Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just When You Think You're Getting It...

Just when you think you are getting the fire wife thing under control, you get thrown a curve ball.

A couple nights ago we were sitting here enjoying some quiet family time on the couch watching a show with the kids. The pager goes off, and out the door he flies. The sheriff was requesting a truck at a residence. I thought that was kind of odd, but maybe someone called the sheriff for an illegal burn in town or something. The kids and I continued with the evening.

As I was poking around online while the kids played on the living room floor, I heard some traffic on the radio. They weren't at a fire, they were at a meth lab bust. I know the dangers of these labs, and know that extreme caution is taken when they bust one however it never crossed my mind that it would be something he'd be called to.

Lately I had been doing better with the nerves of him going out to a fire call. I'm getting used to him being completely certified and going into burning structures. These kinds of calls are still new to me, with this being his first of that nature. My anxiety was through the roof for this one. I was texting with a good friend who's husband was also on the call. It helps to keep my mind busy and not sit and dwell on the situation.

He wasn't gone very long - much to my relief. Although, when he got home he was pretty banged up. He followed the officer in the house with an extinguisher for the retrieval  while others were posted outside with hoses. On his way out behind the officer, he lost traction in full gear on the icy front steps. He went down hard behind the officer. He was very lucky he didn't take the sheriff who was holding the bottle out with him when he went down.

It's times like these that I really would rather not know the details of the call. I'd rather keep it in my mind that he's safe and not in a dangerous situation. He's just standing next to the truck running the pump, or his on a hose outside the burning structure.

Situations like this also make me respect him and his job even more. When those tones go off, he is immediately in go mode. It doesn't matter what the scene is he's driving to. Someone needs help and it's his duty to respond. A car accident, a burning barn, landing zone assistance, or a meth lab - he has to be prepared for any and all of it at the drop of a hat, at the beep of his tones. It makes me respect him so much more knowing my own apprehension as I sit here safe at home.


Nine years ago I was 20. I had just met the man of my dreams - 374. We were planning on moving 3/4 of the way across the country to start our life together. I had a year and a half of college under my belt, a good job and a great family. It seemed like everything was falling into place.

It was late spring/early summer of 2003. We were living in Washington State. My maternal grandmother was coming out for a visit. If I had to pick the person that I was closest to in life up until that point it was her. I would call her on my lunch breaks at work just to chat. A day didn't go by without at least one phone call to Grandma. However, this visit with Grandma would be the start to a new relationship with her. Things weren't going to ever be the same. Grandma, who was at the time in her mid 50's, had just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.

At first I had no idea what this meant. The only experience I had with Alzheimer's was an episode of a soap opera my mom watched where a character had the disease. He was at a family function and didn't know anyone there. All I knew was that Grandma wasn't going to know me anymore. Whether this would happen fast, or over an extended period of time I didn't know. I knew nothing except that I was losing my Grandma and I wasn't prepared. My Grandma had my mom young, and my mom had me young. At 20, the thought of something happening to my Grandma never crossed my mind. Knowing she was a younger grandma, I had always envisioned her spoiling my kids and them having many years with her to enjoy as I did. Now, that was not the picture I had for my future, our family's future.

Grandma's Alzheimer's set in quickly. That fall 374 and I carried on with our plans to move. Our intentions were to start our life in Pennsylvania, but instead we drove across country and moved in with my grandparents. Grandpa continued to work as a truck driver to pay her medical bills and keep insurance. I worked part time, as did 374, and the rest of the time we helped care for Grandma while Grandpa was on the road. By the time we had moved in with them, she was not allowed to drive anymore or cook unattended. She needed reminders for small things, but for the most part could care for herself.

A year and a half later, Grandma had went downhill. In the spring of 2005 we had to make the painful decision to put her in a nursing home. At this point, Bubby was a month shy of a year old. Grandpa had spent a month in the hospital due to heart issues that prevented him from ever returning to work. There was no way we could care for her any more at home. She was unable to walk, let alone talk, feed herself or perform any daily tasks to care for herself. She needed 24/7 care that we just could not provide.

If there was one good thing that came of the situation, it was that we got pregnant with Bubby when we did. We had not intended on having children for another few years, however someone else had another plan for us. Grandma was still somewhat lucid when I became pregnant, but as my pregnancy progressed I think she saw me more as my mother when she was pregnant with me. After giving birth, grandma was able to hold Bubby and ooh and ahh over him. As the months passed in his first year, her reality and our reality became farther apart. It eases my heart that at some point she knew she had a great grandchild, and she enjoyed him for a short time.

I've really been struggling with this a lot lately. My Grandma was such a big part of my life, and I had always assumed it would be the same for my children. Now that we have both Bubby and Sassy, it weighs on my heart a lot. They ask questions about her quite often in the last year. Sometimes they ask to go see her at the nursing home - which usually is a quick visit because they are nervous and uncomfortable there. They don't understand why she can't interact with us like a healthy person would.

Things were set off again for me about a week ago when Bubby and I were having a conversation while making sugar cookies. "Mom, how do you know how to make these cookies?" he asked. I told him that they were Grandma's recipe. Which prompted another conversation about Grandma and her disease. I could tell he was tearing up talking about her. It always amazes me the connection that both my children feel to someone they really don't even know. Then the question that opened my flood gates poured from his mouth - "Mommy, why can't we just take Grandma to the hospital. Hospitals fix people. Why can't they just fix Grandma's brain?" My sweet, sweet boy if you only knew how many times I wished that were the case. If you only knew how many tears I shed wishing it were just that easy. I looked at 374 with pleading eyes. I couldn't answer Bubby, so he did. He explained that sometimes people have issues that just can't be fixed. It was in that moment when I saw a little loss of innocence in Bubby's eyes.

