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Monday
Apr282014

The Tornado That Brought Us Home

My boss calls me “OZ”, you know… like the Wizard. Mostly due to my former initials “A.O.Z.” and my ability to tinker with computers and things tech until I either fix it, break it further, or recognize it needs a professional (in no particular order).

Really, it’s a very fitting nickname. “OS” now – still pronounced the same, but I find humor in the “operating system” pun of the change.

I’m the Wizard behind the curtain. I’m not as grand as I appear. Like Dorothy though, I was at one point, far, far from home. But unlike Dorothy, a tornado didn’t rip me from what I knew and loved, it threw me towards it. A tornado brought me Home.

A screen grab from my computer - April 27, 2011


Three years ago… three years ago… three years ago

Sssshhh. I know.

My brain won’t hush. She’s up there churning and wincing at the pain. I close my eyes.

I can hear his voice, a local meteorological hero with a persuasive, yet caring tone. He’s calling out cities. He’s all but screaming to get down.

I was a newly, very newly, single mom. Chase was 3, Conner was 5. We lived 2 hours away from what I knew as Home – where all of my family lived – Birmingham, Alabama.

But I went to school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for 4 years, Montevallo for one, and had friends scattered throughout the state and the greater southeast.

I watched glued – stuck – a million percent unable to process the monster that gnashed through Tuscaloosa. My heart sank. There it, my heart and the city that forced me into adulthood, sat in pieces. But the tornadoes on April 27th didn’t stop in Tuscaloosa, nor did they stop that night. The skies roared on.

Birmingham – up next - when the tornado followed the I-59 corridor to downtown Birmingham, I panicked again.

The majority of my friends were downtown. And so was a murderer. Calls and texts wouldn’t go through. My phone, facebook and chat all went silent.

Birmingham went silent.

As you follow the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll notice a city founded in the boom of iron ore.

Those of us that fell in love with it at an early age have latched on. We move closer downtown, accepting those around us, and are here to nurture this great place until she shines again.

I wanted so desperately to be a part of her re-birth, driving up every other weekend to attend an event or gathering. And on the night of April 27th, while streaming ABC 33/40 weather from my laptop, I pulled the plug on staying in Montgomery.

I’d never been so convicted in my life. My home was being destroyed in front of my eyes. I could do nothing, and in retrospect that was ok. My family and friends that lived through the sounds and sights of that evening and the days and nights to come, they couldn’t do anything either.

Then the sun rose. Every piece of my soul that felt so broken from the divorce, from starting over, felt a fire to mend faster than kudzu can grow on a dirt hill in an Alabama August.

Go home.

She was right. Home…. Back to Birmingham.

Alena, a friend from Alabama that happened to also be away from the area, actually out-of-state, rallied through social media powers to create Toomers for Tuscaloosa – a way for Auburn alum, students, fans and family to help pick up the countless pieces left of Tuscaloosa. She organized supply gatherings, shipments, and drop-offs. The page connected direct needs to direct givers. It grew by leaps and bounds, thousands upon thousands of people helped one another.

It didn’t stop there. Three years later, we’ve put back so much.

Alena recently had the same “ah ha!” moment. I’m happy to say she too came back to Alabama… in what she called her #YearofHome.

That was three years ago…

I now live in Birmingham. I left Montgomery almost a month to the day that I cried out to God from my apartment floor for home. I kicked, screamed and drew blood (ok, I cut myself packing plates… that counts). It did not matter what I had to do. We needed family. We needed to be whole again. We had to heal with our city.

I re-married in late 2013. He has a daughter, so now so do I… (in the step sense). The boys, Conner nearly 9 and Chase 6, occasionally mention Montgomery, but say they never miss it. We live in a neighborhood that is scarred by the events of April 27, 2011, and they go to school with children that lived through the nightmare. Twisted trees. Empty house slabs. The stories.

Three years later…

I looked across the bedroom this morning. He was sitting on the bed putting his socks on for the day. We are expecting 3 days of severe weather, and my husband works both inside and out, so he’s preparing for getting soaked. He’s tired though, and I smile.

We’ve just spent the weekend having a yard sale, ridding ourselves of the old, cleaning and scrubbing and making our home ready for the summer. The kids spent most of their time outside. We camped in our tent with sleeping bags and lanterns while we watched The Incredibles on my Mac – evening complete with s’mores and a campfire.

