Tag Archives: intact family

Gifts of the season

So far, it’s been a particularly relaxed holiday season. I’ve been on my game – my freezer has 8 quarts of assorted homemade cookie dough ready to thaw and bake, the door has a wreath and the dining room a decorated tree. The last of the Christmas cards went in the mail 3 days ago and I’ve got 4 rolls of wrapping paper – and tape.

Holiday preparations are so well in hand that I’m adding challenges to the upcoming days. I’ve got a few recipes which I’ll be debuting over the next few days, a riff on apple fritter waffle donuts, overnight pull-apart brioche cinnamon roll bread and a killer roast for Christmas Eve. And, yes, I already ordered the beef from the butcher. How did I manage to be so on top of things? I’d have to say it was because I remembered to put a few things for myself on this year’s gift list.

Last week, I loaded two of the three boys into the car and drove to go pick out a tree. At Price Chopper. Yep, we bought our tree from the Golubs, the same folks from whom I bought the potatoes and onions for our latkes. Talk about one-stop shopping! Generally we go out to rural Rensselear County for our tree, not suburban Slinglerlands, but the week’s wet snow made the appeal of tromping through a field searching for a tree pretty minimal. I gave myself the gift of simplicity. $35.00 and car filled with pine needles later, we have, as always, the perfect tree.

Last night, I had a hankering for latkes. Even though it was Friday and I felt kind of beat, I made the effort to grate the potatoes and chop the onion and fry a batch of latkes. With each step, I considered, then accepted, what I had to do next to get this out of the norm meal on the table. As the pancakes fried, I peeled apples for a quick sauce and grilled sausages. We didn’t sit down to enjoy our dinner until after  8:00, but I felt so relaxed because I didn’t rush the process or myself. I gave myself the gift of indulging in something I was really craving – sour cream and generous glass of Riesling included.

During these often hectic holiday weeks, when so very much (festivities, shopping, food and drink) is crammed into each day, I purposefully left my calendar open. I quietly refused to commit myself or take on obligations. It has been remarkable. I’ve been available to do some fun relatively last minute things.  I’ve been writing and reading, taking long walks with Jeter and enjoying my home and boys. I gave myself the gift of time.

I hope you’re giving yourself something priceless, too.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, Cooking, family, holidays, musings, writing

Capitalizing on Capital Hills

IMG_3310I attended a meeting Tuesday evening in the Club House at Capital Hills. The weather, snowy and wet, was perfectly appropriate for the topic at hand – the sharing of ideas about winter activities at the golf course. As a year round, non-golfing user of the course, I knew this was a meeting I didn’t want to miss.

The meeting was hosted by golf course staff and attended by city recreation department employees as well as interested residents, in total, approximately 20 people or so. For the first 20 minutes, the conversation centered upon the lack of notification about the meeting and dog poop. Once that crap* was out-of-the-way, we got down to business.

Here are some things you may not know about Albany Muni Capital Hills:
• There are 4.75 miles of cart paths. Typically, snow is removed from these paved routes to facilitate dog walking.
• Generally, after 8+” of snow there are more than 6 miles of trails groomed for skiing.
• The golf course is comprised of nearly 300 acres, approximately two-thirds of which is not greens.
• The nearby Normanskill Farm adds an additional 200 acres of basically undeveloped land.
• Martel’s Restaurant has meeting, fundraiser and banquet space available.

Ideas bandied about include:
• Having ski rentals and how-to clinics available on designated days, organized perhaps by local ski equipment outfitters.
• A Winter Carnival and other events.
• Formal bird watching/nature walks.
• An Easter egg hunt.
• Fundraising opportunities via photography, i.e. a calendar of the Dogs of Capital Hills.

The meeting felt very much like a starting point in a potentially awesome initiative.  There’s plenty of time for you to get involved.  Contact the City Parks and Recreation Department or the course’s superintendent, Scott Gallup to be part of it.

