One Week Later

10-28-12 We decided to ride out the hurricane.  Can’t second guess myself.  We are stocked up and prepared as we can be at this point.

Cool picture…Unless the storm is heading your way!

That’s as far as I got last Sunday when Hurricane Sandy was heading toward NYC.  I stopped and realized it was not time to blog about a pending natural disaster.  It was time to prepare.  So, what did I do?  I cooked.  A lot. I paced the floor.  A lot.  I looked out the window. A lot.  I prayed, too.  Then Sandy rolled across the city.

We never – not once – lost power, water, cable, Internet, etc. in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side.  Our building did move with the winds and my chandelier swayed gently over a dining room table littered with Legos.  But we weathered the storm just fine, sort of.  My nerves were shot as the former me – D.J. Cunningham, television reporter – was glued to the TV, internet and every available media source for the latest information.

up to the minute weather report

24 Hour Weather Reporting

By the time I finally crashed in the early morning hours of Tuesday, I knew when I woke up  that life as I knew it before was not going to be the same.  It wasn’t.  We have all seen the horrible images of flooding, downed power lines, destruction, hospitals being evacuated, dangling cranes and people crying for help during what I would imagine are some of the worst times of their lives.

My friend and her children crashed with us for two days after she lost power at her apartment down on the Lower East Side.  They walked for two hours before she was able to recharge her phone and send me a text.  They hopped a cab and headed uptown where they stayed until late Friday when power was restored.

Before we moved to New York City, we were hit hard with an ice storm in Jonesboro.  I remember vividly waking Corbin up from a nap, putting him in his car seat and driving down my drive way as limbs snapped down behind us. There was no way I was going to be trapped in my house, with no power, Corbin and my dog Leo while Mark was away on business.  That was a smart call.  Power was not restored to our home for 8 days.  Corbin and I camped out with my parents who were two hours way and then later with my in-laws before the power was restored at our house.

I’ve taken cover during my fair share of tornados.  Growing up in Arkansas, you knew when a severe thunder storm was heading your way, that a tornado was always a possibility.  It used to be that the highest threat for tornados was spring and summer. But over the last 20 years, with wild swings in the weather patterns, tornados have torn through the state in all four seasons.  I’ve also spent some time in the dark and cold after a Christmas ice/snow storm knocked out the electricity in Carlisle, Arkansas where I grew up.  I have memories of myself eating hand made candies that were supposed to be given as Christmas gifts!

Being without power is one thing.  A big pain in the butt, yes.  But losing your home and everything you own is all together a different issue.  Seeing the scope of destruction, not far from where I sit writing this post, is really impossible to grasp.  From the raging fire that scorched over 100 homes in Queens, to the missing boardwalk in New Jersey, to the waterlogged parts of Staten Island, the images are painful to look at on television. The stories of those who died are heartbreaking.

The New York City Marathon was cancelled…finally.  As if it was really a good idea to run the race while so much of the area is still struggling to get back on its feet.  I know thousands of runners had trained, planned and possibly already traveled to NYC.  But the growing sense that the race would go on while there was so much destruction and death in some of the boroughs along the course was just too much to bear.  With hindsight being 20/20, the race should have been called off on Tuesday.

The news of Sandy even silenced the painfully loud noise of the political season.  It was interesting to watch President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie embrace each other and to set politics aside for a moment.  Even though I suspect the two men can’t stand each other, they both had business to do and people to take care of.  No time for political bickering. There will be time later on for the two to throw each other under the bus!

Photograph by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty.

Progress is being made…slowly.  Power is being restored, gas is making its way back into the area, food and basic necessities are being provided although not always as swiftly as everyone would like.  Parts of the the subway and tunnels in lower Manhattan are still flooded and will be closed until further notice.  Government officials are already talking about what to do to protect New York City and the surrounding areas in the event another storm barrels through.  This is the second hurricane/tropical storm in two years. Hurricane Sandy was not a fluke.  Neither was Hurricane Irene last year.

Tuesday’s Rainbow over the Hudson River

How we managed to escape the wrath of a 900-mile-wide storm, I will never understand. I am beyond grateful that we did.  God bless those who were not as fortunate.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they work to rebuild their lives one day at a time.

