Recently on the fabulous TwitterMoms network, I learned that Samsung is looking for people to answer the question "Where is the Heart of Your Home?" One thought immediately came to my mind: The Kitchen.

Of course, I think that many people answer the question this way. No matter how large or small your kitchen area, it just seems to be the natural gathering place for most people. It's warm. It's homey. It generally has a lot going on there. And more importantly? There's food.

However, the more that I thought about it, I realized that the heart of our home is not a place. It is a thing. The heart of our home is our glass and wrought iron kitchen table.

We've had our beloved table for almost 14 years. It's dented. It's scratched. It's probably dated. The chair covers are worn and stained and now replaced with tie-on covers. It's heavy, so it's bad on tile and even worse on hardwood floors. Even with all of that, it's still the heart of every home we've lived in.

We first bought the table -- brand new -- right before we were married. It sat in a very large, sunny breakfast room in our dream home. We gathered many days -- our first table in our first home -- eating, playing games and talking around that table.

Soon, we found ourselves leaving our dream home that we built and relocating to another state. The heart of our home accompanied us to a rental house, only to be placed in a very small breakfast nook. We had to scoot past the table sideways when coming in from the garage. No matter, it was still the gathering place.

In our next home, the table quickly again became the heart. It was still part of the kitchen, but now it was part of a kitchen that overlooked the open family room. Now it was a gathering place to watch television, too.

In our current house, the table sits in the breakfast area of a long kitchen. It overlooks the water. The interesting part is that our current house is very open. This means that people can sit in the open dining room next to the kitchen at the long dining room table with plenty of room, still see the water view and still talk to the cook in the kitchen. No matter. The tiny, round glass table is still the main pick. We find ourselves scooting around, making room for others at this table during parties or gatherings. It's the pick. It's the heart.

In each of these houses, we've always had a formal dining room with a much larger table. That never mattered. The heart of our home continued to be this table. It has served not only as the heart of meals, but discussions. I told my parents we were pregnant while sitting as this table. We've had life altering discussions at this table. We've prayed at this table. We've argued at this table. We've made cookies and Easter eggs there. We've had great meals and some not so great meals there. We've played games, had coffee with friends and shed tears at this table for 14 years.

Will this be the final resting spot for the heart of our home? Probably not. We'll move again and we'll take our beloved table. We will undertake the painful process of wrapping the heavy glass top to move, yet again. But it's definitely the heart of our home. And you know the best part about that? The heart of our home accompanies us wherever we live.


I remember the details of September 11, 2001, like it was yesterday. Not the kind of memories that become fuzzy or that fade after a long amount of time has passed, but clear memories -- like a movie -- still to this day.

I was living and working in the metropolitan DC area. I remember driving to work that morning in amazement of the day. The sky was a bright blue. It was crisp. There were few clouds and the ones that were there were wispy pulled cotton candy strings of white. I had given a small thank you prayer to God for such a beautiful day.

I first learned about the attacks from a CNN email news alert while I was working in my office. It was only moments after tuning to a news radio station that the buzz started in the office. We were all in disbelief, much like the rest of the country.

When the second attack hit the Pentagon, panic started to ensue in our office. We were only about 20 miles from the District, after all. There was a scrambling of electric tension as our management team gathered in the hall to discuss a game plan for the day. Do we send employees home? Do we call clients? Do we work as if nothing has happened? The longer we talked, the more annoyed I became. I was scared. I certainly didn't want to die for this company. I didn't even like working there. Or the people that owned it.

As the phrase "terrorist attack" started to rumble through the office, my thoughts immediately went to the international educational center in the lot by our office. There was a lot of speculation on what would be targeted next. Would it be this international education center? I didn't want to stick around to find out. I lived further out then most employees. Would I even be able to make it home? Would I be safe here or driving home later? Without further discussion, direction or contemplation, I packed up and left. I needed to head home to my husband who just happened to be in town that day. I needed something normal. Something that said this wasn't the end of everything. I needed safety. I needed my family.

