Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday night recap.

Ummmm. Can I have a do-over?

Looking over my list of goals for this past week, I'm not feeling all that great about what I accomplished. Why? Because it wasn't much. But in the interest of looking on the bright side of things, here is what I did do:
  • I kept all of us - me, the kids, and even the animals - alive. There were a few days when one might say I let them live, but those are different posts for different days.
  • I laughed. A lot. I laughed with Steve while we talked on the phone, I laughed with Sam when he told me a story about his friend finding moldy bread in his lunch (In the friend's lunch, not Sam's. Hey, I said I kept them alive, didn't I?), I laughed so hard with Rachel as we watched America's Funniest Videos together that I eventually forgot about the TV and laughed at her laughing at the videos. 
  • I wrote my newspaper column and sent it in. I vow to someday get to the point where I actually write it a week ahead of time and send it in on Thursday. Baby steps. (It's printed every other Monday in the Ludington Daily News, by the way, but if you want to see it you have to pay. Sorry about that. The eEdition is pretty cheap, though.)
  • I drank more water. Mostly because I was too cheap to go to the store and buy more Diet Dr. Pepper, but who cares? Water is good.
  • I read a couple of thought-provoking articles in The Lutheran magazine about faith and social media. The consensus? Jump in! But don't overdo it. Hmmmmm.
  • I took a very long, glorious nap this afternoon. On the couch. With the sun streaming through the windows. Aren't Sunday afternoon naps the greatest?
I know there are more, but these are the things I can think of off the top of my head. Not too shabby for a week when I failed miserably at the things I actually set out to do.

Have I mentioned that I love Sunday evenings? I love the lasting impression of a great message and wonderful fellowship with the folks at church. I love the quiet of the house after the kids go to bed and the feeling of having everything in order for a fresh start on Monday. I love the promise of a new week and a clean slate. Maybe that's what I'll start calling my Sunday evening posts: Clean Slate Sundays. It's a good time for me to note the positives of the past week, make some goals for the days ahead, and generally keep things in perspective.

Now if I could just figure out that "early to bed, early to rise" thing I'd be all set.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cabin Fever

I got lost in blog world yesterday. I started reading one blog I visit regularly, then made the mistake of clicking on a link from that blog to another blog, and that began an hours-long reading fest as I discovered ideas for decorating on a budget, creating the ultimate food storage pantry, and living a very full, very simple life.

But what really sucked me in were the posts about gardening.

I've had a bout of cabin fever lately. When that happens I usually turn to the latest seed catalog for inspiration or start to plan the rows in my summer garden. But I haven't received any seed catalogs in the mail yet, and I am still a bit conflicted over whether I will plant much this year, if anything at all.

Seriously. "Conflicted" isn't even a strong enough word.

We don't know where Steve will be working this summer. Right now he is in Pennsylvania but he could be anywhere by spring. If he's outside the state of Michigan Wait. No matter where he is, I would love for me and the kids to be able to stay with him as much as possible.

On one hand, we would all be eating dinners together and the kids (and I) would have the chance to explore new places during the day and see daddy every night. It won't be too many years before they won't be interested in spending summers in some strange place away from their friends.

On the other hand, no garden means no walking outside to pick fresh tomatoes and cilantro and jalapenos for pico de gallo, and certainly no overabundance of veggies at the end of the summer for freezing and canning. This has become important to me as a) we have moved toward becoming more self-reliant so that, say, in the case of a lengthy layoff, we could eat from the food we have stored up, and b) the garden has become my sanctuary. It's not always pretty, but I can't think of a time when I didn't feel physically and emotionally uplifted after spending an hour weeding, hoeing and harvesting.

It might be time to start researching creative container gardens. I can see it now, all lined up along the side of our travel trailer. It would certainly be smaller than what I have at home, but then it might be a way to have the best of both worlds. Definitely something to think about.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frustration #142 of living The Pipe Life.

