Category Archives: Boys

April in Paris

imageDoesn’t April in Paris sound magical?  I’m imagining a gentle rain, lots of shades of lavender and soft yellow and frequent bon jours. Happy sigh.  As my trip gets closer, I’m spending a little time thinking about what to pack (going with a navy/grey palette) and wondering how much of my high school French will come back to me.  Un  peu, I hope.

I don’t like to travel with a firm itinerary in hand, but there are a few things I want to do in Paris.  If I were traveling solo I probably wouldn’t plan anything, but since this may be the only time I go to Paris with my son, we’ve got to hit some of the sights. Please feel free to add suggestions to the list below!

  • The top of the Eiffel Tower.  I bought tickets in advance, but wish I had thought to do it sooner since all that was left was 5pm.  Do you know if we can just kill time up there until dark or will the tickets be timed?
  • Jim Morrison’s grave (my choice) and Napoleon’s tomb (Liam’s pick).
  • Notre Dame.  I hear it’s free on the first Sunday of the month.  Think this is true even if it is Easter?
  • Sacré-Cœur
  • The Mona Lisa at the Louvre – I think we’ll buy a two-day museum pass at the airport when we land.  Do you think it is a good deal?
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Eat & drink
  • Sit in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a bottle of wine in the sun.
  • Walk and take pictures to my heart’s content.
  • Enjoy my son and family who will be joining us from Germany

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Filed under Boys, Europe, France, ideas, travel, vacation

Testing boundaries

Last week I attended a meeting sponsored by the NYS Alliance for Public Education. The forum discussed current controversies and issues in public education including the Common Core Learning Standards, teacher evaluations, Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Education Budget and the NYS assessments given to elementary students in grades 3-8.

My interest in attending the meeting was more personal than professional, I have a child in 4th grade who will be expected to sit for multiple days worth of testing later in spring. At this time I am actively seeking information about the credibility of the exams and the impact they may have on my child, his teacher(s) and his school. His experience with the tests last year began the very first week of third grade when he came home from school talking with concern about the assessments he would have to take 7 months later. The very same tests which we wouldn’t even receive the results of for more than a year after that first conversation.

The presentation was professionally delivered and informative. I left with a sheaf of papers and the commitment to do a bit of research before making a final decision regarding my own child’s participation in next month’s assessments. A day later, I saw this document shared on Facebook and immediately became outraged. A friend of mine (who has been involved in the news business for more than two decades), suggested I look at the document a little more critically. I mean, is it feasible that a big testing company would really be monitoring the social media accounts of millions of students?

Apparently, the answer is “yes.” I suppose all it would take would be a bot of sorts to troll hashtags focusing on things like #Pearson and #PARCC, right? Geez, Pearson could probably spend some of the $108 million they were paid by the state of New Jersey to actually hire a person or two to monitor Twitter and other social media platforms, if they chose to.

I’ve spent an almost combined 40 years being a student and teacher. I remember excitedly taking the CAT tests, confident in my abilities to demonstrate my knowledge. Sitting down with my sharpened #2 pencils in the cafeteria felt like a special treat, not a stress inducing threat. I’m not opposed to testing in theory, but the commercialization of education, complete with a single vendor who provides curriculum, assessment and remediation for those scoring poorly on tests doesn’t sit right with me. I think we’ll pass on the tests this year.

A couple of other related posts to read:

Bob Braun’s Ledger
Diane Ravitch’s post

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Filed under Boys, Education, News, Schools

Take a walk on the child side

Last evening, after finally coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to take a run, I decided to take a walk instead with Jeter. I made my usual offer to the boys to see if they cared to join me but was met by their usual response – no, thanks.  I got myself warmly dressed and cued up a Pandora station of standards/vocal jazz and popped my earbuds in. Just as I reached for the doorknob, Quinn had a change of heart and decided to accompany me. Faster than I’ve ever seen him move, he had shoes and coat on and off we went.

There was something about walking in the foggy night that made for a cozy, not creepy experience. As we walked along Whitehall Road, we talked quietly, sharing my earbuds as we listened together to Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. Our conversation was filled with talk of which houses we admired, how challenging Jeter could be at times and how cool his new clip-on flashing light is. Funnily, I thought the light was shaped like a heart,* while Quinn thought it was a bone. He was correct but I was graciously given permission to think it was a heart if I wanted to. Sweet.

imageWe stopped at his school’s primary grades playground and Quinn shared memories of playing there “years ago.” We talked about how in just a couple of years he’ll moving on to middle school and how fast time goes.  As we neared the end of our walk, he found a series of puddles irresistible and made an attempt to leap them, with mixed success. His landing perfectly illustrated why so many of his pants have blown out knees. He is adorable.

Once home, after suggesting that we “do this again soon,” he continued to charm me with all that he had to say. Like: “What do you want to do? Watch a movie and sit on the couch eating ice cream?” and “Why does everything happen when you’re three? Grandma Sheila died when I was 3. I made a lot of my life decisions when I was three.”

I am so looking forward to our next walk.

