Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Firefighter Parking

Some of the firefighter-related objects that enter our house are hard to find a home for.

Others are easy.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Evolution

What comes to mind when you hear the term "evolution?" Probably something similar to what used to come to my mind...

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Darwin

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Apes

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the walking fish...

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You know, the standard stuff. Yeah, I used to think of those things too when I heard the word. However, my perception of the term "evolution" has changed, thanks to my firefighter's career.

Now I think of evolution as in doing an evolution--being timed while doing hose lays,

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and throwing ladders,

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and hauling tools around,

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and doing practice rescue-y stuff.

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We watched The Academy last night, a show detailing the rigorous firefighter academy for Orange County. It is painfully similar in intensity, length, training, injuries, even down to stealing the guidon, to the academy that my firefighter attended. In it, they detail an evolution. If you have a spare hour, you can give it a watch here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In Sickness and in Health (and Alone)

When I signed up for this job, or at least signed my husband up for this job (and I feel like I did sign up, since I'm the one who filled out the applications to all the fire departments), I knew what I was getting myself into. I knew that as a mom, I would have periods of time when my husband would be inaccessible, short of a family emergency. I'd have days where I would just have to make it work on my own.

Yesterday was such a day. My firefighter had the day off, and we were asleep when the phone rang at 6:45 in the morning. I instantly woke up and knew what it meant.

"Honey... HONEY! Wake up!"

"Huh? What?"

"Answer the phone."

"...Huh? What?"

"Work is calling."

"...oh."

Yeah. "Oh." That about sums it up. We had a big day planned yesterday. Some of the activities we had planned that day could be skipped, but my daughter had her heart set on going to her friend's birthday party and attending a Trunk or Treat that evening. She has been talking about them for days; letting her go was an easy decision. Problem is, we only have one car still. In order to get her to her activities, it meant that we all had to get up as quickly as possible and drive my husband to work, an hour away.

My firefighter jumped in the shower and I ran downstairs to get the various bottles and beverages ready for the diaper bag. I shoved the kids' shoes in my over-sized tote, just in case they would need to get out of the car for some reason. My daughter looked confused when I woke her up. Her hair was a ratty mess. There was no time to fix it. She went potty while I woke up the baby, who had been up and down all night anyway, and buckled him into his car seat. He grinned at me the whole time. He's always up for an adventure.

My 3 year old is usually happy to go on a car ride, too. I woke him up, quickly changed his diaper, and carried him down to the car in his jammies. My groggy daughter made it down, my firefighter clipped the carseat into it's base, and I did a quick run through of the needed items.

Two loveys and a blanket. Check.
Bottles. Check.
Shoes. Check.
Peace-keeping snacks. Check.
Paci. Check.

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We got all buckled in and watched the sunrise as we drove through the hills. My 3 year old excitedly pointed out all the wind turbines and big trucks, and hid in his loveys when the sunlight hit his face. My daughter and the baby fell asleep. My firefighter and I talked about how excited we were to finally get an extra day of pay, after an uncommon six week overtime dry spell. We could really use the money and we discussed how to best spend it.

After dropping him off, the kids and I came back home. My daughter decided it was time to get ready for the birthday party, 6 hours early. Getting tired of the incessant "is it time to go yet?" I piled the kids in the stroller and decided that a nice slow walk to the party would be a good way to speed up departure time. She loaded her present into the basket and we took off. The boys are usually just as excited about a stroller ride as they are about a car ride. Still, I couldn't help but wish that my firefighter were home to take care of the boys while I took my daughter to her party.

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After the party, we all got ready for the trunk or treat that evening. Again, I wished that my husband could help. It took a couple of hours to somehow work in a shower and get them all diapered, cleaned up, dressed in their costumes, fed, happy, and ready to go. I went through my mental checklist of things to bring for the second time that day.

Have you ever taken three young children to an exciting outdoor party on your own? It's not as simple as one might think. The logistics are difficult. The 5 year old wants to run off to be with her friends but still needs supervision, the three year old just wants to run off, and the baby wants to be held because of all of the over-stimulation. Yesterday was a perfect example of what problems might arise in this situation.

