Sick Tommy + Sick Mommy = Great Week!

Do you sense my sarcasm?  Yea, it was a great week, let me tell ya.  I love it when all the stars align and you have this amazing weekend and then Sunday night hits and a lovely substance is running from your baby’s nose.  Monday comes and your nanny reminds you that this happens to be the week when she leaves a day early. Oh, and then, SURPRISE, you get sick on Tuesday! It was a great week. 🙂

Last weekend was so fabulous and full of fun so it’s sad that it ended up being a bummer week; but I managed to capture some happy Tommy times from the weekend to share with you.  Last Friday we went for a quick play date with cousin Julia and sweet Savannah.

Oh Savannah, you are so beautiful! Tommy has a crush on you for sure.

Saturday morning my parents, my sister, Emily, and I traveled to the Pearl Brewery for the fabulous Garage of Goods and Farmer’s Market!  I was so excited to find one of my favorite stores that I had discovered for the first time at the last Garage of Goods.  If you have a baby then you will love Baby Besos.  The owner, Victoria, is so sweet and has such a fun eye for eclectic finds for your little bambino.  She has toys, books, shoes, beautiful cozy blankets, guayaberas (which I totally recommend and LOVE on little baby boys), and much much more!  I am especially a fan of her winter items.  She hand-knits beautiful winter hats and sweaters and Tommy wore his literally every day last year during our little cold season we call winter.  It looked so cute and it really kept his head warm!  Will keep you posted when those items are available – so worth it!

We didn’t take the kids and didn’t regret it for a second because it was so darn hot!  Thank goodness for the “BIG ASS FAN” that’s actually the name, and I LOVE these.  If you haven’t seen one it really is just a BIG ASS FAN…actually they are gynormous! Click here for their website.

Saturday night we had a delicious dinner at a friend’s house.  They made short ribs with mashed potatoes and salad; but the best part is – it’s a crock pot meal! Hooray!  I’ll post the recipe soon, it’s to die for.

Tommy is getting much better, and I’m right behind him. I guess the next thing we get to look forward to is sick daddy…can’t wait!

Beautiful Baby Brooke

On September 8, 2011 our friends Robin and David welcomed their sweet baby girl, Brooke Caroline Waters, into the world.  She is perfect in every way.  Beautiful red hair, a sweet button nose, and precious pink little lips.

Rob, Tommy and I were lucky enough to get a sneak peak of this little angel just days after she was born when we visited them in the hospital; and although Brooke was “fashionably early” her mom couldn’t have been more prepared!  She had precious little take-a-way hand sanitizers complete with monogrammed stickers, Brooke’s baby book ready to be signed, and yummy Starburst candies for all the hospital visitors!  I absolutely loved it.  She is a supermom for sure!

Just a note…if you think this baby is amazing in these photos, just wait until you see that beautiful face with your own two eyes – stunning!  Enjoy.

World Trade Center Tower One, 85th Floor

These are the incredible, heart-wrenching, dramatic and unimaginable words from my cousin Billy Forney. He worked on the 85th floor of the World Trade Center and miraculously made it out alive. When I first read his account I was speechless, mouth dropped, shaken.  In honor of the thousands of brave men and women who lived and those who passed away.

A World Trade Center Story: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Written By: Billy Forney

8:00 am: I arrive at the World Trade Center complex. Stop off at the bank in the tunnels below Two World Trade Center to make a deposit at the ATM.

8:15 am: arrive at the 85th floor of One WTC, where my company, SMW Trading, has its offices. I begin preparing reports for another day of trading at the NYMEX, located in a separate building 5 minutes away from the office.

8:43am: I am sitting at the table in the center of the office, my back facing the outside windows. Suddenly, a horrific explosion. An immediate change in the air pressure. A ghostly column of air shoots like a canon into the office. The front door slams shut. Papers are whipped into the air. I’m thrown off my chair and to the ground. My boss jumps out of his office a second prior to the explosion. He had watched, in horrific disbelief, the entire event as the plane narrowly missed the empire state building and set a direct course for our building. The explosion sends the tower shaking furiously, lurching back and forth with sickening vengeance for maybe five or ten seconds. I think we may die. The building may topple over, or crumble. Finally it stops. The building is still standing. Everybody stares at each other, no idea of what happened or what to say. Speculations about an explosion, a bomb. No, it was a plane, our boss says. A commercial jet.

