Thursday, December 29, 2011

a very long rambling post about words, firemen, and being someone's wife.

everyone is born with a natural ability of some kind. some call them talents, some call them superpowers. everyone has at least one. travis is an athlete. he's fast, he can jump high, he is coordinated and agile without trying. my mom can make a friend anywhere. my brother reed is a quick learner. i was born with two abilities that come naturally, almost as easy as breathing or some other function my body performs without me thinking too much about it. (pooping probably, since as you know from previous posts, i poop like clockwork.)

my superpowers are singing and language. i've been singing since before i could talk. it's always just been easy. my mom taught me to sing in a round with her when i was just learning to make words. i have always been able to pick out harmonies and find pitch. when i took voice lessons, everything clicked, breath techniques, projecting, etc. music brings me a great deal of joy and i'm always grateful i was born with this talent.

my other superpower has always been in words. my mom tells the story of when i was a baby learning to talk and how my understanding of english grammar was very advanced. my parents were enjoying my parroting of what they would say, so they decided to challenge me with a long word.
"say, Yugoslavia!" they prompted.
"I go slavia!" i replied.

i was that kid who knew how to read before starting school. i was writing my name in cursive before kindergarten. that geeky kid with giant glasses and her nose in a book was always me. i was reading on a college level by third grade. not only have i always been a great reader, but i'm a fast reader, something that has really come in handy for college. my mom read to me from the time i was born and always made reading a huge priority, and i'm thankful to her for nurturing this ability.

i'm not saying all this to brag. i'm terrible at a lot of things, like anyone else. math. racquetball. reading charts and graphs. understanding the NFL. keeping score in games. driving. oh, reading a map, kills me. like i stay home sometimes rather than go out and find the address of events. i'm ashamed to admit this, but i don't completely understand how to use street names and numbers to find places. having a gps on my smart phone has changed my life.

ok, but i'm rambling here. the point to all this thinking was that i have been considering the word 'wife' the past few weeks. what i really want to write about is what it's like being a fireman's wife and what i have learned from this. but i just hate the word 'wife'. ever since i was a little kid playing house, i have hated this word. i used to say, "and this is my husband" in pretend play rather than introduce myself as someone's wife. the reason i got to rambling about talents is because i was thinking about how even as a kid i used to think about words a lot. i'm sure many of you were the same way, but for those of you who aren't, that's why i can remember hating that word even as a 7 year old.

now that i technically am someone's wife, i have been in plenty of situations where i had to introduce myself as such. "hi, i'm travis's wife." at fire department get-togethers. but it still bothers me and i'm not sure why. even as a kid, i wasn't so sure about the idea of "belonging" to someone else. i didn't know if i really ever would get married and as you know i kept my last name. because i am and always have been collette charles. just because it's a western custom for the woman to take the man's last name, doesn't mean it's the only right, moral choice to make. in many places in africa, each member of the family is given their own last name. when travis asked me why i didn't want to change my name, i asked him, do you want to take my last name? of course he didn't. i asked why. he replied that he was a bodtcher, not a charles. i told him the same principle applied to me. it's a hassle and people are always confused about why my name is different from his, but it's important to me. i have always been a little funny about my name. once in 5th grade, i changed the spelling of my name to "kollette" and insisted that everyone else respect it, including my teacher.

again with the rambling.

so awhile ago i was pondering different blogs i could write that would gather large audiences and possibly make me some money. i considered a mormon feminist mommy blog, since that combines a lot of things that seem contrary to each other on the surface. obviously this would be later if i ever get the courage to be a mommy. another blog i thought about was a fire wife blog. people are always interested in firemen. firemen are universally loved, like puppies or you know, some other thing that only does good for other people. people are interested in what it's like to be married to a fireman, too, because their hours are strange and their job is more of a lifestyle. but writing a blog about what it's like being the wife of a fireman turned me off completely. because being a wife to a fireman is only a very tiny piece of who i am. being married to travis is obviously a giant part of my life. but to write an entire blog about being his wife wouldn't be honest at all.

but i thought, i could write a post or two about it. plus, he's at work now and i'm a tidtch bored and lonely. might as well make a list of why i feel that way, right? and i know that once we have kids, being a fire wife will be completely different and much more difficult, but these are things i have learned in the year and a half that i have been a fire wife.