I haven't been able to shake this exchange from my memory since it's happened. My days since have been spent with a heavy heart. I miss her. I miss her a lot. I can go visit her, sure, but it's not Grandma. I've always tried to push it from my mind. I've really not dealt with the grief over losing her spirit. Her body is still here, but it's like she's not there anymore. Now that the kids are asking more questions, it seems it's time for me to start dealing with the situation, and I'm just not sure I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm Still Alive...

Hello! Do you remember me?? It's been a while! 

It has been insanely busy in this house. On top of all we have had to do, we have also all been sick. Bubby is on his third day out of school. We are all miserable. 

I have also been working with a wonderful lady on a new blog design. It's almost done, and I can't wait until it's ready to launch. I'm a big fan of simple and clean, and that is just what this design will be. We are working out the last small details and then it will go live. If you are looking for a new design for your blog, I completely recommend Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Designs!

One of the things that I have been working on is a fundraiser for a fire family. This wife and two young children lost their firefighter husband and father in a tragic accident. They are from a neighboring community. He was a volunteer just like 374. A friend and I are holding a gift wrapping booth at our local church this Sunday. We are taking free will donations for the gift wrapping. All the money we raise this weekend will go to his wife and children. 

When I first heard of this story, I was in tears. It hit me, and it hit me hard. I understood that I empathized with this wife because we share the same lifestyle, but I never expected to feel THAT much emotion over it. I immediately knew that I wanted to do SOMETHING. What that something was I wasn't sure. 

After bouncing ideas off of my friend and fellow fire wife, we decided on the gift wrapping event. I'm hoping the event will be a huge success. I know any donation we can make to the family will be appreciated, but I would really like to be able to make a difference. I will be taking some pictures on Sunday, I can't wait to share them here with you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elf on the Shelf - Week 3

I know it looks like all I've been doing the past few weeks is moving this dang elf around my house, but that's far from the truth! Our Auxiliary at 374's station and I put together a craft and vendor show that was held December 1st. Not only did I help plan it, but I had a booth for my Gold Canyon candles. On top of some health problems in the family and all the regular holiday buzz, it's been super busy around here!

However, every night Elfie has made his way around the house no matter how busy we were during the day. I know this is a few days late, but here's a peek at his third week in our house.

Night Eighteen - Elfie decided to build a bed in front of the tv. He took all the cushions off the couch and piled them up high so he could see the tv. He grabbed a blanket and the remote and fell asleep watching a show.
Night Nineteen - This was the last night the kids were off for Thanksgiving break. The next morning they would be returning to school. Elfie wanted them to know he'd miss them so he hung out in Bubby's backpack that night.
Night Twenty - Elfie had a hot date this night. He and Barbie went horseback riding. 
Night Twenty One - Elfie snuck into Bubby's room and had a sleepover. He turned Bubby's Perry the Platypus slipper into a cozy bed!
Night Twenty Two - Elfie was caught sneaking into the fridge for a late night snack. He was hanging out on the door handle...
Night Twenty Three - Sassy found Elfie waving out the window of her dollhouse. Elfie's been making friends with a lot of the other toys in the house this week!
Night Twenty Four - My sister spent the night this night. Elfie was found the next morning sitting on the couch wearing her glasses. He was looking through a store ad. Maybe he's getting ready to do his Christmas shopping? The kids said he should get to the eye doctor if he needs to borrow glasses!
Night Twenty Five - Elfie made friends with our dog Blaze's favorite toy. They were found hanging out in my snowman basket under the tree. Not quite sure what they were planning, but the kids think they were trying to peek at the presents already under the tree!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Trimming the Tree

The kiddos helped their Granny put up her tree last week. Took the opportunity to snap a quick picture of them together. No one really wanted to cooperate, and Sassy's wouldn't let me brush out her hair. All in all it came out pretty nicely, and we used it for our Christmas cards this year...

Is your tree already up? Do you use a real or artificial tree?

Happy Wordless Wednesday! Leave me a comment and be sure to link up below!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Elf on the Shelf - Week 2

Wow! I've been scarce this last week. As most were, I was elbows deep in Thanksgiving prep. Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday were the only two days 374 had off. He works now straight through until Christmas. We spent lots of family time together. 374 even got to participate in Elfie hi-jinks while home with us at night. Here's what Elfie was up to this past week.

Night Nine - Elfie was found sick on the couch. Sassy had come down with a rotten cold the day before, and our best guess is she passed it on to Elfie. Poor guy was sleeping on a rolle up tissue for a pillow, and one covering him for a blanket. He took a dose of Sassy's meds and called it a night!
Night Ten - Elfie must have still been feeling a little under the weather. He took a hot shower and wrapped up in a toilet paper towel. Hopefully he's on the mend.
Night Eleven - The kids were particularly naughty on Day 11. They seemed to be infected with sassy mouths. Elfie stayed put on the tree. He believes if he doesn't have anything nice to say, he won't say anything at all. So there was no good report for Santa this night. Hmm, maybe my kids should adopt Elfie's motto! Since he remained on the tree that night, there is no picture.
Night Twelve - Elfie was pretty offended when he found some lingering fall decor. We forgot about our jelly leaf window clings that were still on the front door. He removed them for us.
Night Thirteen - Elfie picked up some snowflake ornaments for us from the North Pole. He decorated our tree with them. The kids love them!
Night Fourteen - Elfie wanted to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving. Or, "Turkey Day" as he called it. He left us a message on the calendar.
Night Fifteen - Elfie was found hanging out on top of the t.v.
Night Sixteen - Elfie made his way into Bubby's room and was perched atop his alarm clock.
Night Seventeen - Elfie left another message for the kids. He changed their chore chart from all the week's chores to "Feed Elfie Candy". Hmm, we'll see about that Mr. Elfie.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review and GIVEAWAY: ~Topped with a Bow~ *WINNER POSTED*

Sassy loves hair accessories. It's very rare that her hair is left down and not styled. Every ponytail is finished off with a bow or flower clip. It's just the way she operates.

