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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I posted this entry last year on this day. The feelings are still as raw six years later as they were then. I encourage you to attend one of the events taking place today to mark this day, or at the very least send up a prayer.
I’m excited and happy today because my sister is coming to visit. Last time I saw her, she was hugely pregnant with her second baby. Today she is flying in from Boston out of Logan airport. Her carry-on luggage consists of Max, age 3, and her new 5 month-old baby, Sam. Their plane took off about 20 minutes ago.
In a few minutes I have to rouse Alex from bed to get ready to catch the bus for another day of 5th grade. I’ve already showered, and I’m pouring my coffee when the phone rings.
“Did you see the news?” my mom asks. “Turn on the TV.”
I click it on and struggle to focus. When I do, the world as I know it comes to a screeching halt.
My family is from “back east”. I went to college in Albany - just a couple hours drive from the Big Apple. Another sister lived in Yonkers and worked in Manhattan, as did many of her friends and husband’s relatives. A couple of my friends were working in Manhattan too.
“What the hell? It’s the Twin Towers!”
“They don’t know what happened yet.”
“Geez, it looks really bad! What time are you and dad leaving to pick up Deanne from Denver?”
“In about half an hour. Their plane doesn’t get in until this afternoon.”
“OK. Have a safe trip.”
We used to go to New York at least once a year. Never went to the Statue of Liberty, though. Too touristy. We hung out at Rockefeller Center, went to Little Italy for real cannolis, cruised Chinatown, stood in line for cheap tickets to Broadway plays, avoided Times Square and taking the subway.
I dial my parent’s phone number.
“Hey! They think somebody flew a plane into the building! Oh my God! Did you see that? One just went in to the other tower!”
“Oh my God! Oh my God!”
“I’m gonna call the newsroom to see if they know anything.”
My heart is beating so fast. I can’t breathe. My hands are shaking so badly I have trouble dialing the number.
“Hey Kathy. It’s Lynn. Do you guys know what’s going on? My sister is flying in from Boston this morning with her babies.”
This can’t be happening, I think. This doesn’t happen to us. Not stuff like this.
“OK,” she says slowly, deliberately. “Do you know what airlines she was on?”
My stomach lurches. Why would that be important? Why is she asking me that? Think, damn it, think.
“I think it was United.”
I will always admire and be grateful for the way Kathy sensed my mounting
hysteria and struggled with answering my question. I will never forget what she said next.
“They think some planes were hijacked by terrorists. They’re not sure which airlines, but one of them left out of Boston at about 9:15.”
About the time Deanne’s plane left.
I hang up and stand in the middle of my bedroom. I am numb. Almost paralyzed. “This can’t be happening,” I repeat over and over.
My sister. Her babies.
In the few minutes it takes to get Alex to the bus, the news is coming fast and furious. We had a vague idea of what happened. Two planes, two towers. Another plane crashed into a field somewhere.
“Mom, did you try and call Deanne?”
“I tried her cell phone. There’s no service. What did they say at the Sentinel?”
How do you find the words to say it? If you say it will it make it real? How do you wrap your mind around believing you just saw your sister and your two nephews blown into tiny pieces across the Manhattan skyline?
“I’m coming over.”
Somebody please! What the hell is happening?
My mom calls and says she’s going to a neighbor’s. I meet her there. She and dad are dressed and ready to leave for Denver to meet the plane.
“Oh my God! The tower just collapsed! Oh my God! What is happening? Where are my babies?”
Those words came out of my mother’s mouth. They were ripped out of the mouths and hearts of more than 3,000 mothers that day.
Where are my babies?
Many, too many, left behind babies they never saw, didn’t even know they were going to have.
By the grace of God, my sister and her babies were not on that plane. They had seats on the next one out, scheduled to leave twenty minutes later. She finally got a call out to say they were safe. The kids were okay. Max was eating pizza. Twenty minutes.
A few days later the e-mails started coming. The first college classmate missing. The second, a third, then a fourth. The messages kept coming. Then they got worse. Remains identified. Bodies recovered. Funerals pending.
The chaplain at my college and the chaplain then for the F.D.N.Y, Father Mychal Judge, the first to die when he was struck by debris. The best man at my sister’s wedding, Lt. Joseph Leavey, from Ladder 15, F.D.N.Y., the first unit on the scene.
