what makes our world here at home turn. I am thankful he can see it as well as experience it first hand. I don't think in the 10 weeks he has been home he has seen me once sit myself down on the couch to catch Oprah while eating anything, let alone bon bons.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Well I kew it wouldnt take long for the white trash mom in me to poke through...

Tomorrow night we are going down the street to have dinner with our friends. These are some good friends, though we've never been to their house intimately. "What can I bring?" I asked, being the giver I am..."dessert would be great!" She emailed back.

Hmmm....what to make? I looked through some recipe books. I remembered some old potluck desserts I had tasted over the recent years. Maybe a tart? I could whip that up in no time. No, better than that, "How about pumpkin shaped rice krispie treats?" I yelled downstairs to Fireman. Silence.

I waited. I knew exactly what was going through his mind. You see, I do this ALL the time. I have an inner Martha Stewart that is dying to have some show off time. Kids birthday at school? It's not your simple cupcakes to share with the class, its pink flower candy molds with organic pretzels, or homemade lollipops with sugarfree bubble gum. You should see my Christmas baking routine. It looks so easy in the magazines! So he was thinking, "Oh GOD! she is going to pull out Martha!"

Normally, this wouldn't invoke fear into the mind of a normal person with a normal wife. However, I can sort of understand. I mean I start with the greatest intentions. My ingriendients all lined up, my $75 apron on (yes, if you cook with a $75 apron wrapped around you your food tastes better). I may even start with the kids around helping measure and pour. Somewhere around hour 2, my good intentions are no where to be found. I have kicked the kids out side of the house (even if it is raining) and start using words I dont normally use. My kitchen becomes my worst enemy. I suddenly decide very loudly "I am NEVER doing this again!" I start planning the letter I am going to write to the author of the recipe, and I usually end up on the phone with my BFF to vent my anger and blame all turning into feeling defeated and a horrible mother, wife and overall person for not being able to pull off the calm cool collected and yet gorgeous dessert. Fireman is around for this half the time, and that is enough for him.

In the beginning he would just quietly move the children outside away from their crazed mother. Then he began to calmly suggest other easier recipes, he even made the mistake of trying to help one time, to which I responded, "So do you want to do this or what?" among other things. Finally he has come to the conclusion that offering to pay for the dessert of my choice was his golden ticket to a day of bliss instead of living in his own personal hell.

So I waited, and honestly I was waiting just to hear the tone of voice when he responded, "Well honey..." he hesitated. "That sounds pretty easy? I mean you already have the cookie cutter right?" The fact that Fireman knows what a pumpkin cookie cutter is says a lot about his dealings with me in the kitchen. He had probably mentally thought over what it would take for me to accomplish this dessert.

My minds eye actually gleemed at the thought of me pulling off an absolutely divine dessert... I could color vanilla frosting orange, and then make some green! I could pull out the black frosting gel for the eyes! The kids would love it! My mind continued...what could I make for the adults to savor as the kids gleefully ran around munching on rice krispie pumpkins? Reality quickly set in as I turned the hallway corner and saw fear in his eyes. Who was I kidding? We have a total of three "have to" events this weekend, Fireman is still gimpy, and the kids are, well... kids. Even I was in no mood to turn into The Wicked Witch for the day.

Our eyes met and I knew right then. I would be picking up a Pumpkin Pie from Costco. I am even serving it in the tin it comes in. Cool whip as well. Nope this weekend Martha wouldn't get her chance...but Christmas is right around the corner.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guilty? A little...

So I slept in this morning. So what? Fireman has been out on injury for 9 weeks and 5 days and doesn't return back until the earliest, February 2010. That's right, 4 long months from now.

Depending on how you look at this predicament... it can be a blessing and a curse all at once. He is in my way all of the time, we don't have the overtime money flowing in, and he is really not able to help tons due to his injury (its just a torn ACL- he will be fully recovered after months of intense Physical Therapy. I am not completely heartless!) On the blessing side, which I find myself constantly needing to remind myself of lately, he missed the brutal fire season this year and I know he is safe for now, as well as the boys have daddy to go to for all their math homework.

