Anyone still there?

Well, I took a pretty long break from blogging. I am not totally sure what I want for this blog or where I want it to go, but I'm going to work on creating a space that I can be proud of.

I'd like to work on sharing some of the things that I use to make my family life, school life and craft life more organized and successful. 

What kinds of things might you all be interested in seeing shared? What would be useful for you?
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I'm running for the kids of St. Jude


Dear Blog,

I'm running as a Hero in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend to help fight childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Heroes are runners who fundraise while they train for their race, and I'm proud to be a part of this nationwide alliance.

Remember, even $10 makes a big difference and will be gladly appreciated!

Donations of $50 and over will receive a vinyl monogram or name, if you will send me your address!

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

Your donation helps me go even further. Will you help me reach my goal of $1500? Every dollar makes a difference!

Visit my fundraising page to make a donation. Thank you for helping the kids of St. Jude!

Rachel Kannady

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Toddler Time

Eventually our budget couldn’t really take the stress of me not working. And to be fair, I was starting to get bored and I am pretty sure that Annie was ready for something more exciting than sitting at home playing with me and the cats and only going to mommy group 1 day a week. (And for everyone thinking, “there’s lots of free/cheap things out there, why didn’t you find something?” Again, the internet was not what it is today. There was no googling where to go with a baby, there was no google.)

I began calling around to find out who was hiring and trying to find a job and child care. It was not fun. I didn’t have a college degree and I had a baby so interviews had to be done when my husband wasn’t at work and it was all so complicated.

Finally, I got a call back!

The job was not amazing, but I was good at it. I was the Office Manager for a temporary labor office location. It was as not glamorous as it sounds. In fact, it was downright awful. I really disliked the job. Over time, it got worse, until finally I had to quit. I don’t remember anymore, what the “thing” was that finally made me quit, but it was one of those days where I just knew, I was done.

I called my dad, he was hiring a receptionist, and asked to interview for the job. And thankfully, he made me an offer. So, I went to work for my dad, and back to school and Geoff continued to take pictures with the school photography people and Annie went to day care and life was grooving along.

We loved, we fought, we played, we slept and we did all the things.

We took Annie to the pool during the summer, where we discovered that this girl REALLY loved the water. Have you ever seen a baby throw a temper tantrum? The kind where they throw themselves backwards and if you aren’t holding onto them, they fall out of your arms and onto the floor? That’s what Annie did when it was time to leave. EVERY SINGLE TIME. And do NOT let it rain and you already told her that we were going to the POOL! Consoling her was nearly impossible.

We took Annie to Crossville to meet Geoff’s grandfather, John, during that summer. We had no idea that would be the only time they would meet. Annie was named for John’s wife, Ann. They had a wonderfully romantic romance and had loved each other fiercely for their entire marriage. She was always talked about as one of those incredible women you would want to meet. She changed her birth certificate in order to be able to get married, for crying out loud! She taught Geoff to read when he was very small and loved her family fiercely. She died long before I ever became a part of the family, but John made sure I knew how much he loved her and how much she was loved. 

When we put Annie in John’s arms, she got very still. A wiggly baby by nature, she managed to be quiet calm for his well-aged body. They locked eyes and seemed to have a virtual conversation for quite a while. It was beautiful to see. He got teary eyed and thanked us for introducing him to his first Great-Grandchild. An honor I think he really enjoyed.

As time dictates, Annie started to learn to walk. And then she started to talk.

Her first birthday came and we filled our home with as many friends and family, mostly family, as that tiny duplex could fit. We made her a cute little cake that looked like Winnie the Pooh, complete with a honey pot! We let her smash her cake and had a fabulous day.

Life seemed to be moving along in a mostly good path. We were absolutely broke. Our little tiny home was not really the right size for us. Neither of us had graduated from college yet and our little girl really needed a yard, but we were mostly loving and mostly making it…

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A few thoughts on Prayer

I know many of you have been following the blog recently for the start of the chapters to my book. But, I wanted to share this with you...

A story about my own personal past with people saying, "I'm praying for you (or so in so)." I shared it tonight with a friend after he told me that he and his prayer group prayed for me and my family. "For what it's worth," he said. Here's what it's worth to me. 

When my mom was in the hospital dying of breast cancer, she got sick fast and we couldn't let people in the room anymore. At first it was her request for sleeping and then it was because of how sick she was. So people would sit in the lobby and pray for her and I would get so mad at them. Mostly because I knew they couldn't cure her. And it just pissed me off. Really deep down.

