Category Archives: birthdays

On the edge of 17

From last year's trip to Europe.

From last year’s trip to Europe.

It’s been almost 17 years since I became a parent. Impossible. When my water broke 5+ weeks before my due date, I remember feeling more excited than nervous, confident that my baby would be healthy and hearty. The unusually warm temperature (a record, it turned out) seemed a positive beacon and I went to the hospital with an easy heart and only a light sweater for warmth on a late February day.

My son’s early arrival was my first lesson in parenting and it was a bit of a challenge for me. After conceiving in my first month’s attempt and enjoying a very easy pregnancy, I was shocked to be completely lacking in control when it came to when (now!) and how (c-section) he would make his entrance. My world shifted and I scrambled to hold on.

I don’t think it is possible to predict how, or how much, having a child will change a person. Finding the balance between placing child(ren) in the center of our universe, while remembering the importance of retaining our own identities and independence demands grace and poise, not necessarily my strengths. It’s a strange thing sometimes. While I love being recognized as so-and-so’s mother, I often find myself hesitating when I sign my name on a note I’ve written to my children. Identifying myself as “Mom” still feels remarkably new, even after 17 years in the role.

Prior to becoming a parent, I had imagined all of the things I would teach my child – how to walk, speak, read, swim, travel… What I hadn’t really considered were all the things I would learn about myself from my children. I now know I can be incredibly patient, fiercely protective and relentlessly organized. On the less positive side, I’m critical, inclined to blunt sarcasm and often guilty of doing too many of the household tasks myself without demanding some effort from the boys. It’s probably a control thing.

Ultimately, though, what I find most fascinating about being a mom, is witnessing my children learn who they are as individuals. It is absolutely amazing to see the unique creatures that have been created by using the same genetic contributions. Seeing my oldest son evolve from a premature, critically ill infant into a strong and healthy young man has been remarkable.  As he marks his 17th birthday, I recognize that we both began a new life that February afternoon in 1997.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, family, musings

The Beatles, my boys and a birthday

If I think back on music from my childhood, The Beatles  immediately come to mind.  They were definitely the soundtrack of many car rides in my memory.

Freshman year of high school, I remember the painful decision of which album to pick – the Red One or the Blue One.  I don’t remember which I ultimately chose.  I know I loved it.

When my oldest son was born, 5+ weeks early, I didn’t have a pediatrician, nor did I know a single lullaby or nursery song.  Or so I thought. Doing the new baby rock and walk, I found myself humming Beatles’ songs, sometimes even murmuring the lyrics.

My first digital camera had a memory stick that held about 8 images or a seconds long video.  There was a mini movie of the oldest 2 Lilly boys singing their hearts out to Hey, Jude, including all the Judy, Judys and a perfectly timed and heartfelt “Ow.”  I have no idea where that memory stick is and it doesn’t matter. I’ll never forget that moment.

My youngest child turned nine today on the very same day that marks 50 years since The Beatles invaded America.  Perfect synchronicity.  Quinn’s love for The Beatles is pure and relentless, just like him.  He hasn’t yet tired of discussing the tragedy of George’s cancer or John’s assassination.  He knows the words to countless songs and when he doesn’t, he enthusiastically makes up his own.

What remains inside of us is a wonder only second to what, in fact, comes out.
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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, family, favorites, Music

Fly me to the (Jake) Moon

For this year’s birthday dinner, I wanted something lowkey. I simply wanted a good meal in a place I could enjoy with my boys. After consulting with The Wine Consultor and talking tables with Table Hopping’s Steve Barnes, Clarksville’s Jake Moon came out ahead as the crowd favorite. I made a reservation.

On Saturday evening I assigned the middle child the task of getting his brothers appropriately dressed for dinner. Oldest son was disappointed that his navy blazer, or as he called it, “Newport casual,” was overkill, but he graciously took it off. We headed south on Delaware Avenue and in less than 20 minutes, we arrived at our destination.

If you haven’t been to Jake Moon, be prepared  to be underwhelmed by the physical space. It is decidedly country diner-ish, which happens to be one of my favorite types of joints. We were greeted warmly and shown to our comfortable reserved table. Menus were perused, my bottle of 2006 Martinelli Pinot noir (it was my birthday!) was opened and we feasted on a beautiful basket of house made bread and butter.

I opened with a golden beet salad with goat cheese and candied nuts. The beets were firm and sweet and balanced beautifully by the ever-so-slightly funkiness of the cheese. Two of the guys went with the Clarksville Fish Fry, a generous piece of battered and fried whitefish served with tasty fries and coleslaw.

Fish fry for my small fry

Fish fry for my small fry

Middle son selected the bar-b-q plate, to maximize his chances of trying everything, after determining that I would be having the sirloin strip steak. His portion of tender ribs, beautifully charred chicken and mound of pulled pork, was seriously enough protein for three servings. Accompanied by coleslaw and corn bread it was a formidable plate and he brought more than half of it home.

