Archive | June, 2011

A Sign to Slow Down

21 Jun

Generalized seizureWe all have them – those signs that say the stress of
life is getting to be too much.  Mine started Friday night. We had some things to get done.  I took care of someone to watch the kids.  Met my husband’s uncle did what needed to be done and waited for my husband to meet us from the track.  Once we got my hubby’s opinion on the stuff we needed, the three of us went to dinner.  After dinner, while we were chatting – that feeling came over me and I could not join in the conversation, I just couldn’t talk.  I started to feel paranoid that they were talking about me and heard a few voices that I am not sure were there.  No, not schizophrenia, just a complex partial seizure.  It is my sign that I am stressed out and worn out beyond what my brain can handle.  My last seizure was a tonic clonic in January of 2009 – while I was driving home from work.  SCARY!  Luckily it was just me and a light pole, Thank God! (True story, my husband’s current LT was on that accident and remembered it.  MFD is such a small little world.  So embarrassing! What are ya gonna do?)  J was at the doctor’s office, boys were still at school and girls were still at the sitters – can you say guardian angel!) But literally, NOTHING since then.  It has been nice.  All of this from a fever at three-  AYE!  So, since the race weekend is done, my FF opted OUT of tire testing yesterday and spent it with me.  He took me to breakfast.  Life was nice.  We had a meeting, helped some friends unpack now that they are FINALLY getting back in their house after a a Labor Day fire.  We had dinner with my dad and brother’s family to celebrate my dad’s birthday and we came home and tucked the muppets in.  I think I needed a day like that.

I have mesial temporal sclerosis.  There is scarring in my brain from a febrile convulsion at the age of 3 – dx at the age of 27, after a 27 minute tonic-clonic seizure.  My brain is fried.  Luckily – if you can say that – it happened early enough in my life that my brain rewired itself and I have the ability to live a normal life.  I do have some nominal aphasia – the word gets stuck on the tip of my tongue – A LOT.  I do have issues with short term memory – I have used a Palm PDA since 2002, now my Droid and the Cozi app do the job.  I use sticky notes and take copious notes at work on conversation with parents, at meetings, etc.  All things that are manageable.  I have had 6 t/c sz – I think – in the last 9 years. 

I have been spoiled.  Usually my big seizures come when I am over tired, stressed out and there is a strong lightning storm.  (Don’t ask about the storm, I don’t know.  We think it might be something with the barometric pressure.)  So, I am taking this as my sign that it is time to relax about things and just enjoy my kids and the summer – BEFORE I do have a t/c sz.  So – today – the three stooges headed up to the school in the neighborhood for the day camp program with their friends.  I am just going to chill with O – it is one of those foggy, rainy, yucky kinds of a day. My FF is back at work today, so since it is one of those foggy, rainy, yucky kinds of a day, we are going to turn it into one of those lazy, Netflix and popcorn kinds of days. My brain told me in no uncertain terms that I have overextended myself and need to fix that.  I intend to do just that.
Kiss your firefighters, hug your kids and take time to admire the world around you!

The Mile…Finally

17 Jun
Racing is in my blood. I was literally almost born at the track.  It is simply a part of my family’s DNA.  My dad is the Asst. Safety Director for the Milwaukee Mile.  I watched drivers exploded out of anger and throw their helmets, cracking them.  I have seen hits to the wall that take your breath away.  I have seen drivers who should be role models, make little girls cry at autograph sessions – that is a tale for another day.  My dad started on the fire crew in the pits and has worked his way on up.  J has been a bit envious.  Policy states that to work on the Safety crew – you must be emergency personnel.  So, now you have it.  My husband is officially a FF and and EMT – that makes him emergency personnel, which makes him eligible to work at the track.  His Lt. from the academy has also joined him this summer. They have done racing school, practice, tire testing and now – race weekend is upon us.  The Indy cars are here for the Milwaukee 225.  And J is now part of that world. One more fire suit, one more set of tools. J is a happy guy! Let’s go racing!!

Can you tell Daddy’s gone?

17 Jun

J just left for work this morning and you can already tell it is going to be one of those weekends.  He is not working for the department, but for my dad.  My dad is the Asst. Safety Director for the Milwaukee Mile and J has been jonesing to work at the Mile for a good 10-15 years.  He was always told, sorry you have to be a FF or an EMT.  Now he is both!  So, his first race of the year is upon us.  J will go to the track straight from work tomorrow morning, come home tired tomorrow, just to repeat it early on Saturday.  He will be wiped out.  BUT, our children may not live…

Can ya tell Daddy is gone??  I think I am going to have to take the door off the hinges, I can’t get a screwdriver in there at the proper angle to get any amount of torque on the screws that are somehow IN FRONT of the door knob.

In the immortal words of Bill Cosby….”The beatings will NOW BEGIN!”  Is it Sunday, yet??

