Thursday, September 29, 2011

Remembering my Value... and not only as a Mother


As I mentioned in my first audio post, I've been really pushing myself career-wise and have felt a bit insecure.

I made a deal with myself earlier this year that I would focus on career goals again. Right now, I have a job... and I'm BLESSED to have a job. Previous to having children, however, I had a career. I knew exactly what I wanted and how to get there. Becoming a mother threw me off track. I love being a mother and I'm happy that I have been able to focus on it for these many years. But I feel it's time I give myself and my daughters the same value.

I matter too.

That's been a difficult thing to remember. I tell myself that I matter when I'm training for a triathlon. When I train, however, I do it when my daughters are in bed asleep. Or when they're with their dad. Or when they're off at school and before I go to work. I work around them. I don't put my children aside to train for triathlons. Because I don't devote exorbitant amounts of time to it, I'm a mediocre triathlete, at best.

I'm okay with that. I do have my moments of insecurity when surrounded by uber-athletes but I feel that I'm doing the right thing by my kids. And myself.

Career though? This has been my struggle. I still want to maintain balance between my time with my children and my work life. Right now, I have that. The problem is that I don't feel challenged and excited about my work. I do it and then I leave it at work. I like it that way but it doesn't inspire me. And I'm tired of wishing I made more money.




Do you see my predicament?

I've found myself, over the past few years, envious of entrepreneurs that I know or career driven moms who are building a name for themselves AND raising great kids. What I tend to forget or overlook is that they have a husband or partner at home to share responsibility.

When I realize this, I begin to resent my relationship. We're not planning on marriage and I'm happy with that agreement. Then again... wouldn't it be nice to have some help so I don't feel guilty reminding myself that I matter? But I also really enjoy my independence, love the arrangement, have great support and LOVE the beauty of Gentleman Jack in my life. I don't want to marry someone just so I can use them as a babysitter. Of all the many reasons I've considered for marriage, babysitting isn't one of them.

Can you see how I've been running in circles?

Now that I've been attempting to hone in on a career goal, I've felt unsure and fickle. I'm around people who know exactly what they want to do and are doing it... some of them since college! It feels like not only a career-crisis to me but an identity crisis as well.

Who do I want to be?

***

I've decided to stick with my belief that "I don't know" are the most powerful words I could mutter.

I have been meeting face to face with those in my existing network. I've met many inspirational people. Each person has contributed to the chiseling down of this giant marble that is to be my future career. I'm getting closer and closer.

My Gentleman reminds me consistently to simply be MYSELF. He reminds me that I DO matter. He reminds me that I wake up filled with awesome and that I need to own it... instead of comparing, pretending to look like or be like someone else.

The Universe reminds me, instead of being insecure or concerned if I'm good enough, that I need remember,
"To be beautiful in the eyes of another, simply forget they're watching."

When I compete in triathlons, I dive into it with a smile on my face, competing only against myself. When I mother my children, I feel confidence because I'm filled with love in my heart and my kids are happy, healthy and content.

I just need to remember, when I define my career goals, I will do it while remembering that I DO MATTER. And when I honor myself, I honor my children and those that matter to me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moaning during sex? Yes please!

This morning I saw the following tweet from Men's Health magazine:

@MensHealthMag: Ninety percent of women said that a man’s panting turns them on during sex.

This is news?

Do we really misunderstand each other that much that it takes a magazine to let everyone know it's okay and in fact, WE LOVE, when our partners make noise during sex?!?

Men love sounds during sex too, right? Aren't the moaning and panting sounds a sign that we're actually doing something right? That our partner is having a good time? Or that WE'RE having a good time too?

The experts agree! Study tantric sex (or watch a video) and you'll hear just about as many pleasurable noises as I make while enjoying a gooey chocolate truffle.

"The sex and throat centers are closely connected; once you open the throat to make noises in sex, you'll be surprised how much more responsive you are sexually."
~ The complete idiot's guide to tantric sex By Judith Kuriansky

*sigh* Just when I think I should probably stop writing about sex on my blog, I realize the world still needs me...

*giggle*

Y'all be LOUD and PROUD!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Audio Post: Learning new things

In the interest of learning and trying new things, enjoy this audio blog... recorded live right here from my living room.



Would love your thoughts on this new medium for the blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Just wait til your father gets home!" - Good Cop/Bad Cop Discipline while Co-parenting


A few months back, I wrote about a single mother of (what I believe is) a 6 year old narcissist-in-training.

He is her only child and she spoils him completely rotten. She encourages him to have girlfriends, even at his young age, and believes he can do no wrong. She shares halftime custody with her ex-husband and is newly married to a man who has a teen son.

Recently, she was concerned about the punishment her ex-husband doles out to their son. When their son gets in trouble at school, he gets spanked by his father/her ex. She, however, doesn't punish the child at all. In fact, I've been witness to her losing complete control over the child and then calling her ex-husband for assistance.