I buy her pony tail holders from big box stores, but when it comes to the clips, flowers and bows I support work at home mom (WAHM) businesses. I've also been known to make a few myself when I see a ribbon or cute button to add to the middle.

I have bought bows from a couple different ladies, but most recently I purchase from ~Topped with a Bow~ on Facebook. She has been making bows for her own daughter for years now. She has a huge collection of her own built up, and has decided to turn her hobby into a money maker. She has started a Facebook page to showcase her talent and offer the bows and clips she has for sale.

She has a wide variety of bows available for sale. She also takes custom orders. She tries her best to work with customers to get the perfect bow for them. I like that not all her bows are in the normal tied bow shape. I love the designs she comes up with. The centers she uses for her bows are big and colorful and are the perfect finishing touch to the design.

Just a few of our own bows from ~Topped with a Bow~

We just recently received a firefighter themed bow from ~Topped with a Bow~ for Sassy's birthday. Even 374 is in love with the bow. He finds any excuse to style Sassy's hair now so he can top it with the firefighter bow!

Also available from ~Topped with a Bow~ are fabric covered head bands which bows can be added to, as well as wipes cases. Again, personalized to the customer's wishes, a plain jane wipes case is covered with batting and the fabric of your choice. The edges are finished off with a complimentary colored ribbon. I wish I had a need for these wipes cases, but alas my children have been potty trained for years.

Here are a few more designs offered:

I'm excited to announce that I have partnered with ~Topped with a Bow~ to offer our FIRST GIVEAWAY CONTEST! She is giving away a bow to one of my lucky readers! Below you will find the contest widget -

Mandatory entries include:

*Go to ~Topped with a Bow~ and LIKE her page
*While you are on her page, browse her bow designs and pick the one you'd like to win. Come back here to LBtT and leave a comment with the bow you'd like to win.
*Go to Life Between the Tones's Facebook page and LIKE

Optional entries include:

*Follow Life Between the Tones on Twitter
*Tweet about this giveaway. You can earn an entry once a day, so tweet daily!
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*Follow LBtT via Google Connect - Button is in my side bar
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This contest is open now until 11/24/2013 at 12:01am!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Elf on the Shelf - Week 1

I've always wanted to do Elf on the Shelf with my kids. Up until this year we never participated in the tradition in our home. One reason being I never wanted to shell out the money for the kit. Who wants an elf that looks like everyone else's elf? I've been hunting for a cute little elf that would be the perfect fit for our family.

Last week we ran into Meijer to look for Bubby's yearly Christmas ornament. I hadn't had luck in any other stories I'd browsed so Meijer was next on the list. Not only did we find an ornament, but we also found an adorable elf for $3.99! Can't beat that price!

Sassy was with us, and asked about the elf purchase. We explained that he's one of Santa's helpers. When you bring him home from the store, you have to name him so Santa knows who he belongs to. Then each night we put him on the Christmas tree. Over night he travels back to Santa to report on the children's behavior from that day. The next morning he comes back to our house to keep watch again. We explained it all again when Bubby came home from school.

It didn't take long for them to name him. I figured this would be a long, drawn out process with tears and arguing. Much to my surprise, he was named within minutes - Elfie. How original.

That afternoon they set Elfie on the Christams tree. He kept watch all evening, and was bid farewell for the night with a "Goodnight Elfie!" from each child. When the kids woke up in the morning, they were in for a real surprise.

Not only did we bring home an adorable little elf. We brought home one very mischievous elf.

*Insert evil elf laugh here*

For the last week Elfie has humored us with his over night antics. I'm not sure if I have more fun coming up with the night's trick, or watching the kids react in the morning. Each night after Elfie is set for the night, I snap a picture. 374 gets a sneak peak at the Elfie happenings each night. He enjoys his nightly text with the picture I've taken.

I realize most people don't start their Elf on the Shelf tradition until the first of December. However, due to my love of all things Christmas, and the fact that this is our first year and Bubby is getting pretty old for the "believing" crowd, I want to take full advantage of our time with Elfie.

Each week I'll share the Elfie Hi-jinks from the week before. Hopefully this will help some of you with ideas for your own tricky elves! Here is what Elfie has been up to since he joined our family last Wednesday!

Night One - Elfie T.P.'d the Christmas tree. He was found sitting beside the tree in a toliet paper tube.
Night Two - Elfie decided to hunt up a Christmas coloring book and colored a picture of an elf assembling a toy.
Night Three - Elfie managed to open up the clock, and lock himself inside. 
Night Four - Elfie was found hanging from the living room ceiling fan.
Night Five - Elfie was very ornery this night. He made the milk turn green. Bubby was the only one who would drink the green milk. Sassy, and even 374, turned up their noses.
Night Six - Elfie used a dry erase marker to color on the pictures of the kids hanging in the dining room. 
Night Seven - Elfie climbed into the candy dish and gouged himself on chocolate. He was found with a half eaten Hershey's Kiss and chocolate all over his face.
Night Eight - Elfie hit the Christmas tree again - this time with socks and underwear. He's currently camped out in the sock basket next to the tree waiting for the kids to wake up tomorrow morning.

The Quirky Fire Wife

I'm a quirky person. I like things a certain way. My husband calls me a perfectionist. I've gotten OCD a few times. I like to think of myself as quirky.

I'm a creature of habit. I like things to stay the same. I like routine. Don't we all? My desire for routine may be to a fault at times, but it's what gets me by in this crazy life I lead.

When 374 is out on a call, I like to be at home. I don't like to be out and about in town, or around people who are not in the fire community. It's hard for people who are not a fire spouse to understand the emotions we go through. It's a lifestyle you can't understand until you've lived it - sort of like people who don't have kids trying to sympathize with or give advice to those who have kids.