It is sometimes difficult to be the one at home, wondering what's happening in the world of the worker and knowing that whatever is happening, good or bad, there isn't a darn thing you can do about it.

Every time I call Steve in the evening and hear lots of noise in the background I imagine him with his work buddies at a sports bar with big-screen TV's and hot wings and beer. Lots of beer.

If I chat with him during his lunch break and he seems a little off, I wonder if he's having a bad day and doesn't want to say anything in front of his coworkers. And what could I say anyway? "I love you. Have a good afternoon." Good lot of help that is.

And then there is the fact that I am just not there at the end of the day to give him a hug and a kiss and help him unwind. Nor is he here for me.

We muddle through it, work around it. It is what it is.

Life at home is settling into a pretty good groove for me and the kids. At least it seemed that way until Steve got cranked up about something at work this week and it just about sent me into a tailspin. The fact that I couldn't be there to read his body language and show him I supported him was tough. That's important to me - I need to be able to look at his face and know that he hears me telling him everything will be fine. Whether he believes it is irrelevant; I just need to know he heard me say it.

For now, phone calls suffice. Technology is grand and I love to be able to send him texts and chat with him on-line, but talking and laughing with Steve over the phone is so much more personal - about as personal as two people can get while hundreds of miles apart.

This week I am reminded of our song, the first song Steve and I danced to at our wedding: "Faithfully" by Journey. The words of that ballad rang true for us then, and they still do.

Highway run; into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round; you're on my mind
Restless hearts sleep alone tonight
Sending all my love along the wire
They say that the road ain't no place to start a family

Right down the line it's been you and me
And lovin' a music man ain't always what it's supposed to be

Oh girl, you stand by me
I'm forever yours, faithfully

Monday, January 25, 2010

Summer dreaming.

Sam playing at the park. Look at the blue skies!

Rachel at the park. And green grass in the background!
My petunias. Oh man, they were beautiful all summer long.

Heading to the beach at Clearwater Campground. We spent a lot of time there this past summer.

Can't wait to feel the sand between my toes again.

One of my favorite photos from the summer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Time to exhale.

Another Sunday evening. Another chance to put my feet up, plan for the week ahead, relax and look forward to a clean slate in the morning.

And boy, could I use a clean slate.

This past week was a rough one. No one reason in particular, but it seemed like every day I had less and less motivation to get anything done (despite beautiful sunny weather), the kids each had a day or two when the emotions and/or the sass were out of control, and we all just seemed to be on one another's last nerves quite regularly.

I think sometime in the last couple of weeks I got caught up in being (selfishly) depressed over Steve being gone and I lost sight of the fact that I am the one setting the tone for this household. If I decide to be lazy and not wash the breakfast dishes while the kids are at school, they notice. If I am wearing my cranky pants all week, they notice. If I am busy, happy, and keep a smile on my face, they notice. I need to make more of an effort to show the kids that I am OK, because I really am. Hopefully they will follow suit.

So I have some goals that I'd like to focus on this week. Nothing major, but I think if I keep some of these simple ideas in mind every day I will set a better example - and a better tone - for all of us.

