Archive | October, 2010

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

31 Oct

That just about summarizes the last 3 days.  BUT, for today, let us focus our attention on the GOOD!

Two very proud boys!

The ceremony was Thursday at the B.I.T. (Bureau of Instruction and Training).  The Captain of the BIT was the MC.  The
speakers did a very nice job.  Deputy Chief Payne was by far my favorite speaker of the evening, although the Fire and Police Commissioner gave a very moving speech, and glimpse into his days as a beat cop.  Having been a volunteer firefighter in New Holstein, Jeff’s dad was able to give Jeff his badge, which was very moving.  The slides shows were great, with perfect music to accompany them. The images giving us, the families, a spectators view of their days for the last 14 weeks – from their swearing in, to their PT, to their final burn.  However, what was most striking by far, was the sense of pride in the room.   Pride just radiated  from the instructors, the brass and the families.  But most importantly, from the guys.  Their sense of pride was almost inspiring.  It was not an easy road, and not all who started was there to celebrate.  They had made it and earned the privilege of calling themselves Milwaukee Firefighters.

Jeff and his mini-me bobblehead!

We MADE IT!!

Today, Halloween, is Jeff’s first shift at engine 2.  I have 2 junior firefighters and 2 princess firefighters that are SO excited to go trick or treating at Engine 2 today!!  Good luck today honey!!

Married to a Firefighter… Tips To Keep Your Relationship with a Real Life Hero Healthy

27 Oct
I found this article as I looking for answers, and it brought a calming feeling – I am not the only one, I am not a bad wife, I am just human.

By Michelle Powers

Being married to someone who serves the community can be very challenging. There will be times that in the middle of dinner he/she will have to up and leave, holidays were you spent most of the time alone, and taking care of things around the house can be a daunting task when you do it alone. How do you keep a marriage or partnership like this together and healthy?

1. The partner who serves the community needs to pick a day and turn the pager off. That means not going on any calls, focusing on the family only.

2. Make sure that if you feel lonely that you state those feelings instead of having your needs met elsewhere.

3. Set up a support group, a group of people you can call when you are frustrated or sad.

4. Make sure you do not take on all the responsibilities because you will only end up resenting your partner. Not everything we always get done and that is okay.

5. If children are involved make sure the person serving the community has really good boundaries. They will have to learn to put the family first sometimes even though that might not be easy. Birthdays and other specials days are not to be interrupted. 

6. Remind your partner he/she cannot save the world and if they want a marriage they are going to have to accept that.

7. Make sure you have hobbies, crafts, or projects that you like to do.

8. Keep the rest of your family close; they can be a huge support.

9. Take care of yourself and make yourself happy, never depend on anyone but yourself to do that.

10. If possible get some extra help so the times when your partner are home they can be spent doing fun things.

11. If you are upset and/or frustrated, state that. Never keep your feelings inside because they will only fester.

12. Some firehouses/EMT houses have auxiliaries that partners can join to feel more connected. 

13. The firehouse is not your house, make sure you have a home of your own, a place that is a safe place just for you.

14. Have a schedule and stick with it. Just because your partner is home doesn’t mean you have to be. 

15. Having a journal can be helpful tool to help manage stress.

16. Going to a couple’s therapist on a regular basis can be a helpful tool in keeping the partnership healthy. 

17. Schedule a date night and stick too. If you are too tired to go out, go anyways because you don’t know when the next opportunity will be. 

18. Check in with each other at least once a day while at work on the phone. This is a great way to make sure you both know what is going on. 

19. Sometimes friends have to come second when there is free time. Family at all times will and should always come first. 

20. Having a pet can be very helpful in feeling less alone.

21. If possible plan a vacation away and enjoy each other without any interruptions.

22. Never go to bed angry because you never know if that is the last time you will see someone.

There are two simple things to keep in mind. Make sure that if you are lonely that you let your partner know and that you need more time. If he/she is unwilling to give up more time then gently remind them that you are being honest instead of getting your needs met elsewhere. This is not a threat, open and real honest communication is really important. 

Never go to bed angry or have your partner go on a call angry. This is really important because they last thing you would ever want is something to happen and that argument be your last interaction.


My First Dinner Alone…

26 Oct

Jeff had a meeting with his LT this evening, right after his class at 1600.  The boys and I got home from school, picked up Olivia from the sitter, ran to the house grabbed Brennan’s glasses to get them fixed and pick up new uniform pants for school.  Once we were done at Wal-Mart, we ran to get Desiree from school came home – got the muppets and k9s fed, and I waited for Jeff to come home for dinner for us.  And waited…and waited…and waited… he’s having dinner with E2 tonight.  Would have been nice to know, especially seeing as I got an hour and a half of sleep last night and I am about to come down off my Red Bull rush, made dinner for us and still have 2 sets of chapter questions, a quiz and an essay (times 60 for each to correct tonight) AFTER I get 4 kids bathed and into bed and uniforms washed.  He HAS to tell me what is going on, my brain is too exhausted for its mind-reading abilities to work properly.

