Do You Remember?

Do you remember where you were 1o years ago today?  I do.

I was in my third year of college.  I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard my phone ringing.  I let it go to my machine.  It rang again and went to the machine and then rang again.  I was annoyed!  Leave a message I thought Jeez!  I finally answered it and it was my boyfriend almost shouting at me to turn on the TV.  “Turn on a news channel!”  It didn’t really matter what channel I turned the TV to, the pictures were all the same.  The burning twin towers.  When I finally caught my bearings and realized what was going on my heart just dropped as I listened to the news reporter say that one of the planes departed from Newark NJ.  My uncle was an avid traveller for his job and flew through that airport on a regular basis.

I called him.  No answer.  I called my Aunt.  No answer.  I left messages on both.

Next I called my dad at work.  I tried not to be a baby but I cried to him.  He worked in downtown St. Louis and I just wanted him to GET OUT OF THE CITY and go home!  You remember movies like Independence Day where they target all major cities.  Well St. Louis was major in my eyes and he was there and I wanted him out.  Not the most rational thought process I have had, but at the moment everything was irrational.  He reassured me he was safe and sound and I shouldn’t worry.  He called me “baby” like he always did and it did make me feel better.

I remember not being able to turn the TV off.  I remember thinking my professor was CRAZY for not cancelling our stupid lab glass that afternoon.  Luckily it was a nice break from the news.  The death tolls and horror stories just kept rising and so sitting through a horrible class while deriving theories using Mathcad (worst program ever) actually was better.

I got home from lab and my Aunt had called me back and told me that my uncle was safe.

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As I think back on that day now, it might hurt a little more now than then.  I am a mother now.  I am a wife now.  I feel so much more aware of the pain those families had to go through now that I have a family of my own.  The fear I have of something like that happening today is just unmeasurable.  Then it was just me.  Now it is my family.

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The National 9/11 50 states flag tour ends here in Joplin, MO today.  The final stitches will be completed using flags that survived the May 22nd Tornado.  If you care to read more about this tour you can click here, where I found a great article.

Again…this is very close to home today.  Remembering 9/11 and remembering the tornado.

Kiss your loved ones and squeeze them extra tight!  I am sure I will.

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Thank you to all who have died, served and are continuing to serve for our country.  Thank you to their families as well.  The wifes, husbands, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers who have also given for this country through your pain of losing or missing a loved one while they protect us all.

And That’s What Che Said…

First Day of Pre-K

Tuesday was Michael’s first day of Pre-K.

For all of you reading who do not have children, or for all of you reading whose children are grown, Pre-K is not to be confused with Preschool.  Pre-K is like SO. MUCH. COOLER.  Pre-K is like 4 year olds you know…not those little 3 year olds in preschool.  Pre-K kids get to go to Kindergarten next year, as like in real school, that you go to all day long.  BIG difference…

I used the X Pro ii instagram PSE action for this photo and added the words (but blurred his name!)

Michael is going to St. Mary’s this year and it was one of the schools that was destroyed by the tornado we had here in Joplin, on May 22nd.  The school system was lucky enough to have previously owned an empty warehouse on the grounds of the high school.  They originally were going to tear it down but the bids came in too high.  Thank goodness for that!  As in true nature of these amazing people down here they renovated an old steel warehouse to house the 210 displaced students over the course of the summer months.  The renovation wasn’t even complete until this past Friday, September 2nd!  Teachers spent their labor day weekend, laboring to get their rooms set up.  The teachers and students will have a few routines and kinks to work out over the next few weeks because there is not a library, cafeteria or gym in the new building.  They will just use the High School facilities next door.

Based on the huge smile I received when I picked Michael up, I am thinking he will get by just fine!  Here’s the main points I dug out of him about his first day of Preschool Pre-K:

  1. He colored a picture of a mouse with cheese.  He colored the cheese yellow and the mouse brown.
  2. They played outside at recess but not on the playground (because it is still being built) but just in the grass and he played tag and race cars with his new friends.
  3. He sat on a mat and did what his teacher told him to do (good boy).
  4. He sits right next to the magnetic letter board (life could not be better).
  5. They had cookies for snack, but with water, not milk, because the milk truck didn’t come to the school yet.
  6. He can’t remember any of his friends names except:
  7. There is a GIRL in his class with his same name (remember Michael is his blogging name?)  His exact words: “MOM!  There is a GIIIIRRRLLLL  in my class with my same name!  A GIRRRRRRRLLLLLL!  (laughing)  But her name doesn’t have an “e” in it, so it’s OK!”

And as simple as that, her same-not-containing-an-e name was just fine because of the missing letter!  That kid cracks me up!  He wants to go back…so we considered that a good first day!