*sorry!

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Filed under Albany, Events, Exercise, family, ideas, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

Morning thoughts

imageThe sun is peeking out from the soft grey clouds and my private little deck beckons. Listening to the birds and the trees on a quiet morning while the rest of the house still sleeps, is one of my favorite times of the day. No one needs anything, other than the hummingbird who just cruised by the feeder looking for some breakfast. He’ll have to wait.

I’ve been visiting the Cape for 16 consecutive summers and the charm has yet to wear off. Sure, there are places I no longer find appealing (I’m talking to you, obvious consumption Chatham) but, in general, I still appreciate what this place offers me. Despite all the changing variables – where we stay, the layouts of the various houses we have rented, the time of the summer, the composition of our families, which friends visit, the most special thing to me about the Cape is how it itself remains constant. There will be fried seafood and sandy feet and predictable tides. The shoreline may shift and beaches and dunes will erode, but the sun will reliably drop into the bay in a blaze of orange and purple at the end of the day. This, is what I love about being here.

I can’t help but reflect on my boys and how their needs and interests have changed over the years. The amount of props they once required! Strollers and pack and plays, life preservers and diapers – all gone now, replaced by digital toys and, thank God, books. When I packed this year, in my usual style, filling Rubbermaid containers which can double as hampers after the clothing is hastily put into temporary homes in strange dressers, I got my own bin for the first time ever. For years, I’ve shared my bin with my youngest as I’ve placed the big guys’ clothes together. This year their stuff is all together and I have a smaller box just for me. It means something doesn’t it?

Life is changing – every day. Coming to the beach and taking the time to recognize, accept and honor that, while digging my toes in the sand, makes these weeks the most special of the year. I hope you have a place like that, too.

Time to feed the hummingbirds.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, family, favorites, musings, road trips, Summer, vacation

My just deserts

DSC_0121We celebrated a birthday this week, in a fairly low-key fashion. While I generally write a birthday piece and devote it to the celebrant, I struggled with a cohesive message when it came to my middle son’s birthday and a litany of pithy observations and attributes just felt forced. You see, he is, as my estranged mother likes to assert, the one who is “just like me.” While she would like to believe that he is my punishment for all the terrible things I put her through during my own teen years, I disagree. He is my triumph.

When my first child was born, organized me was totally ill prepared. He was early, he was small and he arrived surgically rather than in anything remotely resembling the Bradley birth for which we had been preparing. He became critically ill, a consequence in my mother’s eyes of my own stubbornness and incompetence, rather than the fault of a medical team who failed to make a routine and simple diagnosis. Feeding him was a challenge and he missed milestone after milestone. With all of the necessary interventions, it was a long time before I felt like he was “mine”* and could confidently manage his care and develop routines that worked for us.

Griffin, though? He is my child, not my mother’s, not a medical patient, not an early intervention case to be managed. He arrived on the precise day for which I was hoping – the last day of April and not the first of May, my own mother’s birthday. He is a gift to me, my very own diamond, albeit one which remains in need of a little polishing.

I birthed this child and fed him from my own body for more than a year. Together with his dad, I dressed and nurtured him, feeling capable in my veteran mother status. He started running as soon as he was vertical at a mere 11 months. His first word was “Go!” which he yelled at the vehicle in front of us, after the light had turned green and the driver failed to step on the gas fast enough. He continues to be the child who most resembles his parents in terms of physical strength, coordination and interest in athletics. He can thank his Dad for his gorgeous curls and rue his maternal genes which came complete with freckles and a mild form of a condition known as pectus excavatum.

Mirroring my own personality, he is inclined to intolerance when it comes to bureaucratic educational nonsense and tends to be a bit of a fashionista. Like his dad, he has a mind for math along with a tendency to procrastinate and then respond with frustration when he finds himself overwhelmed by an avalanche of responsibilities. He’ll make it through, though. He’s smart and sensitive, social and funny as a hell, and I understand him in a way that feels completely intuitive and natural.

