Tag Archives: parenting

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

Greenwood Lake abbreviated

Before I say another word – a note, know this: I love where I grew up. Greenwood Lake provided me with a foundation – friends, experiences and memories that will reside within me until the day I die. Even after nearly 30 years in Albany, Greenwood Lake is my heart’s home. What follows isn’t a criticism of a place or a population, it’s a lament.

imageWhenever I tell someone where I grew up, I nearly always have to repeat it. Sometimes more than once. Greenwood Lake, N.Y., often abbreviated as GWL, is a small village in Orange County. Despite its proximity to NYC and Bergen County, N.J. and Westchester, GWL is a modest village with a mixture of blue-collar and professional residents. There are folks who have lived there for generations, marrying and merging families into a stew of blended characteristics and histories that would be impossible to separate without an elder spokesperson, a piece of paper and pencil. There’s a comfort in that.

Recently, I became aware of a couple of losses that had been suffered. A young man and a middle-aged man, who had been cut down as a young man, were both laid to rest this month. Even from my safe distance of nearly 100 miles and 3 decades, I was rocked by these deaths. A tidal wave of sorrow hit me and I was swamped by the memories of all the other premature deaths of GWL residents I have witnessed over the years. There have just been too damn many.

I don’t know what it is that makes these deaths seem so perversely frequent. Is it simply that the names are so familiar? Do tragedies occur in my hometown more than in other places? Does everyone need more than a single hand to count the number of wakes and funerals for peers which they attended prior to finishing high school? Jesus, I hope not.

Through the years, there have been far too many car accidents interspersed with horrible illnesses, unshakable addictions and previously unimaginable suicides. There are parents I know who have buried 2 of their 3 children, families who have suffered in ways I don’t ever want to suffer and it makes sad and scared and a bit angry, too. Why do these deaths continue to happen? When will the lessons of risk and danger and speed and mortality finally be learned?

An elected representative of my hometown district told me last week that Greenwood Lake, along with Port Jervis, has the highest incidence of heroin abuse in the county. It doesn’t seem like the abbreviation of the lives of Greenwood Lakers is going to end anytime soon.  I only wish my sorrow about this situation could be equally short lived.

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Filed under aging, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

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

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

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

The ups and downs of breasts

Looking backwards I can’t remember exactly when my chest began to develop. If I consider when I began to get genuine attention from males, I could probably carbon date it to somewhere around the age of 13 or so. It was right around the time I ran into my mother in town and she told me it was time to wear a bra. Puberty is so damn awkward.

For years my breasts were my not-so-secret weapon. Unbuttoning an extra button gave me power. They were an accessory to be considered when I shopped for clothing and got dressed. Would they fit decently into a halter or a flimsy top? Wrangling them could be a challenge at times, particularly during the years when my weight was at its highest and I was sporting a bra size that exceeded my age with a cup that had moved into double letter territory.

The consolation, of course, was that my breasts had grown into something more than mere evidence of my femininity – they were now a source of sustenance for my children. I spent a combined nearly 4 years nursing my babies, truly one of the greatest feats of the human body, in my opinion. I still miss those days all these years later.

About 5 years ago I lost a substantial amount of weight.  I can’t say exactly how much, because I wasn’t recording my weight and the number of pounds wasn’t really on my radar.  I can say that my wardrobe took a huge hit as more and more of my clothing no longer fit.  As I began to shop and rebuild my closet, I couldn’t help but notice that the shape of my body had changed dramatically.  I now had entirely different options with regards to clothing since I was now sporting a significantly smaller rack.  Sundresses worn without a bra became an option for the first time in decades.  Pretty underthings were suddenly a possibility and running no longer felt like an exercise in containment with regards to my chest.   There was a new freedom and I loved it. But…

Sometimes when I am layering up with Under Armour in advance of a run, I can’t help but notice that my chest looks downright flat.  I know it is, in part, the compression from multiple layers of Lycra, but it still leaves me feeling almost as if I’ve returned to my pre-pubescent state.  I’m okay with that.  Bodacious was fun but not bouncing is even better.

 

 

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Filed under aging, musings, Random

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