Why I Gift Photo Books – And Why You Should, Too!

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Why I Gift Photo books

Let’s face it, in this digital age, we scarcely take the time to print pictures these days.  My kids get printed school pictures, and any photos grandparents print some out.  Otherwise, I consistently FAIL to print pictures.  So, this, honestly, is why I gift photo books.  I have found great satisfaction in compiling photo books for my kids from various occasions, like vacations or special events.  Two years ago, I even did utilized Shutterfly’s photo book option to “publish” the book my then 5 year old daughter and I wrote.

Now is a great time to put together photo books, they make a great class gift idea for teachers, but also for a wide variety of other people in your life.  We created a photo book as part of our keepsake for my daughter’s first trip to Disney World when she was younger.  My sister-in-law created a photo book a few years ago for my in-laws to remember the family cruise we went on – we all still enjoy thumbing through it to remember how much we enjoyed the cruise!

Gift Ideas for Photo Books:

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Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Toy List for Kids – Newborn to 24 Months

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toy list for kids - newborn to 24 monthsAmazon has a nice list of top toys for kids this year based on age. The following toys are on the Amazon Holiday Toy List for Kids – Newborn to 24 Months. Prices shown were accurate at the time of posting. Be sure to check the price before you order.

Special thanks to Become a Coupon Queen for sharing this list!

Under $10

Munchkin Twisty Figure 8 Teether – $4.49

Munchkin Ocean Squirts Bath Toys, 4 Pack – $6.98

$11 – $20

Bright Starts Safari Beats Musical Toy $12.39

Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles Bath Toy, 4 Count $12.67

Tomy Hide N Squeak Eggs Learning Toy – $12.97

Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Activity Toy – $12.99

Nuby 10-Pack Little Squirts Fun Bath Toys, Assorted Characters – $12.99

Baby Einstein Discover and Play Piano – $14.39

LeapFrog Count & Crawl Number Kitty Musical Toy $14.96

Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Activity Toy, Puppy – $14.99

Skip Hop Explore and More Accordion Toy, Hedgehog $14.99

Gund Pusheen Plush with Cookie – $17.79

Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow 5-toy Activity Set – $19.99

VTech Zoo Jamz Piano – $19.99

$21 – $30

LeapFrog Scout’s Count & Colors Band $20.48

Gund Tucker Giraffe Comfy Cozy Baby Blanket – $22.56

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Greetings Globe – $22.97

Bright Starts Baby Light and Colors Driver – $23.97

Fisher-Price Beat Bow Wow – Pink $24.45

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Grow ‘n Learn Garden Caddy – $24.99

Gund Baby Sleepy Seas Lights and Soothing Sounds Whale Toy – $25.67

VTech Count and Colors Bouncing Frog Toy – $26.39

Fisher-Price Little People Noah’s Ark $29.99

Fisher-Price Bright Beats Build-a-Beat Dance Mat – $29.99

Fisher-Price Little People Sit ‘n Stand Skyway – $30.39

$31 – $40

VTech Sit, Stand and Ride Baby Walker – $31.99

Baby Einstein Sea Dreams Soother – $34.75

Playskool Explore N’ Grow Busy Ball Popper – $33.43

Oball Go Grippers Car Carrier – $33.92

Fisher-Price Dance & Move BeatBelle – $34.00

Little Tikes Light ‘n Go – 3-in-1 Activity Walker – $34.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Launch and Go Ride On $35.99

Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Sit, Stride & Ride Lion – $37.95

Kaloo Perle Plush Toys, Cream Chubby Bear $37.97

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Crawl-Around Learning Center $39.99

Over $41

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Treasure Mountain Train Adventure – $54.73

Step2 Hot Wheels Push Around Racer Ride On – $49.99

Oball Go Grippers Bounce ‘N Zoom Speedway – $52.69

Olive Kids On the Go 4 pc Bed in a Bag – Toddler $52.98

Playskool Sesame Street Love2Learn Elmo – $49.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Friends Enchanted Princess Palace $44.44

