Friday, October 16, 2015

12 Signs You're a Firefighter Wife

This past summer, here in drought-ridden California, wildfire after wildfire burned on and on.

To say it was a busy fire season might be the #understatementoftheyear.

And, as you know, where there are wildfires, there are firefighters.

My firefighter husband was deployed twice; the first time for 16 days and the second time for 10 days.

I'm part of several fire wives Facebook groups, and many of the wives shared that their husbands were also deployed two or three times this summer. 

Now, please don't misunderstand me: I'm not complaining about my husband being gone. Yes, his absence is hard on our family, but it's part of the job -- his job and my job.

See, if you choose to marry a firefighter, you have to be okay with the fact that he'll be gone sometimes. Routinely for a few days at a time, and occasionally, for a few weeks. 

But there's good news, too. Your firefighter husband will be home a lot, too.

My husband works 48 hours straight, but then he has 96 hours off. Two days on duty, four days off.

Brian has been a firefighter since we got married eleven years ago, and recently I gave some thought to how being the wife of a firefighter colors my world. 

What follows is a list of 13 signs that you might be a firefighter wife...

1. DAY OF THE WEEK | You have no idea what day of the week it is. (And when I say "you," I mean "me.") Seriously. It could be Monday or Saturday or Tuesday or Friday. You just know if your husband is on duty or if he's off-duty. I know this might sound strange to some of you. And I totally get that. When I was a teacher and I worked Monday through Friday, Brian would always tell me that he had no idea what day the week it was, and I'd just look at him quizzically and think, What do you mean you don't know what day of the week it is?

2. SLEEP DEPRIVATION | You get used to having a husband who is often tired when he comes home from work. And in my case, a husband who is sleep deprived, but refuses to take a nap. (Getting him to take a nap is much like trying to get a 3-year-old to take a nap. I know because I have a 3-year-old who does not nap. Ha!) You get used to having a husband who falls asleep on the couch in the evening or heads to bed early.

3. FIRE TRUCK V. FIRE ENGINE | You know the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine. And so do your kids, if they are at least two years of age or older. 

4. A MAN IN UNIFORM | You like a man in uniform. The ironic thing is that you'd think I see my husband in his uniform all the time. But that's not the case. The only time I see him in uniform is when Noah and I visit him at the fire station. He leaves our home in jeans and a t-shirt, and returns home in jeans and a t-shirt.

5. MISS INDEPENDENT | You've learned to do some things around the house on your own. When something breaks, you have to figure out a way to fix it. You can't call your husband home from work or wait until he gets home from work that evening. Although, to be honest, I did have to call him home from work one day. Our then 1-year-old son had pulled the digital thermostat off the wall, and although I got it back on the wall, the heat just ran and ran and would not turn off, no matter what I did. Hot air kept blowing and blowing until our house was a balmy 93 degrees. Thank goodness he was able to fix it.

6. ANOTHER MANDATORY | In your mind, mandatory is a bad word. It means your hubby won't be coming home; he'll be at the fire station for another 24 hours. Again, it's a necessary part of working in the fire service, and although mandatories can happen any time of the year, they are particularly prevalent during the summer. 

7. GOODBYE | You've heard "Got a call! Love you! Bye!" over and over again. In time, you've gotten used to getting off the phone quickly, and picking the conversation back up later on, sometimes when your hubby gets home from work. 

8. HOLIDAYS | You've spent many holidays by yourself or with your (or his) extended family. I'm actually okay with this most of the time because I'm pretty independent. Having said that, Christmas is tough, particularly now that we have a young son.  

9. FIRE BUDDIES | You know your husband's co-workers, some of them by their first name, but most by their last name. And then you get totally confused when you meet them in person and your husband introduces them by their first name when he's only ever referred to them by their last name. Or maybe it's just my husband that likes to do this to mess with me!

10. FIRE PRIDE | You have a firefighter sticker on the back of your car or you're sporting a license plate frame that says, "I'm a firefighter's flame!" Yep, that was me for several years. Brian used to get the funniest looks when he was driving my car. And if you're husband plays in the Guns & Hoses charity football game, you cheer for the dogs! (That's me in the photo above decked out in fire red.)

11. SECOND DRIVER | When your husband is driving the car, you automatically look right when he's turning left, check for traffic, and say, "Clear right!" -- particularly if your hubby drives an ambulance, fire engine or fire truck.