Problem 1: I somehow forgot the paci at home. That meant that the baby was NOT going to be happy at some point.

Problem 2: As we were pulling in alongside the other vehicles getting ready for the trunk part of the trunk or treat, my daughter declared that she was car sick (something that has been happening a lot lately).

Problem 3: My 3 year old is sensitive to others and was crying over the discomfort of the other two. He kept reminding me to put the paci in. I tried to explain that we don't have it, but there's only so much he understands when he's upset.

Thankfully, once I got everyone out of the car, my daughter said she felt fine. The younger two were content to be pushed in the stroller as I followed my daughter around to keep an eye on her. I took some pictures and was happy that the evening had turned out to be so manageable, aside from the one moment when I dropped my camera and watched pieces of plastic pop off.

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This is where things REALLY started to go downhill as a single mom for a day.

The baby, as I knew would happen, got fussy once we stopped moving so I had him in my arms. We were all sitting on hay bales watching a movie when my daughter declared that she was, after all, still sick from the car. She heaved and put her hand to her mouth. My 3 year old was still happily strapped into the front seat of the stroller, enthralled with the movie, bless his heart. I had to make a split second decision--there were too many obstacles and people to be able to take the stroller inside and make it on time. I could either stay with the stroller and let my daughter vomit in public, or leave the stroller and help her find the bathroom. I chose the second option, since there were other parents nearby. My daughter, the baby and I ran inside and found the bathroom in time. I worried about leaving my 3 year old alone out there the whole time and hurried her up.

She washed up and felt much better after that, and things looked up again--especially after a kind lady offered to hold my baby for me while I took the other two around to collect candy. The second time my daughter needed to go potty, we all went. I hefted the double stroller over curbs and rolled it through the hall inside, while carrying the baby in my other arm. We waited by the door while my daughter finished up. They were decorating pumpkins just outside a nearby door, so we went out that way.

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My daughter, dressed as a princess, bent over to inspect the pumpkin that she had just hefted to the ground. She hesitated and declared that she was going to throw up again. My heart sank. This clearly was not just a case of car sickness; she had a bug. And, she was going to throw up and share it with everyone. The door we had just come out of was locked from the outside going in. It was dark by then. I told her to throw up in a nearby bush. She wasn't listening--she took off running in a flurry of pink and white tulle. I yelled after her, and tried to work my way around the throng of children with the double stroller.

I didn't know which way she had run in the darkness, but figured she had tried to get to the other door to make it to the bathroom. She knew the way by then. For the third time, I hefted the double stroller over all the obstacles and made my way to the bathroom. Thankfully, that's where she was. Only this time she hadn't made it to the toilet in time. She cried as she showed me that her costume was covered in vomit.

After cleaning her up and promising her that I would be able to clean her costume in time for the real Halloween, we headed straight for the car. As I stretched the seat belt over my daughter's yucky costume, I felt her forehead--no fever. Phew. The baby cried the whole way home, wanting his paci. My middle child cried in sympathy and pleaded for me to help the baby, whom I could not reach, let alone help. My daughter sat quiet and sallow and was sad that she didn't get to decorate her pumpkin.

It was a loud, pitiful trip. I got home and unloaded them one by one. After stripping all costumes off, I showed my daughter her pumpkin and the decorations I had grabbed. That cheered her up and she set about decorating it. She threw up another two or three times. Meanwhile, I put the boys in bed.

When I came out after settling the other two down, I saw that my daughter had crawled into bed and had already fallen to sleep. That was a first.

Yesterday was definitely one of those days when I wish that my firefighter had been here to help out. Yet, as much as I missed him, and even though I am certain there will be more days like yesterday, I wouldn't want him to be in any other career. His job satisfaction affects the whole house. He absolutely loves what he does. Not only that, but it allows me to do what I absolutely love--be home with the children--even on vomit days. The perks are too great to pass up, for either of us.

My daughter ended up sleeping through most of the night, and when she did have to throw up again, she did it quietly in her own bathroom and went back to bed on her own. This morning she said that she put herself to sleep and didn't tell me when she was sick again because she didn't want to get me sick. What a little sweetheart!!

