The Life of a Fire Wife

Once up a time….


I started this blog several years ago as an outlet, but also as a way to connect with other wives of firefighters.  There weren’t any other blogs like it. (I looked) No Facebook groups, nobody in twitter space either.  My idea was to someday create an event like The Women’s Conference but for fire wives.  

Now everywhere I look there are blogs, FB pages, private groups and yes – even a conference.  It’s never been in me to go along with the flow and do what everybody else was doing just because it was the “cool” thing to do.  So that’s why the blog hasn’t gone anywhere for a long time.   I’ve deleted posts trying to change the “feel” of it, tried to focus on things other than “oh look at me – I’m a fire wife” stuff, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.  

These days my train of thought runs more along the lines of “oh you’re a fire wife?  cool.  k bye.”  It seems like some women’s entire personna is wrapped up in who her husband is.  Don’t you have a life, too, sweetheart?  Yeah, I get that you’re proud of him.  But what about YOU???

I’m ME first.  His wife second.  He is my husband FIRST and a firefighter SECOND!  We’re just two people who love each other.  That’s all.  

But that’s also EVERYTHING to me!  

Teriyaki Chicken with Rice and Vegetables


In a 1 quart freezer bag add one chicken breast, one chicken thigh, and 2 tablespoons teriyaki marinade.  Seal, squeezing out as much air as possible.  On the outside of the bag I use a Sharpie marker to write what’s in the bag.  I’m scared to think of what he might think it actually is.  In another quart size bag add one serving of uncooked rice then seal.  I write cooking directions on the outside of the bag.  

Now I haven’t had much luck blanching and freezing my own veggies.  So until I can master it (or start to like mushy veggies) I bought a family size bag of frozen stir fry veggies and added a single serving to another quart bag.  On the outside I note (in red) that the veggies should be kept frozen until cooking.  

I throw all 3 qt bags into a gallon size bag along with cooking directions for the entire meal.  I know – that’s a LOT of little plastic baggies, but this way he’s not toting plastic containers back and forth, they are much more portable.   If one of the inner bags leaks you’re ok!  You don’t have teriyaki sauce all over the outside of everything else.  

I made up about 4 of these at a time and put them in the freezer with the rest of my inventory.  Now before Johnny leaves I just pick out a few things and throw them in a cooler for the (looooooong) trip to the camp!  

But did I take pictures?  Of course not!

It’s just as easy to package up the chicken for a family size dinner and stow in the freezer too!   Take dinner out of the freezer in the am and defrost on the counter for a few hours.  (Yeah I know – defrosting should be done in the fridge, but I figure I’m already pretty organized and I’m not gonna push it by planning DAYS ahead of time!  I might explode!)

Firefighter Freezer Meals


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In March my friend Carol had a “Dream Dinners” party.  I knew about the company because I’d done something similar once but that place went out of business pretty quickly.  I didn’t know you could have a “party” though.  It’s pretty neat.  You get an email invitation, accept it, then pick and pay for three meals to prepare at the party.  I chose Mexican Meatballs, spicey shredded pork thing that was topped with cornbread – kind of like a casserole, and something called Pub Style Chicken with Mashed Potatoes.

It’s actually a pretty neat arrangement.  For each dish on the menu there is a prep station with all the ingredients laid out for you.  You follow the directions on the recipe card and package it all up- usually in Ziploc freezer bags, but sometimes (in the case of the pork and cornbread thing) in disposable aluminum pans and add the recipe directions.  (They print these for you too!)  There are no leftover ingredients that you’d end up tossing, and everything is pre-chopped for you.  You just review the menu, choose your dishes, and select a time to go in and assemble everything.

All three dishes were really yummy, and perfectly packaged for Johnny to take to work!  He just puts the bags in the fridge to defrost when he starts his shift, then follows the directions on the enclosed card and he’s got dinner!  I immediately signed up to go back the following month!

The only problem I saw with this plan though, is that Johnny is pretty picky.  He won’t eat green chiles, is allergic to bell peppers, and hates mayo, sour cream, cream cheese and ranch dressing.  You can leave those ingredients out, but sometimes it leaves something a little lacking in the meal.  I try to choose things I know he’s going to like, but sometimes that gets pretty hard – especially since you can’t review the entire recipe when you make your reservations.  So that got my wheels turning…..well heck!  I can do this at home too!  (Duh – of course I can, but it took doing this to see that with very little planning and organization it really wasn’t all that hard after all.)  ANd since I have a 21 cubic ft

First things first – easy stuff.  Make a HUGE batch of chili, let it cool, and package in quart size freezer bags.  Lay them flat in the freezer.  After they are frozen you can stack them, or stand them up or whatever you need to do to keep your freezer organized.

