A Fight for One Last

We have less than two days left.

Actually, it’s more like 42 hours.

Christmas morning quality time.

Christmas morning quality time.

But if you subtract out the girlfriend time, sleeping time and time for personal hygiene , it’s really only about 12 hours.

Twelve short hours left to spend with the Older One before he boards an airplane bound for the snowy north and the granite walls of the US Military Academy at West Point.

His clothes are clean and ready to be packed neatly in his plain black duffel bag. He’s visited with friends, exchanged gifts with family and enjoyed New Year’s Eve with his girl.

Now all that’s left for this momma is 12 hours…give or take.

And so, I start the fight. It won’t be a screaming, yelling, fist-throwing kind of fight, but more of a fight for more, more, more and a handful of one lasts.

The fight for one more game of hide and seek with his sister and one last meal cooked with love. Just one more conversation and another memory to hold on to for the next three months. One more workout with his dad. Another joke and a laugh. Even one last request for motherly advise.

I’ll fight for another stolen hug and an unaware smile.  I’ll fight for that last perfect ending to an all too short 15-day visit…even though it is the longest we’ve had for a while.

Last night, the Young One, whose big brother hero let her claim victory in a Nerf blaster war earlier that day, lost her fight against the tears. She cried herself to sleep wishing he didn’t have to go away again, and as I held her close for comfort, I lost my fight too.

Save travels, Sweet Boy. Come home again soon!

Five Minute Friday***This post is brought to you today by Five Minute Friday and the word “Fight”.

The Re-Resolution of Stiletto Momma

2014…Day Two. The Christmas decorations are wrapped and boxed again. The bushes lining the house are dark as their formerly twinkly lights are extinguished for another season.

People are returning to their pre-Christmas carol, pre-gift giving lives of work, school and business as usual. “Merry Christmas!” has been replaced with “Happy New Year!” followed shortly thereafter with, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?”

Resolution? Hmmmm…

I am rarely able to come up with a resolution much sooner than 11:59 p.m. on December 31st. I’m too exhausted from all the party planning, menu making and present wrapping to think beyond the current holiday much less think about how I want to change my life starting at the stroke of midnight.

Then I’m faced with the inevitable failure of actually keeping the resolution. The minute I resolve to get back in the gym, I want a nap. If I resolve to eat a healthy diet, I will immediately start craving Reese cups.

I have never experienced the thrill of successfully achieving a resolution…until January 1, 2012 when I wrote and published the inaugural post of a little blog named after my alter ego, Stiletto Momma. In that post I resolved to simply “Do Something New.”

Yes, it is very open ended and non-commital, but at the time I also threw out a few possibilities like learning photography and Photoshop. I did buy a good camera that year…in September. I haven’t learned to use it beyond what I read in the first half of the instruction manual, and about the only thing I can do in Photoshop is look at my pictures. I suppose that counts, but just barely.

I mentioned one other possibility in that New Year’s post two years ago.  “I’ll start a blog,” I wrote, and because I typed those words and clicked the “Publish” button, I was a successful resolutioner in the very first hours of the new year! Counting this post, I have gone on to write and publish 64 posts as Stiletto Momma–warrior of all things maternal, corporate and pointy-toed!

When 2013 rolled around, I knew exactly what my resolution would be.

Do Something New!

However, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, 2013 was a witch of a year and a wicked one at that.  I couldn’t get around to deciding what “new” was going to be, so I stayed with what was working, and I blogged some more. Pretty soon I was blogging about what was really on my mind–my ongoing battle against Crohn’s Disease.

thegreatbowelmovement.org

My prize pack from TheGreatBowelMovement.org gave me everything I needed to raise IBD awareness in 2013.

In my quest for answers and information, I ran across what has turned into one of my favorite websites, www.thegreatbowelmovement.org, which has been making Crohn’s and Colits (the two forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) cool since 2010. The founders of this non-profit encourage patients and caregivers to talk about their diseases in an effort to raise awareness. They even sent me a cool prize pack complete with intestine socks and an “Ask Me About My Crohn’s Disease” hoodie.