Little Tikes Princess Cozy Truck Ride-On – $71.99

Manhattan Toy Tree Top Adventure Activity Center $72.79

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Home Play Set $89.99

Power Wheels Nickelodeon Blaze And The Monster Machines Lil’ Quad – $94.97

Radio Flyer Big Red Classic ATW – $129

You may also like:

Frugal Baby Gift Ideas

10 Essential Newborn Items

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Frozen Gift Ideas for Boys

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Frozen gift ideas for boysFrozen Gift Ideas for Boys

Someone asked me recently if Disney’s Frozen was still ‘relevant’ among kids.  As a preschool teacher and mother of a 4 and 7 year old, I confidently confirmed indeed, Frozen remains quite relevant and popular among kiddos.  In fact, I can further share it’s not just for girls: little boys have also -ahem- caught Frozen fever.  So if you have a little boy in your life, consider these adorable Frozen gift ideas for boys.

[Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Coca-Cola’s Strong Military Commitment

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Coca-Colas Military Commitment - soldier

I recently spent the day at The Coca-Cola Company headquarters, helping to stuff care packages to send to the military.  This is a sponsored campaign for Coca-Cola; however, as always, all opinions and bad puns are 100% my own.

I never thought packing tubes of toothpaste would lead to such humbling, drop-to-my-knees revelations, and yet, that’s exactly what happened to me the other day.  I was invited to work alongside hundreds of Coca-Cola employees who volunteered to help stuff care packages for the USO to send to our troops.  It was an assembly-lined process, and in its seventh year, ran like a well-oiled machine.  I happened to be in front of the large bin of toothpaste tubes, at the front of the assembly line.  Next to me were packages of disposable razor blades, and a few bins down from there were bottles of eye drops.  Knowing the service members offered feedback and helped determine what items were NEEDED for these care bags made the eye drops all the more of a reality to me. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Veterans’ Day Freebies 2016

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Veterans Day Freebies 2016

November 11 is Veterans Day, so make sure you pass on this information to anyone you know who is a Veteran or Active Duty so they can snag a free deal and/or a free meal! All places require proof of military service, proof of service includes Military ID, Discharge Papers, DD214 and being in uniform. What proof of service required depends on the individual establishment.

Special thanks to Gimme Freebies for contributing to this list of Veterans Day Freebies 2016.

Veterans Day Freebies 2016

Center for Civil and Human RightsThe Center offers discounted admission to both active duty military members and veterans with a valid veteran ID or DD-214 form.  [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

15 Books You Should Read with Your Kids

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15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids

Recently I shared with you reasons WHY you should read to your children, now let me offer a selection of great books you should read with your kids.  Remember, whether you’re reading aloud, reading together, or reading the same book separately and discussing, the important thing is to simply READ.

Do you agree with this list?  Do you see any books you’d add?  Do you see any books you would not have included here?  Any surprises?  How many of these books have you read as a child, or TO your child?  Would love to know your thoughts.  🙂

