Hanger Rats

Pilots kiddos have a unique opportunity to experience a world of travel, an unusual schedule that will nurture flexibility and teach patience. Different ages and personalities present new challenges. This area includes my personal experiences as well as research that I have conducted to help us be effective parents.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

Image is from the Woodlands Pavilion website

Couple of weeks ago we took son to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, courtesy of one of my friends who had tickets and invited us along. I was a bit nervous about how a 5 year old would sit through the 2 hour Symphony. He is very musically inclined and loves listening to all types of music, from classical, rock, punk, country to some children songs. Son embraces opportunities to play with daddy while he is playing the guitar son plays the tambourine. However 2 hours of symphony I thought might be a stretch.
We arrived a bit early at the Woodlands pavilion, got some snacks, found our seats and waited for the show to begin. It was a great mixture of Bugs Bunny movie clips and music. The music from Bugs Bunny played live in front of us. It was really eye opening for son to see so many people playing different instruments most of which he knew the names of with the exception of the Cello. He had an absolute fabulous time. He laughed at all the funny cartoon clips and was truly taken with the music and the intensity of the power that so many musicians playing together brought. I would strongly recommend taking young kiddos to see the Symphony next time it plays, it is a great learning opportunity. And what  a great way to spend a family evening.

Treasure Hunt

Do you remember those days when you were a kid and the day was just sooo boring. Son had one of those days today. He just could not get it together in the area of entertainment.  The TV was boring, cars were boring, reading was boring, it was sooo boring. So Mr. Right came up with the idea of a treasure hunt.
We drew a map and burned the edges then crumpled it and soaked it in water with tea, then set it out in the sun to dry. In the meantime Mr. Right ran over to the store and for few dollars bought a set of hot wheels cars and went to the spot we agreed on and buried said set of cars, marking the spot with a paper X.
When Mr. Right came home he called son over, waving the map and said: “I found this blowing down the street. What do you think?”

“I think it’s a treasure map but it’s not real” It took a bit of convincing to give it a shot, but our bored little explorer agreed to take the garden shovel and follow the map.

As we were walking through the woods the excitement in him grew and he started speculating on what the treasure might be. Our son, the smart cookie that he is, absolutely talked my husband out of the idea that it was pirate treasure, clearly we live too far inland. We thought it was maybe squirrel nuts or candy. As we made our way to the X on the map, little guy kept leading and telling us where to turn and stop for car crossings. I was amazed at his take charge attitude.

After crossing a bridge we got to the woods where he thought the treasure may be we started looking for the X. He found the X and son burst with “I can’t believe the map was real and there is an X”. He started digging and found the cars. He was thrilled beyond anything to have not only followed the map without getting us lost but also to find a real treasure.

We started back Mr. Right and I pretending that we didn’t know the way and son got us all the way home even though we tried to confuse him. At one point we passed a runner and Mr. Right said: “we have to be lost there is no runner on your map”.  He replied “Dad, we are not on the map either, only roads and trails are on the map. We are not lost. ” with all the confidence in the world.

What a fun way to fill couple hours, educational and fun for all involved. Back at home, he can’t stop talking about the adventure and his treasure. His excitement may go on for a while. 

Daddy pilot and his Lofty projects
Mr. Right loves projects he always is thinking about the next home improvement or yard design. As our boy has been getting more into racing and less into the child's play that included Thomas the Tank Engine we decided that it maybe time to redo his room.

It used to have a mural I painted and he loved it, but more and more he talks about hockey and racing (especially formula 1) and less about trains. So we started planing a new room for him. Mr. Right and I decided that it is beneficial to allow our son to make many of the decorating choices for his room, so we let him choose paint color and some of the decor he wanted to keep from his old room. When the repainting was complete we decided that it is time to tackle the lofty idea my husband has been kicking around for a while and build son a loft.

Mr. Right did some preliminary drawings, took some measurements and purchased the necessary wood, screws and stain.

I love to help so I held some boards here and there and helped with the staining the final outcome for the entire room was magnificent.

We love the color son chose and his new posters, the room can mature with him. His decisions were wise for a four year old and most importantly we had a blast doing it. I tell you what this pilot is very talented.

The white knight
the bank of fog
As a pilot’s wife you learn that despite your and his best efforts sometimes you have to do the tough things by yourself. I planned 6 weeks in advance son’s shots. He does better with daddy there and I really hate taking him all by myself, so I try to plan dentist and shot visits with daddy.

Today is the big day we are going in for the last three that son needs and then we are done until he turns 13 yrs.  So as I mentioned I planned this appointment on Mr. Right’s day off, six weeks in advance and would it not figure that a bank of fog comes by and decides that the coast of Louisianan is the best place to chill out and thus it hangs out; all day yesterday and today cutting Mr. Right off from entering the land and keeping him stranded on a platform. (bummer for all involved, but what can you do)

As I awoke this morning to little hands shoving my face and a little voice saying “wake up mommy” I cringed. It is show time and I have to break it to the little man that we are going to see the nurse for shots so as we cuddled I remembered a show I used to watch with my dad about the human body. It was a cartoon type of a show that described the body’s functions and the systems like the vascular system, digestive system, nervous system ect. I told son about the appointment and immediately he started to whine that he didn’t want to go and that it hurts. (He just had 3 shots about 6 weeks ago I am very cautious about shoots but believe that they are necessary so we spread them out no more than 3 at a time and at least 6 weeks apart. I could go into this whole big thing about shots but maybe another time or maybe not at all because it is an individual choice).

So son and I are talking about how he needs to be brave and if he is good and does not scream I will take him to get a happy meal. It all of the sudden occurs to me that he may not know why we get vaccinated and what it is for so I ask him and sure enough son looks at me puzzled. So I begin the story:

“In your body there are veins. They are like train tracks and in the veins there is blood which is made up mostly off red blood cells they are like train and wagons. For example when you breath in you get air into your lungs and the air goes to where?” “Your lungs” he pipes up “yes your lungs that’s like a train station and then the air goes to your fingers and your brain ect. On the train there are also things called the white blood cells and they are your white knights, like your army. Your army is there to fight off bad viruses that make you sick. Some bacteria and viruses are very bad and could really hurt you like make you blind so you can’t see or make you not be able to walk (I was thinking polio) and your army of white knights kicks their butt and then you are ok. But what do you do to get really really good at something?” “I practice” “that is right your knights need to practice fighting too so when you get a shot the nurse is putting a little bit of the bad guys in you and your white knights who are spoiling for a fight kick their butt and they become really good and you will not get sick. “A big macho smile spreads on his face and he says “Yeah my white knights want to fight” Oyyy we might be in trouble but I feel like he is more prepared and I am not as stressed about taking him in.
So even though daddy can’t go to be the manly support we have the white knights who are spoiling for a fight are there and ready to go. Time will tell if this worked.

Halloween whish from daddy

So yesterday I found out that daddy was going to beach in for the night, it is very rare anymore that he comes on land during his hitch. Usually once he goes out he stays off shore for the duration of his hitch anywhere from 7 to  whatever days. So as it was, Mr. Right was coming in for one night and son and I have been missing him since we were doing a lot of fun Halloween things without daddy, this year. We decided to pop over for a quick visit.

