Remembering

Nine years ago today:

I had a very normal morning. No children yet. Working for the State Dept. Of Ed at a school in N. Charleston.

A teacher came into my office and told me to turn on the radio (it was a poor school) because a small plane had crashed into a skyscraper in NYC.

I listened in in complete confusion as other faculty poured into my small, windowless office to hear the commentators try to make sense of what was happening on CBS radio.

I remember the utter horror and disbelief I felt when I heard another plane crashed into the second building and that both were in flames.

Ran to the cafeteria, sent students back to their home rooms, and turned on the TVs just in time to see the first tower collapse on live TV. That image is forever seared into my memory. Watching in shock as the other collapsed and people fled in every direction.

I remember going back to my office and hearing on the radio that all flights were being grounded. I walked outside and the air above Charleston was filled with planes waiting to land.

The radio confusion about a plane hitting the Pentagon and the “missing fourth” airliner.  When they finally found United 93, they said it was going to be shot down. We later learned that courageous people crashed it intentionally to save the lives of others. “Let’s Roll” took on a new meaning.

Frantically trying to get in touch with my dad, a resident of Manhattan, only to be face with jammed phone lines. Thanking the Lord when we finally connected. He was there in NYC and didn’t believe me when I told him the towers had collapsed. All electricity in his office building had gone out and the phones had not been working. He knew only of a plane crash. Amazed that I knew more than he did. Learned that his only personal loss was his laptop computer which was being repaired in One World Trade Center.

Remembering the many trips we made to the towers growing up and how Papa used to work in one of them.

I remember watching the news with a deep sense of foreboding for days. Schools, jobs and sporting events cancelled. Flights grounded. Wondering what would happen next? I couldn’t tear myself away. I’ve never been more frightened in my life.  The death toll increased to a magnitude I could hardly comprehend. It seemed so senseless and unspeakably cruel. The posters of people looking for loved ones moved me deeply, making the horror more real to me.

Strange names and foreign lands filled the news. I remember thinking: What have we ever done to Afghanistan? Who is Osama Bin Ladin and why does he hate us so much? Al Qaeda, Taliban?

I remember taking comfort in the many stories of bravery and self-sacrifice that emerged over the next few days. Flags flew in unlikely places. Every vehicle on the road sported a patriotic bumper sticker. Our country came alive with a common cause.

I thought that things would never be normal again after such great loss.

Yet here I am, almost embarrassed…

That I can sit on my front porch swing watching my boys play in the yard while I type this post on my iPhone, while those who sacrificed greatly for my safety may not have that same luxury today. That this afternoon I will go watch a friend play in a tennis tournament and then watch college football. That life is so… normal.

That, as I type this, the flag on our front porch is waving in the breeze and I realize it has been a long time since I looked at it and reflected on all it stands for.

I say I will never forget. But as time passes, I want to be sure that I really never do… Not just on September 11th, but I want the lessons learned on that fateful day to become part of who I am — not just a distant memory.

May I always remember.

Photo of towers courtesy of my friend Kelly Benedict’s  Facebook photos.

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Published in: on September 11, 2010 at 11:22 am  Comments (1)  
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Happy SEVENTH Birthday to Colin!

Well, it has been a full month. June brought us Miles’s 1st Birthday, our 11th wedding anniversary, the passing of Chad’s maternal grandfather, Colin’s 7th Birthday, and Father’s Day. What a month! It has certainly been emotional for our family. Sorry for the delay in sharing… here are some photos from Colin’s big day:

Good Morning Colin! Happy 7th Birthday! (The boys camped out in the playroom the night before).

Miles and Papa wanted to wish Colin an early morning “Happy Birthday” too!

Toy Story 3 was the theme for our birthday table.

After a fun morning at Vacation Bible School (where we celebrated with a Cookie Cake), we headed to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry for a fabulous party. The staff planned a beautiful party for “King Colin” and the other knights and princesses. Everyone had a great time. If you’re considering a birthday party in Charleston, this is the best venue I’ve experienced. Christine took care of everything and Crystal (our party hostess) was AWESOME with the children.

After the festivities at the Childrens Museum wrapped up, we headed to Taco Boy for a GREAT birthday dinner.

And then we went home to open presents.

We got Colin new golf clubs so that he’s ready to play with Daddy and Poppy.

Apparently Miles would like to play golf too!

