Friday, April 25, 2008

Michelle Times Seven

"Hi, Ellen, this is Michelle."

"Oh, hi Michelle." My mind frantically races as I attune my hearing to the individual nuances in each of their voices. Good. I've identified Michelle B.

I have had a day full of Michelles. This is a good thing. My life is ever so much richer with them revoling around me on a daily basis.

My day started at 6:30 am when Michelle B. picked me up to go swimming at the rec center. She's my triathaon training buddy. We keep working out together for our "future triathalon," yet neither one of us has registered or plunked down the money yet. Hmmmmm. We spend a lot of time discussing our inadequecies in all areas athletic.

At school, principal Michelle L. stopped me to ask had I heard about this woman in Salt Lake City who blogs and makes $40,000 a month? I hadn't, but went home and immediately looked her up. Here's her site: Dooce. Wow. Michelle L. is retiring as our principal this year. How many principals do you know that know every kid's name--first and last--and who their siblings and parents are? She does. She will be sorely missed at our school. She is a walking child encyclopedia blended with tons of love and caring for the kids she is responsible for.

At home there was a message from Michelle B., telling me some more information about our futuristic triathalon.

Michelle G. called later that day to remind Adrienne about a young women activity next week that she needed to work on.

Michelle B. the second (I have two Michelle B's) called to change the time that Adrienne was babysitting tonight.

Back at school I met Michelle K. in our sons' 4th grade classroom for a pizza party. I brought the soda and she brought the pizza. I was all innocent enough. I had brought an assortment of pop. They were on sale at Smith's for 63 cents a liter. So I bought several I thought the kids would like. The one that looked like generic Sprite, however, turned out to be a generic Mountain Dew. We did not discover this, however, until a half a dozen kids had already drank a full glass and one shouted, "Hey this tastes like Mountain Dew! Cool!"

Michelle K. looked at the ingredients carefully. Yup, she said, caffeine was one of the first few ingredients. We looked apologetically at poor Mrs. Mendenhall who had do deal with all the chidlren we had caffeinated for the rest of the afternoon. Oops. We put the rest of the bottle away. She's thinking I'm a total loser parent, I whispered to Michelle K.

Ten-year old Alex, who had somehow had two glasses of "Mountain Dew" was rolling around on the carpet, and other chaos was errupting as we cleaned up and left. "She's going to hate us," Michelle K. laughed as we walked out of the school together. I agreed whole-heartedly. After school Nathan said Alex worked harder and better that afternoon than ever before, and that maybe he should drink Mountain Dew every day.

Tonight while I was spraying the vegetable garden, Michelle H. came by to drop off Kyle to play with Nathan and bring presents she bartered for in Mazatlan. Out of all my Michelles, she's been in my life for many years now. I feel like I know her and her family the best. She's takes the cake in the extremely thoughtful and helpful department. How I will miss her when she moves to New York next year. Hey, but another excuse to visit New York again.

Later I got on my blog and saw a comment from Michelle C., who I used to talk with weekly but have not seen for more than a month. How I miss her wit and humor and listening ear. I'm going to figure out a way to see her next week. Michelle C, are you out there. Want to have lunch next week?

An hour later, "Mom, phone's for you!"

"Who is it?"

"I dunno. Sounds like Michelle."

"Which one?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back to Reality

I'm sipping hot cocoa from my cool Statue of Liberty mug (it's still not warm enough here for me, thus the cocoa in the middle of the day) and thinking about our awesome trip to New York City.

Here are the things that surprised me the most about the city:

1. How the grocery stores have aisles and aisles of cheese of every size, variety and ethnicity. How you could try a different kind every day for years and still be enchanted by the flavors and textures.

2. How there is so much fresh produce everywhere that looks interesting and unique. How we are indeed a land of plenty, and then some. I wish we could somehow divide it up better amongst ourselves.

3. How litter-free the streets are.

4. How many varieties of trees and flowers there are everywhere. For a major metropolitan city, there is always some green and color around. Flowering trees smell the same in the city as in other places.

5. How people are friendly, funny and helpful.

6. That seeing a Broadway play really is a dream come true. That seeing two Broadway plays was more than any person should ever ask for.

7. How you could never get bored in a million years. Just walk down the streets and look at the people and activities swirling around you.

