NASCAR Wrapup: 2011 Subway 500 (Phoenix)

I have to admit...I'm 4-days post-surgery and still relying pretty heavily on pain meds.  And towards the end of today's race, I found myself wondering if I'd accidentally taken too many.  Because this Jr. fan started rooting for the #24!  Teammate or not, um, ick!  But in a world where I definitely will root for anyone BUT Kyle Busch, well, GO JEFF GO!

Really, I was pleased with most of the top ten - my Dale got in there, hubby's Harvick did well, and Jimmie Gordon got a break from the DNF gods.  But really, the best news here is the lack of a W for Kyle!

But how about them wrecks, man?  What was Kenseth doing on lap 67?  A little contact is one thing, but he wiped out almost a third of the dang field!

And of course, Kyle owns Carl Edwards a huge apology for that mess.

But overall, a good race at a decent track!

Talking About Sonic

My kiddos are often held captive in the backseat of my car. Going all sorts of places they'd just as soon skip in favor of going home. But it's where some of our best conversations occur. Here's one about Sonic.

Mom: We'll head home in just a few minutes after Mommy stops at Sonic for Happy Hour.

Bubba: Happy Hour? Sis, that sound like Mom's taking us to a bar? Really, Mom?

Big Girl: Maybe she'll get us something.

Mom: I'm just going to get myself a nice big soda so I can stay awake long enough tonight to get everything done.

Big Girl: Me, too! Soda, please!

Bubba: Mmm. Yeah. Me, too. Or boobs.

Big Girl: Gross. Knock it off. Soda, please!

Mom: No, guys. We'll eat right after we get home. Mommy just needs to get a soda.

Bubba: Needs? No, Mommy needs help.

Big Girl: You're addicted, Mom.

Bubba: Milk?

Big Girl: No, to Sonic.

Bubba: No, I want milk.

Mom: Bubby, hang tight. We'll be home soon. Promise.

Bubba: Sis, can you get online and Google “Sonic addiction?”

Silent Courtesy

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

We (us travelers, that is) have a purpose for being on a plane. We’re going somewhere. (Duh, right?) Maybe it’s for business. Maybe it’s a vacation. Maybe something is wrong and we have to get somewhere fast. Regardless, we’re going somewhere.

And it ain’t to a Toastmasters meeting. (Unless you’re going to a convention. But that’s another story!)

Now, please believe me when I say that I’m not knocking Toastmasters. I’m a Toastmaster. CC/CL. Current VP Education for my club, which is comprised mainly of airline employees. Have won a bunch of contests. Looooooooove talking. (There’s a surprise.)

But being on a plane isn’t the same as being at a Toastmasters meeting. What’s I’m trying to say here is that we should all act courteously toward one another while in the air…but we don’t have to chat or soliloquize while 40,000 over the Midwest.

I’m sure you’re a great person. I can see that you have fabulous hair, a pretty suit and a snazzy iSuck. But, as you can see from my notebook and poised pen, I’ve got plans for this flight that don’t include replaying the Q&A session from the Miss America competition. Plus, with my lack of fabulous hair, a pretty suit, and a snazzy iSuck, we all know I’ll just get Miss Congeniality.

Ahem. Which brings me to…

While I may not want to engage you in scintillating conversation while on the plane, I certainly am not going to be rude to you either. I can show courtesy…silently.

When you say hi, I’m just going to smile. When you start off into a rambling monologue on the state of affairs in IndoChina (clearly, my flight is in 1968) I’m going to nod and look back to my notebook.

I may not be feeling social on this flight, but I can show silent courtesy.

Can you?

Until next time…

Safe travels!

NASCAR Wrapup: 2011 Daytona 500

This year's Great American Race is in the history - and record! - books.  What did you think of it?  Do you agree with some early reports that it was one of the most unpredictable Daytona 500s to date, or are you a bit puzzled by some of the changes and outcomes?

Here are some of my thoughts:

Dale Earnhardt 10th Anniversary Tributes

By and large, I think the tributes prior to the race were very tastefully done.  Fox devoted an amount of time to the memory of Dale Earnhardt that seemed respectful and not over-the-top.

I was floored by the depth of emotion that I felt during the 3rd lap when everyone had their three fingers up and the broadcast booth went silent.  This will sound silly, but the four deaths that have saddened me the most in my life are my Dad, Princess Diana, Dale Earnhardt, and Ronald Reagan.  In that order.  I'm still sad about The Intimidator ten years later and can't get through any of his biographies with dry eyes.  Forever #3.