We can tell Daddy is still not back.  This AM it took me around an hour to get that door pulled back through.  I thought for sure it was going to have to come off its hinges, but I got it.  Now, I went to  run to the store to grab some black suspenders for J’s fire suit for the track and LO AND BEHOLD – my keys are missing.  I can’t get into my car.  Cherry on top of this sundae, you ask???  They locked the other key to my car – they think, in my trunk as well.  SOOOOO….in 2 hours, or so,  after $140 payment, a locksmith will come out to make me a new key – so we have a 3rd one around.  And hopefully, I will find the other 2 in my trunk -resting peacefully from the chaos of this Fire Family.  It might take my FF more than his beloved 2 1/2 to calm this fire.  I can only shake my head, anything else would be a fruitless waste of energy.  There is really nothing else that can be done, but to wait.

So, as of 3pm on Father’s Day – 6/19 – all keys have reappeared.  My “whole world on a ring” keys were in the boys’ laundry basket – in their bedroom.  You know, the basket of clothes they were supposed to have put away 2 days ago basket?  Yeah, that one.  No clue how that happened.  My other loose key for my car reappeared behind the Saltwater tank.  Don’t ask me, I have NO FREAKIN’ IDEA!  Other than that.  My FF has one more day at the race track – I think for tire testing and then life can find its way back to normal. 

Some days I am such a geek…

15 Jun

Today is D’s last day of K4.  Today is our last day tied to the neighborhood school that J taught in for 10 years, that has given an academic start to 3 of our 4 kids, that has given us many friendships – some permanent and some not so.  And what am I doing while Daddy takes D to her last day at that school?  I am adding more Fire Wife blogs and buttons to my blog.  I should be more sentimental.  I should have taken O and we all should have walked up there and said our good-byes.  It is indeed the end of an era.  But, I am not mushy.  I am indeed – a geek.

So Fire Wives and Fire Fighters, as I am working to compile my list, if I miss yours, leave me the html code for your button or the web address for your blog.  I will swiftly add it to my list.  Feel free to grab my button from the right and add it to yours.

Off to geekdom and then to pick up my boys from the in-laws.  Wow, I miss those muppets!

Pleasant Dreams, Sleep Tight

13 Jun

In recent years, Milwaukee has been in the news A LOT.  Unfortunately, it is not regarding our amazing park system or wonderful zoo.  It has been for our infant mortality rate, specifically bed sharing related deaths.  In 2010 it seemed as though every time we turned around, there was another baby lost – it broke my heart every time.  We are extremely blessed – we have 4 beautiful children.  D came home on an apnea monitor, simply so I could take her home over Memorial Day weekend, before her sleep study was officially read.  I remember feeling so inconvenienced.  Silly me!  Amazing how your perspective changes.

Pleasant Dreams, Sleep Tight on

In 2010, I started a blog – which fell to the wayside – and a Facebook page Pleasant Dreams, Sleep Tight, with the sole intention of spreading the word on safe sleep practices to be sure you keep your baby safe.  I don’t know what I expected, but the continued loss of these little lives left me feeling a void in my soul.  I know it sounds odd – they’re not mine, nor do I know the families.  But each time it broke my heart.  My educational pages weren’t doing ANYTHING.  I felt helpless, I don’t like feeling helpless.

Milwaukee participates in the Cribs for Kids programs.  It allows social workers, firefighters, etc. who notice there is no crib in a home with an infant, to provide a Pack ‘n Play with educational support – free of charge.  There are income restrictions.  I have been pouring over the 2010 City of Milwaukee Fetal Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) Report looking at the contributing factors, areas most affected, programs in place, etc.  I am looking for the statistical data to back up the anecdotal pieces floating around.  I am looking for WHAT I CAN DO!  I don’t like feeling helpless, so I am not.  I am being the change I want to see in the world. 

Given our obvious ties to the fire department, I would like to work through MFD.  419 cribs were distributed in 2009.  It jumped to 1,010 in 2010.  Most of these were distributed through the fire department. There is an obvious need.  Our fire department is in the homes of our poorer communities more than just about any other agency.  To me, it seems like a perfect fit.  So, the hamster in my brain hopped on her wheel and I started thinking.  How can I make this happen?

I came across a tragic story of loss, with an inspirational story of healing and community service.  Payton Lynn left this world, a week after she joined us.  It was an accidental suffocation when her dad fell asleep holding her.  Her parents are both EMTs.  It show that NO ONE is immune.  They had gone to countless calls – just like this.  Only this time, they were making the 911 call, no answering it.  They took that energy that could have consumed them and turned it into a community serving, life giving memorial to their Angel girl.  They started a Pack ‘n Play program in Austin, TX, like the one in my head.  They have paramedics, who have been trained as Safe Sleep Technicians, to implement and work with the families on safe sleeping practices upon receiving their Pack ‘n Play.  I LOVE what they have done and have contacted J.J. for ideas and information.

