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Thursday, December 6, 2018

All Beau Had To Do Was Buy One Present. One Freaking Present. Bless His Heart.

It's so hard. Just so hard. Being a man. Especially around the holidays.

I only have about eighty people to buy presents for. So when Beau steps up to the plate and says he's going to buy one gift in particular, I'm all for it.

Until the texts start rolling in. In the middle of the day. While I'm at work. Bless his heart.

I'm used to Beau going to the grocery store and calling no less than three times to ask me questions about my list. A list that includes pictures. And a layout of the supermarket. But still a minimum of three calls.

Then I have to hear all about it when he gets home. How all the old ladies congratulated him on being such a good dad. "It's so amazing what you're doing. Keep up the good work Dad."

For the love of God, he's buying freaking milk. No one ever compliments my parenting. Especially in public. Ever.

But firing up the old laptop and ordering something on Amazon is uncharted territory for Beau. There are no little old ladies applauding his efforts every step of the way. No one there to pat him on the back for being dad numero uno.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when I received the first text.
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I'll give him credit for getting it in the cart all by himself. Although I suspect a woman at his office might have played a hand in this. Bless his heart.

Beau is an educated man. He makes more money than me just for having a Y chromosome. Yet I picture him alone and scared in his office. Confused. So very confused.

I mean don't get me wrong, these are very valid questions.

How do I get it out of the cart and to our house? It's magic.

What shipping option should I choose? Well let's see dear heart, Christmas is five freaking days away and you've waited this long to make your purchase, so I suggest whateverthef*ck option will have it here by Christmas morn, darling. 

It's saying it's not available. What should I do? You should stop at the liquor store on your way home and buy me a bottle of wine that costs more than $4.99. for wasting my time with your nonsense. In the middle of the day. While I'm at work.

Then I think of all of the online purchases I have made over the years. All by myself. With no help from anyone. And I get angry.

I have made purchases while driving. I have made purchases while giving birth. I have made purchases cooking dinner with both hands tied behind my back.

I have even made purchases out of my mind blind drunk. Only to have them delivered a few days later with absolutely no recollection of making said purchase. I love surprises.

Exhibit A.
me
Still better than an incubator.

Now I'm not proud of all of my online purchases. But my point being, it's not rocket science. 

My kids have even managed to rack up hundreds of dollars in purchases by just pressing random buttons. But Beau can't order one shirt.

To Beau. You just leave the complicated art of Christmas shopping on Amazon to me. I got this, babe. Merry Christmas.
Dude, women are just constantly patting themselves on the back about how difficult their lives are, and no one corrects them because they want to [beep] them. ~Bill Burr

Friday, November 16, 2018

Three Things I Am Thankful For This Thanksgiving

I like to keep things positive. So here are a few things I'm thankful for this season. In no particular order.

CrunchWrap Supreme

These little gems came into my life at a time when I really needed hope. They taught me that life does go on and that everything will be okay. I have been blessed enough this year to find a recipe to make these life changing meals at home. Taco Bell, I, and my elastic waist pants, thank you.

And the best part is my house now smells just like Taco Bell. It's like a dream come true. If only I could put that in a candle and light it up.

Fitbit

I am thankful that my Fitbit keeps me in line. I love nothing more than lying on the couch and having it remind me what a lazy fat slob I am. "Wanna Stroll?" No I don't "wanna stroll". I want to sit. And eat. A lot.

I'm also grateful for the executive at Fitbit for finding my last post about my Fitbit. I thought that I'd finally been discovered. But she, like the Fitbit, only wanted to point out my flaws.

Hi Ellen,
Hope this message finds you well! My name is Melanie and I work on Fitbit’s PR team.
I recently read your article and loved it! Always awesome to hear from a fellow Fitbit fan. I also wanted to quickly clarify Fitbit is spelled without a capital “b.” Would it be possible to update this in the title of your article?
Please feel free to reach out should you have any questions!
Best,
Melanie

Dear Melanie,
I changed it! And my name is spelled Eileen, not Ellen. Well played.
Bester,
Eileen

Prohibition

I have been teaching my class about prohibition. Oh my God. What an eye opener. I am so damn thankful I wasn't alive during this time in American history.

Most women at the time did not have educations. They stayed home and tended to their husband and children. Without the help of Franzia. I. Can. Not.

