Category Archives: stress

Balancing act

I can see June around the corner and she looks beautiful. Only a few more weeks and I’ll be enjoying 10 weeks of summer vacation – more time with loved ones, late nights, somewhat unstructured days and actual free time. As you might imagine, I’m really looking forward to that. My front garden is a bit of a disaster and the rear one is currently nonexistent. My wardrobe is a disorganized mess of winter and summer clothing haphazardly hanging and in drawers and I have yet to pull out any shorts or t-shirts for my youngest son. It’s a good thing he’s going through a flannel shirt phase.

Next weekend is Mountain Jam and I’m planning to take two nights off and head south to one of the best annual music festivals to grace our area. As of now, those are the only concerts I have on my calendar and I’m excited for the opportunity to indulge in one of my other interests, photography – I’ll be taking pictures for the Times Union. For the first time ever, though, my eagerness to get to the mountain is being tempered by my guilt about being away from Lark + Lily. Sigh.

How do you deal with the struggle between responsibilities and fun? Is there a secret formula to achieving some semblance of comfort when it comes to allocating finite time towards family, work and recreation? Do you have a rationalization method you might care to share with me?

Until I hear from you, here’s my approach – I can delegate more of the household chores to my children, who honestly, have a pretty cushy life and might benefit from getting their hands a little dirty. I’ll make sure the restaurant is adequately staffed and imagine that guests will understand my need to take the occasional Friday or Saturday off, especially when Beck and Wilco are playing close by. Rather than bemoan the multi-seasonal state of my wardrobe, I’ll try to celebrate the fact that my clothing is washed, dried and put away. And, I’ll heed this wisdom from Albert Einstein:

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Observations, Restaurants, stress, Summer

A crap week

The first week of spring, arguably the finest season of the year in upstate New York, was the worst week Lark + Lily has ever experienced. When I say “crappy,” I’m being literal, by the way. I arrived at the restaurant Tuesday afternoon and encountered the plumbers who were working industriously to unclog one of our two toilets.* Despite their best efforts, we were unable to open for service until 7:30 which means we lost 2.5 hours of service. Not a great way to begin the week.

That lack of business seemed to set the tone for the week and our numbers were dramatically down each subsequent night from previous weeks. I’ve said before that I didn’t buy a restaurant to make a ton of money, but obsessively looking at my diminishing online checking account was, said the wine bar owner, sobering.

In addition to the poor week at the restaurant, a fierce early spring cold made for a rough week at home. Quinn, who recently was treated for a mean case of strep throat, came down with a dreadful cough complete with a headache and body soreness. The poor guy was just down for the count. Naturally, he required a lot of coddling and cuddling and he generously returned the favor of my attention by sharing his germs with me. Thanks for the cold, Quinn.

As with any week, there were good things, too. The guests we did have at Lark + Lily, including one who I had only previously “met” online (Hi, Bill!), were great and I believe they all left satisfied with their experience. I went to an awesome wine dinner, ran 20+ miles, including once with both of the lunar b*tches, and hiked a peak (more about that experience soon) in the Catskills. We had some beautiful weather with temperatures that invited bare legs and arms to meet the sun and I got in some quality time at the golf course in advance of the takeover on 4/1 by the golfers.  Saturday’s family dinner, an early Easter meal, was an effortlessly delicious treat and provided me with the perfect starter for a killer split pea soup. There was even a brief dining room dance party with Quinn inspired by his favorite Ray Charles song, Mess Around.

I guess it wasn’t really that bad of a week after all, was it?

*Ladies – let’s make a deal, ok?  You refrain from tossing personal items in the toilet and I’ll remain open during hours of service.  Thanks!

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Exercise, family, friends, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Restaurants, running, sick, Spring, stress, Uncategorized

The precariousness of balance

Last Monday while I attended the Leap Day event at the University Club, my tightly wrapped world unraveled a bit. It was a great reminder to me about the always tenuous hold we have on life, how rapidly things can take a turn in an unexpected direction.