8. How riding the subway cost $200 for the week we were there.

9. How exhausting getting around is. How our legs and feet were always tired, but that we really didn't want to stop going and doing.

10. That cupcakes can be absolutely beautiful and banana pudding can rock your world. Check out Magnolia Bakery. That peanut butter can have so many flavors. Check out Peanut Butter & Co. Way, way, way too many things to check out.

I'll make a small dent on my next visit. Until then.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Big Apple Two

The best thing about eating in New York is that everything tastes just a little bit better than you expect it will, and you can eat whatever you want, at whatever hour of the day your heart desires. For example, if you get the sudden urge to eat Southern Cantonese on a Saturday nite, you just might be in luck.

Such was Grimaldi's Pizza in Brooklyn. The red checkered tablecloths, the coal-oven roasted flavor, the fresh ingredients all combined for an incredible lunch. My son, Nathan, who thinks Little Ceasar's is the cat's meow, said it was the best pizza ever. That's because it's real pizza, son, made with fresh ingredients. We took the foot path across the Brooklyn Bridge to walk off the pizza and the homemade ice cream we'd picked up after lunch.

The kids were interested in seeing ground zero, and we spent some time looking at the old gravesites in the cemetery of St. Paul's Chapel. St. Paul's was a relief center for 8 months after 9/11, and is now a museum that chronicles those horrific days and months after.

That nite, Darren and the kids (sans Leah) went to the Yankees/Red Sox game. Nathan insisted on wearing his Red Sox hat on the subway after the game. Yankess fans were yelling at him, "Hey, theeeer, get that a kid outta heeeraa, don't ya know this is the wroooong town ta weaaaar that hat in?" They didn't seem to mind riding with the drunken Yankees fans, and thought the whole experience was fabulous. Plus that, the Red Sox won, and so Nate got to see his team win in Yankee Stadium! "Wouldya look at that hat that kid's goooot on-whatdaya think youur doin' theeeer kid?" New Yorkers are great.

Friday we strolled through Central Park and ate a terrible hot dog that was most disappointing. The kids rode the Carousel and then the girls went shopping to H&M. After shopping in the children's department with Leah for 45 minutes, I was reduced to sitting on the floor at the top of the escalator, where the girls would rush by every 20 minutes or so and throw clothes at me, or ask me what I thought. After I had sat there for an hour, eaten a granola bar and cleaned out my purse, Leah had to go to the bathroom. Of course there was no bathroom available there, so Sammie took Leah next door to Victoria's Secret to use the restroom, and a lady accidentially sprayed perfume in her eye. (Plus there was no toilet paper.)

Saturday we got up at he crack of dawn to get in line to see the Statue of Liberty. Now that security is so tight, the lines wind all around Battery Park. So we got there at 8:15 and were some of the first people in line to get on the ferry over to Liberty Island. I must say, coming up on Lady Liberty is an incredible experience, and one can only imagine those thousands of immigrants and how their hearts must have been pounding as they passed her. Leah is fascinated by the Statue--her size, "her bun," the tablet she's carrying, why she's green, etc.

Ellis Island was remarkable as well. The museum that tells the story of many of the immigrants paints a very vivid picture of how America became the melting pot that it is. I loved learning about where all the people came from, what they went through once they got here, and how devastating it must have been to find out you had come all that way only to be sent back because you had some sort of communicable disease. Some immigrants spent months on Ellis Island, recovering from illnesses and going through insurmountable red tape get to Manhattan.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Big Apple

New York is fabulous! The pulse, the people--how much there is to do in so little time. How much money I can spent in mere seconds--it's just astonishing! Who would have thought!!

First I must say that my feet are not used to walking so much. They hurt. If I walked this much every day I would be SKINNY! So everyone, just to reiterate, if I lived in a big city I'd be thin, but since I don't, I'm not. I am dependent on my car for everything!

It is sooo nice to see people of color and hear different languages being spoken almost everywhere! I don't want my kids growing up thinking that everyone looks like them in Happy Valley. DIVERSITY! How I've missed you.

Here's what we've been doing the past few days besides wearing out my feet:

Day One: Took the subway to 5th Avenue and all the cool stores. We visited FAO Schwartz where we had the most amazing mint malted milk balls ever. They put Whoppers to shame. Leah had a great time exploring Doll World in all its amazing pinkness. Only $7,000 for a life-sized stuffed Triceratops! No problem.

