Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Heart New York

This is a long one. Get comfortable.

The Tornadoes and I arrived in Yonkers Friday night after dark, and I was so overjoyed to finally be off the Taconic freaking Parkway that I shuffled the Tornadoes inside Miss T.'s house and didn't look back. What is up with the Taconic Parkway? I have never before seen a highway with perpendicular on and off ramps and zero lighting. Yeah, put that picture together in your head -and remember you are travelling at 55+ mph. Whatever, New York.

This was all about having a girls' weekend, and six of the others had journeyed to Yonkers from New Hampshire a day earlier. To be clear, when I say "girls' weekend," I'm talking seven little girls, four moms, and Bernie. Technically, as mother of Miss M. and Miss T., Bernie is mom #5. And you know I am not normally a user of names here. But Bernie? Is so Bernie. Miss T. -the brave soul - was gracious enough to allow all of us (except Bernie, who lives seven minutes away) to crash all the hell over her house. What was left of Friday night once I got there was, in a nutshell, a whole lotta females watching Grease, speaking every line and singing every song from memory. In a word: glorious.

How we managed to sleep, shower, eat, dress, and make it into two vehicles with seven little girls AND seven American Girl dolls (oh yes) by 10 a.m. Saturday morning astounds me, but somehow it happened.

Now, I've been to Manhattan many times, and as I have always felt that, deep down, I am part New Yorker - even before I ever set foot in the city, which was not until adulthood - I typically try to blend in. A party of twelve? Does not blend in. ...Not important, as we are all much too absorbed with keeping the group together and getting to the pier, where we embark on a water taxi tour to see the Statue of Liberty and the infamous waterfalls. This is a fine idea, it turns out, because nobody can escape. We all marvel at Liberty Island and take many pictures. The waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge is especially cool to see up close. I realize I am sightseeing, but so is Bernie, and she lives here. Bernie makes it okay. That's my logic. Anyway, the Tornadoes really loved it.

Our next destination is lunch, midtown. We do not want to move the cars. Bernie inquires of the non-English-speaking parking attendant where we might catch a bus. Bernie then leaves us - eleven of us, mind you - and walks up and around the block in search of a bus stop or bus schedule or other bus-related intelligence. She returns empty-handed and we all begin to walk, as though twelve of us in a heap will have better luck. I have taken the subway here before, no problem, but I am having trouble with the image of seven hungry little girls sitting through multiple stops on a bus, and am not at all disappointed to find that the bus we finally locate will only accept coins and metrocards for payment. Taxi convoy it is!

Lunch is exactly how you might picture it. 'Nuff said.

And now we are off to our crowning destination, the real reason we are all here: American Girl Place.

Guess what? It's a store.

I mean, I knew it was a store before we went. But I believe in magic. Oh yes. I do. And for the Tornadoes, I do believe it was a magical place. (It magically sucked up some dough, I can tell you that much.) For Mama? ...It hit me in the doll hair salon - which is not actually a salon but a booth with about a dozen miniature salon chairs mounted on the counter - while I watched the "stylist" work on Second Grader's doll, who was seated in one of these chairs and draped with a little cape.

Oh My God. I'm a tourist.

We American Girled ourselves out after two hours, thank heavens, and taxi convoyed on back to the cars and back to Yonkers.

I have not mentioned the fact that Second Grader almost stepped off a curb and got herself killed TWICE, or that a certain youngest of the seven showed New York a thing or two about public screeching. While I'm at it, I won't mention that Second Grader puked all the way back to Yonkers and on through the night for no discernible reason. What I will say is this:

Tourist or no, I still heart New York.

Miss T., you are a saint of a hostess.

Who loves ya, Bernie!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Did I Say Two Posts In One Day?

You didn't really think that was going to happen, did you?

I've been a little preoccupied. With this:

New column!

New York is coming, take it easy...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Okay, Now You're Just Hurting My Feelings

Hello. We're back. And there will absolutely be a New York post (though not IN the New York Post, at least not yet...) - perhaps even tonight. Two posts in one day, how exciting...