15 Books You Should Read with Your Kids

  1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – My kids LOVE hearing this one at bedtime – they’ve got it memorized, and my two-year-old son will “read” it to himself frequently.  There’s a little bit of Max in all of us, I’d say.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Where the Wild Things Are
  2. Charlie and the Charlie Factory by Roald Dahl – I’m frequently floored when folks seem surprised that there’s a book to go along with the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  (Check out more  Books No One Knew About Until the Movie, if you’re curious.) I am a collector of Roald Dahl, and have enjoyed just about anything he’s written – including the charming tale of Charlie and his adventures that begin with the Golden Ticket.  This was the first book I read aloud to my 4th graders, many years ago – daily, they sat, perched at their desks listening, anticipating what would happen next.  <3 it!15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  3. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin – (Confession: I added this book, replacing another book I wasn’t familiar with.)  When a book ends with “no matter what you step in, keep moving along and singing your song because it’s all good”, I’m sold.  The accompanying catchy tune you can find on YouTube is but mere icing on the literary cake here.  Should you skip over Pete the Cat?  GOODNESS NO!
  4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – This was the first book my daughter read to us, from beginning to end.  (Yes, at age four, she is a reader!)  It’s a great “gateway” book for beginning readers to gain confidence in their budding skills.  And if they learn a thing or two about trying new things along the way, well, consider it a bonus.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Pete the Cat
  5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – Sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason.  Goodnight Moon is certainly no exception here.  You’ll scarcely find a parent who doesn’t fondly think about how they read it to their babies, likely long after they were babies.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Goodnight Moon
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling –  Yes, your kid will likely want to read this series when he’s older, but this is a fantastic read aloud book to introduce your kids to the magical world of Harry Potter at an early age.  And then take them out back and play a li’l Quidditch together, followed by a few rounds of butter beers.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Harry Potter
  7. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – Perhaps this story holds more meaning to parents than their children, but every child should hear the tale of just how very much a parent loves his child.  And that’s all I’ll say.  Go read it for yourself.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Guess How Much I Love You
  8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst –  The ultimate “bad hair day” book remains a classic, as Alexander shares his (obviously) bad day – and even moving to Australia won’t make things better.  Or will it?15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
  9. No David!  by David Shannon – If you’ve ever spent any amount of time living with a two year old, you will catch a glimpse of him or her in this sure-to-be classic story, based loosely on the author’s childhood days.   It’s adorable illustrations complement the simple text, together painting a rich, sometimes devious picture to which both parents and children will relate.  And you may just find yourself calling your child “David” when they start to resemble a holy terror.  Also don’t forget David Goes to School and David Gets in Trouble, to round out the lovably mischeivious collection.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - No David
  10. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey – Again, it’s a classic for a reason.  The adorable tale of Sal picking blueberries with her mother will delight readers -both young and old- as they watch the paralleled story of the mother bear and baby bear collecting blueberries for hibernation.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Blueberries for Sal
  11. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff – I still remember sitting in the library in Kindergarten, hearing the librarian read this to us.  I love the cause and effect, and how it all ties back together at the end.  I’ve collected all the other “If you Give a…” books by Numeroff.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  12. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne – What child (or adult) doesn’t have some degree of affection for the willy, nilly, silly ol’ bear?  The classic tales take kids back to a simpler style of children’s literature, which require a little more imagination, and less illustrations.  Nonetheless, they are absolutely worthwhile.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Winnie the Pooh
  13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter –  Not unlike David Shannon’s main character (see #9), Peter Rabbit finds himself frequently in sticky situations, particularly with the ornery Mr. McGregor.  Watch how Peter Rabbit’s leanings towards naughtiness make for great adventures.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Peter Rabbit
  14. My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells – No child’s library is complete without a little Mother Goose. Period.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Mother Goose
  15. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – This was the first chapter book my daughter and I read together.  She was four at the time, and was so fully-engaged throughout – which honestly surprised me.  She loved hearing about Charlotte, Fern, and even rascally Templeton.  Her eyes welled up with tears when Charlotte passed away, but a smile crept up over her face when her babies were born, and then floated away.  As a treat, we enjoyed watching the movie, and comparing it to the book.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Charlotte's Web

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Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Halloween Activities in Atlanta 2016

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kroger. The opinions and text are all mine.

Halloween Activities in Atlanta 2016Mark your calendars, y’all!  There’s plenty to do this week and next weekend as we prepare for Halloween!

Moonlight Madness at Kroger

IN-STORE EVENT

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27TH

4PM-7PM

  Different Kroger stores throughout Atlanta will be hosting Moonlight Madness.  Activities may include:

  • Costume Contest for Kids
  • Trick or Treat Street ~ Each Department will pass out candy
  • Cake Walk
  • Pumpkin Carving Contest
  • Cookie Decoration Station for the Kids
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Coloring Station or Contest
  • Family Friendly Open House
  • Samples Samples Samples!!