While son was busy playing with the new air-suction thingy gun daddy bought him daddy gave me this to hide and give to son today.
I read it and quickly stashed it in my backpack. How sweet of him to think of doing such a nice thing for his son. Our boy is 4 and this is his 1st Halloween without dad, he was a little bummed out especially that this year with this new schedule we will be doing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas without Mr. Righ and little man is prepared but says it sucks. Every time there is a holiday without dad I make sure to go out of my way to make it special in other ways. This year daddy took care of that extra special touch since we dropped in on him the day before. It is amazing how a post-it makes a little boy smile ear to ear. He was telling my friend J about it and he kept telling me all day about the m&m’s daddy gave him for Halloween.

Halloween preparations

As I mentioned in my previous post my son loves Halloween. He is super excited about being a race car driver this year and going trick or treating with his friends. Since he loves loves this holiday I thought it would be fun to have some theme food around. My friend and her family came over today to do some fun deserts so that we can eat them tomorrow while carving pumpkins.

We made witches hats (thank you M. for making the rims so nice) , we made ghosts and graves you will need to wait for those to be assembled, and we made witches fingers. This was my son’s idea he saw them when we were hanging out on the internet yesterday getting fun Halloween cookie ideas and he just had to have them.

It was fun to have the kids help and we really enjoyed our friends’ part taking in the yum yummy baking. Since daddy is not here we took a ton of pictures to share when he comes off hitch. I wish he was here but we are lucky that we live in an information overload age and thus he can see all of the activities that take place while he is off at work.

So here is a peak at the yummy treats in our home. More festive activities to come.
These are my cupcakes and they are needing some assembling before they have their ghosts
Ghost chocolate cupcakes
appetizing aren't they.

The sticker deal

Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try to communicate with your child it is impossible to get through. I was there last week. Mr. Right was at work and after day three my son who usually is super good was having some serious issues with listening, following direction, attitude and not talking back. Before I knew it I was having screaming fights with him over everything from putting shoes on to bed time. Not my proudest moment and not very mature.
So after a self-pep talk I decided to strike the sticker deal. Good behavior, going to bed on his own and not calling me in, and extra chores like cleaning up his toys without being asked would earn him a sticker. Each sticker was worth a dollar and after son collected 10 he could buy the fire set he was asking for. It took all of five days to collect 10 stickers, toys were magically cleaned up, and he went to bed without an issue.

But now we have a dilemma, Mr. Right feels that son should be good because that is what is expected and not because he gets something. I agree. I do feel that the sticker system worked and in a moment where nothing else works this was a saving grace, it teaches patience, working towards a goal and that good behavior is rewarded. Son was so excited when he reached his 10th sticker and got to go buy his fire set. So we are fine tuning the rules for earning stickers and working towards a goal, saving up for bigger ticket items and being good just because being good is what is expected.

Why having a pilot daddy rocks

Now that we are back from Europe it was time to get our life in order, vacation fun over. Little man was due for his four year old shots and I was not looking forward to taking him in. Knowing that daddy was coming off hitch on Tuesday I scheduled the nurse appointment for Wednesday so that we both could take our son. He does better when daddy is there, so much better that daddy is the one to take son to the dentist. I am not sure why it is if it’s male bonding or just having his dad backing him, none the less he is stronger more reasonable and braver when daddy is here.
The shots were not pleasant as he had to get three and the nurse told us that they are painful, son did pretty well he cried a little but calmed himself down very quickly. As a reward for bravery we went to Toys R Us and let him choose a toy. He is really into hot wheels so he selected a race track and daddy built it when they got it home. I love the fact that when daddy is home he is home during the week allowing us to have his support and participation in activities that daddies who work an 8 to 5 Monday through Friday miss out on. And ofcourse there are to oh so cool rewards like a loopty loop track with a launcher.

Mud Pie

I know that I have been very quiet lately and the thing is that I think about writing everyday but then I get swamped with things to do and projects that I need to wrap up and then it is night and I am so very tired that I feel like falling into bed and passing out. So here is one fun thing that son and I did while Mr. Right was at work and it was such great fun that I highly recommend it.

So what have we been up to? Son and I went over to a cool little place called the Mud Pie. It is a pottery store where you get to paint mugs plates and anything else your heart desires. We had great fun picking out some gifts for my dad and grandma and then we had even more fun painting them. The whole thing was suggested by my girlfriend and I just can’t wait to get the finished pieces back.

Son and I had a great time choosing colors for the two coffee mugs we selected and got covered in glaze up to our elbows while painting and writing on the mugs. We painted them in Son’s favorite colors orange and blue and put handprints on them, grandma’s is pink and purple with hearts hope it looks even better finished. I was amazed that his handprint barely fit so I am guessing that this maybe one of the last hand print projects that we will be able to do.

 It takes about a week to get your things back so I am anticipating that before next weekend I should be able to post a follow up with the finished project. It was so much fun and I highly suggest that if you have an artistically inclined child or even a child who likes to paint it is well worth the money to have such a cool memento.
Through the eyes of a four year old.

We thought that it would be fun to see what our son thought about daddy’s job. I did this when he was three and I thought that it would be fun to see how much his responses changed in a year.

1. What does your daddy do?
He fixes
2. What does he do when he is at work?
3. What does he do in Louisiana?
He flies
4. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A racecar driver
5. Why
Because I like racing
6. What are you going to do when daddy comes home?
I am going to tackle him
7. Do you miss daddy when he is at work?
8. What do you to make yourself feel better when you miss him?
9. How do you feel when daddy comes home?
I feel excited
10. What is your favorite thing about daddy?
Playing with him.
11. What is your favorite thing about mommy?
Going to the pool and the grocery store
12. Do you want daddy to take you on a helicopter ride?
Again? (with a sigh)

Apparently we are in the stage of the less words used for an answer the better. So there you have it apparently this is how simple this lifestyle if for a four year old. The original interview can be found at the very bottom of this page.

Little bit of birthday reminiscing.

So we celebrated my little guy’s 4th birthday. We had family friends and lots of fun that I am a bit late sharing with you, but better late than never. Mr. Right’s mom and dad (poppy and grama) flew in for the occasion and we just loved spending time with them. 
On little dude’s actual birthday it was just the three of us as poppy was coming in at 9:00 that night. Little man requested the fried Sicilian pizzas so that is what I made for him and en lue of a cake we had chocolate chip cupcakes as per birthday boy’s request. We then took off and surprised poppy at the airport the birthday boy was too excited to sleep anyway. He got Cars 2 t-shirt and some of the characters.
 Image courtesy of GoogleImages

We went to see Cars 2 twice (it is very cute) and the birthday party even though I really didn’t mean to was a Cars 2 theme. We had a racing car cake (as per birthday boy’s request.) Let me tell you about this cake. It was absolutely the best sheet cake I have ever had. The recipe is in Meals for Two - I found it on my trusty www.food.com. Yumm. There were close to 30 people in attendance and the kids had a blast celebrating and playing with all of the new Cars 2 characters (he now has them all courtesy of daddy, poppy and grama). We were very lucky that daddy was home for his birthday and party and it was great fun. Kids birthdays are hectic but such fun.