If you want to help out, you can contribute to the Red Cross at www.redcross.org

 

 

 

 

Hotel Transylvania – My Two Cents on the First 30 Minutes.

When I received the invitation from The Moms for an advanced screening of Hotel Transylvania in 3D followed by a Q and A session with Fran Drescher at the Sony Screening Room in Manhattan,  I thought it would be a fun film to see with Corbin.  It is animated, in 3D and timely as Halloween is not too far away.

The film was fun. However, about 30 minutes into it, Corbin was ready to leave.  I will say that the PG rating should have given me pause as my 7-year-old is still frightened by Finding Nemo.

What I can tell you about the 30 minutes of the film is this.  I really liked it.  Hotel Transylvania  was funny, humorous, the 3D touch was fantastic and the voices were great.  The cast consists of Adam Sandler as a vampire.  He is a ridiculously overprotective father of his 118-year-old daughter, Mavis.  Selena Gomez lends her voice to Mavis, who is determined to meet a human after her father agrees to let her out of the hotel for her 118th birthday. Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Fran Drescher round out the cast of spooky guests.

The film is rated PG which I highly suggest you pay attention to!  If you have a little one who is remotely scared of monsters on the big screen, you may want to skip this film. Unless, you just want to spend a lot of money only to leave before you can get comfy in your seat.  If your child isn’t phased by any scary monsters, then by all means,  grab a ticket and see this film.  I hope to catch Hotel Transylvania again – the whole film –  after the film is released on DVD.

Hotel Transylvania opens in a theater near you on September, 28th 2012.

 

Unexpected Twists and Turns

September 11, 2001.  It was a horrible day on many levels.  While the country came to a stand still and watched the horror unfold in New York City, Washington, D.C. and in Pennsylvania, I was caught up in my own personal melt down.

Around the same time, my uncle passed away after battling a very long illness.  He was a World War II veteran and I’ve always thought he just couldn’t accept knowing our county had been attacked on our own soil by a group of terrorists.  Secondly, the personal relationship I had been in for far too long came to a decidedly abrupt ending, too.  The world as I knew it had come to a screeching halt.  It was just too much to process.

As with any tragedy, I dealt with all of it in different stages.  It was as if I wasn’t sure where to focus or what to think as each event seemed to trump the other.  Ultimately, I knew that by the grace of God, I was alive and breathing and would get to go home that night and talk to my family.  Those lost in the attacks didn’t have that chance.

All of the friends I’ve made since moving to New York City were here when the attacks happened. Each of them tell their stories of what the city was like and how they were all impacted by that day.  It was intense enough watching the towers fall from a television set in Carlisle, Arkansas.  I can’t even comprehend seeing that scene unfold in person as my friend Emily did from a side walk in Brooklyn as she looked across to the World Trade Center.

I had the opportunity recently to listen to Howard Lutnik from Cantor Fitzgerald speak about losing 658 employees in the attacks.  You may recall the Cantor Fitzgerald offices were on the 101-105th floors of One World Trade Center. Everyone who came in for work that day died in the attacks, including Lutnick’s brother.  The story of how Lutnick     pulled it together and got the business back on track is a real example of the desire to prevail and not let terror win even in the most horrific of circumstances.  Everyone lost something that day.  Whether it was a loved one or a sense of security, we all felt something slip away from us

Fast forward 11 years. I am married, a mother and living in New York City.  When I turned on the television this morning, I had flashbacks.  The memories and feelings are still vivid.  It doesn’t feel as if it’s been that long ago.  Where has the time gone?  If you would have told me this is what my life would look like on 9/11/2001 I would have told you that you were crazy!

Days like this one remind me to make the most of each day, tell the people in my life that I love them and give them an extra hug, too.  You truly never know what life is going to bring your way.

 

Canada Interrupted

My trip to Canada with the boys is in the books.  It was a once in a lifetime excursion off the coast of Vancouver.

