Category Archives: Schools

Getting educated – 500 miles worth of lessons

Three day weekends should leave those fortunate enough to have had 3 consecutive days off feeling relaxed and satisfied. There definitely were some moments during the 72 hours which prompted some pretty positive emotions, but the overwhelming sensation I’m experiencing right now is simple exhaustion.

As I am inclined to do, I scheduled the weekend pretty tightly. My agenda included a ski, some yoga, a house party or two, and a whole lotta driving the Lilly boys where they wanted to go. All in all, the weekend was a success, but not everything went as planned. I mean, really, does it ever?

Lesson 1. Plans need to come with alternatives, options and flexibility. Sometimes the unexpected is welcome, like running into someone special at a party. Those are the moments we’ve got to hold on to.

Saturday I dropped my middle son off at the train station in Poughkeepsie. I resisted the impulse to get out of the car and walk inside with him to help him get his ticket and find the right track for NYC. Griffin’s independent trip to Grand Central Station was the second leg on his journey to his first show at the Beacon. Upon his arrival in the city, he met his older cousin and he went to see a jam band that his father assures me I would have hated.  He loved it.

Lesson 2. My children are growing up and I need to encourage the pursuit of entertainment and adventure, even if the thought of sending my 15 y/o son to Manhattan solo is scary. It’s time.

Sunday, my oldest child took the train from Albany to meet me in Poughkeepsie (I had spent the night with friends nearby). We immediately got on the road for an epic trip to Elmira College for a Monday morning tour. The roads were insanely icy as the rain fell on highways that were ever so cold and the drive took much longer than expected. After our visit on Monday, Liam decided that while Elmira had a lot to offer, it was probably too far away from his family for him to continue considering it as an option for the fall.

Lesson 3. Often the road to where we want to get to is treacherously slippery. Sometimes, once we arrive we find that the place isn’t really where want to be.  The thing is, you’ll never know unless you make the trip.

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Filed under Boys, Education, family, NYC, road trips, Schools, snow, upstate New York

Dog years and the passage of time

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The day we first met Jeter

The youngest of my “boys” recently celebrated his first birthday and, while the occasion was a happy one to mark, I also noted the date with a tinge of sadness. That year certainly went quickly. When I thought about the number of years we got to love Cassidy (12.5) and started doing simple math in my head, I got a bit melancholy considering how few more years we can expect Jeter to be our baby. It simply doesn’t feel like nearly enough.

I don’t dwell on the lack of how much time remains, but I do find myself conscious of it. I’ve been thinking a lot about time recently. The older I get, the more I value it. What to do with my time and who to spend it with are two of the most important decisions I make each day. What once seemed infinite has definitely evolved into being one of life’s most precious gifts. It’s true, time is a present and I’ve vowed to become even more discriminating about how I use it.

When it comes to time, how long are you willing to invest in someone? What length of time would you give a person to show you their very best? A week? A year? Or, are you of the mindset that we’re all works in progress and it is acceptable to wait forever? It’s a tough call, one we each have to make (and live with) ourselves.

How do we ever know if we’ve done the right thing(s) with our time? As my oldest son gets ready to make decisions about where to continue to his education and to leave home, I wonder how the time of our living under the same roof went by so remarkably fast. Is he ready? Did his father and I sufficiently prepare him for what comes next? Was our time together well spent?

Is there a way to ever truly know? Or, maybe a means to just slow down the clock?

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Filed under aging, Boys, family, love, musings, relationships, Schools

12/13/14

Image: nydailynews.com

Yesterday’s date was remarkable because it was the last time in our lifetime, barring some crazy medical advances, that we will see a consecutive numbers date. What begin with 1/2/3 is now over for the current century. Pretty momentous, don’t you think?

I’ve learned there are occasions which demand recognition for various reasons – holidays, anniversaries, cool calendar dates, while others only reveal their importance retrospectively.

Two years ago today, on 12/14/12, Adam Lanza entered an elementary school and executed 26 people. Twenty of the victims were children who were essentially the same age as my own youngest son. Two years ago, 12/13/12, was the last night all of those families were intact.