Spaghetti sauce!  Same process as the chili!

When Johnny leaves for his shift I just take out what I need.  Each meal is packaged in a gallon size ziploc along with whatever sides I’m sending (corn muffins for the chile, the uncooked pasta and breadsticks for the spaghetti)  with cooking directions.  I put the whole lot in an ice chest and when he gets there he puts his meals for the next few days in the fridge to defrost.

The possibilities are endless!  I’ve pro-cooked ground beef, shredded chicken and  shredded pork and put about 1 lb in each qt size bag.  I’ll be doing some beef soon too, and sharing some recipes as I learn about and fine-tune this process!

Bon appétit!

Love, Fire Wife

Everybody Has to Eat!


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It makes absolutely no sense to me, but firefighters have to do all their cooking themselves.  And pick up the expenses as well.  You’d think that nourishing meals would be one of the perks in the daily life of a firefighter, but no.

Sure there are variables that exist, but for the most part, they’re on their own!  Every station and every captain do things a little different, but here’s what we’ve experienced here in our town….

We have one “state” station and two regular “city” stations.  During fire season at the “state” station, the seasonal guys do all the shopping and cooking on the state’s accounts at the local butcher, market, etc.  That sounds great, but it doesn’t always work out so well.

  • they take the cost of the meals out of your paycheck
  • If you don’t like what they cooked you’re on your own
  • If you were out on a call and there’s no leftovers, you’re on your own

At the two other stations and when it’s not fire season you bring your own food and cook your own meals.  Some captains like to rotate amongst the crew, with each member cooking the evening meal in turn and insist on eating at the table like a family.  I think those are the ones who make the best captains and have the happiest crews.  Others don’t really care.

There was a period of about a year when Johnny was working weekends that I cooked dinner every Sunday and took it to the station and all the firefighters sat down to eat with the kids and Johnny and I.  And every Monday my boss would ask what I fed the fire department the night before.

Invariably, though, they are about to sit down to dinner and the tones go off and they don’t come back for hours (or they run back to back calls) and end up stopping for fast food.  Nasty.  (One of the reasons firefighters don’t always look like those calendars!)  I remember one Thanksgiving Dinner when there were THREE calls during the meal.  It’s a good thing turkey tastes good cold!

I’ve stumbled upon a new (and so far so good) solution recently – I’ll share tomorrow!

Navigating the Holidays in a Fire Family


As all firefighter families know, even though your partner’s schedule can at times seem like a dream, they don’t always get major holidays off. **Sigh** It comes with the territory.

It’s our life.

From the time I met him, my husband has never had a conventional 9-5 schedule. I remember the first Thanksgiving I spent alone – even before we were married. My family lives in another state, and my two kids from my previous marriage were with their Dad. “It’s just another day honey,” I said to him, “I’ll bring you a turkey sandwich if you get hungry.” (He was working as a medic for an ambulance company at the time and doing 24 hour shifts.) And later, when he was picked up full time after being paid-call for a several years and was gone for an entire MONTH at the academy? “I’ll support you in anything you want to do because I love you!”

A firefighter’s family (as well as other EMS and Public Safety Families) learns to adjust their way of thinking when it comes to those boxes on the calendar. We stop looking at Saturdays and Sundays in terms of a weekend and instead, replace our thought process with a new one that is made up of shift days and overtime and being “forced on.” These become your new normal.

Sure, weekends don’t exist anymore in the traditional sense, but they are replaced with long mid-week “weekends”. “Date Night” is replaced by having lunch together while the kids are in school! It’s a give and a take and like most things in life, you learn to compromise and make the best out of the time you are able to have together. We’ve been married for 11 years now, and I’ve been known to joke that since he’s gone half the time we’ve really only been married for 5 ½. We even scheduled our wedding so that it wasn’t during NASCAR season. (He was working part-time at the race track.) We induced labor with our two kids on his days off.