Mark, DJ and Corbin Duckworth off of Vancouver

One Big Happy-yet slightly sick-Family

It was an amazing adventure that I would have never booked for myself.  Luckily, someone else planned it and we decided to join in on the fun.   That is usually not how I like to travel.  I prefer doing my own thing and not sticking to a strict travel schedule.  I like my itinerary to look something like this:

1.  depart at a comfortable time after 11 a.m.

2.  have some fun, relax, shop, eat, shop, explore, eat, shop, explore, eat and drink champagne.

3.  remind myself not to eat so much and get my eating-drinking-fluffy-fied self to the gym for some yoga

4.  depart after I’ve squeezed as much fun as possible out of my getaway

So the idea of flying from New York City to Vancouver and going on a bike ride in Stanley Park followed by a tour of a world famous aquarium did not ring my bell in the least.  After some discussion, I explained to Mark that he and Corbin could enjoy the action packed travel day while I chilled out horizontally at the spa in our hotel.  Life was good….until Corbin returned, stripped off his clothes and crawled into his bed with a fever.  Not a good start for our once in a lifetime Canadian eagle, bear, whale, seal and surfing excursion.

DJ and Corbin before the bear watching trip

Corbin playing dead as to avoid smiling while dressed for our bear watching excursion.

My lifelong friend Tori says you haven’t been on a real vacation until you’ve visited a local pharmacy.  When she first told me this, I thought she was crazy.  After traveling with a child, I have elevated Tori to the status of traveling genius for passing along this little nugget of wisdom. Our first vacation purchase was children’s Tylenol, Advil, Kaopectate and a thermometer at the nearby London Drug which was across the street from our hotel.

I took Corbin’s temperature.  39 degrees!  What?  He should be dead.  I quickly realized this was 39 degrees celsius and not Fahrenheit.  We crunched the numbers (The iPad did all the work. Although I had flashbacks of math classes in Carlisle, Arkansas where I was being taught this very lesson on conversions.  This would be the first time in my life I really needed that skill) and figured out he had a pretty high fever.  Lovely.  And then the diarrhea started.  Fabulous.

Poor kid.  This Once in a Lifetime bug stayed with him for the entire week.

Life teaches us lessons everyday…even on traveling days that you’ve anticipated for over a year! I was once again reminded to keep my expectations low and therefore not set myself up for disappointment when things don’t necessarily go as planned. However, I am sticking to my guns on leaving after 11 a.m. A morning person I am not!

We only missed one whale watching excursion.  Instead, we visited a Canadian doctor who told me we just need to ride out the illness.  Not the best of news when you’re little guy could use a quick fix for his stomach bug.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the trip.

DJ Corbin and Mark in Tofine

We will be eating salmon for the forseeable future!

 

Corbin finds the hidden box

Corbin finds the geocache with the help of the only person in the family who can find anything….ME!

 

 

July the 4th Fun

While most of the city seemed to be away for the 4th of July, we found ourselves hanging out in Manhattan.  Corbin is in the middle of his first year of summer camp.  He’s loving every minute of it, too! So, we didn’t want to take our annual trip to Vail, CO for the holiday and have him miss out on all of the fun.  Instead, we rolled out of bed on Wednesday and headed to Union Square for breakfast and shopping at the farmer’s market. I love the farmer’s market at Union Square.  It is a site to behold during the summer months when just about everything is available for sale.  Here is a look at some of the things we saw and bought!

Fun with Fries at the Coffee Shop

 

Checking out the sugar plums

Radishes….not my favorite veggie. But these are beautiful!

Squash Blossoms for sale…get your squash blossoms here!

A great place to get to use an EBT card or WIC vouchers! Better than using them at McDonald’s!

 

Black raspberries taste fabulous

Rainbow Swiss Chard…what do you do with this?

Fresh fish even on a hot July day!

The wittiest thing about the day!

Okra…on pizza? Read the sign!

Calla Lillies in a bucket

Hard to walk away from this when everything looks so good!

Beautiful and delicious!

If you have a farmer’s market in your area, I highly recommend checking it out for the best of summers garden glory!