We ended the evening by watching Toy Story 2 on DVD  (in new Toy Story PJs) and building towers with Colin’s new Citiblocks. It was truly an awesome day. The day wouldn’t have been complete without our traditional photo in the “birthday hat” though!

Colin is my firstborn son. I remember the shock of the first moment I looked into his eyes. I was filled with a love for this little baby that I can never put into words. I knew that I would love my child but I did not expect the fierce emotion that welled up in me. This happened with both my other boys too but the sheer strength of emotion shocked me because it was so unexpected.  I can’t believe that was SEVEN years ago. I’m so grateful that God chose us to be Colin’s family! I pray that we raise our boys well.

Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…
Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV

Colin in the News!

I have to share the following article from the Daniel Island News about my budding angler. Captain Peralta was awesome and so was Poppy Johnson 🙂 The photo is small but my boy was REAL proud!

Fishing is a thread that ties the generations ~ by Greg Peralta – June 16, 2010

When my children share memories about their grandfather, the dialog often includes fishing. Thankfully, they enjoyed many fishing trips with my father and there is a significant pool of memories from which they can recall. In my experience, fishing is a thread that can tie generations of a family together. So when Terry Johnson called about a fishing trip with his grandson Colin, I was very keen to make the trip happen.

Given bad weather and conflicting schedules, we finally fished together last week. Prior to meeting Terry and Colin at the boat landing, I launched the skiff and caught several dozen shrimp with a cast net. Recently, the redfish, trout and flounder have had a definite preference for shrimp. With the live well full, I returned to the boat landing and found Terry and Colin waiting on the dock. Colin walked up, looked me in the eye and politely introduced himself. I was immediately impressed. We loaded up the skiff and made a short run to our first location. After staking out the skiff, I hooked a shrimp on a ¼ ounce jig, cast the line and handed the rod to Colin. Before I could get a rod ready for Terry, Colin caught his first redfish. It was small, but the excitement was great. After a quick picture, we released the fish. On the next cast, Colin caught a black drum. Two casts and two fish, Colin was proving to be quite the angler!

A steadily increasing southwest wind forced us to move to a small sheltered creek. The falling tide was concentrating fish in deeper channels. I staked out adjacent to a channel and had Terry and Colin cast to the deeper water. The bite was steady, but not great. At least we were out of the wind. After a brief casting lesson, Colin began casting and catching fish on his own. Colin was attentive, well behaved and a very quick study. He was also fast becoming a very good angler.

Slowly working the jig/shrimp combination through the channels, kept us in steady redfish action. Most were in the 18 to 20 inch range with a few larger fish mixed in. As the sun rose, it became unbearably hot. Rather than bake in the afternoon sun, we called it a short but memorable day.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at captaingreg@shallowwatercharters.com or (843) 224-0099.

Published in: on June 22, 2010 at 4:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy FIRST Birthday Miles!!!

Miles’s very first birthday was on June 1st. We had a ball! There are a lot of photos in this post so I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story…

Unlike my mom, I’m no cake decorator! Mom offered to make the cake for Miles but I insisted on doing it late at night on the 31st.

We celebrated with Miles’s first trip to the beach. We live 10 minutes away, but there hasn’t been a “good” time to take him in the last 12 months.

The expressions on the big boys’ faces in the photo below made me laugh. Were they jealous? They had cupcakes too!!

Then it was home for a nap and more celebrating!

The gifts were a hit! It’s always hard to know what to get for a one-year old. For my EIGHT friends who have babies turning one in the next six weeks, here are some highlights:  My folks did awesome with a Leapfrog Learning Table. Miles plays with it non-stop.  My brother’s family gave Miles a V-tech bug that he can pull around. It lights up and plays music. Great gift but needs a volume adjuster for the parents! Miles loves it though. Chad and I found this toy (I don’t know what you call it but the photos are below) at Target. Our pediatrician has something like this in the waiting room and kids seem to love it. Miles did too 🙂

Then we were ready for cake. Miles did not like our tradition of special birthday hats. He wouldn’t keep it on his head. It reads “I’m ONE today”.

And of course we have to get a photo of Papa and Gram Gram!! Miles isn’t looking at the camera but his sweet grandparents are.

It was such an awesome day. It couldn’t have been any better! I am reminded yet again of how unbelievably blessed we are.

Psalm 127:3 – Behold, Children are a gift of the Lord.