(As I write this, she is happily playing. She hasn't thrown up all day and only had a low grade fever early this morning. I'm thinking it must have been food poisoning.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time of death

My firefighter got toned out for a possible heart attack the other day. It was bright and early, and he and the firefighter he works with both had the same thought. First thing in the morning is when paramedics declare a lot of deaths. That's when the calls come in for elderly people who woke up to find their spouse had passed away in the middle of the night. At least the calls are for people who passed in a fairly ideal way.

Sure enough, this was one of those calls. It was at an assisted living community and the man had flat-lined before my firefighter even arrived on scene. The gentleman was gone, but since there were no obvious signs of death, my firefighter went through all of the motions--CPR, drugs, cardiac monitor, start an IV--just in case, and because that's the law. He was kneeling over this man, doing CPR, right by the front door. Proper CPR means breaking ribs. He felt all but one of them pop on the first compression and could tell that the man had osteoporosis. He sent another firefighter to find out if the man had a DNR (do not resuscitate) order.

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The death itself happened peacefully, but the aftermath was anything but peaceful. The other residents of the assisted living community were treating this as a spectacle. Instead of giving the family and the emergency personnel their space, they all came out to see what was going on. Not only did they come out of their houses, which I can understand, but they tried to open the door and actually come in to the apartment where my firefighter was working. Here was my firefighter, doing CPR on a man, trying to keep the door shut with his foot while he worked. He said that around 40 people tried to come in. The community was predominantly not english speaking, but I think they understood what he meant when my firefighter yelled "NO!" at them. That didn't stop them from trying.

One man was especially tenacious. He did speak English, and when my firefighter was standing outside at the end of the call, he came up to find out what had happened. The man wanted to know which apartment the dead man was in. My firefighter didn't tell him. So, undeterred, he went around and just started opening residents' doors to see if he could find the right house, not even knocking first.

If people are that curious when I pass away peacefully in my sleep, I hope that at the very least, they do something useful--like bring a plate of cookies for my family and the emergency personnel. I might be convinced to overlook the intrusion if there are cookies involved.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Insomnia

It happens more often than not. I don't know why. But for some reason, I can never get to sleep at a decent hour when my firefighter is at work. Usually, the days he's gone are long and I look forward to that time when I can crash in bed and think of nothing in particular. I spend the better part of the day planning to put the kids to bed early, have a bowl of ice cream, watch a chick flick, and get to bed on time.

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However, it never works out that way. I usually end up staying awake later than I do on nights when my firefighter is home. I end up on the computer, trying not to let the worries creep into my mind, or just enjoying my me time.

The other time I get insomnia is when I've had Excedrin. I'm really sensitive to the caffeine and I've been known to stay up all night if I take it too late in the day. The good news is that my sensitivity to it makes it super effective on migraines. Some things are worth a lost night of sleep.

Especially lately, when I get so little sleep as it is with my youngest waking up so often, it's rare for me not to be able to fall asleep. But, here I am, still up, while everyone else is blissfully sleeping. I've got no caffeine in my system, and my firefighter (who does, ironically, have Excedrin in his system--he got his second ever migraine today), is home tonight, sleeping in the other room.

I've got a lot on my mind tonight, which must be the root of the problem. I've been thinking about my now 3 year old.

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He recently had his birthday, which he adored.

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He also recently had a near miss with the swine flu. It struck literally half the kids who attended the church nursery last week. Thankfully, I kept him home with me that day, since he had a slight cold, and I had a migraine (I'm noticing a theme here). He has since had the vaccine, so hopefully he doesn't get hit by it at all.

I've also been thinking about my restless, non-sleeping youngest. We recently added solids to his repertoire in the hopes that it would help him sleep through the night.

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It did not. In fact, he woke up right in the middle of this post, about the time I was searching for a picture of Mr. Darcy.

Since being up in the middle of the night seems pretty much unavoidable these days, I've decided that I need to change insomnia from being a frustrating time to being a happy time. I'm thinking that it's time to resurrect the stash of M&M's, only to be eaten in the middle of the night. That should do the trick.

