Mosquitoes

I posted this blog last year and feel that it is one that should be shared every time it gets warm and the flying assholes emerge.

Mosquitoes love me. Especially the pterodactyl kind. Every summer for the past several years has been miserable. I even said “forget it” to gardening, something I love, thanks to those blood suckers.

I’m serious people. The mosquitoes in our yard are like….carry-your-kid-off huge, Pterodactyls…..

#jurassicworld

Around March of this year I decided that I should finally follow my mother’s advice (it’s only taken about 42 years). She’s always said to take B vitamins every day for stress and jaw-clenching… something I was experiencing.

I noticed a difference in the jaw-clenching immediately. Stress is an overwhelming thing if you don’t get it under control. Everyone has different ways of doing that. I added the Stress B Complex to my stress-reducing methods and am thankful I did. Little did I know it had an extra benefit.

That benefit: Being less attractive to mosquitoes. I continued taking Stress B-Complex once a day. When May rolled around and it was gorgeous outside I decided to take a chance and do some yard work. I thought for sure I wouldn’t last 10 minutes.

I spent hours outside and never got a single mosquito bite. None. Zero. I knew those suckers were there. I saw them…. remember, ours are pterodactyl size. They even landed on me!

In the back of my mind I was curious how it was possible I wasn’t getting bitten but at the same time didn’t put much thought into it as long as they weren’t biting the life out of me.

Then one day, scrolling through Facebook, I saw an article about vitamin B-1 and how it deters mosquitoes. You know how you read a gazillion ‘cure’, ‘DIY’, ‘the answer to all your problems’, posts that are garbage? Well this one wasn’t. I had tested out the theory before I even knew about it.

So…. B-Complex is now a daily thing. For me and my kids. I get the kids some multi-vitamin gummies with B vitamin in them. They seem to work so far.

Warning though…..B-Vitamins stink. Like, don’t carry them in your purse even in the bottle because your child might tell you your purse smells like a butt. They should also be taken close to meal or snack time. If not you may get a little burpy.

Here are some links to the products I buy off of Amazon.com. Easy Peasy!

For me:

Nature Made Stress B Complex with Zinc Tablets, 75 Count

For the kids:

Sundown Naturals Kids Star Wars Complete Multivitamin, 60

Cheapest mosquito preventative EVER!!

One more product I will throw in here for pets:

If you are looking for a GREAT flea and tick collar for your dog or cat check out what we use, Seresto, in the link below. 8 months of protection!!

I love the convenience of Amazon, especially Amazon Prime! It is worth not having to go into a stinky pet store.

Seresto Collar Dog Large 70 cm by Seresto

I’m not too far off

Everytime I post about leadership, I wonder if I sound like a complete idiot. Sharing how I feel I try to manage things isn’t easy. What if I’ve got it totally wrong? When if the people I work with really just hate my guts? I will just sound like a fool.

 I know I’m not a perfect leader and I don’t meet all the best qualities like I should. But I don’t think any of us do.

One thing I know for certain is that the only way to become better at ANYTHING you do, is to first be open to the fact that there may be a better way.

As I scroll through Google and read leadership articles I begin to realize that my style isn’t so bad. I also read things that stand out to me…things I need to improve on…things I need to try. Self awareness is the key to doing just that. 

The following article from Fire Rescue Magazine lays out some key characteristics for successful leadership. Do you possess any of these? 

http://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-4/issue-5/command-leadership/key-characteristics-of-successful-leaders.html

Teamwork 

While I was skimming through Pinterest I saw this quote posted by hhtp://hyplyrikz.com and it immediately jumped out at me. 

Looking back over my years as a middle manager I feel like this quote encompasses the route I tried to take when I made this rank. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like my team and I have accomplished and continue to “tweak” coming together, keeping together, and working together.

Here some things I found to be helpful when I became a supervisor of a large team  made up of smaller teams that work together in life and death situations. Teams that work, live, eat, and sleep together.