So, I guess I decided to check out this morning. I felt no need to hustle out of bed and rush through school routines, arguing with Cissy about which clothes she would wear. I wanted nothing to do with refereeing the boys arguments. I didn't want to make waffles for one child, toast for another, and oatmeal for the was Fireman's turn.

I sauntered downstairs around 9 ish. I had prepared to look flustered, I even had a "I'm innocent" line ready...something like "Gosh, I can't believe I over slept!" or maybe it was "Geez! I hope the kids made it to school OK?!" But as I poured my coffee, I noticed Fireman was no where to be seen. The kitchen looked breakfast carnage to be found. So had I pulled it off? Or did Fireman forget to feed them all? That, I quickly decided, I would find out later, like after school.

I sank into the couch and turned on Good Morning America. What was America up to these days? My heart got a funny warm feeling when Diane Sawyer's voice flowed through the family room. I really didn't care what she said, boy had I missed my GMA! It had been 2 weeks since I had been able to join them for coffee, and I know Chris Como had been wondering where I had been.

Fireman came in and joined me. Nothing was mentioned about me being MIA for the carnival that is our morning rountine today. Neither of us spoke a word of it. I noticed half way through my coffee, I was relaxed. For the first time in 9 weeks and 5 days, I was calm. I didn't even ask if the kids ate breakfast.

Fireman is on the road to recovery, however inconvenient right now he, I mean this, may be, it is only temporary. The kids weren't my problem until at least 2 pm. I had a long awaited hair appointment to look forward to. Did I mention the kids weren't my problem?

So did I feel guilty? No, not at all. I think I am going to start sleeping in more often.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Taken from "The Fireman's Wife" by Susan Farren
I am thank ful. This has not always been an easy walk for me.
I am disappointed. We have missed family gatherings, weddings, dinner engagements, birthday parties, and holidays because of shift schedules and overtime.
I am patient. There have been dinners spent at the firehouse waiting for Daddy to return from a call while the kids get cranky and the food gets cold.
I am nervous. I awake at 3:00 A.M. hearing creaks in the house and don't have the comfort of my husband beside me.
I am tired. The house is full of sick kids and there is no relief in site because Daddy is on a seventy-two-hour shift.
I am jealous. Jealous of all the women whose husbands came home at 5:00 P.M. to have dinner and hold them at the end of their day.
I am worried. I worry that he may not come home one day. This I try to tuck away.
I am content. We have decided to give up my career so I can stay home and raise our children. We no longer have an abundance of money or things. It is the greatest freedom I have ever known.
I am incompetent.There was a time when I considered myself moderately intelligent. I now struggle to remember where I left my car keys, the diaper bag, and, occasionally, the baby.
I am waiting. Knowing the phone may one day ring for me.
I am doubting. Doubting that God hears all my prayers. Doubting I am the kind of wife and mother He needs me to be.
I am trusting. Trusting that my husband will come home again.
I am confident, I am embarrassed, I am lonely, I am surprised, I am overworked, I am underpaid.

I am...The Fireman's Wife.

Just Starting to Find My Way...

I have always wanted to know how other fire families operate. I often feel very out of ordinary when I talk with my girl friends about their daily 9-5 routines. A fire family is different. Our children grow up with daddy gone for 24 hours at a time (who am I kidding) often times multiple days at a time. As wives, we grow used to our husbands and best friends being unavailable to us. Though I have a wonderful extended fire family, I still feel a need to touch base on a different level. I want to hear how other fire families run the show. What do you cook in your kitchens? Are you able to maintain perfection at all times? If so, PLEASE share your strategies with all of us who battle the daily grind of our hectic lives. I want recipes, child rearing tips, ideas how to reconnect with a long lost mate, Holiday shuffle ideas, living frugal, putting out our own daily fires, depression busters name it- I wanna know!!! In return I promise to share the good the bad and the ugly of my daily life. And believe me, I have a lot to dish on! We accept the fire service for the wonderful life it has given us...but this blog is all about the down and dirty daily life I live in the wake of my husbands beloved career. No one tells a fire wife what to expect for her children, not what kinds of things she gains and loses when her husband takes an oath to the fire service. One thing I do know for sure is that my life is a lot like everyone elses life when you open their front door, REAL!