Last year, by chance we stumbled into Moonlight Madness after school, and the kids enjoyed participating in a cake walk, and were delighted to get to go for several go-arounds.  In the end, we walked out with our very own caramel cake, which I may have shared with the kids (hee hee), and they enjoyed the fun and festivities.  And the cake.  Check with your individual location to see what activities they  may have for Moonlight Madness at Kroger.

Halloween Activities in Atlanta 2016

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Other fun Halloween activities around Atlanta:

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Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Kid-Friendly Southwest Dip

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kroger. The opinions and text are all mine.

My kids love to eat.  Anything in “dip form” will get demolished in a matter of mere seconds with this crew.   Moreover, I love to find ways to create things with them.  ….and if I happen to sneak in some extra little nutritional boosts, well, then that’s even better.kid-friendly southwest dip

So this week, we headed over to Kroger, and created a fun, delicious southwest dip.  We even got creative and made it into a cat-faced southwest dip.  ….unfortunately, I first created another installment of “How Not to Cook”.  (Remember my infamous meatball debacle?  Or the overly-cinnamon’ed Vitamix applesauce?)

When I was asked to create a kid-friendly activity using things I got at Kroger, it seemed like a no-brainer.  I decided to go with a southwest-style dip and home made baked tortilla chips, which is an easy recipe for the kids to get involved with, AND which I could get everything I need at my neighborhood Kroger store.  Y’all already know I love Kroger, not only because they have competitive prices, but because Kroger helps me to find healthy options for me and my family.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_baked-tortilla_banner

Making our own tortilla chips was a snap. It was basically what we did when we made tortilla strips for our chicken tortilla soups. Using Halloween-themed cookie cutters just added to the fun, too!

But first I had to “pull a Barbara”, and take too many liberties in what I created.  I found a handful of taco dip recipes, calling for cream cheese and refried beans, along with salsa, and other garnishing.  But I decided I wanted to make a healthier version, and replaced the refried beans with black beans and added corn, as well.  It didn’t turn out too well, but it made for a great conversation about how we dust ourself off and try again when things don’t go as planned.  This was actually perfect timing, since I’m trying to work with my 4 yo son on tackling the monkey bars at school.  He’s been reluctant to try them because he’s afraid of falling.  I’ve been encouraging him to try them, and that the worst that would happen is he drops to the ground and gets up and tries it again.  (His feet dangle about a foot from the ground on the monkey bars at his school, fwiw.)  So when my initial crack at this recipe was less than stellar, I made a big stink about getting right back in there and trying the recipe again, figuring out what I did wrong, and how I could make it better the next time.

I digress.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_makingseasoning

We made our own taco seasoning for this recipe, thanks to a super-simple recipe I first heard about from Krystyn of Really Are You Serious. It was an easy and delightful task for my son!

Here’s what how we did it.  There are plenty of opportunities along the way to get the kids involved with each step, depending on their age, your comfort level, and their abilities – and perhaps your threshold for messes.

Kid-friendly Southwest Dip

  • 8-oz sour cream
  • 1 tbs. chia seeds
  • 1 tbs. flax seed
  • 2 tsp. taco seasoning mix (Did you know how easy it is to make your own??)
  • 1/2 c. salsa
  • 1/4 c. sliced ripe olives (+4-5 individual olives on reserve)
  • 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • 1/2 c. sweet corn
  • 1 c. chopped lettuce or spinach (or let the kids use scissors to snip it in to strips)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • tortilla chips  (It’s super easy to bake your own tortilla chips!)

Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning until well-blended.  Spread as bottom layer of dip in your deep dish.  Next evenly spread salsa over cream cheese mix, then sprinkle chia and flax seed over the salsa.   Layer the beans, then the corn.  Top with shredded cheese.  ….now for the fun part.  Have kids create a face: use the tomatoes (cut in half) to create eyes, then place olive slice over tomato.  Cut olive slices in half to create a mouth.

kid-friendly-southwest-dip_pin

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I ended up sticking ours in the oven with the baked tortilla chips for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  This is completely optional.