Letters make everything in the world right for him!

And yes, I know he is holding a sign that says “Preschool” but I didn’t have one that said Pre-K and I had not been lectured on the difference between the two until after he came home from school!  😉

And That’s What Che Said…

Joplin, MO Tornado Craziness Part 2

At first I was going to make this post about more of the devastation around Joplin.  After driving through what I would refer to as “ground zero”, I feel that unless you actually see it for yourself, in person, no photo will ever show you the true devastation.  Imagine driving down a main road in your city that you have driven down umpteen times before, now imagine it flattened into piles of twisted metal, wood and stone.  Most almost unrecognizable. 

So I thought I could focus this entry on the GOOD things going on around Joplin.  The things that bring that warm fuzzy feeling back.  The things that make you proud to live in a wonderful country! 

Five days after the tornado hit, the total number of volunteers registered at MSSU 7,546, total number of volunteers registered via the phone 12,000, total number of calls to Wellness Call 6,137, and 750 people deployed to work per day with the recovery.  I saw police, fire and rescue EMT workers from every state bordering Missouri.  Friends of mine in the medical field came down to offer their help along with many, many of their colleagues.  I have heard reports of Home Depot and Wal-Mart rushing to the aid of all their employees.  Helping with temporary housing, furniture, linens and more!!

Besides the organized disaster relief organizations, there is also neighbor helping neighbor down here.  A friend from college happens to work at Empire Electric, as an electrical engineer, down here in Joplin.  Last week he clocked 117 hours, according to his wife, helping restore power to the city.  He is salary so essentially 77 of those hours are volunteer.  His wife then showed a picture of a gentleman mowing her lawn.  A family had volunteered to mow all the Empire Electric employees’ lawns since they were clocking so many hours, for the memorial weekend! 

Flags are flown proudly amidst the rubble.  They quietly state, “We will rebuild and stay strong” as they flap in the wind.  A local car shop was changing tires for free as nails and whatever else reeked havoc on tires.  A shop is offering free chainsaw sharpening.  Towing companies are towing crumpled heaps of what used to be vehicles for free.  Volunteers from all over the country…yes country are coming here not only to help those directly affected by the tornado but to also help feed the volunteers.  Hotels are allowing volunteers to stay for free.  Restaurants are offering free coffee, meals, snacks to victims and volunteers.  Groups are setting up tents in parking lots to feed the extra utility crews here as well as police and fire personnel.    Churches are serving as shelters.  Lawyers are banning together to offer free legal advice to victims in respect to insurance claims and lost property.   Areas are set up for teen victims to hang out and get their mind off of the destruction.  Local area pet kennels and Humane Society are looking after misplaced animals.  People are not only donating money, food and clothing but more importantly…their time.  Cooking meals, comforting the elderly, reading to children, helping clear fallen trees, boarding up houses, covering roofs with tarps.   Joplin doesn’t feel alone and is definitely thankful for all help the town is receiving.  The City of Joplin facebook page thanks volunteers at least 2 times a day!  It is heartfelt! 

A man’s whose home is one of the few left standing on Murphy street (a very hard hit area) has transformed what is still standing into a make-shift mission to help out his fellow neighbors.  Amazing! 

Despite the horrid appearance of things down here, the morale is high.  The focus down here is on the future and how this town will recover and rebuild.  Not of defeat.  Not of self-pitiness.  Not of helplessness.  This town is high on hope and positive thoughts and that is MAJORLY due to the overwhelming flood of support and help that was shown by our fellow neighboring towns and states. 

Joplin still needs your help! 

There are many ways to help but if you donate money, please research the organization first to make sure they are reputable. 

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS ALREADY HELPED OUT!  We will need your help for months to come!
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Memorial Weekend 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Weekend.  I know we certainly did!  My parents and sister came down from St. Louis this weekend.   It was the first time down for my mom and sister so their first trip might be etched in their brains forever as I took them on a ride through the tornado-wrecked part of town.  My boys LOVE when family visits and I LOVE seeing Ryan practically jump out of my arms into my dad’s!  I want the boys to remember holidays and summer by memories filled with family time!   We barbecued, drank, played outside, got some sun, the boys swung about 3.9 million times and we just enjoyed being together which was awesome. 

We were able to do that thanks to all of our veterans and active military for dedicating your lives to keeping our country free.  For that I thank each and every one of you! 

The town of Joplin also had a Memorial service for all those who were lost in last week’s devastating tornado.  President Obama even came into town.  My heart goes out to all the family and friends of the people who were lost and also to the people whose material lives were lost in the tornado. Homes, photographs, baby’s first locks of cut hair, baby blankets, family heirlooms, everything lost.  I know things can be replaced, but my heart aches for their loss also.  The outpouring of support for Joplin and the amount of volunteers makes my heart a bit more happy.  Thank you to all the volunteers who have helped this town recover. 