Our 1940 Air Terminal Museum visit

As we were deciding on how to spend today I pulled up a website of things to do in Houston. The 1940 Air Terminal Museum came up as one of the things to do. When I mentioned it to Mr. Right and son they were both super excited to go and check it out. Well of course it is aviation related!
We got to the museum around 1ish and perused the many rooms with artifacts from the aviation world. Even though we didn’t get to see their aircraft on display since it is a Sunday and the hangar is closed to the public, the amount of cool artifacts was well worth the trip. Little dude was in awe of the old phones and avionics equipment not to mention the models upon models of airplanes depiction models throughout the history of aviation. 

The museum had uniforms from the 40s and 50s for different airlines along with glassware and suitcases. There are so many artifacts that we were busy for good hour going from room to room finding new things to look at. 
 Aren't you glad that your hubs doesn't have to travel with this monstrosity 

The center of the museum is set up to resemble a terminal from 1940s, the exterior is architecturally interesting with relief tiles depicting aviation scenes - very cool.  If you are visiting Houston or live here check it out. Especially on their Wings & Wheels event which takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month where you not only get to see airplanes on the ramp but classic cars – what a way to spend a Saturday if you love aviation. Check out their website The 1940 Air Terminal Museum

Hockey, cheese puffs and my boys

 My husband is not a sports watching type of a guy. Actually in our home the number one entertainment on TV are cartoons from Disney, PBS Kids, Cartoon network or Nick.  We are readers and rarely watch TV even after the little guy is in bed. I also find that during some mainstream programing the commercials that are played are highly inappropriate. But I am off subject here. Last night for the 1dt time since the winter Olympics we watched a sporting event – the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It was so much fun watching father and son watch the game. Since son knows nothing about hockey, dad did a lot of explaining about the game and what the announcers were saying. I learned quite a bit from just sitting here and listening. They cheered on the Bruins team and daddy shared some stories from his hockey days as a youngster growing up in PA.
Even though the Houston Aeros are done for the season and we only have two NHL games left I can see hockey becoming a sport that father and son enjoy for years to come. It would be fun to go to a few games next year and feel the excitement of live game. For now we are excited about the Monday game when bedtime will go out the window and some serious male bonding will take place in my living room creating life long memories.

Wait for daddy to go off the diving board.

I think I am one of very few that loves Texas summer. I love the humidity and I love the heat so when June peaks around the corner I get excited. School is out, pools in our community are open and it is HOT. When I used to live in Flagstaff Arizona, the wind blew nonstop and it would push cold air off the Mountain and I was always cold. My mother-in-law joked on every special occasion that she would buy me a warming rock like the lizards have at the zoo so that I could lie on in and be finally warm.
I don’t function well in cold. It feels as if my body gets so slow and shrivels up to an nonfunctional little ball. The pilot lifestyle afforded us the ability to look for work in the parts of the country where we wanted to be. My requirement was warm. So here I am in the middle of Texas loving the hot hot weather, soaking in the pool, running in the early morning and using the pilot lifestyle to put off my son jumping from the diving board.
Little Dude is itching to take his swim test so that he can go off the diving board. The fact that he goes off the board at the age of 3 and started last year thrills me and terrifies me at the same time. Our friends call him fish boy because he has been swimming since he barely turned three.  I am glad we have few days before daddy comes home so that he can practice for the swim test required before going off the diving board. If I could, I think I would push it off for few weeks because I am scared when he runs and jumps off that diving board and plunges into the pool. He thinks it is great fun while I hold my breath and pray. I think it is the adventurous gene from pilot daddy, I have the scarredy cat gene, son didn’t get much of that one.  I am being completely bad and using daddy’s absence to put off the inevitable, I know Mr. Right would love to see him test and it gives me a great excuse to have few days without him jumping off the diving board. 

Our normal is clearly just normal.
 After 21 days of having Mr. Right at home we are on our own again. He has had a long stretch off because he was sick and on antibiotics so we go a lot of relaxing in and just hanging out as a family. I was really concerned that it would be super difficult when he went back.
The primary concerns were that after having daddy for 21 days our son would have a really tough time getting used to daddy being gone. He had a really difficult time right before Mr. Right came home the last time and I was anticipating some rough going at first when he left. The other concern was that I have gotten used to Mr. Right being here to talk to and have as a companion. The third was that Mr. Right has gotten used to being home with us. So I was worried that all three of us would go through some heart ache.
Throughout the time that daddy was home he brought up the fact that he didn’t want daddy to go to work. We had explained many times that daddy works like all other daddies. That the reason why daddy works is that we want to live in a nice house and have good food and nice things and daddy makes money so that we can buy those nice things. It seemed to explain things but Little Dude still seemed to be a bit anxious about daddy leaving.
When Mr. Right left we waived good bye and went on about our evening as usual. The transition has been seamless. Little dude mentions missing daddy but not anymore than usual. . I have been fine, missing him but no more than normal and Mr. Right shared that his commute to work felt very routine. Thus my fears were unfounded and clearly this lifestyle is our normal and we slip in and out of it smoothly. (Sigh of relief)

Always the teacher
 This past weekend we ventured out to the San Jacinto Monument in Houston and visited the battleship Texas. This was a special road trip I promised out little guy since he had such a hard time with daddy being gone. It was quite a wonderful experience, where the monument was interesting in the historical sense and the importance of the site to the Texas history the battleship was an absolute blast.

Battleship Texas was completed in 1912 and taken out of service in 1948. It was amazing to walk on the different decks and try to picture American soldiers hustling during times of war and peace keeping the ship running smoothly. The spaces are tight like one would imagine, and seeing that when the ship was designed it was meant to hold a crew of 800 men, yet by the time it was retired it held 1800 it is really amazing how they all fit and did their jobs, where these men slept. It was an eye opening experience.

Mr. Right always being the teacher took his time to answer the onslaught of questions form little dude as we were working our way through the different rooms, offices,  kitchens, operating rooms, the prophylactic room (that was interesting but it really does make sense) and of course the sleeping quarters, bathing rooms and the onboard jails. I actually have gained a much better understanding as to what it is like on the oil rigs that husband frequents since he would say: “look, this looks just like off shore” The grating in the engine rooms was a real eye opener since you walk on this see through grating and you have two or three decks below you, imagine that but 300 feet over the ocean… yikes. So in addition to learning lots of facts about the Texas herself and about the wars she served in I also got a glimpse into the off shore life. 

The San Jacinto is a great stop for history buffs but the Battleship Texas is a must see for everyone, totally worth the $10.00 per person admission fee. The amount of access that is granted with the hands on experience at the gunner nests it is an absolute life altering experience.

Missing Daddy

Our son has been very busy since daddy went back to work with swim parties, shows and friends coming over not to mention the multiple bike rides on his new Lightning McQueen bike. So there has not been much time to talk to daddy let alone Skype – and it is taking its toll.
I thought that with as busy as little dude has been he would miss his dad less, because there is less time to think about him. It seems that when he is in the act of playing or doing whatever, he is too busy to chat on the phone when dad calls. When things mellow and it is time for bed, the nostalgia hits. He cried last night that daddy is in bed already and we can’t call. He missed him so much and how do you explain to an almost four year old that if he is with friends or watching a movie he needs to stop and talk to dad because dad is not available whenever? Do you even go there?
My husband did a post on family support and in it he wrote about how glad he is that our son at times is too busy to chat because that means that little dude’  life does not revolve around him, and it is the truth. So how do I deal with the aftermath of being too busy to talk and then the missing taking over tenfold? 
This is our life, son does not know anything else and thus I think it is normal to him, at the same time he is learning so much and his growth causes him to ask more questions: “Why does daddy go away?” “How long is he gone this time?” “How many days will he be home?” “Why can’t he be home like you are?” How do you explain to a child that there are bills to be paid, that toys are not free.  
I sit and take the time to explain in simple terms (Mr. Right has a saying: ”Keep it simple stupid”) that all daddies work, that a daddy has a job to feed his family and that is what our daddy is doing. I explain that it is awesome that when daddy is home he is home for 7 days and we get him all to ourselves, we get to go to the zoo and take trips and do fun things. That seems to work and make him smile and make fun plans and be grateful for the time he does get with his dad versus dwelling to the time he does not have.  
Now I just need to figure out how in the world to make sure he talks to daddy and is satisfied with the conversations while he is busy with his life. Pilots while at work are available when they are available not when we want them – how do I convey that without making little dude schedule around his dad’s calls? Any wisdom out there?

