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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thoughts on Being A Pilots Wife.

Sometimes I feel like I am single. Not in the carefree, anything goes kinda way, but in the I spend a lot of time alone kinda way. The problem is, there is no real way to remedy the situation. I know that I have plenty of friends and family that I don't spend as much time with as I would like, or even should. It's just that the alone hours are at times when most people are busy with their families; having dinner, putting kids to bed, all the normal things one does when they've spent the day at work away from eachother.
There is also the home and dog situation, as I like to call it. I spend 8 hours at work and my dog spends 8 hours at home. The house accumulates dust, dog hair, and messiness from the coming and going of our lives and so I feel that I should spend my evenings there, giving the dog and the house some attention. Not every evening, all evening, no, but at least some part of most of them. I am incredibly blessed to have my family nearby and a few close friends I can always call on. I am also very thankful that Andy and I chose a home located in one of the most friendly and welcoming neighborhoods I've ever encountered. Most evenings all I have to do is walk next door, tap on one of their doors, and I have someone to pass the time with. Tonight though, I'm alone and completely unmotivated to get anything done. Laundry is piling up- there is a load in the dryer waiting to be folded, another in the washer, waiting patiently for a spot in the dryer, but I can't seem to bring myself to go down and get it because sitting upstairs folding while I watch a movie just seems too boring and lonely.
There is a whole other aspect to this lifestyle that is perhaps the hardest to deal with- it's almost impossible to schedule, anything. My work schedule is more or less pretty predictable: if I have Saturday off this week, I will have Tuesday off next week. If I work late this Thursday, I will get out at 5pm next Thursday, for now, these are the only changes to my schedule (bar a wedding or some other major event). However, Andy's schedule never really appears to have any rhyme or reason, it's not 7 on, 7 off, or even 5 on, 3 off. Not that they intend for it to be this way, but no one that needs a flight ever seems to need 5 or 7 days, they needs two here, one there, half a day here, or two weeks, just for a little change of pace. In turn, my schedule becomes very mixed up. It comes from a desire, a need, to be with Andy when he is home, while at the same time a desire, a need, to still have outside activities to keep me occupied when he's not home. Here is a case in point - I went to Roanoke Ranch today to participate in a practice run for the cattle drive fundraiser they have going in a few weeks. The horses are rough - they haven't been ridden regularly since last fall, and half of them have never laid eyes on a cow before. They are herd-bound and ornery, and unfortunately, in the last two years since I rode regularly, I too, have lost my nerve. I need to ride more if I'm going to be a real asset to this ranch. Kat (the "manager" for R.R.) understands this and is practically begging me to commit to coming out and riding as much as possible. She needs me to help get the horses in shape, and I, if I'm going to get my nerve back, need to ride as much as possible. But how to balance my home and family responsibilities with another activity? This is where I get stumped.
Most couples see eachother every day: they wake up next to eachother, they come home and eat together. They sleep together. They share the responsibilities. There is a give and take-it's ok to make outside plans, because tomorrow will the be same, they'll see eachother again, same time, tomorrow morning. Our system is so very, very different. When Andy is home, he does what he can to keep the house picked up, kept up, and to give the dog a little attention. It would be easier for me to commit to say, every Tuesday evening at the ranch riding, if there wasn't the possibility that Andy will be gone every Tuesday, or home, every Tuesday. I can't just leave the dog in his cage all day, and I can't just not see my husband if he will leave the next day for a three-day flight. Kat says I can bring the dog with me to the ranch, so his part in the equation is not quite as large as it would have been, but what about Andy?
The ironic part of all this, is that even though I don't want him to leave, when Andy is gone I can finally do something with friends or just for myself without feeling guilty. I can go and spend the entire afternoon at the ranch if I want to, and know that I'm not missing any precious time with him. I get more reading done, the house stays cleaner, heck, we even spend less money because when Andy travels, he gets paid for his meals. If he's careful, he can even make a profit from the per diem. He also gets compensated- well -for working a day off (which is why he is gone today). It's also kind of crazy how if he somehow scores the schedule that allows him to do only out-and-backs for say, two weeks, I'm ready for him to go because I'm used to that time alone. And I think he's ready to go too. I've said it before- it's our reality -and I don't really want sympathy for it. Empathy, perhaps, understanding of why I always seem so busy when I actually spend a lot of evenings alone, but not sympathy. I don't like being asked where Andy is, and then getting an "awwwwww" when I say he is on a week-long trip to Texas or whatever. That only makes it worse since the only way I can get through it is to make it feel normal.
The silver lining to it all, is that we rarely get sick of eachother and we don't take our time for granted. I still get "thank-yous" for dinner, since home-cooked meals aren't exactly the norm for my traveller husband. But oh how I wish for a companion to sit next to me in church every Sunday, for the normalcy and comfort of spending every day together and knowing that I can make plans(and truly enjoy them) without guilt.
As I write, my big hunk of dog is sitting on the floor demolishing a bone, happy as a clam to have his mama home and get to spend some time under my feet. At least, no matter how late at night it is, I have Sam. :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Confessions of a wanna-be cowgirl

I've got a new favorite. I'm addicted - hopelessly addicted. My sister, (who, now that I think of it isn't really the type to get addicted to this kind of story), turned me on to the following website: http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/ You have GOT to be kidding me. Go from city girl to country girl? My dream come true, only she did it a lot better than I'll ever be able to. The closest I'll come to wrangling right now is chasing both cats down the stairs because one of them had a "behavioral" accident on my couch.