Her ex is a good man. He is there when she needs him and is obviously someone who cares both for his son and for his ex-wife's well-being. He is the "heavy", the disciplinarian... and she is the coddler. He works with his child to face his fears, like swimming (as an example), whilst she'd never take a life jacket off of him.

I imagine it's a good balance... and I suppose it would be if they were still married. After all, I know I often heard, "What until your dad gets home!" It was then I knew I'd be spanked for sure. Dad was the bad cop and Mom was the good cop.

The problem I've noticed, however, is that their son is playing the victim role for his mom really well. He gets very dramatic about every scratch, knowing she'll nurse and attend to him. When he is with his father, however, he's a tough guy, playing the role I'd expect from a growing boy filled with testosterone. He's figured out this game and he plays it very well.

Last week, she complained that their 6 year old son is not controlling his behavior at school. She is finally at her wit's end. Her new husband doesn't want to be the bad guy so guess what they chose to do?

They called her ex-husband to come over and spank the child.

I was surprised because, to hear her talk, she sounds very anti-spanking. You'd think her ex was an awful dad for spanking and punishing the child, the way she tells it. But I've seen EACH of them with this child and trust me, this kid gets treated like a prince!

So now, because she wants to save face with her child, she calls her ex to come over during her custodial time to discipline the child?!

*sigh*


I don't know. I know it's not my business but if there's one thing that irks me, it's when people won't discipline their children. This isn't a spanking-vs-not-spanking discussion at all. To me, it's plain and simple...

When it's YOUR time with the children, YOU must discipline them, be both the bad AND good cop... you can't call your ex a bad guy one day (to your son!) and then the next day threaten the child with the same bad guy.

Can you??

Would LOVE to know your thoughts about this....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The way he kisses me


I love the fact that Gentleman Jack and I have been together for nearly 2 1/2 years and he still kisses me like this.

In fact, he does it even more now because it makes him smile that I melt right into him...

This swoonworthy post brought to you by nothing but pure love.


What's YOUR favorite kiss?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blended Family BBQ

As mentioned previously, my intention was to have a blended family gathering this past weekend for my daughter's birthday. I believed it was a great opportunity for my children to see grown ups being grown ups about the whole divorce thing.

I guess you know from last week's post that my sister chose not to come.

I haven't heard from my brother. I do know he had to work that evening but he also knows that I'm not very happy with his recent actions.

Gentleman Jack was there with his boys. My ex-husband came with his girlfriend. My sister's ex-husband came with her two children. My mom and her husband came.

I think even my daughter was surprised when I told her that her father and his girlfriend would be attending. She looked at me, puzzled, repeated the girlfriend's name and then shrugged.

I think it was a good gathering with little to NO DRAMA.

The ex called ahead of time to let me know they'd only be staying an hour as they had other plans for the evening. The girlfriend (surely there's a better nickname for her?) and I chatted briefly and I think she understood that I mean her no harm. I hope so. I still get the feeling that she's a very tough, competitive, type-A personality... which makes her a perfect match for my ex-husband. My intuitive Gentleman read her the same way.

My sister's ex showed up later than expected and, because I've not seen him since before their divorce, spent most of the evening telling me all about how victimized he's been through the whole thing. Even Gentleman Jack, somewhere during the evening, looked at him and said, "OK, it was her loss. Now it's time to move forward, buddy."

I could tell that my mother grows tired of hearing about my sister and her ex's drama as well. She didn't comment at all during his diatribes and, in fact, left shortly thereafter. She's unfortunately been caught in the middle of it for too long now.

The kids, in the meanwhile, enjoyed the time they had together. My daughter loved yet another electronic gadget from her father and I reminded him that our youngest would be expecting the same. I sure hope he realizes what he's starting!!

My daughter was gracious and appreciative of every gift she received and, as per her norm, felt sad when the party came to an end. She's such the social butterfly!

My man... my sweet, supportive, loving man... felt a bit nervous with the grill responsibility in front of my gourmet chef ex-husband but pulled off the most wonderful meal that our guests devoured! He took care of me, assigned tasks to the kids for clean up, cleaned up post celebration and still had the energy to treat me like a queen for the rest of the weekend.

When I thanked him over the phone last night, both of us missing each other too much already, he said,

"I can't explain why I do the things that I do to help you. It's something I've not wanted to do for anyone else in my life. But I honestly enjoy doing it because you appreciate it so much! Besides the fact that, beyond a doubt, I know you'd do the same for me."

Blending families... it's a challenge that I signed up for when I signed divorce papers. But with such a supportive partner by my side, I feel like I'm up for it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I am "not a nice person."

Well, after the family drama earlier this week, I heard from my mother that my sister believes I am "not a nice person."

Shortly after that, I talked with a longtime friend (whom, at one point, I was no longer speaking to). She too said that she felt I was "mean" in my last words to her before our few months of non-communicating. If you'll recall, I actually broke up with my blog because of problematic issues with friends and family.

When I told them all how I really felt, no one was quite sure how to take it.