My 2013 “new” turned out to be writing about something that has been a part of me for almost 25 years. I may have lost some readers who weren’t interested in learning about the woes of a sick person, but embracing a new mission of raising awareness for something I know quite a lot about encouraged and empowered me in a time when I needed to feel strong.

With two successful resolutions under my belt, I’m ready to declare the 2014 version. Any guesses on what it might be?

DO SOMETHING NEW!

That’s right. I’ve decided on a new “new”, and if you’ve been following along for the past few months you could very well have an idea of what it might be.

I am a writer. There, I said it. I am a writer and this year, I intend to write with more dedication and purpose than I have in a long time.

I have a master’s degree in journalism, but outside of internships during college, I have never worked in the field. Maybe I was just waiting around for the blogosphere and digital publishing to be born. Whatever the reason, I graduated from Penn State with a journalism degree and immediately took a job in marketing.

The next one was in fundraising (another form of marketing). When I tried technical writing next, I found my skills were wasted writing about boring things like databases, and moved back to marketing. I had found myself a niche, and that’s where I’ve stayed for over 20 years. I was a marketer with writing skills.

keyboard

The Hubs gave me this cute little keyboard for my iPad–perfect for a blogging resolution.

Now, I want to be a writer who knows how to market herself. You can expect to see more of Stiletto Momma in 2014. I will soon be launching a Facebook page, and I might even start Tweeting. If you’re lucky, you could get a glimpse into this impressive shoe collection I’ve been hinting at. We could even do a contest or two!

I’m starting this blog re-energizing effort with the WordPress Zero to Hero program where my favorite blogging platform will give me a daily task for blog improvement during the month of January. Today’s task is to introduce myself to my readers. If I’ve done my job, you should have been able to pick up a few nuggets of me from the above ramblings, but in addition to being a chronically ill writer who markets (or a marketer who writes) and makes unoriginal New Year’s resolutions, I am:

  • a momma to two amazing children–a six-year-old tomboy and a 20-year-old all-American boy.
  • an adoptive momma to that six-year-old who was born in Russia and became a US citizen five years ago.
  • an Army momma since the 20-year-old is a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point. (Go Army!)
  • a football momma because that cadet also plays on the offensive line for the Army Black Knights and has been working toward that goal since he was five years old. (GoArmy!)
  • a football wife because the Hubs played football at Penn State once upon a time, coached our son for most of his football career and will accomplish seemingly impossible tasks to avoid ever missing a Penn State Nittany Lion game or a Pittsburgh Steeler game.
  • a doggy momma to the Furry One and the Fluffy One who, like the rest of the family, have clever pseudonyms in this blog because it is my choice to blog about them, not theirs, and they deserve a little bit of anonymity.
  • a fairly decent home cook whose specialty is anything her son requests and anything her picky daughter will eat.
  • a lover of shoes and all things fashion.

I am Stiletto Momma, and I resolve to make 2014 blogtastic for everyone!

What’s your resolution…or un-resolution…or re-resolution?

Kindergarten Here We Come

I can hear her little sing-song voice all through the house…

“Kindergarten here we come,
and we will have lots of fun.
Reading, writing, numbers too.
Kindergarten, we love you!”

graduation

Last year’s dress rehearsal for this year’s graduate.

I stop listening at “Kindergarten here we come.” The rest of the song is lost as my internal Momma voice screams “Noooo! Not my baby!”

The Young One is rehearsing for pre-school graduation. Actually, she has been practicing for over a year because technically she graduated last year when she was five. The Hubs and I, however, made the decision to wait…to *gasp* “hold her back”. We put off the inevitable, and now as a six-year-old, she will walk the commencement exercises of the Kids Academy Pre-K Class of 2013.

We thought one more year would better prepare her…another year to mature…another year to grow…another year for Momma to keep her baby close.

Some well-meaning friends warn us she’ll be bored in Kindergarten, and kids who are bored in school find ways to get into trouble. Others praise us for offering her a better chance to succeed as the oldest child in the class, and still other more sports-minded acquaintances pat the Hubs on the back and congratulate him on red-shirting his daughter in preparation for a bright athletic future.

The Older One's first day of Kindergarten. He's the little one on the far left. What was I thinking?