Today also starts my Memorial Week to my 20’s.  On Friday I turn the big 3-0!  So this week I will live up my last week of a being a twenty-something!  I am not at all freaked about turning 30.  Not one bit actually.  The first half of my 20’s were rather rough for me.  I was in an almost all male college, studying a degree I was earning to make others happy and spending WAY too much time making a certain someone my priority when he clearly made me an option.  A ton of heartache that could have been avoided if i just listened to MANY good friends.  Lesson Learned.   The second half of my 20’s were SO. MUCH. BETTER.    I met Freddy, we got married, he gave me two beautiful boys and taught me to trust again.  I feel wiser, stronger and have much more of a take no shit attitude.  I take some time for myself now and then and have learned to love unconditionally.  I feel like a totally different person than that 20-year-old girl I used to be.  That makes me happy.  I have grown and I feel that I have done so in the right direction!  I like the person I am now so much better than the person I was at 20!  I am excited for my 30’s!  I have learned from my 20’s and am ready to make this new decade awesome! 

So here is to thanking and remembering those who have served our country and thanking and remembering those lost in the tornado and those who are helping to recover, and thanking and remembering those who helped me be a better person these last ten years!

A great Memorial Weekend…
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Joplin, MO Tornado Craziness Part 1

Okay Mother Nature, you can quit being such a bitch to us! Seriously. This poor town can barely take any more!

Sunday evening while the boys and I enjoyed a nice dinner with Freddy’s oldest daughter, Nicole, and her girlfriend, Marie, a few miles away a tornado was about to rip the head off of a section of Joplin, and then proceed to spit down it’s throat. Graphic, I know. However hardly as graphic as the horrible devastating pictures of the aftermath of the relentless tornado.

Total devastation. One person described it as looking at pictures from WWII after the bombings, and they were correct. The photos are tragic and the death toll is even more horrific. 

But the beatings didn’t stop there.  Monday, Joplin received record rainfall of over 14 inches!  Yes you read correctly ONE-FOUR inches!  Fourteen!  While these wonderful men and women were out searching for people buried in the wreckage, it flipping rained on them ALL DAY LONG.  And not just rain, I am talking torrential downpours complete with thunder and lightning.  Two policemen searching the wreckage were struck by lightning.  Now enter flooding.  Perfect. 

I packed a bag with the essentials: formula, a bottle, some diapers/wipes, nutri-grain bars, bottled water, first aid kit, flash light, extra batteries and some garbage bags for makeshift rain jackets and my wallet.  I slept in tennis shoes and jeans.  Michael’s old crib mattress was in the hall outside the boys’ bathroom to be used to shield us from debris after we found refuge in the bathtub.  (Our house does not have a basement so the bathtub would become our shelter).  I was prepared.  Phone was charged.  Car keys in the bag, just in case we could drive anywhere) 

Tuesday was blue skies, but we all knew more was coming.  The search and rescue teams were racing against the clock to find more trapped victims before the queen bitch herself unleashed round II on us.  It started raining about 9:00 pm on Tuesday night.  9:30 the tornado warnings went out.  The sirens had been damaged in Sunday’s tornado so the people of the town still without power would have no warning.  Fan-fucking-tastic!  We were lucky and had power still.  It was pitch black outside and my heart was racing.  Both boys were sleeping in their beds and Freddy and I avidly watch the weather channel for updates.  You could hear the wind suddenly pick up.   The forecast called for 80 mph winds.  They were correct.  It thundered and lightning lit up the sky.  Thankfully no tornadoes in Joplin tonight.  We went to bed after the radar cleared.  I still slept in jeans and tennis shoes, just in case. 

Wednesday’s forecast: Well what do you know???  TORNADOES!  However I do have to say I think the weather center was being  just a bit overly cautious or the storm system changed.  We luckily only received rain, however the rain does not help with the flooding issue or the fact that pouring gallons of water on top of one’s already destroyed life, does not boast much hope of finding any memories or keepsakes in the rubble. 

DEVASTATING.  That word just does not even cut it.  I started this post on Tuesday night.  I am finishing it on Wednesday night after just having driven through the hospital area.  Michael needed some asthma medicine and Ryan needed formula, so we ventured out for the first time.  It brought tears to my eyes and left my heart heavy and aching for everyone affected.  True destruction.  On a road which I could once only see the buildings that lined the street, I could now see for miles.  Barren, de-barked trees, demolished houses, and tattered vehicles.  Walls still standing in the rubble, and vehicles were marked with a spray-painted “X” to show they had been searched already.  The veterinary clinic had and “X” along with “All Pets OK” spray painted on the once solid brick building.  As we drove past the hospital, the curtains swayed on the outside of the building in the wind. 