Which one is it? The Seasick Tabby or Beer-Drinkin' Blackie?:

The world may never know. For now I'm cleaning out the litter box daily so that it's "an inviting place for them to open the floodgates" rather than on my sofa. "Shoot em" says my dad, "lock them in the basement for the remainder of their lives" says my husband. But I can't help it- I love my furballs. One just left my lap to curl up next to me as I type. "purrrrr"

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, The Pioneer Woman or "PW" as she calls her self to save typing time. It's not that I'm jealous, ok I am, I'm lusting after her life. Why can't I get up every morning to go "work" cattle in boots and blue jeans rather than putting on my oh-so-professinal attire and heading off to work?

My oldest sister said PW reminds her of me in an alternate life. I don't think we live alternate lives, I think she's just living the one I've always wanted. I told mom about it, she said: "well, it is kinda like you, andy's a pilot-boy (ok, when did that become the same as cowboy?) and you're a country girl." Mom, when did you start calling me a country girl? Haha, I wish.

I do find it amazing though how I kinda tend to stick out like a sore thumb in my family in that regard. I may not want to spend all day at a regular job, but I will (and once did) get up at dawn to throw on the same clothes I wore yesterday, throw my hair in a ponytail, and head out to spend the day throwing hay, scooping poo, and doing a mirade of other duties one might call kinda gross if you don't have the heart for it. Anyone remember the story CHR's resident farrier shared at my wedding? I won't repeat it. But for those of you that think you know, YOU KNOW.

I've told hubby time and again - our kids will be country kids. He knows I'm serious and agrees with me for the most part (I'm not sure he knows just how serious I am). Step two, Lord willing, in the Heemstra family household (step one being the house we own now) will be a house...with....land. I'm not talking an acre, in the middle of a subdivision, where the lots are large but still mostly landscaped and with zero shade trees. (I hatehatehate clear cutting for new subdivisions and then "replacing" the trees with seedlings(or yearlings, is that just an animal term?)) <--look double parenthesis :) Seriously, what's the point.......except allowing the developer to reshape the land the way they wants so they can get the most lots out of it. Blah, gimme trees!!!!!

So anyways, back to kids. I seriously wanna have about a half dozen of those "hillbilly deluxe" kinda kids, the ones that wear denim with denim, and aren't afraid to step in poop - hey, it happens. Cute outfits - yeah, i like em. But I hope my kids can be less worried about it than I was and just be their cute selves. Listen to me, sounds like I have kids, I just have these:
And this:
Far from a cowboy, but hey, he's my far-from-cowboy and it's not the cowboy I'm lusting after (fine, he's cute ok, read her novel, no man is THAT romantic, uhg) it's the lifestyle. It's something to strive for anyway. I'm not talking about being "that house" on the side of a highway somewhere with two sickly donkeys wandering a trash-strewn lawn and 13 kids with vacant expressions sitting on the porch, and a guard-turkey (sorry Uncle Mike, but it's kinda weird ok?). I'm just saying, I'd rather live simply and have a family that ers (spelling?) on the shall we say less main-stream? side than have a bunch of kids that are dependent on television and the internet (not saying I've never been a little guilty of this, hello Guitar Hero) to determine who they are and what is important to them.
**side bar** I am not saying everyone who lives a life other than the one I'd like to aim for is going to fail, it is just my opinion that for me, and usually for my husband (ok, he's never put as much thought into it as me, but he nods and says "yes dear" alot) this is the way we'd like to raise our kids.
**end side bar**
I have no more to say, except I think I'll go put on my boots (thank goodness I actually own a pair of those--I'm on my way!) and see if the dog wants to play run-away steer so I can rope him.

Monday, May 19, 2008


A few pictures from my weekend up in Big Rapids at the Circle B Ranch Horsemanship Clinic. The trainer - Larry Bourke is big in rodeo and does a lot of colt starting for area horse owners. He put on a clinic with three colts being broke and two afternoons of horsemanship classes. Kim rode one of the colts for him and I rode Kim's husband Troy's horse - Duke in the afternoon classes. I don't have any pictures of me riding but lots of the colts!

Larry on Hawk working Pacos in the round pen. Three horses- one pen!