The Older One’s first day of Kindergarten. He’s the little one on the far left. What was I thinking?

With the Older One, we never considered not starting him in Kindergarten at five-years-old, even though with his early August birthday, we would have been more than justified. We were younger then, less financially secure, and weekly daycare expenses were a strain to the budget. We were ready to move to the next phase of child-rearing, and away he went. Just a week after that milestone birthday, I packed his lunch, helped him load his backpack, and put him on a bus to spend the day with strangers.

Flash forward 14 years, and I’m dreading August when I will send my daughter into that fanciful Kindergarten she sings about. What if she’s not smart enough? What if she can’t make friends? What if the teacher doesn’t like her…or me! What if I fail in my fashion sense and send her to school in last year’s early elementary school trends? What if her hair isn’t right? What if her shoes aren’t tied? What if she comes to the conclusion that the words in that song are all lies?

I’m either smarter or more paranoid than I was the last time, or maybe times have changed. Stranger danger is more ominous. Violence in schools is making headlines that have me wanting to hold onto both of my kids forever. Plus the Young One is a girl, and everyone knows they are just plain mean to each other in a way boys aren’t. Even though I’ve been here before, this is brand new territory.

Then again, maybe 19 years of parenting have altered the way I remember the prior Kindergarten experience. I love the Older One just as much as the Young One, and my fear for their well-being is equally strong. So I imagine I was most likely just as anxious last time as I am this time. I’m sending my beloved child into the big, bad world.

I suppose she’ll survive the trauma. The last kid did, and now he’s at the US Military Academy at West Point making friends and scoring A’s in physics and statistics and foreign languages I didn’t know existed back when he marched from pre-K to K. He is a Division I athlete and will one day soon be a leader in the greatest Army on the planet. I guess Kindergarten at five didn’t hurt him too much.

I think I’m going to start singing another song…

“Kindergarten here we come.
I hope you think it’s so much fun.
Momma’s crying, worrying too
Because she loves and cherishes you!”

If you’ve done the Kindergarten thing already, what are your best/worst memories? If you haven’t, what are you worried about? What are your thoughts on holding kids out of Kindergarten?

five-minute-friday***I started this post in response to today’s Five Minute Friday prompt, “song”, but after I got started, I found I had more to say than could be written in five minutes flat. So, I broke the first rule and wrote for more than my allotted five minutes, but it was worth it. If you think you can get it all out in a measly five minutes, join us at Lisa-Jo Baker’s site every Friday where a great group of bloggers say a lot in just a few minutes.

An Ordinary Extraordinary Redheaded Stiletto-Wearing Momma

How can any day be ordinary, when I, myself, am so extraordinary?

I’m not bragging. I am simply stating a fact, and it is one we should all declare with a smile on our faces and a glow in our hearts.

Redhead

The ordinary extraordinary redheaded stiletto-wearing momma in action!

How can I be ordinary, when the very hair on my head sets me apart? I’m a natural strawberry-blonde redhead, and when I look around at my office-mates, I see no one who looks like me. In my own household, a stray hair is a tell-tale clue of where I have been.

The spring before he reported to the United States Military Academy for basic training, my tow-headed son took advantage of his last days as a civilian and attempted to grow a beard. When the newly acquired facial hair sprang out and curled around his chin, I noticed a faint red-ish hue, and my heart rejoiced to see my genes. However, unless the US Army changes its firm anti-facial hair regulations, I will have to wait many more years for another glimpse of it.

My father’s hair matched mine once upon a time, so much so that his friends nicknamed him “Rusty”. I need only three fingers, however, to count the rest of the gingers in my family–one cousin, one second-cousin, one nephew. Among us, the shades of orange are different, making us all extraordinary in our very sameness.

I am extraordinary.

You are too.

Few people have my hair. None have the pattern of my freckles.

A handful of people have traveled the path of my life by my side. A few have experienced the same joys and the same tragedies. None of them share the exact memory of those incidents that have helped to form the extraordinary person I am today.

And let’s face it…many people have a closet full of shoes, but who among them can pull off a five-inch heel quite like I do!

Ordinary does not begin to describe who I am.

I am extraordinary, just like you.