And here’s how my youngest “gift” acted when I kept putting that hat on his head… this photo cracks me up!! 🙂 Life is more than good.

Concert in the Park

The Concert at Smythe Park was absolutely fantastic this year!!

The music was fabulous and spending time with friends was pretty awesome too. All my photos were taken on my iPhone so they are pretty awful. BUT… you can get an idea of what it was like.

I love this event! Soon after we moved into our home overlooking Smythe Lake, the first concert at Smythe took place. It was an immediate hit! I couldn’t believe that this great event was right out my front door.

Now, it seems that people attend from all over Charleston.  In fact, one of our teachers (who lives in Mount Pleasant) came to the concert to celebrate her 12th anniversary. In years past, we have had to bring our own food. The spreads were amazing. This year, there was the option to purchase food from local vendors. Many still prepared their own food but it was great to have this option.

The boys had a ball (as usual). They ran into friends wherever they went. When we went to the concert back in 2007, I remember them being so little. Now, they acted like old pros 😉 This is a photo of Colin with my mom.

Davis wanted a photo too and Miles was too busy playing with his sippy cup to notice me.

We are really blessed to be able to take part in such fun events! I’m so glad that we continued with the Concert in the Park even though the Charleston Symphony Orchestra has fallen on hard times. The Jazz ensemble did a super job and everyone loved it!

Growing Up Fast

Today was a sweet day. I can’t believe the school year is winding down! Davis had his Preschool spring fling today and loved the jump castles and big slide. Davis will start kindergarten in the fall and Colin will be in first grade. Where does the time go? Miles will be ONE on June 1st! Unbelievable…

Here’s Miles at Balfour Park.

Perfect 10

I write about the weather often. I know I do but it’s hard not to when it is so glorious!! After a hard winter, (in our opinion, not that of my friends in the northeast) this week has been a perfect 10!! Daniel Island has never been prettier and we are all LOVING being outdoors.

Here are some photos of our bike ride with Miles this morning. Grammie and Poppy took the big boys to church this morning so it was pretty relaxed.

Here’s Miles in his new bike trailer. He was pretty cozy in there and fell asleep once we got going.

We biked to Bellinger Island: a little nature preserve in Codner’s Ferry Park. Here’s Miles on one of the docks enjoying the breeze in his face.

When Chad and I first moved to DI, we would spend a lot of time on Bellinger Island. We think it’s one of the “hidden treasures” of DI and are certain that there are residents here who don’t even know about it. There’s usually a rope swing on the tree in the photo below. Kids put it up every year and spend summers jumping into the creek from the top of the oak tree below!

Miles and I by the creek. Don’t look to closely — the bike-helmet hair is not a look I love!

Our flowers are putting on a show right now! I love all the colors. We are grilling out again tonight 🙂

The boys have been camped out on the lawn at Smythe Park watching the Blue Angels perform at the air show. The jets are WAY to fast for me to photograph so the shot below is courtesy of our friend Pat Stuckart.

My parents took Colin to this same air show in April of 2006. He was 2 and a half. Where does the time go?? Here are a couple of old photos from that show:

Look at him now! Whew. Think I’m gonna go hug my boys…

Yesterday’s Life Lesson

I’m sorry I haven’t been diligent with blogging lately. It has been a busy month! The Family Circle Cup has been so much fun this week that I haven’t found much time to get in front of a computer. But I learned something yesterday. Please bear with me because I’m typing this quickly and trying to share a bunch of thoughts that make sense in my mind but may not work out on paper!! 🙂

Yesterday was an awesome day. I knew I’d be working all weekend so it was jam-packed with “stuff”. We went to Charleston’s Cafe for breakfast and ate WAY more than I want to tell you! If you haven’t been there and you’re local you MUST go — it was such a treat! Our day was full of fun. We went downtown and walked the length of the waterfront. Then we went to the Charleston Beer Exchange (where Scott is sporting a new look ;)) to pick up their latest rare beer for our grill-out this weekend. After that we picked up our bikes (and bike trailer for Miles) at Trek in Mount Pleasant. Then off to the pool at the club for swimming and supper and then an evening bike ride with the whole family. It couldn’t have been a nicer day!

