Category Archives: family

The pasta that made Matt Baumgartner a dad

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All grilled up and ready to go.

Summer at my house is a very different beast this year. A big part of it, of course, is Lark + Lily and the related demands of owning a business. But, there’s more. My two teenaged sons, perhaps in an attempt to make up for lost time, are each working two jobs. With our combined three schedules, family time has become increasingly rare and I’m trying to adjust to catching mere glimpses of my boys as they fulfill their responsibilities. It’s definitely different.

Yesterday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I asked my oldest son to text his brother to let him know that family dinner was at 5:00 and that he would be disinherited if he failed to join us. In response, middle son asked what was on the menu.* Upon being apprised of my dinner plan (pasta with grilled vegetables and sausage), he decided that he would prefer to eat with his friends at Bombers. I jokingly told him to change his name now that he was no longer in our family. Not one to miss a trick, he introduced himself as Griffin Bomber. Congratulations, Matt! It’s a boy!

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Ingredients: 1 medium summer squash, 1 medium zucchini, 10-12 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, 8-10 Italian sausages (hot, sweet or combination), fresh basil or spinach, Pellegrino Italian seasoning, 8oz cooked al dente pasta – reserve 1/2-3/4 c pasta cooking water.

Slice squash and zucchini lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. Season with salt, olive oil and Pellegrino seasoning. Slice onion into 1/4″ rounds. Grill vegetables (other than mushrooms and spinach) along with sausages over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil until soft. When sausage are at a temperature to be handled, slice into 1″ rounds. Place sausage and all vegetables, including any remaining liquid from the mushroom pan, in a large bowl with pasta, spinach and/or basil, and reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated cheese. Super delicious, seasonal and way easier than parenting.

*This is the kind of bs one faces when they expose their children to the world of restaurants from a young age.

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Filed under Boys, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, Lark Street, Recipes, Summer, Uncategorized

What I know at 49.75, give or take

I’ve got a big birthday coming up at the end of summer…fifty…half a century…the golden anniversary of my birth…the point in my life when I just might have to begin behaving a tad more adult. I think I’m ready.

It could be just me, but these decade birthdays began taking on more significance as I aged and I can remember each of them vividly. At 20, I was on the verge of independence and living completely on my own for the first time. For my 30th birthday, I was married and thrilled to be pregnant with my first child. When I turned 40 I thought I had it all, only to realize that maybe it wasn’t enough. And now, as 50 approaches, I find myself excited to flip a page to a new chapter in my life despite not really knowing what may come next.

I’ve learned so many things during my years alive, yet I’m still not sure what the future holds for me. Is that lack of certainty, that acceptance that what happens tomorrow is eternally a mysterious surprise, a sign of growing up? Maybe.

What do I know now that I didn’t know 10 years ago?

  • I know that I can outrun cancer and the fear of being alone.
  • I know that I can juggle a lot and that, even though I now wear a nightguard because I seem to be grinding my teeth, I am more satisfied with a full life and schedule than with one that lacks challenge and stimulation.
  • I know that there will be days that nearly overwhelm me with minutia and situations which demand immediate and close attention, but I’ve also learned that they pass.
  • I know that I am utterly blessed to have three healthy children and a positive relationship with their father that is based upon our mutual focus on what is best for them.
  • I know that the lines on my face and the grey in my hair are evidence of the length of my life and that I’m lucky to have both of them – and access to quality skincare products and a good colorist.
  • I know that life is about give and take and trying to remain cognizant of the balance between the two.
  • I know that I’m ready for what comes next.

I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’ – U2

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Filed under aging, birthdays, family, Random, Uncategorized

What I want to be when I grow up

As I get close to wrapping up my 20th year as a librarian, I’ve been thinking about the future. I’ve always just assumed that I would  invest thirty years in my chosen (and mostly beloved) career, but the last few years have been challenging with ridiculous teacher evaluations handed down by Governor Cuomo State Ed and tight school budgets causing the elimination of positions. It’s been a little disheartening, to be honest, and I think I just might need to have a new plan…

In a little more than five years I will be 55 years old and should have 25 years into the NYS Teacher’s Retirement System. That seems like a substantial amount of time to devote to a profession and I think that may be the perfect threshold to my relationship with teaching. Maybe 30 years isn’t really in the cards for me…

Writing those words caused my stomach to buzz with nerves…and excitement. Walking away from my steady paycheck will be a leap of faith that gets my heart beating a little fast. Mt first response to letting go of financial security is to think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t retire “early.” You know things like the fact that my youngest child will only be 16 years-old with college still to come and my house won’t be quite paid off and I’ll be paying increased out-of-pocket cost related to maintaining the excellent health insurance I presently have. And, really, who knows what the future holds in terms of income from Lark + Lily. Do you think I may actually see some income from this labor of love project?

But, something changed this week, almost as if a coin flipped to the other side and I began considering all the ways my life might improve should I retire in another 5 or 6 years. Instead of focusing on what I may not have available in terms of financial flexibility, I started thinking about the freedom that retirement will offer me. I’ll be able to spend more time with my youngest child. Travel plans can be made based upon when I want to get away rather than dates that are dictated by a school calendar. I’ll have opportunities to pursue other interests – maybe writing, photography or perhaps a position that involves promoting or supporting one of the organizations about which I feel so strongly. I’m feeling recommitted to my teaching job (after summer vacation) and curious to learn what the future may hold in store for me.  I think I’ve got a plan.