The World Trade Center. The Pentagon. American Flight 11. American Flight 77. United Flight 175. United Flight 93.
“Mom, is the outside light on?”
“No, honey, why?”
“I just think you should turn the light on.”
It will help him. To have the light on. Those bastards robbed him, robbed us all, of so much. Of feeling safe. Ever. Again.
I will never forgive. Some things are beyond the capacity of human forgiveness.
And I will never, ever forget.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, September 10, 2007
The Daily Sentinel is proud to participate in United Way's annual pacesetters campaign. And it was a record-setting for giving among Sentinel employees.
One of the fun ways the co-chairs of our United Way campaign raised money was by having a cake raffle.
I mean, really, who doesn't love cake? OK, there are probably people who don't love cake, but I'm not one of them. I love me some cake. Mmm, cake.
They got a bunch of employees to donate cakes and the rest of us bought raffle tickets for a dollar a piece. I was very excited about this raffle, because next to eating cake, I love winning stuff.
Every hour on the hour, they drew a name and the winner got to pick a cake. Hour after hour, everyone else's name was called. I started to get worried that I wouldn't win cake.
I decided that I didn't want to win a cake. Who needs cake anyway?
I do. So I was thrilled when my name finally was drawn. I ran down to the break room and happily choose this cake:
It was made by my Haute Mama cohort, Lynn.
I didn't share it with my coworkers because I wanted Margaret to see it whole. I figured that she'd think it was neat.
I was wrong, she was totally delighted by this cake. When she first saw it she cried out, "Is that a giant donut?'
To which I said, "Well, of course it's a giant donut. And we're going to eat it after dinner."
Oh and it tasted as good as it looked.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, September 7, 2007
In case the picture is too hard to read, let me translate the school assignment Margaret brought home this week:
Describe: to pick beten two
(Mar drew a picture of three people — I think they're girls — one has a word bubble which says, "iny, mny, miny, mo.")
I hope the green frog sticker means "most excellent" because this work — and she — is.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, September 6, 2007
The next logical chapter for me to write about my current maternal bliss would concern Soren and his transition from only child to big brother.
I was a little worried about him mostly because when other mothers would ask me about it they would unconsciously shake their heads ever so slightly and a look of concern would enter their eyes as if having this second child was a complete injustice to Soren and I was in for a bit of hell. Frankly, they were scaring me. So I would reply "Well, he's just gonna have to deal with it."
But I really was nervous about how this transition might go. I imagined Soren welding a giant toy dump trunk against his brother and pounding him with his toddler fists. Or worse, crying and crying about his imagined neglect.
I would tell Soren about the new baby coming. I even went so far as to hold a doll for Soren, demonstrating how to stroke the baby "nice." I lifted my shirt and place the doll to my breast (weird I know) explaining to him the art of breastfeeding. I'd point to my giant belly and say "baby" hoping he'd make a connection. But how do you really know what a 15-month-old is comprehending?
The weekend before Jonas' arrival I would look at Soren and feel a bit sorry for him. He had no idea what was coming. I took him to the park and let him eat ice cream and popsicles even when he didn't eat his dinner. I let him sleep in mommy's bed and turned on the Teletubbies in case he wanted to watch ... which he didn't but anyway.
I made sure to limit visitors in the hospital so that we could privately introduce Soren to his new brother. The hospital was intimidating to him. He looked at his new brother but clung to his dad. I don't blame him as the hospital is a scary place even for grown ups.
When Soren and his dad came back to take us home, Soren looked down into the bassinet and said, "Bye Bye" to the new baby. We laughed and explained again that this baby was ours to keep. He repeated "baby baby" in the car and stared into the car seat beside him. I think it had finally had sunk in.
The next morning, and every morning since, his first words upon waking have been "Where's baby?"
He looks anxiously at me when leaving the house to make sure Jonas hasn't been left behind. He pats and strokes his brother just the way I showed him with the doll repeating, "Nice nice."
Soren hugs Jonas and shows genuine concern when he cries and pats his stomach saying, "Hush hush."
He tries to share his crackers and he loves to watch him take a bath or get a diaper change.