My point in outlining the whole day is that I learned an important lesson from an interaction we had with the boys in the evening. After all this fun, we get home and it is time for bed. Colin and Davis wanted to keep going even though it was late. They asked questions over and over: Can we watch a show? Can we play a game? Will you let us stay up for 10 more minutes? Can we ride our bikes some more?… I found myself becoming frustrated that they couldn’t be content with the really great day that we had. I said something like, “We did so many nice things with you today. I wish you could be content and satisfied with what a nice day it was.”

Later that night, it hit me that I do the exact same thing. Probably on a greater scale!! We have SO many blessings in our lives but I constantly find myself praying for more. More time, money, things, desires… I always want more. So I asked myself the same thing: Why can’t I be satisfied with all that God has done for our family? How come I’m always hoping/ wishing/ waiting for the next level of comfort, security, whatever…? How can my children behave any differently when their mother does the same thing?

I’m pretty lucky that my Heavenly Father doesn’t get frustrated at me like I did with my boys. Ah, it’s good to have a change in perspective. So, I’m back to praying for contentment 😉

Here are some photos from our day. I didn’t take many because my iPhone died. I think I have some on Chad’s iPhone and I will try to add them later. And, yes, Miles got a haircut!!

Missing in Action…

The weather is perfect and I am “missing in action” from my blog! We are enjoying simply being with the family this week. Will post photos soon! We are having a ball  🙂

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 9:51 am  Comments (4)  
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Traditions

I love traditions. I think they become part of the fabric of a family. My family had a few great traditions growing up but they were nothing compared to Chad’s family. The Johnsons have traditions for just about everything and I love it!

On St. Patrick’s Day, Chad’s mom has made corned beef and cabbage for as long as Chad can remember. There are many advantages to living so close to them –tonight they brought over corned beef, cabbage, cheese sauce, potatoes, carrots, green jello, and green coffee cake. What an awesome meal. At one point, I sat back and just looked at everyone. I wondered what traditions Chad and I will pass down to our children. What will “stick”? Do we actually have any traditions at all?

After thinking about it, I realized that we have everyday traditions and special occasion traditions like everyone else. We pray before meals and with our each of our children every night. We collect all birthday money from relatives and spend it at Toys R Us on their actual birthdays. We sing the same songs at bedtime. We check on the boys and re-tuck them in each night before we go to sleep. We make a Christmas photo book each year to preserve our memories. We go to Sweet Treats for ice cream when we go to the mountains. We order pizza and the boys wear their jerseys for the first Clemson football game of the season. We make special breakfasts on the weekends. We play Uno on vacations. We write down things we are thankful for during the month of November. We always buy new Christmas PJs. We spend New Year’s Eve with several of our dear friends. We watch Elf every Christmas. We visit James Island to see the Christmas lights. We buy coordinating Easter outfits. We sit on our top porch on the fourth of July and watch the fireworks over the lake. When we’re doing these things, they don’t really feel like traditions but I guess that they are!

I love Noel Piper’s book Treasuring God in Our Traditions. It got me thinking about traditions in a different way. How traditions help provide families with stability. How the anticipation of them is part of the fun.

Another tradition is wearing a silly hat on our birthdays. Here’s Davis at 4 and 5.

One Weekend… Two Very Different Days… Both Awesome!

What is it about weekends that make me feel like a kid again? I love weekends. Even when I’m working, they have a magical quality about them. It’s like a break from “real life.” The weather was perfect and we took full advantage of it!

Chad, Colin and Davis finally got to take the kayak out on the lake in front of our house. This is one of their favorite things to do but the weather hasn’t cooperated the last few months.

Then Colin, Miles and I embarked on a turtle hunt while the other two had “Daddy and Davis Time” (which consisted of Davis planting apple seeds in order to grow apple trees— so that we don’t have to buy apples at the grocery story — but instead could just pick them off our tree). He was not deterred when we told him that apple trees don’t grow in Charleston.

The fun didn’t stop there. We really want to get a bike trailer for Miles. I’m not a great bike rider. I can get around fine but I need to refresh my skills before I attempt to pull a baby behind me. So Chad and I went for an awesome bike ride while the kids spent some time with Poppy and Grammie. It was BEAUTIFUL!

When we got back, my in-laws had made us an awesome dinner so I didn’t even have to cook. It was a really spectacular day!

So… Sunday was a great day for a completely different reason. We finally organized and cleaned out our garage. It took seven (yes SEVEN) hours but it is DONE 🙂

Miles had fun in the pack and play while Colin and Davis rode scooters. Habitat for Humanity came by today and picked up everything that we didn’t need. Hurrah!!! It’s a great feeling to have a clean and organized garage!