I am reminding myself that he is excited and nervous and scared and, and, and…  I know, I am trying to “get it”, but I am here, too.  At some point there has to be that acknowledgement, right?  Especially since I have gone through 14 weeks of single mom-ness, for his career change.  I will have to take 4 kids trick or treating alone, put together a full Thanksgiving dinner alone, put the toys together and play Santa, alone. Some give to go with the take, right??  Or am I on my own from here on out?

Graduation is Thursday, the party is Friday.  I am hoping to become part of this world he has joined, instead of merely standing on the outside looking in (trying not to pitifully fog up the window with my hot breath), while juggling groceries, potty training, papers, lesson plans, cooking, laundry, “Mom, I need poster board for a project that is due TOMORROW!”, “MOM, BEAR JUST PEED IN THE GIRLS’ ROOM” – I don’t think I like this super-mom cape.  Can I trade it in??

I just feeling like I am drowning and no one is noticing.  My emergency flares are not being seen.  It has to get better, doesn’t it?

T Minus Seven Days

25 Oct

Calendars have been set,assignment given, obligations have been rescheduled or new dates (my dad) found, uniforms ordered, boots ordered and ready for pick-up, kids prepped, graduation party rescheduled, holidays discussed, house cleaned…and I am still not sure I am ready for this.

Sleeping alone, running to everyone’s appointments on my own, homework, temper tantrums, dinner, dogs fed, papers graded, sirens blaring, news reports, questions from the kids, concerns about some of the runs he’ll go on, finishing my masters, juggling Christmas Eve alone…
Random thoughts when I should be enjoying A-Rodg’s first win over his shadow – #4.
Deep breaths, one day at a time, don’t be too proud to ask/accept help, taking time to pray for Jeff’s safety and congratulate his accomplishments, hugging my kids and learning to make this adjustment to our new leg of this journey.

And So it Begins..

24 Oct

My husband and I were college sweethearts. We both came from musical backgrounds, we were both education majors – life was good. Unfortunately, we are night and day. He is the Ying to my Yang. I am an out going, boisterous, city-loving kind of gal. Jeff is a quiet, small town boy, who prefers to observe the party rather than be the life of it. We fell in love, despite my friends warnings that I was a wild mustang who could not be broken, and got married.

I graduated first, and being a female history teacher, we had to go where I could find a job. I looked all over the state, and got the same speech time in and time out, “If only you had more experience…” Yeah, how do you get experience if no one will hire you to allow you to get experience. So, I found a job at a middle school – right in the heart of the inner-city of Milwaukee. Poor Jeff, now finds himself teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools – the ONE place in the state he did not want to be.
Fast forward ten years, MPS has burned Jeff’s candle at both ends. Being the nice guy in a school where you are one of only three male teachers, being left to handle all the hard kids no one else wanted to deal with, truly wore him down to the point of no return. He felt the need to find some other path that would help him feel fulfilled. What else, but FIREFIGHTING!! Yeah…
Had I gotten a job in a small town Jeff could have done both – teach and fight fires. What better combination for a super hero!! But in Milwaukee – it has to be either or, not both. In the summer of 2008, he went to the firehouse and got the information on recruitment. A few weeks later takes the initial exam, after we studied and studied and studied some more. Jeff arrived at Serb Hall to take the exam only to find that he was one of 5,000 applicants. He almost walked away right then and there. MFD was only moving the top 350 on to the next round.
After a few weeks, the letter arrives – Jeff is 325. Out of 5,000 – not too shabby. He slowly works his way up to #83 after interviews, extensive background checks, EMT-B training and a few CPAT trials. The first firefighting class was scheduled and rescheduled and yet again rescheduled and took flight in November of 2009. We went to the orientation meeting, got the speeches and tours – only to find Jeff was to be 6th on the waiting list.
He finally get his chance and becomes part of the class of 07-26-2010. After Day 3 – he was ready to say, “SCREW IT!” NO! We jumped through hoop after hoop after hoop and he wanted to quit already! I talked him into staying with it for a few more weeks, he could quit if he still thought it was not for him. Week after week it got easier – for him. He actually started to enjoy himself. Me? Not so much. We have 4 kids – 10, 8, 4 and 2. I was starting a new job at a new school with a new subject – and an hour drive each way. And to top it off – I now had FIVE kids. Jeff went to class in the morning, came home – ate dinner, put the kids to bed, studied and went to bed. He was my 5th child.
Now – 14 weeks later, we are FINALLY 5 days away from graduation and 7 away from his first shift at MFD Engine #2. We have waited and waited and waited for this day…I think I could wait a bit longer.