Today I found myself completely out of my element. I was in town running errands with my mom and sister when I got a text from my neighbor. "House fire in....." "Yep I have kids. House fully involved." My heart sank. I had errands that HAD to be run. I had groceries that HAD to be bought. I couldn't just drop what I was doing and run home, but it makes me so uneasy to be out when he's on a call. I like to be in my own home where I can worry and be nervous in private. Also, as morbid as it may be, I worry that if I'm out it would be harder to contact me if something happened to him on a scene.

My mom returned home while my sister and I finished up things in town. I was very anxious to get home. "Calm down!" my sister kept telling me. I rushed through each store, forgetting things each place I went. All the while in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "She just doesn't get it." To be fair - people don't get it. Fire families have their own ways of coping with the lifestyle. These quirks are my coping mechanisms.

It's hard for me to share these quirks and feelings with most people in my life. "Why do you worry yourself over it?" "Wouldn't you rather be out and be busy or having fun?" Those are usually some of the responses I get. There's really no way for me to help them understand. Sympathy is all you can expect. They can't empathize - they really, truly do not know what you are going through.

My anxiety is probably a little higher lately than normal. A volunteer fire department not too far from us lost a firefighter in a LODD within the last week. He left a wife and two very small children. His family has not been far from my thoughts since the day it happened. Situations like this make you more aware, more thankful for each call from which he comes home safe.

He finally returned home as I was sitting on Bubby's bed reading a bedtime story. Blaze barked as he walked in the front door. He stood in Bubby's doorway and almost immediately I caught a sniff of smoke and sweat. The smokey smell that fills my house after each call has become comforting. I almost miss it after it dissipates, until the next call. Again, another quirk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Mama's Girl

It's rare to have a picture with me IN FRONT of the camera. Here's one from our pumpkin patch trip a few months ago. I love this girl! She's Mama's little shadow.

Happy Wordless Wednesday!!! Leave me a comment, did your family make a trip to a pumpkin patch this year? 

Share your Wordless Wednesday post in the link up below!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Sassy!

I do not want to write this post.

I had to fetch a box of tissues before I sat down with the laptop.

This blog post has nothing to do with fire. Instead it has everything to do with the fact that my last child, my baby, is turning five. Today.

They say having children changes your life. This statement is very true. Whether it's your first child, or your eighth child, your life changes. My life couldn't have changed more than it did the day Sassy was born.

I am going to share something here that I don't really share with a lot of people. I'm always afraid that my words will be twisted into something I didn't mean. That someone will feel like I'm not appreciative of the gift I was given in my daughter. That's the farthest from the truth.

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted two boys close in age. I wanted to sit in a lawn chair sipping tea while I watched them wrestle in the dirt, drive dump trucks in the sand and play catch in the warm afternoon air. I was always some what of a tomboy. I was not very interested in fashion, really never knew how to correctly apply makeup, nor did I ever have many close girl friends. Boys just seemed natural to me.

You can imagine my panic at my 20 week ultrasound when we found out we were on Team Pink. A girl. What in the world do I do with a girl? Bubby had been such an easy going, quiet baby. He was now a rough and tumble toddler who drove trains across the floor and watched Cars on repeat every day. Now our world was about to be turned upside down with dresses, bows, and all things girly.

Ready to bust out of the hospital!

I won't lie. It took me quite a long time to adjust to having a girl. I don't mean that I moped and cried and mourned the fact that I would not have two boys in a row. We prepared for her arrival with just as much joy and enthusiasm as we did with Bubby. We dolled her up in pinks and purples and frills as soon as she was home from the hospital. I was never once unappreciative of the precious little life we so blessedly added to our family. However, it took almost until her first birthday for it to finally sink in. We have a daughter.

It was around that time she really started developing her little personality. What a personality it is! She's a performer. She always has been. She's independent and loves to express herself. Sassy always used to make us laugh with her crazy outfits. Most of the pieces were never her own. My heels, Daddy's tennis shoes or hat, Bubbie's shirt or socks. You never knew what she'd have on next - her outfits still change multiple times a day!            
One of her many outfits - Age 3
It was then that I realized just how much our life had changed. We could not have had two more different children. When Bubby was small, he'd sit quietly on the floor and play with the same two toys for hours, however Sassy was constantly into everything! She was a constant streak of energy from the time she woke up in the morning, until she finally passed out in the evening. She never sat still for more than a couple minutes, and was constantly running everywhere she went! Bubby always enjoyed sitting back and watching the world around him. Sassy? Sassy was not about to sit back and watch anything, she was and still is all about being center stage!

Pumpkin Patch 2008 - Almost 1

I can remember phone calls from 374 while I was at work in the evenings - once he had to call poison control because she ate a stick of deodorant while he was making dinner, shortly after that she dumped an entire bottle of liquid foundation on the bathroom floor and proceeded to finger paint herself AND the bathroom with it (again, while he made dinner). Coloring on walls,  climbing on tables, coloring all over herself with markers - you name it, this kid has tried it. She constantly keeps us on our toes and challenges us as parents daily.

Daredevil baby! She loved doing tunnel slides head first!! - Age 2

Now, five years later I can not imagine life without a daughter. I am glad someone knew better than I did. Sassy is such a light in our life. She's constantly making you smile - whether it's with a performance, a story or a hug when she knows you are sad. She was the missing piece to complete our family.

Lunch date with Mama - Fall 2011

Mommy, Daddy and Bubby love you so much Sassy! You are our beautiful, curly haired performer. You have given us so many laughs and smiles these last five years, I cannot wait to see what the next five bring. You are an amazing little girl Sassy, Happy Birthday!

Helping wash trucks at Daddy's station - Summer 2011

Sassy and Daddy playing firefighter at a local science center - Feb 2011

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's No Secret...

I'm a Christmas freak.