One woman we read about in our history books, named Carry Nation, became famous for storming into saloons with a hatchet and smashing liquor bottles. She was quoted as saying, "I threw as hard, and fast as I could, smashing mirrors and bottles and glasses and it was astonishing how quickly it was done."

This is when a student would raise their hand and ask, "Teacher, why are you crying?".

Carry Nation and I would not have been friends. But I have never been so thankful to be alive in 2016 than I am right now. Let's just hope that this little piece of history never repeats itself.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

My Obsession With Hurricane Michael. And the Comments People Are Making.

For those of you that don't know, I'm home recovering from back surgery. I have had a hell of a time the past few months. This pain is no joke.

My favorite part of being home is the comments I get. It must be so nice to be home all day. Enjoy your vacation. You're so lucky.

Yes I am lucky for many, many reasons. This is not one of them. I have a new appreciation for people who suffer in pain on the daily. It's been a nightmare.

My days are spent taking enough pain meds to kill a horse. I am pretty much a prisoner in my own home. And my own mind.

I have to rely on others for so much. It's the exact opposite of the person I normally am. I now understand what the term quality of life means.

I'm not sitting over here having the time of my life. I'm actually not sitting at all. This sciatica is robbing me of that pleasure as well.

But it's not all gloom and doom. When unfortunate natural disasters strike I get to watch 24-7 coverage. And if you know me, you know how important this is to me.

I am currently watching Hurricane Michael coverage. And I feel so personally close to this hurricane that I am referring to him as just Michael now. I mean, we did just spend the night together.

There was enough breaking news locally last week to keep me plenty occupied. So a natural disaster is just what the doctor ordered this week. After all, a category 4 hurricane is still safer than the streets of Chicago. Ammiright? Boom.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't anxious. Watching coverage of this storm is not for the faint of heart. Thankfully I am unable to feel right now.

One reason I feel so personally connected to this pending disaster is because I vacay yearly in Florida. Right on the panhandle. Right where that little devil Michael is heading.

I know how gorgeous that area is. And there are so many people who live there year round. And so many others that own homes there. And work there. It has to be terrifying.


Another thing that I find terrifying are comments people make on the live hurricane feeds...

Jeanie wrote:
"In a way we are lucky being in the middle of the country. But at that we do have dangerous weather too. With seldom a warning!"

I like Jeanie. She wants to let the people of Florida to know what a$$holes they are for living there. But then she has somewhat of a change of heart and wants to let the people of Florida know that she knows dangerous weather too. With seldom a warning! Jeanie is what we call a know-it-all-one-upper.

Nicole wrote:
"I am at work. Is this coming to St. Louis?

Nicole thank you for rubbing it in that you can work and I can't. Also I probably couldn't even point out St. Louis on a map but I'm pretty sure other people are in a little more danger than you. In St. Louis. But you should probably get under your desk just to be safe.

Judy wrote:
"Come stay with us!"

Judy your invite would seem a lot more sincere if you posted your address.

Bec wrote:
"My mom lives in the path. Prayers for all."

Um what? Your mom lives in the path yet you're on FB commenting on a live feed? And praying for others? Good news. You should have your inheritance soon.

Claudia wrote:
"This is just amazing! Will this storm change the coastline a bit?"

Wow Claudia this comment is amazing. It really made me think. I love that about you. But I feel bad that you wrote such a profound question on a live FB feed. That no one will ever answer. We may never know about the outcome of the coastline. Ever.

Bob wrote:
"Who da thunk there would be a hurricane in the Gulf"

Bob, your lack of question mark makes me think this is rhetorical, but I'm going to go ahead and answer anyway. I did not thunk there would be a hurricane in the Gulf. Until this morning I wasn't even sure where the Gulf was. Or why the hell it's called the panhandle. But it all makes sense now. I thunk.

John wrote:
"I SEE YOU."

John your comment made me get up and put a little piece of tape over that tiny little camera eye that stares back at me as I type. But I'm confused as to why you are yelling.

Alvin's Island wrote:
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all of our employees, customers and those that are in the path of Hurricane Michael. Be safe everyone!"

Sh!t. Just. Got. Real. If something happens to Alvin's Island how are my kids going to spend all of my hard earned money on total crap the next time we're on vacay?  And where else am I going to find a t-shirt that reads, "I'm not gay, but $20 is $20?" Pray. Pray now.

 Joseph wrote:
"God's wrath. Expect more."