* being married to a fireman gives you something interesting to talk about to other people.
* you instantly have a connection to the entire fire community. doesn't matter what department they work for or if you even know them at all, you're family.
* travis works 48 hours on and then has 4 days off. this means i will spend 1/3 of my life sleeping alone. unless i take another fireman husband, as my brother zane has suggested.
* i don't think of weeks as having 7 days. i am always counting down from four, from the day travis comes home until the day travis goes back to work. the two days he is gone are almost not even counted as weekdays for me, as strange as that sounds.
* i know that for the next thirty years, travis will work his share of valentine's days, thanksgivings, christmases, and 4th of julys. being a person who values holiday traditions, this bothers me immensely.
* 9/11 has taken on a new meaning for me. it could just be that i'm getting older and starting to appreciate the gravity of the terrorist attack, but watching the footage this year of those firemen at ground zero brought me to tears in a much more personal way than ever before.
* although i lived on my own for four years before marrying travis, i am adjusting to living alone in a completely different way than when i had roommates. i know that for two to three days a week, i will be killing my own spiders, taking out the trash, and checking the house for intruders alone. sometimes, this is awful.
* men in uniform are attractive. my man in his uniform is a turn on.
* being married to a fireman means that at any given moment during his shift, he can get a call. it doesn't matter if you're there visiting him. it doesn't matter if you're telling him an amazing story over the phone. the tones go off, and he has to put you second. that was really hard to get used to.
* being married to a fireman means that you worry about him. you pray that when he goes on a freeway call, no one slams into his ambulance. you pray that no one gets violent or that might get to sleep the entire night through so he won't be exhausted on his four off. you pray that people will stop drinking and driving so that he won't be in danger when he's on the roads late at night. you worry about him all the time.
* you think about having children and you worry that you won't be able to handle being a single parent 1/3 of the time.
* sometimes you feel jealous that he gets to be the hero all the time while you're home alone.
* you go to family events, or to hang out with friends, and feel like a widow. people ask where your husband is and you are always saying, oh he's at work.
* sometimes i make the effort to go out and have a good time when he's working. then i feel sad that i have had adventures without him and slightly bitter that he missed the good times.
* i feel extreme pride in him.
* i love getting to know the men he works with and feeling their acceptance.

so there you have it. the life of the fire wife. or as i would rather say, my fireman husband's effect on my life.

travis standing in the rubble after a big structure fire last winter.
photo courtesy of

pinning travis's badge after he was officially sworn in as a murry firefighter/paramedic.

doing what a fire wife does best...
remember that time i had an identity crisis
and dyed my hair blonde...

visiting travis on his birthday while we were still dating. pretty enamored with the uniform.

foods and christmas lovin'

remember that time i said i would be telling an epic love story once a week? and then i fell off the blogging wagon? (does that metaphor even make sense here? no.) luckily, i had a good excuse: i was out living the love story. also, i was busy shopping, sleeping in, not doing homework, cooking, baking, spending time with family, decorating our house, and keeping christmas secrets.

here are a couple of pictures of my life in the last few weeks.
if it seems like food is dominating my life in pictures, don't worry. it's like that in real life too.

this chicken is my new favorite thing to cook.
just season chicken thighs, yes the fatty thighs,
with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, thyme, and rosemary
and slather with olive oil. bake until they're done.

these pictures are out of order. this is my family
on christmas eve, about to play our rendition of
santa claus is coming to town, rock and roll version.
my dad is wearing a wig.

here i am singing have yourself a merry little christmas.
if i can get the videos to upload, i will upload them.

this is the stuffed manacotti i made for the dinner party.
jeremy and liana came over and we ate and drank ALOT.
i had never made manacotti before, but it was pretty easy.
just combine about ten cheeses, including ricotta mhmmm,
and spinach and spices, and pipe it into the uncooked shells.
easy peasy.