I snapped some photos on my cell phone, however with tear-filled eyes I am not sure they will show much.  I can’t even review them yet on my phone.  I looked to my left at Freddy and then turned around to see two beautiful boys playing the back seat and said a prayer to God and to all my Angels in heaven that my family was safe.  THANK YOU GOD!  THANK YOU FOR KEEPING THE LOVES OF MY LIFE SAFE.  I AM NOT SURE WHAT I HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THAT. 

THANK YOU to all who have come down to help.  THANK YOU.  

I will post some pictures and some more thoughts on this again when I can feel my regular heartbeat again.  I will also post some contact organizations and numbers to help.
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Walmart Woes

I hate Wal-mart!  What I hate even more is the fact that I have to go there every week!  Target doesn’t carry our brand of dog food and let’s just face it…shampoo, razors, napkins, TP and paper towels are just cheaper there!  I still hate it in all it’s ghetto-hillbilly-trashiness glory! 

I was actually beginning to accept Wal-Mart as an appropriate place to shop while we still lived in Apple Valley.  It was freshly remodeled to include a super center grocery store.  The aisles and displays were tasteful and clean.   The town of Apple Valley was a bit more upscale so it seem to not attract so many camel toe and toothless patrons . 

I can’t say the same for the Joplin Wal-Mart.  Not in the slightest.  The only thing that gets me through my trips here, is that in Missouri, Wal-Mart can sell liquor!  I go down that aisle every visit just to make the trip worthwhile!  Even the parking lot gives you a glimpse of what’s to find inside the store itself.    

It's like a stinking Easter Basket!

I will spare your ever so fragile eyes to the horror that was inside this Wal-Mart.  Oh and I have to shush Jayden at least once a trip because he points to a large person and tells me LOUDLY, “Look Mom, she is having a Brady like you did!”  No baby, that is just a fat person loading up on cheese puffs and ramen noodles.  Not to be confused with a pregnant lady…well wait, or is she???

Would it be selfish to tear apart my dogs digestive track and put them on new food in order NOT to have to go to Wal-Mart?  Yes, that is selfish…dammit!
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Batter Up!

Michael had his first Tee-Ball game last night and OH MY GAWD…I DIDN’T HAVE THE SD CARD IN THE CAMERA! What in the hell was I thinking? Get your shit together MOM! So I improvised and took a few pictures with my not-so-stellar camera on my BlackBerry. Those pictures will do for now, until next game, when I bring not only the SD card in the camera but 3 more as spares and crack out the big guns with the 250mm zoom lens!

The kids are so stinkin’ cute it makes me all warm and fuzzy! They, first off, have no idea what the hell they are doing. They are all sporting tee shirts and ball caps that are two sizes too big for them, they run the wrong direction, pick up the ball when they are a base runner and hand it over to the opposing team, totally skip second base and head straight for third, and about 2 out of every 3 hitters, almost nail the coach standing behind them right in the junk! It’s a dangerous job coaching pee wee tee ball!

Michael’s team had only one practice before last night’s game and it was cut short due to some nasty weather.  It didn’t matter though, Michael did great!  He was all decked out in his blue YMCA shirt and ball cap!  He hit the ball, ran the bases and even fielded a bit when he was in the pitcher position.  (The kids rarely hit it past the pitcher position)  Freddy helped out at third base and when Micheal was standing nearby he would yell over to the baseline where Ryan and I sat to say hello to Ryan and tell me to “Put Ryan down and let him crawl over here!”  So cute.  Ryan was Michael’s biggest fan!  Ryan clapped and cheered and about jumped out of my arms when he landed sight on his big brother! 

At the end of the game the two teams shook hands.  Absolutely the cutest thing ever…if they missed a hand they would stop suddenly to try again to connect and all the kids following in line would bonk into the person in front of them and pile up.   One kid, who was in the front of the line, ran to the back so he could shake hands again for a second time! 

Freddy & I were so relieved that this attempt at group sports boasted much better results than our previous attempt at pee wee soccer up in MN last year.  (It was middle of May, 33 degrees, freezing rain, 25 mph winds.  Michael wanted NOTHING to do with anything soccer and told me “I just want to go home and eat popcorn!”  We tried one more game with no luck of any interest what so ever and never went back)  Freddy’s daughter had some issues with participating in group activities so Freddy was worried that was Michael’s fate also.   Michael proved his daddy wrong again and did fantastic! 

I am almost certain that Michael’s favorite part of the whole game was the snack the coach brought for after they were finished.  That’s okay though, because Freddy and I enjoyed every minute of watching him be a little boy!


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