If being “just like me” means my son will find his own path through life, with the added benefit of two parents who love and support him, I couldn’t be more appreciative for the sweet “punishment” the universe has imposed. He is just what I deserve.

*When I say “mine,” in no way am I suggesting that he is more mine than he is his father’s. Of course, he is ours.

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Filed under birthdays, Boys, family, Observations

I’ve got a badge – and a glass of wine.

Another perfect little find from Elissa Halloran's little shop on Lark Street.

Another perfect little find from Elissa Halloran’s little shop on Lark Street.

Well, guess who gets to be the bad cop?  Yes, yes, I know, if the shoe fits, blah blah blah.  Whatever.  Give me a second, please, while I take another swig swallow sip of wine, ok?  Exhale.  Sigh.

You know how kids like to play their parents, especially in divorce situations?  Yes, you do, you must have seen it before. Child, typically a teen, decides that the demise of their parents’ marriage provides them with the perfect opportunity to slack off?  Well, it is a crap situation that requires parental attention and communication…something which isn’t always easily managed as a former couple transitions to a new normal of shared parenting done in an isolated, yet equally invested fashion.   Maybe it’s a natural impulse for a child who wants to ensure that his recently apart parents maintain an open dialogue.  Perhaps it is a symptom of adolescence.  I don’t know for certain, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is exhausting and demoralizing.  Ugh.

Most of us are familiar with that cliched police interrogation technique – the whole good cop/bad cop thing, right?  Well, guess which officer I get to be?  I’ve always been the calendar keeper, the planner, the appointment maker, the initiator, shall we say.  I have a knack for making, and keeping, a schedule and taking care of things.  Naturally, it has fallen to me to be the one who checks in on the boys’ grades and initiates contact, when necessary, with their teachers.  And the reward for my attentions from my child who is treading seriously close to the line between living up to his potential and being a rebel without a cause?  Well, let’s just say it  is sort of the opposite of gratitude.

It would be so much easier to be hands off.  I would prefer to devote my attention to celebrating the wonderful talents and capabilities of my children, but it seems that a different type of focus is being demanded at this time.  Well, if I have to be the one who enforces the law in these parts, I’ll do it, with or without the assistance of a deputy.  Don’t you doubt it.

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Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, moms, musings

What’s wrong with oysters?

Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a minefield for me.  I did some day trips here over the years.  Always with the former husband, always pleasant and memorable.  I’ll forever smile when I think about the two bigger boys in their dueling Yankees/Red Sox hats being playfully interrogated about their allegiances by the ferry guy.  He ultimately understood their loyalties had been influenced by their parents’ places of birth, defusing a rivalry that long predates either boys’ arrival.

There are definitely some ghosts here.  I went for a much-needed run this evening.  It was challenging.  I got a little lost as streets, appropriately enough, dead ended unexpectedly.  I ran past the cute little cottage which my ex and I had rented for a long weekend to celebrate our last, in my mind, sincere wedding anniversary.  I saw that it was for sale and felt a twinge of sadness about the way things change, how life, and the Vineyard, constantly twists and turns and the hills roll up and down.

Pandora threw an old Counting Crows song at me during that run, one of my favorites, “Long December.” The line that resonated was about how there were  “a lot of oysters, but no pearls.”  I immediately thought – “So?  What’s so bad about oysters?”  I mean, really, once they’re coaxed out of their hard shells there’s very little that can ruin them. Eat ‘em au natural, dredge them in corn meal, fry them, whatever your fancy.  They’re going to be good.

Martha’s Vineyard may have begun for me as a day trip spot with my still intact family, but it has become a place that my boys and I have experienced together.  We’ve explored beaches and towns and witnessed sunsets.  There have been days spent with friends playing in the waves and evening dance parties and epic Monopoly games.  Pearls may be nice, but oysters are just fine.

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