these are the stockings hung by the chimney with care. also,
the christmas village my mom, grandmother,
and great grandmother painted.

here is the table all set for the dinner party.
i'm secretly a desperate housewife.

this is another delicious meal i cooked.
the best part? the green beans!
sunflower market has them on sale right now.
you stick them in a pan with butter, garlic, onion
salt, pepper, let them saute a bit, and then
throw in a cup of chicken stock.
then just let them hang out an cook
for half an hour.
judas priest, they were amazing!

here i am showing off my outfit on christmas morning.
no, it's not new, but i like it. we were headed to church!

standing in front of the very bright window
next to the tree on christmas morning.

so our christmas was EXCELLENT! travis was at the fire station on christmas eve, which sucked because we didn't get to make santa traps together, but on the bright side, we didn't have to argue about which side of the family to go spend the evening with. call me selfish, but i never like to budge on christmas eve family time, because i only get to see my entire charles side twice a year, one of which is christmas eve. this year, my mom's parents were also in town, so it was a family bonanza!

christmas eve also included my family singing "santa claus is coming to town" with guitars, drums, pianos solos, and me singing at the top of my lungs and doing sweet dance kick moves. (no one ever gets my dance kicks, but i still went for it.) for my whole life, christmas eve has included everyone in the family getting up and doing some kind of singing or instrument playing. music just makes it, you know?

christmas was a little rough this year because my grandpa, or as we call him, papa, was recently diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. he has lost an enormous amount of weight, and is on steroids, which make him a little hyper. this man is my hero and a world without him seems pretty impossible. to be honest, i was terrified to see him because i didn't want his cancer to be real. i stuck by him most of the night and he has a great attitude. for those of you who are the praying kind, please add him to your long lists?

ok, so on a happier note, christmas day was excellent. travis came home and we opened presents and had my grandma's cinnamon rolls. poor travis had only gotten five hours of sleep during his entire 48 hour shift, so he took a nice nap before church. church was excellent and a nice way to remember what, for me, christmas is all about. after church we spent time with our families, stuffed ourselves with food, talked to my missionary brother on the phone, and ended up watching home alone.

now for the promised love story.

a few days before christmas, travis had been acting strange.

let me back up. for the past six months, i have been looking into buying a camera. a nice, DSLR camera. i had some money saved up from selling charlie, another very sad story, and i had decided on one. travis kept teasing me about how he was just going to give me $300 bucks in a card for christmas, but we all knew he was going to buy me that camera. it has been a running joke for the past month.

well there is a flood in thailand right now where they make the filters and so production has slowed down. travis bought the camera with plenty of time to spare and was promised it would make it in time for christmas. but alas, there wasn't one to be found west of the mississippi. travis spent a lot of time "cleaning the garage" and talking to the store on the phone about my camera.

a few days before christmas, we were driving home from the temple and he got tears in his eyes. he told me that he had ruined my christmas and how sorry he was. he explained about the camera and how he had planned to give me a card with a picture of where the camera was hidden to make me search for it, and how it was all ruined. and it was "all his fault."

that he would stress over my christmas to that extent was the best part of christmas this year for me. i still don't have the camera. it won't be in until mid january at the earliest. but that doesn't matter! this is the reason i married travis. sometimes i still can't believe a person could love me so much.

ahhhh love.

sorry for the terribly long post. the once a week is back on. hope all your christmases were merry and bright!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

braggin' it up in herr.

remember how my first year of marriage was really hard? and how travis and i used to want to strangle each other sometimes? well those days seem really far away from where we are right now.

seriously, marriage is excellent.

ok sorry, but i'm going to have a my-life-is-amazing brag session here.