I don't have any M&M's tonight, but I do have a mug of raspberry hot chocolate. So, cheers.

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Here's to the new happy hour.

(Ummm... yeah... about that diet...)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Firehouse Recipe - Ham Cups

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It's official, I need to start cutting back on the carbs. I've been cherishing my post-baby eat anything I like and don't gain weight phase for too long. The nursing is no longer enough to keep the pounds from creeping up the scale. Goodbye, Oreos. So long, Mountain Dew. My mom's heavenly home-grown apricot jam will have to become the exception rather than the rule.

I'm not cutting carbs out entirely; just replacing some of the most egregious ones with fresh veggies and more filling alternatives. Instead of snacking on rocky road ice cream, I'm munching carrots. Let me tell you... I already miss the rocky road days!

So, in honor of more filling, less sugary (although fairly fatty) foods, I bring you a variation of a recipe from Sara Moulton Weeknight Meals. These ham cups surprised me. They are very flavorful, and make for a great breakfast.

Ingredients:
Sandwich ham slices, 1 - 2 per serving
Pico de Gallo (you could use chopped sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, or anything that sounds good in an omelet. I get the pre-chopped pico from the salad section at the store.)
Butter
One egg per serving
Grated cheese
Salsa
Sour cream

Grease a muffin tin and place a slice or two of ham to line each cup, with the ham extending above the edges. Scoop in some veggies to half full. Add a little pat of butter and some salt and pepper to taste. Crack an egg on top and lightly poke it down into the veggies. Put a mound of grated cheese on top (I like Monterey Jack).

Bake at 400 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until the top expands like a muffin. (The show suggested 15 minutes for baking, but this was to get a runny yolk - and I'm no fan of runny yolks - so I cook them for longer.) Let them sit for a couple of minutes before removing the ham cups to a serving dish.

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Did you know that my firefighter has a blog?

He does! He recently finished de-personalizing it, and it's ready for it's public debut. That's where I steal his stories to post here; I'll probably still lift the good ones, but there's a lot more to see if you want to take a look:

www.firefighterparamedicstories.blogspot.com

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Nerd Status: Confirmed

It's been about seven months since we moved away from the LA area. What do I miss most about living there?

Is it Porto's?

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(How do I love thee, Porto's? Let me count the fat cells...)

The Huntington, a.k.a. the pretty green place in a sea of urban sprawl where we used to take pictures?

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The ability to haggle over 30 yards of dirt cheap gray microfiber fabric to get it dirt cheaper so I can sew covers for my couches?

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(I am nevereverevereverEVER going to sew another cover for a couch. That is the promise I made to myself when my firefighter got this job.)


Oh no, what I miss most is game night. I miss this...

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and this...

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and definitely this, the nerdiest game of all nerd-dom.

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We have to warn people about two things when they come to play Cosmic at our house.

First, my firefighter and I love each other dearly, regardless of what may happen during the course of the game. Once the game is over, we will go right back to loving each other dearly. But all bets are off during game play and it is guaranteed that at some point, he will declare that he is going to destroy me.

Second, you will hate this game the first three times you play it. There is an insane amount of variables and rules. There are rules about the rules, and how to break them. Even now, five or so years later, it's rare to get through a game without some debate about the rules. The allure of Cosmic is that there are so many variables that each game is vastly different.

But once you get over the rules thing, you will find yourself wishing there were more opportunities to get together and play Cosmic. You will spend $250 on e-Bay to get the correct, discontinued version of the game. You will be brought nigh to tears when your glass of Diet Dr. Pepper spills on said edition, and wipe each card and piece off lovingly to salvage it. You will contact the rules guru about a dispute between you and your firefighter over an aspect of the game, get the email back that says your husband is right and you are wrong, wrap it up, and give it to your firefighter as a present on his birthday.

A friend came to visit this last week and we had the opportunity to play games again. I miss that interaction with other people. I miss being able to think about something non-work and non-kids related. There's something therapeutic about playing games. I like that there is a resolution of some sort at the end, every time.

And, it's nice to kick the trash of my super competitive firefighter when he gets all high and mighty.
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