Tag Archives: parenting

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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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

Observations and the science fair

imageI’m a little ashamed for thinking, much less saying, this but … I really kind of detest the science fair. It isn’t because science isn’t really my thing, or that I’m opposed to exploring a topic of interest, it’s just that it turns into so much work without much reward. It’s hard to be excited about a process that comes with as many demands as a science experiment. Eh, maybe it’s just me.

Part of the science fair process involves observations which must be documented. In the spirit of research, I’ve got a few observations to share from my weekend. They’re in no particular order.

  • I’m not a bad feminist because I like Bernie more than I like Hillary.
  • The same is true when it comes the fact that I think it’s ok for a woman to want to look pretty when she leaves the house.
  • A winter walk with a friend and the dogs at the golf course makes for a perfect afternoon.
  • On a related note, lipstick has become my friend in a way it wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
  • Wearing a hat can be a real act of bravery. I’m not talking about a baseball cap, I mean a more bold chapeaux – something in a vivid colored felt or a generously proportioned straw number.
  • I don’t completely understand why folks get so uptight about getting older. I kind of think of adding years like putting another notch in my lipstick* case. It’s an accomplishment.
  • Recently, Delaware Avenue has been interesting to walk on, but scary to drive on. People really need to slow the hell down and stop being so aggressive behind the wheel.
  • In theory, I love brunch. What’s not to like about day drinking and someone other than me cooking and serving a meal? In reality, though, I just don’t have time for day drinking and a big meal midday. Maybe on vacation?
  • I thought the ribs I made on Saturday were pretty banging until I ate ribs at Jay and Karen’s. Never mind.
  • I’ve got an idea for this year’s science fair which just might be fun.  I’d say more but don’t want anyone co-opting our experiment.  Hint: it involves soda.

*what’s my obsession with lipstick?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, moms, Observations, Random, Schools, Uncategorized, winter

Birthdays and buildings – Vote Yes to AHS

new_exterior-washington_ave_view_1-16On February 9th my youngest child turns 11. I seriously don’t know even know where the last decade went. We brought him home from the hospital one winter afternoon and here it is a lifetime later. In an ironic way, the baby who was supposed to be my baby has grown up faster than either of his brothers. Such is life – grab the moments while you can.

This February 9th, I’ll be accompanying my boy and his classmates on their field trip to the Albany Institute of History and Art. I figure there aren’t many field trips left and I’m excited to spend his birthday with him and the exhibit, The Capital Region in 50 Objects interests me. It’s embarrassing how infrequently I get to the institute and I’m very much looking forward to seeing 50 objects which define the city where I have lived for more than half of my life.

Looking through the list of objects included in the display, I noticed a few buildings represented. As you might imagine, the Empire State Plaza and State Capitol are on the list, along with the residence of Stephen and Harriet Myers. You see, buildings are important and can help to define a city.

My children and I have witnessed the construction of a number of significant buildings in our lives here in Albany. I recall the construction of the Knickerbocker Arena Times Union Center and a number of other downtown buildings which have changed the landscape of our city. My children have benefited from the community investment made to improve libraries and both elementary and middle schools in our city and, as a parent, and taxpayer, I was pleased to support these initiatives. No longer do children in the city of Albany have to attend classes in buildings which are decrepit and lacking in modern amenities as was once the case.

This February 9th, we as a community again have the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the city and its children with A Vision for Tomorrow. While none of my children will directly benefit from this ambitious undertaking, I will gladly accept the small (approximately $25) addition to my annual tax bill.  It’s the right thing to do and will help to provide the best opportunity for our teens to succeed. If we can justify building an entire plaza to impress the Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands can’t we provide our own residents with a building for which they can feel pride?  Maybe you could think of it as a birthday gift to Quinn?

Need more information?  Check out one of these community forums and get yourself up to speed.  Let’s not allow a decision this big to be decided by a small group of voters.  Our kids deserve better.

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Taking Samson for a haircut

The Lilly boys have all been blessed with good hair. Thick, shiny, and curly hair are represented in our household, all without the addition of products or fussing. Isn’t that always the way with boys? Through the years, the guys have gradually gone from bald to blonde to light brown to dark hair. Their hairstyles have experienced a similar evolution from riotous curls to closely cropped and from moppy to groomed. Aside from one teary episode following a “too short” haircut, things have gone fairly smoothly. Until Quinn, that is.

patsys

image from Twitter: AlbanyMuskrat @albanymuskrat

In recent months my youngest son has resisted haircuts more steadfastly than the biblical Samson. When he finally acquiesced to a trim a couple of months ago, the appointment left all three of us (the stylist, Quinn and myself) frustrated as he literally selected individual hairs which he would allow to be touched by scissors. Seriously, he was lifting hairs and offering them to Nicole with firm directions regarding how much could be removed. When the “cut” was finished the amount of hair on the floor was smaller than a furball coughed up by a kitten – a true waste of money and time.

Now, don’t think for a second that I was demanding a dramatic shearing, all I was hoping for was a taming of the wild mane. Last weekend, with two sons in tow (appearance obsessed middle son had already gotten himself there a couple of weeks ago) we made our way downtown to Patsy’s for another go at a real haircut.

IMG_7920

My pic from last week – same chairs, same tile…

Patsy’s is tucked around the corner on Howard Street between the Times Union Center and City Beer Hall and on a Saturday afternoon, parking was plentiful – a marked difference from the all chairs full scene inside Patsy’s. No worries, we found a couple of seats and waited less than 10 minutes to get the guys in chairs. Some observations from my vantage spot – super professional, meticulous barbers, most sporting full sleeve tattoos and/or groomed facial hair, taking their time with each individual client. It was a wonderful sight to behold and I wouldn’t have been opposed to spending the entire afternoon there, sipping self-serve cans of PBR and watching the men at work.

How did we fare? Quinn received a compromise haircut which left both of us satisfied – his mop was shaped and layered and now looks far more intentional than the mess he was sporting when we walked in the door. Liam, whom I think looks most handsome with short hair, got a fairly dramatic cut and neck shave, both of which he appreciated. Hair for hair, his cut was the more dramatic but Quinn’s trim and shape up definitely was an improvement. Two thumbs up for Patsy’s – our new go to place.

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