Where Were You?

I opened my front door to thick humidity.  It seemed to wrap it’s tendrils around my entire body, suffocating me, all the while laughing while doing so.   My first thought, “why did I ever move to Charleston?”   That was 7:30 am on Tuesday morning September 11, 2001.

I was working for a country music radio station selling radio advertising.  I was starting my third month on the job and eager to prove myself.   My thoughts that morning swirled around the copy I needed to write for some commercials, the contracts that needed to be signed, and a list of cold calls that I needed to make in person.   I had on my smart red skirt suit, sleeveless to help relieve the oppressive heat, and black patent leather strappy heels.   I was ready to kick some butts and take names.

I had moved to Charleston earlier in the summer to continue a relationship with my college boyfriend who had gotten a job working for SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare).   He did network security so his job had him travelling a lot.   I had just put him on a plane the night before.  He was heading to San Diego, Ca.   He didn’t call me when he landed, since it was much too late, but he did email me once he was in his hotel.  I read that email on Tuesday morning while sipping my coffee.   He said he’d see me in two days.

The radio station I worked for was owned by a company who also owned five other radio stations, the maximum amount at that time for FCC standards.   One such radio station was an all talk, 24 hour news station, so they had tvs set up everywhere in the newsroom.   I’d been there three months and had never seen that room.

We had our normal sales meeting, then met individually with our sales manager on our goals and calls for the day.   My sales manager was eager to get going as he had a flight to catch at noon to NYC.   As I was sitting in his office, his phone buzzed.   “Artie, a plane has hit one of the World Trade Center towers,” another coworker said through the speaker phone.   My manager looked at me and then got up and went down the hall towards the newsroom.   I followed.

Our news reporters and on air personalities were everywhere.   The waves were buzzing with what had just happened.   Was it an accident?  How did it happen?  What kind of plane?   Computers were going crazy and printers were spitting out news reports and eye witness accounts.   Truthfully, none of us thought much of it.

I walked back out of the newsroom, grabbed my satchel and list of morning cold calls and walked out the door to my car.   Instead of heading west on 526, I went east, back towards the little house I was renting on the Ashley River.   I wanted coffee, MY coffee, something better and more potent than the cheap packets our company bought.   I opened the door savoring the blast of A/C as it nearly knocked me off my feet like a dog welcoming me home (strange the things you can remember). I flicked the switch for the television, tuning into the Today Show, before walking into the kitchen to brew some coffee.

I listened to the speculation in the background, heard the news reports and the paranoia.   Conspiracy theories were already abounding.   I rolled my eyes as I poured the coffee into a travel mug.   It was a horrible situation, but I was convinced at that point that it was a mechanical error with the plane.   There was no way this could be intentional, these conspiracy theorists were always looking for something.

I rounded the corner, coffee in hand, into my living room where at that moment an image was forever seared into my brain.   An image I’ve never been able to get to fade.   At that very moment I saw a second jet, an airliner, huge one, slam into the second World Trade Center tower.   My coffee dropped from my hand as the plane exploded into the building.

That is where I was when 9/11 happened.   This event became something I never thought I would experience, a tragedy reserved for my grandparents and parents.   This was my generation’s Pearl Harbor and JFK assassination.  We would forever ask ourselves, “where were you when 9/11 happened?”

We were told that morning to go home, to hug our loved ones.   We were instructed NOT to go see customers and conduct business as usual, because life couldn’t go on as usual, at least not at that point.   I called my boyfriend in California, waking him up, and told him what happened.   I called my mom since I have a cousin and his wife who live in NYC.   I wanted to know if she knew if they were alright.   She said she was trying to reach her brother.

I remember feeling inadequate and helpless as I watched news coverage of these selfless firemen, police officers, and every day citizens, sacrificing their lives to save others.   I wanted to help them.  I wanted to will all of my strength to them.  I wanted to get in my car and drive to NYC.   I could help locate people.  I could make coffee, brings blankets and food.  I needed to do something. After a couple of hours of shock and anger, tears and heart ache, I decided that the least I could do was donate blood.   I stood in line for six hours to donate.   It’s all I could do at that point.

14 years later, I’m raising part of a generation who I hope will never have a 9/11 moment, or a Pearl Harbor, or a JFK assassination.   14 years later, I’m at a place I thought I would never be…a stay at home mother to two boys.   14 years later, I’m having to explain to my oldest about the sheer evil that can be found in our world.   14 years later,  I still find myself shaking the hands of police officers, fire men, soldiers and all first responders for being the heroes so many of us need.  14 years later, I’m still owing a debt to the families of those heroes for their sacrifices in helping to keep me safe.  14 years later, I still get a lump in my throat and a sadness in my heart at the loss of so many lives.