He’s tired because we’ve been busy. Family stopped by. They can do that now we are back in Birmingham.

 “One block to the right… that’s as far as I could go.”

That’s what my next door neighbor said while recounting the events of morning after the tornado came through Cahaba Heights. He said something woke him, an eerie quiet from where he’d left open his bedroom window. The silence is what woke him. Then the pressure changed…. And he got up to shut the window, but the sound intrigued him and so he listened.

It’s not a sound you want to hear.

It’s not a siren.

It’s not stoppable.

And you have no idea if it is headed towards you.

But sometimes the things that destroy us cause a regrowth greater than anything we could have accomplished without the struggle.

“{…} The most impactful experiences of your life will happen in an instant. You can’t plan for it. It changed everything.” Source: Al.com

It happened in an instant. It changed everything. Three years later, I love my job as a professional in the healthcare real estate development and management industry. The kids sincerely love school and their friends. They see both sides of their family more than anyone else I know, really. So blessed. They’ve got a sister, a step-mom (as my ex re-married) and my husband that both love them all dearly.

We are home.

Although my husband and I may find ourselves shoving little feet into shoes at 3 a.m. while they struggle to both wake up and put on their helmets all while climbing into a tub as we throw a mattress over them, I know I wouldn’t want it any other way. We can live and love as a family, and can rebuild at any moment as one.

 


***If you live in the Southeast United States and know someone who could possibly be unaware of the weather events pending 4/28/2014-4/30/2014, please find a way to contact them. Bring them a weather radio, or assist them in finding someone with one. Go over their safety routine. We are southerners, and southerners help their neighbors.

If you need up-to-date pre-storm, during storm, and post-storm social updates, follow hashtag #ALWX on Twitter.

Live ABC 33/40 Weather coverage can be streamed during emergency situations from this website: http://www.abc3340.com/category/262714/live-stream-from-abc-news 

Here’s a list of safety precautions to take into consideration. http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

DO NOT RELY ON SIRENS OR SIGHT. SIRENS FAIL. AND OUR TORNADOES ARE TYPICALLY “RAIN WRAPPED”.

Think. Plan. Act.

 

Sunday
Apr062014

Life is Complicated, Stay Cool with PackIt - 15% off Coupon Code!

We lead very busy lives these days. Whether it’s soccer…
Or swimming…
First Avenue Rocks (indoor rock climbing!) for Spring Break…
Or whatever else these 3 kids manage to dream up…

 

We keep our snacking healthy with PackIt.

There’s no doubt our diets have changed over the last year - with my husband’s gastroparesis diagnosis to me turning the big 3-0 coupled with our desire to feed our children more healthy, whole foods - and with that so has our need for on-the-go freshness.
Thankfully, I found PackIt - a unique, freezable cooler. Juices and insulin need to stay fresh for Blake, all possible with 10-hours of freezer-quality coldness. I can tote greek yogurt and smoothies all without the bulk and hassle of ice or cumbersome freezer packs. The kids get awesome looking lunch bags that enable Super Momesque magic when I can pack cheeses, fruits, and deli meats with the peace of mind freshness the PackIt provides.
Want 15% off your own PackIt? Use coupon/promo code AmbassadorAmanda1 during the checkout process. (Valid till the end of July 2014).

I want to see your PackIts too! Use hastag #PackItCool. Follow them on Twitter or Pinterest for the latest designs, styles and ideas. 

 

 

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to state my opinions, but I have been provided with some freebies to jump start my love for this brand. All the opinions and statements mentioned here and above are those of HushAmanda.com and its owner, and is in no way intended to be a direct reflection on PackIt or the PackIt brand. But golly, do they have great stuff!  

Monday
Jun172013

Turning 8

The boys are now out of school, and Conner’s 8th birthday is fast aproaching. It seems that I get more sentimental (and sad) about Chase’s birthday each year simply due to the pure Hell endured surrounding his birth, but Conner’s story is a much calmer one. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, they say…

Conner was quite the patriotic pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant with him on Voting Day. My ex-husband and I found out he was a boy on President’s Day, and he was due right around July 4th. If any those things had any effect on him, it shows in his red hot passion for all things explosive and firecracker-esque.

