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!