12. NO SUMMER VACATIONS | You don't plan any big vacations in the summer time because it's likely that your firefighter husband will be out on a strike team or working overtime at his station to cover for the firefighters who are deployed. (We've found that fall and spring trips rock because there are fewer people traveling!)

Fellow firefighter wives or husbands: What would you add to this list?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Around Here | September 2015

Welcome, fall!

I love this time of year, although right now, it's still pretty warm here in Northern California. Today's high was near 90 degrees! I'm looking forward to wearing my warm sweatshirts, breathing in the cold, crisp morning air, sipping on some hot apple cider, and donning my brand new rain boots from Costco.

Here's a look at what has been happening around here this month.

  • Recently returned from his second strike team deployment.
  • Is enjoying all the football on TV, especially the Notre Dame games. Go Irish!
  • Is commissioner of his Fantasy Football League.
  • Recently built a wooden bridge near our chicken coop. (It makes getting across the bed of rocks so much easier.)
  • Is growing a mustache for only the second (?) time since we started dating 15+ years ago. He calls it his "strike team 'stache." I call it "early Movember." Noah doesn't like it, I'm kind of indifferent, and Brian loves it. 
  • Just celebrated his 37th birthday!
  • Loves watching Peg Plus Cat, Curious George and Wild Kratts -- all great PBS shows.
  • Completely undresses himself now. The last piece was learning how to pull his shirt off over his head, which he accomplished last week. 
  • Goes to preschool two days a week now. 
  • Is glad to be back singing and dancing at Music Together on Tuesdays.
  • Is very into puzzles. He has several 12-piece puzzles that he can do all by himself, and we just started working on a 24-piece puzzle. He only needs a little help with it (the edges mostly), and then he can do the rest by himself.
  • Is carrying his new leaf blower around wherever he goes -- even in the car and in bed as we read stories. (But the leaf blower "sleeps" in the hallway. Why? So Noah doesn't wake up and play with it at 3:00 am like he did last Tuesday.)  
  • enjoyed a "goodbye summer" root beer float recently, and as he was eating it, he looked at me and asked, "Mom, do they have root beer sink?" (I love how kids are so literal.)
  • Insists he wants to be Captain Hook for Halloween, and although most kids change their minds a hundred times in the weeks leading up to Halloween, I don't think he will. I think his mind is made up, so Captain Hook it will be!
  • Is selling eggs to the neighbors for $5 per dozen. (Which, so far, has covered the cost of a 50 lb. bag of grain. Sweet!)
  • Is researching engineered hardwood flooring.
  • Is using her iPhone 4 until December when she's eligible for an upgrade.
  • Is editing maternity photos of her sister and brother-in-law. (That's one of my favorite shots above.) Their baby girl is going to be a beauty, that's for sure.
  • Is sprinkling hundreds of ladybugs at the base of the tomato plants, hoping to rid them of aphids. Go ladybugs, go! (Next year, I'm going to plant marigolds near them.) 
  • Is marveling at the generosity of a community member who made a Little Free Library for her, and then wouldn't take payment for it. (Per his request, she made a donation to a local food bank on his behalf.)
  • Is enjoying fresh-picked carrots from the local farm. They're so much better than the ones from the grocery store!
  • Is moving slower and sleeping more. (She'll be 12 soon.)
  • Is getting more stubborn (if that's possible) as she ages. 
  • Is still taking 16 units of insulin twice a day.
  • Is back to eating Kleenex out of the garbage cans, which she hasn't done for years.What gives?
  • Can't hear very well anymore. Sometimes, though, I can't tell if she's just ignoring me or if she really can't hear me. 
  • Loves to wander and roam around our property.
  • Is so mellow, I really wonder sometimes if he is truly part Lab. 
  • Enjoys hanging out with the chickens. Seriously, they're buds. 
What's happening in your neck-of-the-woods?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Summer List Update 2015

Now that Labor Day weekend is in the books, it's time to share a summer list update. (This is my original list, which I posted back in mid-June.)

Here's a look at what we did, what we didn't do, and my overall thoughts about this summer.

- Visit our local splash pad | Check! In fact, we visited several times with friends.