I loved the Chevy black and white #3 commercial that added in red at the end.  Wow!

I was also glad to see that there was one last tribute at the end during the recap.  I cried.  Nuff said.

The New Points System

Do you get the new points system?  I've read the "rules" of it a few times and I'm still a bit puzzled on what happens after race 26 with points resets and numbers 11 and 12 and the whole Chase concept.  Throughout the rest of the year, I'm not puzzled at all; having simplified points makes sense all the way around.  But, uh, why do we suddenly go back to "Only An Actuary Would Understand Land" at the start of the Chase?  Or...maybe that's just me?'

The Pre-Race and Fox

The TMZ spoof was hilarious!!!  Loved it...and I've only seen TMZ like 3 times in my life!

Female sportscasters annoy me.  Sexist?  Maybe.  but they'd be more believable if they looked like Coach Beast from Glee.

But that man.  Boogity, boogity!  Best quote of the race: "Forget the gauges; run it 'til it blows!"


Congratulations, Daytona International Raceway, on joining the rest of us in the 21st century.  I can't believe that the last time your track was resurfaced was THIRTY TWO YEARS AGO in 1979.  It looked beautiful - ya'll did a great job!

I was far more impressed by the National Anthem, as sung by Martina McBride, at the Daytona 500 than the Christina Aguilera rendition at the Super Bowl.  And I loved seeing Michael Waltrip mouthing the words.  And then the USAF Thunderbirds flyover?  Yes, please.  Great job!

On the flip side...the "Gentlemen, start your engines" was terible.  Not hating on the Transformers crew, but, well, stick to the big screen instead of the dashboard.  And the three Transformers cars in the parade lap was an...odd stunt.

The Race

I was thrilled to see Jr. get the pole...and sad that he wrecked in practice and had to go to the back.  Le sigh.  But on his 400th career start, he sure did a great job...until the end.  And even then, he wasn't the one not doing a good job.   I do love the concept the prerace chatter pointed to several times of Dale Jr. being the Pied Piper at times!

Seeing Kevin Harvick in Budweiser gear throws my mind right the hell off.  See...I'm a Dale, Jr. fan.  And have a lot of his former Budweiser gear.  And my husband is a Kevin Harvick fan.  And has no Budweiser gear.  So does this mean I have to bequeath my Bud grubs to the husband?

Can't believe the Big One hit on lap 29!  Nice to see the Hendrick cars had a team meeting there on the apron; glad Dale Jr. was late!

Mark Martin is still racing?  Anyone else notice that he's beginning to resemble Yoda?

I realize that it's for a bigger cause (hunger) but I love AARP sponsoring the #24.

The drafting concept at play in Daytona today needs a lot of work.  The deal making seemed shaky, at best, at times.  The cars absolutely cannot go into turns three wide two deep and stacked up and expect to come out unscathed.  And if you're gonna bump, make sure the bumpee is aware and you're positioned square.  Yeesh!  To be honest, with all of the two-car hook-ups, it looked a little bit like Lego cars linked together.

The spotter chatter sounded like auctioneers...although I can also see the comparison the announcers made between the spotters and air traffic controllers!

The Winner

This kid looks like someone signing up for driver's ed, not a professional racer.  But boy can he drive!  Heckuva 20th birthday present!  And happy Daytona Sunday!

Talking About Bottles

Talking to my kiddos when they have their mouths plugged just seems mean. But I have fun with it. Here's a talk with Bubba Boy about bottles.

Mom: Here you go, Bubby. A nice bottle of juice.

Bubba: Boobs.

Mom: Come on now. This is apple juice. You need some so you're not all backed up.

Bubba: Seriously, Mom?

Mom: Down the hatch! Here we go!

Bubba: Mmm. Oh. Yeah. This is good.

Mom: That's a good boy. Drink it all down.

Bubba: Are you trying to get me drunk?

Mom: Look at you go. When you're done with the juice, I'll get you a bottle of milk if you're still thirsty.

Bubba: Milk?

Mom: You have to finish the juice first. Drink it aaaallllll down.

Bubba: Ok. Slurp. All gone.

Mom: Good for you! Here's a bottle of milk, like I promised.

Bubba: What do I get when this is gone? Ma? Ma?

[end scene]

Love you, Mommy!

At what age did your children realize that they, in fact, were in charge?

Big Girl has had that realization already.


Tonight, I came to understand the frustration my parents often had with me for the slow speed with which I attacked meals.

After picking every pepperoni off her leftover piece of pizza, she began finding every excuse in the book to *not* eat.

Cue Mom.

Eat your dinner.