My tree goes up the first week of November. This year it went up on the 4th. 374 used to moan and groan, but he's learned that it's easier to give in and indulge me than it is to listen to me ask daily for him to bring the decorations out of the attic.

I listen to Christmas music all year long.

I live for this time of year. There's something about a lit up tree, peppermint mocha coffee, warm sweaters, snowy night, and buying gifts that makes me feel all fuzzy and warm.

Okay, I'll stop now before I make someone puke.

Oh, and I also dress my dog up for the season. This sweater had me at "antlers". He reminds me of the dog from the Grinch.

You might imagine the groan and eye roll 374 gave me when the dog came running from the kitchen in his new outfit. However, there was also a TINY smirk of a smile. Yea, he thought it was cute too.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A Little of This, A Little of That...

Trying something new this week!!! Using a collage app to piece together a few pictures from the past week at LBtT!

  • My kitty has found a new favorite hiding spot - my reusable grocery bags. I had to take them out to the car to keep him out of them.
  • Yes. I have put up my Christmas tree. It goes up the first week of November ever since I was pregnant with Sassy. I had a scheduled c-section with her, and wanted the tree up and decorated before I came home from the hospital with her. It's been that way ever since. 374 knows it's a losing battle to fight me on it.
  • I took 374 to lunch yesterday. Lunch time beer. 'Cause it was five o'clock somewhere. I love my Killians!
  • My wonderful 374 sitting beside with me in my grandpa's hospital room on Sunday. He loves my grandparents like his own and has been there for them since they day he met them. I'm not sure he knows just how much this means to me. 

Happy WW to you! Please share your WW in the link up below! Leave me a comment and let me know you were here!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

LBtT is Featured on!

I am excited to announce that Life Between the Tones is partnering up with 10seventyfive for a series of  guest blogger posts! You will find a link for this blog in my Mutual Aid sidebar.

10seventyfive is a blog written by Mike. Mike is a volunteer firefighter. A lot of the firefighting related blogs out there are written by full time guys and gals. You don't get a whole lot of volunteer content. Mike is looking to bridge the gap in the blogging world with 10seventyfive.

He is currently running a series of posts about becoming a volunteer firefighter. Because Mike is not married nor has kids, he was looking for someone to share the family perspective of the volunteer lifestyle. He approached me about a week ago on offering some posts for his series. I was honored and excited.

I sent my content to him late Friday night, and tonight you can catch the first installment! There will be three other posts from me featured on 10seventyfive in the very near future. Please bookmark Mike and support him as his blog grows! Stop by and check him out. Leave him a comment saying LBtT sent you!

You can read Part 1 of my series HERE

Follow 10seventyfive on Twitter HERE

Follow 10seventyfive on Facebook HERE

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

Our town never trick-or-treats on Halloween. Why? I have no idea. Nor does anyone else I ask in town. It is what it is, I suppose. It allows us to participate in other town's trick-or-treats because no one in the area celebrates on Halloween. This is the first year we will be trick-or-treating in another town besides our own.

This year Sassy requested a Powerpuff Girl costume. Buttercup to be exact.

Bubby could not commit to any idea. I found a Popeye costume and he was sold. I even made him a can of spinach to carry as his candy bucket from an oatmeal can. Everyone loved it.

What costume did your kiddos pick this year? Did you dress up? Share your Halloween costumes in my comments below! I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - All Things Sassy

Sassy had a ear ache that started the beginning of the last week. By Wednesday we were at urgent care. Despite feeling under the weather, the kid still has spunk. This picture speaks for all things Sassy. Llama Llama is her favorite story book character, and her lovie. She doesn't go many places without him. The tutu - she's a dancer. She dances and twirls and spins from the time she wakes up until the time her eyes shut tight for the night. The black sparkly bow flats are her signature shoe. I really need to find a replacement. She wears these all the time. As you can see by the scuffed toes. 

She was hiding from me behind the curtain while we waited for her script. She didn't want me to take her picture. I love the way I caught the "all things Sassy" all at once in this pic.

Happy Wordless Wednesday!!! (Mine are never quite wordless, but I digress.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What Have YOU Done to Support Your Fire Dept?

Fundraisers are the heart of nearly all volunteer stations. While most volunteer stations receive funds from their municipal government, these funds do not stretch as far as these firefighters need it to go. Maintaining and upgrading equipment and apparatus, as well as providing fire safety operations for the community are all made possible by grants and fundraisers. A department with out dated pagers or run down engines is not going to be able to efficiently respond to your house fire or car accident as they could if they had the funds to keep their things in top working order.

I'm a wife of a volunteer firefighter. Most of you who have been following this blog know that. Being a part of a volunteer fire station means fundraising. Soup and sandwich suppers, breakfasts, and ice cream socials are just a few of the things our station does. The wives usually make a majority of the food to send up - some of the guys do too. If there's anything they can cook or grill at the station just prior to the event they will. I'm always baking desserts and sending some sort of dish up to the station with 374 for each event.

However our support does not stop at our station. Firefighters consider EVERY OTHER firefighter a brother or a sister, not just those at his or her department. Most of the departments in our area provide mutual aid for each other quite often. So while the fire may be in our town, we could have two, three or four different departments respond to the call. It's important for us to support not only our station, but those in our neighboring towns as well. The kids get a kick out of attending breakfasts and dinners at different stations. They love checking out the engines and other equipment.

Over the weekend another volunteer department in a neighboring town was having a BBQ chicken dinner. Half a chicken and sides to go for a great price. This station just happens to be the station that hosted 374's Firefighter I class, and  quite a few of his classmates are members of that department now. When he told me about the dinner, we marked it on the calendar.

The day was beautiful for the drive over, and well worth the tasty food. I snapped a couple pictures of the kids while they were looking at the engines. However, they were so excited to be exploring and the sun was so bright that they were less than thrilled with me doing so.

What have you done lately to support your local fire department??

