1. Birthing you was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
2. Acknowledging, and acting upon, the fact that you’re not the only person in the universe will only make you a better man.
3. You can do anything. Anything.
4. Being able to do anything doesn’t eliminate the reality of life that you will still have to make choices because you really can’t do
everything. At least not simultaneously.
5. Cool hair and charm will only take you so far. Maybe it will be far enough, but that’s a big maybe.
6. Your braces should be considered a very expensive gift – not a punishment.
7. You remind me of me, which is why I am watching you ever so closely.
8. I can’t wait to go to Ireland with you this summer.
9. When you finally get a j o b, you don’t have to pay me back for things I’ve bought for you. Those were gifts. You do, however, owe me
$14 for those library books you lost.
10. Speaking of books, I am so proud that you are a reader and love talking about books with you.
11. Your (nearly) lifelong concern with your clothing and what you’re wearing makes you fun to shop with.
12. Watching you play with little kids – and enjoy it, makes me smile.
13. You’re growing up too fast.
14. You’ll always be the little boy who liked to whisper “hi” in my ear.
Happy birthday, Griffin Hudson Lilly.
That man-boy of mine will probably never cease to amaze me. Out of all of my children, Liam is the one who takes me most by surprise. From his premature birth to the fact that he was a boy instead of the girl I had blindly expected using my underdeveloped maternal instincts, he always has been a bit unpredictable.
In recognition of his sixteenth birthday, please allow me to present sixteen characteristics of Liam which cause him to be anything but grey…
- When we shop, he automatically carries my bags.
- He loves opera.
- And NASCAR.
- He lacks artifice which can be awkward or charming depending upon the circumstances.
- His experiences have shaped him into a wonderful travel companion
- When faced with options for dining he will always choose fish. Unless its tuna.
- His worlds collided recently when the Daytona 500 and the Academy Awards both aired on the same day.
- He is always responsible for the luggage check because I reliably lose it.
- When he doesn’t know something he enthusiastically makes shit up, a tendency shared with the teenaged version of my brother.
- His familiarity with the world’s airports is impressive. Who says you don’t learn anything from video games?
- He has perfect attendance.
- Always rely on him for navigation, subways included. His sense of direction is remarkably accurate.
- His ADD no longer demands pharmaceutical attention daily as he develops his own techniques for dealing with all that unfocused mental energy.
- He has been deeply influenced by both of his grandmothers.
- His sense of humor is a blend of subtle and slapstick.
- He has spent the last sixteen years
somewhat patiently teaching me how to be a mom.
Happy birthday, to my oldest son. Thank you for being exactly you!
Our lice thing turned into a week of laundry and hair combing and ultimately a prescription lotion, Ovide, which I elected to use prophylactically on the entire family. FYI: if you ever need to get this lice and nit killing potion, start at the pharmacy at Walmart because that was the only place that had it in stock. Insert socioeconomic targeted population wise-ass remark here. I am optimistic that we have eradicated the problem, but will remain vigilant. Please keep your fingers crossed that the nightmare is over and in return I will pray that your house is never visited by this plague.
Now, for the dreams…
After my recent dropping of the hammer on my underperforming son, he has really been making strides in the right direction. His grades and attitude have improved and I felt comfortable recognizing his efforts with a reward. His cell phone has needed an upgrade and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to buy him one that he is equally thrilled to own. I will hold tightly to the spontaneous (and public!) hug he gave me during the future’s more challenging moments. And that gushing text he sent me? I’m keeping that forever!
Making a dream come true can be as simple and spontaneous as agreeing to purchase a smart phone or a more involved process requiring reservations and tickets and an overnight bag. The latter describes the realization of my oldest son’s birthday request, albeit an event we marked a week prematurpely. Shortly after his 15th birthday last year, my boy-man asked that we go to NYC’s Metropolitan Opera House to take in a performance. You’ve got to applaud a kid who can begin to plan a NYC adventure a year in advance – that’s my boy.
Our trip began from at the Rensselaer train station where we popped our figurative MegaBus cherry – overall not a bad experience, but it would have been nice if the Wi-Fi had been more consistent. We stayed at a classic NYC hotel, the Ramada New Yorker, which was comfortable and convenient. But, really, it was all about Carmen. Our box, with its ever so slightly impeded view was remarkably comfortable and I think I only dozed for a minute. Twice. The show was beautiful – the voices, the orchestra, the setting. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the night, which concluded with a cab ride back downtown and midnight snack eaten at the hotel.