EAT your dinner.



Whereupon Big Girl wheels around and exclaims "LOVE YOU, MOMMY! Kiss?" while beelining over to me, lips puckered.

I surrender.

Big Girl 1, Mommy 0

Want a cookie?

Keep Your Shirt On!

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

Hey! You! Yeah, you! The one undressing on my airplane.

Let’s chat.

I fly fairly often. Not a road warrior, but my family and I get on a half dozen or more flights a year, plus I fly periodically for work – which, for me, is an airline.

But today, I’m talking to the people who apparently fly so infrequently that they may believe they’ve taken the right hand exit to the Red Door Spa instead of the left hand exit onto the MD80.

Keep your shirt on. Please!

When we get on the aircraft, I find it very appropriate to settle in and get comfortable for the flight, be it 45 minutes or 4.5 hours.

I do not.not.not find it appropriate to strip on the plane.

Have you ever seen the people who do this? They board the plane wearing about 17 layers – wanted to avoid those checked bag fees, right? – and by the time we’re taxiing for takeoff, they’re dressed appropriately for a sauna.

And then there’s the kind folks who sit down and remove their shoes. Unless you’re planning to pass out clothes pins as well and provide pedicures for the entire group, please don’t! Wearing sandles on summer flights is one thing; deliberately disrobing is another.

So let’s review, here. No shoes, no shirt, you should get no service. You will. The plane will still take off and we’ll still wing our way to our destination together. But you sure aren’t winning any friends.

Until next time…

Safe travels!

Mommy Moments #2

This week's theme is "Dear Baby" for Mommy Moments.

Dear Bubba,

You are a much loved baby.  I'll admit that you caught us off guard - while Big Girl was a planned baby, you were a complete surprise.  But we've loved you since the first moment we got to see you on ultrasound, and hear your heartbeat.

You caused us a few worries along the way, especially when you started threatening to appear so early.  But then you fooled us all and stayed in weeks later than anyone thought you would!  And then fooled us again by coming out naturally on the day we planned to induce your exit.  A mind of your own - you're an independent one!

We decided to do things a bit differently with your pregnancy, in keeping with the idea of a surprise, and didn't find out your gender.  Boy, every single person in that delivery room - and there were a few! - were so sure you were going to be a girl.  I think I was the only one who thought you'd be my little man...and I was right.  When the doctor announced "it's a boy," I can remember smiling my face off.  How happy I was to be the mom of a Big Girl and now my little man.

When you started having issues with reflux at three weeks old, I worried by head off.  It's not easy for a mom to watch her little one throw up nearly everything he eats.  When you still thrived - albeit by eating round the clock to offset your tummy troubles - I started to relax again.  Here again, you fooled us all, achieving heights and lengths at the tops of the charts despite terrible reflux.  Good for you!

You have many features that remind me of my dad, who died two months before your big sister was born.  Sometimes, that makes my heart very happy.  Other times, it hurts.  But when your face crinkles up into an adorable smile, you're the mini-me of Funny Daddy.  I love it!  And I love that smile.

You're a vocal critter.  Right now, you're sitting just across the room from me and testing out a wide range of sounds, from grunts to squeals to happy little baby chatter.  No mamas or dadas yet, but you're definitely able to express yourself in other ways.  Hope you don't get overrun by your sister's chattiness...remember, you need to answer back instead of letter her talk for you!

You have a ton of family, even though many live in other areas of the country, and you need to know that you are much loved by them as well as by all of us who you are forced to privileged to live with.  You also need to know that even though we may not see some of our family very frequently, they're thinking of you always.

As you fly past your six-month birthday and speed on towards seven, I want you know to how much we're enjoying watching you grow from a cute and cuddly baby to a rough and ready little boy.  Seeing you and your sister sit together and giggle your heads off at each other makes my heart so happy.  Imagining how it will be when you can run around and terrorize amuse us together makes me smile.

I love you, Jeffrey!


Great Wolf Lodge Loves Police

I recently came across a great deal for law enforcement families.  Great Wolf Lodge, which has locations all over the country, offers a "Howling Heroes" discount that takes around 10% off the price of a room when you book using offer code "HEROES."

Here's the verbiage from the Great Wolf web site:
Promotional Rate:  Howling Heroes - Rate for Armed Forces, Police, Fire, & EMS Workers. Must present valid ID at check-in. Limit 2 rooms per ID. Limited number of rooms available for each date. May not be valid during holiday and blackout periods. Multiple night minimum stay may apply.
What a great offer!  And from the reviews I've read, what a great place to get away - can't wait until my own kids are old enough so we can go enjoy our local Great Wolf Lodge!