Jack sporting his MN8 shirt from Zach


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A New Journey

Ok, ok. Not the WW post I promised in the MN8 post, but the weather did not cooperate for t-shirt pics.

Besides, this super proud mama has to brag.

Bubby had his first Tiger Cub Scout meeting last night. I officially have a Boy Scout.

They made Halloween masks tonight. 374 is signed up to be his leader. Unfortunately he's currently the only Tiger. We are hoping for a few more sign ups!

Please share your Wordless Wednesday post! Comments are always welcome too! Happy WW.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Afternoon at the MN8 Office

A few weeks ago while in contact with MN8 Products founder Zach Green, we realized we weren't very far from each other. Zach mentioned we should come down to the office for a visit in the future. Since we live in a very rural area, this was exciting for the kids as well as 374 and me.

You can see my review post on Zach's MN8 products HERE.

A couple weeks ago we set a date for last Friday. The MN8 office, as well as some of Zach's fellow firefighters were having a lunch cook out. It would be about a three hour drive for us, but well worth it in my mind. I was very grateful to Zach for offering some product for us to review and wanted our trip down to speak for my gratitude. 

Once we got down to the office, we were immediately welcomed by everyone we saw. Handshakes and smiles all around. The kids were a bit nervous at first, but warmed up. Zach was excited when Bubby handed him a patch from 374's department. He promised him he'd be able to hang it on the wall after lunch.

Bubby proudly pointing to 374's patch he personally hung on Zach's wall. It's the light blue triangle shaped one he's pointing to.

Zach was the executive chef for the afternoon. Burgers, hot dogs and fixings. It was a great meal after being on the road all morning.

Chef Zach grilling up lunch.

Sassy enjoying lunch

After everyone ate, Zach showed us a demo of some things they are working on for the future, as well as current products in their line. The kids enjoyed going into the dark room and seeing everything illuminate. 

Hanging out in the office after lunch. We are in the far back of the pic.

374 enjoyed talking shop with the firefighters after lunch. He's really tossing back and forth the idea of pursuing a full time fire career, and this was the first time he's had the chance to chat with full timers. Mid conversation, the topic of damaging fire trucks came up. We offered up the fact that no one can be in a worse situation than our Engine 38. After sharing the story with Zach and his friends, Zach got very excited. He's been looking for a truck to use for a project inside his office. We share details of where the truck is now, and Zach said he was going to look into getting the truck. 374 and I think it would be very neat if they were able to get the engine and use it for their project. 

Bubby eyeing the desserts while 374 chatted

Before leaving the office the kids were presented with some awesome MN8 swag - key chains and illuminating t-shirts. They promised to wear their shirts to school on Monday - which Bubby did! I need to snap pics of them in their shirts - they will be the feature pics for this week's Wordless Wednesday!

Sassy turned her key chain into a charm for her bracelet. This girl's got style!

When we arrived at the office, an engine, truck, and squad lined the street. The kids couldn't wait to get an up close view of them. The wonderful firefighters on duty allowed us to follow them back to their station at the end of the afternoon for a station tour. Our kids have only seen volunteer stations, and have always wondered what a full time station looks like. 

We got the grand tour of the Woodlawn station thanks to Firefighter U. (I never caught his first name, and his last name was a long one and escapes me.) A big, big thank you goes out to him from the 374 family. He told us that the Woodlawn station is the testing ground for MN8 products. Their tools were one of the first to be applied with Zach's illuminating epoxies and products. Any time a new product comes out, the Woodlawn station is one of the first to test them in the line of duty.  

This kid loves fire engines!

Firefighter U immediately opened up all the trucks and engines and let the kids explore. All of the trucks and engines at 374's station allow them to sit forward facing, so when Bubby and Sassy climbed into the apparatus at the Woodlawn station, they immediately exclaimed, "Why do they ride backwards?" It made me chuckle. Firefighter U moved on to show the kids the "bus" (the kids were again utterly confused - I had to explain that another term for a squad was "bus"). He had them stand at the back end of it while he opened the door. The air system hissed and dropped the squad as the back doors opened. Bubby squealed and jumped back. He thought something broke. Then Firefighter U explained to him it was to help in loading patients. After he realized everything was okay, Bubby as all about climbing in to have an up close look. 374 was impressed with the bells and whistles on the squad as we learned it was a fairly new acquisition for the station that took a lot of thought and planning. The tour ended inside, where 374 and Bubby admired the wall with pictures and newspaper clippings of the station's experiences while Sassy met Hank the fish. We gave our thanks and returned to the car for our trip home.

Doesn't matter how many engines you've sat in, it never gets old!

One of the very first tools to test the original MN8 products.

Bubby checking out the wall.

The kids have been talking about it all weekend. They had a great time. 374 and I really appreciated Zach and his colleagues opening their office and fire station to us for the afternoon. I look forward to staying in touch with Zach in the near future - I hope to work with him on some future projects, as well as hopefully assisting them in acquiring our old engine for their project.

Thank you MN8 and Woodlawn firefighters. We really enjoyed our afternoon and are grateful for your hospitality! Hopefully one day we can return the favor!

Monday, October 22, 2012

BURN - A Documentary about Detroit Firefighters

Last week I came across a link for a film called BURN. BURN is not coming to your local movie theater - but it could with ample support.

BURN is a documentary that follows E50 in Detroit. A city who is facing big problems. In the last 60 years, the city has seen it's population drop to half of what it once was. Add in the racial and economic issues and you have a recipe for disaster. Arson is the cause for most fires in the city. The problems don't end there. These firefighters put their lives on the line daily responding to calls in run down trucks and wore out gear making next to nothing - raises and funding are a thing of the past. The documentary delves into every day life running with the firefighters of E50.