Joseph you sound fun. You must be a blast at parties. This is God's way of punishing us for homosexuality isn't it?

On that note...

I'll be here watching all of this coverage. Praying for he people who stayed behind. Praying for the first responders that didn't have a choice but to stay behind to help the people who had the choice, but chose to stay behind.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Praying for the Police. And the Safety and Sanity of Everyone Today.

Tension are high in the city of Chicago today. We are all anxiously awaiting the verdict in the LaQuan McDonald case. A case that has caused so much tension in this city for two years.

Will Jason Van Dyke be found guilty in the death of LaQuan McDonald? And if so on what charge? Everyone thinks they know, but the truth is no one has any idea until we here it from the jury.

But that's not the point of this post. Because I'm no expert. On anything. And neither are you.

So, as my friend Floira likes to tell me, "Let Go and Let God". We can't control any of this, but we can control ourselves. Hopefully.

The point of my post is a friendly reminder to think before you post. It's 2018 and we get most of our info from social media. And there's nothing more frustrating than receiving incorrect info. Or hearing rumors that have absolutely no truth behind them.

And I'm not talking about kids here. I'm talking about grown ass adults using social media to spread flat out lies. Please stop.

I am a school counselor and I work closely with seventh graders. It's my life's passion to get it through their thick skulls to always think before they post. But honestly, I think adults need to hear this more than kids.

Myself included. I have posted things I am not proud of. I have made comments that I now find cringe-worthy. I have shared things I regret sharing. Guilty. As. Charged.

But social media has been around long enough and we should all know better by now. Let me share with you what I share with students and my own kids.

If it's not, don't freaking post it! There's just no point. 

Last night there was a post going around that had absolutely no truth behind it. And it spread like wildfire. It was about a policeman and his wife being attacked just for being a policeman. Many people's worst fear right now in this community. Myself included. 

I was so upset when I saw this post. I shard it with friends. Because I read it on the internet. So it had to be true.

It turned out to be a total fabrication. Probably written by someone living in their mother's basement looking to get a rise out of people. And it worked. High five.

Finally there was a post from an extremely credible source stating the events never took place. I felt betrayed. But by who? Someone on the old Google machine that I do not know? Duh.

This is such a crazy time in this city. We don't not know what is about to happen. We do not know if everything we hear and are reading is true. So I will share with you the poetic words of my dear friend Kitz, "Never trust a story that starts out, my friend at work told me....".

Solid advice.

Things are stressful enough right now. I'm on edge. I have two brothers who are policeman. And countless cousins and friends to count. Because most of my friends are related.

I'm terrified at what might happen when the Van Dyke verdict is released. I'm so afraid a police officer will be hurt. Or even worse.

I'm afraid innocent people will be hurt. Or even worse.

I have had to have conversations with my young kids that I never thought I'd ever have to have. My daughter's and I did a few laps around the park last night. The heavy police presence was evident. I had to answer a lot of questions. Questions I did not have the answers to.

In the end I just told them to pray. Pray that people don't completely lose their sh!t. And pray that their uncles come home safe each night.

There are so many police families out there. All hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. Like we've done a many times before.

To all the police officers out there working more than twelve hour shifts at a time...
To all of the police officers getting their days off canceled when they should be spending that time with family and friends...
To all of the police officers putting their lives on the line every time they walk out the door...

We are praying for you to come home safe to your families. We support you. And we thank you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Phone Call That Changed Our Lives Forever

It was one of those first days of summer. The weather was perfect. Cool in the morning, but warm enough for the kids to jump in the pool by afternoon. Our front room was being painted by an old friend. I had my brother’s kids over for the day too. It was just a typical day. Until the phone rang.

We always thought something was going on with our baby. From the moment he flew out of me, we knew something was off, but couldn’t quite put our finger on it. The doctors all knew too. His kidneys were checked. His  heart was checked. His vocal chords were scoped.

We had endless doctor appointments with one specialist after another. But never really got an answer. Until that day.

Our little guy was born with hammer toes, low-set ears, weak vocal chords, wide-set eyes, poor muscle tone. Just to name a few. For an entire year we tried our hardest to get an answer.

Finally a geneticist he was seeing scheduled us for a test. A genetic test. To check for chromosomal abnormalities. We thought we were over all this. So we were a little taken aback. But whatevs, we had the testing done to get some answers.

We were sent home with a list of what this particular test was looking for. I spent endless hours on the internet searching all of them. I was able to rule a few out because of his symptoms. But there were many I could not.