This year, Johnny worked on Christmas Eve, but last year he worked Christmas Day – also his birthday. When you have family wanting to spend time with you during the holidays, the loss of even one day can make a big difference. It can make scheduling the holiday a real pain! And since Christmas is his birthday and it was the first one he’s had off in a long time, he wanted to do something different – after all, he was turning 40! So we took the kids to Disneyland for the day and celebrated Christmas on the 26th. That’s what he WANTED, so that’s what he GOT – although it wasn’t popular with his parents, to say the least. **grin**

We’re surrounded by loving and supportive people who claim to understand that it’s just the nature of the job, but I don’t think they really do. They’ve never had to experience it. It’s not a matter of “getting used to it” at our house. It’s more a matter of accepting it as a way of life. We’ve celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas at the fire station, and I even announced our second pregnancy by bringing in a cake with our due date on it. (The other guys got it right away – but he didn’t!)

So after we opened our gifts on December 26th I asked our 10 year old son what his favorite gift was and his reply nearly made me cry. “I don’t know. I just like it when we’re all together. I like spending time with my family.” He gets it.

Holidays are not a date on the calendar. They are special times spent with loved ones. That’s all that matters at our house.

Wednesday Morning Musings


I’ve had an overwhelming urge lately to clean up my (personal) friend lists on social media. A lot of it stemmed from being bombarded with stupid ass status updates, games requests, etc but mainly updates that were so hypocritical of who the person really is that I couldn’t stand to even see their name. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has hypocritical moments. The key to that being “moments”. I’m talking about the assholes that are so self-righteously hypocritical(i.e. Bible quotes by people you KNOW haven’t seen the inside of a church in years) that you don’t understand how they live one way while talking out of their ass and judging everyone else. That sort of bullshit pisses me off.  But I do also understand that there are people I haven’t seen in years, don’t converse with much, but like to check in on them on Facebook every now and then.  Not everybody uses Facebook as a public diary, so you really don’t know what dramatic changes have happened in their lives.

And once I got started, there was no stopping me. I cleaned out the asshats that I have grown tired of reading idiotic posts from.(And yes, those tall, blonde, skinny-as-a-rail Fire Wives who are as fake as their acrylic nails too) I didn’t make an announcement on my personal page – what purpose does that serve? “Hey, I cleaned up my friend’s list and you made the cut!” Dumb. It does nothing to let the person that you deleted know your action was done on purpose.  Hell they will probably never notice anyway.PHEW!!!  That felt gooooodddd!

Evolution


When I started my blog, my plan was to talk about being the wife of a firefighter.  And that’s what I did…at first.  Then I found myself venting and complaining and bitching…..and it just didn’t feel right.  

In the mean time I also became a stay at home fire wife, and that changed my life considerably.  Now I cook breakfast for my kids every school day, have time for my garden, have gotten a little crafty, and I’m raising chickens for my own eggs.  So as my life and interests expand, I thought my blog should too.

So I’m adding a few pages.  I’m no web designer, but I’m gonna give it a whirl.  Here are some of my thoughts for new pages – trying to keep with my Fire Wife “theme”…

  • Crafty (or maybe creative??) Wife
  • Cookin’ Wife
  • Crunchy Wife (all things earthy…garden, my chickens, my compost – haha.  You get the idea!)
  • I”m sure I’ll think of others!

 

So hang on tight while I try to figure this thing out – and if you have any web design/wordpress tips I’d sure appreciate it!

 

Love,

Fire Wife

Spring Has Sprung


Teeny tiny cucumber

 

Ok – so it “sprang” quite a while ago in Southern California.  Big Deal.  It’s still a really cool picture….and I took it with my cell phone!

My garden project, which took a BIG stall last year while working 60 hours a week, is now going full swing, and we’ve gone from this…

 

To this….

 

Big Foot


The upside to my husband’s continual and seemingly perpetual absences is that I’m saving a truckload of money on razor blades. Yes, he shaves at work.  But I don’t take my “personal landscaping” quite so seriously when he’s away on a 72 hour shift.  I like to tell myself that when one grows a yeti-like coat of fur one tends to stay warm. Lower heating bills. My glass is always half full.

Still, I’d rather have him home, zoned out beside me watching the SciFi Channel or lost in a game of Call of Duty.

I shouldn’t complain really. I mean I just saw him a week ago. For three whole hours.

Three hours.

Sh** My Kids Say Redux


Me: Krissy can you tell me why I’m assuming these are your handprints?

Krissy: Because they are about my size and because I’m always getting into trouble.

 

The kids speaks the truth!

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