After watching the trailer for the film, I quickly went in search of cities and dates. Unfortunately, the closest viewing location for us is 3 hours away. Not exactly feasible for a week day showing when 374 works third shift. BURN is looking for backers to help get the film into movie theaters. You can go to BURN's KickStarter page to pledge a monetary donation to help back the project. This project is a completely independent documentary - all funding has been raised by the makers. Now they need your help to push the film into as many cities as possibly. That is all dependent on how much money they raise.

You can check out their Facebook page for a list of current viewing cities and dates. If you attend a showing, please come back and leave a comment here. I'd love to hear your reaction to the film!


You can find BURN on Facebook HERE

You can find BURN on Twitter HERE

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Fire Prevention Day

Today was Fire Prevention Day at Bubby and Sassy's school. You can only imagine who their favorite guest was...



Sunday, October 7, 2012

National Firefighters Endowment T-Shirt Fundraiser

A about a month ago I ordered a shirt from the National Firefighters Endowment via their fundraiser on Teespring. They are on their second round of orders, which now includes hoodies of the same color and design.

I received my shirt Saturday, and couldn't be happier. For $15 plus shipping this high quality shirt showed up in my mailbox just begging to be worn. 374 has many station shirts, Black Helmet Apparel shirts, and shirts from conventions and other stations. My collection is not as vast as his, obviously. As soon as I saw this shirt I knew it had to be mine.

The t-shirt itself is a Hanes 100% cotton shirt. It's not too light and not too thin. I ordered a large for myself, and while it is longer than some of my other Hanes large shirts, it's pretty true to size.

Please consider purchasing a shirt or hoodie for yourself. Even if you have no firefighter ties in your family or circle, these men and women need your support. The National Firefighters Endowment says, "This t-shirt campaign is meant to develop the values of your community, the need to support their local fire department."

I love the message behind this shirt. It's not department specific, nor is it only representative of the Endowment. It brings attention to anyone in any location that community support is crucial to these fire departments.

The hoodies are now currently available for $25 plus shipping. I will be ordering mine soon!


Friday, October 5, 2012

From the Mouths of Babes

I asked our oldest a few questions tonight about his Daddy being a firefighter. Bubby is 7 1/2 years old. Here's what he had to say:

Do you like having a firefighter for a Daddy?
Bubby: "Yes!! He does good things."

What's your favorite part of Daddy being a firefighter?
Bubby: "I get to go to the station and help with the trucks."

Is there anything you don't like about Daddy being a firefighter?
Bubby: "No!"

Why are firefighters important?
Bubby: "Because they help people when their house is on fire or when they have a car accident."

Would you like to be a firefighter when you grow up?
Bubby: "Yes. It's cool, but it's dangerous!"

MN8 Foxfire Illuminating Helment Band and Tets

A few months ago, I came across a company called MN8 Foxfire. I was browsing pictures that the Fire Critic has posted from a convention he had attended.

MN8 offers products that "reduce disorientation, improve accountability and increase visibility." Firefighter's turnout gear and helmets always feature reflective material to help keep them safe. However, what happens in low light situations where there is little to no light to cause the reflection? What happens if a firefighter goes down in a pitch black environment?

MN8 offers products to solve these problems. Their products feature photoluminescent technology. Their products do not reflect light, but actually give off their own light. Their product line includes helmet bands, helmet tetrahedrons, epoxy coating kits, equipment bands and grip wrap, as well as apparel.

From the MN8 website:
"Our products will charge in just a few minutes from any light source and can be recharged indefinitely. As a result, there is no need for any external battery, electrical, or energy source other than light."

I have recently been in contact with the founder - Zachary Green. Zachary was kind enough to send 374 and  I a helmet band and set of tets to review for him.

I was very excited to receive the products and see them first hand. As a fire wife, I very much appreciate anything that can help keep my firefighter safe and help him return home to us in one piece. 374 runs a lot of night calls - whether they are actual fires or vehicle accidents or setting up landing zones for EMS runs. I worry about the calls in the middle of the night. We live in a very rural area. Many times calls are out in the country with no street lights. Knowing he has these self illuminating products on his helmet easy the worry a bit.

374 has not yet had a call to test these products on, however he has had some night training sessions. He got many compliments from his fellow firefighters on the glow of the products. We have also tested the products ourselves at the station.

The helmet band stretches tightly over and around the helmet. It fits very snugly. 374 had it on his helmet in seconds.

The helmet tetrahedrons applied just as easily. 374 removed his old tets, and wiped off the stops with some Goo-Gone. He applied the MN8 tets in just a few minutes. They went on smoothly and seem to have adhered very well. These tetrahedrons not only glow, but are reflective as well.

We are both very impressed with the quality and performance so much that we will be ordering more. 374 is very interested in the grip wrap. The uses for the wrap and epoxy coating is endless. These products could be used for a broad range of application, not just firefighting.

I will feature another post for these MN8 products in the near future when 374 has been able to test them on actual scenes. I can't wait to report on their performance and durability. I'm quite certain they will not disappoint.

Below are two pictures of 374's helmet featuring the MN8 products. His helmet sits on a gear rack when not in use. There always some natural light to the fire bays at the station via windows in the bay doors. We took his helmet into the darkest place in the station - the mechanical room. The pictures were taken one after the other - one with the light on, and then immediately after, one with the light off. My camera is not the best, but you get the idea.

Lights on!

Great self illumination!

I would like to thank Zach for the opportunity to test his products. 374 and his fellow firefighters are very impressed! This technology opens many doors in firefighter safety. 374 can't wait to get his hands on more MN8 gear!

Please watch for an update post on these products, as well as more news from LBtT and MN8 in the near future!

OVFD Remembers

It's been a rather gloomy and dreary day here. It's rained off and on all day. I don't see the rain as a burden today. I believe rain on days like these are a blessing. 374 and I went up to his station this evening to lower the flags and put a remembrance on their sign. Bubby accompanied us, but he stayed in the bays out of the rain.