Initially, my feelings were hurt to believe that someone could deem me as mean or not nice. I've spent my entire life making sure I was the nicest person to everyone... always pleasing... always giving... always loving so people would love me too.

In recent months, I realized much of that was due to codependence. I found myself always the martyr and secretly hiding resentment from many in my life. I loathed the quiet hate I felt towards those I felt were "doing this to me"... and I finally realized I was doing it to myself. I challenged myself to BE WHO I REALLY AM and even made it my mission to be a better ME in April of this year.

I knew from past experience that if you change the contract of your relationship with someone, there was bound to be a fallout. Over the past few months, I've used tough love when I felt others were projecting their pain on me and expecting me to help heal them. I learned to love from a distance to shield myself from drama and irritation that had nothing to do with me.

I said how I really felt... whether it was ugly or not.

I did my best to come from a loving place but, with many things coming to a head at once, sometimes the most loving thing I could do was to vent and then pull away.

All in the name of LOVING and HONORING myself.

Yes, my feelings were hurt, at first, to think that someone doesn't see me as a nice person but if not being nice means letting someone know that I will no longer be disrespected, then so be it.

If I'm not nice because I told someone their actions affect me and my state of mind, then so be it.

If I'm labeled mean because I am not allowing someone to dictate what I do with my life, whom I spend it with, and setting new boundaries for those things, then so be it.

I absolutely understand it is my choice to allow these things to affect me but I also understand that sometimes, they just do. And it's okay for me to do something about it.

I may seem not nice but I'm loving me. And loving me means I'm a better me. And a better me can love every one of these people a lot better than I ever did before.

Maybe they'll see that, one day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Temporary Nature of Relationships

My soon-to-be 10 year old was born with a wise soul.

She seemed to have come into this world with an otherworldly understanding and feeling of life and the people she encounters. This is both an amazing and challenging experience for me as a mother. I often find it difficult to hide things from her and at other times, I may even neglect to hide some things because of her beyond-her-years maturity. It is a delicate balance, for sure.

As an example, lately she's become more aware of the cost of things. In the past few years, she's downplayed her birthday party so that it won't be an expensive endeavor for us. I certainly don't mind this. She balances it out with the electronic gifts she asks for anyway!

I don't think I spend exorbitant amount of time talking about finances with my daughter but she is aware that "things cost money" and we could save the money to buy something else at a later date. This awareness works for me and it is rubbing off on her little sister as well.

My daughter's awareness has also turned to the temporary nature of relationships.

When Gentleman Jack and I go more than a few weeks without a visit due to the long distance between us, for instance, she begins to inquire whether we're still together.

"You DO still talk, right? And text and stuff?"

I think it makes her concerned that we may just fade away... as evidenced in my previous relationship. Her father's new relationship has been volatile as well. From my understanding, there have been more than a few times they were no longer dating only to come back together later. I typically hear about these breakups from my children. They're typically hearing about them when the breakup is over and his girlfriend's children fill my daughters in on what happened.

She was only 4 when her father and I separated and she was VERY aware of what was happening. We kept it quiet, only having mild heated discussions outside and only after she was in bed asleep. He was gone on business trips so she didn't witness much of anything. But she felt it... every time he was gone, in the sadness in my eyes and in the discomfort when he returned.

Now, though she adores the ex-husband's girlfriend and begs to see Gentleman Jack whenever she can, she also expresses a complete acceptance that those relationships may not be forever.

In discussion about whether Jack and I will marry, I asked her not to worry. Neither of us plan to move to each others' town.

"Who knows," I told her, "Maybe in 10 years or so when your sister and you are grown..."

"If you're still together then." she notes, nonchalantly and without an visible trace of sadness.

I looked away after she said this, so she wouldn't see my crinkled brow. As a divorced parent, I am already concerned with how our past will affect my daughters' futures. I've already asked the question, "Will raising them as an independent woman create more independent women... who believe they don't need men?"

I agree we don't "need" a man to complete us but we do "need" the differences and challenges and growth that a relationship brings to our lives. I also agree that having an understanding that relationships may not mean "forever" is healthy.

However, part of me mourns. She may not grow up, as I did, believing a prince will sweep her off her feet into "happily ever after"... but will viewing relationships as fleeting serve her well?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Family: Oh the DRAMA...

If there is one constant in my life, it's that things change.

Some of the things that seem constantly changing are my beliefs. I was the first to stand up and say, "I would NEVER do (name something risky or unmentionable)." Then, a situation would arise where, SURPRISE!, I did exactly what I thought I'd never do.

So many situations where I ate my words...

Most recently, one of my long held beliefs has been challenged. I've nurtured this belief my entire adult life and even through most of my childhood:

I would NEVER hold a grudge or resentment towards anyone in my family.

My family's Sicilian, you see, and at any given time someone is pissed and has stopped speaking to someone else. I never liked that about my flesh and blood, as convoluted as that mixture is. I've said for years that it's ridiculous that my family does this to each other. We're FAMILY, for pete's sake. Anything can be forgiven.