I will never forget.   None of us will ever forget.  It forever changed us.   I like to think it made me stronger.

Davey asked a question this morning after seeing a news report about the tragedy.  I explained to him the evil that’s in the world and how people don’t like our country.   His response?   He went out onto our front porch, where Old Glory flies day in and day out, put his hand over his heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.   He then followed that with a prayer for God to help all the evil people in the world.

14 years later and life is still moving forward, something I thought would be nearly impossible on 9/11/01.

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Rock The Boat

It took becoming a stay at home for me to become a somewhat decent cook.   I never really liked doing it and truthfully, my husband is way better at it than I am.   Because he works and supports us financially, allowing me the opportunity to be home with the boys, I have taken on domestic roles that I once thumbed my nose at.

These days; however, it’s become a lot more enjoyable to cook since I have the world’s cutest sous chef.   He’s eager to help, he learns measurements, and he even cleans up after himself.   How wonderful I have it.

Sous Chef Davey ready for his time in front of the camera.
Sous Chef Davey ready for his time in front of the camera.

Yesterday I posted a few pictures on my Facebook page showing Sous Chef Davey and I preparing dinner.  I promised a blog post later, but with everything else in life these days, my children called and I completely forgot that I didn’t post this.  So, here you go!

I had decided to plan ahead since my initial intent was to spend the afternoon at the pool.  I didn’t think I would have time to cook dinner and I knew I would also be tired.  Something about chasing around an almost 20 month old in the hot sun is quite tiring.  Once I put Henry down for his nap, Davey and I got underway prepping our zucchini boats.

I originally saw a recipe for this on the Today Show last week.  I think it was for zucchini pizza boats.  Since I didn’t have any pepperoni, I decided to just make a stuffed zucchini boat instead.   It was pretty simple actually.  I used three medium sized zucchinis, cleaned them, cut off the stem, and sliced them in half long ways.  I made sure to slice them in a way that would allow for them to sit flat (or as flat as possible).   After that, I cleaned out the zucchini of their “innards”, as Davey calls them.  Not sure where he’s heard that.  Davey was a most excellent helper as he dumped the “innards” into a bowl, to save for use in the stuffing.  Waste not, want not!

Once they were thoroughly hulled, I gave Davey the responsibility of oiling the boats.  He brushed extra virgin olive oil on the insides of all the zucchini and then placed them inside the baking dish.

Oiling the boats
Oiling the boats

Next we went to make the stuffing which included half of an onion, chopped, fresh roma tomatoes from our garden, mushrooms, and the pureed zucchini left overs.  I sautéed the onions and mushrooms first, then added in the tomatoes and zucchini.   Davey helped season the veggies with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and basil.  Oregano and basil were fresh from our garden as well.

Cooking and seasoning the veggies.
Cooking and seasoning the veggies.

When we had those good and cooking, I lowered the temperature and then covered the pan.   We went to another pan, where we decided to brown some ground turkey.   I’m sure some of you worry about me letting my almost four year old near the stove, but we’ve taught him what’s hot and what he shouldn’t touch.  He’s extremely cognizant of his surroundings and what’s going on.

Cooking the meat.
Cooking the meat.

After the meat was cooked, we let it cool for a few minutes before Davey scooped meat into all of the boats, then covered them with the veggies.   I put a piece of aluminum foil onto the baking dish and slid it into the fridge.

Spooning in the stuffing.
Spooning in the stuffing.

As I explained to Davey, every great sous chef understands the importance of a clean and organized kitchen.  So with his apron still on, he set about to clean up our mess and put everything back in their places.

Cleaning up.
Cleaning up.

When it was time to start preparing dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, covered the tops of the boats with shredded mozzarella cheese, and cooked them for 30 minutes.  I followed that with a brief 5 minutes under the broiler, to brown and crisp up the cheese and dinner was served.

The finished product.
The finished product.

The only downside to this was that Davey would help make the dinner, but he refused to eat any part of it, as did Henry.   So I used the leftover sauce and meat to put on top of a plate of penne pasta for the boys.  Sigh.  I suppose you don’t have to enjoy the food to cook it?   I told Davey if he keeps this up, he may become our next Food Network star, a dream that was once his daddy’s.

A Travelling We Go

When did it become my responsibility to pack for EVERYONE when we travel? At what point was Executive Director in Charge of Packing, added to my title? I suppose it was somewhere between Vice President of Business Affairs and CEO of D&A Doser Llc.

