Tag Archives: boys

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

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

Mother’s Day 2016 –3 sons, 7 Sisters and two many moms with lost children

13131375_10154112636582889_447523597177719350_oBeing a mom to 3 boys is sometimes an exercise in acceptance. There will never be breakfast in bed or handmade cards decorated with lace doily hearts and glitter or prom dress shopping, but, I’m ok with that. I wouldn’t trade my guys for the world. Knowing that Mother’s Day has the potential to be basically another Sunday morning of me whipping up pancakes for the gang, I immediately embraced the idea of running the 7 Sisters Trail Race in Amherst, MA as a potentially more satisfying way to spend the holiday. The idea had been presented by Lunar B*tch, Chrissy a few months ago as a “race to works towards,” but quickly became a “What the hell? Let’s just do it,” thing. We signed up.

After registering for the run, I did a little research in an attempt to learn what to expect from this 12 mile trail run across the Holyoke Range of mountains outside of Amherst, MA. This was probably an even worse idea than impulsively signing up for a 12 mile trail run across the Holyoke Range of mountains outside of Amherst. The various blogposts and reviews I read each added a little fear and nervous excitement to my pre-race mental prep, but honestly, nothing could have prepared me for the reality of the trail.

Although I intended to get a complete night’s rest, Saturday, like the rest of the week at Lark + Lily, was busy and I ultimately racked up a total of less than 5 hours of sleep. I woke before my alarm and had an opportunity to eat a solid breakfast, a fortunate set of circumstances because my body and mind would demand every available resource I had available as the race progressed. We arrived at the start with enough time to score parking in the upper lot and mentally settle in for our 8:43 Wave 4 start time.

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Pre-race

As I started up the first of the countless climbs my intentions were clear: to finish uninjured – and to smile. For the most part, I met my goals, but there were nearly 4.5 hours of propelling my body up and down mountains to endure before I could proclaim my mission accomplished… The out and back course was extremely challenging with a tremendous amount of potential to be truly dangerous in the wet, muddy and slippery conditions we faced. It really wasn’t a run as much as a clambering hike, at least for me. Although I never went down hard, I did gracefully glide down to earth a minimum of 3 times, earning a muddy ass and saturated socks along the way.  The shale was slick, but in the few areas where the trail was actually trail, the running was sublime.  The shades of green were dazzling and on the return trek the view of the rolling hills and Connecticut River in the distance was beautiful.

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Post race

The discomfort caused by the aggressive terrain was, at times, nearly unbearable, particularly in my hips.  As the race continued,  there were moments when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the finish line as the pain spread to my calves and feet.  When I briefly considered not finishing, I turned my internal attention to a true circumstance that would potentially prevent me from going on – the loss of a child.  I focused on the moms I know who have for various reasons lost a child and I recommitted to the race thinking that if they can survive that truly hellish reality, I could gather the strength to complete this course.  I was no longer running just for myself and when I finally crossed that finish line after hours of exertion, I did it with gratitude and thoughts of appreciation for my children.  Their presence is truly enough of a gift to me.

Here are some photos from the race taken by Greg Saulmon for The Republican.  The shots are awesome and really provide an accurate picture of the day. In addition to some tangible memories offered by photographs, I’ve had soreness in pretty much every muscle of my body, abs and forearms, included. As I said Monday morning, the only muscle which didn’t ache post- 7 Sisters and Mother’s Day was my heart.

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Filed under Boys, Exercise, friends, holidays, moms, Observations, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized

Lisbon Love

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Home, sweet home

After more than 20 hours on a bus (actually, 3 buses) we arrived in Lisbon as darkness fell. There was a failed connection with an Uber driver and an eventual cab ride with a driver who could not locate our desired address and instead dropped us off at the bottom of a formidable hill and advised us to simply walk an unknown distance until we located #4 Beco do Mirante. We wandered down a street so narrow that it felt more like an extended driveway than a road, before encountering a mound of trash and a gang of street cats taking their evening meal. We turned around and started over, eventually stumbling upon our home for the next three nights and being warmly welcomed by Renata, our AirBandB host.

It was not an auspicious start.

Despite the less than positive beginning to our stay, Lisbon absolutely captivated me. The view from our flat, both from the front and rear balconies, was memorable, with a beautifully lit dome filling the night sky when we arrived and the rising sun glowing over the river greeting me in the morning. The architecture was remarkable with many of the building facades tiled in dizzying patterns to whose charm I could never imagine becoming immune. 13131683_10154099899137889_3291232505187124338_o

The sounds of Lisbon included barking dogs and cooing pigeons and Fado music. Of the three, I preferred the pigeons. The sidewalks are made from small, rough cut stones which are surprisingly slippery even when dry and the narrow streets wind about with complete disregard for a more modern city’s commitment to a grid pattern. The hills are impressive and I felt no guilt about not running when I instead happily walked for hours up and down and around and about.