What sets you apart from everyone else and makes you the extraordinary person you are?

five-minute-friday***This ordinary extraordinary post was brought to you by Five Minute Friday and the word “ordinary”. Treat yourself to something special, and join us for the biggest blogging flash-mob in cyber space.

Restoring Imagination

The two-story house had sat empty for well over three decades. It was probably closer to four, but no one could really remember the last time the dwelling had been used.

Dollhouse

Abandoned long ago.

Its bright yellow siding had faded from the color of sunshine on a bright summer morning to the hue of the powdered lemonade mix that settles to the bottom of the pitcher when it has been left to sit in the refrigerator past its time. The stark white trim, in the few places where it still remained, now shown no brighter than dirty water in a puddle.

Windows bowed and cracked in the summer heat while their panes slowly gave way and fell askew. Chimneys crumbled and eventually vanished as they turned to dust. The railing of the staircase leading to the attic bedroom had long since collapsed and the stairs from the main floor had become dangerously loose over time.

staircase

Years of disuse lead to destruction.

The Victorian-era furniture had all been wrapped with care before being abandoned to swelter in disuse. Over time, however, the protection had failed to keep a layer of dust from accumulating on the plush, emerald green sofa and a musty smell from overtaking the floor coverings.

This had once been the home of the Harris Family–John, Jeannie and their three children. The oldest child was Suzie, and while evidence of her and her parents’ names have been found on long-ago posted mail, the names of their son and baby daughter remain unknown.

John was a business man, leaving home every morning in coat and tie and returning in the evening to lounge on the emerald sofa reading the newspaper by the warm fireplace.  Jeannie, by all appearances was a homemaker, roasting turkeys and baking pies, while her children played Monopoly or read quietly in their third-floor room.

Letters

Evidence of family life.

Both sets of grandparents were known to visit frequently, often bringing with them gifts of kittens, toy trains or boxes of store-bought donuts.

This was a happy family. Happy, that is, until the driving force of their joy stopped visiting as often. That giver of joyful life experiences was a little girl with ginger curls and an active imagination. She would stop by the little yellow house every day to play with the children and help Jeannie cook dinner for her work-weary husband. She planned parties and birthday surprises. She was there when the grandparents came calling and when the children went to bed.

She…was me.

I was not much older than the Young One when my mother told me I was not allowed to enter the basement for a few weeks. I could sense the excitement in the new rule, and I knew that on the other side of that basement door was a surprise. Being a lover of surprises, I had no intention of crossing that threshold even when my brother was allowed access or when my granddad stopped by for an unexpected visit only to disappear behind that closed door. He and my father would be below for hours, leaving me to imagine what greatness awaited me at the end of their project.

My anticipation reached its climax Christmas morning when waiting under the tree for me was a shiny new miniature dollhouse all sunny and bright and handcrafted for me by my father, his father and his son. The draperies hanging on each sparkling window had been stitched with my mother’s own hand. Each subsequent gift that year offered another piece of the house and its family–a velvet covered sofa, a butcher’s block, a canopy bed. Then came the dolls with their painted smiles and fabric bodies, all waiting for me to tell their stories.

I spent years with the Harris family, but as girls do, I eventually outgrew the fascination. Playing with makeup and experimenting with hairstyles became more important, until eventually my mother covered the unused house with an old hoop skirt, wrapped and boxed each accessory and moved it all to a dark corner of the attic.

Cleaning

Housecleaning!

That is where it stayed…until two months ago when she decided the time was right to pull it out and re-gift it to her granddaughter. When my parents traveled the highway from Pennsylvania to Kentucky to spend Christmas with me and my family, they brought with them a van full presents and a long-neglected dollhouse.

The Young One and I are now in active restoration mode. We’ve disinfected every surface, vacuumed the carpets and laundered the handmade curtains. We’ve pulled off the loose trim and discarded the irreparable staircase railing.

And finally, we’ve awakened the wonder of the Harris family. Suzie is playing school again with her brother and baby sister. John is back at work after an extended leave and Jeannie is back in the kitchen showering her family with all the love she can fit into her menu.

Furnished Dollhouse

Ready to play!