Once upon a time, I enjoyed travelling. It’s something I always wanted to do. These days I still enjoy it, even with the two spawns in tow, but I loathed the packing process, at least until now. It’s a distant memory, somewhat fuzzy as the days pass, of a time when I could grab a piece of luggage and be responsible for only me. These days I no longer pack for one, I pack for four.

Four? You say? Yep, four. No, I didn’t have another child, unless you want to call my husband my man-child. So, yes, I pack all FOUR of us. My husband at least brings his clothes into the guest bedroom, but it’s my responsibility to double check he has his underwear, undershirt, socks, and enough clothing to get us through the trip. I don’t care what it looks like anymore, just as long as he has the right amount of clothing. My boys? Well, obviously I have to take the time to figure out what they’re going to wear. It’s a much more conscious effort than that of my husband. Then there’s me, and since I’m a stay at home mom, my attire consists more of jeans and leggings. I may dress those up with a nice blouse and shoes, but gone are the days of having a different pair of shoes for each outfit. Thanks to the surcharges of baggage by the money hungry airlines, I have to pare everything down.

Since Sunday night, I’ve been in rapid laundry mode. I arose at 4:30 this morning and ironed, then started another load of laundry. We’ve sporadically brought our clothing into the guestroom and this morning, while the boys watched Rio, I started the thoughtful process of packing.

Now that I handle everyone’s clothing, I’m always looking for new creative ways to pack, ways that utilize every little piece of space in the luggage. It’s almost like trying to fit together a puzzle or playing the old Tetris video game.

I used to roll a big portion of my clothes and pack them. I saw this process online once and it’s proven efficient in the past. This time; however, I’m trying to get more space out of my luggage so I decided to try a new technique I’d seen on the Today Show. It’s call the “burrito roll” and I have to say it’s actually worked quite well.

And like someone who’s purchased a $500 pair of boots for $50, I’m eager to share my “find” with my husband. I can’t wait to show him my new packing technique. I can’t wait for him to see just how much space this does indeed save.

So, here’s a picture of Davey’s share of the clothing. Take into consideration that this is a small bag which I am fitting inside the larger bag. And what you see is 5 days worth of clothing including underwear and socks. That’s all the room his clothing took up!

Snapshot of Davey's clothing using the new method.
Snapshot of Davey’s clothing using the new method.

Gosh, I almost want to pack more just to see how much I can really fit into the space.

http://www.today.com/home/how-pack-pro-bundle-wrapping-means-no-wrinkles-no-fuss-1D80318978

Truly Brave

If you haven’t heard about this latest song/music video then you’ve possibly been living under a rock for the past two days, or perhaps you’re just out of touch. In this world, when we’re constantly inundated with so much negativity and miserable things within our society, two of the pop music world’s most prolific singer/songwriters have gotten together to mesh their two remarkable songs into a new anthem for children suffering from cancer. Sara Bareille’s “Brave” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors”.

I first saw the segment on the Today Show yesterday. I usually have the program on in the mornings while I’m getting me and the boys ready. All year, the anchors and reporters have participated in a “Shine the Light” project which serves to highlight or bring recognition to the programs and charities nearest and dearest to them. Hoda Kotb, a cancer survivor, decided to highlight the plight of children who are diagnosed with cancer and to find a way to cheer them up.

Being a mom with two small boys and the sister of a young man who died from leukemia, I am immediately drawn to anything that brings attention to the suffering, the cures, the laughters, the heartaches, and the all around love and support of anyone who is or has suffered from cancer. So, yesterday I dropped what I was doing to watch the segment and then to watch the video. It was poignant. It was beautiful. It was emotional and heart wrenching, but mostly it was magical.

I watched these children, heads shaven, tubes in their noses, ports in their chests, hooked to machines giving chemo. I listened to them talked and watched them smile. I didn’t see a single tear, nor did I ever once hear, “why me?” A lump formed in my throat and tears slowly began falling down my cheeks. I was immediately transported back to 10 years ago when my younger brother was diagnosed with leukemia. He wasn’t a child, but he was my mother’s child, her youngest, her baby. I thought about his diagnosis, watching him day in and day out as he fought the horrible disease, and how he did it with his head held high. In his final four years on this earth, he only asked once, “why me?”

No child, especially the smallest and youngest of the world, should ever have to face such an ugly disease. It breaks my heart when I see them going through things that most adults wouldn’t be able to handle. I’m sick at my stomach as I think about what they should be doing with life, out playing with their friends, getting into mischief, participating in school and sports, anything other than being in a hospital bed. As a parent, I’m terrified of my one of my children suffering with the disease. While I have faith both boys would handle it well, it tears me up to think this is something I really can’t protect them from, nor can I take it away from them.

