Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fresca & Molasses Cookies

My Dad’s Mom, my Grandma, Julie Michaud, better known to my cousins and me as Memé, or Memere, passed away a week ago today.  She was 86 and had been suffering with dementia, among other ailments, for the past couple of years. 

In my 28 years of knowing her, I have nothing but pleasant memories.  Here are a few of my favorites:

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I woke up early one morning and asked my parents to make me pancakes.  Still asleep, they turned me down.  Out of frustration and my desire for pancakes, I decided to walk to Meme’s house in Elmwood, about 2 miles away from home.  I don’t think I got down the block before my parents caught up with me.  From an early age I knew, had I made it there, I would have gotten what I wanted.  Meme’s house was our sanctuary.   She cooked us whatever we wanted, had kitchen cabinets stocked with cookies, a fridge filled with soda, an unlimited supply of knickknacks for us to play with, and never-ending love for her 18 grandchildren.

Growing up, my parents went out on dates most Saturday nights, which meant, my Sister and I spent at them Memé’s & Pepé’s house. As kids, Shawna and I would set up a few folding TV dinner tray tables in front of the open door of the front hall closet and play “interior designer” or “fashion designer”.  One of us would sit in the closet/office while the other would play the customer on the other side of the tables.  We would use the scrap material and buttons from our Memé’s work as a seamstress and create pretend dresses and curtains.  When we got tired of that, we watched Nick at Nite, drank chocolate milk, and eventually fell asleep on the living room couch or waterbed in her guest room.

Every year, sometimes twice a year, she would take my sister and I shopping for new school or spring clothes.   When we were younger, the $100 would go a long way at TJ Maxx or JC Penney.  As we got older, the budget remained the same even though our tastes changed and clothes more expensive.   We were still so appreciative.  Afterwards, she would take us out to lunch, usually to Burger King.  I always wanted McDonald’s, just across the street, but was too polite to speak up.   Plus, I knew she liked Burger King more.

As a college student, and French minor, I wrote her letters in French and she would write me back just the same.   I can’t write, or sadly even speak in French any more, but I like that we shared that connection, even if only for a semesters of my life.  I knew that made her proud.

I love that she met Jeff and adored him.  Before we moved to New York, we would have dinner with her and Pepe at their house. She would offer us red wine with ice and while Pepe would make anti-semitic jokes.  I was so embarrassed, but Jeff found it amusing.  He’d smirk at me and I new he was a keeper.  In the last few years of her life, sometimes she would have a hard time placing my face or name, but she always recognized Jeff and was quick to squeeze his hand hello.  That was good enough for me.

She will remain a fixture in my memory and heart just as much as she was a fixture at every swim meet, softball game, musical production, graduation, birthday party, art exhibition, family and holiday celebration.  

She will be missed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Walking Fast and Running Slowly

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, procrastinating, because I know I should go for a run but I can't motivate.  It's not that I don't want to run today, I just wish I was already finished with it.  At this point, I'm running 2 or 3 times a week, but no more than 4 miles at a time.  Over the past month, my pace has dropped from a 8:30 to 11:00 minute mile, but I'm cool with that. Ideally, I'd like to keep up my running routine for as long as possible, hopefully, through my second trimester.

Danielle and Jeff checkin' out the Hotel des Artistes
Yesterday, I didn't work out, but I did cross one thing off my new New York City To Do List. We did a two-hour Big Onion Walking Tour of the Upper West Side with our friends, Ted, Danielle, and Danielle's sister Lisa, who was visiting from Buffalo.  Aside from the unseasonably cold and windy weather, the tour was great.  We learned about Lincoln Center, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Fordham University, and some other note-worthy buildings in the swanky 'hood.  Whatever calories were burned, were quickly put right back on over lunch at Patsy's.  I highly recommend both activities should you live in, or be visiting the NYC.  The tours are $15, and you just show up at the meeting place listed on the web site, no need to sign up or pay in advance.

Okay, that's it. I'm going to put on my sneakers.  I need some time to think about my upcoming challenges and goals and there's no better place to think, than on a run.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big News, Little Rigs

If all goes according to plan, I’ll have some bigger (and hopefully, more rewarding) challenges and goals on my plate come this fall. I am excited to say that, Jeff and I are expecting a baby (aka Little Rigs), in September.  
Edie and Auntie rockin' the sweats!

Last fall, during our engagement, we thought we would start trying to conceive shortly following our February wedding. However, we returned from our honeymoon with a list of places we still wanted to visit, road races we wanted to run, professional milestones we wanted to reach, as well as invitations to a handful weddings we looked forward to attending. And, honestly, I wasn’t ready to put one of my favorite hobbies, drinking, on hiatus. 

Jeff rockin the Bjorn
So, we had a fabulous summer traveling, partying at our friend’s weddings, working hard, drinking often, staying fit and living the highlife of DINKs. Labor Day weekend, we flew out to Seattle and met, for the first time, our one-month old peach of a niece, Edie.   With the guidance of Shawna and Dave, I held her, changed her diaper, tried to sooth her to sleep, and dressed her in outfits matching my own.  We returned to New York with a fresh perspective on parenthood and the realization that, knowing us, there will always be a list of places to visit, races to run, professional milestones to make, parties to attend, drinks to be drunk, etc.   We talked it over for a few months and we accepted the fact that we would never be parents if we waited to complete the never-ending list of events and experiences that make life so much fun.  So instead of completing the list, we just added 'have a baby' to the list.  On a more serious note, Jeff and I have discussed parenting styles, hopes and fears since the beginning of our relationship.  I probably asked him our first date, at Hartford’s Trumbull Kitchen, how many kids he planned to have and his opinion on cloth vs. disposable diapers. We agreed, two to three and disposable.

Naturally, I miss uncorking a bottle of red wine on Friday nights and having impromptu sushi dinner dates, but it’s easier than I thought it would be to put them on hold for the time being.  Fortunately, the pregnancy has been really enjoyable so far, and I made it through my first trimester without any bouts of morning sickness, extreme fatigue, weird cravings or aversions.   Next month we'll have an anatomy-screening ultrasound to ensure that the baby has all of its parts and organs in all the right places.   At this time, most couples are told the baby’s gender, but Jeff and I are going to pass, and find out when we meet him/her in person.   

14 weeks
For the time being, we plan on staying in our apartment and over the course of this spring and summer will convert our 2nd bedroom/office into the baby’s room.   We are currently in the process of looking at daycare facilities, which is easy, because there are only two places that allow 3-month olds, within walking distance.  Luckily, we really liked the first one we toured.   And slowly, the baby name list is growing, as is my baby bump.  

To summarize; I love being pregnant, Jeff and I are so excited and confident about being good parents.  Equally important, we are so appreciative to be surrounded by amazing friends and family that will be there to support and reassure us when I’m tired of being pregnant and we are scared and nervous about parenthood.   Let’s talk in August.