There hasn't been any jealousy. No exaggerated temper tantrums or head banging at least not caused by anything to do with his brother.
Soren has an innate sense that this little guy is in his life to stay. I guess I haven't said it enough but oldest is a great kid.
Now when I see Soren plant the most gentle kiss on his brother's nose I know that I didn't do any kind of injustice to him ... I gave him a real gift ... one he already loves very much.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Sometimes I wonder if being an only child is a good thing or a bad thing.
Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s just a thing. Having grown up with five siblings I always had someone around to socialize with, whether I wanted to socialize or not. Alex just has
.. me, around the house. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
This year he’s been a little slow to start socializing. He has the girl friend, with whom he seems to spend the majority of his free time, in person or on the phone or on the dreaded myspace. I don’t think this relationship is the best thing to happen to him. I don’t really have any complaints about the girl. Well, I do, but none that I choose to go public with at this time. It’s just that I think he needs to expand his social horizons a bit.
To put it into perspective, he does spend nine hours a day in school if you count travel time on the bus. And he is also working on weekends still, both days. So free time is not something he has a lot of. But last Friday was a home football game that I strongly urged him to go to, which ultimately he did. After the girl friend came home on the bus with him, his buddies came over and decided to paint their school initials on their chests (male-buddies I should clarify). After much trash-talking and “giggling” and criticizing of each other’s artistic abilities, they ended up like this:
It was pretty funny. On Sunday night he asked these buddies plus one other to come over and spend the night playing X-box. I was happy to let him do this and glad he invited them over. After all, that’s one reason we got this house; which worked perfectly because when they were upstairs with the door shut I couldn’t hear them. Wait, maybe NOT such a good thing. But I still checked them every hour or so and they were happily huddled around the X-box blowing things up in 3-D. (I’ll talk about the midnight burning of the gasoline can another time, filed under stupid teenage boy tricks.)
But still, he is too socially isolated I think. He wants to have the girl friend come home on the bus with him one afternoon a week to hang out. I think this is a bad idea. I think its too much girl-relationship too soon and too young. I would rather he get back into the martial arts or some other sport.
Am I being a helicopter mom?
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
It rained on Grand Mesa over Labor Day weekend. And you know what that means ... no, not wet campers ... mushrooms.
We are lucky enough to have some great friends who know tons about all things food. They even know enough about mushrooms that we can tag along on their 'shroom hunting expeditions.
(Yes, that is Margaret in the foreground throwing rocks at me — delightful child, she is.)
Because we're better eaters than we are knowers of food, Bill and I would never attempt to hunt mushrooms on our own — and neither should you, unless you are well versed in the bijillion varieties of mushrooms. Many are poisonous and can kill you — dead — very quickly or at the least, make you wish you were dead.
Armed with a very good mushroom book, we tromped around the damp ground searching for porcini
mushrooms. I'd never been hunting before so I had to keep asking, "Is this one?" Only to be told "No — and don't even touch that one" over and over again.
There we saw so many varieties of mushrooms all over the floor of the mesa.
They are so beautiful and bizarre. So many different color, textures, shapes and sizes.
I have no idea what any of these are called because mushrooms are notoriously difficult to identify. And there were just too many to look up.
We never found any edible porcinis but we were lucky enough to find a patch of chanterelles.
In the mushroom book, chanterelles were listed as "edible, choice" — which is a very good thing. On the Internet, you can buy fresh chanterelles for $24 a pound. So we were pleased with our find.
But even if we didn't find any edible mushrooms, just spending an afternoon taking a close look at the floral on the mesa is a great way to spend a day.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, September 3, 2007
Living in Nashville is an interesting blend of modern country and longtime legends.
I’ve sat behind Jo Dee Messina at church, seen Amy Grant at a corner sandwich shop, spotted LeAnn Rimes after yoga class, walked by Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame at Target, seen Billy Ray Cyrus perform Achey Breaky Heart live (way before the Hannah Montana days), smiled at Keith Urban at the airport and seen country legend Vern Gosden get into it with a Home Depot employee.
During one of my biggest brushes with country music greatness, however, I totally blew it.
It was in the early 1990s and I was working part-time in the children’s section of a mall department store. A woman with blazing big red hair was pushing her little boy in a stroller. It took me only a few seconds to realize she was the one, the only, Reba.