It’s always saddened me to see anyone who suffers with cancer, but never hit me quite so hard until my brother was diagnosed with it. It hit home. It became real. And all of those years of me protecting him, were completely changed when he became my protector the day he told me, “it will all be alright. We’ll make it through somehow.” A child shouldn’t go through that and neither should a parent have to see their child suffer through it. Unfortunately, it’s a reality and the fact that so many are eager to find a way to not just cure the disease, but to also ease the suffering of those who are stricken with it, just helps to restore my faith in humanity.

If you haven’t seen the video, please go to this website and watch it.

https://www.crowdrise.com/hoda

And give thanks for the healthy children in your life and find a way to give to those less fortunate. – Marlo Thomas, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

This was my brother, 8 days before he died.
This was my brother, 8 days before he died.

Thank Goodness for Boys

I’ve never been a mother to a little girl and it appears I never will be. And you know, I’m ok with that. Not that I think little girls are bad, I just think I’m more suited to be a mother to boys and here’s my list of why.

1. Growing up as a girl, myself, and teaching little girls, there seems to be less drama with boys. I can’t recall my brother ever causing my dad to wait up with his shotgun in hand when he was on a date.
2. Watching last week’s Today Show with One Direction performing only further solidified my happiness with being a mother to boys. I can only imagine what my parents thought when I would squeal at the sight of New Kids on the Block. My head hurts just remembering.
3. Sports, sports, and more sports…more specifically FOOTBALL. I can’t even begin to describe my excitement with the thoughts of Saturday and Sundays sitting in front of a television or at a stadium, with my boys all decked out in our jerseys as we cheer on our teams. Some women look forward to shopping with their daughters. I look forward to the trash talking (all harmless) while we yell at refs, eat our wings and pizza, and celebrate our victories.
4. Clothing is easier. Alright, alright…I know there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part I don’t foresee my boys spending hours critiquing whether their shoes go with their hairstyle.
5. Finally…having recently shopped for a little girl, I find it to be a lot more fun to buy toys for boys and even to play with them. I’ll take a Transformer any day over a Barbie.

I’ve heard the whole “girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice,” while “boys are made of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails,” but I gotta say puppy dog tails are just precious.

I know the good Lord could still at some point give me a daughter, but right now I’m thankful He’s only given me boys. Don’t think this Mama could parent a little girl, at least not well.

Almost Time for the Razzle and Dazzle…

I keep seeing posts on Facebook about Oscar parties going on tonight.   The Today Show had Martha Stewart on Friday showing how to set up a bunch of swag should you decide to host a viewing party.   Flipboard is full of stories about who is wearing what, and how long it takes the stars to get ready, and I see Kim Kardashian flaunting her baby bump.

All of this got me to thinking about my life pre-Davey.   It’s like a song that brings back a memory and transports you to a previous time, a time of happiness, a time of sorrow, a time of a different you, a more free you.   Did I go to Oscar parties?   Um, no.   I don’t know of anyone who had Oscar parties either.   Would I have gone to an Oscar party?  Perhaps a LOOONNNNGGG time ago when I was in my early to mid twenties.  But I have to admit this does have me thinking…perhaps next year I should throw a pre-Oscar viewing party with Davey.   How am I going to do that you ask?

Well, he’s much too young to really understand the movies and what goes on with them, so this year isn’t necessarily a good time, but next year is a whole different story…he’ll be almost 2 & 1/2.   So, here’s my plan.

We’re going to start viewing all of the movies appropriate for his age.   I’m even contemplating scheduling movie dates with some of his playgroup friends so that they can partake in the fun as well.   We’ll watch new movies and old movies throughout the year and then by next January we’ll vote on these movies.    The movie that wins for the year will be a part of our Oscar celebration.   We’ll view it again, hand out awards, eat popcorn and hor d’oevres and even have some sparkling grape juice to toast.   The kids can dress up however they want.   I will encourage the moms to let them pick out their clothes for the special occasion.   I’m over the top just thinking about it right now.

And just as quickly as some little thing reminds me of my previous life, I look at my son and the above idea pops into my head.   I just ran this idea by Davey as he sat in my lap.   This is the response I got:

“Yeah, Mama.”

I don’t know if he’s really into next year’s plans or if that’s the only sentence he can say right now.

As for tonight, my plans for the Oscars…I may steal a glance at it when my husband isn’t looking, but I’ll probably be taking advantage of my time with Davey being in bed to get my writing done.   Oh, how things have changed.

Happy Oscars Night, Everyone!