[Losing track of time]: I immediately walk to the door. Someone screams not to open the door; the hallway is on fire. Curious, Rob “Opie” Leder and I touch the door and the handle. It’s cool. I open the door, slowly, cautiously, to see what’s out there. It’s pitch black out there, except for the office light, still on, shining off of the billowing smoke in the hall. The smell is horrible. This is no ordinary smoke. It smells of metal, jet fuel, of rancid concrete, of things unspeakable. I close the door. People are still numb, shocked, confused. Opie was the first to say it; he was getting the hell outta there. I’m with you man. I open the door again. The smoke is thinner. I see an orange glow outside the door, a fire smoldering around the corner. I hear guys in another office yelling for help or something, too scared to open their door. Nobody knows where the stairs are, not even them.
Back into the office, to grab some stuff. The black SMW jacket I wear to the trading floor. It’s full of pick cards, order tickets, my empty water bottle, Ice gum, a calculator, a pen, a halls cough drop, and trading analyzers. I put on my jacket. I decide to fill up my water bottle. Opie waits for me, ready to bolt. Almost everybody wants to leave now.
Marvin Pickrum. Where is he? When did he leave? Where did he go? Is he in the bathroom? The bathroom! Someone check the bathroom. I walk into the hallway, inhaling the noxious stench, and I walk down the hall. To the left, another hallway, three small fires burning, debris everywhere, lights out. In front of me, another office, another man peering out, more terrified people. To the right, another hallway, the bathroom, and the stairwell. I open the bathroom door, everything in pristine condition. Like nothing happened. I call out for Marvin, no answer. He’s not in the bathroom. We head down the stairs.
We move fast. Not a lot of people in the stairs yet. At 81, Opie stops to help some guy break out some fire extinguishers. We each grab an extinguisher. We get to 72. People are coming back up the stairs. What’s the problem? The door several platforms down is pinned shut. People come back upstairs from below. We walk out into the hall to find another stairwell. This floor had damage. Wires and debris everywhere. A wall blown down into the hallway. Some fires smoldering in the rubble. I cover my face and try not to look. Afraid of another explosion. We find another stairwell at the other end of the hall.
In the next stairwell, there are more people. The descent gets slower. We try to use Opie’s cell phone. It was impossible to get a connection; an occasional faint ring, then everything goes dead. The display read “service unavailable at this time.” Try again later.
At about 65, still trying to use the cell phone. Service still down. We stop on a large platform. I notice a woman rocking back and forth directly behind me. She was barefoot, holding her shoes. She asks me for a swig of water, and uses it to wet her shirt and cover her mouth against the sickening stench. She anxiously, nervously tells me that she has two children, and she has to get downstairs. We start moving again. She picks her way down quickly, passing people where she can. She makes good progress. She’s polite. She’s frantic.

At 60, cell phones still not working. I toss the investor’s business daily I’ve been carrying with me. Not exactly important stuff at the moment. I think to myself that I’m trashing the building, and I feel bad.

At 50, cell phone service still out. A man with blood covering half of his face and a bandage on his head walking down the stairs. Others pass with him, obviously in pain. People move to the right and let them pass. Everybody is calm, orderly, supportive. Nobody takes advantage of the path they clear. Such calm, such unselfishness in the face of tragedy. Quiet adrenaline. Rumors of a second plane. People are making jokes to ease the strain.

We carry the fire extinguishers all the way down to the 49th floor. I’m sweating like crazy, shirt untucked, unbuttoned, I’m wearing my jacket, still carrying the fire extinguisher.
At 45, cell phones still not working. I see a firefighter heading up the stairs. A reassuring presence, giving words of encouragement. At 35, more firefighters, serious equipment in their hands, on their backs. At 30, the door to that floor is open, firefighters have set up base camp, they’ve dropped their stuff, tended to some injured people. They’ve secured all the floors below them. They’re working their way up, trying to save the people above us. At 25, a man with a cane struggles down the stairs, another man is helping him down. After we pass these men, things start moving. Maybe he was the bottleneck. We stop less frequently now.