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Filed under aging, family, ideas, musings, Uncategorized

Pieces of summer

I’ve booked the first of our mini family vacations and I’m kind of excited about going somewhere new. Once the Cape thing fell apart, I consulted with my crew and Toronto came up as a potential destination. After a moment of insanity when I actually considered doing Cleveland, Niagara Falls and Toronto, I got real and settled on Niagara Falls and Toronto. Despite the appeal of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that 7 additional hours in the car would just break me.

None of us have ever visited Canada beyond Montreal and I’m looking forward to seeing a new place. I mean, life’s all about that, isn’t it? I’ve booked the hotels, all in Canada, but beyond that we’re completely open. It seems that we must do some sort of boat ride at the Falls, right? Do any of you have a recommendation or do we just go with Maid of the Mist? My oldest son is set on visiting the CN Tower and Casa Loma in Toronto, so I’m thinking it might make sense to buy this city pass.  I’m sure we can fit another attraction or two in from what’s included and it sure would simplify things. Simple is what I need right now.

Seeing that Toronto has a Chinatown and we have a tradition of having Peking Duck in Chinatowns in 6 cities in 3 countries on 2 continents, so far, I’m sure one of our meals will be Chinese. What other foods should we sample? Our location looks pretty central and I’m hoping to park the car and either walk or take transportation to most of the sights. Any tips for that?

My next task is to organize a little getaway for August – I’m thinking maybe a cabin on a lake for a few nights. Feel free to make recommendations – dog friendly, if possible. Jeter deserves a little vacation, too!

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Filed under Boys, Eating, family, ideas, road trips, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Sometimes life isn’t a beach

5f29a6a7e27014926b505f9d7a663911For the first time in 18 years I don’t have summer accommodations booked for Cape Cod. After last year’s trip, which took a lot out of all of us despite the great house and nearly all good company, and buying the restaurant which kind of put a new limit on the length of time I can be out of town, I had decided to wing it for Summer 2016, thinking I would keep my eyes open for maybe a last minute cancellation or other opportunity. Spontaneity is something I’m working on.

About 2 weeks ago I started getting antsy about not having a plan in place so I consulted with Aloysius and we both started looking for a suitable property. We were confined to a single week of the summer and despite that limitation, we found a house. Well, actually, two houses. Unfortunately, the owners of the first property, after responding that the house was indeed available for our desired week, seemingly dropped off the face of the earth never to be heard from again. House number two went even further – I paid a deposit, including a Jeter fee, and entered the dates on my calendar only to hear two days later that the house owners planned to occupy the place during the week we needed, thus, voiding our contract. Back to square zero…

So, now what to do? It seems that maybe the Cape isn’t meant to be the spot of our family vacation this year and I’m taking our lack of success as a sign from the universe to take a break from our usual summer destination, Wellfleet. The boys and I are talking about checking out some new places – perhaps a couple of days in Canada or a trip down to Mystic or egads, even the Jersey shore. I wouldn’t be opposed to a cabin in the Adirondacks for 2 or 3 nights, maybe on a lake? We’re thinking a couple of 2 or 3 day trips rather than the regular 2 weeks in a single area.

How about you? How is your summer shaping up? Any ideas to share with me about slightly offbeat, semi-low budget family destinations? We’re open – let me know!

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Filed under Aloysius, Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, friends, road trips, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

When you work more hours than you sleep

As my vacation approaches, I find myself getting most excited by the thought of having hours and hours to fill (or not) any way I please. These last few weeks have been joyfully hectic with fun events, long runs and mini escapes, all very carefully penciled into my already impressively full calendar. I’m ready to get away.

Prior to jetting out, there’s a neighborhood association social, wine academy, a party over at the new Biergarten, a date with my someone special and, of course, some packing, that need to happen. I’m confident it’s all going to come to pass, but I do wish it was a bit more spread out. I’d like to savor each of those things instead of survive them, you know? Reality, though, is a bitch and I’m doing my best to keep up, ok?

I don’t think a single day goes by without someone saying to me “I don’t know how you do it. School Monday – Friday, the restaurant 5 nights a week, the three children, miles of running, the house to maintain, the blog, the…” Well, you know what? Sometimes I don’t know how I do it either.

Here’s what I do know, though – if I spent any real time counting the hours in a week that I work versus the hours in a week that I sleep, I’d probably be really tired. If I didn’t love what I’m doing, none of it would be possible. The support I receive from my loved ones and employees is the thread that helps me to keep things together. And all that running? That’s what keeps me strong and sane. Honestly, other than my previous request for two additional hours a day, there’s nothing I’d want to change.  Living life, to me,  is better than sleeping through it.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver

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Filed under aging, Albany, Events, family, Lark Street, musings, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Next week when I’m in Barcelona…

  • I will take a funicular ride to these trails and take a run – hopefully twice!
  • There will be wine with lunch…followed by late afternoon naps.
  • I will spend hours outdoors walking around to see as many of Gaudi’s buildings as possible.
  • Should there be rain, I will check out the Picasso museum.
  • I will take in my first professional soccer match with my soccer playing son.
  • The beach will be our front yard.
  • I will take pictures -lots of pictures!
  • Jamon will be a major part of my diet.
  • I will soak in the experience of being in a city and country which are new to me.
  • My appreciation of all the good things in my life will radiate.

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Filed under Boys, Eating, Europe, family, Food, running, Spain, Spring, travel, Uncategorized