First, though, I just want to take a minute to address my friends at the Big Corporate Green Grass Growing Service, as it appears they stopped by while I was out.

If I'm counting correctly, this visit marked Treatment Number Four in our lawn revival quest. You may recall the kind note they left after Treatment Number One - the one where they stated the obvious, of which I had tried to prepare them but which they preferred not to believe? Yes, that note.

The notes left after Treatments Number Two and Three were fairly generic: lots of boxes checked off, "This species of nasty is present, also this species." Stuff like that. No postscript. They were unpleasant to read, but the presentation was scientific enough. They're just doing their job, right? In due time, my lawn grades will improve.

Now mind you, since hiring the Big Corporate Green Grass Growing Service, I have also put up the dough to have a sprinkler system installed. They don't give those babies away. But lack of water in prior years was certainly a major contributor to the crappy lawn, particularly as summer progressed into scorch mode. Never mind that the sky has poured down an entire waterpark of rain every day since the sprinkler system was installed - I take full credit for the fact that the many patches of brown have all filled in with grass.

So - what gives with this note?

"Your lawn is in poor condition. Full of crabgrass."

...I'm sorry, but don't you see what I've accomplished here? There's hardly any bare spots anymore....okay, maybe they are filled in with the incorrect kind of grass. But aren't you being paid to alleviate that problem?

I just needed to get that off my chest.

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's A Miracle!

Second Grader hobbled her way into the doctor's office yesterday to have that bum ankle of hers inspected.

Truthfully, the ankle thing began five weeks ago with a misstep at gymnastics practice. The school nurse and I found ourselves winding ace bandages around her teeny little ankle for the next week, neither of us seeing any real cause for concern. At any rate, she managed to "heal" well enough to abandon her trusty ace bandage just in time for the big departure with dad. I heard nary a word about it on any of our phone calls during those three weeks apart.

Her injury rematerialized, however, during the four hour layover coming home.

"Mommyyy?" the shaky voice said. "Can you please get me a new wrap for my aaaankle?"

So, after the 2:30 a.m. airport pickup, we stopped at CVS ("open 24 hours!") for an ankle support.

While she insisted on going to acting camp (yes, I'm serious) the next day, with only four hours of sleep, she came home that night in tears. "My aaankle," she moaned.

There were ice packs. There were pillows for propping. There was much hobbling to get around. Tuesday was more of the same.

Naturally, now I realize that I am Neglectful Mom, and feel shame for pish-poshing this serious injury so many weeks earlier. Now she's probably damaged for life. I took little comfort in having scheduled her for an x-ray by then, given I had already ruined her chances of ever getting a sports scholarship of any kind.

So yesterday at noon we enter the doctor's office, Second Grader in full hobble. Doctor examines her ankle, pressing here and there, asking Second Grader if it hurts. Oh, the sighs of pain! She is almost in tears. Doctor, perplexed, sends us next door for x-rays.

Half an hour later, Doctor reads images in our presence. "Everything looks fine. No fractures."

What to do?

Doctor leaves room and returns with an air cast. This is basically a miniature brace with puffy air pockets for lining. Doctor takes away Second Grader's flesh-colored CVS ankle support and installs air cast.

Second Grader cannot fit her shoe over air cast. Doctor then tells her she should not dance or otherwise overuse her ankle for a few more weeks.

Guess where that air cast is? I'll tell you where it is. It's on the floor of my car, where she discarded it as soon as we left the doctor's office. Second Grader, two-shoed, shows no further sign of injury. Imagine that!

Acting camp? Money well spent.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's All Coming Back To Me

We are quickly getting our groove back - if "groove" is code for God-Forbid-We-Should-Go-To-The-Same-Daycamp-When-Two-Different-Ones-Miles-Apart-From-Each-Other-Is-An-Option. I have run full loads of the dishwasher and the washing machine as many times in the past two days as I did the entire three weeks they were gone. And there are ten thousand pairs of shoes in the kitchen, right where they got kicked off. So, you know. Back to normal.