-Take the “we work together” approach. I despise saying my co-workers work under me or for me. I know all to well what it is like to feel insufficient simply because I was a lower rank. So when I took this supervisor position I decided to observe more at first than go in blazing with my shiny extra bugle on display saying “I’m the damn boss!!”

They already know I’m the boss. 

I was fortunate to take a position in a familiar area. I actually became a supervisor of men who had supervised me at one point. Talk about ackward! (That could make a whole separate blog!)

But that ackward was an advantage. I knew how they operated. I knew their triggers. I was ahead of the game coming together with them.

The ones I hadn’t worked with I observed. I let them do their thing. See how they operate. See how they handle their people. See how they handle chaos.

How long did I observe? Long enough to figure out what changes we needed to make for all of us to come together as a cehosive group. That time line could be different in other circumstances.

-Understand different management styles. Understand different methods of conflict resolution. Know when to use ANY of them. 

Policies, procedures, and laws aside, everyone has a different style of management. Your way might not be the right way in certain circumstances. Hell, it might just flat out suck for those you supervisor. Meanwhile your walking around like a cock. 🐓

Do you need to be an expert in all styles? No. You just have to be open to the FACT that there are other styles and that they might just work better than yours.

-Ask what they need in a supervisor. Most of my officers said they just wanted to be able to do their job and not be micromanaged. I completely get that because I don’t want to be micromanaged either. Especially after 20 years at the job.

It’s not hard to let people do their job if you have the mind set that you aren’t the “all knowing”. It’s not hard if you don’t have an ego the size and force of a freight train.

You don’t need to remind them or scold them on EVERY little thing. If all the little things become consistent problems then let them have it. But until then, have some confidence in your people.
-Have over all goals and make them clear to your team.

My goal: We all go home physically and mentally in tact. Instead of using dumb luck, let’s work safer and more efficiently. We need to share the work load.

I cut out some things that were breaking up our numbers and our crew integrity. I simply reiterated that operating safely and efficiently was my main focus. The more working hands, the better. And I kept it as consistent as possible. 
Some people who wanted to operate at the bare minimum just because that’s how it had always been done. But once they saw consistency and they saw the burden lifted off even their own shoulders, they understood and accepted it.

-Be a guide and a sounding board.

 When a crew is having issues amongst itself it is important to listen and guide the officer. Not immediately step in and take over unless it’s a safety issue. 

Don’t take power away from your officers. And don’t step in and do everything for them. Help them figure it out. Be open minded to how they may deal with something or someone. 

Who knows…They may be better at it than you. And you could learn something. 

-Last but not least, keep your mouth shut. Don’t go running your mouth about what someone asked or told you. Don’t share the issues with everyone else. That is the FASTEST way to destroy crew and team intergrity and make you look like nothing but an asshole.

Be aware that when you are constantly talking about things you don’t need to behind people’s backs, they eventually find out. And then all the trust and respect goes out the window.

_____________________________
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Like and share for me if any of it made sense to you. Ha!

Fire Service question: Fog nozzle or Smoothbore 

There have been a recent changes to how things are done that effect a department and city. I am curious to other opinions from firefighters and Operations level officers who work and make decisions on aerial apparatus deployment in a variety of incidents.

So here are my questions:

-Do you think an aerial truck should have a fog nozzle attached for immediate deployment? Or do you think an aerial truck should have a smoothbore nozzle on it? 

-Do you feel it should be standard across an entire department? Or do you feel it should be dependent on primary district needs?

I would like to say that I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer that will cover ever incident. We work in an unpredictable profession. I do, however feel that one of these choices is better than another. 

With that being said, I’m not here to debate or argue. I don’t even plan to reveal which  I personally think is better. I simply want some feedback on how departments across the country do things. This is just out of my personal interest.

Thanks for stopping by and thank you for any feedback.

And most importantly…Stay safe, brothers and sisters.

My mom tip

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Some of you may know where I’m going to with this photo. But for those who don’t, this is a picture of a recent “mom tip” I collected.

A recent mom tip. All $1.30 of it.