We walked into fancy stores like Tiffany's and Cartier Jewelers and Bergdorf Goodman where we looked like the Clampets (Jed, Ellie May, Granny and Jethro) compared to all the sleeeeeeek, polished salespeople wearing black. On each corner of Tiffany's there were GIANT vases of forsythia (the bright, yellow spring flowering bush). It looked like they had ripped out entire plants out of the ground for the vases. Adrie was eyeing some $28,000 earrings. No problem, I said. Hang on sweetie, I'll buy those for you just as soon as I get Dad the $500 tie in Bergdorfs!

Then lunch in this cool restaurant called Prime Burger where we got to sit in our own customized booths with individual swinging doors/trays for each person. The burgers were delicious. If you wanted lettuce or tomato or anything other than a plain burger on bun you had to pay $2 more but we didn't know that at the time. It was a great slice of NY life sit and listen to all the regulars eating their burgers and sipping cups of joe.

The Disney store (four floors high) put any mall Disney store to shame. Seriously! It was like being at Disneyland.

More shopping. Mac World was very cool. H and M trapped Adrie and Sammie in its snare for about two hours while Nathan writhed in pain at being in a clothing store. Darren took him into the NBA store where he got to shoot hoops to vent his frustrations in the middle of his sister's clothes trying-on frenzy.

American Girl Place was everything that Leah could have wanted and more. She and her Bitty Baby Jessie got matching outfits! They are adorable I must admit. She got to see in person the doll she wants for her birthday. A lady commented that she looked just like Kit, freckles and all. She was peachy happy for the rest of the day.

Time to go back to Aunt Amy's to take a nap because Darren, Adrie, Sammie and I had to rest up so we could go to Wicked!!
AMAZING, FABULOUS, INSPIRING, OUTSTANDING! It was three hours of unforgettable music and costumes and characters.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fractured Growth Plate

I told him to turn off the TV and come upstairs for church. I thought it was a little odd that he ran upstairs and put on his basketball shoes instead of his church shoes, but he's 10, and burning energy every waking moment is of utmost importance to him, especially since he had three hours of church ahead of him.

He would wear his basketball shoes to church if I let him, anyway.

"Put on your church shoes," I said.

"Mom, I'm just gonna shoot a few hoops before church." I didn't feel like arguing.

I had just finished putting makeup on one eye when I heard the screaming followed by his sisters taunting, "Nathan, you're such a faker!."

"Go get Mom!" he screamed.

I was outside in flash in all my one-eyed beauty watching a screaming , writhing child get grass stains all over his church clothes.

"It hurts!" he yelled, red-faced.

"What hurts?" I yelled back.

"My ankle! I went down on it hard!"

"Is it the same one as last time?" He nodded and wheezed, tears streaming down his face.

"He's not faking," I told his sisters. "Go get Dad." Nathan and I hobbled into the house, where he fell down in the doorway and proceded to roll around on the carpet, crying.

"It's his same foot," I told Darren when he came in the room." We looked at each other with worried-married people eyes. I pictured Nathan last fall, on the sidelines, watching his team struggle, a big green cast up to his knee. Then I pictured him last week, defending the goal like no one's business, blocking all but one of the other team's goals. Please, not again.

We got him on the couch and put ice on his very swollen ankle. We sent the girls to church and then talked ahout what we should do. "I think it's just a sprain," my husband said after consulting his online medical encyclopedia.

"I think we should go get it checked out, " I said. "We're going to New York in two days." He consulted his encyclopedia again. We decided to wait until morning. When we ate cake on the patio later that day he was chasing Leah around throwing water-soaked balls. No sign of a limp.Then he came in and sat down for the rest of the night. I breathed a tentative sign of relief, and then said a fervent prayer before bed.

In the morning, I peeked under his covers at his ankle while he slept. It was still big as an apricot. I made him get up and walk. He was limping. I called the orthopedic surgeon, the one who treated him last fall for an almost similar injury.

At 11:30 we were playing hangman in Dr. Mortensen's sports medicine office. We were using words and phrases associated with New York like "Big Apple," "Statue of Liberty," and then "I hope this doesn't take long," and finally "It always does" when Dr. Mortensen came in to look at the exrays. Small tear/fracture in the growth plate, he told us. Four weeks to heal. Be careful walking around New York. Good news, a removable ankle cast will be fine. If he rolls it again, the plate could break and he would need surgery to repair it.