Giveaway opportunity:
I want to give one of y’all a chance to create something with your own kiddos, so I’m offering you a chance to win a $50 Kroger giftcard.  Simply comment below with your favorite Halloween activity or recipe to do with your kids.  Then fill out the form below.  See?  Simple!

Remember, you can earn extra entries daily, so make sure to stop back in and update your form to increase your chance of winning.  Good luck, y’all!  🙂


Kroger $50 Giftcard

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

13 Nights of Halloween Schedule

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13 Nights of Halloween

The white sweater and pink socks are her own personal touches.

This time last year, my (then) six-year-old daughter already picked out, and had been wearing, her Halloween costume for this year – since the beginning of September!  Perhaps, then, that means it’s ok to get the ball rolling WELL before October 31st, right?  ….even if the temperatures here in Atlanta still linger in the 90s.  sigh

Once again, ABC Family is hosting 13 Nights of Halloween, packed with great family-friendly movies for the whole family to enjoy.  If you’d like to get the festivities started BEFORE October 19th, or keep the Halloween spirit going year-round, you can snag these titles on Amazon.  (Links included below.)

ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween

Super special thanks to Drug Store Divas for sharing this list!

ABC Family’s 13 Nights Of Halloween Schedule 2016

Night One- Wednesday, October 19th
5:30pm — Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
7:00pm — R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls (television premiere)
9:00pm — Hocus Pocus
12:00am — Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Remembering 9-11

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Remembering 9-11 Never ForgetI’d turned on the news, as I did every morning, getting ready to go play with some sweet kids at Athens’ Mothers Center. I came out of the bathroom, toothbrush still in hand, as I watched the second plane hit. In that instant, I knew -like everyone else watching- that our lives would be forever changed, forever scarred by such acts of cowardly hate.

I sat on the couch that afternoon, paralyzed in front of the TV, praying for my roommate – who knew not if her father had indeed emerged safely after the collapse of the second tower. (Hours later, he was confirmed ok. Thank God.)

For the next few weeks, I was plagued by the TV images of these terrorists, whose faces were plastered all over the place – which was better than seeing a mix of ash and things I cannot bear to write -even today- fall from the sky.

Today is a day to reflect. To remember. Fifteen years later, just like every year since, I can’t help but let the tears roll, for the victims, for the survivors, for the heroes, and for a nation that once was.  Remembering 9-11 still conjures up powerful emotions for so many of us.

Amidst the rubble, the sorrow, and the confusion emerged not only a sense of patriotism previously unseen by my generation, but also a sense of unparalleled support and outreach amongst strangers. For after such an event, we became united. We became one nation. Under God.

I remember, also, at Georgia’s first home game of the season – which was delayed by a few weeks- we paused for a moment of silence. That entire stadium grew to a silent hush. Heads bowed, many eyes closed. You could feel the passionate energy, mixed still with a charge of fear and anger still hanging over our heads, when amongst the crowd, one voice broke the silence: “F*ck Bin Laden!”

Said with a mix of anger, and a slight bit of edgy humor, as well as fear, the tension in the crowd was broken. We collectively let out a quick half-chuckle.

But with those three words, perhaps not the most eloquent choice, we moved forward. We lived our lives, while still carrying this day in our hearts.

So, years later, when Bin Laden was reported dead, I drew back to this day, this event. I know not who spoke those three words, but they resonate with me still.

Fifteen years.

It’s been fifteen years since our nation stood aghast, watching those towers crumble, hearing reports of the Pentagon being hit, and later learning of the courageous passengers who thwarted a fourth potential attack – our world changing in ways we could never have anticipated.

Fifteen years, and that day is still ingrained in my mind clearly, as if it were just yesterday we witnessed the second plane hit the second tower live on TV.

When remembering 9-11, anyone who was around, and old enough to know what was going on fifteen years ago, can vividly recall where they were that morning, what they were doing, and who they knew in New York at the time.