  1. Early to bed, early to rise. I can have everyone up, dressed, fed and ready to catch the bus on time and with minimal nagging if I get myself out of bed by 6 a.m. This one is tough for me because I am a night owl and dragging myself out of bed in the morning is difficult. Shoot, getting to bed before 11 is difficult, but I'm willing to make a go of it if it means easier mornings.
  2. A daily to-do list. I am a list person. I even love the physical act of writing the list. Each day I will create a to-do list including tasks to be completed while the kids are at school, and separate chore lists for Sam and Rachel to complete when they get home. Rachel loves lists. Sam doesn't know it yet, but he does, too.
  3. Weekly menu plans. This is something I used to do regularly but have gotten away from. The weekly menu is all in my head which is a bad place for it to be because things tend to get lost there. A written plan will leave a portion of my brain to concentrate on other things and will also give the kids a chance to choose what they would like to help me cook. They are both learning to do more in the kitchen which is awesome because I appreciate the help and they both love to do it.
  4. Focus. I need to spend more time in prayer. In the evenings I need to reflect on the day, give thanks for all I am blessed with, and pray for my husband and children. In the mornings I need to start my day with a little one-on-one time with God - something a little deeper than, "Please Lord, help me get my ass out of bed before I have to hit the snooze button again."
  5. Maintenance. When the living room is tidy, keep it that way. When the dining room table is cleared off, keep it that way. When the laundry is caught up, keep it that way. It only takes a few minutes here and there to maintain order. When there is order we feel less like the walls are closing in on us. If the walls aren't closing in on us we're less likely to want to kill each other. And I can tell you that in the midst of a long Michigan winter, not wanting to kill the people you love is a good thing.
I don't think I'm expecting too much from myself. Hopefully this week goes a little smoother than last week did. Either way, I'm ready to get to it. Right after I finish this load of laundry.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Complete. And utter. Meltdown.

It was not a pretty scene in the Pipe Life household this afternoon.

It wasn't too bad until I parked the truck at home after picking the kids up from the bus stop and Rachel realized something was missing from her cache.

A video game. A small cartridge she had stuffed in an extra little bag she was carrying. When she gathered all her stuff before getting out of the truck, she realized the game was gone.

Tears. Immediately. Lots of them. And there was no convincing her that it wasn't gone forever!

I tried to sit her down and come up with some constructive ways to work through this. I suggested she go outside and look in the truck. Maybe I would take her back to where they get off the bus and we could look around on the ground. Or perhaps the bus driver would find the game on the floor of the bus and would give it to her on Monday.

None of these suggestions was acceptable, and she continued to cry inconsolably and yell at me to quit yelling at her (uhhhh, I wasn't yelling). I began to wonder if whatever possessed my alarm clock the other day was still hanging around in the house and had taken up residence in my daughter. Suddenly everything became an assault on her. Everything her brother or I said she assumed was directed at her in a derogatory way. As I watched Cheers on the television she told me to quit staring at her. When the dog walked by her Rachel pushed her away.

I began to wonder if I had somehow slipped into another dimension. Who is this child and what have the aliens done with my daughter? I finally just sent her to her room because I was out of ideas and she didn't want to hear anything I had to say anyway. Very perplexing.

My mother has said that when I was the age Rachel is now - almost eight - I began to have distinct monthly mood swings.

I'm not ready for this. I don't think I ever will be.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Investing in the here and now.

I got a check in the mail today. It couldn't have come at a better time.

Well, unless it had come yesterday. Or any time in the past week, really.

It was the first of at least three checks we expect to receive over the next several weeks after deciding to liquidate some investments from previous employers. It doesn't total much, but it is enough to give us a little boost and have some cash in the bank. While it does eliminate the possibly of future earnings off of those investments, we feel better knowing that we have quick access to some cash. A beefed-up emergency fund does a lot for my peace of mind after a year of not knowing when the next paycheck might be the last for a while.

Once we have some debts paid off (OK, all of our debts except the house paid off) we will focus on throwing money back into investments. I am confident we will have no problem making up for lost time. In the meantime I am more concerned about having a savings account with enough money in it to keep the roof over our heads, the lights and heat on, and food in our bellies for several months.

Sure, I want us to be able to eat in our old age, too, but we gotta' make it there first.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One of those days.

Today is one of those days when being a parent really stinks. All I want to do is turn to my spouse, my rock, and ask him if I'm being completely unreasonable, or if I should continue to stick to my guns. I need someone to have my back. I need someone to tell me it's OK that I blew my top because we all need to do that sometimes.

I need someone to tell me I'm doing a great job. But the someone I really want that from is a nine-hour drive away and working his butt off to keep food on our table and clothing on our bodies. So today is one of those days that I suck it up and deal with things the best way I know how.

Parenting alone while Steve is on the road is tough enough. Throw in a kid with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder and we're talking a whole different ball game.