One week went by. Nothing. Two weeks goes by. Nothing. Finally I could breathe a sigh of relief. No news is always good news. Doctors only take the time to call when there is a problem.

Then the phone rang. With the painter there. With a houseful of kids. With the pool waiting for us in the yard. I saw the number and stepped outside.

It was our pediatrician calling with the since forgotten results of the testing we had done weeks ago. I was really thrown off. I thought we were over this. Then I thought, oh he finally got around to calling us to tell us everything checked out fine.

Not today. For the first time ever, I was wrong.

I could barely make out the words he was saying. Everything was spinning in my head. I was just trying to wrap myself around what he was telling me. I was trying to keep myself together. The painter. The kids. The pool.

This was it. There was no guessing anymore. No thinking, it’s probably nothing. No more hoping it was all in our heads.
It is what it freaking is.

I had to call my husband Beau. I had to tell him. I can remember his voice. Not what he said, but his voice.

I got through the rest of the day. The painter finished. We got the house back in order. The kids finally went to bed. And that’s when I got scared.

We were to meet with the geneticists in the morning. Twelve hours away. We had twelve hours to just sit here and wonder what the hell this all meant.

We stayed up all night. Beau and I. We sat on the couch in the living room. Me on my laptop searching every possible place for more information. Beau wouldn’t look at any of it. He just sat there unable to sleep.

This is the moment I understood why so many couples with children with special needs get divorced. We could not help each other. We were totally unable to comfort each other.

When my parents died, Beau was there to comfort me. When Beau’s dad died, Beau was there to comfort me. This was different. There was no one to comfort me. There was no one to comfort Beau.

It was the loneliest night of our lives. And one of the longest. Neither of us slept a wink. When the kids got up we got them ready for the sitter. We were finally on our way to the hospital to get some answers.

It was so overwhelming. We couldn’t possibly digest everything we were being told. I just hung on to our baby as hard as I could. I just kept thinking it will be okay, it will be okay. He’s alive and from what I can gather, he will be for a long time.

We only told a few people about the testing. We had spent a year testing and trying to explain everything to everyone. So we were just tired. And we thought there was a definite chance nothing would come of it, so why bother?

I can remember being in my kitchen and telling my brother Juan. He was concerned and asked what is it they’re looking for? We said all sorts of things. But all we really cared about was that he would live. So many chromosomal abnormalities don’t end well.

So sitting in that doctors office that day, we just kept reminding ourselves of that. All we prayed for is that he would live. Our prayers were answered. This could be so much worse.

And that was it. In that moment we changed our tune. We snapped out of it. We stopped feeling sorry for ourselves. We got what we asked for. Now move on.

And we did. And we’ve never looked back. 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome was now a part of our lives.

From that moment on, we threw ourselves into finding out everything we possibly could. We knew that knowledge is power. We had to learn everything we possibly could to help our son.

So we were thrilled when we heard there was going to be a conference on 22q coming up. We were pumped. The woman who was going to talk had a son with 22q and she was full of information.

It turned out to be the worst day of our lives. I cried for the entire seminar. We were really blindsided. Up until this point, we had read so much and heard everything the doctors had to say. But until we heard what to really expect from another mother, we had no clue.

That was a hard day. I cried the entire way home as well. My bestie Shelly called and I couldn’t even talk. Shelly and her husband and the kids came over right away. With flowers, pizza, wine, and smokes. Every possible thing we needed at that moment.

They stayed with us well into the night. It’s exactly what we needed to remind us we would be fine. We would get through all of this because of the awesome family and friends that we have. And with wine.

Our little guy was thirteen months old at the time of diagnosis. He spent two years in therapy 4-5 days a week. He started preschool this past April. He is amazing.

He has been poked and prodded more in his three years then I will be in my entire life. He always handles everything with a smile. He is the sweetest, most caring, and lovable kid we could ask for.

We were also very lucky that he is our fourth. His older brother and sisters are really the therapists we owe everything to. If it wasn’t for them teaching him his way in the world, like only siblings can, we’d all be lost.

There are times I stay awake all night with worry. There are times I can’t stop laughing. There are times I have to be medicated to get through the day. There are times I can’t stop counting my blessings.