Right?

Right?!

Then slowly, over time, I watched as my sister became... well... NOT my sister anymore. I wrote about my struggles with it here and here (in reflection of my own daughters' sisterhood and here and *sigh* here.

In an effort to reach out to all parties involved, her, her ex, and her current beau, I invited them all to attend a get together this weekend at my house for my daughter's birthday. She basically told me to go to hell about the whole thing. Said she doesn't see me as a friend and is very okay with that. Said she'd prefer to associate with people who support where she is now. She's very upset that I choose to continue to associate with her ex-husband, a man who:

a) hasn't done anything to me at all
b) is the father of my niece and nephew and the man my children know as "uncle"
c) may not be perfect but she left HIM for the man she is currently with and moved their children into a home with "new man" so therefore
d) her ex continues to fight with her because of how the entire end of their marriage went down and the fact that he knows her "new man" and doesn't trust him AT ALL.

She refuses to make efforts to reconcile what we've heard about this new man and who SHE believes he is. Instead she curses us for not trusting her judgment of him.

*sigh*

Also, if any of you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you'll recall last week when I realized that someone was making themselves at home in my house while I was out of town for the weekend. My thoughts went immediately to my brother because he is currently without a job and lives with my mother. He denied anything to do with it.... which left me concerned for the safety of me, my children and my home. Then again, I KNEW it was him and couldn't believe his blatant lying to my face. Even Gentleman Jack reached out to him to either admit it or assist me in finding a way to feel safe.

My brother refused.

It wasn't until I went to the police and filled out a report. It wasn't until an extremely nice officer talked me down from my frustration and reminded me that if they found out it was my brother, he could go to jail. It wasn't until the officer offered to call my brother and let him know that I was filing a report and that he could possibly GO TO JAIL.... that he FINALLY admitted he was lying to me.

Then, when we spoke about it, he told me that he'd hooked up with 2 college cheerleaders and, knowing I was out of town, decided to use the key (with which I'd long ago trusted him) to partake of not only my home, but my BED, to have a menage a trois.... He never apologized for it... just said he was being irresponsible.

My siblings, BOTH of them, disrespect me. Neither of them think of anyone but themselves.

So today, I wrote them off. I'm finished. I'm certain we'll figure all of this out at some future date but for now, I'm honoring me. I'm tired, y'all. I just want to take care of my family and feel love. My sister's right in only associating with those who support where she is now. That's what I'm doing too. I'm heartbroken and devastated but this is what I feel I must do.

I am now an only child.

And YOU ALL ARE MY NEW SIBLINGS. My new sisters and brothers.... Is it okay that I call you that?


Now, let's revise that first statement, shall we?

If there is one constant in my life, it's that things change. And? Lots of drama.

Oh and lesson learned? Never say never.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 6: This is My Story

This was a Tuesday, the last week before I was to go on maternity leave.

My daughter was due any day and I was miserably pregnant and tired. I'll admit, I slept in and thanked God daily that I was able to work from home those last few weeks of my first pregnancy.

My husband was already awake, had turned on the Today show in the bedroom and was in the kitchen making coffee. I awoke to the familiar sound of Matt Lauer's voice and struggled into a seated position in the bed, pillows propped around me. On the TV was the World Trade Center, smoke billowing from one of the towers. My mind immediately went to a story I'd heard recently where a small Cesna plane had crashed into a building in a metropolitan area. I vaguely recall Matt Lauer using the word, "accident".

About that time, I saw a plane from the corner of the screen fly into the tower. Instinctively and perhaps, protectively, I thought, "they must be showing when the small plane hit the tower earlier..." until I heard my trusted Today show anchor say, "It's not an accident."

My hands went immediately to my mouth and then, to my baby moving around inside me already. "Please don't be born today..." I repeated to myself. I felt as if I was in a movie. Watching it all seemed too surreal for reality.

I called my husband who stood looking at the TV but didn't seem to take it seriously. He said his goodbye and left the house for work. I felt alone, scared, in shock and terrified.

I called my sister, who'd recently moved out of my house and into her own home. She'd just left NYC months earlier where she lived and worked at Rockefeller Center prior to moving to Dallas.

"Turn on the TV", I told her when she answered. She was still sleeping as well. When she asked, "What channel?" I said, "Pick a channel. ANY channel." I could hear her crying on the other end of the phone. Her daughter's favorite place in New York was a restaurant in one of the towers. She knew people there. She knew people all around the area. She hung up quickly to see if she could get through to anyone. She called back after not getting in touch with anyone and we watched together as the first tower fell.

I checked in with work but no one was working. Everyone was glued to CNN. I sat on my couch glued to the TV as well. Crying.

I called my husband again when I heard a plane hit the Pentagon. "Come on," he said, "Are you kidding me?" I couldn't for the life of me get him to understand WE WERE UNDER ATTACK and I needed him to GET HOME IMMEDIATELY.