I cant help but imagine the children on the final night of their lives.   I picture them talking excitedly about their Christmas lists and other holiday traditions. Maybe they did some homework, played a game or two, or attended a sports practice or other activity. Along with their teachers, they were probably looking forward to the weekend to have some time with family and friends. There was nothing to suggest that they would never again sleep in their beds.

On 12/14/12 the residents of Newtown, CT, and the world, learned what a violent and mentally ill individual was capable of destroying. We’ll never know what the future held for those twenty children – what they would have grown to achieve and accomplish, how they might have changed the world with their presence rather than with the void of their absence.  My own heart will always be missing a piece which was taken on that day.

In the next century, when those cool consecutive number dates roll around again, I hope that thought of an individual possessing and using weapons such as the Bushmaster rifle used to execute 20 elementary school children, is considered even more insane than Adam Lanza.

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Filed under Events, musings, News, Observations, politics, Schools

Writing my son’s college essay (in my mind)

Dear Prospective College Admissions Officer –

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I can only imagine how many of these letters you must read and how difficult it must be to evaluate potential students from mere words and numbers on a page. Since neither words nor numbers adequately describe my oldest son, maybe I can offer some assistance?

To satisfy the need for percentiles and numbers of measurement, let me offer this – he was 5.5 weeks premature and, at one time, weighed less than 3.75 lbs. His father and I were advised that he was at risk of never recovering from the health challenges he faced and that, even if he survived, he might never walk. He crawled at twelve months and finally walked at 17 months. He was a willing participant in speech, OT, PT and special education services beginning at the age of 18 months, never complaining about the demands made upon him, the leg braces he wore or the frequent doctor’s visits.

Early in my son’s elementary career he was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed medication, which he continues to take. In the ensuing years, his dosage has been adjusted but he has also developed coping mechanisms and skills to increase his self-control and capacity to stay on task. His study habits and commitment to academic endeavors are remarkable and his grades in recent years reflect his strong work ethic.

While standardized tests are not my son’s strength, his passion for history has clearly been documented in his mastery of the NYS Regents’ exams in history. While his math and science scores have not been as stellar, I couldn’t be prouder of his decision to retake state exams to improve his transcript, despite his guidance counselor’s assurances that the importance of the grade ultimately was negligible.

My son has tackled the college search process with realistic independence, researching academic requirements and offerings, along with campus activities and opportunities. He has scheduled his own campus visits and participated in the process with excitement and enthusiasm and welcomes the new opportunities which will be available to him on campus.

In addition to his interest in history and government, my son is curious about the world.  He is an experienced traveler and witnessing his response to some of the world’s wonders has been one of the most rewarding gifts of parenthood.  He truly is one of my favorite travel companions and his choices, in terms of foreign locales to visit, have broadened my world immensely.

In closing,  if you’re looking for a student who shows their worth when they are faced with a bubble sheet, your institution may not be the right one for my son, but, if you’re seeking students who demonstrate their abilities when faced with challenges, my son may be exactly who you want to join your academic community.  Like his father and I, you’d be lucky to have him.

 Sincerely, a proud parent

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Filed under Boys, Education, moms, Schools

Reflecting on 30 years

IMG_0314Despite my attempts at processing the hundreds of distinct thoughts and images in my head following my trip to the past last weekend, my mind is still in a whirl.  During my drive north, while I tried to assert a sense of order to all that had been stimulated in my head, I realized that the 30th reunion I had attended had prompted more questions than it had answered and I wondered if other alumni felt the same way.  I wished that I were better in those sorts of situations, more open to approaching others and initiating conversations.  I had wanted to feel a connection with those around me, a connection which ultimately I could only find in fits and starts.

I’ve attended each reunion planned by the class Dynamo, Robin.  There have been four.  If I take the time to consider what compels me to insert myself in an environment which doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, my only conclusion is that I’m seeking something, some sort of resolution or denouement.

Kind of silly, right?  What can be learned from surrounding myself by people with whom I shared a building, along with some experiences 30 years ago?  I just don’t know.

High school was not four years of social activities and academic achievements for me. I was not present for much of it, figuratively and literally.  I felt lost in the hugeness of the high school after the intimate experience of my Greenwood Lake education, going from a class of 65 to one of more than 400 in the blink of an eye.  Cliques and expectations were well established and I flitted between groups (heads, brains, jocks) committing to none.