Crappy Croup

Ugh that “barking” cough, tight chest and your kid struggling to breathe are pretty good indicators that your child has croup. (Check out the link) When our Little Dude was smaller (a year and a half to about three) he would have difficulty with breathing every time he contracted croup and we would have to administer steroids. I hated giving him steroids and would always try the hot steamy bathroom first to see if I could avoid administering the steroid. The steam helps the child breath by relaxing the infected airways.
 The very 1st time our boy had croup it was back East and we were staying with our friends who both are nurses. They were amazing calming me down the new mom who was totally panicked because her little one is struggling for every breath. They stood on either side of our son and listened with their stethoscopes and kept telling me that he was getting better as we were all crammed into their hot steamy bathroom. Since it was very cold outside we did the hot steam bathroom but he was not progressing as they were hoping so we took our son wrapped in blankets outside into the very cold air and that did the trick. The next day he got steroids prescribed to him and I always had them on hand ever since.
 Now that he is nearly four croup is more annoying than dangerous. He is big enough to understand that when he remains calm and chills in the bathroom full of steam with me he will be breathing easier and that he needs to stay put most of the day. The illness last only about a day or two and then we are ready to get back into the swing of things.  It was tough telling him today that I had to cancel both of his play dates so that he didn’t pass it on to his friends.
The hardest thing is that daddy is at work and Little Dude misses him so very much. He wants dad and mom when not feeling well. The phone call this morning helped, when daddy called to check on him (I texted him this morning to tell him that we had croup). It was so cute he answered the phone and when daddy asked how he was doing son said :”Not so good daddy I can’t breathe a lot”. We are going to stay put and take it slow, making sure that he rests and gets better fast.  Today will be a total TV day and hopefully the crappy croup will be gone by tonigh.


We are taught how to share things when we are little, toys, food, playground equipment sharing a person is a very different skill altogether. This post comes from a situation that arose last time that our pilot was home and my son said to him: “Daddy mommy needs alone time, don’t talk to her”. What he was really saying was I need you to myself and I don’t want to share you, not even with mommy. Husband and I looked at each other and were not quite sure on how to deal with that. So daddy went off to play and mommy took the “much needed alone time” to think about the situation
Our pilot is very conscientious to give our son a lot of attention while he is home. The time they share is not very often one on one time. We still act as a family, when they are playing, I am almost always around, so I part take in whatever they are doing – even if it is just sitting in the same room reading a book I still want to be a part of that dynamic passively. This last break was a short break after a ten day absence, daddy was home for three days and son didn’t get any ALONE time with daddy. I wonder if that is where the comment came from, he just wanted dad to himself without mom.
It really was quite hectic for some of the time and I needed attention as did our son. We did not share daddy very well. I feel so odd writing that we need to share him because it really felt like there was a struggle between son and I and daddy was stuck in the middle being pulled apart. Now looking back it probably did not feel good to any of us.  Son and I felt like we didn’t get enough individual attention and daddy felt overwhelmed and torn.
I think that maybe it is time to discuss scheduled alone time for son and daddy and a date night for Mr. Right and I. How do you handle sharing your pilot with your kids?

Homemade playdough

Several months ago I went over to a friend’s friend’s house and she was telling us how she made playdough.

All the kids played with it at they had great fun. My son has had clay forever and that is what we have been using for play time we build houses and trains etc. Lately he has been playing with a little friend of his and she has playdough factory and he loves it.
So today we made playdough. The recipe follows. I used food coloring for the different colors, you may want to use rubber gloves because my hands turned blue and now after washing and washing they are beat up gray. After we mixed in the colors and the playdough cooled, I gave him a bunch of cookie cutters and plastic utensils to make cutouts. We had great fun making the superheroes from his favorite show. I actually kept those and will see what happens when they dry out.
I found the recipe on a website called Free activities and craft ideas for kids.

3 cups flour
1.5 cups salt
6 tsp cream of tarter
3 tbsp oil
3 cups water
  1. Dissolve salt in the water.
  2. Pour all ingredients into a large pot.  
  3. Stir constantly over medium heat until a ball forms by pulling away from the sides.  
  4. Knead the dough mixture until the texture matches playdough (1-2 minutes).
Store in plastic container.  Should last for at least 3 months.
It was super easy to make, it smells earthy and according to the websites since all the ingredients are edible the play dough should not be harmful if digested but a dog did get sick after eating it. (I thought it was a funny side note – I believe them and do not plan on testing it). The amount of salt alone is enough to cause serious harm. So if your husband is away for a long time and you get bored you can make this fabulous playdough with your children.

Project on a cold cold day.

So Little Dude is really into building things and shows about building buildings, playgrounds, skyscrapers, ect. He has also been really into this cartoon about three superheroes and their adventures in their little city. So last night while getting ready for bed we dreamed up a project of building a city.
We got up bright and early very excited about building the city. We had to have plans. So Little Dude drew up some plans for our city.

I gathered some boxes from our recycle bin and some left over scrapbook paper and we covered the buildings in the paper. Little Dude drew windows and doors on his buildings, he also painted grass on a giant piece of cardboard. I cut out some doors for the little animals and people to go in through.

We made the superheroes out of egg carton since they kind of look like balls in the show and painted them. It was a really fun project. By no means is this an architectural model of a city but it was a blast making it. The hard part is waiting for all of t to dry so that he can play with it. 

Ready or not here I come.

Daddy and son were playing hide and seek. I am sure that you have heard me sing prizes to my husband for being the best player ever. He turns into a kid around our son and just gets creative and has a blast playing. While they were playing hide and seek daddy hid under our computer desk, son found him right away because he is too tall and could not squash his six one under the desk (it’s a built in) and his feet stuck out.  Daddy hid in the closet, behind the door in the bathroom, behind the couch, in the laundry room. But the behind the suitcase under the blanket was the most successful. Our little guy ran by him like three times and did not notice daddy hiding there. Awesome hiding daddy, and kudos on being able to squeeze yourself into that tight spot between the cabinet and dresser.  It is so much fun when daddy is home.

He is really baking!