Isn’t he handsome?
So, two out three isn’t so bad. I’ll take it.
This is bowling. There are rules.
What do you mean the cake is lopsided? Look at the pretty colors!
Man, I wish I could have prepped our party guests of that fact ahead of time, but the Big Lebowski remains a tad shy of appropriate movie fare for 8 year-olds, no matter how awesome they think they might be. Quinn requested a bowling party this year and his Dad and I were happy to oblige. Since we’re Albany folk, the Playdium was really the only choice for venues. If you’re kicking it old school, may as well go all the way, right? It really was the perfect activity for a bunch (there were 10, it felt like 15) of kids on a snowy afternoon and it was declared by the guest of honor to have been the “best party ever!”
This type of party is not for the faint of heart – the kids get pretty excited by all the open space and voices echo, and seem to amplify, in an alarming manner. And don’t even get me started on the rental shoes!* Despite these physical challenges, there is no better way to entertain and amuse a gang of 2nd graders, particularly at $10.95 a child which includes 60 minutes of bowling, 2 slices of more-than-acceptable pizza, individual ice cream cups and a couple of pitchers of soda. Truly a bargain.
A couple of observations, including one that made me smile – one of the two girls invited to join the
insanity festivities noticed that the lane shared by 3 boys and two girls, finished their game 2 frames ahead of the 100% boy lane. A quick discussion with her about the efficiencies of females vs. males will hopefully stay with her for her entire life. Ten kids seemed to be the perfect number. Mathematically that came out to the age of the guest of honor (8) plus 2 parents. More than that would have been too much, I suspect. For all involved. This was a pretty relaxed party – it was simple enough to add the latecomers to the bowling computer system and the employees we dealt with were beyond easy-going. The Playdium may not be a fancy place, but it definitely beats driving around and the occasional acid flashback.
*According to a close friend, that stuff they spray in there is some variant on napalm. I doubt if that’s really true, but it sure does help to support the whole Vietnam/Big Lebowski thread.
- He knows the difference between the Beach Boys and the Beastie Boys. Bonus: He prefers the Beasties!
- His sense of humor is sophisticated and constant – and
(more than) occasionally inappropriate. His brothers and parents are probably equally to blame.
- He has seen every single James Bond movie and can tell you which actor played 007 in each. For the record, he’s a Roger Moore fan.
- He asks awesome questions . For instance: “How old would the Wright Brothers be if they were still alive?” and ” Who is the one who made up shoes?”
- His taste in music far exceeds his age and he has favorite songs by a diverse range of bands including the Rolling Stones, the Black Keys and Foster the People.
- He still gives me kisses, holds my hand and tells me he loves me. That makes for one sweet boy.
- Speaking of sweet, he shares his thoughts freely. My most recent favorite thing he said: “Mom, your lips taste like cupcakes.”
- His interest in history, people and places is kind of exhausting, but the sincerity of his curiosity never fails to charm.
Happy 8th birthday to Quinn Padraig! The world would be incomplete without him.
More rolls, please!
Early in the summer I had a craving for an inexpensive, light lunch and remembered that Linh Diep from My Linh, had opened a place right in the area I happened to be. I am a huge fan of the simple fresh flavors of Vietnamese food, although I can’t claim a wealth of experience or knowledge of the cuisine. One of my favorite quick meals is a fresh summer roll from Kinnaree. I love the soft rice paper roll filled with chilled shrimp, basil and crunchy sprouts – especially when I dredge through some of that delicious peanut sauce. Oh, yes, good stuff!
That day in June I found a couple of things I really like at Pho Yum, one being a friend whose familiarity with Asian food far exceeds my own enjoying lunch, and the other being a terrific example of a fresh summer roll. Perfectly fresh, beautifully presented and exactly what I was looking for in a quick lunch. I knew I needed to get back there to sample more of the menu. The opportunity presented itself as summer, sadly enough, drew to a close when three of us, post-pedicures, stopped in for a tasty lunch.