At 20, a woman, Juliette, is struggling to get down, tired and out of breath. We offer water and help, she accepts. We wait a few seconds for her to rest. Opie takes her purse, which is heavy, and her jacket. Opie walks in front of her, I walk behind. We tell people to pass us on our left.

Floor 15, then 10, and then 5. At 2, some light. Outside light. Close to home free. We finally exit the stairwell, into the lobby, street level, facing east, and facing a courtyard I don’t really recognize. It must be in the middle of the World Trade Center complex. In the courtyard I recognize colors. Green from a small tree, gray from buildings. Blue sky, somewhere. Black, too. Black stuff on the green, and black stuff on the ground, small puffs of smoke. It must be debris from wreckage. What looks like a person’s leg. I can’t focus, my mind is wandering. I don’t want to look.

Firefighters lead us to the escalators. They don’t work, there’s debris on them that we climb over. We go down slowly. A few people complain we’re walking too slowly. But we keep going at a snail’s pace. Some people need help. What if it were you, I think to myself.
We get down to the lower level, to the glass doors separating One World Trade Center from the shops underground. The glass is all blasted out. Firefighters are showing us the way out, through the doors. An eerie situation underground. The sprinklers are on. People are worried about their clothes. Shops are empty, deserted. Some lights above are still on. Some aren’t. Water collecting in puddles on the ground. Ceiling tiles here and there. A usually noisy, active underground is virtually silent. Firefighters are calling out to us to keep moving.

We pass a sandwich shop, Banana Republic, Gap, entrance to Two World Trade Center. The firefighters lead us northeast, around a corner. We stop. Juliette wants to rest. The firefighters urge us forward. Juliette wants a swig of water. Just then, I hear a faint noise behind us, it sounds like water rumbling. No, it’s people screaming, they’re running, a mad fury, a tidal wave before the crescendo. What are they running from?

Someone yells to start running. We start running. Part of the underground goes black. Like someone flicks off the switch. We take 3 or 4 steps; Opie slips and falls sideways to his left. People yell for us to get down. We dive to the ground. The blast is like a hurricane. I find a small corner; I ball up as fast as I can. I cover my head with both arms. I grimace, mouth open, teeth clinched. For the second time in an hour, I think I’m about to die. Things pelting me: shards of glass, pieces of debris. I wait for something to sever me in two, and then the chaos subsides. Much later, I find out the blast was 2WTC coming down.

I open my eyes. I’ve gone blind. Pitch black. Maybe I didn’t open my eyes. I close them tight, then open them again. Nothingness. I take a breath. Metal, ash, concrete. I cough, and breathe again. More ash. With each breath I take, it’s more painful. I call out for Opie and Juliette, she answers, he doesn’t. I call out again. I fear something happened to him. I call out again. Finally, a cough, and a faint response. They’re both alive. A few seconds pass. Somebody steps on me. What’s that down there? A person, dude. Oh, sorry. I gather my wits, and try to get my bearings after being stepped on.

Then, a glimmer of light from behind. A fireman’s floodlight. It’s hard to see anything at all. The air is thick with dust and ash. I begin to see silhouettes of people, I see the guy who stepped on me. I see things blown all around us. I carefully stand up. I see Opie hunched over on the ground. He coughs some more stuff up and spits it out. Opie slowly stands. The fireman starts to walk by. Others are following. I pull Juliette to her feet. I don’t want the fireman to get away. He’s not walking fast, but it gets dark quickly without the light. I grab for Opie’s hand. The group of us develop a human chain. We follow the fireman. Another floodlight turns on in front of us.

Without the firemen’s lights, we know we would be crawling, in total, pitch black. It would take forever without their help. We navigate slowly in the direction we had originally intended. Bill? Opie, is that you? It’s Jonathan, one of our firm’s partners, in from Chicago, caught underground with us. Jonathan joins our group; he knows the underground and its shops well. We walk slowly, about eighty yards. We see light, its natural light, we walk towards it. It’s upstairs, the street level. We see another escalator, we walk to it, it has more debris on it. We walk up it. We get to the top, doors in front of us to the right. Broken glass. Debris. A large rug, or mat, it’s blocking the entrance, but only slightly. We’ll have to walk over it, through the broken glass door, to the outside. We’re almost outside. We carefully step over the rug. We’re outside.