Each reunion has invoked a similar lack of ability to engage.  I simply don’t know what to say to anyone.  There are familiar faces, some from high school so long ago, others from social media, and flashes of memories race through my mind.  But where does one start when it comes to covering the last three decades?  And – to what purpose?  My high school experience will never change and my future probably doesn’t include any of the people I struggle with to make meaningful conversation.  If an opportunity presented itself – say a classmate was going to be in the Albany area and wanted to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I’d be interested.  I’m just more comfortable interacting in a smaller, lower-volume setting.  Perhaps that’s my take away, my conclusion?

I think this was my last reunion.

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Filed under aging, Education, Events, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, Schools

The multiculturalism of crepes

DSC_0002My youngest son goes to a magnet elementary school in our neighborhood. The latter fact is more the reason he attends that particular school than the arts and humanities centered curriculum, but we do enjoy many of the activities based upon the school’s theme.

This week the school community’s marked their Third Annual Multicultural Celebration. My son came home very excitedly to share that his class would be representing France. After a visit from a French college student, he was obsessed by the thought of making crepes as our contribution to the event. The sound of his voice repeatedly saying “crepe” in an attempted French accent, convinced me that this was an idee fixe that deserved to be indulged.

After a tedious remarkable number of suggestions from my 9 y/o with regards to how to make crepes (the batter must be made the night before cooking, beer is a necessary ingredient…), I located a reasonably simple recipe on Epicurious. Late Wednesday night, after closing the Wine Bar, I stirred up a triple batch of the recipe and went to sleep with a clear plan – and conscience.

After school, I hit up the store for a medium sized jar of Nutella and, upon arriving home, immediately got busy heating up two nonstick sauté pans. I brushed the hot pans with melted butter and got into the rhythm of working two pans, while also peeling and chopping a few apples to cook with brown sugar and cinnamon for an alternate filling.image

The process was satisfyingly quick. In barely an hour, I had approximately 40 filled crepes, divided into two dishes with about twice as many Nutella ones than apple. I dusted the crepes with powdered sugar and we were on our way.

The event (and the crepes) was fantastic. The number of nations represented on the incredibly laden tables was mirrored by the audience in the multifunction room. The smells and flavors were rich in a way completely unrelated to any world currency. It was positively heady. I am so lucky to live in a city where my children have the opportunity to attend school with such a culturally diverse population. C’est magnifique!DSC_0004

 

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Cooking, Education, Events, family, Food, Local, Recipes, Schools

An open letter to paleandpasty

(Dear readers: Please read this article, complete with comments, and then come back.  Okay, done?)

I’ve got some information for you, paleandpasty.  Take that fence picket out of your ass and have a seat.  I am so tired of people like you anonymously criticizing my city.  From your self-perceived superior, suburban vantage point, you make general statements about personal safety and outrageous property taxes in Albany.  Let me tell you a couple of things.

In the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Albany, I’ve been mildly physically threatened once.  Yes, once.  It was fairly recently and I related the details here.  While the situation was less than comfortable for me, the way I felt after that incident didn’t come close to approaching the degree of physical unease I experienced this week when I witnessed a brutal physical attack in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts on Delaware Avenue.  In Delmar.   At 3:15 in the afternoon.  Bad people and bad things happen to be in every community.  Stop trying to perpetuate the misimpression that Albany has the monopoly on such things.

As for taxes, I just wrote the check last week for my school taxes.  I paid 60% the price that a suburban friend paid.  Of course, their property and their school district are both valued higher than mine.  I understand that, but I certainly don’t believe that their cookie cutter ranch, which has less square feet and character than my home, or their mostly homogenous school system, which is more than a little white bread, is worth 40% more than what I paid.  My children have access to AP classes, courses through HVCC and opportunities to explore and experience community resources, too.  Those things are not suburban exclusives.

In closing, I’d like to add that my children are not being raised to believe it is okay to make anonymous statements criticizing the choices made by others.  I don’t know where you grew up or attended school, but that is a lesson you seemed to miss.  You are more than entitled to live where you want, but please stop trying to validate your choice by maligning mine.

Sincerely, Silvia Meder Lilly

 

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Education, Local, Observations, Rants, Schools