We have a child with special needs. We actually have four children with special needs. This is what we have learned. Each one of our kids has their own struggles. They are each individual and handle things in their own way. And we’re just here to help them along the way.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Having Breakfast With Aunt Batsy Never Dissapoints

Today my cousin Dish picked me up and we went to visit Aunt Batsy. There is never a dull moment at her house. Ever.

She starts by asking us what dentist Dish's dad used when he was in that car accident that knocked his teeth out.

Disclaimer: Uncle Tom died a few years ago. And this accident she's speaking of happened when he was 22 years old. Uncle Tom would have been 75 now. I don't think even Google can help us with this one.

She says, "Oh, I know it was a long time ago. But weren't those teeth nice?"

"They had him on a cart at that goofy hospital. And it was St. Patrick's Day and wouldn't you know it there was an I-talian woman giving birth. Wouldn't you know it, on St Patrick's Day."

I honestly can't believe they even allowed that back then.

The fact that an O'Connor managed to wrap their car around a pole on St. Patrick's Day in the 60's is not lost on me.

She goes on. "My father wasn't happy. He said, get in the ambulance. We're leaving. We're getting him to the good hospital."

They showed them.

Our convos are all over the place. Dish and I spend our time fact checking. We are having side convos, but that doesn't stop the Bats from going on and on about someone neither of us know. But it always entails something along the lines of this.

"Oh, she's got the bucks. Don't let her fool ya. She's got the bucks alright." According to her, everyone's got the bucks. Except her.

Not only do we have no clue who "she" is, but we are also not interested in her finances.

So just to have a little fun we tell her, you know what we heard? We heard you've got the bucks.

Her eyes turn wild. She looks directly into my soul and says, "Now who'd you hear that from? Who said that?"

I said everyone is saying that.

She is crazed. She looks like Nick Nolte's mug shot. She can't get the words out fast enough.

"Shit, I don't have the bucks. I don't even get a pension. And that one has two pensions now because her husband is dead. I don't have the bucks. Now where'd you here that? Me with the bucks. Now that will be the day."

"And let me tell you something else. She looks a lot better now than she did 50 years ago, wearing that red silk blouse." This sounds like it should be a compliment. But somehow it is not. It's a real insult. She told her.

"Now you two get off those things and stop talking."

We're not even on our phones. Nor are we talking.

"I got ya something. But now don't go telling anyone else about this. I got these just for the two of you. Because you're my favorites."

Even though she had no idea we were coming. She's good like that.

She has two boxes of Fannie Mae. Just for us. They were on sale. And whoever would have walked through that door first was getting them. So I'm glad it was us.

"Now you listen to me. I have a secret to tell you. Now don't going telling anyone about this. This is between me and you."

It always is.

She goes on to tell us about someone we don't know. "Turns out he died of the drink. Now no one ever talks about this, but that's what happened."

"Can you believe that? He just couldn't stop with the drink. Can you believe that?"

Um yes. Yes I can believe that. What I can't believe is that I have never died from the drink. And what I furthermore can't believe is that I haven't had a drink yet listening to all of this.

"There are so many old people that are sad. Isn't that sad?" Dish and I try to school her on depression and anxiety. She's not having it.

Her rebuttal, "I just like to think nice happy thoughts".

Okay, I 'll keep that in mind the next time I'm in the throws of depression wanting to end it all. Lalalalalala.

And from there we go right into, "The Catholic Church has got some problems, huh?" OMG. I can't even go there with her right now. But glad she's aware!

The whole point of the visit was to take her out to breakfast. Turns out she just so happens to have left over pancakes and an omelet from yesterday's excursions. So of course we help ourselves.

"Look at you two eating like vegans and here I am the fatass eating the pancakes." She's always accusing us of being on one diet or another. You're either too fat or too skinny. There is absolutely no in between. But believe me, you'll know which one you are before you leave her house.

Then she turns to Dish and says. "You know who my favorite person is? Your husband. Oh isn't he just the nicest?"

I'm. Literally. Sitting. Right. Here. And I have a husband.

"Did you hear about that one? She got married on a beach with a lady minister. Now figure that one out. But I think she's on the dope."

Pretty much everyone is on the dope. Even her. I love when we're at a party and you ask her if you can make her a drink and she yells, "Now go easy on that, I'm on the dope!"

Batsy is 84. She's proud of her age. As she should be. She is definitely an independent woman. But then she says something like this.

"Oh yeah he was here the other day. He said he had to go home and scrub the floor. Where the hell was his wife?"