We still have work to do. The trim needs replacing, and the window panes need a fresh coat of paint. If an imaginary rainstorm comes to the neighborhood, poor Suzie and her siblings will be washed out as the roof currently has two gaping holes where the chimneys used to be.

Years of joy await the Harrises and their yellow house again, and I can’t wait to watch the stories unfold.

Have you ever passed down a beloved toy to your children?

A Snowy Opportunity

We haven’t seen snow in my part of the country in well over a year.

Okay, well…I take that back. We haven’t seen bundle-up-the-kids-and-go-outside-to-play snow in well over a year. Last Saturday that all changed when the Young One burst into my bedroom at 7:56 am and announced, “IT SNOWED! IT SNOWED!”

snow

My snow-covered backyard.

How I managed to keep her in the house for the next two hours is still a mystery to me, but I did find a way to enjoy several cups of coffee by my nice, warm fireplace before donning boots, polar fleece and long-johns (silk ones, by the way, in case you have any doubt that Stiletto Momma would be anything less than stylish).

We were fortunate enough to be joined outside by the Older One, who had learned earlier in the day that “visiting” home for the holidays does not exclude him from the pool of eligible people to be delegated driveway shoveling duty. He strolled across the driveway, shovel in hand, while the Young One made snow angels. Within minutes, the driveway was clear, and he lobbed the first snowball. The Young One squealed  as she scrambled to make a ball of her own, only to cry in disappointment seconds later when her snowy missile looked more like a lump than a sphere.

Sighing, the Older One took the opportunity to impart some brotherly advice on how to form the perfect snowball.

“Let me show you,” he said, squatting down and digging his gloved hands in the cold for the makings of wintry ammunition. She watched with great attention as he demonstrated packing the snow then rolling it in his hands to form a perfect ball.

snowball

Snowball Architecture 101

I smiled through the lens of my camera, thinking how lucky this little girl is to have such a loving brother and how lucky I am to have both of my children with me against the backdrop of snowy treetops.

Family moments like these are few and far between these days.

With the Older One spending most of his days at the United States Military Academy at West Point, the only times we are all in the same space at the same time are when we see the Older One on the computer monitor courtesy of the webcam.

I’m not one to normally be all happy and bouncy about sledding and snowman-building, but the opportunity to spend an hour playing with my kids is truly a joy…even when they join forces to pelt their loving momma with an arsenal of freshly made snowballs!

snowball fight

INCOMING!!!!

What’s your favorite snow day memory?

five-minute-fridayFive Minute Friday is back! Today’s prompt is “Opportunity”. Check out Lisa-Jo Baker’s site to read more stories about great opportunities, or better yet, write and share one of your own!

The Voice That Started It All

I first heard that voice 22 years ago, and I still try to shake it from my head when I remember how I had the misfortune of answering that phone and taking that message for my college roommate.

“Is your roommate there?” The question boomed through the handset, and I moved it further from my ear to save my delicate eardrum.

“No, she’s not,” I replied in my sweetest voice.

“Well, tell her I called!” The dismissing tone and the volume level set me off, and I made an instant decision that I did not particularly like the person on the other end.

“And your name would be…?” My sweetness was gone as I searched frantically for the ESP the caller obviously assumed I possessed.

“I’m from her chemistry class, and we have a project due.  Just tell her I called!” Click.

Okay then. If I remember to pass on the message, I’ll be sure to tell her she should find another partner for that project.

I eventually did pass on that message.  I’m really quite considerate, even when I have a phone call-induced migraine.

Plebe Parent Weekend

Me and the man behind the voice.

My roommate went on to complete her chemistry project, and a few weeks later, we hit the town to celebrate.

That’s when I met her chemistry partner.

That’s when I found out he had a wonderful sense of humor, a love of football, and a strong desire to serve his country.

That’s when I found out that he likes to portray a tough guy, but really is tender and kind.

That’s when I met the man I would eventually call husband and father of my children.

Thanks for calling my roomy all those years ago, Hubby Dear!

Now, please… use your inside voice!

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Five Minute Friday*This quick story on my first conversation with my husband was written for today’s Five Minute Friday prompt – Voice. Want to write with wild abandon for five minutes? Try it out.