 

Easter Eggs, Sandy Beaches and Tattoos

As a kid, we never went anywhere for spring break. And I mean nowhere.  I don’t have any memories of any fun filled getaways with the family.  Our family just didn’t do a lot of traveling.  Fast forward about 30 years, and my life is a completely different story in the travel department.  Since getting married 9-years-ago, Mark and I have made it a priority to travel and explore as much as possible.   However, it took me having a child to get into the full swing of what spring break really means.

New York City Schools usually have their spring break over the Easter/Passover holiday.  This year, Corbin skipped out of school early and we headed back to Arkansas to catch up with friends and family.  I have to say Easter is one of my favorite times of the year.

Three Amigos

Growing up, Easter meant a new Sunday dress was being made, the flowers were beginning to bloom, a big family get together with a lot of cousins was pending, the farmers were starting to scratch the dirt and for the most part the weather was shear perfection.  This year was no exception. Our time spent in Arkansas was full of sweet memories for me. And for Corbin, I think he made a few for himself.

Cunningham Cousins

We camped out overnight in Carlisle with my parents and celebrated Easter on Sunday morning.  Easter lunch was fantastic. There is no shortage of amazing cooks in my family and the food was delicious.  In what can only be described as speed visiting, I caught up with almost all of my aunts, uncles and cousins.

The church service was less that uplifting as Father referred to anyone who’d had premarital sex as a prostitute!  I wish I were kidding but sadly, I’m not.  I’d heard a similar sermon from him once before during a Christmas mass.  I thought maybe he saved this type of sermon for the holidays because he had a big crowd.  I was later informed that he gives basically the same sermon each week.

The farmers were all in the fields, too.  Some fields were being planted while others were already being watered.

Let the Farm Season Begin

And I feel certain if you listen closely you can hear the farmers already complaining about it either being too wet, dry, hot or cold.  Farmers are the most unsatisfied group of people you will ever meet!

We said our goodbyes, gave everyone a hug and a kiss and headed to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where we set up camp for the week.  It’s a place we’ve visited several times before and always enjoy.  Once you land you are quickly transported into a different pace of life.

Ftl Lauderdale

Our Atlantic View

Everyone is in their shorts, swimsuits and flip flops.  The biggest challenge of the day is securing some chairs and an umbrella by the pool.  It’s a tough gig, but I’m happy to do it for at least a week!

When you travel during spring break you have to get a souvenir, right?  I’m not sure who came up with the idea but we all got a tattoo…semi-permanent of course.  After a stroll down the beach, Mark and Corbin returned.   A few moments later, Corbin rolled up his sleeve to show me his scorpion tattoo!!

corbin and mark

Unveiling of the Tattoo

He was obviously very proud.  He informed me that Mark was getting one the next day and that he had also picked one out for me.  Before I immediately shot down Corbin’s idea of ME getting a tattoo, I thought for a moment back to a time in my life when I really wanted a real tattoo.  Thankfully that never materialized so the idea of a tattoo with no long term commitment was fine with me.

Corbin walked into the shop and showed me the one he’d chosen.  It was half skeleton and half pin up girl.  I opted out and picked the flaming heart.  The sales clerk inked me up, told me to let it dry and that it would last for about 3 weeks.

heart tattoo

My Tattoo

I hope it only lasts for 3 weeks.  It’s big and dark and I’m glad it’s not permanent!  I highly recommend the tattoo as a souvenir.  After all, how many spring break t-shirts do you really need?

I hope when Corbin is my age and on vacation with his children he will look back on his adventures with Mom and Dad and have great memories.  In the end, it’s not the things we acquire or money that we make, it’s the experiences we share with each other that make for a rich, well lived life.

Do you have a favorite spring break story?  Let me know.  I’d love to hear about it!

Saying Farewell From Up Here

Hearing the news that someone you know has died is never easy.  Especially when that person is young, in the prime of their life and not battling a serious illness.  My friend, Jacques, died Friday in an accident on his farm.  I am still in shock about the news. He was 56-years-old.