Most people understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; it's a fairly common diagnosis these days and I will likely write more about how we got to that diagnosis in future posts. Fewer people understand Oppositional Defiant Disorder which renders some techniques for dealing with ADHD useless. With ODD, the ADHD kid - who often has trouble paying attention and disrupts things anyway - then becomes a kid who lives to annoy people and defy authority. Everything has the potential to become an argument. Everything.

The following is an example of a typical (read: many times daily) exchange in our house:

Me: "Please take care of your breakfast dishes."
Sam: "Can I have some more toast first?"
Me: (calmly) "No, you're done. Please take care of your dishes."
Sam: (louder) "I still have to finish my apple juice."
Me: (willing to give a little) "Fine, finish your juice and then take care of your dishes."
Sam: "But why can't I have some more toast?"
Me: (still calm) "Breakfast time is over."
Sam: (perhaps pounding a fist on the table) "But I'm still hungry."
Me: (calmly but firmly) "You ate two pieces of toast, two eggs, and a glass of juice. You're done."
Sam: (still not responding to my request) "Rachel, hurry up. Mom said breakfast is over."
Me: (gently turning his face to look at me) "Don't worry about your sister, just do as you're told."
Sam: (shoving his chair back from the table) "What, so you don't care about her taking forever?"
Me: (borderline yelling) "You focus on you. Now take care of your dishes."
Sam: "Fine!"  Dishes slam, feet stomp, chair teeters on two legs.

Me: "Rachel, please take care of your breakfast dishes."
Rachel: "OK"

This is how it goes on a regular basis, starting with getting out of bed in the morning and ending with brushing teeth and going to bed at night. This morning was very typical, except that it was a little more intense than usual. By the time the kids got on the school bus I was exhausted and beyond frustrated.

I have learned to truly enjoy and appreciate the good times with Sam - and there really are many of those, too. When he allows me to love on him and hug and kiss him, I soak it up. When he harnesses his creativity with a really awesome drawing (something he loves to do) that he can't wait to show me, or carves himself a really cool walking stick (which he did over the weekend) I hold those moments in my heart for days like today when I have to dig really deep to find a reason not to throw in the towel and give up.

Our children are gifts from God and I seek His guidance in how to raise them and positively influence their lives. Furthermore, I have always felt that God will not give us any more than we can handle. Apparently He felt Steve and I were a strong enough team to handle this iron-willed boy. On days like today I wonder if I am truly the best mama for the job, but really, who am I to question God's grand plan?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Trial run.

We survived Week One.

None of us knew we would see Steve again so soon and it was a nice surprise for all of us that he was able to come home for the weekend after only a week away. Now it will be at least three weeks before we have another visit. It feels a bit like we are back at square one, but in a good way. Sort of.

Sam was in quite the jovial mood Saturday evening and when I asked him if he was glad to have his dad home for a couple days he shrugged and said something I found absolutely hysterical: "I don't have the chance to miss him if he doesn't stay gone."

Right. How presumptuous of me.

We are blessed with a child who can be incredibly perplexing one minute and fabulously funny the next.

Tonight, as I picked the leftover meat from the roasted chicken we had for dinner, he sat at the table with me and polished off at least three helpings of steamed cauliflower while presenting to me his theory of why broccoli and cauliflower really aren't all that different.

He ate cauliflower!! A lot of it!

The kid amazes me every single day. Sometimes that's good, sometimes not so much. But at least life is never boring.

Here's to the start of another week. I'm going to do my best to make it a good one. The kids will certainly help make it interesting.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Great news!

Steve will be home for a very short visit this weekend.

Apparently his crew gets an occasional weekend off and this weekend is one of them. His plan is to head home when he gets done with work today. It's about a nine-hour drive, so he'll be home late tonight and he'll have to leave again Sunday afternoon.

It seems like such a quick turnaround might not be worth the time and money, but it's better than the alternative: two lonely days in a hotel room, and spending money on three squares a day and to wash his laundry. This way I can do his laundry for free, the kids get to give daddy a hug and hear about his new job, and Steve gets to relax in his own home for a little while.