- Take private swim lessons  | Done! Noah completed two four-day sessions, and he really enjoyed it. Does he know how to swim? No, but he loved interacting with his teachers, learning more about how to swim, and he certainly feels more comfortable in the water now.  
- See a movie in the theater | Check! Noah saw his first movie, Inside Out, with Brian and me. I'm not sure which one he liked more: the movie or the buttery popcorn.  
- Attend storytime at the library | Yep! Always a favorite -- no matter the season. We drove down to Natomas to participate in a library storytime/musical hour with friends, and then ventured to Roseville for another storytime.  
- Participate in the library's summer reading program | Nope! I totally skipped this one. Not because the reading program isn't great -- it is -- but because I forgot to grab a reading sheet when we were at the library. And by the time I remembered again, it was too late in the summer. Rest assured, we read A LOT of books, though.  
- Work on potty training | Yes. And no. It's a work-in-progress. Some days, Noah is all gung ho about wearing his Paw Patrol undies and using the bathroom. Other days, he just wants a diaper. I know he'll get there eventually, but he's not in any sort of rush. I, on the other hand, would secretly love it if our current box of diapers was our last box of diapers. 

- Attend Brian's cousin's wedding | For sure! Noah, Brian and I attended Gina & Ryan's beautiful wedding in Old Sacramento. I was both a guest and a photographer that night. I had fun, learned A TON, and might actually take photos at another wedding...someday. 
- Spend time with Noah's cousins | Yep! Noah is very lucky to have two cousins who are close to his age.

- Go tent camping for the first time as a family | Check! And we had a blast. Three is a great age to tent camp; Noah loved sleeping in a tent, reading books with a flashlight at bedtime, riding his bike around the campground and on the trails, and boating out on the lake. A summer highlight for sure.
- Play catch with water balloons | Splash! There was so much laughing and screaming and throwing and jumping and running. All of our faces -- Brian, Noah and I -- exuded pure joy, and we were absolutely drenched by the end. 

- Attend a 4-week gymnastics class | Completed. While it was a good experience for Noah, he didn't seem to enjoy it as much as I thought he would. The gymnastics place is right across the street from the building where we take music classes, and while driving home one day, Noah asked, "Can we go back to music, mom?" Why yes, yes we can.

- Sell our rental home | Done! And we're so thankful it sold quickly and for more than we were asking.

- Attend our county fair | Oh yes, we did! (That's where I shot the picture above. Noah adored this trick roper -- so much so, that when he asked for volunteers, Noah ran right up on stage.) This was our fifth year attending the Nevada County Fair, and we still love it as much as we did back in 2010. Noah rode a few rides this year (with a parent companion), petted the goats, created crafts in the Kid Zone, and feasted on a homemade corndog.  

- Listen to some live music | Still to come. We have plans to attend a live, outdoor symphony performance this coming weekend. 

- Finish decorating the nursery | In progress. I haven't completed the nursery yet, but Brian and I have set aside a chunk of time to finish it.
Although it wasn't on our summer list, I think it's important to mention that this summer Brian was deployed on a wildfire. He served as part of a REM team (REM stands for rapid extraction module; basically, they use ropes to rescue firefighters) on the Hayfork Fire for two weeks in August. We're proud of Brian for his efforts, and happy that he safely returned home to us.

What is your favorite summer 2015 memory? 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Adoption Update | Summer

Two Thousand Fifteen.

That's what is emblazoned in white letters on the front of my bright pink monthly planner. (I totally scored it in the $1 section at Target!)

At the beginning of each month, I open up this calendar and jot down my blog post goals. On the left page, I write down the number of blog posts I want to write for The Life and Times of Jennie Rose (my original blog). On the right page, I note how many posts I want to write for jennie’s journey (my new Wordpress blog). Then, I jot down post title ideas and/or topic ideas. 

In May, I wrote four suggestions on the left hand page:

  1. Currently
  2. Adoption Update | Spring
  3. Documenting Your Every Day 
  4. Motherly Love

May came and went and I had written numbers 3 & 4 only.

There was no adoption update that month.

Or the next month.

Or the month thereafter.


Well, the truth is, I kept crossing it out, and moving it to the next month because I didn’t know quite what to say. I was procrastinating big time because I didn’t have anything really exciting to share. No "We've matched with a birth mother!" or "Our baby girl is due in _______!"
But there has been a little bit of activity behind-the-scenes, if you will...

At one point, we were one of three families being considered by a birth mother. (We were originally one of five, so when we learned that there were only three families left, we were ecstatic!) But then the birth mother suddenly stopped coming to her appointments at the agency, and ultimately never chose a family.

And then there was a call from our attorney about a birth mother on the East Coast, and we said we were interested, but the birth mother decided she wanted an adoptive family from the state in which she lives. 