I love to cook and bake. Not that hard to figure out. My husband likes to eat what I cook as long as I don’t go to creative but he does not cook. Let me give you some examples that will clearly explain to you exactly how little my husband knows about cooking. He can set a calzone on fire in a microwave oven, he has also managed to set popcorn on fire in a popcorn maker, my friend threw him out of our kitchen when he was helplessly trying to control macaroni and cheese that was overflowing all over the stove top (I was not at home). You get the picture. The guy is amazing at most things that he tries but a disaster in the kitchen. (I love you baby)
This week daddy and son did a lot of things together as always but they did one thing that I documented with a ton of pictures because it was a 1st and an overwhelming success. They baked a cake!
I came home from work on Wednesday and got started on a chocolate cake for a diner at friend’s house. My son was helping me pull out the ingredients and measure them out he loves to cook and bake with me. I had him cooking with me since he could sit up. I would put him in a bumbo seat on the counter and do “cooking shows” he loved it.

This is a bumbo the best invention ever (source)

 So anyway we were getting ready for the cake and daddy came in to the kitchen and said: “Let me do that”. I thought sure why not. So the boys baked and I documented with my camera because it was amazing to see father and son bake together. They followed he recipe and mixed all the ingredients in the right order and for the correct amount of time. With baking it is about precision and patience, making sure that the batter is fluffy – especially for this cake.  And this was the result.

Yum Yum everyone loved the cake. It was beautiful and amazingly good. We could not stop eating it, as a result it is all gone. Way to go daddy!

It’s a delicate balance

I think I am experiencing some growing pains. My little guy is three years and seven months old and is seeking more and more independence. It is more and more often that he and his friends play on their own, sometimes out of eyesight, but always within earshot. I am struggling with letting go and I am trying to figure out if I am over protective or responsible - it is a delicate balance.
The way our house is set up, the downstairs is very open and I can see my son playing with his friends from just about any location. Sure there have been times when they are out of sight coloring in the dining room or playing where I can’t see him. Even if I can’t see him I always make sure to listen and make sure that I am not only listening for noise but content.  I really struggle with the not seeing part while a big part of me is saying stop being an over protective nut, another part of me is scared to death of what he may get into. I know that being overly protective can cripple him. I want him to grow up having fun and experiencing childhood to the fullest, that includes letting him spread his wings. On the other hand I am terrified that something will happened to him, that he will accidentally poke his eye out or get something wrapped up around his neck or that he will hit his head or swallow something. He is very smart but kids get wrapped up in pretend play and don’t have the ability to think about the consequences of their actions.  
I realize that someday he will start playing with his friends away from home he will walk to school and drive a car, eventually he will go to college and he will be an adult. In order to prepare him for life as a productive strong and independent adult I have to let him experience some heart breaks and most importantly independence as a kid, so that when he is out on his own he can deal with life. Then I think about all of the freak accidents that happen to kids playing football at school and becoming paralyzed or jumping of off something and dying from a head injury or getting their neck caught up in something and strangling the dangers are countless. And then I think about all of the kids who grow up with alcoholic or drug addict parents, parents who are oblivious to what their children are doing and they grow up unharmed and fine.
How do I find a good balance of being a safe parent one who pays attention and knows what is going on with their child and not becoming a crippling over protective mother preventing my son from learning all of the very important lessons that life has to offer?  I try so hard to let him have freedom and space while watching from the side lines if it is too quiet then I look to see why, all the while fighting a fear that is almost bigger than me that something will happened to him. Maybe I am doing ok by him it is me that I need to reassure.  I think that the weight of responsibility is even greater because of the fact that it is all on me when our pilot daddy is away, and since we only have one child there are situations that arise where I have to make decisions and hope that daddy would agree with me and not say: ”what were you thinking?” I always discuss things with him and ask for his opinion on what would you do in that situation do you agree with how I handled it and he is always supportive so I really don’t have any basis for this stupid feeling.  Penny for your thoughts on this one :0)

Mommy I did it! 

So while I am planning out my day, reading up on news and having my morning coffee my three and a half year old is having some independent play. In my quest for materials to teach him his letters I borrowed some puzzles from a girlfriend where he matches the beginning letter with a picture. They are really quite brilliant and we had really fun time playing with them yesterday.
So during his independent play my son took down the puzzle box and I just quietly watched what he would do as I did my reading. You know reading with one eye while the other is trained on your little one. He laid out the zebra card, said "zebra" then turned all the letters right side up, found the "z" and laid it in the spot. Then beaming runs into the breakfast room where I am sitting pretending like I am oblivious - "Mommy I did it I did it!"
So of course we look and I take pictures because I am so darn proud of my little guy and how smart he is. I can’t wait until daddy gets home tonight so we can show him all the fun activities we have been doing to get ready for reading. Oh I just love being a mom!

Back into the swing of things
After having family and husband home for the last two and a half weeks it is son and I on our own again. I was a little worried that after parents-in-law left and husband was flying again it would be empty and sad. We seem to be right back in the swing of things.
This morning after my shower and breakfast I putted around organizing this and that, picking up little loose things that never found their rightful place after the holidays.  It is amazing how comforting it is to organize the odds and ends.
 Now I am thinking about all the things that I need to get done. I know many of you will wince at the mention but taxes are due soon (well in 3 and a half months) and I need to organize all of our stuff for our accountant. I like to get them done asap so that I know where we stand.
 I am also entertaining coming up with a more structured curriculum if you will for our son. He is three and a half and can count to 20 he also sings his abc’s but we would like to teach him how to read soon. I feel like if I had structure we could learn our letters and then reading comes next. Both husband and I are avid readers and our son often asks to be read to. He has a ton of books and we love to read with him, we frequent the library and do story time so the natural progression would be to teach him how to read on his own.
The other day daddy spread out two sets of alphabet q-cards and he and our son were playing a matching game that seemed to be going very well. So while daddy is flying and away at work I think I will try to dedicate and hour a day to pre-school work. I used to be really good about it and then somehow other things came up and we lost our momentum. We have work books and games and q-cards it is just a matter of making it a priority to cover the material. I am not big on New Year’s resolutions but I think that this will be a goal of mine – a more structured learning time for our son so when he goes to kindergarten he will have developed some skills in following directions and learning. Also our school district offers some really fun preschool activities for kids who don’t attend and I will try to make sure that we schedule some. It has been very hard to get into the classes but I think that if I plan ahead we can attend a few. I am excited about my new plan.

Cookies Galore
My mother-in-law and son were baking cookies yesterday. I helped with some of the cleanup and preparation but it was grandma’s show. I really wanted for our boy to have that experience of baking with grandma. He loves to bake and he loves his grandma even more.
So many wonderful traditions were passed on yesterday. I received the cookie press that belonged to my mother-in-laws grandmother. I felt so honored that I nearly cried but was able to hold it together. Mom taught me how to use it and make the most amazing cookies in the world. When our pilot comes home today he will be blown away by the number of cookies that we made.  In addition to the press mom taught me how to make her mom’s sugar cookies. I taught my son how to make my grandma’s strawberry jam filled cookies and we decorated the gingerbread cookies which is a tradition on my dad’s side of the family. We were baking and decorating for seven hours. It was the most beautiful day. Every year before I would do most of the baking on my own or mom did hers and I did mine and then we would trade cookies. It is much better to do it all together.
I tried to document all of it with tons of pictures since daddy was not home for passing off of the traditions so that he can see the events of the day in pictures.