Outside, it’s a war zone. A monochromatic landscape, covered in dirt and ash. Like lint, everything meshes into one color – gray. We’re in a movie, an abandoned city. Visibility is at the most 50 feet. I never once look up. I’m still grabbing on to Juliette. I feel like I’m pulling her too much. I slow down. I’m amazed at the amount of soot on the ground. Several inches thick. The air is full of dust and ash. Just keep walking, don’t stop. We need to keep walking. Where’s Opie? He’s in front of us, I know, I just can’t see him.
We reach a street, I think it’s a street; it’s covered in ash. We keep walking across the street. Somebody comes running towards us, shouts out to us, look for bodies under cars. A four-inch layer of ash and dust covers the streets. I glance around for bodies, I don’t see any. We start to walk by a church with a graveyard. We stop. I cough up the ash in my mouth and lungs, take a drink of water, and spit out blackness. I tell Juliette to take some water and do the same. Swish it around and spit it out. She asks me where her purse and jacket are. I don’t know. Opie had them. Where is Opie? I call out for him. Now I don’t know where he is. I call out for him again, finally I see him up ahead.

We start walking again. We pass the church, we get to another street, there’s less ash on the ground, the air is better, better visibility. Juliette says she needs her purse. She has no money. She doesn’t know what to do. I’ll give you some money, don’t worry. You’re alive. Be happy you’re alive. We continue walking. We meet back up with Opie. Now about 3 blocks away from our exit, a man is standing in a store doorway. He opens the door and tells us to come in. Juliette is exhausted; she wants to stay there. She sits down on some stairs. Opie and I want to keep moving. We tell Juliette that we have to leave. We exchange numbers. Opie and I each give her money to get home. We kiss her on the forehead and wish her good luck.

We walk about ten minutes. People have lined the sidewalks, looking at the building on fire. We keep walking away. Then, a horrifying gasp, people begin crying. We turn around to look. One World Trade Center goes down. Our building. We watch it go down, floor by floor by floor.

Unbelievable. Let’s get outta here. We turn back around and keep walking. We come upon three co-workers. Thank God you’re alive. We find pay phones, with lines 20 people long. We keep walking, just trying to get away – to call somebody, let them know we’re alive. We walk about thirty minutes. We take a side street. We find a corner store. It has a pay phone. Nobody is using it. We take turns calling our wives, our parents, and our friends. We’re okay, we’re alive. We all walk home together. I walk the entire length of Manhattan to get home to the upper west side. On the way I see my sister, I go to friends’ places, I see other New Yorkers walking home. Surreal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001                                                                                 9:00 am. I receive a call from Opie. Everybody made it out okay. Marvin is alive.

Monday, September 16, 2001                                                                                       2:01 pm. I receive a letter from my bank. The ATM deposit went through.

Dear Tommy:

It’s September 2011 and you are 15 months old. You weigh 25 lbs. (75%). You are 32 inches tall (75%). You think really hard with that big head of yours that measures 18 3/4 inches (75%).  You are talking up a storm and your words include but are not limited to:

  • Dog
  • Fish (Eeesh)
  • Ojo (Eye)
  • Agua (Water)
  • Duck
  • Horse
  • Waffle
  • Pass (Also know as passy)
  • This
  • Mama
  • Dada
  • Hi
  • Bye, bye

You are growing by the minute sweet baby boy!  You are a sponge and love to mimic everything your mama and dada do.  You love to read.  You are obsessed with Thomas & Friends and just warming up to Sesame Street.  You are very skilled with your foam blocks and enjoy knocking down the wonderful block creations that your mama and dada work so hard to build.

You LOVE to play with your cousin Julia…even though she’s not always as interested in you.

You really like to throw balls and you have quite an arm. You have more teeth than we know what to do with.  Teething has been rough for you little man but you’ve pulled through like a champ!  If we only fed you fruit, agua and milk all day long you would be happy as a clam.  Still working on your picky eating but I know in my heart you will wake up one day, all your teeth will be here and you will be a hungry, hungry hippo!