We haven't said anything to the kids. They're gonna' FLIP. OUT!

I can't wait.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is it any wonder why I'm not a morning person?

Demons possessed my alarm clock this morning.

It's usually a "beep beep (pause) beep beep (pause) beep beep" and it started out just fine, but after I hit the snooze button a couple times it did this: "beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ..."

I fell out of bed trying to unplug it.

I finally got it unplugged from where I landed on the floor. But guess what? It also has a battery backup.

"beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ..."

So I fumbled, in the dark, to get the damn battery compartment open and get the batteries out.

The beeping stopped and the face of the clock went dark.

A full 10 seconds later, the digital face of the clock flashed on again. Ten seconds later, again.

I'm wondering if I should smash it with a hammer before I throw it away. Perhaps send it off with a couple cloves of garlic?

Two budgets, one paycheck.

"Money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money."      ~ Gertrude Stein

One of the intricacies of having a spouse who works away from home for extended periods is maintaining two budgets - one for home and one for the road warrior - on one paycheck.

It costs money to set up a home away from home. Generally, Steve's options are to stay in a hotel or motel and eat most meals in bars and restaurants, or in the summertime he can find a campground and set up our travel trailer, cook his own meals, and be a little more comfortable.

We finally got to the point where we opened a checking account for work-related expenses because he never knew how much he would be driving (and spending on gas) from one week to the next and I was going a little bonkers trying to keep all the numbers straight in our main checking account. Throw in the occasional round of golf that every hardworking guy needs to partake in, plus maintenance and repairs on his truck, and a case of beer now and then - all mixed in with the regular household bills - and my head was about to explode.

It's much easier now that we have two separate accounts, but it is just as important that we continue to communicate about how much money is transferred from our main account - the "general fund" - to the work account and where the dollars from each account are being spent. It is far from a perfect system, but it allows me, the financial nerd, to keep my sanity.

This is a perfect example of why I love technology. I can work on the budget at home, send notes to Steve via e-mail, and he can look at it at his leisure and either send notes back or make suggestions the next time we talk. Technology also allows me to see current and pending transactions in either account, and to transfer money to and from our savings account with just a click of a button.

This week is probably the most frustrating for budgeting because we are between receiving the last unemployment benefits check and the first paycheck, Steve is trying to get settled in a new place, and I am looking forward to catching up on some bills. It's all about balance and I feel like we're teetering atop a high wire.

Have I mentioned that I am not a patient person?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When life throws a curveball ...

Here is today's installment of "Why It's Good To Have Relatives Living Next Door". Enjoy.

The morning got off to a great start. Kids got out of bed after only one request to do so. Lunches were mostly packed last night so all I had to do was make sandwiches. I made an executive decision that I would not cook anything for breakfast, so the choices were toast, Raisin Bran, or whatever you want to cook yourself. Everyone was fine with that. Joy!

Five minutes before we were to leave I took the dog outside. She goes potty, I go to start the truck.

And? Flat tire.

Not low tire. Not you-might-want-to-get-that-looked-at tire. We're talking flat-as-a-pancake tire.

I hurried back in the house and called my in-laws next door. Nobody answered. I told the kids to hurry up and get their boots on because we needed to hoof it to the bus stop. I started looking for a flashlight and debating whether we could actually make it. It's not far, but far enough that I didn't want to do it in those conditions: in the cold, in the dark, and in my pajamas. Can you imagine someone driving to work and seeing me walking back down the road alone, in the dark, in my pajamas? Oh, and wearing a black coat? Yeah.

Fortunately the in-laws called back after hearing my voice on the answering machine. Brother-in-law rushed over with a car so I could drive the kids to the bus stop. We got there with a few minutes to spare.

Crisis averted.

At some point today I guess we'll have to take a look at that tire. Right now I need coffee.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Routines, routines, routines.