Every family has traditions. When I was little growing up in Poland my family celebrated a very traditional Christmas Eve with a 12 course meal. Santa came on December 6th and the gifts under the tree were opened on Christmas Eve.  My husband’s family celebrated a very traditional American Christmas where Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve, the big meal is on Christmas Day and that is when you opened presents Christmas morning.
When we married 12 and a half years ago we combined the two traditions and made our own. We have as traditional of a Christmas Eve as I can recreate (some of the foods you just can’t get and some I didn’t like so I skip those), we open presents from Santa on Christmas Day and we have a traditional Turkey Diner.
When I was growing up we made gingerbread cookies and baked lots of cakes, I adopted the gingerbread cookies along with a ton of other cookie recipes. This year since our son is old enough we made our 1st gingerbread house. We had a blast and I will make sure that next year I get around to baking the gingerbreads sooner so that daddy can part take in decorating of the house.
I think about all the little things that are part of our family fabric which are mixes of my upbringing and traditions that my husband had brought and I am so excited to share them with our son. It seems that every holiday and season has some special tradition that we have. In the winter we have all of our Christmas things in the Spring I will tell you all about Easter and how we merged two different cultures. I hope that someday our son passes some of his favorite traditions to his children.

 I am so excited that my pilot was home for visiting Santa. Santa paid a visit to the library today and we headed over there to visit him. My son was so excited when he first saw Santa he paused his mouth opened and his eyes got huge. He ripped out of my hand as there was no line my boy ran up to Santa and sat right on his lap. Santa gave our little Hanger Rat huge hugs and had talk with him about how good he was all year.
Our son proceeded to tell Santa all the things he wanted to get for Christmas and that he was so excited to see him. I was truly amazed that there was no fear, or hesitation. Just pure child innocence and joy at seeing his hero Santa and being able to sit on his lap.
 My husband was there taking pictures the entire time. It is so important to schedule these milestones when daddy is home when possible. The experience was so wonderful because we were all there and both husband and I got to see the excitement over seeing Santa. There are so many things that pilot daddy’s miss and I am so very glad that ours was here to witness the meeting with Santa. I really think that sharing in these moments, creating memories is a very important part of growing up. I would hate for our son to say “my dad was never there I always did stuff with my mom” so I make a point to make sure when possible that our pilot is there and participating. Today was an awesome experience for the whole family, what a great way to get ready for Christmas.

When the going gets tough
We all know that parenting comes with many joys and a lot of worry at times. Our little guy has been running a fever between 100 and 103.9 since Thanksgiving night. Our pilot daddy came home from work on Thanksgiving at 6:30 pm, we enjoyed a wonderful diner with friends and then at 4 am bam the fever hit. It has been like a frat house here there is a lot of noise, vomiting and no one is sleeping.
It has been an exhausting two days with a sick three year old. I have done this alone so many times that I feel spoiled because daddy is here, to attend to every whine, wish and desire that comes from out son. It is so nice to have someone to help with the little one’s throw up and I am not alone dealing with the bedding and pucky  pjs and an upset little boy wondering what to tackle first.
It is always thought when your baby is sick and you are worried and trying your hardest to bring the fever down and give  them meds – our son is awesome about taking his medicine but it still is worrisome when they are not magically better right away. The comfort of having my husband by my side to help with the sleepless nights, and hard days where our son wants to play and have attention all the time is so amazing. I am truly blessed with a great husband an amazing attentive dad to our son.  Living the pilot lifestyle when so often mommy does all sure makes you appreciate your husband when he is here to give a helping hand, support and love.

Stories in the sky

We are a family of avid readers. Husband and I are always in the middle of reading something. He reads history, mystery, horror, historical fiction, I read mysteries and romance and fiction. Our son loves all types of books, Dr. Seuss, Bernstein Bears and others but some of his favorites are about planes, because daddy flies them. So I gathered his books some we own some we borrow from the library and I thought I would share them with you.
The little cardboard book “Planes” by Byron Barton is one that we have read since the day he came home, it is a short description of what happens when a jet plane takes a trip. The book goes through the takeoff to the different types of planes that are in the sky to landing, refueling, restocking loading passengers and takeoff again. He still asks for us to read it even though he has it almost memorized.
“Amazing Airplanes” by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker was a gift and he loves it. This is a book about what it is like to take a flight on an airplane from checking in at the gate to landing with snacks and the Capitan talking in the middle it is really fun to read, cute illustrations.
“Pilot Pups” by Michelle Meadows I found at our local library and it is a cute story for little boys and girls about three puppies  two take off in a plane and one in a helicopter and they fly on an adventure through the house - they end up saving a train in trouble. We have read it more times than I can count in the two weeks we have had it.
Choppers is a more detailed book for an older audience but my three year old sits in aw listening to all of the functions of helicopters in the world from tourism, air ambulance to war. This book goes over how helicopters fly in great detail and due to us reading this book our son has an excellent vocabulary of helicopter parts and gages.
I know that I always look for fun books to read with my son while we are at the library and sometimes you get a great one and sometimes you get a dud. So if you know of any good ones please share we would love to read them.

New Faucet

So about a month ago my faucet started to make this awful squealing noise whenever it was on. To make it more fun my little sprayer stopped working at the same time. Since my husband has been away quite a bit it took a while to replace it.
My pilot is very hands on and he definitely wants to do things by himself if at all possible. I wonder where my son gets his “I can do it” attitude. Anyway after much discussion on the type of faucet we wanted I decided that I wanted a faucet with a separate sprayer and two handles one for hot one for cold, with the one handle I could never get the water temperature just right.
So after a trip to Lowe's my men worked very hard on replacing the faucet and installing a longer cold line. An hour and a half later the faucet woks wonderfully, no leaks and NO noise. The wonderful thing is that just as with anything else my husband included our son. He loves doing projects together with our boy, he had him help with baseboards when the little rascal was just one and a half, they build benches, birdhouses and done countless home projects. Yard work is always done as teamwork. I think it is so important that my son spends time with his daddy working not only learning important skills but also building a great relationship. I am so lucky. Here is my new faucet.


I would like to begin this post with saying that I am not against daycares, nor do I do not condemn parents who send their children to daycares. There are many benefits to daycares such as socialization for your children, routine, structure and so forth. With that being said I choose not to send our son to daycare. When he did attend daycare he was sick all the time, and he hated it – we tried several. So as a result I stay at home and both my husband and I agree that it fits our lifestyle to keep out boy at home.
Before we had children both of us worked demanding jobs that took well over 40 hours a week. We were both career oriented and found great satisfaction from our jobs. We spend what little time we could scrape together and enjoyed each other when we happened to be at home at the same time. After our son was born our outlook on life changed.
I stay at home, days when daddy is away are filled with play dates, soccer practices, story times at the library, zoo trips and so forth. I try to have something going on almost daily so that our boy gets as much exposure and experiences as possible. I involve him in daily chores such as doing dishes, cleaning and cooking. We do art time, and do preschool books to learn out numbers, letters and so forth. It does get tiring and there are days when we just hang out and relax.
When daddy is home we share family time and do museum trips, park outings, special trips to the Renaissance Fair and other events that come up throughout the year and music time (I am not musical at all). We love the flexibility and the fact that we are in charge of our time when he is home. The ability to just lounge around or take a trip on a whim is very satisfying.
There is a down side to this lifestyle for me and that is I get tired. We do not have family in the area and I don’t really use a babysitter. Some of my friends recently tried to talk me into putting our son into a part time daycare and I just don’t feel that that fits our needs because where yes it would give me a break I would feel weird sending him away when I am at home and when daddy is home we would pay for daycare and he still would not go. My husband would not take him to daycare when we are home together the time is just too precious. What is your take on your family life what lifestyle fits your family best? Do you feel pressures from those around you to go one way or the other?