Putting Pacos all the way down. One leg is tied up and a rope is pulled across their back until they lay down - as gracefully as possible -this teaches a horse quite quickly who is boss because they are completely immobilized and have to trust you. After they lay down the trainer sits on them and rubs their hands all over the horse's body.

Warrior - the colt Kim worked with. He was very nosy, always watching what was going on in the round pen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Decision Time

It's time to tell- I've been thinking about something for awhile now that has honestly been one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. I know I've made bigger life-altering decisions, but this one just seemed to run deeper and affect more people than the decisions I usually make. A week ago Tuesday I was offered a position at my church http://www.tccrca.org/ as (more or less) their new Youth Director. It is a part time position that involves planning and implementing a student-led youth ministry program. The Youth Director would have to interview and hire two interns to work with him/her during the following year to try to get the ministry to a point where the students might start to take more control of their own "youth group." I debated, and debated, and debated, and more or less had to make this decision without my husband since he is in Dallas and finding good times to sit and talk on the phone has never been our strong point.
So I decided: I'm taking the opportunity. I will go to part time at Standard and part time at Thornapple. I will also be volunteering with an organization that I discovered called Roanoke Ranch for Kids http://www.roanokeranch.com I cannot wait to get started, I think this will be so good for me. Hopefully my more fliexible schedule will allow me some stress relief. There will be different kinds of stress, but I have a feeling that it will be more good stress than bad. Time will tell!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


As you grow older you learn about yourself. Little things, like how good a listener you are, when to leave well enough alone, when to keep your mouth shut (still working on this one), when to say you need space, to realize when others need space. You also learn what you're good at; what your true skills are, what needs work, and what skills you may never really acquire.
In school I was pretty much good at everything. It's funny when people talk about what they were good at in school because it's such a short period of one's entire life, but for someone my age school is still something you tend to judge yourself by- at 24 your time in school constitutes the majority of your life. Now I find myself in a "big-girl job," married, with a house and lots of bills that need to be paid. I can't do things just because I want to anymore, there are a lot more consequences. When it comes to careers or career changes I can't just decide based on how much I'll enjoy the job, I have to think about whether or not we can afford the change, and what the long-term effect on my life these choices will have.
As I said before, school was always pretty easy for me- I was a success. I tested well, wrote fantastic essays that got extra credit, and did just well enough in math to keep a modest grade. I always knew math was not a strong point, though I loved science. Most of the time a person is either good or bad at both. Not me, I loved the details of science but not those of math. I love the details of the human mind, of nature, of the plays on words and deeper meaning I find in literature. I like the details that stretch the mind. I never found those in my math class and so it didn't keep my attention well. Today, this affects me in new ways. I always thought I didn't succeed in math classes because I just wasn't good at it, plain and simple. My mind didn't do math. Now I realize my mind doesn't do those kinds of details naturally. The kind that take intense concentration on the smallest of decimals. The kind that is important when filling out paperwork, keeping files in order, and just plain doing the nitty gritty of a job in the business world. Its those same kind of details that I struggle with. And though it may sound like an excuse, I really think it is part of my nature to not be able to wrap my mind around those sorts of things. This is not to say I can't learn to do it, but it's a stumbling block and has been a shock to my confidence as well. I'm not used to not succeeding. And as terrible as it sounds, I'm not used to having to try so hard. A passing grade isn't enough anymore, not when money and reputation are concerned.
Now I know this, and now I have to decide if this is what I want for myself or not. I want to succeed, I will not back down from a situation just because I'm frustrated with it. However I have to decide in the long haul if this is what I want for myself.

Here is another thing that has changed since school. What happened to the social butterfly I was known as? I feel like the butterfly has crawled back into the cocoon. In high school I spent all day with people, couldn't get enough of them- over committed myself because I wanted to be everything to everyone and soak up all the world had to offer. I spent all day every day with friends, even when we needed sleep, we just napped at eachother's houses! We stayed up late, talked for hours about nothing, and enjoyed it. Now, more often than not, I want to be alone or with one or two other close friends. In large groups I'm quiet and reserved. I actually had some one tell me the other day that I needed to talk more, that I was too quite! That was truly a first. My family knows - I've never been quiet. I feel now as though I don't play well with others, at parties I'm thinking about getting home, about going to work tomorrow and how much it will suck if I'm tired for it. I avoid commitment to committees and parties because I am afraid I'll miss time with Andy or not get all the myriad of things done that I need done. Yet my car is dirty, my house is never as clean as I'd like it, and I still rarely see my husband. When did I become a homebody? Some part of me has gone missing and I don't know where it went or even how to begin looking for it. I also don't know if it's just a part of growing up. I hope it's not, I didn't intend to become a boring person as I got older. Right now, I'm feeling unfulfilled. Don't look at this as a cry for help, I'm just thinking out loud for those that wonder what I'm up to.