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Monday, September 19, 2011

Not Everyone Likes You | A Day Without Sushi

This post resonated with me so I'm passing it along.

The last six months have been pretty rough for our family due to my husband taking a principled stand on an important issue dealing with integrity within our small community. It has resulted in a... sort of falling from grace, if you will. It's been really interesting watching the reactions of people which range from total denial, to the oft voiced "I'm so glad you spoke up!" Such a situation can be really eye-opening. It provides an opportunity that allows one to take note of how others act and how we ourselves act under adverse situations. Sometimes, one finds themselves at great odds with the prevailing culture, as we have. It can be very challenging, but God gives the grace needed moment by moment. For us, this situation has  resulted in significant personal cost (financially/emotionally/you name it)...when it wasn't even about us in the first place. It was about standing for God and His principles no matter the cost. We are not to count our cost, only to do what is right in God's eyes.
Sometimes doing the right thing results in great pain and one being maligned. People assume they know you or the situation leading up to your stand when they have not even cared to ask from a position of trying to see or understand ... yet they attribute a negative characteristic towards you anyways.

In all things we are to be content and find our joy and position in Christ alone. It is not easy and some days it's minute by minute, but it is needful. We were created to glorify God in word and deed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life...maybe I'll get one in a few days.

Life might resume for me by the weekend and perhaps by mid  next week I'll come up for air and resume blogging. LOL  I have been dealing with multiple issues relating to processing images in Lightroom and Photoshop for a shoot I did for a friend, and in the middle of it all my computer crashed. It has been a steep curve, but fun, in a 10 steps forward 8 steps back kind of fashion.

We are almost to printing! Yay!!! You've no idea how that thrills me. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering when.... 9/11

A question that is often asked around this time of year: Where were you on "9/11"?

     My son Kyle, daughter Eden and me on Liberty Island in July of 2000.
September 2001 began as a hopeful month for our family of 4. We had spent the summer trying to determine what our next steps were as my husband, Rondall,  had just graduated with his BFA. We had been living for 9 months with our friend, Karen,  in West Hempstead, NY just outside of NYC while we made our decisions and plans. That fateful month my husband began his first semester of graduate school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. On September 10th we put a deposit down on an apartment that would settle us back into Brooklyn. We were really looking forward to being back in the city and closer to Rondall's school. Though we were living just a short walk away from the nearest Long Island Railroad stop it took my husband about one and a half hours one-way to make the 20 mile trip to school via several trains and ending in a short walk. That meant he had to leave the house quite early to make it to his morning classes on time.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 my husband had gone about  his routine and left around 7AM and was not due to return until the 7:30PM train.

I was in my room getting ready for the day when Karen knocked on my bedroom door asking somewhat anxiously if I could turn on the television we had in our room. It was the only TV in the house with an antenna. Karen did not watch live TV so the request coupled with her uncharacteristic manner struck me as quite odd. She explained through the door as I was hastily dressing that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Through my mind flashed the image of something like a little Cessna figuring it was a freak accident though I certainly was immediately concerned for any of the planes occupants. The Towers were so massive...what could a small plane do?  I was not prepared for what I saw. The gaping hole with smoke billowing out of it did not have the look of a small incident.

The WTC, as we locals called it, was a big part of our lives. We saw the towers daily as we traveled about the city, enjoying their majestic rise from the city floor. We passed around and underneath them regularly on the subway and PATH trains. The WTC contained a central subway station which connected Manhattan to New Jersey via New Jersey's PATH train system. Our family enjoyed going to the Borders book store in the WTC and visiting the very large discount department store just across Church Street named "Century21". We would often find ourselves just blocks from the WTC walking along the Hudson River on Battery Park City's esplanade to Rockefeller Park which was a oasis of green grass, beautiful flower beds, as well as the home of a whimsical sculpture garden by Tom Otterness which we all greatly enjoyed.

Karen and I watched the television screen in horror as the newscasters were desperately trying to make sense of the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes at 1 World Trade Center. The horror increased as we saw people leaping to their deaths in real time to escape the inferno behind them. It became startlingly clear that this was no accident as we heard the screaming engines of the second jetliner approach, then watched it plow into 2 World Trade Center seconds after coming into view. The widespread panic was palpable. You could hear it in the newscasters voice and in the screams and gasps of horror coming from the city streets.

While I thought I knew where my husband was (at school), I was not totally sure as he often would run errands into lower Manhattan. To say I was nervous was an understatement. Multiple calls to his cell phone went unanswered.

As I was watching the news my sister, Julie, called me from California. 1 World Trade Center had just fallen.  She was driving to work when she heard the news. I was speaking to her as I was watching, all the while relaying to her what I was seeing.  She asked me where my husband was and I told her I was not completely sure, but I thought he was at school just about 4 miles from the WTC. As we were talking the second tower began to list and then crumpled to the ground. I watched it fall, immediately told my sister what had happened and then ...suddenly and simultaneously... the television lost it's signal and my cell phone went dead. I had never before experienced anything so haunting.

I still did not know for certain where my husband was.

Not only had we lost cell and television reception, we had also lost our internet connection and radio reception. The main telephone exchange for New York City was just blocks away from the WTC and major relay antennas for cell service and radio were on 2 World Trade Center. I can only assume that others in the rest of the world continued to watch as the events unfolded. We were a few miles away yet had very little idea what was going on for several days. The world was disturbingly silent.

I knew there was no way I'd reach my husband via his cell phone. All there was for me to do was wait, just like thousands of others.