after working 200 hours in the past two weeks, travis came home and we were finally able to spend an afternoon and evening together. he got home yesterday afternoon and we had a pretty enjoyable time getting reacquainted. too much? ah well, usually is. last night we went to our neighborhood christmas party, had dinner, and were social beings. so remember how we teach sunday school to the 14 year olds? well one of them, alex, was there and needed a ride home. (freakin' love this kid; he is so optimistic and innocent. so refreshing!) so as we were leaving, i asked alex, "do you want to drive home?" he gets all excited and looks at travis, who says, "uhhh no. no way is he driving our brand new car."

don't worry, i got the keys for alex. and we gave him a pretty legit driving lesson. picture this: pitch black darkness, alex, who isn't sure which pedal does what, me in the front seat laughing,(i'm a terrible driver) and travis in the back seat, yelling to alex, "ok, that's a stop sign! wait, you have to signal before cutting off that driver! STOP HUGGING THE CURB! YOU ALMOST HIT THAT POLE!" guess we know who is going to be the push over parent when our kids are teenagers.... (that would be me.)

after making our obligatory saturday night walmart run, we went home and decided to spend the night playing cards, or more specifically, california speed. travis and i are both pretty hardcore competitors. and as i discovered, we're both hardcore sore losers, too. usually when we compete, it's in sports, travis's forte, so i always lose. we never compete in music or reading, where i'm strong. (how can you even compete in reading? ok, see who can read fastest and score the highest on this comprehension test! and... go!) (i would totally smoke ass in that game.)

so i'm a california speed demon. turns out travis, is not. at first he was keeping it cool, talking smack, "don't worry, i'm just getting warmed up." ten games later, his score was still 0, but travis wasn't the same cool cat he had been. his face was red, he had called me countless swear words, accusing me of cheating, and topped off the act by hurling his cards at me and storming out.

this behavior is coming from the man who, after me picking fights and sometimes raising my voice all year, never batted an eye. seriously, i had never seen any signs of temper, ever. (and that drove me insane, by the way. seriously, fight back!) i beat him at some meaningless card game and he turns into a beastmother. well, it probably doesn't help that i'm not much of a gracious winner. and by that i mean i love a good face rubbing more than almost anything. and for those of you who know me well, getting someone riled up is my version of liquid crack. highly addictive and so delicious.

love that man of mine!

basically, travis and i are two peas in a giant, provoking, competing, sore losing pod. if you would have told me in tenth grade biology class that someday i would be married to travis bodtcher and be this happy... ah life.

and this week he gets to be home for an entire two full days without having to work any of his 4 jobs. we're going to put up our christmas tree and definitely play some more speed. and tomorrow is my last test for the semester! stats = killed. one more semester to go!

also, travis and i were reminiscing about our love story the other day and the details are already getting slightly hazy for both of us. so i'm going to try post every week at least one story about how we ended up together. you know, to document. (brag.) so i hope you like epic love stories.

sending love your way. xo

picture compliments of melissa robbins.
we turned around and she surprised us by snapping our picture.
that's why we look so awkward and fake.
still adorable together though, amirite?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

how to interpret the universe's message to you on a day to day basis

yeah, so do you ever have those days where your life has a theme? like, your life is a tv show, maybe on abc, fox, or HEAVEN FORBID, showtime!? and in every episode there is a different theme? love, loss, heartache, possibly passing your intern tests and becoming a resident at Seattle Grace? (sorry carling, i'm writing this right after reading your blurb about the sexy kathheig on grey's anatomy. i seriously am in love with her and how she has a slight double chin, something i'm pretty insecure about in myself. but i seriously digress here...)

like i was trying to say, days have themes sometimes. like on tuesday, how the theme of my life was slightly sexual vibes from unusual subjects. so yesterday, wednesday, the theme of my life became babies. and it's carried on to this morning at the gym. i'm really hoping it goes away soon, because as you all know, i'm absolutely terrified of having a baby.

babies are a sensitive subject for most people. obviously, a baby is a wonderful, beautiful, miracle. some people want them, some people don't want them. some people are having them around others who want them and it's painful. i can't begin to imagine how painful that has to be. some people, like me, are afraid of becoming mothers. worst part of being a newlywed for me: realizing that someday soon, there could be a chance i would accidentally get pregnant. somehow, this just didn't really hit until i was engaged and then i started freaking out and researching success rates for birth controls. having sex was pretty scary, for the obvious reasons a virgin with a teensy vagina would be scared, but also because now there was this big chance, well 1% chance, that a living being would take up residence in my uterus and demand a portion of my body, mind, time, life, and identity. which absolutely is horrifying for me to consider.