Advice: take advantage of your police office spouse's quirky schedule and stay midweek.  Check a bunch of dates before you decide; prices can differ drastically over time.  Potentially save money by splitting a suite with another family.  And remember that this price includes tickets for four to their indoor waterpark.  And if the discount doesn't work online or you're having trouble with the site, pick up the phone and call - these people are wolfpack friendly!

Talking About Nursing

Sometimes, when I'm talking to my kids, I'm wondering exactly how big of an idiot I think they am. Here's a recent discussion I had with Bubba about nursing.

Mom: Alright, Bubba. Careful now. Mom's a little sore.

Bubba: Boobs.

Mom: I'm glad we decided to give this another go even after I was sick. You're only six months old. No reason we can't get to 13 or 14 months like your sister.

Bubba: Eight more months of boobs? Yee-haw!

Mom: Hey! Did you just bite me? Be careful, Bubby.

Bubba: Just got excited. Slurp.

Mom: That's a good boy. You're such a hungry little bugger.

Bubba: Yup. Definitely better than peas.

Mom: Maybe I'll make you some rice and peas for dinner after this.

Bubba: [crunch]

Mom: Ye-ow. Be careful, little man.

Bubba: No peas. No rice. Steak. Or boobs.

Mom: Well, I guess we're about done here. I'd better get dinner made.

Bubba: My dinner just walked away. Crap.

[end scene]

Exploring the Child Tax Credit

I've been boning up on portions of tax law that are either new, changing, or of fresh relevance to me this year, and thought I'd post up some of my findings, in case they can help any of you.

Let's talk about the child tax credit.

Clearly, I've used this in the past for Catherine, and will use it this year for Jeffrey as well.

But the focus of my research was claiming someone other than my son or daughter; namely, my nephew, who lived with us from May 2010 through January 2011.

Here's what I've found:

To claim the child tax credit, the child in question has to pass six tests: age, support, relationship, dependent, citizenship, residence.

In detail:

Age - The child must be under 17

Support - The child can provide no more than 50% of his own support

Relationship - Son, daughter, foster child, brother, sister, grandson, granddaugher, niece, nephew and step-children of all of the preceding varieties

Dependent - The child must be claimed as a dependent on the filer's taxes during the year where the child tax credit is claimed for them (does this seem like a no-brainer to anyone else?)

Citizenship - The child must be a legal US citizen, resident, or resident alien

Residence - The child must reside with the filer for greater than 50% of the year for which the child tax credit is claimed

Let's recap and see if we qualify:

Age? 15...check!
Support Himself? On video games.  But seriously, no.  Check!
Relationship? Nephew...check!
Dependent? Executed temporary guardianship documentation, enrolled in school here...check!
Citizenship? Mars.  Nevermind.  USA-USA-USA!  Check!
Residence? May-December = 8 months.  8/12 = 75%.  75% > 50%.  Check!

Looks like we're good to go...hope this info is helpful to you as well!

And remember: even if the child qualifies to be claimed on your taxes, always make sure no one else is claiming him as well; a child can be claimed only once, no matter how many people have a valid claim.

For more details: Child Tax Credit (PDF)

Talking About School

I talk to my kiddos constantly. And even though Big Girl can answer back, I sometimes make up different answers from her in my head. Because I know that's what she's actually thinking. Consider this conversation on school.

Mom: Did you have fun at school today?

Big Girl: Preschool.

Mom: Did you do anything interesting?

Big Girl: It's preschool. I didn't exactly learn differential diagnosis techniques.

Mom: That reminds me that a new episode of House is on tonight. Did you eat all of your lunch?

Big Girl: Nope. Did you?

Mom: Ah, I, no.

Big Girl: Why not?

Mom: I was just really busy.

Big Girl: Too busy for lunch?

Mom: Well, yeah. I mean, wait. Did you do any drawing at school today?

Big Girl: I'm bored. Is House on yet?

[end scene]

Driving in Winter

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

We've had what I would consider to be more than our fair share of winter weather in north Texas this year, and so we've experienced more than our fair share of drivers who could use a  Especially with more weather predicted later this week.

So for today's Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany, I'd like to explore some ideas to make us all safer on the roads.