I remember driving home that day, faster than I would normally drive. The road was eerily empty. Remember, this is metro-DC where there is a lot of traffic. Always. That day, there was so little traffic. At some points, I was the only person on the road.

Before I left the office, we had heard that cell towers were already starting to become overwhelmed. I had called my husband before I left the office, but I needed to reach my parents who lived in a different state. I remember dialing and redialing the phone only to be met with an incessant busy signal. Bile of panic rose in my throat. There were thoughts that I might not make it home. It seems irrational now, but little about that day was rational.

When I finally reached my parents, I was able to let them know that I was OK. I was headed home. Todd was not traveling. You see, Todd often flew out of of DC on business. His flights often took him to (and from) Boston...sometimes Los Angeles. Those facts did not escape me.

I remember telling my dad how much I love him. There were very real thoughts that I might never get to say those words again to my parents. As I was expressing my love, my phone went dead as signal was lost. I burst into tears. I learned later that my dad did, too.

Closer to home, I was able to get signal again to check in with my husband. By that point, I was in emergency mode. What did we need at home? Did we have batteries? Toilet paper? Canned food? I wasn't sure when, or if, we were going to be able to get back out.

I stopped at a popular mega store. Again, I was unnerved at the silence. There was hardly anyone in this huge store. The employees that were there were huddled around a couple of televisions projecting those horrible images that would soon be burned into our memories forever. I stocked up on batteries. I stocked up on bottled waters, some canned food. Yes, I even stocked up on toilet paper.

On the way home, I remember stopping at McDonald's to pick up favorite meals for my husband and myself. My thoughts were clear, "We may not get to have this for a very, very long time." Again, irrational thoughts for an irrational time.

My husband and I hugged for a very long time when I got home. We both cried.

Our McDonald's meals left untouched on the kitchen table, we watched the events continue to unfold on television. We occasionally lost signal. We had no telephone -- cell nor land line. People knew Todd traveled. People knew I worked near DC. No one could get in touch with us.

The rest of the afternoon starts to get blurry. I do remember sitting, in shock, wondering what would be next. How would our lives ever be the same? They haven't been since.

Before today, I have never recounted the story in this detail. Outside of generalizations, I'm not sure my husband and I have ever discussed the details of that day again.

I was lucky that day. My husband was not traveling. I didn't work closer to the Pentagon where hundreds of people who were not hurt had to abandon cars and walk for miles and miles to get out of the city. We did not lose any family members or friends. Even so, we were, and still are, deeply affected by that day. We made decisions based on the emotion of that day.

I find myself emotional each year on this date, not only because of my experience, but thinking of the families and friends that did lose someone -- or several someones. All for a senseless act that proved nothing.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, families and friends of 9/11. It is said a lot and often, but we truly never will forget.


Ella's new "school" starts next week. We made a trip there yesterday to complete some paperwork that we owe them.

I've been trying to prep Ella for the schedule change by saying "school" every chance I get. She has no idea what I'm talking about.

She's 19 months old.

So on the trip to the school yesterday, I say, "We're almost to school!" (in an upbeat, excited way). Ella's response? "YAAAAAY!"

I look at Todd and say, "She has no idea what I'm talking about. Check this out..."

ME: We're almost to the riots!
ME: We're almost to the guillotines!
ME: We're almost to the noose-rope hangings!
ME: We're almost to the viral outbreaks!
Todd: Ooooh, let me try!
Todd: We're almost to Chlamydia!
Me: *glares at Todd* Now you've taken it a little too far...

Disclaimer: This author, her husband, 19 month old daughter, two other daughters, mother, cousin, doctor, veterinarian and psychic friends do not promote venereal disease. Especially chlamydia. We certainly don't condone execution devices like the guillotine or hangings. Unless it's on Barney (the dinosaur, not the store). And maybe those disrespectful working teens who say "YEP!" instead of "You're Welcome."