Sunday night. My favorite time of the week. I love family dinners and preparing for the week ahead and settling in for a quiet, restful evening.

The laundry is done and clothes are laid out for tomorrow. Lunch boxes and backpacks are ready. Boots are lined up. Typically at this time of night Steve would be watching football and we'd each be plunking away on our laptops chatting with friends on-line or browsing our favorite forums. Tonight the house is quiet. The kids are in bed, the television is off, the dog is curled up in the chair where Steve usually sits, and I sit here listening to the tick-tock of the dining room clock.

I stink at keeping routines, but I know that a sense of predictability to their days will be important for the kids over the next few weeks. I want to make the fact that their dad is away from home as easy as possible for them - and for me. I don't know if I lack self discipline or I'm just plain lazy or what, but this is always the hardest part for me. I've never been able to keep up with a journal; I stink at the Flylady housekeeping plan; I'm terrible about working out on a regular basis. How am I supposed to make this work for myself and two little people?

I suppose it's time to put on my Big Girl panties and just do it, eh?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Moving forward.

Today dawned bright and sunny. Beautiful. A perfect day for a road trip.

It was the kind of morning when I feel like God is clearly telling us we are on the right track. He blessed us with blue skies as if to say, "You are taking a leap of faith and making huge sacrifices today, so here's a little reward to keep you going."

By the time we got up and had breakfast we had to hustle a bit to get out the door. I was taking Sam to his Saturday morning bowling league and Steve's plan was to leave for W. Virginia at the same time. We managed to pull it off without a hitch. Steve called tonight to say he had arrived in Morgantown and is checked in at a motel. It was a good day.

Sam asked me today if dad is working "near the mountains." Because, ya' know, I am a huge John Denver fan and every time Steve talks about West Virginia lately I start singing "Country Roads." I remember the days of my childhood when my dad drove us from Michigan to Florida to spend the holidays with our grandparents and how I was so fascinated by the hilly terrain we encountered as we got further south. I can't wait to share that adventure with our kids when we finally get a chance to visit Steve.

Tomorrow begins a new week. It's time to settle into a new groove with new routines and inevitably a new set of challenges. I am optimistic. Excited. Hopeful. We have much to look forward to, much to be thankful for, and that's a good place to be.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Countdown to departure.

Last day. We're cramming in as much as we can and I'm sure I won't get much sleep tonight. I need to finish Steve's laundry so he can pack, he needs to clean out his truck, and somebody probably should have made a checklist of all the everyday things he will need to remember - like medications and replacement blades for his razor.

I'm trying to stay upbeat, but there are moments when this weird combination of anxiety and sadness chips away at my resolve. I chase it away with the reminder of how happy I am that things are on an upswing for us, and how proud I am of Steve for doing everything he can to support his family. I'm also a little excited that I will be able to concentrate on some projects at home while he is away. Keeping busy is usually the best medicine for loneliness.

As expected, the kids are wearing their emotions on their sleeves this week. Tempers flare a little quicker, tears come a little easier. This morning Rachel, our 7-yr-old, was bummed because we didn't have enough bread to make cold lunch (both the kids usually take their lunches to school). When she got over that drama she asked for an egg and cheese burrito for breakfast. I told her we didn't have any tortillas and she cried. Not a spoiled-brat-whining-for-what-she-wants kind of cry; more like an "I'm really sad and this just sucks" kind of cry. So I hugged her and then sat down on the couch and held her for a while. She's always been our uber-sensitive child. Someday I might tell her to suck it up and get over it, but not today. Not when I know exactly how she's feeling.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This is my new favorite picture of Sam, our 11-yr-old. I took it while we were sledding one day during Christmas break. I love every detail about it: his rosy cheeks, his badass skaterboy hat, his thick eyelashes, the snow caked on his hoodie. But most of all I love that look on his face like he is concentrating on something amazing off in the distance.

The reality? This child will not stand still for more than 3.2 seconds. I had him all squared up for a great photo atop the hill, probably talking a little smack to keep him smiling, and I didn't hit the shutter button fast enough. After my alloted 3.2 seconds he turned to gallop away.