To begin, Monday night has been declared as “family night” at my house. Participating in last week’s panel discussion was an important opportunity for me, though, so I made an exception and, while I don’t regret my decision, there were definite repercussions. For instance, I seriously did not know what day it was for most of the week. I just felt off.

Leaving the boys to fend for themselves and not cooking dinner on Monday night, meant there was a distinct lack of leftovers for lunch and Tuesday night’s dinner. This lead to my taking the boys out for a late-ish dinner on Tuesday night, which, of course, was an expense. I also ended up eating food that I typically might avoid – heavy on the cheese and fried, another not so positive result of not being home to cook.

During my time at the restaurant on Tuesday, I learned that we were out of beer gas, a situation which prevents draft beer from being available. When I called our usual supplier I learned they had sold their business to another company, a company which I did not have an account with, naturally. There would be no draft beer until the beer crisis was resolved. Once we received a delivery (thank you, DeCrescente!), rather than being back in business, we hit another wall – the coupling for the tank was not compatible with our system. Ugh.

And still I did not know what day it was. At least not until Wednesday, that is.

On Wednesdays I run between school and when I go to Lark + Lily and I truly believe that this is what finally reset my week for me. I hope it doesn’t sound as if I am more committed to a run than I am to my children, it’s just that Wednesday the guys are with their dad and I have a window of time that belongs to me. And Jeter.

Family, work, food and exercise each play an important part in my life, but they aren’t all I want or need.  There must be time for adult relationships, romantic and platonic, room for creativity and writing, moments devoted to being quiet with a book or even taking a nap. Keeping it all going is one of life’s biggest challenges.  Accepting that keeping it all balanced is a temporary condition is one of life’s biggest lessons.

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Filed under Exercise, family, love, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, running, stress, Uncategorized

Milestones aren’t meant to be millstones

imageMy oldest child turned nineteen this weekend. I think the child that makes a man or a woman a parent is the child who is more closely observed, documented and measured than any additional children. As a family expands, it just isn’t possible to continue the almost obsessive attention that is paid to a first child. When there are two or three other humans demanding that their needs be fulfilled, things like growth charts become extraneous.

The literature suggests that first born children have a lot of pressure upon them to perform and I can concur on that. As far as my own child goes, he eventually internalized the demands he felt from his parents, teachers and early intervention providers. He now (self) imposes a timeline of expectations, and what he considers necessary progress, even more rigorous than the one promoted by the medical experts we felt so wed to when Liam was an infant and toddler and receiving services designed to help him catch up to his peers.

But, what if it isn’t really a race? What if we each reach the next step on our path in precisely the amount of time we’re supposed to? Maybe all those expected outcomes and definitions of normal are more generalizations than a reality for which to strive. From my vantage point of nearly fifty years old, it seems perfectly clear that life and how we experience it, is more individualized than something that can be easily plotted on a growth chart or measured in expectations and achievements.

As my son begins his last year as a teenager all I want for him is acceptance of who and where he is in life – his own acceptance, that is. I’d like for him to understand that it really doesn’t matter how many classes he takes or how quickly he progresses through college. It doesn’t make a difference if he is on par with his cohort; it’s his journey and no one else’s. Milestones may be indicative of progress but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to weigh a person down.

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, Education, Observations, stress, Uncategorized