  1. Your SUV is worthless.  If you think it's going to protect you from ice, just do us all a favor and park until spring.
  2. Countersteering is king.  Think of your car on ice like a boat on water: sometimes, you need to do what's counterintuitive to keep from capsizing.
  3. Carry kitty litter in your trunk.  Not only will this give you some weight to make your car less of a deadly brick, you can also use it to spread under your tires to gain traction when if you get stuck on ice.
  4. Bridges = bad.  See, they have no land beneath them that can retain heat and ensure against unnecessary freezing.  That means you need to slow waythehell down before going across a bridge that might be is icy.
  5. Unless you have an emergency or a boss who was raised in Alaska, you might just want to stay home.  It's just not worth fooling around with other drivers who probably haven't read this post!
Until next time...

Safe travels!

Scheduling for Success

We all know that police officers work some of the toughest and most-oddly scheduled shifts, compared to nearly any other profession.  And we all know how optimistic we can be, as police spouses, about things magically "falling into place" around our other half's shifts.


Hey, I got it out with a straight face!

Dealing successfully with the realities of being a police family can often depend on how well you can schedule your time.  I've found and started using a FABULOUS tool I want to share with you all.

The Cozi internet calendar has it all.  You can set up schedules for limitless numbers of household members, schedule with all of the rigidity of Outlook but all of the flexibility of a more user-friendly format, and sync with other calendars on the web, desktop and phone.  Plus, you can keep task lists there and access "been there done that" advice from their calendaring geniuses.

I started using it back in August of 2010.  Cozi lets me put appointments on the calendar in a different color for everyone in my house - plus I can set up an additional "person" to represent the house and schedule our chores!  (There's an interface for FlyLady if you're into that routine.)  It keeps my shopping list...and then I can have it texted to me while I'm in the store.  And task list items can have a due date set and go right on the calendar.

Another nifty part of Cozi is that you can sync it with multiple other calendars.  For instance, if you and your husband maintain separate Outlook programs, you can download *just* your appointments to yours, and *just* your husband's to his.  You can also take advantage of the recurring calendar function, which allows far more flexibility in choosing multiple days and patterns.  I have my husband's entire year plotted out so I can figure out the best weekends for us to go visit family...and the best weekends to stay home and do work around the house.

Highly recommend.  You'd think they were paying me, I'm so enthusiastic.  (They're not.  But, uh, they could.  Email me!  Mwah!)  Go check it out and let me know what you think!

Mommy is Busy Right Now

I subscribe to Newsweek magazine.  I have since I was a freshman in college; before that, I just read my parent's subscription at home.  I've literally read this publication since I was old enough to read and reason.

Sometimes, especially in the past 5 years, I find myself snorting over my perceived left-leanings of some of the columnists.  Most days I'm convinced that George Will is the only conservative writer in their employ.

But some articles transcend politics, and one in particular recently caught my eye: Mommy is Busy Right Now.

Boy, did the sentiments of writer Lisa Miller (with whom I often find myself disagreeing) ring true in this piece.

The premise is basic.
  • 1: 77% of women work; for many, it's not a choice but a necessity.  
  • 2: Most household "administrative" functions are performed by women, i.e. travel planning, banking, managing health issues, etc.
  • 3: Neither corporate nor marital structures accommodate work+household administration.
This. Is. My. Life.

Now don't get me wrong.  Funny Daddy can outcook me any day of the week.  And he cleans a ton.  He's better at buckling down to physical types of chores than I am.

But when it comes to budgeting, tax prep, vacation planning, doctors appointments, school forms, und so weiter...well, that's me.  But I want it that way; I love that kind of stuff.  But on the flip side, there ARE only 24 hours in a day.  And like my husband, I have multiple jobs: between the two of us, we police, engage employees, serve legal documentation, write, judge debate tournaments, provide security, and flip houses.  Two kids.  Four dogs.  Parents living in 3 different states.  By any measure, that's a busy life.

I find myself falling into the guilt trap pretty consistently, too.  If I'm working, I feel like I ought to be with my kids.  If I'm with my kids, I wonder if I've accomplished enough work for the day.  If I'm on vacation, I want to check email so people aren't left waiting on me.  If I'm working on a writing project, I'm reminded that a project at my full-time job needs completing as well.

So what say you, other busy mommies.  Do you just compartmentalize?  What's the split like in your world?

Mommy is busy right now...

Now I Lay Me Down...

Dear Funny Daddy,

Thanks for buying that cute little doll for Big Girl at church last know, the one that recites the "Now I lay me down to sleep..." prayer.  Big Girl has now pushed it's buttons (and mine!) for the 64th time in the last 3 minutes.  It's yammering on constantly and I'm fairly sure, having burned through God, Jesus, Yahweh, Jehovah, and Allah, we're now praying to deities of which I was previously unaware.