Over the course of the 22 days, over 100 friends said that they were praying for her; via Facebook, at the hospital and around memphis, probably even the globe. The night she died was easily the most peaceful and oddly beautiful night we had had. 

My sisters and I read to her and said our Havdallah and Hanukkah, it was the 4th night, prayers. And we all kissed her goodnight the way she would us. And each of us had some time with her. Geoff and I decided to go downstairs to the cardiac surgery waiting room where the hospital chairs turned into beds and get some sleep. We took baby Lissy with us and quickly went to sleep. 

And my mother drifted quietly away from us in her sleep that night.

The next morning, her best friend, who had stayed with us since it had started was sitting with me. And she looked at me and said, "wasn't that so gentle and peaceful?" And I agreed.

And she said, "you know. It takes a whole lot of prayer to make something so awful seem so peaceful." She had no idea when I was hugging those "prayer warriors", disingenuously thanking them and smiling at them; I had the nastiest thoughts going through my head towards those very kind, well meaning people. And from then on, I have had heartfelt absolute appreciate for anyone who ever said they were praying for anyone I even remotely thought maybe possibly might need help. 

So I assure you, your prayer or prayer list or prayer group, is worth a whole heck of a lot. At least to me.

For what it's worth. 

Life with baby

As life with a new baby went on, I decided being a stay at home mom was just not for me. I thoroughly enjoyed going to mommy group on Thursdays and seeing my friends. We loved it so much in fact, we made a day of it! We would meet for lunch, sitting around extra-large tables with our babies in their baby carriers napping, and happily chat about the week since we last saw each other, ignoring the glares of other patrons and employees wanting us to move on. Then we would caravan over to our group session at the hospital. We would meet with other moms, and lead by two nurses, discuss our problems, the babies, our lives as mommies and whatnot. Eventually, we would all walk over to “baby weight watchers.” A scale in the hospital’s retail office for weighing your baby. The hospital provided disposable covers for the scale and we all happily weighed our babies and tracked their growth.
Overtime, the moms would develop into little groups. It was not really on purpose, but it definitely felt a little clique-ish. The designer mommies with super fancy diaper bags and the newest, latest baby things. The very hippy, free spirited moms with recycled everything and cloth diapers and they had that patchouli and peppermint oil thing happening. And then, the free spirited groups that organically grew of children who were close in age and so their moms started the group around the same time. There was a core group of moms that we were all a part of. Even though we had our preferred sub groups. The nurses, Cathy and Kathy, who ran our little mommy therapy were really wonderful about sharing information, calming upset mommies or just being really sweet, helpful people. They encouraged us to welcome every new person with open arms and to continue our budding new mommy friendships.
As it would happen, one of those days, we had several new moms all show up together. This would generally happen every time someone new would show up, as in high school, no one really wants to go anywhere alone and new moms frequently arrived in pairs. On this particular day, we started our group with everyone in a circle.

Cathy to the group, “Good afternoon, everyone! Welcome, I’m Cathy, a nurse here at Baptist. We are so glad you’re here today! Please share your name, how many children you have, your baby’s name, how old your baby is and nay milestone your baby has met that you’d like to share. We’ll start on my left and go around… Cindy?”

And so we went around.

Each mom proudly showing off their babies, generally born within the last 6-7 months; some are now sort of sitting up, but falling to the side when attempting to perform, some are now latching on better, some are holding up their head in tummy time, Evan likes his pacy upside down. His mother showed us, we all laughed appropriately.

I shared, “I’m Rachel. This is Annie. She’s 10 months old. She’s great at sleeping and really likes to lick the spoon of mashed bananas and to do baby pushups.” Everyone cooed as I looked up, and immediately lock eyes with a woman I recognize.

We continue going around the circle.

Then it’s her turn, “I’m Caroline. This is Reid. He’s 2 months old. He really just sleeps.” Everyone laughs. I blush.