My mom called from Louisiana. She knew the President was there because she'd seen Air Force One flying overhead when all other planes were grounded. I found this humorous because CNN had just announced that no one knew the whereabouts of the President. But my mom did.

In the days that followed 9/11, my husband and I focused on getting me to go into labor. We would take long walks and, since the airport is nearby, the skies seemed unusually quiet.

I finally gave birth a week after 9/11 and though I was ready to smile, be thankful and joyous for a healthy beautiful baby, those that came to visit me in the hospital would take note of the baby but would then turn to the TV. Everyone was curious what was going to happen next. Everyone wondered if we were safe anymore. Everyone felt raw.

I actually DEMANDED that the TV be turned off in my hospital room. NO MORE SADNESS. I couldn't take it anymore. I was already feeling vulnerable and exposed from the extreme depth of love I was feeling for my new baby. I couldn't bear the thought of hatred, blame, anger and grief anymore.

I clung to the new life in my arms as if it were the very life that would sustain me.

I really believe it was.



Thank you for listening and sharing your stories with me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 5: Where were you 10 years ago?

A continuation of my series remembering the 9/11 tragedy...

Ashly says:
"I was at home asleep when the first plane hit. I was 16 and didn't have school that day. My mother woke me up and told me to come downstairs and watch this. I remember the look on her face. She looked panicked, horrified and sad. We sat and watched and I couldn't really wrap my mind around what was happening. My mom looked at me randomly and told me, "I have a cousin who works at the World Trade Center. I hope he some how for some reason wasn't at work today. He's not much older than you are, only in his early twenties." I didn't know what to say so I just went back to staring at the TV screen and then kept stealing glances at my mother as she twisted a paper towel to shreds in her hands. It felt surreal sitting there, watching the smoke and chaos on the TV screen and I couldn't imagine what it would have been like actually being in NYC at that moment.

I remember when the attack on the Pentagon happened shortly after. I remember my mom's eyes widened and she looked horrified again. I remembered we had two family members that work in the Pentagon. I knew she was sitting there hoping and praying they hadn't been hurt or worse by the crash. The same way she was hoping and praying her cousin that worked at the WTC was some how not hurt or at least not hurt badly.

It took a long time to find out that two of our three relatives had died. Her cousin in the WTC and one of her family members in the Pentagon. The other had been out of the country at the time and hadn't known for a couple days it had even happened until he was on his way back to the US. I remember in those days of waiting, I just wanted someone to call and say everyone was okay. The longer it went, I just wanted someone to call and say something more than, "we still don't know if X, Y or Z are alright." Of course, after enough days of that, it made sense to me that they probably weren't alive if they hadn't been accounted for or found yet. I didn't want to say it because I knew somewhere in my mother's mind, she was probably thinking the same things but was unwilling to let go of any hope she had of her family member's surviving these tragedies.

Watching all the coverage on TV and seeing things on the internet opened my eyes to a lot of things. I didn't have a lot of illusions left about the world but I felt the bubble of safeness I lived in pop. I realized this could have happened in Dallas. It could happen to a building I could be in. A plane I'm in could crash or be taken over. The sense of security I had was missing a few layers after it all but I made a decision then that I wouldn't let any fear overcome and hinder me from living my life. I realized those possibilities had always been there but I'd just never realized it until the events of 9/11 happened. I'll always remember that day, sitting around the living room with my family, watching TV, the somber atmosphere and no one really knowing what to say. I'll remember all the days of worry after that and remember all the realizations these events opened up for me. Even without all the tribute videos and everyone making a huge deal about this day, I know it's not something anyone will ever forget."

Tomorrow, I tell MY story.

Where were you?

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 4: Where were you 10 years ago?

A continuation of my series remembering the 9/11 tragedy...

April says:
"I had been in a pretty serious car accident on July 28, 2001. I was in an out of the hospital several times. I had gone in on September 2, 2001 to get a free flap graft done. They were having issues with the blood supply to the area of my leg where they put the free flap transfer so I was in the hospital longer than anticipated. I was 2.5 hours from home and severely depressed. I had been awake for a while the morning of 9/11, trying to find something interesting on tv. I thought if I watched the news, I would realize that there were bigger problems in the world than what I was going through. How true that turned out to be.

I was watching a news station based out of NYC. The towers were in the background of the news caster, quite far away it appeared. As I was watching, I saw something small fly through the sky and make a tiny explosion into what looked like one of the towers. The news anchor didn't mention anything so I honestly thought I was going crazy. Then he interrupted his broadcast to say that it appears a commercial plane flew into one of the towers. He started on with his broadcast when another little black dot flew into the other tower making a tiny explosion. The news anchor immediately stopped his broadcast and everything from that point on was about the planes crashing into the towers.