Years and years ago, my husband sacrificed his truck to help our finances. For those years and years he drove old, beat up, hand-me-down vehicles. The last one didn’t even go in reverse anymore.

So the other day he finally went and got himself a very nice used truck. I can’t express how truly happy I for him. Our family vehicle, an Armada, is on it’s last leg and drives him nuts when he works on it. (I will just get to take it to a mechanic. Haha!) And I get to drive back and forth to work in an F-250….a truck that was brand new when they issued it to me.

I have always felt so bad that he didn’t get to drive it and had to ride around with no heat or air when he went to work. So I am overjoyed that he will now be, not only comfortable, but safe when he’s on the road.

Now…. to talk about the Armada….

I like it. I don’t mind driving the vehicle itself. But holy shit. A nasty car is a pet peeve of mine. Yet ours has gotten NASTY!!!

Why you ask? Because we got into the mindset that it was going to fall apart soon. So we failed to take care of it. We are going, going, going all the time. We live out of it. And I gave up on keeping it clean or expecting anyone else to help keep it clean. My bad and I know it.

So…..here is where the mom tip comes in….

I am cleaning out the Armada today. It is time for the food between the seats (enough to sustain us for at least 3 days!) to go. No more bullcrap garbage, food, socks, pencils, toys, lollipop sticks, etc!!

While cleaning I will find money. Guaranteed. Coins everywhere! And I will keep the money (after washing it, of course.). Because FINDERS KEEPERS!

$1.52

MY MOM TIP.

Garden Therapy: Peppermint

It’s finally warmed up enough to get outside and garden. Gardening is therapy!

I’ve piddled with gardening for a long time. It’s a constant learning experience. And there is a ton of failure…also known as dead plants and rotten produce.

For the past 2 years I didn’t do much gardening. Depression and apathy are such bitches that can rob you of motivation to do things you love to do.

One season I skipped gardening all together. But not this year! We all need sunshine in our lives….and peppermint!

Through thick, thin, no attention, to much attention, plucking, picking, and cutting, peppermint and strawberries have stuck with me. Recently I decided to share my peppermint. There is no way I can use it all because it gets so abundant.

The picture below doesn’t quite show that abundance because it is early in the season. But don’t have doubt in my peppermint!

This little bit has been split. And now I’m working on getting my transplants to set some decent roots so I can share.

I wanted something other than galvanized tubs to plant my herbs and strawberries in. The tubs have been my best gardening friends for a long time. They were originally tubs used to hold cold beer at our wedding reception. So they have some age! They’ve housed all sorts of different species of plant. But the peppermint and strawberries are the ones who always come back.

So…the decision to transplant them was not easy. I don’t want to kill my faithful plants!! First I had to research other ways to grow each of them.

While skimming through Amazon Prime for different planter options I found this product that looked pretty cool. This Mr Stacky Tower came 2 days after I ordered it through Amazon Prime and out I went with it to dig up my old faithfuls.

This compact garden stand turns into the awesome tower to plant all sorts of goodies in!

Check out www.mrstacky.com for all sorts of awesome ideas on how to utilize their towers. I’ve already found that I’m going to need way more Mr Stacky!
And what’s even better? They are a small business. I always feel more connected to a product when I purchase something from a small, original business.

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So, back to the peppermint….

Peppermint is SO EASY to transplant. As you can see below, the roots are hardy and plentiful. The peppermint spreads because what I call “vines” extend out and the roots grow down into the dirt. The peppermint leaves are attached to the vine, not the roots themselves.

So….follow the easy-to-read Mr Stacky instructions included in the box and get to work!

I don’t like buying new soil so I find as much as I can from other sources. The tub of soil the peppermint was in is seasoned just right. I also keep old pots of soil that once has live plants in them. Yes, I have killed plants too. This year it was a planter that had mums in it once.

So…fill to the line with soil and then….

Transplant. You and cut or just pull apart those “vines” or extenders between the plants. Then set them on the soil.

You don’t have to bury the peppermint very deep. You really only need to lay it on the soil, then cover the vines/roots with more soil. A thin layer is enough. Lightly press the dirt so the plants stays in place.

