Category Archives: Strong Mama

Finish Line

On September 11, 2001, the finish line was when Mike showed up at my office covered in dust.  Or so I thought.

Then we had to get home.  Under the ground, over a bridge, and underground again.  Then we had to convince ourselves that we were safe.  Then we had to peel ourselves away from the news.  Then we had to leave the house.  Then we had to return to work.  Then we had to go back to living our lives.  Then we had to learn how to be happy without feeling bad about it.

Nearly twelve years later, it seems like life is a never-ending series of finish lines.

This morning, at the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K, an annual race in honor of all those sacrificed in the line of duty on 9/11, this was what I saw when I ran across the finish line:


On that horrific day under a warm sun and flawless blue sky, I never in my wildest dreams would have predicted this life and these beautiful people in it.

Life is still sweet, hills are still no big deal, and, as it turns out, every finish line leads to the beginning of a new race.

Grateful Proud Fortunate Happy Strong Exhausted Runaway Mama.


Filed under fortunate mama, Grateful Mama, Happy Mama, running, September 11th, Strong Mama

Take Two

I took the boys to the Naples Zoo today.  It was our second attempt because we were originally supposed to go on Monday, but, if you recall, I woke up with the plague that day.  The reason we went (besides why not?) is because I promised Riley I would take him and Dylan once he was fully potty trained.

Note to parents who are at the beginning of their potty training journey:  Don’t be reckless with your potty training promises.  These kids might not remember where they left their shoes, but they sure as hell won’t forget if you promise them a trip to Disney World for pooping in the toilet.  I, for one, am a Proud Mama for my totally manageable (and affordable!) promise.

For us, the Naples Zoo is just across Alligator Alley, about an hour and a half from home.  The ride out was fine except for one nasty storm, but the rainbow that came with it was exquisite and worth the hassle.  I only wish I could’ve taken a picture, but I was busy driving…and opening up bags of pretzels, passing Sippy cups back and forth, and peeling bananas. You think texting and driving is dangerous?  Try parenting and driving.  Anyway, we made it across the Sunshine State with one pee stop, and we were inside the gates of the zoo by 10:30am. 

No one was happier than Dylan that the Naples Zoo encourages people to bring their own food, including orange crackers.   (I was happy, too.  When we go to the Miami Zoo,I have to smuggle food inside.  Shh.)

“If there’s a place you got to go, I’m the one you need to know, I’m the map…”

This was the Primate Expedition Cruise, a boat ride that sails around small islands where apes, spider monkeys and King Julien (i.e. lemurs) live.  

These apes were monkeying around like two other primates I know…

When the cruise was over and we were getting off the boat, I turned to the captain and said, “Thank you.”  Dylan turned to him and said, “I love you.”

This is what I packed for lunch.  Ha!  Early April Fools Day!  The lettuce was for feeding the giraffes.  The zoo has five “baby” giraffes that are huge and beautiful, and I will never, ever get tired of watching giraffes.

We went on a camel ride!  While we were on the very-short-for-the-amount-of-money-it-costs-but-at-least-the-money-goes-to-helping-the-zoo-and-the-animals ride, I told the boys the story of when I rode a camel in Israel when I was a teenager.  I left out the part where the camel threw me off his back and I landed face down on a rock.  Thankfully, today’s ride had a happy ending. 

“Mommy, are you sure there are no hippos at this zoo?”  There aren’t.  We’ve been home from the zoo for several hours now and Dylan still won’t let it go that we didn’t see the hippos – hippos that do not live at the Naples Zoo.  This irrational dispute between a mother and son could last a lifetime.  

This was Riley’s “Mommy won’t let me have M&Ms before lunch” face.

Just so you know, buttery, salty, greasy zoo popcorn puts Dylan in the mood to strike a pose.

This was Riley’s not-so-subtle hint that the zoo trip was over.  (Sorry about the finger on the lense…I was tired, too).  Riley rolled up into a ball like a roly-poly pill bug and I had to carry him (Strong Mama!) until we reached the gift shop where he had a miraculous surge of energy, so much so that he was able to pick out a bag of plastic frogs as a souvenir from our special day.  Tired little Dylan mustered up the energy to pick out something, too.

I had such a good and easy time taking these two boys to the zoo today (across the state and on my own) that I think I might finally be ready to get on an airplane with them.  Or maybe that’s the post zoo Pinot Grigio talking.

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Filed under potty training, Proud Mama, Strong Mama, zoo