I would like to also tie this into the service component of my class.  By the end of the year, as the service due date looms, they are all BEGGING for service experiences that they put off until the last minute.  I would be furthering my cause, expanding my message, providing lifetime experiences that will help  develop a system of values my kids will take with them into life and doing SOMETHING.  SO, here is my IDEAL situation.  Mind you, I am aware that everything in my little plan is not really feasible, but it is a starting place.  This was my organizational moment last night, after I got the girls to bed.  Here is what my brainstorming came up with.

  •  IDEAL SCENARIO– Pack ‘n Plays are available to all who request them, not just those who demonstrate financial need. One on every MFD rig – as space allows and a storage place in one firehouse per battalion.  Safe sleep technicians (specially trained paramedic volunteers, perhaps???) to implement set up and education of families. Make Swaddling Blankets part of the package.
  •  Corporate Partners – Continue to seek out corporate partners to make sure money is not a reason for an unsafe sleeping environment for Milwaukee infants.
  •  Play Yard Drives – Do drives for new/gently used GRACO Pack N Plays – as they have only had 3 recalls since 1996.  Perhaps teaming up with one of the sports team or TV/Radio media for exposure and some sort of incentive.
  • Teen service projects, including, but not limited to:

o    Fundraisers – Breath of Life Stroll – see Pittsburgh, jeans passes at school during October, wristbands, challenges issued to other schools – maybe tied to Homecoming events, singing balloon/lollipop bouquets, Sleeping baby wall – buy a spot for your baby pictures – brings attention to the issues and tugs at the heartstrings
o    Dissemination of information – print media, social networking, TV/Radio, area high schools, PSAs on YouTube

It is a start.  It makes my head stopping spinning and gives me a place to focus my attention.  I sent an email to the captain at the BIT to see what is needed and what is feasible. If working with the fire department is not possible, I do have a back up plan in my mind – but the hamster is tired.  Wish my luck, kiss your babies and give them room to breathe.

My Little O at 6 months.  Give them a chance to grow.  Sleep safe.

The Perks of Being a Fire Kid

12 Jun

Too often I find myself whining about Fire Life.  This blog started as almost a therapeutic journal – allowing me to sort through the confusion of this new life we have taken on.  So there was a lot of  fussin’ – especially in the beginning.  As time went by, I was introduced to a support network that I could not have gotten by without – other fire wives, firefighters, paramedics – all helping me to understand this new way of life called Fire Life.  And, as the year has progressed, I have discovered there are some perks to Fire Life.  Even some for the kids.  Aside from the numerous trips to the firehouse when Daddy has been gone for 96 of the last 110 hours, there are others.  (Especially since that is just not as exciting as it was the first few times!)  One of them is the Fire Boat – the Trident!

Daddy is a sailor, once that was discovered at Engine 2, he was put on the boat team.  Which started with the very unglamorous duty of doing a complete inventory of the boat, from top to bottom.  The training has continued and he is learned that “stink boats” can be cool, too – as long as they are fire boats.  (No love for power boats in the sailing world, sorry.)  The Trident is docked at Discovery World on Lake Michigan, along with the Schooner – the Dennis Sullivan.  D had her last trip of the year at the Dennis Sullivan – a schooner  – that I helped build through many years of schooner school with my middle schoolers, I might add!  The 4 year-old Kindergarten always takes a trip to the schooner.  Tours are given by the crew.  This years’ crew was BORING!  They didn’t know how to talk to 4 year-olds, would not let them touch anything, showed them the bell, but would not let them ring it – because it might confuse the crew as to what time it was <eyeroll>.  They kept asking the kids if they had questions.  Umm, yeah – “Can I ring the bell?”  You don’t let 4 year-olds lead the discussion! To top that, we had periods of POURING rain.  The kids were in garbage bags because the rain was supposed to be done by then – no one had rain coats.  AYE!  Overall, they were miserable.  Engine 2 to the rescue.  Just when I thought these tiny creatures were going to revolt, I saw the boys board their boat.  I snuck over to see if they would be willing to rescue us.

We divided the kids into two groups – one class went to eat lunch while the other got the demonstration on the boat.  The all got to board the boat, got a tour and got to spray some water, one by one.  NO ONE had more fun than my D!  She was SO proud to say that it was HER Daddy that was doing all of the cool stuff.  The guys put on a water show, sprayed water, let the kids spray water.  It was a sight to be seen, especially if you are in kindergarten.  They smiled for the first time all morning!  The guys were great with the kids.  I would definitely say it was a success!  After they were done with both groups, I noticed they got a tour of the schooner as well.  Guess that is one of the perks on their end.  Do you think they admired my handy work??

The boys getting a tour of Dennis Sullivan
D – the Fire Girl with her Daddy!
Can you truly ever take the
teacher out of his classroom?