Lowering the flags

We remember.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

NFFF Memorial Weekend

This weekend is the NFFF Memorial Weekend. The annual Memorial Service will be held on Sunday October 7th in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The service will honor those firefighters who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

Hopefully sometime in the future we will be able to make a trip to Maryland to take in the service in person. It would be such a touching and humbling moment - I'd love for our children to experience that.

If you are unable to make the trip to the service, but are interested in keeping up on the weekend there are a few different ways to participate from home.

There will be a Candlight Service on Saturday evening followed by Sunday's Memorial Service that will be streamed live here on Life Between the Tones. You will find the player for the streaming below. You can see the Candlelight service at 6:30pm (streaming starts at 6:00pm) on Saturday and the Memorial Service at 10:00am Sunday (streaming begins at 9:30am).

You can also view the National Fallen Firefighters Widget I've placed in my sidebar. This widget honors those firefighters who have died in the line of duty.

There is also a live webcam of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial that can be viewed at any time here:

If you are interested in any more information on this weekend please visit the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend website. You can download desktop backgrounds, Facebook cover images, profile picture images, and mobile background images to use this weekend. There is also a link to sign a virtual banner in remembrance of those fallen. There are too many resources on the website to list here. Please take a moment to browse their website.

Please keep these fallen heroes and their families and their brothers and sisters in your thoughts this weekend.

If you are on Twitter, please spread the love this weekend by using the tag #FIREHERO2012

You can find the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on Facebook HERE

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Q&A - Full Time Structure Wife

A few weeks ago, I shared a question and answer post from a volunteer wife.

My goal with the first post was to reach out to women (or men) who are considering entering a relationship with someone who has a career in the fire service, or who have a significant/spouse who is considering a fire service career.

When my husband was considering joining our local fire department, I did not realize how much this decision would change MY life as well as his. I had questions, but I didn't know anyone on the department enough to express my concerns and questions. When I turned to online sources, I really couldn't find the resources I was looking for. I wanted a peak into the real life situations of a fire wife. What exactly would this mean for our marriage?

That is the inspiration for this series of posts. I have previously shared the volunteer wife prospective. Now it's a full time firefighter's wife prospective. I recently asked Alison and Christina questions about being a full time wife. In this post I will share Alison's answers. Watch for Christina's answers in a few days!

*How long have you been a fire wife? 
Nearly 3 years, but married for 9.

*What was the hardest thing for you to adjust to?
The nights he is at work! Yes we miss him and all that, but being a full time mom with a full time 40 hour gig makes for crazy duty days. When I leave work, I have to stop at 3 different places to collect 3 kids, get home, let the dogs out, make dinner, help with homework, give baths, read stories, wash and prep bottles for the next day, clean up from dinner, pump breast milk, tuck kids in to bed, and then usually one chore like sweeping the floor or folding a load of laundry. I'm lucky if I get to eat anything before 2030. But it always seems like something goes wrong or crazy on the nights he's gone. A dog runs away. One of the kids gets hurt. All 3 kids are melting down at the same time.  I can't find the garage door keys. I get a flat tire. Dinner gets burnt. I usually don't sit down and rest on duty nights until after 2100. The "duty" nights when things run smoothly are few and far between.

*Does it ever get less scary? How do you deal with the fear of him getting hurt?
I'm probably in the minority, but I'm not afraid for him. I guess I have the standard worry, but it's not significant, nor do I dwell on it. His employer spent(spends) a lot of money on making sure he is well trained.  He is in peak physical condition. He has top of the line equipment. I trust that in a potentially dangerous situation, he and the other men he works with are capable of making the right decisions. I don't think wives should waste so much energy on "worrying." It's emotionally draining and causes undue stress, it doesn't help anything, and it doesn't make him any safer. (I know I'm in the minority).

*How does the station feel about visits from family members?
They're cool with it, especially if we bring goodies (I like to bake, they're getting a pumpkin roll this week).  There's a good mix of married old timers, middle aged guys with kids, and the young single or newly married guys. We just make sure not to wear out our welcome, or come too frequently, and make sure the kids are on their best behaviors.

*Do you have any rituals or special things you and/or your firefighter do to help you get through a shift?
We make sure to kiss bye in the mornings when he leaves, which is usually a crazy time because I'm trying to get out to door for work myself, not to mention both of us are dropping kids off. We also talk on the phone in the evenings. If we don't talk though, it's not a big deal. We usually talk the morning he gets off work as well.

*What do you love most about being a fire wife?
A couple of things. His schedule! I love the 24/48 schedule. It's the perfect amount of time for me to be home alone and get "me" time (after mommy duties). The first 24 he is off is his alone time without kids, and the second 24 he is off is when he stays home with the kids (during the week) or we go do family stuff (on the weekends). I would also be a liar if I said I didn't love his benefits. His union has fought hard for their benefits, and we really appreciate it all. They are very fortunate. I also love the camaraderie the entire department shares. There may be over 1,200 firefighters, but everyone is treated like true family.

*What advice would you give someone whose spouse/significant other is considering a fire service career; or someone who's considering a long term relationship/marriage to someone in the fire service?
I can really only give good advice to other full-time career structure people. Keep calm and carry on. Don't dwell on the nights he's gone. Keep yourself busy and occupied and learn to enjoy and value your time alone. Do things that he doesn't care for on those days and nights. Gently remind your FF (if and when he needs it) that his first obligation is always as a husband and father. My motto is "Being a good firefighter does not trump being a good husband and dad." I don't buy into the hero worship, and I'd love to see more wives with the same mentality.

Who is Alison?

Alison is the wife of a City of Columbus Firefighter. They share three kids together - ages six, four and eight months. Alison is an environmental geologist. She has spent her entire 32 years as an Ohio resident.

I would like to thank Alison for taking the time to share her perspective on being a fire wife. If you have any questions for Alison about being married to a full time structure firefighter, please leave them in a comment below!