Stack the next layer, and repeat.

For my peppermint I decided to just use only two layers of the Stacky. Peppermint spreads out, down, up, around…so I want it by itself so that it doesn’t grow into another plant in the stack.

Two days after I transplanted the peppermint it is doing great! Soon I will be transplanting these into individual pots to give to friends and family. I want the small, single plants to establish good roots and start to spread before I do.

When it was all done I had separated my clump of peppermint into at least 30 separate plants!

I had 3 stacks left so I moved and separated my strawberries into two and then planted some herb seeds in the last one.

So…during the process, this happened. I don’t recommend letting your cat fertilize your plants in this fashion. Hahaha!!

Don’t worry. None of your peppermint got transplanted into cat pee. Your welcome!

Go check out www.mrstacky.com.

It can be purchased on www.amazon.com as well.

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Thanks for stopping by!

All the same…change it

Sometimes you have to come to grips with the fact that things aren’t much different than before. It’s just a different version of hell.

“Things will be better”, my ass. All the same old crap with zero actual changes. Stagnant. Repeat. Same old shit.

I would be interested in seeing the turnover rate of women versus men in male dominated jobs.

Women don’t leave because they couldn’t do the job, they leave because they get sick of putting up with the bullshit.

Singled out. Treated like a child. Taunted. Belittled. Bullied.

Do you stay to prove a point? Or do you go so you can live your life happily?

You owe no one anything. Do what is best for YOU. The rest will fall in place. Stay. Go. It’s your choice.

Choose what makes you happy. Choose what doesn’t drain the life out of you.

No explanation necessary. No justification needed. No cares given about what others think.

Shared from www.tinybuddha.com

Lost my shit

Well, it happened. I lost my shit on a call. Luckily I didn’t cuss anyone in particular out. But I was hot. And I had to leave before I punched someone in the throat. (Not really…well, maybe….)

I took a mother to see her dead child. And within a second of being able to touch her child she was ripped away by people who apparently thought that was best for her. 

If you found out your child had been killed in a car accident, arrived at the scene, and had to walk by where they lay under a sheet, would you want to see, touch, hold, kiss, your child while they were still warm?

Yeah. Me too. And to witness a mother being stripped of her right to do that absolutely did me in. 

No one should feel that they have the right to say what a person can and cannot see when their loved one is killed, even if it is traumatic. 

Just because you are too weak to assist them through that process doesn’t give you the right to deny them that time with their loved one. 

THE BAR

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10155294793981939/

She nails it! Just be prepared, when you speak up not only for yourself but for those around, some of the “fools” might not like it. 

Some find they need to “put you in your place”. They won’t hesitate to use how you are as a woman to humilate you. And they won’t ever see how what they do impacts everyone around them. 

That is on THEM! NOT YOU. Don’t pretend to be anything other than what and who you are. If that is a totally feminine woman, so be it. If that is masculine qualities mixed with some femininity, so be it. If that is all male qualities in a female’s body, so be it. 

Does that mean that your way is always the right way? No. It doesn’t.

Does that mean you shouldn’t find ways to work around differences in a professional manner? No. It doesn’t. 

Does that mean you have no  responsiblity to learn how to work WITH men instead of against them? No it doesn’t. 

Offended as a woman right now? Wondering how I could say such things? Are you reading what I just said as “bowing down” to the man?

Let me set you straight. There is no “bowing down”. There is picking battles and learning when to compromise. There is a huge amount of learning. There is a lot of time focusing on self-awareness. 

It’s give and take, ladies. And your approach is crucial. And timing is everything. If you immediately go at it like “I’m a woman, hear me roar.”, you won’t get far. Trust me. I’ve seen it happen over and over. And I’ve tried it at the wrong time and totally failed. 

The approach that has worked best for me over the years is to be quiet at first. Now let me explain something, I say “over the years” because that’s how long it has taken. I’m now at a point where I’ve been around long enough that in most situations, I don’t give a shit. But I always take the same approach. 