There was a nurse in my room and I told her that there were planes flying into the twin towers. She started watching the tv in disbelief. She called some other nurses who came in and started watching my tv. We all were just looking at the tv with our jaws open and our eyes filled with tears. Even though my room was full, I had never felt so alone. I tried called my husband (now ex) but the phone lines were jammed. I couldn't get in touch with my son either because of the phones. Then the plane crashed into the Pentagon.

I was scared because we only lived about 70 miles from DC and you didn't know what was going to happen next. Was this going to be a full on attack on the US? Would they manage to get a nuke into the country and hit the capital? Would my family be safe? All I wanted, as I'm sure everyone wanted that day, was to be with my family. To hug them and hold them and cry with them. But I couldn't even talk to them, let alone see them.

I was on the burn and trauma unit. I was told that there was a burn victim from the Pentagon on my floor. One day when they were wheeling me down to the hyperbaric oxygen chamber, they stopped my gurney right across from the burn victim's room. Over 80% of his body was burned. Seeing that man made me angry! Angry that there are such awful people in this world who could kill innocent lives, in the name of their religion. What did that man do to any of those people? What did any of the people on those planes do? What about the thousands of people in the towers? I was disgusted and angry and sad. That burn victim from the Pentagon died 2 days later. To this day I think about him from time to time.

For days all I did was watch the coverage and cry."

Allison says:

"I was at work on September 11, in the days before we all had internet at our desks and a ready supply of information handy. One of my co-workers caught a news update on the tiny TV she kept at her desk. We heard about the first plane hitting and everyone was just confused. She told us about the second plane, and then the Pentagon, and then, "People are jumping." The thought of the passengers on the planes and how scared they must have been was too much for me and I ducked into a supply closet and cried. I went back to my desk and typed out a prayer into a Word document and saved it for years on my hard drive: "Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen."

We were finally released to go home and I sat at my best friend's house for a few hours, watching the same newsreels over and over until I realized there was nothing they could tell us that would make sense of anything."

More stories through tomorrow to commemorate Sunday's 10 year mark. On Sunday, I tell MY story.

Where were you?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 3: Where were you 10 years ago?

To continue my series of Where were you on 9/11? posts...

Jenni Conner says:
"I was still in high school and for whatever reason had stayed home that day. I was fooling around on the internet when a friend of mine called and said, "Doesn't your mom work at the Pentagon? It's been hit by a plane!" My heart sank into my stomach, as I went into mass panic mode. While my mom's main office was not at the Pentagon, she was there daily, since she is a contractor for the Air Force. My grandma was also living with us at the time, and she was at a Senior Group when it happened. I tried calling my mom, but I couldn't get through. All of the phone lines were tied up. So I got in my car, sped all the way to my grandma's Senior Group and picked her up. If you can imagine a scary action flick, that's what this was like. If I plane flew overhead, people literally stopped their cars in the middle of the highway, got out, and ran for their lives. Me? I just kept driving as fast as I could to get back home.

After I got home I tried calling my mom again. Amazingly, I somehow got through. She was fine, but panicked. She had literally left the Pentagon only minutes before the plane hit. Her building in downtown Rosslyn had evacuated, but then they ordered everyone back inside. There was fear of terrorist snipers possibly waiting for their chance to take out more Military personnel. After she assured me everything was fine, we hung up. I waited for hours for her to come home, and watched the Pentagon burn from our backyard. Dark smoke filled the air and there were nonstop military planes and helicopters in the air. It was the scariest day I have ever lived through. To this day I still can't watch anything about it on television. It reminds me of how my heart sank into my chest, and brings about the fear that one day we may live through that day all over again."

Amy says:

"Just saw your posting on FB and thought I would send a contribution. This is adapted from an essay entitled "Elements," which was published in Marginalia (Issue 3.2, Fall 2007).

I was eight months pregnant with my daughter Stella, who would be diagnosed with Down syndrome at her birth, four weeks later. I was at work, on the sixth floor of the B Building at the Fashion Institute of Technology on 27th Street in New York City. In the hallway outside our classroom, some students from my nine a.m. English Composition class pointed out the south-facing windows: the World Trade Center, one of the towers billowing smoke. In the hallway, a colleague said a plane had crashed into the building—we pictured a small craft, shook our heads. We went to our classroom, convinced it was nothing, a crazy accident, easily taken care of. We felt something like relief—numbness?—and were almost laughing, nervously. One of the students leaves the room at 9:30 without a word. We take our break at the usual time, 10:30, and another student goes into the hall then came back to the room. "They're GONE!" he said, visibly shaken. In the next room my colleague has the TV tuned to CNN: split screens show the devastation at the Pentagon as well as the Twin Towers.

It wasn't until hours later, after the towers had dropped from the sky, that I would see the flames on seemingly endless TV footage at a Manhattan friend’s apartment. When I finally made it home to Queens, it was nearly sunset, and the smoke and haze color the southwestern sky."

Spencer gives us a viewpoint from across the pond:

"The feelings of shock and horror associated with 9/11 would stretch much further afield then the USA and reach all peace loving people, wherever they lived, on this small planet.