We also have two birth mothers following us on Adoptimist, but neither one has reached out to us via phone or email. 

In the past few weeks, it became clear that I couldn't continue to put off the adoption update. (My last adoption update was published in March.) Numerous people kept asking me the same question over and over: Any news yet?  You know, on the adoption?

And each time I would tell them no, I'd see a look of disappointment and sadness on their faces.

And believe me, I feel the same way…times about five or six. 

As hard as it is to field the same question over and over again, I know in my heart that you -- our family and friends and neighbors -- are asking because you genuinely care.

I know these inquiries are made with love and concern.

You’re clearly rooting for us. (And that is just so darn cool.) You want to see us achieve our dream. You want to witness us love a little girl like we love and cherish our not-so-little-anymore boy. 

And for that, I’m so grateful. So thankful.

I’m also thankful that you’re still sending up prayers for us. Thankful that you’re thinking good thoughts. Thankful that you’re continuing to spread the word about our adoption dream by sharing our video with friends and family, giving our pass along cards to nurses or doctors you know, and tacking up cards on community bulletin boards. (By the way, if you know of any college students who would be willing to post a few of our pass along cards on campus bulletin boards, please email me at

As for me, I, too, will keep praying and waiting and remaining hopeful.

I'll keep cherishing the time I have with our 3 1/2-year-old son who loves to wear boots every single day of the year -- regardless of the weather -- and play at a local indoor playground where socks are required, but shoes must go into the cubbies. 

Speaking of shoes, I’ll keep buying adorable baby shoes (I swear this little girl is going to have more shoes than I do!) and decorating the nursery little by little.

And I'll keep visualizing myself holding our baby girl for the first time. Fighting back the tears like I did when Noah was first placed in my arms.

For I truly believe these words written by William Arthur Ward, "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you dream it, you can become it." 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For Mommy

With a single click, the lamp on Noah’s bedside table is extinguished, and the darkness envelops us.

Noah and I are lying on our backs, side-by-side in his twin bed. He's under the covers, clutching his two nigh-nighs and his puppy dog. We just finished reading two stories—Lady and the Tramp and The Berenstein Bears and the Missing Dinosaur Bone--and now it’s time to pray.

I begin as I always do with…
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit -- making the sign of the cross as I utter these words.

Dear God,
Thank you for a wonderful day. (Noah chimes in as I say "for a wonderful day” because that's how we start every evening prayer.) 

Thank you for the chance to swim in Lake of the Pines. 

Thank you for the chance to spend time with friends and play with a boogie board and soak up the sunshine. (Noah: Boogie boards are fuuuun!)

Thank you for sunscreen and a life jacket and cold water and yummy, nutritious food to eat.
Lord, please be with those who are hungry and thirsty tonight.
Please watch over Daddy at the fire station. Keep him safe and bring him home to us the day after tomorrow.

Noah, is there anything that you want to thank God for?

Then, I give him some wait time—a technique I learned in my teacher training and find particularly helpful as an introvert.

Sometimes Noah simply says, “No,” and that's okay with me.  

Other times, he says "for my puppy" or "for my new boats” or “for the splash pad.”

But on this night, his prayer of gratitude took me by complete surprise.

"For mommy," Noah said.

This two-word utterance sent my lips smiling, my heart swelling. I could feel the warmth, the love, the gratitude. 

You see, it hadn’t been the easiest of days.
I was awakened by Mr. Rooster’s crowing at 6—freakin’—15. (Mr. Rooster and I need to have a talk.)

A few hours later, I discovered that one of our hens had flown the coop, and I had to chase her back inside the fenced enclosure with a broom.
The chickens weren’t the only animals driving me bananas. The dogs were driving me batty, too—going in and out, in and out. All I could think was: Could you please make up your minds, pups? It’s currently 100 degrees outside and 82 degrees inside. Isn’t this a no-brainer?!

It was the kind of day when I just wanted to put a bag over my head. Literally. So I didn’t have to see the acne on my face.

And our satellite internet was moving sooooooo slowly that I seriously thought I’d time traveled back to the late 1990s.

My mind had been swirling with these annoyances for hours.  

But Noah's prayerful words brought all those negative thoughts to a complete. and. utter. halt.

That sweet prayer from the mouth of my 3 1/2-year-old son was a gift.

A present with impeccable timing. So needed, so appreciated. 

Balm for my mama soul.

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