Does that mean allow them to harrass, degrade, or embarrass you? Um, hell no. Stand up for yourself if needed. Being “quiet” doesn’t mean being submissive. 

And I am going to go ahead and throw this out there before you read any further…men are simple. We are complex. Do not expect every man to put forth the mental effort and energy as you do. Like I said before…it’s picking battles and compromising where needed. 

When you enter a new environment filled with men you don’t know well, don’t immediately start spilling  your guts about anything  and everything.

I’m not saying be meek and mild and don’t speak at all or don’t stand up if needed. I just mean be conservative with what you share at first. And in reality, you should be conservative with what you share at all times. Not everyone is your friend or can be trusted. This includes other women (an entirety different topic and blog subject!). 

Join the group. Join the pertinant conversations. Join in the work load. Do your best. Don’t skimp. Accept some help every now and then if you need it. And certainly offer help.

Always remember there will be times when YOU are wrong and YOU are being  a fool. Own it if you mess up. And own it before someone else throws it at you. Stronger people admit they have flaws. They are self-aware and they are always monitoring how the perform. They eventually surround themselves with others  who compliment them and succeed in areas they may be slacking. It’s called ” being a team”.

This doesn’t happen overnight, in the first week, on every project, in every situation. It has taken me years to get comfortable with where I am as a woman among men. And I still have plenty of trials and errors. 

It is in those times of trial and error when you will see who has your back and who doesn’t. There is a very distinct difference in being told you messed up or that you are wrong and being “put in your place” because you are a woman. 

Trust me. I know all too well what that is like. 

There has been a time recently that I almost let it break me. But with the love and support of my rock of a husband, family, friends, counseling, and some awesome guys I work with, I came out stronger than ever.

Life is too short to let “the bar” beat the shit out of you. So stand above the fools and their bar. 

It’s never a simple extrication: Part 1

The following are some vehicle wrecks my coworkers and I have encountered that make you go “Hmmmmm…..”. 

“That’s not good.”

“How are we going to get this done?” 

“How the hell did they manage that?” 

“We are going to be pushing the limits of this person’s golden hour.”

“This sucks.”

“How are they even alive?”

This vehicle was a good 500 feet off the interstate, down an embankment, into the woods, in the middle of the night, while it is pouring down rain. See the reflecting stripes of turnout coats? Not really, I know, but they are in there.

It got called in as a trapped driver in a burning vehicle. Luckily for this kid a good samaritan pulled him out of his truck before he burned up. And of course he couldn’t walk out thanks to a very broken femur. But, he lived.

This extrication was several years ago when I was a Captain on an engine company. And this picture was taken AFTER the guy was in route to the hospital.

At some point in the middle of the night, this poor fella drove off the free way Dukes of Hazard style and landed upside down in a retaining pond. Of course this retaining pond was next to a deadend road that led to a manufacturing business area. So no one saw him until the next morning.

He was upside down just feet away from drowning. We have no idea how long because he was unconscious when we cut him out. I have no idea if he lived.

Then there was this guy. Not quite sure what he was thinking or if he even was. For some reason he took a sharp right turn where the was no right turn. Fortunately only a rock wall sustained some injury. The driver was able to climb down the ladder with no problem.

On a somber note, this extrication turned into a body recovery. For some reason this couple decided to take a short cut through the college campus. They chose to take the stairs… literally. 

Unfortunately the bounce at the bottom flipped them and crushed the un-seatbelted driver. The passenger walked away unscathed. 

And finally, one of the people who keeps us safe on the roads got hit while he was parked on the side of the interstate. The box truck that hit him landed on it’s side and the DOT truck went for a ride down into a ravine. It took a minute for people calling 911 to realized the DOT truck was the one who had someone trapped in it. 

He was one of my buddies. Someone who I’ve worked with for 5 years. Someone who is always looking out for us. I am so thankful that he lived. Although his status for returning to work is unknown.
We never know what we are going to find when we pull up to any scene. Working on the fly and adapting and overcoming is imperative. I am fortunate to work with men and women who can do that.