Big Girl is enthralled.  Bubba Boy stood up in his crib to see if he could get in on the Hour of Power.

And I'm wondering if the little doll, which is starting to remind me of Gospel Chuckie, could fit in a prayer or two for me.

But not until after it prays to God # 65.

Now I lay me down to sleep...


Frazzled Mommy

Favorite Part of Police Lifestyle

After a few somber posts, let's cheer up a bit. What's your favorite part of the law enforcement lifestyle?

My favorite part, hands down, are the stories my husband brings home of the idiots he see out in the big wide world.  You know who I mean...the people who even Jerry Springer would reject.  The people who, if they had a brain cell, it would be lonely.  Or the winners who believe they are entitled to act in a certain way for the most, uh, unique of reasons.

What's your favorite part?  The floor is yours!

McDonalds NEMall PlayPlace Review

I took the kiddos to our favorite McDonald's for lunch today. Basically, I needed to run enough energy off Big Girl to prevent her from rending a tear in the fabric of the universe.

Recently, the McDonalds at NorthEast Mall (Pipeline @ 820 in Hurst, TX) underwent major renovations. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Thank you for continuing to have a bathroom just for the little ones. It is hugely helpful.
  2. The flat screen against the back wall is not.  Can't see it, can't hear it, didn't come to McD's to watch TV.
  3. I understand the point of nailed down furniture.  But it's not practical.  If you are unable to change the configuration of the chairs/tables, many families can't easily be accomodated.
  4. Hey!  Some of us have strollers!  And mine doesn't fit very easily in the PlayPlace.  I'm limited in where I can sit, because of overly narrow aisles, and that means that if I get there after those tables are already taken, I either can't come in, or I have to hope someone takes pity on me and moves to a table only accessible for walkers, not riders.
  5. Safety, safety, safety - I can definitely see that a lot of thought for this was put into the redesign and it is much appreciated.  I know that when Big Girl goes into the hamster-trail-for-kids, she's going to be safe.
  6. But could we maybe have kept a few outlets?  Like on high-up non-reachable-by-mini-monsters areas?  One of the things I love best about McDonald's is your free WiFi...but if I want to work there while my little ones play, my battery is eventually going to go dead...
  7. Squooshy floors are cool and make running around without shoes by drunk-on-giddiness toddlers lots safer.  Love the new floors you put in.
  8. Napkins and condiments would be appreciated.  When you go to McD's with a million mini people, and have fifteen trays to balance with two hands, stopping to get napkins and condiments on the way past is sometimes out of the question.  But...I don't want to bring my squirts in just to abandon them there while I go on a napkin-and-ketchup retrieval mission.  Could we maybe have a napkin and ketchup station in the munchkin room?
Overall, it's a great place.  Some of the redesign areas don't thrill me, but Big Girl loves it, Bubba looks on with envy (gotta walk first, dude), and I get some time to sit and relax while they have fun.

Over-Under on Police Relationships

My husband was a cop when I met him; it's all I've know him to be as a profession.  But not everyone marries into the law enforcement lifestyle.

I'm curious.  How many of you were together with significant other before they became a police officer?  How many, like me, didn't meet your other half until he was already in law enforcement?

I'm wondering what the over-under on these types of relationship is - is it harder to make the transition into being a police spouse, or is it harder to go into a relationship knowing that it may be challenging, both psychologically and logistically?

I think that it must surely be harder if you suddenly transform into a police spouse.  Afterall, you knew a totally different life beforehand.  Whereas if you go into it with your eyes open to the realities of this life, you may be better prepared.

But maybe that's just my opinion from my own experience.  What do you think?

Talking About Dinner

I talk to my little kids like they're big people. To the extent where it may be excessive. And I fill in their responses in my head...which is definitely excessive. But funny. Here's my discussion with Bubba about eating dinner.

Mom: I made you a nice big bowl of rice, baby boy. It's yummy.

Bubba: Boobs?

Mom: I know you're angling for some mommy time, but we're going to eat dinner first, honey.

Bubba: No boobs?

Mom: Open wide, Bubs. Yum, yum, yums.

Bubba: Are you sure no boobs?

Mom: Come on baby. Open up. Yummy nummies for the boy.

Bubba: Ok. Rice. Huh.

Mom: That's a good boy. Niiiiice big bite. Good job!

Bubba: Pbbbbbt.

Mom: No, no, baby. You gotta keep it in your mouth.

Bubba: Nope. Pbbbbt.

Mom: Good lord, how much did you have in your mouth?

Bubba: Lots. Pbbbbt.