Five Minute Friday: A Welcomed Welcoming Committee

Each morning is something to be celebrated. No matter what time the sun rises or the alarm blares, mornings are a welcomed and happy occurrence…especially when you are greeted like I am with a welcoming committee of hugs, smiles and furry devotion.

This morning’s welcoming committee was a lineup of the usual team…

First up–the Hubs. Because my hair is longer and significantly higher maintenance than the Hubs’ close cut fade, I am the first to rise, but his is the first welcome I receive in the morning. He is always ready with the hug and peck on the cheek that starts my day on the right note.

Who wouldn’t want to welcome the day with these two?

As I make my way to the coffee maker, the Furry One (the 10-year-old terrier) drags himself from his spot on the floor to follow me to the kitchen. As the first cup brews, we both head to the treat cabinet, and he proves to me that even in his old age, he can still catch a Canine Carryout on the fly. His happy tail wag is a welcomed site because we almost lost him to autoimmune disease two years ago, and I so happy and grateful that he is still with us.

The Furry One

Happy you’re still here, Furry One!

Next comes the Young One, all sparkly in her glitter shoes and matching headband. A twirling inspection proves to us both that we were spot-on in our pre-K outfit selection the night before–a very welcomed relief because nothing starts the day off poorly than your leggings not going quite right with your bedazzled denim skirt!

There’s nothing quite like glitter on your shirt to get you going in the morning!

The Fluffy One (our newly adopted Maltese puppy) races between our feet for a welcome of her own. “Welcome back from night-night,” she declares as only a puppy can with barks, frantic tail wagging and high-flying jumps. Her enthusiasm for a reunion, no matter how long the separation, brings bright smiles and giggles all around.

The Fluffy One

Five pounds of fluffy fun!

Finally, I make my way to windows, eager to open the blinds and welcome the new day, hoping to catch a glimpse of deer or bunnies starting their day too.

What I find this morning, however, is definitely and unwelcome member of the welcoming committee.

Creepy Crawly One

Eeeeek!!!!!

Thanks for the effort, Creepy Crawly One. I’m sure you worked hard all night on the intricate web you strung for me. I appreciate the industriousness. Really. But I prefer to limit my welcoming committee to those who have no more than four legs. Nothing personal, but please take your hairy body and your extra appendages, and remove yourself from my view.

I refuse to let this shocking member of the morning welcoming committee wipe out the stellar job done by the previous four, so…

Welcome, Friday! I’ve missed you, let’s make this a great day!

Stiletto Momma

*Today’s Five Minute Friday is all about “Welcome”. Check it out, and take five minutes of your own to flex your writing muscles!

Five Minute Friday – Grasp

I hugged my little boy last Saturday!

Well, he’s not a little boy any more–he towers almost a foot higher than me, and when I do hug him my hands barely touch on the other side.

Post-Game

Minutes before this picture was taken the big one in the middle was crushed in a hug by the little one on the left!

But I hugged him, nonetheless, and I basked in his presence for an entire 20 minutes.

I couldn’t stop smiling.

I miss my boy, and it was fairly obvious to everyone else around us at the Wake Forest football stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, last weekend.

The hubs and I made a two-part journey from our Louisville home to West Virginia and then on to Winston-Salem to watch the Army Black Knights take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

That’s not entirely true. The Hubs was there to watch the football game. I, apparently, was there to watch number 55, even if he didn’t step foot on the field.

Another momma and her boy traveled with us to the game. Army is recruiting her quarterback son, and they wanted to check out the team on the road. Even though the Black Knights fell to the Demon Deacons, he left the stadium with a new conviction to complete the application process for the United States Military Academy.

His momma left with a new understanding of what being a West Point Mom would mean for her.

As we stood outside the stadium talking with my football player after the game, she pulled him aside and enlightened him to my pride. “Your mom really loves you, you know. It made me cry watching her watch you. She never watched the game. She only watched you.”

It’s true.

Army Football

See that grin? That’s my boy!