We love you more than words can say sweetheart.  Everyday is a new adventure and we are blessed to discover each day with you!

EEESH! (a.k.a. Fish)

What a wonderful, relaxing, snuggle-filled, teething, hilarious, loving, first-steps, fun-filled weekend its been!

Do you ever look back after a long vacation and think, MAN I really, really needed that?  I needed to be the first person my baby sees when he wakes up and the last person he kisses before bed.  I needed to sit outside in the salty sea air with a dear friend and not say a word as we both read our magazines in silence – and we were totally ok with it!  That is a true friend, huh? Rob and I needed to be there together to watch Tommy as he took his first steps (not walking but so close). I needed to be there to hold my sweet boy after an agonizing day of teething (hence the finger Tommy’s mouth in almost every photo).

We needed to be a family, away from every care in the world, and it was magical!

There were so many special memories made this weekend.  On Saturday morning we woke up and headed to the Texas State Aquarium. Tommy was in baby bliss!  Anyone who has been around Tommy for more than five seconds knows that his two FIRST and FAVORITE words are fish (pronounced eeesh – emphasis on the E) and dog (pronounced dog, and exceptionally well I might add)! Luckily this weekend we were able to spend time with both.  We were enjoying breakfast Saturday morning on the porch and Tommy yelled DOG!  Our sweet neighbor in the condo next door popped his head out to say hello!  What a beautiful pup.

The novice photographer in me really showed as I was going through the dark walls of the aquarium.  These fish were kind enough to stop and let me photograph them.

The outdoor portion of the aquarium was great, although it was getting really hot at that point so our patience was limited.  Beautiful sea turtles, crocodiles, amazing birds, and a beautiful view of the U.S.S. Lexington.

After our outdoor animal tour we headed into our favorite exhibit – the INDOOR, AIR CONDITIONED underwater dolphin tank viewing exhibit. A BIG thank you to our friends at H-E-B for this fabulous, INDOOR, AIR CONDITIONED exhibit.  We sat there forever.

Disclaimer: the entire room was blue from the light shining through the water so my son looks like a precious little smurf! There were three beautiful dolphins, all of whom appeared to have been rescued because they were marked up quite a bit.  It took our dolphin friends a few seconds to swim by the large viewing window, circle around to the back side of their tank, and then make it back to the window. So every time they swam by was like Christmas morning all over again.  It was great!

I took a million pictures of the dolphins but this one was my favorite.  Most of my pictures showed the dolphins together with their eyes open, but I loved that this shot captured his eyes closed.

The next morning, Tommy was up bright and early so we headed off to the beach just after the sun came up.  We met a couple with their dog, Anchor, who loved Tommy.  Tommy’s feelings toward Anchor…not so much.  Exhibit A:

After a small meltdown, we were back on track 🙂  This was Tommy’s 3rd trip to the beach and for the record, he doesn’t like sand right now.  This was our only trip to the beach in Rockport but I’m not complaining a bit.  After traveling to Destin, FL earlier this summer and hauling 8 tons of gear to the beach every day, I’m sort of over the beach with a baby – at least for now.  I know Tommy will be obsessed with the beach next year, but this year we were pretty low key.

Always on the hunt for more eeesh, we traveled to the fabuous and FREE Aquarium at Rockport Harbor.  It was simple and perfect for the little ones.  No bells and whistles, just eeesh, and we LOVED it.  I would highly recommend it to anyone with small children in Rockport!  Click here for their website.

Eeesh heaven!

When we arrived home yesterday we were pretty tired.  Why is it that after a totally relaxing weekend you get home and your beat?  As I sit here this afternoon, the dirty dishes are still in the sink. Our unpacked bags are right were we left them in the doorway; and I have no food in my fridge, but we could care less.  We soaked up the last few hours of our holiday at home. We played, snuggled, laughed, attempted to take one last swim but the water was freezing (Its been so long, I almost forgot how to spell that word). We ate a yummy dinner, kissed our little eeesh goodnight and pretty much passed out.

It was magical.