A sandwich I feel good eating
Linh was on premises, as I imagine she often is, and she came to our assistance as we perused the menu. We ultimately went with a couple of summer rolls, (because I can’t imagine not ordering those) two versions of pho and a banh mi, all washed down with beautiful rich and creamy iced Vietnamese coffee. Everything we ate was balanced and perfectly seasoned. The food was hot, temperature-wise, and able to be spiced to individual preference. And fresh, remarkably fresh, as a matter of fact. Our server was sweet as she struggled with English, but still served us with grace and competence. There were no complaints, only happy sighs at our table and I very much look forward to getting back there as the season turns . I imagine pho must be one of the great comfort foods of a cold winter and I hope to warm up with the version that Pho Yum offers.
A note about complaints: it seems as if some of the Yelp reviews take issue with the pricing of what it essentially “street food.” I found our lunch for three to be very reasonably priced for the quality and quantity of food we were served. It is naive to think that “street food,” when served in a storefront, sit-down restaurant, complete with utility bills, dishwashers, servers and linens can compete pricewise with a menu served from a truck or cart. Come on, people, you know that.
Maybe I’m simple or I have a low threshold for happiness. I’m not really sure, but what I do know is I had a fantastically, perfect weekend. As the weekend progressed, I mentally inventoried each special little thing that cumulatively gave me one of my favorite birthday celebrations ever. Noting 46 of these items was an easy feat to achieve.
- Early morning surprise drive-by with birthday wishes
- A Happy Birthday text from my son. (He was upstairs when he sent it to me.)
- Birthday cards at work
- Facebook birthday messages, especially when they contained the word “inspiring.”
- A pedicure and manicure to begin my weekend
- The tuna roll I inhaled
- A gigantic salted caramel mocha sipped pond-side in the sunshine
- Thoughtfully selected, thoughtfully wrapped presents.
- Reading a funny book aloud with a friend
- Receiving a handcrafted card from Quinn
- Listening to Quinn explain the handcrafted card he gave me. It involves superpowers, popcorn falling from the sky and the sentiment that he “lives” me.
- That run that I took as the sky began to darken and the sliver of moon that led me back home.
- Finding the perfect thing to wear for my birthday dinner.
- Reading a special card.
- That parking space on the corner of State and Lark.
- A tasty sparkling rose from New Mexico, Gruet.
I wish you could smell this pasta!!!
- The pasta that was worth every moment of self-denial, house made tagliatelle with a cinghiale Bolognese at the bar at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark.
- The tasty glass of Spanish granache that accompanied my pasta and the beautifully rare hangar steak that I enjoyed as my main course.
- The creme brûlée
- The glass of tawny port I sipped with desert
- The enjoyable conversation I shared at the bar with friends
- Neil Young playing during my meal
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- A beautiful morning on the first day of fall
- The soccer game beginning early
- Getting every single chore out of the way prior to my friend’s arrival
- Driving my friend’s stick shift Beetle. I’ve still got it!
Note the crown.
- The sunshine topping off my apricot glow, poolside under a mostly blue sky.
- That dive into the pool which simultaneously took my breath away and confirmed that I was alive.
- Laughing with Will about the disparity between how men and women perceive 4 inches
Crown still in place – lots of candles!
- Being presented with the sickest cake I have ever tasted – Civitello’s Italian rum cake.
- The hot tub!
- Joining the Decades Party.
- Popping that bottle of Prosecco knowing we wouldn’t be driving any place.
- Watching that rain storm creep in.
- My boy making popcorn for movie night.
- Walking a couple of laps in the misty rain.
- A friend stopping by for a night-cap.
- That cake…
- Sleeping soundly in a cozy bed with the windows open.
- Breakfast from All Good Bakers.
- Seeing the faintly yellow reflection of the leaves out my window.
- Another piece of that cake…
- A nap as the sun shined onto my first-flannels-of-the-season made bed.
- A walk through the Honest Weight Harvest Fest in Washington Park
- My run, all 5.66 miles of it, and the best hot shower I could imagine.
Now, when your special day comes around again – be sure to celebrate it. Indulge yourself. Feel special. And, if you need any ideas for having a memorable time, feel free to borrow any of mine. I’ve been blessed with plenty to share.
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