He’s a tinkerer, a thinker, a worrier, and he has his mother’s lack of ability to tell ANY story in a short amount of time - coupled with the need to pace just to get all the words out. He is outright hysterical - a practical joker with a side of sarcasm.

Conner is caring, although the fights between his brother would often times prove different. He’s the first person to sniff me out if I’ve been crying, and without saying a word, he will be there to make it better. He’s a comforter and a snuggler - those little hands reaching out each night as I lay between him and his brother. He loves to talk till he falls asleep, telling me about the dreams he wants to have. A dream planner - that’s him.

And he’s just 8.

For his birthday this year, we are having a game truck party - complete with Minecraft themed goodies and cake. One gigantic trailer filled with flat screen TVs, dozens of gaming consoles and remotes for all his friends to line up and play - what a birthday he’ll have! Of course, little brother Chase is along for this one and just as excited. Being very close in age has tons of perks - I think Chase would agree.


To my biggest little man - Happy Birthday. I hope one day you’ll hum this lullaby to your children, as I did to you. I love you.

Tell me why the stars do shine 
Tell me why the ivy twines 
Tell me why the sky’s so blue 
And then I’ll tell you just why I love you 
Because God made the stars to shine 
Because God made the ivy twine 
Because God made the sky’s so blue 
Because God made you, that’s why I love you 

Wednesday
May222013

Ish HushAmanda Does Not Recommend - Part Two

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen that will never admit they read this, to another rousing edition of 

Stuff I Don’t Recommend! 

First up: Ann Taylor Loft’s Drapery Pant - also available in petite!

Let me just say that The Loft, as I affectionately refer to it, makes up 20% of my closet due to my [all too handy] in-store credit card. There is, however, this obvious riff in The Loft, and it makes me tumbly all grumbly.

Apparently, although marketed towards us Gen Y’s, OLD people shop here too. So to make them happy, I suppose, Loft would like all of us to look like our grandmother’s curtains (your grandmother’s, because my grandmother rocks) - mostly around our hips too.

 

For $69.50, you’ll never have to run from family events again! Stand beside the windows, and people will blow right past those hideous curtains you are wearing as pants.Or don’t buy these. Ever.

 I do ACTUALLY love this store, so I can’t believe I’m going to make another dig, but y’all - the marketing email I received this morning from Ann Taylor Loft had this image in it:

 

I don’t love meth (meth being another thing I don’t recommend), but apparently this model does. What’s happening here? Why all the accessories? Why the ugly purse? Why the horse non-smile? WHY THE PANTS THAT WOULD BETTER SERVE MY BED AS A THROW?

Sigh.

Second Up: Printing a Phone Book

Approximately twice a year, my boss asks me to find a company or a person and if 10 minutes has passed in my online search, he’ll instruct me to find the phonebook. Of those two times per year I’ve had to dig out ONE of the NO LESS THAN FIFTEEN COPIES that were sent to us, as a company, only ONCE has it been useful. 

So basically, every year, this company spends oodles of dollars to mass print a document (that is outdated the millisecond it is printed), wasting forest loads of trees, only to chunk it (or 15) in front of my door so I trip over it?

Thanks. No, really.

I’m tired of doing this:

  

So as something I recommend you not do?

A) Print a phone book

but also

B) Not recycle it after you trip over it.

Tuesday
May072013

A lotta love, a little sweat, and a bunch of carpentry...

We’re expanding!Hmmm… I’m beginning to think you are on to something…
Or at least, in square footage.

In the next half year (to year), my 1,200+ square foot home will get a new 2-car garage, a master bedroom suite (with walk-ins and a large shower) as well as a revamped, open floor plan for the living room area. When the dust and the bills have settled, we are looking at nearly 2,000+ rsf!

[That’s “rentable square footage” in real estate short]

The kids will have double the play space too, and you can’t beat that with any sized stick.

But what to do first? Refinance and take out a loan against the house. This won’t be the easy part, but in the end, the boys and our little family will have all the room we need to grow, GROW and GROW! And that makes us all happy :)


***Legalities: This blog post in no way represents, falsly, that my current boyfriend and I are in any way living together. We have the intentions of moving forward with our relationship in a legal manner, in accordance to the divorce decree in full force and effect, so that this home may become “ours”. In other words, I’m not breaking any rules here.***