What parents think when their kid doesn’t make it home by curfew

  • I can’t believe (s)he’s late! Midnight is more than reasonable a curfew!
  • I’m so annoyed. Give an inch, they take a mile.
  • I hope there wasn’t an accident.
  • Were there drugs at that party?!?
  • You can’t even text?
  • Why can’t you text? Are you injured?
  • Did you forget your keys? Are you outside too hesitant to ring the doorbell and wake me?
  • Should I go unlock the door for the night?
  • There’s no way they (s)he tried to sneak in somehow but got hurt, right? Is my child lying outside on this frigid night?
  • Wait – did (s)he even get to the party? What if there was an issue on the way there? Were they mugged or even killed for their coat or phone? It’s not unheard of, unfortunately.
  • After not receiving a response to multiple texts and phone calls what do I do? I don’t have contact info for the party hosts. When do I call the police?
  • What if something terrible happened? How would I ever survive my child’s funeral?
  • Stop imagining the worst. I’m sure there’s a reasonable enough explanation. These thoughts are not productive.
  • What makes me think for a second that my family is untouchable? Is there a single parent out there who ever expected tragedy to knock on their door?
  • Something terrible could have occurred. No one ever expects it to happen to them, to their family, but it does to someone’s family every single day.
  • I’m not angry anymore, just so scared.
  • It doesn’t matter why they’re late as long as they come home.
  • Thank God! (after finally hearing from your kid)
  • We need to review some basic family courtesies.

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Filed under Boys, family, moms, Observations, stress, Uncategorized

W(h)ine List

How I've been feeling.

How I had been feeling.

There have been a few moments in the past week or two when I’ve felt reasonably competent when it comes to keeping all of the necessary balls in the air when it involves Lark + Lily. I’ve moved forward from the preliminary weeks of being a business owner when I felt nearly overwhelmed by the responsibilities I had taken on. It seemed as if nearly every hour of the day was consumed by school followed by errands, meetings and tasks related to the restaurant, capped by evenings on premise. It was mentally, and on a lesser scale, physically exhausting.

I was struggling with balance – and you know how I thrive on cultivating balance. Eating, sleeping and running were becoming distant memories and I wondered when I would achieve some control over my life again. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel as if I’ve moved on from the daily-putting-out-fires stage of entrepreneurship to a more even state of composure. I’m breathing (and sleeping and eating) better.

The Lilly guys and I are creating a new normal with shared dinners each of the nights they spend at my house, even if one of those meals is takeout and another is leftovers. I’m pretty much getting my miles in each week which really helps with my energy level and mental well-being and I’m eating more consistently. It’s all working and I’m beginning to feel as if my life is merely pleasantly full rather than completely drowned by demands. It’s even starting to get kind of fun.

This week I added 8 new labels to my wine list, bringing my total selection to almost 70 labels. I’ve also tweaked some of the wines by the glass and spirits we offer. The list is growing to reflect my palate, while also representing varietals that guests expect to be present on a wine bar’s menu, things which I don’t necessarily gravitate to like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of my favorite recent picks are a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Rolly Gossman and a bold Zinfandel, Valravn from Sonoma County. Maybe you’ll stop in sometime soon for a taste.

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Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized, Wine

Mother Mary comes to me

imageStress is a weird thing, don’t you think? I mean the way it presents itself can be so insidious.  During my waking hours, I think I deal with it pretty well – the meltdown the other evening after arriving home after an hour in the dentist’s chair only to find the trash cans still at the curb, the dishwasher filled with the clean dishes and the sink filled with dirty ones, aside.  But, the nights are a different story.  As a matter of fact, the nights are what landed me in the dentist’s chair to begin with.

I’ve been grinding my teeth – intensely enough for me to find myself waking up with headaches. The waking up can be painful, particularly when it occurs at 4:00 a.m. I’ve been doing a number on my teeth and was at the dentist to have a small old filling replaced as well as getting fit for a nighttime mouth guard.  That’s hot, huh?

When I find myself in times of trouble, I do my best to get as much time outdoors as possible.  Fresh air really helps, whether I’m running or walking or even just sitting still. Maybe you do the same?

The other thing I find myself doing is reaching into my jewelry box for a medallion I received many years ago from one of my aunts, Sister Maria Pia.  She’s my mother’s youngest sister and, along with two of my Opa’s now deceased sisters, she is a Roman Catholic nun.  The medallion I wear is of the Virgin Mary and was purchased in Lourdes, France.  While I don’t consider myself to be incredibly religious, there’s something about Mary that I find comforting and inspiring. When she’s around my neck, I somehow feel safer.

Do you have a talisman?

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Filed under musings, stress