Bar-b-q sampler

Bar-b-q sampler

My steak was perfectly cooked and flavorful with a chewy bite or two.  Again, the fries were perfect, the green beans super fresh and the red chimichurri, served on the side, added a nice dimension.

My N.Y. sirloin

My N.Y. sirloin

The service was refreshingly friendly and efficiently competent.  We indulged in a couple of deserts including a slice of chocolate “birthday” cake and their house speciality coffee toffee pie, which frankly was a tad too sweet for my tastes.  No worries.  We left with substantial leftovers and overall with a very good taste in our mouths.  Can’t wait to give them a try for breakfast!

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Filed under birthdays, Boys, Eating, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants

It’s all about the presence…

photo(155)…not the gifts. Although, they’re lovely and thoughtful and it can be so fun to unwrap surprise packages. Most of the time, that is. But, when all is said and done, it is truly all about the people with whom we are lucky enough to spend time.

For countless years, I feel as if I have had the best birthday ever, each year. How incredible is that? I’ve said it before, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it remains true – I am a simple person. I do appreciate daily luxuries like great soap and delicious coffee or a pair of Frye boots that I can wear for 20 years. But, truly, stuff isn’t all that important to me however, people…well, now you’re talking.

Friday night my favorite running friends spent the evening easing me into my birthday weekend. We laughed and ran under a big moon, and talked.  Then we cleaned up, went out and toasted our strength, our good health, our years of life.

We were joined by one of my oldest friends, a woman who I have been fortunate enough to grow up with for the last 30+ years. She had driven nearly two hours to be with me as I made the joyful leap into a new year. We shared memories and hugs and laughter.

Our designated driver took us to Wolff’s Biergarten and even indulged my whim to go to a second spot, not because I needed another drink, but because I just didn’t want the night to end. The contribution he made to my perfect night should not be minimized. There was thoughtfulness, care and love, none of which can be presented in a package, no matter the size. Me, the reputed “difficult to take care of,” had been thoroughly taken care of.

The merging of three different areas of my life, the active, the established and the emotional was the perfect way to close out my 46th year and herald a new year of living.  No bow  or wrapping required.
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Filed under aging, Albany, beer, birthdays, drinking, friends, love, running

Finding the words at 47

Thanks, Google!

Some of the things I find myself saying at this point in my life…

I love you
It is what it is
Let’s go
Now!
Why not?
I’m sorry
Danke
You’ve got be kidding me
Why bother?
We all know when we’ve had enough
I’ll give it a shot
Because I’m an idiot
I was away
You’ve got this
I don’t need really need it
Slush fund
Blessed
I understand
Not my fault
Because I said so
You have no idea
Living the dream
Thank you
I can’t imagine
You’re getting the best of me
I adore you
Is it me?
Stop wasting my time
You have no idea
Choice
I’m done
Be mine
So sad
Lucky
Remember?
Chance
Ouch!
Why would anyone do that?
My boys
Who says that?
Change
The opposite of love is indifference
I’m so proud of you
Never again
You’re welcome
My house
More
Love, me

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Filed under aging, birthdays, musings, Observations

Observations from 46 2/3

During my run the other night, it occurred to me that I was 2/3 of the way through my 46th year.  The realization prompted a few thoughts…

I find myself with increasing frequency wondering if an article of clothing is “too young” or “too short.” This is not a bid for compliments, just the reality of my desire to grow older with grace.  Does one just know when to put away those short shorts or that skirt that could reasonably be defined as “mini?”

My runs feel challenging, almost every single time.  If I remind myself to run from the strength of my core, I forget how much my hips and glutes hurt. And another thing – why must people drive so fast in residential areas?  This is Albany.  Where are they rushing to be?

My children can be wildly inappropriate. Case in point: #2 was concerned about his older brother traveling to NYC unaccompanied.  He suggested a t-shirt with a handwritten message, something offensively defensive, like, “Ask me about my raging case of syphilis.” That is funny as hell, to me.

I love a thunderstorm!  Being in bed, feeling the wind blow and watching the sky light up, is an awesome sedative.  I just wish Cassidy, my 12 y/o black lab, had a bit more tolerance for the thunder – maybe doggy ears make the claps too intense?

I am getting so excited for summer and the promise of adventures and travel!  The only thing reining in my enthusiasm is my awareness that two summer holidays make the 10-week break go crazy fast.  Before the mockingly sympathetic comments come in, yes, I do know how fortunate I am to have such an extended summer vacation.  What I can’t understand is how people live a full life with only a couple of weeks of vacation a year.

No matter how high the number goes, I still feel the same as I did when I was half my present  age – open for adventure, enthusiastic about the future and blessed by the presence of people I love and who love me in return.  It’s just a number.

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, Exercise, musings, Observations, Random, running, Spring, Summer, travel, vacation

14 Things I want Griffin to know (in honor of his 14th birthday)

DSC01478 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.

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