Portuguese people are handsome – both males and females. Dark hair and eyes and golden brown skin dominate. The men are more direct with their attentions than I had expected, dispelling any stereotypes I previously held about aggressive Italian or Spanish men. These guys were open about their admiration without being threatening.  If I were younger I might have found it intimidating, but, at my age, I’ll take it as a compliment.

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Look at that tile!

The wines, (with decent rosés  selling for 2 euro a bottle in the corner grocery store), and sangria we sampled were tasty, as were both the red and white ports we tried.  The traditional custard tart, pastéis de nata, was a delicious treat any and all times of day and there were other baked goods, including a bread studded with chorizo and ham, that were also excellent.  The meals we had were not quite on par with the food in Barcelona, but there weren’t really any bad dining experiences.  I could not find the fish stew I had imagined, but it gives me yet another reason to go back.

Breakfast with meat bread front and center.

Breakfast with meat bread front and center.

This is a place I definitely want to revisit.

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Filed under Europe, Observations, Portugal, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, Wine

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

Inspiring vs. Inciting – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Photo credit: Griffin Lilly

Yesterday was a huge day for politics in Albany, our Capital City on the Hudson. My schedule only allowed for me to attend one of the three pre-primary political rallies, but I am ever so proud to say that my older sons represented at the two events held during the early afternoon. How cool is it that they are interested and participating at their ages – 16 and 19?

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Photo credit: Liam Lilly

Liam, my oldest son attended the Kasich rally in Troy, essentially because he is taking classes at HVCC and the event was very conveniently nearby. Liam leans further to the right than I and often threatens to vote for candidates who hold much more socially conservative positions than I do. He didn’t really have an opportunity to share many impressions of the speech but he did say Kasich is a moderate Republican with a repeated refrain of jobs, jobs, jobs.

Griffin, my middle son, is always game to skip school and the Bernie rally gave him a fine and legitimate reason to cut out of class with my permission. He liked Bernie’s message but found him, when compared to President Obama, to be a less powerful speaker. He was in agreement with the message, but said Sanders had a “Grandpa cute” vibe. Griffin did really enjoy the folks present, though, and felt comfortable in the tightly packed crowd in the Armory. There might have even been some hugging, from what I understand. I was sad to have missed it.

Made in China - worn with total irony

Made in China – worn with total irony

Later in the day, after a fortifying beer meal at McGeary’s, all 3 of my boys and I headed to the Times Union Center for what we referred to as the circus. We arrived at approximately 6:40 and waited in line for entry and security for about 20 minutes. It was an informative time as we looked around at the other folks in line wondering what their stories might be. Were they genuine supporters? Local? Perhaps merely curious, like us, there to see the spectacle? It was impossible to know.

imageWe made it to seats in the upper deck just minutes before Trump graced the enthusiastic crowd with his presence. He immediately launched into his stump speech, littering his diatribe with meaningful phrases such as “New York values,” “building that wall” and “making America great again.” His words were resonating with the crowd who greeted his sound bites with cheers and the frenzied waving of their Trump signs. Other people present began to respond as well to Trump’s claims, but these people were protestors, not supporters. The energy in the arena shifted from simple enthusiasm to a more complicated mélange of fear and anger. My children began to feel uncomfortable.

imageI looked around at the people surrounding us and tried to think about what might have made them so angry. How could they possibly be more furious with Mexican immigrants than they are with corporations which relocate to Mexico to lower production costs and maximize profits? Why are they resentful of citizens desiring comprehensive and affordable healthcare, but not with pharmaceutical companies using government money for research yet not making their products financially within reach of those who may need them? How does a New York City billionaire represent the interests of what looked to be a mostly blue-collar crowd?

We witnessed a couple of fights break out and saw a number of attendees being removed from the facility. The threat of more ugliness was pervasive. The boys asked to leave, which we did just before 8:00.

To me, Bernie Sanders brings light to our country’s political landscape while Donald Trump delivers a fire that threatens to incinerate all it touches. More than once last night I considered the similarities between the scene in front of us and what was Germany in the 1930s. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I’ll confess that I repeatedly thought: “Is this how Hitler gained power? Is this how it begins?”

Primary Day can’t come soon enough.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Education, Events, family, Local, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, upstate New York

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