Archive | December, 2011

A Cleaning Crew

30 Dec

My husband has always loved fish.  We started with a 10 gallon hex in college, with mollies and angels.  Never had much luck with gouramis, but always tried.  Black stone, “natural” plants.  Once we were married and had kids, we had that same hex and a 20 gallon long with some cool goldfish in N’s room.  His goal was to have a saltwater tank.  He got that tank about 4 years ago. A 72 gallon bow front tank.

And it was beautiful.  He loved it and loved working with it.  Live sand and live rock. The most beautiful fish you have ever seen. Eventually my FF upgraded his lighting to allow for corals and began reading up on reef safe fish and LPS vs. SPS. It was beautiful and therapeutic.   Fish tanks are documented to lower b/p and anxiety. Fish are just plain good for my husband.

And then the fire world found us.

I love my husband, I love the tank.  But I have enough on my plate with the kids, the house and my classroom.  I will walk the dogs and clean up kids’ puke, but the tank was his responsibility.  We lost some fish with his EMT classes in 2009.  He was working all week and in classes on Saturday and Sunday for 12 weeks.  He barely kept his sanity, so care of the tank was at a minimum.  

He got through that and focus returned to his guys.  The tanks took some TLC, but it became beautiful again. He joined a reefers club, started networking.  Life was good.  It was a discussion point for all who entered our home.  He loved it and the tank was beautiful, yet again.

The MFD B.I.T.  – Bureau of Instruction and Training.  This is a FireBell
picture taken at a training in 2000.

Then came the fire academy – 07/26/10.  (I heard it chanted so often the date is ingrained in my brain.)  

This turned our world upside-down.  The first 4 weeks of the academy, I was able to keep things going well. But, I started teaching at a PreK-12 Catholic school an hour away from home.  I went from teaching AP Euro and US History in an inner-city public high school (that I still miss nearly everyday, but at least the guilt has subsided) to Church History in a private Catholic school.  I got to experience class sizes under 40.  It was crazy and good all at the same time.  But I was a single mom at this point.  J’s world was at the B.I.T.  He was there from 6:30 each morning until 7 each night.  He was there on Saturdays to study in peace, practice throwing up a ladder and chopping for 5 minutes on each side, as well as to wash his turn out gear.  There was not a lot of time for us to pay attention to the tanks.  After work, the kids, the dogs…the poor fishies just lost out.

After graduation, he swore he would get it up and running. He promised.  But it was more a case of barely maintaining a tank.  There was no love, there was algae, there were water levels that were lower than is healthy, an overflow blew the ballast for the metal hallide lights and we just did not have an extra $400 laying around for a new set. Some corals, feather dusters and a few fish survived the neglect as well as our move.  But the tank was still not good, we still had to get through the rest of paramedic school.  i was not sure how this was going to go.  About 6 weeks ago, we lost Nemo.  He was an original inhabitant of our tank.  It was a said day.  At that point, I broached the subject of his dedication to this tank.  It is time consuming and costly.  I asked if he wanted me to post it on the forum or on Craigslist.  It took some soul searching.

Chopper, our last cowfish.  They are so cool!!  Kind of hover and have
the most adorable personalities!

But, he cleaned it up.  The live rock is scrubbed and set back up, the sand bed was tended to, the glass was clean, the water levels safe for life.  Two weeks ago he got another pair of clowns, teeny compared to our last set, but beautiful none-the-less, as well as a flame angel.  I think the next that will be added are a pair of Banghaii Cardinals and a Hippo Tang.  I would like a Panther Grouper and a cow fish (my personal favorite fish of all time), as well.  Lastly, the plan is to add a six line wrasse to control the bristle worms and a yellow tang, which can both be territorial, hence their late arrival. 

But, and here is where this all started. We still have some algae issues.  There is a need for a cleaning crew.  So, last night, we headed out to get a couple of Emerald Crabs, some Red and Blue Legged Crabs and some turbo snails.  The Cleaning Crew has arrived.  It is a natural way to help out my hubby with the maintenance work.  The Crew shows that he is really thinking about getting this tank up and living again.  It looks as it did in the very beginning, sparse, barren, but life is starting to splash some color.  Perhaps it is a good thing, to just start fresh.  We have done it with our careers, our move to a new city – why not the fish tank as well.

Now…if I could just get a cleaning crew for my house…

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…


There Is a New Era in Our House

28 Dec
This was take #895453.  Still no good.

Christmas has come and gone.  We have more clothes, shoes, books, new Air Hogs, DS games, Giovanni is now a member of our family forever (a post for another day, it is a cool story) … it was a GREAT holiday!!!  

BUT…Barbie has moved in with TWELVE of her sisters.  Santa brought the girls an enchanted princess vanity. (Which, amazingly, there has been NO fighting over.) She has been asking for a Barbie for a few months.  We gave her a Barbie we got free Black Friday of 2001 when we spent 500 million bazillion dollars.  And I think EVERYONE else got the same idea. We have mermaids and prep school girls.  We have princesses and we have ballerinas.  They are all still clothed and their hair does not look scary.  And, they are all cleaned up and in their suitcase…for now.

I got the one on the right, complete with chair, twirler
and her top was actually a swimsuit.
Sooo COOL!  NOT!!!!