Classic Jacques

I think back to others that have passed on suddenly and the list gets long quicker than I had originally thought.  My Uncle Dan, Maw Maw, Mrs. Sue (favorite catechism teacher), Todd (family friend), Mike (Jacques’ friend) and Kevin(friend’s brother) all have passed away unexpectedly. The passing of these loved ones and friends always seems to grab you by the heart and remind you that each day really is a gift.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed. If I have something I have been putting off doing, these times remind me to get after it and make it happen.

Being that I couldn’t make Jacques funeral today, I opted for a local memorial instead.  Corbin and I stopped by St. Patrick’s Cathedral today and lit some candles in his memory.

Corbin asked if we could also tie some Legos to a balloon and send them up to heaven.  I told Corbin I didn’t have a balloon big enough to make it all the way to heaven, but that Jacques would probably appreciate the suggestion.

Rest in peace my friend.  You will be dearly missed by your family and friends.

 

Real Steel…the bedtime story with Hugh Jackman

This morning in midtown Hugh Jackman took some time to discuss his new film Real Steel and his family with the ladies of Moms and the City.

Hugh Jackman

Hugh talking about his family

In the intimate discussion with a small room of bloggers he talked about his children, work and how he managed to finish reading the script for the film by turning it into a bed time story for his 10-year-old

The once named Sexiest Man Alive talked openly about spending as much time with his kids as possible despite his and his wife’s busy schedules.  They are both actors.  But also admitted, as many parents know, it can be refreshing to have even one or two days away from the kids!  I, for one, am a big advocate of that!

Corbin won’t be seeing the film due to the PG-13 rating.  He’s only 6 and frankly, Finding Nemo still scares him a little.   Hugh said this is actually the first film of his that his kids have watched. Hugh didn’t think it was a good idea for his kids to see their Dad cutting heads off in X-Men while at the same time trying to get them to stop fighting with each other!  I agree with him on that one.

I hope to see the film soon.  If you check it out, let me know what you think.

 

Om Shanti Mother F@#$%r

Yoga is part of my life and has been for many years.  One of my favorite aspects of the practice is the music.  I like to listen to music that is more instrumental and without lyrics preferring Krishna Das over Katy Perry.  If I start to sing along, my brain takes me back to where I was when I heard the song, who I was with, what we were doing, what I was wearing, what I was eating, how old I was, who my friends were, who I didn’t like, which boyfriend broke my heart, how much I weighed, what my hair looked like…you get my drift?  I get lost in my thoughts and forget about the practice.  Which is why I don’t like to hear anything remotely contemporary in a yoga class.

On Wednesday, I was half way through an intense yoga class with a teacher who plays a wide variety of music in his class.  You can image my surprise when I heard the words mother fucker float or rather sear through the room!  I was really into a groove with my practice, moving well, sweating like crazy and finally in my yoga zone.  And all of a sudden, there they were.  Mother fucker.  Of course, it didn’t take long for me to snap out of my yoga zone.

DJ in a camel yoga posture

Geting in my yoga zone

I looked at the other yogis in the room to see if they were as shocked as I was.  Some were.  The teacher didn’t appear to be too rattled that the song was playing as I assumed he wasn’t aware that it was in the playlist.  Needless to say, my practice took a different turn at least mentally.

Here is a quick script of my thoughts.  ”Did I here that right?  Was that mother fucker?  Yes, that’s what he said.  Is he (the teacher) going to switch songs because this is totally not a yoga class song?  How many times is this guy going to say mother fucker in one song? This is one mother fucking hard pose. If this mother fucker isn’t going to change the song, then he could change this mother fucking pose.  My legs are fucking killing me! This is one crazy ass way to end my mother fucking yoga class.  So much for om shanti, mother fucker…this is just fucked up!”

And then I started giggling.  Really?  Not only was I bombarded with mofo’s, but now I
was giggling like a school girl.  The song finally ended – THANK GOD!  And my giggles subsided and I managed to finish the class.  Sivasana was as pleasant as it could be as Adele’s version of  ”I Can’t Make You Love Me” played in the room.  And there again, I was back in my head thinking about the first time I heard that song and how sad it makes me feel. I thought,  well isn’t this just a mother fucking perfect way to end my mother fucking yoga class?

Namaste’ my friends.  May all of your yoga experiences be free of all mother fuckers.