They certainly reached me and, everyone I knew, living in England.

At the time of the attacks I was at work. A colleague approached me and said that there had been a newsflash on the radio stating a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre. She asked me where the World Trade Centre was. I had no idea and guessed that it was, perhaps, in Geneva. I wish that I was still ignorant to the location of the twin towers.

I turned on the internet and saw pictures of a plane crashing into the first tower. At that stage details were still sketchy and we assumed it was a tragic accident. A little later we would witness the sickening truth as it was reported that a second plane had collided with the towers. I vividly remember thinking, "what the f**k is going on?."

My ex-wife was due to fly to San Francisco a few days later but, at the request of her father, made a visit to New York on the way. My ex father in law was, at the time, a serving firefighter and, along with the rest of the firefighters based in Coventry, wanted to send a show of support to their colleagues in New York. My father in law was visibly shocked by the sacrifices made by his brave colleagues. He said to me that all firefighters, no matter where they were in the world, were one big family and that on that sad day he had lost too many of his brothers and sisters. I had never seen the big man cry before."


More stories all this week to commemorate Sunday's 10 year mark. Where were you?

Would you like to share your story? Send me an email at thequestfort@gmail.com and let me know if you'd like me to link it back to your blog or Twitter account.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 2: Where were you 10 years ago?

My grandparents' generation had Pearl Harbor. My parents remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot. My generation had the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the worst terrorist attack on our country. Where were YOU on 9/11/2001?

Here are a few of your stories:


Amber says:

"On the morning of September 11th I was on my way to school. It was my first year in college, and I had a 45 minute commute. Having a small child getting out the door with everything she needs and all that I needed was often an arduous task. That morning was no exception. I was running late. After dropping her off at daycare and hitting the highway I decided to listen to a morning radio show, my dad and one of his dear friend's radio show. Thinking about that morning in particular I have such mixed feelings because since then my father has passed away but the sound of his voice makes me smile (and cry all the same).

Class started at 8:30 and I was rushing to get in since the college had a strict tardiness policy. I was late and remember there was nothing alarming on the radio as I shut the car off. I was about 10 minutes late. Class went on as normal I can recall my instructor, Amber, going over the tools in Adobe Illustrator. We took our scheduled break and when Amber returned to the classroom she was slightly ashen. She told us she had something serious to tell us and proceeded to bring us up to date on what had happened and what little she knew. The class was silent until someone asked if she was joking (the way she told us did seem to make many of us think that was the case). I asked the next logical question (in my mind) which was did one or both of the buildings collapse? None of knew what size the planes were or where on the buildings the hit but Amber said no, and that the buildings were built to withstand this and more. Shortly after the entire school (maybe 200 people) gathered into the atrium where they had wheeled out a small t.v. In the stillness of the room a horror was forming within all of us. Somehow collectively and without a word we all knew life as we knew it had just changed.

It was obvious classes were not resuming. The president of the school announced we could stay or we could go, the building would stay open but classes were canceled. In 2001 I didn't have a cell phone but I needed to call my mom and just let her know what was going on. She told me to be careful on the drive and call when I got home, hearing her voice brought me to the tears that I had been holding in. I called my (now ex) husband and told him I wanted him to go to the daycare and pick up our daughter, I remember telling him to do this a couple of times and finally telling him I wanted my baby in my arms when I got home. I don't remember his side of the conversation but I do know he listened.

On my drive home I pass an Air Force base, a big one. Maybe its part of growing up close to one, each and every base is a big bad base that in the event of ________ it's a target but that is what I was always told. So I was pretty nervous about this commute home. I was later told that most of this particular base was hunkered down in bunkers. I listened to the radio the entire way home, what else was there to do? By then not even the calming voice of my daddy could be found it was CNN or Fox News. I got home quickly. The highway was practically deserted. I think back on seeing a State Highway Patrol vehicle pass me quickly (no lights on) and I realized I hadn't been looking at the road and I hadn't been looking at the speedometer. I was going close to 85 mph and looking at the sky.

I got home to the terrifying images that are branded in our minds. And than I saw the first building collapse. My daughter was 3 at the time and I didn't want her seeing the images on the screen. I knew it would be hard to keep her from it but it they scared me I couldn't fathom how she would take it. I knew no one on the planes, I knew no one in New York City or Washington D.C. let alone in the buildings. But I cried."

Amy says:
"I was pregnant with my daughter~ I went to work totally oblivious (I'm a teacher) and noticed that everyone looked really gloomy. I was in the teacher copyroom where someone said, "I can't believe it happened..." And then someone else said, "Yeah, both towers..." I was so confused and I asked~ that's how I found out. I remember thinking, we all should be home with our families~ that was probably the first time I felt the mother bear in me come out and wanted to protect my unborn child."


LindsayDianne says:
"I was sleeping. It was 6am on the West Coast. My mom pulled me out of bed and I phoned @trackwanderer. Has it been 10 yrs already?"

