As our long awaited trip approaches, Quinn and I are both getting excited for our upcoming adventure. I’m kind of impressed with this kid’s pick for his Mom & Me adventure – the Black Forest and Berlin, with a 2 day pit stop in Nuremberg, on my request, to break up the drive.
This will be Quinn’s second trip to Europe, but his first to Germany where he’ll be meeting members of our family. We’re planning a holiday dinner reunion of sorts and I smile each time I imagine my youngest son being introduced to his great aunts and uncles and second cousins. It’s definitely going to be awesome and emotional for everyone.
Our time in the Black Forest will be busy with family, but I’m hoping to get to Freiburg for an afternoon and perhaps even over to Colmar, France for a few hours. I’d like Quinn to see as much as possible, naturally, and the area where my family is from is perfect for crossing over the Rhine and into Alsace, home of some of my favorite wines. It wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a day.
Nuremberg and Berlin will be both be totally new cities to explore. Nuremberg appealed to me because of its rich history and architecture and Quinn will be beside himself to see sites he’s only read about or seen in documentaries. I can’t wait to walk cobblestone streets with half timber buildings on either side and I can almost taste the beer already. Proust!!
I’ve heard so much about Berlin from friends who have visited in recent years. They use words like “cosmopolitan,” “artsy” and “edgy,” which could pretty much describe me, too, right? Seriously, there’s a lively arts scene, terrific nightlife and vivid history all waiting for us to experience. We’ve got what looks to be an ideal Airbandb with plenty of room for all of us (we’ll be with my uncle and aunt) and I’m hoping for good weather and lots of time outdoors. We might even make it to Potsdam to check out a castle, which is kind of funny since I’ve never even been to Potsdam, N.Y. Maybe if there was a castle, I’d go there, too.
Have you been to these areas in Germany? Any must-sees you’d recommend? Please share any tips or suggestions!
The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.
Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.
As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.
Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.
There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.
*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.
Is it just my kids who seem to break the most random household stuff? I’m not talking about the odd dish or glass, I’m talking about entire hanging racks of stemware, furniture and Sheetrock walls. I mean, how do they do it?
The most recent thing to be destroyed in my home is a wall upstairs in an area of the house I think of as the BoyZone. The claim, from my youngest son, is that he was just leaning on the wall and next thing you knew there was a 18″ x 24″ hole! Isn’t that one of the oddest things you’ve ever heard? Seriously – how the hell does that even happen?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember breaking things around the house when I was a kid – I put my hand through a window once and have the scar from my stitches to prove it. But, let’s remember, it was glass. Glass breaks really easily. Holes in the walls, though? That takes some effort.
Over the years, there have been some epic examples of breakage around my house. There was that time when my middle son decided to leap from the back of the sofa to the 6 ft tall wine rack, pre-parcore, by the way. The result of this escapade was multiple bottles of wine smashed and ultimately dripping from our second floor flat down the wall and into the first floor apartment. Talk about pouring someone a drink…
This, of course, is the same child who once carried a large branch into the kitchen which then got caught up in the ceiling fan and took down the hanging glass rack, shattering glasses everywhere.
There have been electronics broken as soon as they were removed from their protective packages and eyeglasses destroyed in the most mysterious of circumstances. I can’t count the times I’ve freaked out when I discovered yet another thing inexplicably destroyed. When I look around my house, I see the cracked window, the wall with a hole and some big furniture that still serves its purpose, but has definitely seen better days. What I feel, though, is that I’m home. On the best days, the boys are, too.
I’m not exactly certain how it happened, but February flew right by me. I’m cutting myself some slack since it’s a short month filled with 2 Fabulous Lilly Boy birthdays, a major restaurant holiday and a week of vacation, but still…I wish there were a couple of more days to do even more things.
My last day of vacation, Sunday, was a testament to how crazy I can be. The morning opened with a 10 mile run, which actually went pretty well. There was some downtime midday, defining downtime as loads of laundry and other house chores, and then the Lark + Lily holiday party, which kicked off at 5:00.
Following a fantastic dinner (more about that in another post), I hauled over to the Hangar in Troy for a show that I had impulsively bought tickets for a couple of weeks ago – Lolo. I had heard a couple of the band’s songs on 97.7 WEXT and am a real fan of their sound. I’d never been to this venue before and I really think Lolo might go big, which means the chance of seeing them in an intimate setting may not come around again. So, despite the fact that it already felt like a long day, we went.