The group continues sharing, but I am not listening. I am 100000% sure I have just heard my high school sophomore English teacher share her baby in the same group I’ve been coming to. I feel incredibly embarrassed. I’m 19 for God’s sake! My ENGLISH TEACHER is sitting across from me in MOMMY GROUP. My friends are all at school, whining about professors and what to wear to parties and whether their boyfriends will like their skimpy dresses. I am worrying about diapers and what my husband and I are going to eat for dinner…

After everyone finishes introducing themselves, we watch a video about breastfeeding and Cathy and Kathy offer to help everyone who is interested or wanting help. A few moms pull back from the circle into their own little mini circles. A few of us make eye contact and start preparing to head to baby weight watchers. I’m hoping we can sort of sneak out, undetected. I feel like I’m back in high school trying to sneak out of class. Cathy announces that we are heading to baby weight watchers and encourages moms to join us, I cringe inwardly, I’ve been caught. I smile at the other moms and wave them on to join us. (I may not want them to come, but I was raised in the South and I have manners.) A few come.

As we are walking down the hall and I am hoping that she won’t talk to me, “maybe I can disappear in the group” I think, she walks up.
“Rachel”, she says. I recognize the lilt in her voice.
I turn around, “Oh hey, Mrs Goodman! I didn’t know you had a baby! Congrats!”
“I could say the same thing about you!”
“Yeah” I feel sheepish. I probably look sheepish. ‘I look stupid. Why is she here? Why did I come today? I should have stayed home and watched Judge Judy or something. Where is that hole that’s supposed to be opening up in the floor?!?!?’, I think. “Her name is Annie”, I said.
“She’s beautiful.”
“He’s darling”
Annie began wiggling in my arms. Yes! An excuse!
I fumbled through words to make an exit and Caroline’s friend called out.
We said our goodbyes and she moved on.

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Gotta Get Married

Well, you know how the story goes?

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage?

Yeah, we didn't follow that story.

Geoff and I had a short romance, and quickly followed that with an adorable baby. But, we weren't married yet.

In August of 2001, shortly before my daughter was born, my sister, Ruth had her Bat Mitzvah. For those who don't know, that is a Jewish ceremony of welcoming a 13 year old girl as an adult learner of Torah and our faith. The student leads the service, reads from the Torah, reads from our Rabbinical texts, the Haftarah and gives their own interpretation of all of those readings. It takes years to prepare for, months to practice the Hebrew reading and, needless to say, it's a REALLY big deal.

While we were greeting family after the service, several people remarked about my very enlarged belly and lack of jewelry on my left ring finger. In some cases, I might say stereotypes aren't true, but, quite frequently, it is clear that they are. Nearly every female friend of my mother's made a comment about "still time to marry before baby...", "don't you want to get married first?" and on and on. All we did was smile and say, "No, thank you." Because, really? Health Insurance.

And honestly, isn't that the most Jewish reason of all? Money!

Well, baby came and since she was soo high risk and health insurance policy rules being what they are, we had 30 days to get coverage.

Thanks to the lack of internet and a good friend in the right place; we could get family insurance as long as we were married by Friday, the 21st. Seems easy enough, right?

Well, the first step in doing that is going to get your marriage license. Generally this can be done in a County Clerks Office. In Shelby County, where we lived, there are a few Clerks Offices around the city. They try to spread them out and have them accessible in various parts of the city.

We looked in the phone book and found the locations of the Clerks Offices. Which thinking back sounds so dark ages, but internet was not what it is now and certainly was not on your phone! Called to confirm their hours and find out what we needed to bring with us and made our way over to the the Mall of Memphis.

To those unaware, you're probably thinking, 'smart thinking to put that in a mall!' Ha! This was a gentrified mall if there ever was one! What was once a booming mall centrally located in Memphis, right off the interstate with an ice-skating rink, desirable shops, a carousel and great food selections; now had the rink, but the food court had 2 shops, most of the 2nd floor was empty, the anchor stores had pulled out and most of what was left was airbrush, cheap clothes and cheap, a wedding shop, fake gold jewelry and the Clerks Office.

We arrived at the Mall, parked and walked in with our sweet little baby. We didn't really fit in with the environment, but we didn't really care. We walked in to the office, filled out the paperwork and waited our turn. It always seems like City offices are a little dingy to me. I don't know if it's a rule that they have to feel that way, or if they don't get cleaned as well or maybe it's the cheap fake linoleum flooring that doesn't clean well? I can't put my finger on it, but it never fails, they all feel the same way.

Our number was called and we walked up to the counter. The woman greeted us in a strong Southern twang, "Hey, y'all! What's up?!" And so the conversation continued as we registered with the office to declare our desire to get married.

We walked out of the office with our marriage license in an oversized folder and excitement in our hearts and on our faces. Immediately, a woman walked up to us, much the same way women try to get you to try perfume at the makeup counters, and offered us a 50% off coupon to get married in the Mall! Of course, you already can guess what happened.