Bobbi Janay says:
"What my mom said to me that morning still breaks my heart.
well I was skipping first period working on a project. With my tv on GMA, but didn't realize what was happening until the 2nd tower was getting hit. I ran into living room to ask my mom why she didn't tell me sooner. She said she wanted me to stay innocent for just a few more minutes."

More stories all this week to commemorate Sunday's 10 year mark. Where were you?


Would you like to share your story? Send me an email at thequestfort@gmail.com and let me know if you'd like me to link it back to your blog or Twitter account.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9/11 Tribute Part 1: Where were you 10 years ago?

My grandparents' generation had Pearl Harbor. My parents remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot. My generation had the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and the worst terrorist attack on our country. Where were YOU on 9/11/2001?

Here are a few of your stories:


Amy writes:
"I was a Navy wife living on base at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland. I had taken my older boys to the bus stop and came home and was watching Good Morning America. Both towers had been hit but they hadn't fallen yet. I watched them fall and just felt sick to my stomach. I went outside and one of the neighbors was screaming that she was going to get her kids. There were rumors that the base was going to be locked down. I tried to call my then husband and couldn't reach him. I don't remember when we got the news about the Pentagon also being hit but that was only about 70 miles away. I really don't remember the rest of the day, I do remember the next day just the horrible silence on the base. There were added watches and inspections, many offices were closed. Friends and neighbors seemed like strangers when they were inspecting the vehicles coming on base."

Hubman writes:

"I was a Sergeant in the US Army in September 2001. I was working in my office and had the radio on when I heard a report of a plane flying into one of the Twin Towers. I vaguely remembered a story from the late 1930s about a bomber accidentally flying into the Empire State Building and something about foggy conditions. But this was 2001, during the day, and planes have radar now, something odd was going on. I walked upstairs and found some people watching a TV in a conference room, which is where I was when the 2nd plane hit.

I don't remember much from Tuesday mid-day until Thursday morning. I remember that the Army base was closed on Wednesday and that on Thursday post security was conducting inspections of 100% of all people and vehicles entering any Army base. We didn't have a large enough civilian security force, so soldiers such as myself were put on security detail. For the next 3 months, until a National Guard MP unit was activated and assigned, I and many other soldiers probably worked one 12-hr security shift every week. There was talk of my unit being sent to the city, but that never happened.

I grew up on Long Island, from the top floor of my high school (and on a clear day), I could see the Twin Towers. This event hit home for me, I had friends in the city, cops and firefighters, and plenty of people from my town commuted to NYC every day. One of Veronica's high school classmates was a member of FDNY and died that day, a friend of mine lost his brother who was a cop, and 14 people from my hometown died in the attacks. I REALLY don't like to see images from that day and will probably do my best to avoid any 10th anniversary coverage, even though that's a futile goal."


More stories all this week to commemorate Sunday's 10 year mark. Where were you?


Would you like to share your story? Send me an email at thequestfort@gmail.com and let me know if you'd like me to link it back to your blog or Twitter account.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Every Single Mom needs one... (part 9)

Kid conveniences.

Since I started this blog nearly 4 years ago, I've realized the value of a wide range of things in the life of a single mom OR dad. Some of these things are pretty valuable to singles in general too! (check the links for older posts at the bottom of this one.)

We've all been there, right? Those nights when you don't feel like cooking dinner or doing much of anything. Sometimes, Momma even has to call in sick from her motherly duties. That's when I'm VERY thankful for a few conveniences that help my already independent children be even more self-sufficient.

For example:

I love my George Foreman grill.*


Just tonight, as I handled other household chores, my daughters made their own hot grilled cheese sandwiches. I usually allow myself one night off from cooking and since we don't eat out that much in order to save money, I love that they can make themselves something beyond a standard PB&J. Throw in some carrot sticks and/or some veggie chips and it's a meal!

I've filled a low-reach cabinet in my kitchen with small plates, cups and straws so they can serve themselves. I also keep a small stool in the corner of my kitchen so my youngest can reach the faucet on the sink. This means that I can focus on other things and they can cook, plate and clean up after themselves!

In nearly every room in my house, I have conveniences just for them. From their own desks in the office (bought used on Craigslist!) to their own button on the remote control for the TV that lists all of their favorite channels. 

They even help clean up around the house with their own personalized spray bottles filled with organic and safe cleaning solution. I have a Swiffer they use to help me keep the floors clean. We are all responsible for our own laundry. They've learned how to separate, wash, dry and put away their own clothes...


Ok, that's a Mommy Convenience.


My hope is that by making things more convenient for my daughters, I'm raising girls who will know how to take care of themselves. Besides, it makes my life a little simpler as well. And who couldn't use more of that?!


Do YOU have any ideas for making your life a little simpler?


* I was not compensated for this post. I just love my grill. :)

Every single mom needs one... (part 1), (part 2), (part 3), (part 4), (part 5), (part 6), (part 7), (part 8)