You have to understand, I am NOT a girly girl.  I think I was meant to be a guy and therefore, as such, assumed I knew what I was doing and refused to ask for directions and ended up in the ladies line.  Barbies drive me crazy.  I mean it wasn’t MY fault GI Joe took that Twirly Girl Barbie I got for Christmas in 1983 and she was executed with an M80.  Sheesh.  Let’s just say the pink aisle has been avoided for decades.  My dad LAUGHED at me when we found out baby #3 was going to be a girl.  I think he made some wise crack about being allergic to the pink aisle.  I think he is the reason why D is SUCH a girly girl.  O being a tomboy will be my saving grace of sanity.

And now, now the pink aisle has come to me.

Monday night I even posted for help on Facebook when it came for storing Barbies. D was walking around with this gaggle o’ girls.  So when we spent our gift cards yesterday, a Barbie suitcase on wheels seemed a perfect solution, especially since it was on clearance.  So far  (20 hours) it has worked perfectly.

Happy holidays!!  I still have 5 more days of break and I intend to enjoy EVERY minute!  

From Our Firehouse to Yours

25 Dec

Caroling for Kyle.

24 Dec

A community pulls together for a local boy with cancer

Eleven year old  Kyle McGetrick, from Barnegat, NJ is losing his long battle with cancer. As a saddened community learned of this, the local fire department surprised Kyle and his family by driving 100 fire trucks past his house last night complete with sirens, flashing lights and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Clause. In this beach town, Barnegat, Kyle’s dad, Gene, has also served as a firefighter. What started as an email that went out which expected to bring about 20 firetrucks became a spectacular convoy. This email was suddenly forwarded and passed around to all those concerned from other local fire departments leading to the biggest township display of love to a local family. Barnegat fire chief, Mike Moore gave Kyle his fire helmet among other gifts. Though Kyle often feels too sick to leave his bed, he was moved to get up and wave to all his supporters from his window. Kyle has been battling cancer more than half of his life. 
I saw this and literally stopped what I was doing.  First, posted it to my FB page and then on to here.  This little guy must have the biggest glow to him.  What started with a hope for 20 rigs, exploded into 92 trucks and a handful of other emergency vehicles.  All within 24 hours.  This is what a fire family does.  This is what the Brotherhood is all about.  If your department would like to send a patch for Kyle’s collection, here is the contact information.

Kyle McGetrick
Barnegat Fire Company, No. 1
PO Box 539
Berenegat, NJ 08005

Kiss your kids, hug your firefighters and remember what the true meaning of Christmas is, what the true meaning of family is.  The fire family will drive you nuts sometimes, but they will always be there when you need them.  This was AMAZING!

Just Another Year

23 Dec

Whoa…I was a bit cranky last year.  I guess last year was rougher than I thought.  YIKES!!!  (NOT one of my finer moments!)  I am glad to have another year on, another year experience, our first year starting without diapers since Y2K when N was born, another year laughing at and loving my family, another year at the awesome school I teach at.  Just another year to thank God for!

So, our craziness is about to start.  Hanging out with Grandpa this afternoon, just because.  In-laws’ house tomorrow (with a 2 1/2 hour drive both ways), sneaking it a midnight mass after we get back in town, Christmas morning here, later morning at my mom’s side, afternoon at my dad’s side and the Packer game later that night.  Yeah a Christmas with my firefighter!  BOTH DAYS!!!! Mark this year down!

Hubby has off from PM school on Monday, won’t that be nice!

Enjoy your family, where ever they are and be safe.  Merry Christmas!

Hold Your Ground

23 Dec

We are officially 40 hours into Christmas Break.  And I have officially decided not to let things get to me this holiday season.  I still have 5 presents left to buy, the girls’ presents left to wrap.  All of the bedrooms are clean (except mine).  It has been rather relaxing.  I am usually much further along in my Christmas duties, but I am also usually much more stressed.

Tinker the miniature horse is an old pro – WISN photo

Yesterday, I had an MD appointment.  The doc ordered TWELVE vials of blood.  I think I actually had a vampire instead of a phlebologist!  Went to the mall and walked around, without having to take anyone potty or referee.  Ate a Cinnabon in peace.  Had lunch with my hubby and 2 of the MFD FFs in his med class.  Hung out with some of my friends at the last HS I taught at (I dearly miss the staff there), got mugged by some of my babies in the hall who begged me to come back. (Flattering and heartbreaking all at the same time.)  Grabbed my stocking stuffers for the Muppets, sans candy. (St. Nick’s was kinda nice without candy!) Bought a huge bow for Giovanni as he will be the best present of the day.  We are going from his foster family to his forever family on Christmas Day!  It was a nice day.  Stress free.  Change in the kettles (which my kids have been taking willingly this season, we could learn something from them) and season greetings and smiles to strangers.  Amazing how freeing it is when you decide there is enough stress to life, without making more because of a holiday.  It is supposed to be about family togetherness, not divisiveness.

I could have been locked in my bedroom wrapping presents.  I could have been fussing over those last few gifts.  I could be done with all of my “responsibilities”.  Instead I just chilled.  My cough and snotty nose did not get to me.  My hubby came home and napped for a bit, since he was the one who brought this round of germs home.  Instead of wrapping the gifts, I watched the AHS finale. I didn’t do what my sense of duty told me I should, and it was kind of nice.  It will all get done, not to worry.

Two days until Christmas Eve.  Use this time to reflect on this season of rebirth and renewal, through the life and sacrifice of the coming Christ child.  Use this time to strengthen bonds with friends and family and rebuild bridges if they have been burned.

Live, Laugh, Love.

Enjoy the holidays.

Everyone can help at Christmas time

22 Dec

Tinker the mini horse is an inspiration