Mom: Let's try this again, honey. Oooooo-pen. There we go. Nice, big....

Bubba: Pbbbbt. Haha.

Mom: Clearly, this isn't working. Let's try a drink.

Bubba: Finally. Boobs!

Mom: Nope, I meant for me.

[end scene]

Dealing with Fear

One of the biggest fears in being married to a law enforcement officer is injury or death.  For some police spouses, this fear can be debilitating.  Others learn how to compartmentalize this fear so that it doesn't overtake the non-scary portions of law enforcement relationships.

Here are a few thoughts to help ease your fear:
  • Your husband or wife is superbly trained for the job that they are doing.  Being a police officer requires intense and lengthy learning, including role playing scenarios that have the potential to go badly.
  • Your husband or wife, as a police officer, is probably hyper aware of the world around them.  If there are signs availble that something bad is going down, they probably already know and are working out their response in their head.
  • Your husband or wife wants their job and in fact may feel called to that line of work as an avocation.
  • Your husband or wife also wants their life; they aren't going to do anything stupid and when they do put themselves in harm's way, it's done so in a calculated fashion.
  • Trust.  Trust, trust, trust.  Trust that you husband or wife will do what is necessary to stay safe.  Trust that whichever higher power you believe in will look out for him or her.  And trust that if something does go badly, you will have the strength to deal with it.

Snow Days and Scheduling

My husband works what I consider to be an odd schedule. It's on 2, off 2, on 3, off 2, on 2, off 3. Repeat. I guess it's nice, because it's a 14-day schedule, so it replicates every two weeks. His shifts are 12 hours each, which turn into 14 hours each when commuting time is added, plus that blanket time in arriving for shifts early and leaving shifts a few minutes late. But he has different days off different weeks, and that can make scheduling tricky. I don't work different days different weeks, and our daughter, who attends a Montessori preschool, doesn't go to school different days different weeks.

We have a pretty delicately balanced work around, which I think is common to police families. Since we work opposite shifts, we cover for each other a lot. Which works great...until you factor in training classes, work trips, court dates, traded shifts...or snow days. Yes, even in north Texas we have the occasional snow day.

Or 3!

Screws up roads, cancels schools, kills schedules.

So I'll be staying home today to watch kiddos while the hubby rests and gets ready for his next shift tonight. And I'll be thanking my lucky stars that I am able to work remotely for my job as needed...while digging deep for patience and creativity in balance kids and work.

Other days, one of my husband's aunts saves us by watching the kids when our schedules collide. We wouldn't make it without that help, and our kids love having a surrogate grandma nearby since their own grandparents all live thousands of miles away.

What are your coping techniques when schedules go haywire?

Companion Pieces

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Texans and Snow

Kids and Snow Days

Remember how exciting it used to be when a snow day was announced? We'd gather around the TV at 5 AM praying that our school name would scroll past next. In the average winter, we'd get 3-6 days off for snow...which would then be made up by deleting days from spring break or staying in school longer in June.

Of course, I also grew up in the north, where a snow day required an actual appreciable snowfall or severely slick roads.

Here in Texas, I wasn't quite expecting to deal with snow days for my kiddos. I mean, the thought of an inch of snow shutting anything down is just hilarious. But then you consider that there's like 3 snow plows in an area home to six million people...and the lack of services for slick roads makes sense.

My daughter's preschool is closed for the third day in a row. This blows my mind. Especially since that means balancing kid duty and work-from-home duty today. Again. When my kid would actually rather head out the door to play with her friends and I would rather head out the door to work with mine.

What's your kid-and-snow-day strategy? We're loading up on Dora, Play Doh, coloring books, and hiding anything with removable lids or copious amounts of fur. Do I really need to explain that part?

And we're hoping for better weather next week. Because this mom is much less of a snow day fan as an adult than she was as a child!

Companion Pieces

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Texans and Snow

The Officer's Wife: Snow Days and Scheduling

Texans and Snow

Before I moved to Texas almost nine years ago, I would have sworn to you that it didn't snow here. After all, I was moving to the area better known for 100+ degree days in the summer than lower-than-freezing in the winter.

My first winter here, we had two days off from work for sleet. My mom hasn't yet stopped teasing me about that.

Last Christmas, we had a foot of snow. A foot! Are you kidding me?

And now, today, we're on our third day of iffy roads and cancelled activities. So I thought I'd offer up three reflections this morning on snow in Texas.