What amazed me most about the heartbreaking attacks fifteen years ago wasn’t the pure evil behind the attacks, but rather, the collective outpouring of support and love that emerged in the aftermath.

We watched as rescue workers from across the nation came to New York for the grueling task of first searching and rescuing those left alive in the rubble of the fallen towers, and then with the heart-wrenching task of assisting in recovering bodies, and body parts amidst the rubble and the ash.

Remembering 9-11 Rescue Workers

We watched as folks worked in shifts, bringing food and water to the rescue workers.  We watched as folks turned to total strangers in the street, many paralyzed in shock and disbelief at what was happening, offering hugs, a shoulder to cry on, or simply their mere presence.  We watched as people posted fliers all over the city of missing loved ones, their whereabouts unknown as cellphone batteries were drained and cell towers jammed in the pandemonium following the falling towers.  We watched as some loved ones emerged, letting friends and family know they were ok, and had found comfort and shelter amongst kind strangers, since they could not physically get back to their homes.

We watched the nation swell in to a powerful surge of patriotism.  I cannot say for certain how patriotic I felt on September 10, 2001 – as a 21 year old senior in college, my patriotism, while it was there, was nowhere near the same degree as it was just 24 hours later.

I can still vividly remember the first football game of the college football 2001 season, can still clearly where I was in the stands at Sanford Stadium, and can still clearly hear that singular voice’s loud declaration of fear and hate, pointed towards Bin Laden with three simple words: “f*ck Bin Laden”.

That one statement of profanity proved to be quite profound for me, and perhaps for the nation, as we struggled to understand WHO it was who attacked US.  As we grappled with the idea of an entire body of people who simply wanted to wipe us out, we needed someone or something at which to direct our anger.  So as a nation, we said “F*ck Bin Laden.”

More importantly, however, that surge of patriotism, coupled with our sense of selfless giving resonated with many, and for years and years to come.  As we, unfortunately saw many more tragic events unfold in the last fifteen years, we continued to see the bright side of humanity come out on top.  Perhaps the events of 9/11 were by far the most shocking and tragic, we have since witnessed too many other acts of violence on our soil by people of our own nation, as well as tragic acts of nature.  Hurricane Katrina devastated an entire city, but we saw the outpouring of help and support from neighboring states as people, now without a home, scrambled to put the pieces of their life together.  We all prayed for the children and faculty who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary a few years ago. Even the heinous acts in Orlando this summer, while beyond senseless and hateful, proved another opportunity for our nation to ban together and show the world that we would not let a hateful act keep us down.

Is our post-9/11 world all rainbows and sunshine?  Of course not.  In 2016, in many significant ways, we are a nation divided, and a nation that needs to find a way to heel those divides; we are still one nation who -at least for one day in September- comes together in solidarity to reflect on our nation, our history, our collective triumphs as well as our collective wounds.

In many ways, those three simple words of profanity spoken by one person ring truth as our nation continues to move forward: f*ck Bin Laden, and all he represents, as we strive to continue to be a nation working to uphold freedoms, liberties, and truths in which American citizens are granted, simply by being American citizens.  F*ck the people who try to rob us of that right, of those freedoms.  F*ck the folks who think it’s their destiny, their duty to terrorize us.  F*ck them: we are collectively stronger than they.

My hope for our nation, on September 11, is to reflect as a nation on how far we have come, both since the formation of our country, as well as in the last 15 years.  My hope is that, as we remember those lost fifteen years ago, we can work towards finding peace for our nation, and peace for the ones we lost that day.  Fifteen years ago.

God.  Bless.  America.

 

***P.S.  There are some amazing documentaries on 9-11.  Most are raw and gritty and not for the faint of heart; however, they are worth watching.  Turn your TVs on today, set up your DVRs and record a few.  I found a few last year on CNN, I believe.  Documentaries on what typical folks were doing in New York on September 10, 2001, and how their lives changed that day.  Powerful and haunting.

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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