Finally, my husband did call. It turns out he had been safely ensconced in Pratt's library about 4.5 miles from the World Trade Center when the world as we knew it fell apart. He left the library and walked to the gym where he noted the TV was not on the customary music video channel, but on a news channel. He asked what had happened and was told planes had hit the World Trade Center. He asked if they were ok and was told after a pause that they were gone. He tried calling the house on his cell phone to no avail. He was able to locate a pay phone and after several attempts reached me on the land line. He asked what I thought he should do- should he come home? Or should he stay as he had classes scheduled? I wasn't much into considering anything other than him getting home- and in a hurry. I asked him to get on the first train out. Actually, I think I insisted.

He managed to be on one of the last trains out of the city before the trains stopped running and the masses resorted to walking. It seemed like it took an eternity of silent waiting for him to arrive when in actuality it was about 3 hours- twice the expected time. I was not sure if he had made it to a train or if he was still in the city. Once he arrived back home he recounted how it was a very eerie feeling to be on the train filled with dazed people covered in dust. The train tracks right across the street sat silent for days afterwards and gone were the near constant sounds of airplanes criss-crossing the skies above.

Our church met on the west side of Greenwich Village and was just shy of 2 miles from Ground Zero. We could not meet that first week as it was within the area of Manhattan that was locked down immediately following the collapse of the towers.

Travelling into the city became other-worldy.  Instead of seeing the gleaming "Twin Towers" we saw a single twisting black plume of smoke that possessed a horrible and acrid smell that I will never forget which billowed heavenward for a month afterwards. Almost instantly the city was filled with heavily armed and flack-jacketed National Guardsmen. They were plentiful on both ends of all bridges that crossed into Manhattan and the subway stations and platforms were crawling with them. They were also placed strategically out on the streets.  It was as if the city I loved had vanished, overnight. The vibrancy had been stripped away and replaced by fear. I don't know why, but I was not fearful. I was defiant and determined and I greatly disliked the strong military presence in the city. One of the verses I have clung to during difficult times is "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind." 1 Timothy 1:7. This was one of those times. I consider fear, in any form, to be antithetical to Christ's dwelling within me. A measure of stubbornness helps as well. :) This does not mean I do not battle it from time to time, but I have the grace of God to pull me up and out of it.

Walking in and around Battery Park City shortly after 9/11 was like stepping into a modern day ghost town. We could look through the windows of businesses and see them just as they were left- in a hurry. One small restaurant within two blocks or so stands out in my mind. The inside of this formerly trendy establishment was covered in a forbidding layer of gray dust, the windows were filthy. Dirty drinking glasses, plates, bowls and silverware were scattered about thickly on every surface. Soiled napkins were laying about like pieces of old confetti. It was very eerie.

Over the next few months little by little the normalcy of life began to return.  In February, 5 months after we had paid our deposit, we were finally able to take possession of our apartment and move in. Slowly things began the return to a state of normalcy as people resumed living and the Guardsmen dwindled in number. When spring finally arrived, it brought with it new hope and healing.

We will never forget. How could we?

                       My husband and son, Kyle, at the WTC with one of the towers as the back drop to your right.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Contigo's Truly Leak-Proof Bottles and Mugs.

I have to say I just LOVE Contigo's BPA free bottles/cups! Over a year ago I was on the quest for a leak-proof cup that was actually what it claimed to be- ya know, leak-proof. I am beyond thrilled!

Photos from

This is my favorite bottle that they produce and I take mine with me wherever I go. I clip it onto my purse strap and off I go. Is it the height of fashion? No, not really.However, since I drink water most of the time and can't stomach chlorinated water I have found it to be a trade-off I can live with.  I have recently discovered that I struggle with a lack of hydration, my first clue being dry lips. I wish I would have known that earlier in life as it would have saved me a small fortune on Blistex and Chapstick. I have found I struggle less with a lack of hydration when I keep my bottle near me as doing so reminds me to drink. I can get a bit hyper-focused at times and hydration does not tend to top the list. :) I love the hands-free manner in which I can carry my bottle so my hands are free to tend to my young children. Due to their lid design they are also quite easy for children to carry as they can hook their fingers through the lid instead of trying to wrap their small hands around the circumference of the bottle. In fact, it works well for me too. :)

My bottles get plenty of abuse. I cannot count how many times they have been dropped by my children... or myself. In fact, I just finished ordering 2 replacement lids. The cool thing is that I bought them on sale 20% off and they did not charge me shipping. That is customer service, in my book. In fact, Contigo takes it a step further. I tried calling them yesterday but was unable to get through. I could not recall my ID or Password. True to their word a representative called me back in (less than) 24 hours and helped me. I appreciate the assist as my brain just gets fatigued will all the different things I have to recall in a day for myself and the other 6 members of my family, and passwords are the worst.

All told we have at least 5 different styles of Contigo's water bottles. I have not been unhappy with any of them.

I also own two of these West Loop travel mugs:

They are awesome as they simply do not leak. Mine roll all over my car and get tossed in bags sideways and I don't ever worry about my coffee spilling on anything. (Suggestion about Sunday school- don't hold the cup ready to drink with your fingers on the release button with your bible on your lap , because when your bible starts to slide off your lap....yeah.) This travel mug will keep your beverage warm for over 4 hours. One word of advice though- if you have a hot beverage in this mug press the button to release the pent up steam before it's right under your nose. :)

If you are looking for great leak-proof mug of cup you should give these a try. I recommend them simply because I use them personally and love them. There is a wider variety available through their on-line store, however I have seen them at Target and Sears and have heard they have been sold at Costco as well.