Little gifts from the heart

Whenever my husband works extra he brings our son a little something. Usually it is a toy from the Thomas the train series, since our son enjoys playing trains. Daddy and son spend hours building the tracks and rebuilding them.  
So today my husband called and said” I am at the toy store and I was wondering if he would like Victor or Fernedad?” I said Victor. Few minutes later I get another call “You know they also have Byron and Kelly and Monty and Mac and I also see some Chuggington stuff. What do you think? Maybe Coco or Puffer Pete?” I said” if you go Chuggington go with Puffer Pete” Not three minutes later another call: ”Can you just ask him if his favorite is Chuggington or Thomas?” Son said Thomas. So we decided collectively on Kelly. Three seconds later our son runs in the kitchen screaming: “No never mind I meant Mac and Monty mommy I want Kelly later”.  I text the sudden change of heart to my husband who responds “Well I guess it’s a good thing I bought both”. My initial reaction was a huff because I trip over the darn trains all day every day. But then I thought about how I would feel if I was away from him for 11 days and I would want to shower him with gifts too, so I texted back that he will love it.
I used to get a little annoyed at all the toys that daddy bought when away. Because I was torn between understanding of why he did it and a red flag screaming that we are spoiling and teaching that if our boy does not get the attention material things will sooth him, or be substitutes. He speaks now I can see that there is never an expectation for a toy when daddy comes home and that he is mostly excited to see him not whether he will bring something. So I have let go of the red flag and I am becoming more inclined to understanding that daddy wants to reward his good behavior while he was away by offering a toy. It is not an every time occurrence and does not seem to have a negative impact. It actually seems to give them a little something special to share.

Daddy’s Little Co-pilot
Sometimes I tend to think about the difficulties of having a pilot husband more than the perks that come with it. For example the fact that when we went over to see him this weekend he was able to take us up for a little joy ride in his helicopter. Our son for the longest time has been turning him down and finally this weekend he decided it was time and go flying with daddy.
So we drove for two and a half hours to Lake Charles and met up with daddy. Following an exciting 15 minutes of showing off his new fire man costume (we had to take it with us since mommy “built it” and daddy didn’t see it) and talking about his play dates we went out to check out the helicopter. Daddy and son did the preflight beefing. Then my husband in his instructor manner educated our son on the preflight procedure including showing him the engine and explaining about the fire and the fuel – I don’t think much of that stuck but he was listening so intently one would think he was going to be tested after. Then daddy hoisted the boy up into the cockpit and the little ones face lit up and his smile only left his face when the tower was talking at which time he became deadly serious and gave them thumbs up when they were done.
 The little co-pilot loved every moment of the flight. Frankly we were a little nervous he is only three and at that he is in this stage where he worries about things. But he did great he didn’t mind the noise of the jet engine, or the little turbulence we have had. He was spotting boats and fire engines and a small marsh fire about which he informed the dispatcher upon our return. He was listening to daddy explan what was happening and what he was seeing.
Since I sat in the back I was not privy to seeing his reactions but my husband relayed that he was in heaven and smiling a lot looking out the chin bubble(down by his feet). My favorite part came much later when he said in the car on the way home “mommy I am so glad I went up flying with daddy”. That just put the icing on a perfect day.

What I am going to dream about
Our three year old son hates bug and I mean hates bugs. When he was about 2 and a half a giant tree roach dropped in the tub with him while he was playing and ever since the is terrified. After that unfortunate incident – and those of you who have lived through a summer in the state of Texas, know how sneaky and creepy those three inch roaches are – he just does not like bugs. We have been working with him on killing little ones here and there and he will kill a bug with a shoe now and throw it away with a tissue. Regardless of the ongoing explanations he still has bug nightmares.
The 1st one was about 4 months ago and he woke me up with a blood curling scream. He ripped out of his bed and kept insisting that a giant bug was on him. I got him calmed down and allowed him to sleep in my bed as he refused to go to sleep in his room. The following few nights were fine then another nightmare and another. I was really worried as they seemed more likely when my husband was out of town. One night my husband was hanging out with us at bed time and he asked our son: “What will you dream about tonight?” Our boy went into reciting: “Rocket ships and airplanes and my fish and Jitters (that’s our dog), and Thomas (the train) and Percy and James and going to the park”.
Since that night we climb in bed and read a book cuddle talk about our day just as we always have. Before we turn out the light the little man says “Mommy what am I going to dream about?”  He tells me all about the wonderful things he will dream about and then … he goes to sleep.  We have had no nightmares and I am grateful for such a simple solution to our problem. Sometimes the simplest solution is the most effective.

Enjoying son and mommy time

As a pilot’s wife one experiences a state of constant change. Our family goes from busy busy busy because daddy is here to slow because it is just the two of us, my son and I. The time that our pilot is gone is lonely and the loneliness is magnified by the fact that we are very far away from our family. So how do you stay positive and nurture an environment of growth where your child does not feel like we only do fun stuff when daddy is home and life stops when he leaves.
This week for example I am flying solo for seven days - pretty normal. Since I don’t work regularly it is hard to have a schedule. I appreciate the fact that I can stay at home and we can have quality family time when our pilot is home but when he is gone there is a definite and very tangible void. So in this past seven days we have enjoyed couple play dates, soccer game, a visit to the children’s museum, zoo, train ride and we are looking forward to a library outing, sleep over and the seven days will be up. 

It is nice at times to do just mom things and have outings where it is just my son and I. The actual activities truly would be more fun if daddy was with us, but I try not to dwell on the fact that he can’t make the outing. And when my little one says:” I wish daddy was here” I make a promise that I can keep and tell him that we will do it again with daddy, or that he can tell daddy all about it and we take a ton of pictures they can enjoy . We find fun things to do all the time and if they are important firsts in our sons life like going of the diving board we wait until daddy can take part but sometimes there is the spontaneous thing like the train ride that we embrace and will make sure that he gets to participate later.
I feel very fortunate that I get to enjoy a big city life with so many opportunities and a free schedule to enjoy the freedom of going where I please and when I please without having to go to work, and when our pilot daddy is home the whole family reaps these wonderful benefits. So I try to schedule fun trips and activities for our family while daddy is here and while he is gone so that we can have great memories, learning opportunities and a resemblance of consistency. 

Sharing the parenting hat.