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Anxious for Nothing

I’m a worrier. I don’t want to be —- but it seems I’m always weighing the worst case scenario in all of my decisions. On vacation, I try to put the boys in the room that’s easiest to get to in case of a fire.  I buy Tylenol before I need it (and restock it as necessary) to make sure it hasn’t been contaminated (like what happened when I was young). I make sure that Miles is breathing before I go to bed. The list is endless…Totally neurotic, I know.

I know all this worrying doesn’t get me anywhere. God knows the number of our days and nothing I can do will change that. If something tragic happened, would I grieve any less by worrying more? Of course not. The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. In fact, God tells us to stop our worrying! Why is it so hard for me to turn everything over to Him?

So… I’ve been praying for a peaceful spirit. To enjoy the moment instead of feeling nostalgic. To be at rest instead of anxious. Yesterday I read this verse:

When I said, “My foot is slipping”

Your love, O Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,

Your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Psalm 94:18-19

I’m grateful for these words and will try to rest in His promises! I just want to enjoy each moment…

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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I can feel it coming…

I can smell it in the air… spring must be right around the corner! After an inexplicably cold winter (don’t laugh, my northern friends!!), the cherry blossoms are blooming, doves are making nests, and I am SO excited.

These little guys are nesting outside our office window. Of course you’ll notice that the photo is so much better than my usual photos since it was taken by Pat Stuckart (our IT guy at my office) with his amazing talent (and amazing camera)!

Colin is so excited about playing golf with Chad again! They haven’t been out on the course together in a while. I have a feeling that they’ll be out there this week, now that the weather is so nice. It’s hard to keep a six-year old engaged for a round of golf but Colin really enjoys the fresh air and time with Dad.

Spring “things” are happening all around. The Charleston Food and Wine Festival was last weekend and all around Daniel Island there is evidence that the Family Circle Cup is close at hand. I don’t know a whole lot about tennis but I love the excitement that the tournament brings to our neighborhood each year.

Yesterday I got to have lunch here on DI with a dear friend at Laura Albert’s Tasteful Options. We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. It was a welcome break during a busy day!

And, of course Miles got to enjoy the nice weather too!! Spring, I’m so thankful that you’re here 🙂

Little Hands and Little Feet

Yesterday evening, I spent a couple of hours in Miles’s nursery — packing up clothes that no longer fit him. It’s something that I’ve been putting off for weeks because it tends to be an emotional thing for me.

As I folded those little outfits, I couldn’t help but wonder where the time goes? How is it that my tiny baby is now 9 months old? I remember so vividly when some of these outfits were HUGE! So I found myself paying particular attention to the little hands and feet that I love so much…

I know that pretty soon I’ll be looking at pictures like the one below and thinking that the “big” boys were once so small. This photo is precious to me because Colin (6) and Davis (5) decided they wanted to have a “fancy” dinner the other evening. They got out candles, little photos of themselves, colorful bowls and grown-up silverware. I had to stop them when they tried to get wine glasses for their milk! Instead they used new “magic” cups that they got from the Kids’ Mission Festival at church. (The cups change color when you put cold milk in them so it got their minds off using my good crystal!) 🙂

I love that they are still small enough where they thought this was a really big deal!

Soon those little hands and little feet will be much larger than mine… stop and think about that for a minute!!

The End of the Day

Today was one of “those” days. Nothing went as planned, I didn’t feel well and I found myself looking forward to the end of the day. I couldn’t wait to get home, have supper, put the kids to bed, and just chill out.

At around 5:45, I was getting ready to leave the office but I had one more phone call to make. I ended up chatting with a client that I haven’t seen in a while and we caught up for a few minutes. As we discussed the weather and when our cold snap would be over, she said something that stopped me in my tracks. She said, ” Well, it’s not great but we can’t spend our time wishing our lives away.”

Wow. How often do I live in anticipation of the next thing? The weekend, vacation, spring, the baby to sleep through the night (which thankfully he’s done for a long time), Christmas… the list is endless. It goes back to what I’ve written about before: being intentional and living in the moment. I don’t want life to pass me by while I’m waiting for the next thing. I want to enjoy the journey itself.

So the boys are asleep, the fire is on and my feet are up. I’m in a much better frame of mind than I was in earlier. Thanks to Karen for putting me back on track 🙂