Oh, and bedtime? I know that some folks who read this are grappling with putting toddlers and babies to bed and I just want to say to these people: stop your whining. Seriously, I feel for you, but you have no idea. Ten-year-olds cannot cry it out. Trust me, I've tried it. The only one crying is me. The last resort solution to this problem remains the same - bring them into your bed - but this child is a gymnast. Have you ever shared a bed with a gymnast? Don't answer that. (I once worked with a guy who married a dancer, and he frequently complained about how she somehow took up every inch of their king-size bed with her string bean of a body. This didn't seem to be a problem I needed to pay much attention to at the time, nor did I care to be reminded on a daily basis of how freaking skinny his wife was, given my own new motherhood status. Mini-karma, I suppose.)

Well, just when we should be settling back into our daily insanity, we are preparing to leave again. Friday afternoon we are headed to Yonkers, New York to meet up with friends -grownup and Tornado-size - for a big ol' girls' weekend. I understand there are some Manhattan activities planned for Saturday, will share about it all upon our return. I've never been able to leave Manhattan without bawling, but usually I'm alone, so it will be interesting to see if I can contain the waterworks in front of this crowd. No promises.

For added fun, Second Grader is going for an x-ray of her ankle tomorrow, as she has been climbing stairs on her knees and hopping around on one foot all week. I suspect a sprain or potentially a fracture. This would make skipping around New York City a very special experience indeed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's Black and Green and Red All Over?

That would be the tires of my car.

Stay with me here.

So last night the Tornadoes were expected to touch ground around 11 p.m. Naturally, they were delayed. Severely delayed, in fact - stuck in Newark (always Newark) after a perfectly uneventful first flight from Dallas, waiting for four hours for their connecting flight home. This of course meant that I had to stay awake and poised to dash off to the airport once they started taxiing. That call finally came at 1:30 in the morning.

On top of the ungodly hour, a patch of thunderstorms had passed through earlier in the night. As long as I am tucked in somewhere safe and cozy, I can fully appreciate a raucous thunderstorm. Not so crazy, however, about driving in the aftermath of one. Especially not at night, and especially not out here. Twisty roads. No streetlights. Fallen branches.


Oh, the frogs. Hundreds of them. Masses of teeny little frogs with iridescent white bellies, plinking across the road. Seven miles of plinking frogs. Well about a hundred of them have plinked for the last time, I'm afraid.

Yes, well the important thing is that the girls are back. Yay!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Rhymes With Sabbatical?

Unbelievably, we have almost reached the three week mark. Tomorrow night the Tornadoes will be coming home.

To say that this separation has resembled an out-of-body experience would not be stretching the truth. I can't even put an adjective to it. Not joyful. Not mournful. Just very, very different.

Obviously I have been extremely lax and neglectful here in the blogosphere - not only neglecting to post but also not so much in the "reading other people's blogs" department. I'm all "Hey, come read my new column!" and then I vanish. Not nice, I know. I'm sorry. I am here to make amends.

Seriously, I fully expected to bore you to death with my nonstop wailing about how I have relinquished my own identity to parenthood, how I don't know who I am or what to do with the husk of myself that got left behind when they boarded that early morning flight. Turns out? The old girl's got a little life in her still.

Since I have not bothered to write about what I've been doing these past three weeks, I thought I'd do a recap of sorts. We'll call it "What I Have Learned":

1. It is possible to survive quite a long time on a box of Triscuits and a tub of Wispride sharp cheddar.
2. I love me a Mango Tangarita or two. (Okay, three.)
3. Loved them the next night, too.
4. Running three miles before work is less fun when you drink three Mango Tangaritas the night before.
5. Workdays without personal junk crammed into them are a lot of work, man.
6. That Denise Richards is one messed up chick.
7. But considerably less messed up than the Two Coreys.
8. If you - meaning me - get it into your head that you can still handle a hot nightclub in a major city on a Saturday night? Full of barely clothed twenty-one year olds drinking Red Bull and vodka? ...Yeah, can does not mean should.
9. The little square hand basket at Sephora does not make a good iced coffee holder. And they don't like it when you use all the free tissues to mop up your mess.
10. I guess I can go out for margaritas on a Wednesday night...again...
11. Seriously, out? Again?