I had been raised "better than that" I was not someone to get married in the Mall! And certainly not this awful, nasty, shell of a mall, the Mall of Memphis. I wasn't one of those people, we weren't those people. When we got home, I called a family friend, a judge, and he agreed to marry us.

The days passed and we planned for our "Big Day" in the judges chambers.

His secretary called, he had to start a murder trial that week, he couldn't marry us.

And so, on September 21st, 2001, I found myself being one of those people and walking into the Mall of Memphis to change from Miss to Mrs.

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Remembering 9/11 with a newborn

. I went home on Sunday, September 9th. My doctor said I did “a beautiful job.” And granted us our walking papers. The nurses loaded us down with diaper bags, diapers, wipes, blankets, everything. Geoff proudly drove us home. That afternoon, my father and step-mother came to visit. The baby room did not have an air conditioner in it, but because I had cats and my dad said he was allergic, we stayed in there. The room was quite warm. On Monday, we spent the day laying around until there was a knock at the door. My dad had called and ordered an air conditioner to be installed in the baby room. After that was done, we spent the rest of the day, being lazy and staring at our tiny miracle.
Tuesday, September 11, Geoff had to work. He was doing school pictures at White Station HS, where I graduated and where my sister, Claire was a senior and my brother, Gabe was a sophomore. The day started pretty normal for us. Geoff got up and left around 6:00am to go to the studio and get what he needed to be at the school by 6:45am. Annie, my newborn baby, and I slept until around 7:15am. I decided that I was going to shower and went and got the baby carrier from the kitchen, carried it to the bathroom and proceeded to rearrange everything in my bathroom until I had situated the room so that I could see her in the carrier while I was in the shower, but would not soak her or the bathroom. You know, the usual gymnastics that every new mom goes through during her first shower, post baby, alone in the house. What could go wrong? According to my mommy brain, everything.
I managed my shower ok. Annie slept peacefully. I, of course, assumed something was wrong at least 4 or 5 times and would check on her as frequently. I decided to go ahead and bathe her and then got us both dressed. I turned on the TV. With 5 channels, there was not a lot to choose from. I finally settled on Good Morning America. I remember thinking that what Diane Sawyer had on looked really classy. I sat on the bed, in my self-painted bedroom, the sun was shining, the sky looked pretty out the window and my cat sat licking it’s paw on the end of my bed. Things seemed pretty great. I felt almost normal. I had accomplished something! And then the camera man said, “OH MY GOD!” So loudly you could hear him. And over her shoulder, I watched a plane fly. (As I reflect on this, though I did not watch GMA regularly, I do not recall ever seeing a plane in the background of that show ever before or after.) What happened in the next few hours is recorded in history books, as they say. My children, most of my friends’ children, will never know what life was like before that day. Any time I have left on an airplane for a trip, my children have said good-bye at the drop off of the airport or at the ticket counter. Never, as I did as a child, have they come to the gate, hugged me during boarding and then watched, with their noses pressed to the windows as the plane taxied away from the gate, down the runway and took off.
My brother, at school that day, headed to the auditorium to take his school picture and told my husband what was being shown on the news in classrooms around the building, the Twin Towers in NYC had each been hit with an airplane and were falling and reports were coming in of other airplane crashes around the country.
When Geoff arrived home I had spent most of the morning reacting to the news. I had cried, I had gotten scared, I had held my baby tight. Over the coming days and weeks, my post-partum hormones spiraled into near paranoia about the safety of my newborn child. With the help of my therapist, I recovered fully.
The afternoon of 9/11 Geoff called his mother to check on her. She lived then and still does, in Knoxville, TN. Which is very near, Oak Ridge, TN. Oak Ridge is home to the Department of Energy, Y-12 National Laboratories and Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Know what all those places have in common? Nuclear Energy. The military was blocking the interstate and roads around Oak Ridge. No one in and no one out. His mother, safe and sound in Knoxville, could not get to Memphis.

Over the course of the rest of the month, businesses all around Memphis began asking for donations, instead of their normal fees, and donating money to the rescue efforts in NYC. Many of the schools were canceling their school pictures as numerous students were not coming to school, due primarily to parental fear. This gave Geoff and I more time together with our new baby. We began to fill our days by calling to see what area businesses were donating any or all of their funds to the relief and rescue efforts and trying to go to those places. Though it was not for happy reasons, it was a grand tour of our city!
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