*probably because of my love for the person who gave it to Jeter

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Filed under aging, Boys, DelSo, Exercise, family, love

18 thoughts from the weekend my son turned 18

  • When he was born, my oldest son scared me. That changed.
  • Now, I’m in awe of him.
  • According to my sons, the plural of penis is penis. (The “s” is silent when it’s plural)
  • Crazy > Creepy
  • The Olde English was the perfect place to celebrate my Anglophile son’s birthday.
  • Molly, our server, deserves a raise. She was terrific, as was my fish and chips.
  • The skiing this weekend was wonderfully challenging.
  • Ryan, the guy at Best Buy who set me up with my new phone, was a super representative.
  • The woman who violently slammed my car with her hand in the parking lot at Crossgates Mall represented “ugly with anger” beautifully.
  • It feels good when someone you’ve known for 20+ years tells you that you look happy.
  • Troy really isn’t that far from Albany.
  • The old fashioned at The Wine Bar and Bistro and the new fashioned at New World Bistro Bar are equally perfect.
  • Applying for my son’s third passport in 18 years fills me with pride.
  • 8 countries in 18 years is pretty damn impressive.  I can’t wait to see where else my children venture.
  • McGeary’s on a Saturday night was wonderfully diverse, a testament to Tess’ ability to create an atmosphere that is welcoming.
  • Putting on a pretty dress and lipstick for an evening out doesn’t ever get tired.
  • It has been a remarkable season for x-country skiing.  That being said, I’m excited to hit the pavement in my sneakers soon.
  • The seasons, the years, life go(es) by so very quickly.  Get it while you can.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, family, Food, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants, skiing, Troy, Uncategorized, x-country skiing

A decade of the mighty Quinn

imageMany years ago, Quinn was described by his grandmother as formidable. She was so right, he most certainly is. There are some other words that can be used to describe my forever baby boy – relentless, sweet, affectionate and funny. In honor of his 10th birthday, please let me share a few moments and memories which truly define my youngest son.

Quinn is sensitive and thoughtful. Unlike our current spoiled dog, Jeter, his predecessor, Cassidy, wasn’t given bed privileges. Recently, Quinn asked if it would be ok to place the urn containing Cassidy’s ashes on the bed just so she would know what it was like to sleep there.  Pretty sweet, right?

Quinn is articulate and well-spoken. During one of our regular evening battles to complete his homework, he asked me to not yell at him. He explained to me that he is motivated by happiness and love. His self awareness is impressive and I can only hope that both of those emotions will always be present, in excess, in his life.

Quinn is growing up too fast and his sense of humor is often a bit too mature for his years. Having two older brothers makes for an abbreviated childhood, I’m afraid. Please don’t ask about the South Park fish sticks episode that prompted a call home from his teacher.  Last week he told me that I had to stop treating him like a baby because he is “practically double digits.” I understand the inevitability of Quinn growing up but I really wish it could all slow down just a little. I think he’s mighty fine already.

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Filed under birthdays, Boys

A pain in the neck

Many years ago, there was a girl who once jumped out of her second story window to sneak out of the house and go to a party. The landing on the concrete slab front porch wasn’t as light as she would have liked and her ankle took quite a turn, an injury that was only compounded by the subsequent 2.5 mile walk to town. By the next morning, her ankle had swollen to twice its size and was quite painful.

Since that long ago time her ankle has never been the same. Sometimes it randomly twists out of place, always taking her breath away. Each time it happens, it never fails to remind her of the lasting effects of being a dumb teenager. Live and learn, if you’re lucky.

What’s the connection between a permanently, albeit mildly, damaged ankle and a pain in the neck, you ask? Well, this girl is now a grown up with teenage children of her own. Apparently, the teenaged idiocy gene is something shared with her children. Case in point – one of her children (unnamed to protect his idiocy innocence) recently was inspired to dive head first into a snow bank. Despite the remarkably powdery quality of the snow, he hurt his neck and shoulders. Badly.

Days later, he is still walking with a stiff neck and erect spine.  He reports that while the pain is somewhat diminished, it remains pretty intense. Maybe that will remind him to not be so reckless in the future. I really hope so.  There are enough ways to get hurt in this world without trying so hard.

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Filed under Boys, girlhood, moms, snow

Cool moms rock

imageIn 2001, I accepted a librarian position at Mohonasen High School. Although I only remained in the district for three years (the position which I currently hold became available and I had to go for it), I made some wonderful friends, worked with some cool students and was introduced to some great music. One English teacher, if you can imagine, during my brief tenure exposed me to Jeff Buckley, Wilco and the White Stripes. Talk about getting an education!

My middle son was a toddler when I got a bootleg of the White Stripes’ Elephant and the song Seven Nation Army quickly became one of the songs he always requested in the car. Repeatedly, of course. It didn’t matter because I wanted to hear it, too. Loud.

Fast forward a dozen years or so, New York City, that same son and I walking up 7th Avenue. We were on our way to catch Jack White at Madison Square Garden… My son is tall, maybe 6’1″ and he looks comfortable. It’s the third weekend in January that he’s been in the city and it shows in his confident stride. He’s got a new phrase he’s been running recently, “you be you,” he says.  I love it.

I think I was 15 at my first show at the Garden, just like he is. Unlike Griffin, I never went to a rock show with my mother, not even in my imagination. Never. I understand that taking your kid to an adult-ish sort of venue can define one as a “cool” mom, and it’s a term I’m okay with except for the fact that I think it’s too small of a name.

You see, I take my kid(s) places that we both want to go because I’m a person who has interests. When my sons and I share experiences together we always learn something – about each other, ourselves, something. I love my sons, even adore them at times, but they aren’t my entire world.  They’re who I want to share my world with.  That’s what I want my children to take away from our outings and shows, trips and vacations.

As far as Friday night’s show in NYC, it was very much like time spent with my guys – really fun and not quite as much as I would have liked.  Absolutely memorable.

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Filed under Boys, concerts, family, moms, NYC, relationships, travel