I try to grasp every single second of my son. I didn’t watch most of the action on the field. I used the zoom lens on my camera to find the only player I cared about, and when he saw me seeing him, he flashed me the goofy grin he knows I love. I caught it on film, and I remember how my heart warmed and my smile grew.

When I grasped him firmly in my arms after the game, I knew the long drive and the exhausting weekend was worth it.

I hugged my boy last Saturday, and I am grasping on to the memory until I see him again.

Stiletto Momma

PS. Through a fellow writer of the blog My Awesome Olive Shoots, I’ve discovered Five Minute Friday. If you’re a blogger, join us every week for a few minutes of blogging inspiration!

I Remember

I remember…how the bright blue blouse I wore matched the brilliant blue sky that Tuesday morning and thinking to myself, “This is the perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky.”

I remember…sitting down at the computer in my office and starting my normal routine of checking email, drafting the day’s to-do list and turning on the radio to add some background noise.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember…I was deep in thought (even though I don’t remember the actual thought that had my attention) when I heard the normally jovial radio DJ say, “A plane has just hit the World Trade Center in New York City.” My work-day radio selection is not known for serious commentary, so my first reaction was to think this was just another spoof of real news. Something told me this was different, though, and I quickly switched the radio to AM and found a news station.

I remember…how my hands came to my mouth to cover the gasp when I realized it was true, but worse than originally reported. Not one, but two planes had sped into the two tall buildings. This is no accident, the frantic commentators reported. This is chaos. This is terror.

I remember…picking up the phone to call my husband. “What!” he said when I relayed the news. As I brought him up to speed, I heard the latest from the radio…”The Pentagon has just been hit!” We were under attack.

I remember… how I held my breath when I heard, “Another plane has just gone down in…” and how my stomach fell and my knees got weak when the reporter continued “…Western Pennsylvania.”  Home. That’s my home! I grew up in DuBois, PA, and when people ask where I’m from, instead of giving the name of my small town, I say “Western Pennsylvania”. They weren’t just attacking national landmarks. Now, they were targeting small town America…and my family.

I remember…how my hands shook when I ignored office policy and made a personal long-distance call to MY western Pennsylvania, desperate to hear that my mom and dad were okay. The first call wouldn’t go through, so I tried again and again, until finally it connected, and I heard my mom on the other end. “We’re fine,” she said. “The plane crashed near Somerset.”

I remember…how my mind shifted again with that news, and I made another call to the Hubs. “You need to call your mom. Make sure she’s okay.” Later, we learned that Flight 93 flew over her hometown of Johnstown, PA, just 30 miles from Shanksville, as its passengers bravely overtook the hijackers.

I remember…not wanting to be alone that day and how even though all meetings were cancelled and no work was done, no one actually went home. We needed to comfort each other. We needed the normalcy of the office setting.

I remember…driving to my gym at lunch, changing into shorts and a t-shirt and joining my fellow lunchtime exercisers in front of the television in the cardio equipment area. No one ran on the treadmills. No one climbed on the elliptical machines. We watched. We shook our heads, and we asked, “Why?” and “How?” This is where I finally met up with the Hubs and where we watched for the first of many times the total destruction of the Twin Towers.

I remember…wondering if my eight-year-old son knew what was happening and pondering how I would explain to him that the world had changed today.

I remember…that my son’s football practice was cancelled that night and knowing this was a significant event because football practice is only cancelled when lightning strikes.

I suppose lightning did strike that day. So many lives were changed. Wives made widows. Fathers made single parents. Children made orphans. Ordinary people made heroes.

Our nation was inspired by a patriotism not seen in decades, and while our President spoke of the American spirit, how we would not rest until justice was done and how our enemy was now “Wanted: Dead or Alive,”  little boys and girls saw their futures form. They now knew with certainty that they would one day grow up to become one of the good guys. They were motivated to put on a uniform, defend the Stars and Stripes and make sure the horror they watched unfold in their classrooms on a sunny September day would never happened again.

Today, I remember the heroes…Those who lost their lives to terrorism. Those who survived with scars both physical and emotional. Those who have given their lives in defense of our country and those who put on their uniforms every day and continue to fight for a country that will never back down and will never forget September 11, 2001.

What do you remember about 9/11?

Stiletto Momma