Which brings me to the here and now - the Saturday morning that I spent reading in bed, the trips to Target and Hannaford to restock for the Tornadoes' return and subsequent camp lunch packing, and now the afternoon to catch up with the blogosphere. Not a Mango Tangarita in sight.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This Is Not How I Pictured It Going

Well, I'm halfway there - "there" being reunited with the Tornadoes - and so I'll ask the question for you: How am I holding up?

You know? It's going by pretty quickly. I always thought they were to blame for the fleeting passage of time, but it seems not to be the case. Time is pretty fleeting all on its own. Especially when you waste it getting reacquainted with an old friend: television.

Not that I've spent all of my free time watching T.V. Come on now. In fact last night I didn't turn it on at all. Of course, that's because I was out drinking Mango Tangaritas and playing bar trivia with the girls instead...

That television, it has beckoned. I have barely read. Barely written. And this from a woman who gave her bedroom T.V. away and crammed her TiVo to capacity with unwatched programs, all in the name of "behavior modeling" and "healthier living." Now, apparently, I am binging.

And what has been my binge of choice? TiVo'd History Channel? The last season of Boston Legal? No no.

The Two Coreys.
Tori Spelling.
Gene Simmons.
Denise Richards.

By the way- Denise Richards? Not that complicated. I was so on her side until now.

Well that's all over with. I am getting back off the junk. I am going away for a long weekend of -well, I don't know, exactly - but it will certainly not involve a television. Or a laptop. When I return there will only be eight days remaining, and they are already booked full of dinners and gatherings. I haven't seen my social calendar this full since the last time I bothered to keep a social calendar.

Before you know it, the Tornadoes will be home, and I'll be back to complaining about how I have no life. Over the din of the television, no doubt.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Problem Child

I'm not ready to assess how I am doing with the girls' absence, but it seems I have not been left entirely child-free.

There's the cat, you know.

This is not my cat. She belongs to the Tornadoes. I submitted to Fourth Grader's pleas for a kitten when she was still Third Grader. Not because I thought it would be super to have a cat around again, mind you, but because I had seen one too many country mice scurrying across my kitchen floor. The mice had grown so bold, in fact, that they didn't even scurry anymore; they just sauntered out from under the cellar door, looked around, and washed themselves.

We didn't so much adopt a kitten as hire one.

She fulfilled her duties, I will give her that. In eighteen months I have only seen two and a half mice. The second whole mouse was about an hour ago. I'll come back to that...

In addition to being vigilant, the cat has turned out to be a pleasant addition to the family: cute and dainty and peaceful. And quite loving.


Eye-opener #1: The comment by the lovely lady who cleans my house. "Your cat really doesn't like to be touched, does she?" Excuse me? Well, you see her twice a month. She's not familiar enough with you, that's all.

Eye-opener #2: Yesterday morning's vaccination appointment at the vet's office. Where I became aware of the note on her chart. The note that must have been written last summer when we boarded her for a few days.

The note that says: "Caution: Explodes and lunges."

Meaning the cat. Explodes. And lunges.

This explains why the vet's assistant chose to don giant yellow oven mitts and twist the cat into a half-nelson so the vet could do her job. Apparently, she's difficult. But only for other people.


About that mouse. I saw it when I came in from doing yard work, just sitting there on the basement floor, taking its little bath. So I raced upstairs and fetched the Mousekiller - napping on Fourth Grader's bed - and carried her to her prey.

And what did she do? I'll tell you what she didn't do:

She did not explode. She did not lunge.

She smelled it. Then she flopped down on her side. And she curled up with it. And the mouse? Didn't have a problem with that.

She is so not my cat. And I touched a mouse - ew.

I have to do everything around here...