Nathan's shirt came up over his eyes. He tried to not care, but there was just too much to care about--two more games, the tournament after that, the hopes of a fantastic finish, the memories of sitting it out last season. He shuddered a bit. We talked about what might happen. Maybe he could play a tournament game. Maybe. Always a bunch of maybes.

I came home and emailed the coaches. Dear Ryan and Doug, I am so sorry to tell you this . . . "

When I was helping him pack earlier today, I noticed he had hung up his church clothes, the ones with grass stains all over them. It was the first time he had actually got them on the hanger right.

I took them off the hanger and threw them in the dirty clothes to deal with later and then tried to think about what shoes he could get over the ankle cast. I went downstairs to look through his shoes, and tried not to think about next Wednesday's game, the one where he'd be watching and rooting, every muscle in his body aching to play.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Here Comes the Sun

It's amazing what a little sun can do! It makes me feel like a normal person again, not an eskimo bundled up against the elements grouching around trying to get warm. That's what I've felt like all week. And then today . . . . aaaah, I feel alive, like I actually have blood pumping through my veins.

My sister is going to be moving back to Utah and will be living very close to the old neighborhood where we grew up. In fact, her kids will go to good old Bonneville Jr. High and Cottonwood High School where Lisa and I went. I just can't believe this is happening--that I will actaully live within driving distance of my sister. We can spend holidays together. I can invite them over on a boring Sunday afternoon and we can play some games and chat. We can get into spats and then make up.

Darren and I took Nathan and Sammie biking tonight. We went on a long ride all over. It was great to spend the time with the kids doing something we all enjoy so much. It's nice to have reached this point with the kids. Biking makes me feel alive, just like sun.

I spent a fair amount of time helping Darren dig rocks out of the vegetable garden today. He always wondered why his tomatoes didn't do so great in a certain spot. It's because they were growing over a major rockbed. We filled up half the garbage can with rocks. He will have to take it out to the curb this week; I won't be able to budge the can.

New York City here we come! We are all so excited packing and talking about what to bring and what to do! I will hopefully be doing a daily blog about our goings-on in the Big Apple so check back from time to time.

Sammie and I made the most amazing carrot cake for Darren's birthday today. So moist with tons of cream cheese frosting! My husband will be 42 on Tuesday--also tax day. We are celebrating by seeing Macbeth together one evening on Broadway. I think he is more excited for this than the Yankees/Red Sox game.

I'm just looking forward to getting out of town for a while.

Monday, April 7, 2008

If you can't say somethin' nice . . .

"If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all." That's what Thumper tells his Mama when he's scolded for saying mean things in Bambi. I don't know if I can say anything nice right now, but I'll try to make Thumper proud.

But today already has a bunch of strikes against it. It's Monday, it's cub scouts, and it's snowing! I miss my Dad who's been gone 12 years, I don't want to stand in the freezing cold at recess, and I think I have hayfever which is making me tired and lazy. I have never had a touch of it before. I am not feeling very charitable thoughts toward anyone, and this makes me feel even worse.

It looked like a blizzard this morning for about an hour and a half. It's April 7 people! Can someone just put me under until it's really spring? When I wake up, I promise I'll be nice. I'm thinking of places I can move to when my kids are older so I don't have to deal with January-March. I think Darren's ready to ship me off a lot sooner. Like maybe any minute.

We're going to NY in a week. The change of scenery will do everyone good. Even if it's cold and rainy in NY, I still won't be cold and miserable here.

Even though I did four loads of laundry on Friday, there are six more today. How is that possible? I had every speck of it done of Friday, and now there are piles again. I guess until people stop wearing clothes this will be my lot in life. Maybe I'll have less in summer because people wear less clothing, and it's lighter. Maybe. Who knows.

I can swim 500 meters in 20 minutes! This is pathetic! My daughter can swim it in 6 minutes, 14 minutes ahead of me. I keep telling myself, she's 25 years younger and she's been swimming competitively for years. I'm just an overweight 41-year old with no training and no endurance who is attempting the impossible. Sorry Thumper. . . .do I have to be positive, too?

I'll write again tomorrow when I'm feeling better.