The venue was really cool – kind of stripped down as you might imagine, but with a good vibe and solid beverage selection. We arrived just as the band went on and I couldn’t be happier that we made the effort to get there. The band was terrific and Lolo’s voice is a powerhouse sometimes reminding me of Joss Stone and at other moments, Adele.
The song that had prompted me to buy tickets, Not Going to Let You Walk Away, was their encore and it sounded great. Her voice is strong and bluesy and I just love it. Since the show I’ve been listening to her album, In Memory of When I Gave a Sh*t, and have become smitten with Shine, the track from which I copied the lyrics below. I think I have a new anthem.
Why you waiting on the world for a favor?
This is your life go ahead and change it
You’re the brightest star in the sky
But no one’s gonna know if you never shine
Why you waiting on someone else?
To give you the things that you want yourself, oh
You’re the brightest star in the sky
So go ahead and shine, yeah, go ahead and shine
It’s a weird February when the snow drops are in bloom and the daffodils are already 5″ high in Central Park.
Speaking of things that are a weird height, the cool guys were all wearing pants that we would have called “floods (short for floodwaters)” back in the day. Lots of exposed ankles.
In general, it seemed like people just didn’t know how to dress for the weather. I saw folks bundled up like they were visiting Antarctica and others wearing flip flops. Our technique – light layers with gloves, as necessary.
Thanks to Quinn we scored the best slices of pizza I’ve ever had in NYC in a dive-y spot across the street from the Garden. Crisp, hot, great toppings and excellent cheese. We went every day.
Although I only went once, Macy’s provided me with the ultimate score when I found a gorgeous pair of suede over the knee boots. The original price was far more than I’ve ever spent on footwear before (or any other garment, for that matter), but when Macy’s has a sale they do not mess around. My beautiful new Coach boots set me back $51, approximately 90% less than where they had started.
The Meatpacking District has changed more than any other neighborhood that I can think of in the last 20 years. There’s so much good shopping and eating and hanging out to be had there!
I’m really interested to watch the Hudson Rail Yard area develop. Lots of construction going on there these days and I’m hopeful that there will be some new cool places to stay for overnight visits.
Running in NYC is always an adventure. No matter what neighborhood I’m staying in, I can always find my way to either water or Central Park, a fact that reminds me that Manhattan just isn’t really that big.
Since Manhattan is starting to feel small to me, maybe it’s time to start exploring Brooklyn and Queens? Suggestions for exploring those boroughs?
It’s 7:55 in the morning. Sunday. Since getting out of bed, I’ve taken Jeter out, sorted laundry and started a load in the wash, made cupcakes (from a box), waffles (from scratch) and changed the sheets. Is this normal? I mean, on my day “off?”
As the cupcakes cool and the laundry spins, I read the paper(s) and have a second cup of coffee. This is my time to breathe.
The rest of my day involves more laundry, frosting those cupcakes, some house cleaning, organizing myself (and everyone who depends upon me) for a quick trip to the city, driving three 12 year-olds to a climbing gym for a little belated birthday celebration and a longish run. And, as I look out the window and see the cloudless blue sky, all I can do is wish that there were more hours in the day to live.
February 9th will mark the day that twelve years ago Quinn Padraig arrived and completed my family. Of all my babies, my pregnancy with him was the most challenging – there was an amnio, second trimester spotting, and enough ultrasounds to make a flip book of his growth. Gestating that guy was an intense combination of joy and stress and I couldn’t decide if I wanted it to last longer (since I knew it was my final pregnancy) or just to be over (because I was so worried something could go wrong).
That conflict between wanting it to last longer versus wanting it to be over was the perfect precursor to my general attitude towards my youngest son’s childhood. As time marches on, I have moments when I wish I could stop the clock and keep this awfully tall little one of mine young for a bit longer. His generosity when it comes to hugs and I love yous will be sorely missed if they fall by the wayside as he becomes a teen. There are times, however, when I can almost begin to imagine having an empty nest and it doesn’t necessarily seem to be such a bad thing. To everything a season and all that, right?
What 12 looks like at my house.
Until that day arrives, though, I’ll continue to appreciate the time I get to share with my “baby.” The kitchen dance parties, his knowledge of geography, history and politics and his remarkable vocabulary will never fail to impress me. I know he’ll make me laugh more often than he frustrates me and I’m hopeful that he’ll always insist upon kissing me goodbye when I leave for a run.
How about we all wear our jammies inside out tonight and get Quinn what he really wants for his birthday – a snow day. He’ll sleep in at his dad’s, and then I’ll make him pancakes and bacon and we’ll watch as many movies as he wants. I promise to make the day last as long as I can.