  1. Your SUV is worthless. I love that people think that because they have a big old honking truck or SUV, they can barrel down barely-cleared roads. First, it has to have four wheel drive to make a difference, and many of the SUVs and trucks in Texas do not. Second, the moron sitting up front has to know HOW to handle a four wheel drive for it to do a damn bit of good. Here's a hint: stay home.
  2. Buy out the entire grocery store. Please. Because in addition to being stuck in your house a whole half mile from the store for ohmygod three days, we may also then get hit by an inland typhoon and a category 15 tornado that rips the very ground from beneath our feet. Seriously. I'm not kidding. I saw it on YouTube.
  3. Post your plight to Facebook/Twitter/Your(my) Blog. Your friends up north in actual snow belts who are currently staring down 18 inches of fluff will definitely take pity on you and help you to plan out your survival strategy for the sleet that may come tomorrow. And they definitely won't make fun of you to other friends.
Ah, snow. Ah, Texas. What a perfect storm of hilarity!

Companion Pieces

0 to Mom: Kids and Snow Days

The Officer's Wife: Snow Days and Scheduling

How to Say Good Night

Good nights can be hard when Dad is at work instead of at home.  Toddlers aren't great at comprehending concepts like "work" or "see you in the morning."

How do you deal with little kids who fuss at bedtime because their police parent is gone to work?

In our house, we try to make everything routine.  We read one book with our little girl, say her prayers with her - listing out Dad first, and give kisses to the half dozen stuffed animals that live on her bed.  When I'm putting her to bed solo, I always tell her that her Mommy and Daddy love her and we'll both see her in the morning.

Sometimes that doesn't work.

On the nights when it's Fussvile instead of Sleeptown, we call Daddy on his cell phone.  Sometimes he can't answer; those darn traffic stops refuse to mold themselves to my schedule.  But even when he can't come to the phone, Cate can hear her dad's voice on his voicemail and can leave him a message to say "Hi, Daddy.  Miss you.  Love you."

And then she usually feels calm enough to sleep...and to look forward to seeing Dad in the morning.

What do you do when this happens?

Police Pets in DFW

If you are a police family and live in the Dallas Fort Worth area, check out this excellent resource:

Vaccination Station, presenting Operation Vaccination, provides lower-cost veterinary services to the public on set dates at set non-clinic locations.  But what's of interest to law enforcement families is this:

"Free rabies vaccinations for the pets of firemen, teachers & law enforcement officers with picture ID."

What a nice thing to do!  Hurry over to Vaccination Station to check out where they'll be next so you can go get your pets vaccinated.

And as always when participating in offers meant for law enforcement families, remember to say thank you!

Sick While On Duty

I had a S.W.O.D. weekend this past week - Sick While On Duty.  It sucked, but could have been much worse.  Here's how I coped:

I was sick - had the flu plus an upper respiratory infection - and it was the hubby's on-weekend at work.  My kids - ages 27 months and 6 months - definitely weren't up for caring for themselves.  And the hubby was either at work or sleeping a majority of the weekend.  When you have 3 back-to-back 12-hour overnight shifts, it's hard to do anything BUT sleep when you're at home!

The Setting:
My youngest's bedroom, complete with crib for him, bed for me, and a TV.  My daughter's bedroom was next door.

The Supplies:
  • Mask (so I didn't spread my germs)
  • Tray loaded with:
    • Water bottles
    • Water-filled baby bottles
    • Formula container
    • Empty container to store meds-contaminated breast milk for pump-and-dump
    • Several juice-filled sippy cups
    • Snacks for babies
    • Snacks for toddlers
    • More snacks for adults
    • Roll of paper towel
  • Kid-Friendly DVDs
  • Medicine
  • Tissues
  • Diapers, wipes, pull ups
  • Toys for a variety of ages
  • A gate to prevent escape-minded kiddos
The Strategy:
For three whole days, I was wary of going up and down stairs while sick and dizzy.  So I minimized my trips.  The first day, I only had to go back downstairs once.  The second and third days I made a total of 3 trips up/down per day.  And we hibernated.  By alternating movies, shows, and toys, the kids stayed occupied and I had time to lay down fairly often and rest.  Didn't get much sleep, but just the act of resting while sick is awesome.  I engaged the toddler in helping the infant with toys and holding his bottle, so I could minimize the spread of germs.  And although unhealthy, we ate junkier food that I didn't have to spend time preparing or get dizzy carrying up and down the stairs.

While the hubby was home, he did some of the major clothing changes and meal preps.  Otherwise, we stayed out of his way to let him get some sleep and avoid passing him my germs.

What are your strategies for coping when you're sick and have kids to care for, but your other half is on-duty instead of at home?