Having a three year old and really any child at any age requires providing direction, guidance and involvement from parents. I believe that our job as a parent is to teach our son all of the necessary tools that he will need to become an independent, healthy adult. There is a saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. What if your village is thousands of miles away and you find yourself alone half of the time the other half the village is composed of two. How do you find the balance of sharing in parenting especially with the other parent travels a lot?
When my husband is away naturally I am the final authority, the go to, the decision maker. It becomes second nature to react to everything that our son wants, to answer every question and to solve every crisis. I handle meals, cloths, emotions, fights with friends. I kiss booboos and I read bed time stories.  It is an amazing gift to raise a child and watch them gain wisdom and independence, at times it is overwhelming and it is nice to pass on the reins for a bit. Sometimes I am in such a “single parent mode” that there is a struggle for the rains.
My husband is an amazing daddy. He has a way with our son that is unbelievable. He accomplishes behavioral change with mere conversation. He does not threaten, yell or intimidate. Somehow he manages to talk to our son and get his point across and it sticks – most of the time he is not a miracle worker and our boy is in the defiant three year old stage. He does not over complicate simple situations.
Even though he is such a great daddy I forget to share the parenting hat sometimes.  I am on the roll after he has been on hitch* and honestly I don’t think to stop so that he can have a turn at giving direction when needed. Yesterday at soccer practice it was painfully apparent as to how undermining I can be.
Our son enjoys sports, but since he just turned three he is a little confused at times as to what is going on especially during the big soccer practices when there is 30 boys his age on the field. Just to paint you a picture 90% of the 30 look like Jeffery from Everybody Loves Raymond in the episode where Jeffery plays basketball and he is running around the court with his arms sticking out from underneath his shirt chasing the other players ignoring the ball. So obviously we coach a bit from side lines. My husband was helping our son understand the game and what the coaches wanted from the sidelines.
I saw the benefit of his involvement and was very pleased that he was helping our son. Yet I would try to talk over him at times or give our boy water when they had just agreed that he was to go play. And it sounds like minor infractions. But to a parent who travels and is away from home a lot, it is very important that you not step in and take over. And I was sooo guilty of trying to take over. I am very good about keeping him informed and respecting his decisions as to what programs to involve or not to involve our son in, sharing in bed time routine. However I need to do a better job at not talking over him and find out what the “men” talked about and not bulldozed over their decisions as I do sometimes. It is a hard balance to reach but one that is imperative to good and equal parenting.  One day I will get it until then I will keep trying. Because it takes a village to raise a child especially if your village is only of two.
*Hitch in the helicopter pilot’s life is their time at work

Bye Bye Daddy

My husband has been a pilot before our son was born. His dad’s travels are pretty normal to him since he does not know anything else.  We have a good bye routine that works for our family. While I wrap up packing my husband’s things for the work week he plays with our boy and gets a little quality time in before he goes. Then we pack daddy’s truck and off he goes while we stand in the driveway and wave. While we wave we wish him a safe travel and tell him to be safe.
I always knew that the waving was something that our son enjoyed and found to be fun, I never realized until the other day how critically important this piece of routine was for our son. My husband was doing some work in the middle of his break just for a day and when he was leaving our boy was engrossed in a TV show he was watching and thus just said bye to daddy and kept on with the TV. About ten minutes after my husband left our son started crying very hard. I asked what was the matter:  “I am so sad because I didn’t get to wave” the little guy said.  We called daddy – my hope was that chatting would help ease the disappointment. It did not.
Shortly after our son was done speaking to daddy I took over to say goodbye. He said to go outside in a few minutes. This wonderful husband of mine turned around and came back to wave and say goodnight to his son. This simple gesture did cost my husband about 20 minutes of his time but it has given our son a great goodbye and eased the transition into our pilot daddy going back to work. Those simple gestures really make a huge difference.

Routine or lack of…

It is very difficult to keep a routine when your other parent comes and goes on a semi schedule - but not really. You go from being a part of a team, to being a single parent and back. The pattern that occurs with my son when my husband is away is one where we have a pretty set routine of naps, meals and bedtime. The routine offers my son and I comfort and security. Then daddy comes home and it all goes out the window – very hard to cope with.

A traveling parent does not disrupt the routine on purpose. God knows that my husband always and still tries his hardest to fall in line with what we are doing as far as naptimes, meals and bed time are concerned. The truth is that the sheer excitement of him coming home upsets everything. In addition to the overwhelming joy because daddy is home, we now incorporate chores, trips and social engagements that we want to do as a family and all bets are off.

I worried that I was a bad mom because I could not keep a schedule and I allowed for the constant disruptions. You read all these books about routine and how important it is. The feelings of inadequacy and frustration started to creep in because lets face it no matter how hard I tried, how structured I was – I failed. I did research, talked to other moms and most of all I confided in my husband. I found positive ways of dealing with the routine issues and lack of it in our son’s upbringing.

Our boy is forced to be flexible and he thus seems to be a pretty easy going kid. Mind you - this is his life since the day he was born, he does not know anything else and thus it comes naturally. For a child who is new to this schedule there will be an adjustment time and you need to brace yourself with patience when they act out because they miss their dad and don’t posses the emotional or language skills to express their emotional owies. Flexibility is the name of our son’s game.

I gave myself permission to not follow the norm of what books and other parents saw as a fitting schedule because it does not fit our family. My friends know how I struggled. I judge our parenting by general measures of: is our son happy, does he feel secure, does he get close to the recommended number of hours of sleep, are his eating habits healthy, is he well adjusted.

“What to Expect the Toddler Years” by Heidi Murkoff addresses traveling parents and it states that parents should limit number of trips if possible – not in a pilot’s life. So I looked to see how to deal with travel and the book does suggest that one should not overcompensate or show guilt because kids sense that and use it. It also suggests that consistency and show of love and affection lessens some struggles. The parting tips that the book offers have worked for us tremendously: get ready in advance, get the toddler busy before you go, leave a reminder of you, make the “good by” casual, have the toddler wave (our son’s favorite). We have been doing these things since he was born and they now are part of our lives. Our boy has a music toy with his daddy’s picture in his bed, we don’t hide the fact that daddy will go away again and he will comeback. We are very loving and consistent. We are not perfect, so please don’t hold us as such nor do I try to make as sound that way, but we strive to be aware. I did a lot of different research and it is pretty consistent across the board.

With all that being said I still have issues as a parent don’t we all question ourselves? (And if you said “no” you are not being very honest with yourself.) At this juncture I ask myself - is this feeling or problem is related to my husband’s schedule or is it lack of discipline on our part or another issue all together? Ninety nine percent of the time it is not the schedule but something else or my unreasonable expectations.

It took me three years to train myself into an understanding that our son will be fine if his routine is disrupted, that he will compensate and survive and that I will survive too. So my suggestion is pay attention to their cues of what they really need, give them love and sense of stability and talk to your husbands about it, they are the other half. Even when they are gone they are always daddies. They love their babies and want the best for them. They want to support the women they love who raise their children.

Additional Resources:

Through the eyes of a three year old.

We thought that it would be fun to see what our son thought about daddy’s job

1. What does your daddy do?
He plays with me cars and trucks and trains. He fixes everything and builds everything. And he is far far away.
2. What does he do when he is far far away?
He plays at work. He plays in Louisiana (giggle)
3. What does he do in Louisiana?
He flies helicopers high in the sky. (Hand high up over his head making a helicopter noise pretending he is flying one).
4. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A helicoper so I can fly high in the sky like a bird.
5. Do you want to be a helicopter pilot or a helicopter?
A helicoper (with a look of: “why don’t you get this” on his face)
6. What are you going to do when daddy comes home?
We are going to build train tracks because mine are a little broken and daddy can fix them. I am going to do that with my dad.
7. How do you feel when daddy comes home?
I am all better.
8. What is your favorite thing about daddy?
He fly helicoper
9. What is your favorite thing about mommy?
You stay here (with a charming smile)
10. Do you want daddy to take you on a helicopter ride?
No because I am too big for a helicopter, I won’t fit in a helicopter. I don’t want to be a helicopter driver. (He is still a little nervous around helicopters)