She's not impressed with the degrees we hold. She doesn't care that we work full time and have a handful of kids. At the end of the day, we should be home scrubbing the floors.

We were only there for an hour. I had to go home and take a nap. My head was spinning.

On our way out the door, with our Fannie Mae in hand, she says, "Oh now wait a minute. I saved the Brighton Park Life for you." The paper of the neighborhood she grew up in. It was actually a copy of the Beverly Review, the neighborhood we currently live in.

Dish was confused. But I knew exactly what she was talking about. And that's the scariest part.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9-11 Never Forget

When I was a kid I can remember my mom telling me that she could remember exactly where she was when JFK was assassinated. I never really understood that until September 11, 2001. I will always remember the events of that day. Well, this is is how I remember it, anyway.

It started like any other Tuesday. I got up and went to work that day. Assuming I was a few minutes late. Assuming probably hungover. Because that's how I rolled back then.

At the time I was working for a medical billing company that just so happened to service doctors in New York City. It wasn't long after I got to work, that a co-worker said a small plane just hit the World Trade Center.


Always being up on geography, I said, " Oh no! Where's the World Trade Center?" I was met with an eye roll. Which was typical. I don't think anyone in that room really thought I had what it took to be a serious medical biller. Myself included.

Turns out BCBS of NY was located in the World Trade Center. The same BCBS of NY that I was calling each and every day. For months now. So that's what WTC stood for on all those envelopes I threw in the mail on the daily.

The lines were now busy. Maybe this co-worker knew what she was talking about. And that's when I started to pay attention.

This was 2001. So technology was not like it is today. The internet was hardly working. But the doctors office below us had a television in the waiting room. I got down there in time to see 2nd plane hit.

I still had no idea what any of this meant. In my mind I was thinking what an unfortunate coincidence that two planes would hit two building so close to one another. Amazing.

People were horrified. It was now clear to everyone, except me, that this was an act of war. I still wasn't quite understanding what on earth was going on when the first tower collapsed.

I had no idea what I was even watching. A much, much more mature co-worker, who ate microwave popcorn and tuna like it was her job, looked at me with a blank face and said, the entire building just collapsed. I seriously could not wrap my head around it. I said, what do you mean?

In a not so patient voice she explained that a plane hit the building. Then the building collapsed because of all the heat. And the other building is probably going to do the exact same thing.

I was beyond confused. So when I asked, "but what about all the people inside of there?" I didn't need a verbal answer. Their faces said it all.

Naturally, my next question was, who would do this to us? Who doesn't like us? Us meaning the United States.

Another co-worker, who just happened to be plucking her eyebrows at the time, said in a very condescending tone, Um, everyone hates us. Everyone.

My mind was literally blown. Why didn't other countries like us? What wasn't there to like?

I learned a lot that day. So much has changed since that day. Life as I know it would never be the same.

We were dismissed from work soon after. My mom was very sick and in the hospital at the time. So I headed there to check on her.

I sat with my mom for the rest of the day. Just watching, in horror, all of the images on television.
I can remember finally figuring out what I was hearing on TV earlier. It was people jumping out of the burning buildings. I still have such a hard time with that.

Those people were someone's loved one. A mom, dad, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister. These people meant the world to their family and friends. It was, and still is, so overwhelming to think about.

After a while, I had to run out to my car. When I tried to get back into the hospital, security wouldn't let me back in. Everyone was in a panicked state of chaos.

No one was allowed to go back into the hospital. No one knew what was going on. No one knew if Chicago would be next.

So, I left and went to the grocery store on my way home. It was so weird there. All of the lights were on as bright as can be. And talk radio was blaring the latest coverage of what had happened. It was scary. Because there was so much unknown. Everyone was on edge. Yet so friendly to one another.

Now all I do on this date is answer my kids' questions. They were all born long after 2001. So they do not know a life prior to what happened that day. This is their reality. They'll never know a safer, simpler time. And wow does that make me sad to think about.

Watching all of the tributes today is nice. The importance of remembering all of the lives lost and praying for the survivors is what I really want my kids to understand. Just to have some empathy for what all of those families went through that day.

I hope they'll go to bed tonight better people for seeing what so many others endured that day. People on the planes, people on the ground, people in the buildings. And all of the other people whose lives were impacted that day.

One thing is still unbelievable to me. No matter how many times I see one of those planes hit one of those towers, I still gasp. Even after seventeen years.