Now this was back in my days when I was more into Depeche Mode than the Dixie Chicks. I was pretty sure this woman was Reba. She just had to be. She set a package of toddler socks on the counter and I looked at her and said, somewhat timidly, "I don’t want to embarrass you, but are you Reba McEntire?"
She looked at me and without skipping a beat responded, "Why yes I am
and why would that embarrass me?"
Score one for me for social awkwardness and score one for her for a comeback worthy of a country music diva.
I should have asked for her autograph.
Saturday, September 1, 2007
If you're reading this blog - we want to talk to you!
One of the really fun and interesting parts of my job is to take a look at new products that our readers would be interested in reading!
In our quest to deliver fresh, fun and useful information, The Daily Sentinel is considering new options and we want your opinions, input and feedback. We will be hosting some focus group sessions to see what you think about some new projects geared towards women and the Western Colorado lifestyle. The focus groups will take place mid-September and last less than two hours. If you are asked to join, all you have to do is show up and be ready to talk - you can do that, right? Participants must be female, over the age of 18 and a resident of Western Colorado. If you'd like to join us, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
Include your name, age, and a little about your hobbies, interests and leisure activities. Please reply by September 9. Thank you!
And feel free to invite your friends and other female family members to join us!
By Robin Dearing
Friday, August 31, 2007
I wasn't worried about having enough love for two babies but I was totally unprepared for how much love I would find within myself for him.
I had prepared for the worst case scenario, months of sleepless nights, cold dinners and newborn ailments. Jonas hasn't given me any of those things.
He slid right into his place as baby brother as if he has been here all along.
He sleeps in his bassinet. He barely makes a peep when his diaper is soiled. He stares wide eyed at the busy household around him. He sleeps through the vacuum cleaner noise and the screaming of his toddler brother.
I wake up at night to see his little face sleeping contently as he rests his cheek on his boob pillow.
Did I mention that he sleeps? It's just miraculous to me after having endured newborn hell just last year.
From that very first night in the hospital I could tell that he was a good baby. He laid beside me quietly and dozed off. It was so unexpected that I kept having to poke him to make sure he was OK.
His personality seems to be very mellow and observant. I think he has a sense of humor as he smiles at just right moments.
He coos in his sleep and it makes me smile. It's the cutest dang thing.
He grunts and stretches dramatically when waking up. These are things that I'll bet never go away and are unique just to him.
Looking at him reminds me how truly blessed I am.
He has the whole world in front of him. I'm determined to make sure that his time under my roof is joyous.
I love new baby Jonas not just because he is a good baby but for the experiences we'll share throughout the rest of our lives. I just can't wait for each and every one.
Proudly, I am his mother and I love him more everyday.
May God let me borrow him for a long time.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I think the one broad underlying theme of all my writings here, is that parenting is hard (this is usually accompanied by a lot of whine and foot stomping).
Making the right choices for my child and for myself and the rest of the family is scary. What if I make a wrong decision? What if my choices screw up my kid but good? What if she grows up to be a crook or worse, a Republican? (Just kidding, Lynn!)
I worry about stuff all the time. Is she being short-changed because I'm a working mom? Do we spend enough time with her? Do we spend too much time with her? Do we push her too hard/not hard enough?
I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with that aspect of parenting, but there is so much about being a mom that I love.
I've taken the advice to savor my child as she's growing up and enjoy every period in her life. I loved having an infant with her littleness and her dependence. I savored her babyhood, as she reached milestones on a daily basis. It was fun to play with Margaret as a toddler who found infinite joy in most everything. Then she was a preschooler learning new things all time, running and playing by herself and with her friends, but always coming back to mom.
Now she's a school-ager and I can honestly say that I love this period the most. She's so much fun to be around. She independent and capable of doing so much for herself, yet she's great company. I love walking over to the pool with her on nights that Bill teaches late. I love the way she curls her long legs up into her chair and watches the Disney Channel. I love that she wants to play games with me and chatter about her day at school.
I love seeing her little face in the morning and kissing her goodnight. I'm lucky to have a job that I enjoy coming to every morning, but I'm even luckier that I have a daughter that I can't wait to get home to every night.