(for anyone who is pregnant and reading this, please don't let my fears interrupt the truly awesome work you are doing. seriously, i don't really respect anyone more than you.)

also, i am not, and have never been, a baby hater. i love kids. i'm actually pretty great with kids. they love me. i love them. me not being ready to birth one does not make me a heartless judas priest. we all have our fears, right?

ok. back to the theme of my day yesterday. i get to my child/adoles development class and the topic is: transitioning to parenthood.


we learned all about how marital satisfaction decreases, how 13% of couples separate before their babies are 18 months old, and all the stress placed on the new couple. how they have to face their differences that have never come up in their marriage. how actually, 90% of parents feel completely polarized from their partner after their first child is born. and ok, it's psychology, you can't take those studies and make them your bible or anything. but there has to be some truth behind all that work, right? (this is the part where, if you have had a baby, it would be great for you to tell me how it was for you.)

ok, so after hearing all this, things that i already freak out about pretty regularly, i went to my parents' house for dinner. travis is out of town for the week, working, so i have been hanging out with my mom. well, naturally we watched the latest episode of sister wives. because we like to marvel at the idea of sharing your husband with other women. funny thing, because most of the world associates mormons with polygamy, because our church practiced it briefly in its early years. i'm lds and i would consider myself pretty devoted. but i would not be down with sharing travis with another woman. well, unless it was that pretty girl who flirted with me the other day... just kidding.

well on this particular episode of sister wives, the newest wife gave birth. at home. in her bed. without drugs. my mom, who birthed all of us without the help of drugs, was impressed. i, on the other hand, was sweating, heart rate rising, almost crying of fear. not for the wife in the screen, but for me! i don't think i can do that! i don't know if i even want to do that!

then, this morning i went to my thursday kickbox class. one woman who goes just had a baby and i have been watching with interest how quickly she has lost the weight. i'm pretty chummy with the instructor and she knows i was recently married. so today, we are doing walking lunges and i was pretty tired. i wasn't using weights like the rest of the class, because it messes up my form and hurts my bad knees. she looked at my red face and asked, "are you doing ok?" i reassured her i was fine and then she gave me this knowing smile and said, "ooooohhhhhhh i get it. well be careful."

i'm pretty sure she thinks i'm pregnant.
for the rest of the class she kind of watched me and i wanted to yell, "NO! I'M NOT PREGNANT! I'M JUST REALLY TIRED! MY BOOBS ARE EXTRA BIG BECAUSE I'M ON MY PERIOD!"

i'm a huge freak, basically.

it's just really hard to wrap my head around the idea of having a baby. travis and i have been talking about when and if it will happen. i was thinking, maybe i'll be brave after i graduate and work for a bit. maybe like next fall or something. but then we are planning to go on a cruise next january and i don't want to be pregnant on a cruise. and when am i supposed to go to grad school? how am i supposed to fit all the things i want plus create life???

i cry about this sometimes. and yeah, i'm shallow. i don't want to mess up this body i've been sculpting for the past few years. i don't want to risk my acne coming back and dominating my life. i really like my life, just the way it is. sleeping in, afternoon lovin' and a nap, late nights with friends. a clean house. being able to come and go as i please.

but there is a small piece of me that wonders. could i do it? i think i would be a really great mom and travis was practically born to be dad.

ah, but breastfeeding. that freaks me out so much.

see, maybe i'm just not ready. maybe you moms out there could tell me about your experiences and your fears? and how it all turned out?

anyway, hoping the theme of my week changes soon, before these thoughts, plus finals finish me off for good. cheers!

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