Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean Birthday Party

My mother-in-law does several things really well.

Sewing theatre costumes...

(Olivia as Helen Keller in the Miracle Worker)

Fryin' up chicken wings...

And thinking up the most creative ways to celebrate a kid's birthday.

In February it was Olivia's Big Birthday Bake Off Party.

Last week it was Hannah's turn.

That's right, buckaroos... It's a very Jack Sparrow Birthday.

(WARNING: I'm making liberal use of Post Like a Pirate from here on.)

We started th' day wit' a scavenger hunt. Treasure maps 'n clues in hand, we set out on th' adventure. (okay, Post Like a Pirate kinda sucks... droppin' it)

The clues led us from one location to another, in search of Grammy's Booty (haha!). We had to fight off her dastardly crew...

Until, finally we made it to the final destination. Where she forced us to walk the plank...

After plank-walking and bucket-sinking and bottom-of-the-pool-treasure-clue-finding and code-decifering we finally opened the chest to find the treasures inside...

We ate a little cake...

Drank a little wine and had a grand time with good friends.

Thanks, Grammy, for all you do!

PHOTO CREDITS: Chicken Wings by Izik,

9-11 and Lingerie

Okay... so looking at that headline maybe gives me second thoughts. But it is part of my 9-11 story, so I'm plowing forward.

I was on a flight the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Jason and the girls were back in Orlando (where we lived at the time) getting ready for the day. I was making my way to Atlanta to begin the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

I was excited and, honestly, scared to death about the fellowship! I was going to spend three days with Mrs. Carter and a handful of other journalists. We were to have dinner that night with President Carter. I had briefly met Boris Yeltsin a decade before, but had never met a U.S. President, let alone have dinner with him. That scared me.

It also scared me that the other fellows seemed way more experienced and accomplished than I. But, in for a penny, in for a pound. So I put on my best 90's power suit, boarded the plane and set off for the adventure.

Little did I know.

As we started our descent to Hartsfield International Airport a man at the front of the plane stood up and started talking, excitedly, into his cell phone.

Rule Breaker, I thought.

The flight attendant told him he couldn't be on his phone. But the man, who was wearing a golf shirt with a television station logo, gave her the hand and continued his conversation. Something was definitely wrong.

We landed, disembarked and immediately were thrust into the drama. We were the last flight to land at Hartsfield that morning. And as my fellow passengers and I huddled around the television screens scattered throughout the airport, it was immediately clear what was going on. The towers. The planes. The confusion.

This would be a big day. For the country. For me. I scrambled to get a cab and once safely ensconced in it, started chatting up the driver. He was deathly afraid that if the airports remained closed for long he would lose a lot of money. (Bingo! Story to pitch Marketplace. And yes, that is how journalists' brains work, even in the midst of a national crisis. Especially in a midst of a national crisis.)

I got to the hotel, filed the story with Marketplace, then called my family back home to tell them I was okay. (yes, in that order. I know.)

Jason was teaching high school at the time and didn't get my message till later. He was dealing with his own chaos. In a moment of utter stupidity, Miranda's 1st grade teacher had turned the in-class television on to watch the video of events unfolding in New York City and Washington. Images of crashing planes invaded a room filled with 6 year olds. Miranda knew I was on a plane that morning and immediately she assumed I must have been on that plane.

She was inconsolable for much of the day. And, sensing the stress all around her, so was Hannah. She had just turned one a few days earlier and was at our babysitter's house. When Jason picked her up she was fussy. When he stayed at the babysitter's for a while to figure out what he was going to do, she was fussy. When he talked to me on the phone and heard that all flights were cancelled, there wasn't a rental car to be had, and that I'd be stuck in Atlanta for several days, she was fussy.

Struggling to find a way to console her, he struck upon the idea of giving her my nightgown to hold.

I don't know if he thought she would smell me and be comforted, or what. But it worked.

And that began what would be a four year love affair between Hannah and my Victoria Secret nightgown. She dragged it everywhere: preschool, the grocery store, the library. She wouldn't go to bed without it. She'd rub the silky fabric between her fingers and keep it close to her face at all times. We joked that we'd have to run an intervention or she would be toting the increasingly tattered thing off to kindergarten (she didn't, for the record).

So yes, that's my 9-11 story. A dinner at which President Carter kept us wrapt with stories of his work in the middle east. And the simple piece of lingerie that comforted my youngest child for one day and many years to come.

What's your 9-11 story?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Oh Look -- It's a food blog post!!

What?? Did you think we haven't been eating?

No, seriously... we have, but it's not very interesting to write about, um, how to make fried eggs or whether Cheerios trump Raisin Bran as dinner fare (For the record, I'm in the RB camp. It's got a fruit, afterall).

About three weeks ago I started hosting Morning Edition for my station. Which means my life now looks like this:

3:30 alarm goes off
3:35 back-up alarm goes off

stumble around in the dark, hitting toes on furniture and tripping over shoes

3:50 leave for work

stop at 24-hour McDonald's for Large Mocha (yes... not healthy, giving $$ to a chain, etc. Blah, blah, blah - It's FOUR FREAKING A.M. in the morning!)

4:10 arrive at work

research, write, write some more, then write a little more

5:00 - 9:00 Host Morning Edition

9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Research, conduct interviews, write, edit reporters, mentor interns, build webpages, figure out freakin' awful video editing software, attend management meetings....

2:30 - 3:30 school carpool

contemplate taking a nap, but realize I have to...

3:30 - 6:00 shuttle to afterschool activities

6 - 7 p.m. figure out something to feed the family (mmmm, Raisin Bran....)

7 - 8 p.m. help with homework (Good thing I love algebra!)


Rinse, wash, repeat...

The upshot is I've got a great staff AND some great colleagues around the country who've worked this shift for a long time and are giving me plenty of good advice, most of which I haven't been able to take yet. Like eat healthy.

Yeah, so basically we've been eating pretty uninspired/unhealthy fare lately. We have had a couple good meals (Scallops with Creamy Bacon Corn Sauce stands out) and hopefully, sometime this weekend, I can actually write about them. Maybe that'll get me back on track.

Because seriously, I've missed you guys!

PHOTO CREDIT: alexkerhead