So this is what I ended up with. I love it.

And that look on his face? Probably hatching some crafty plot for Sledding Hill Domination.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I get by with a little help ...

We are incredibly blessed. We live in a small, rural neighborhood where we are surrounded by family and friends. It is the kind of place where people honk the horn and wave if they see us outside when they drive by and where impromptu barbecues happen relatively often in the summertime.

You gotta' take the bad with the good in a community like this. The bad: unless you're a hermit - and sometimes even if you are - people are going to know at least some of your business. The good: because people know what's going on in your life, they often step in and offer help, an invitation to dinner, a fresh perspective, kudos and encouragement, or sometimes just a listening ear. This is the kind of stuff that is important to any family who has one spouse/parent who travels, be it for the military or on the pipeline or in some other occupation. We need the motherly figure down the street (or mom herself) to say "you're doing a great job, kiddo" when she sees us out and about. We need the buddy with an extra beer in the fridge and an open invitation to visit. We need the aunts and cousins who never turn down the opportunity to watch the kids so we can go for a girls' night out. We need that trusty neighbor who knows everything there is to know about cars. And washing machines. And furnaces.

We - those of us who keep the home fires burning - create for ourselves a support system that helps us deal with broken toilets and empty cupboards and injured pets without mama falling into a heap and sobbing. Fortunately for my family, the support system was already here when we moved into the neighborhood and has just grown stronger over the years. That's partly because this is where Steve grew up, and partly, I think, because that's just part of life in the country. We help one another, we look out for the folks around us, we offer what we can to make life a little easier. If it weren't for all of that, I don't know if I would stay very sane if I had to handle everything alone while the love of my life is away from home for extended periods of time.

On the other hand, perhaps a touch of insanity is what got us here in the first place.

Ah well. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

She's got it made.

Oh, to have a dog's life. The household hound continues her daily routine of lying curled in a ball on the couch, grabbing a bite of kibble, nosing my arm to alert me it's time to go potty, all blissfully unaware that her world is about to change in a big way.

Once Steve leaves I expect it will take several days for Ladybug to realize daddy is not coming back for a while. That means several days of me keeping the drapes pulled anytime she is awake so she doesn't sit staring longingly out the window and whining, watching for his truck. It means she will sniff the children relentlessly when they get home from school in her own way of asking if perhaps they have forgotten someone outside. I suspect she will sit next to me in the evenings with a look in her eyes as if to say "what have you done with him?"

The cats won't care. As long as they are fed and petted and talked to occasionally (or not, depending on their moods) they will be happy. The dog? She'll take some time to settle into a new routine minus one of her humans, but eventually she will. The real question is, how long will it take the rest of us?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Easy Come, Easy Go

We've been spoiled lately. Well, spoiled in the sense that we have had daddy home with us 24/7 for almost four months and we really like having him around. But for as quickly as the work comes to a screeching halt nearly every fall, it begins again just as quickly with a new project a few months later. And when the call comes, daddy responds.

Such is the life of a pipelining family.

This time around Steve will be heading to West Virginia and the countdown to departure has begun. The next four days will be filled with lots of hugs and kisses, playing games with the kids, packing bags, making plans for when we will see each other again, and for me, steeling my nerves for the impending single parenthood.

With two children in a school they love and a home where we can see ourselves living for the rest of our lives, it wouldn't make sense for us to uproot ourselves and travel with him. Summertime and the opportunity to visit wherever he happens to be is only five months away. In the meantime I will be using my little corner of the blogosphere to reflect on this life we have chosen with its ups and downs, good times and bad times, frustrations, victories, and everything else that comes along with this often crazy lifestyle.

Steve would say pipelining gets into your blood. I would say he's probably right, but I wouldn't know any differently; I am the daughter of a pipeliner, the sister of two pipeliners, and the wife of a pipeliner. It's just what we do. It's the Pipe Life.