Category Archives: birthdays

The day my middle son turned 21

856E786C-CB4F-453C-BEDC-C394254736D6It doesn’t even seem possible that the boys’ dad and I have successfully reared two 21+ year-old offspring. I think I’ll pause here for a moment of quiet celebration. Feel free to join me.

Okay – so, twenty-one can be a real defining moment of adulthood. A milestone of sorts. With this particular kid of mine, I believe twenty-one is a solid piece of punctuation in a young life lived well.

My pregnancy with this middle son was so much less idyllic than my first had been. Of course it was – I now knew (some of) all of the things that could go wrong. Early delivery and bad presentations and terrible medical outcomes…we’d experienced those with our first child and were certainly nervous about a repeat experience.

Fortunately, the second L&D was much different. As was pretty much everything else with this kid. He was bald, with a complexion that was blotchy and reddish. He was big, nearly off the charts for length, then height. And while Liam had been placid, this baby was calm only as long as he got what he wanted.

Within a few years, we knew what he wanted most was to be able to go. Actually, his very first word was “Go!” yelled when the car in front of us didn’t accelerate quickly enough when the light turned to green. He climbed out of his crib at 8 months, ran at 9.5 and had earned the nickname “The Runner” by 18 months. It’s just who he is.

His first bite of solid food was pizza crust stolen from his brother’s plate. He almost choked on a bite of bagel a few weeks later, but continued to have a fondness for carbs that he may have inherited from me. If that was indeed confirmed to be the case, it would not be the only way in which we are similar.

I’m not inclined to take credit for how anyone, but myself, might turn out.  People seem to become who they are supposed to be despite all of our efforts, don’t they? Yet, this young man reminds me of myself. Often. I believe his humor and self sufficiency and ability to clean a bathroom, all come from me. I think he knows it, too.

The night before his birthday, my son, his brothers and his dad, and I, had dinner together. There was lots of laughter and too much fried chicken, chicken which my son promised to tell his roommates I myself cooked, if I let him take the leftovers home.  I knew how lucky we all were to be able to celebrate.

Two down, one to go.

4 Comments

Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, family, moms, Observations, Restaurants

Painterly thoughts

E7C2D7E7-2655-4494-8C93-650D7F5793F3

Standard home project outfit, n’est pas?

It’s been just about exactly twenty-one years since I last painted the upstairs bathroom. I’m not always so clear with years and dates, but this one is easy to remember because I was pregnant with my second son. My water broke as I raced to get the newly renovated third floor of our house prepared for our expanding family. I was on the bathroom floor scrubbing grout when my labor began – and my interest in hands on household projects ended.

Other than swapping out the vanity about a dozen years ago, I’ve basically done nothing to that bathroom in this century. It’s been the boys’ bathroom for a long time and, by the way, boys can be gross. There wasn’t a lot of incentive for me to invest in prettying it up when the guys (and the Enzo cat) weren’t the most tidy of shower mates. But, when the shower leaked, again, I finally committed to investing some money and improving this room.

The faulty shower was the natural starting point, because that was where the major problem was. The shitty shower we had initially installed, because it was cheap, needed to go.

13B44C56-9E3B-4765-B5A9-95B99FC3817B

I found a great contractor who showed up when he said he would and was incredibly easy to work with, and got started with a firm budget in mind. Along the way the job has evolved to include a few more things, like extended tiling, more expensive tile than originally budgeted, a new toilet…, but we’ve mostly maintained the budget and I’m happy with the value of my investment.

As you know, if you’ve taken on a project like this before, once you do one thing, everything else looks crappy. I think I want to pick out new light fixtures to freshen things up even more. Seems like new towels might be a nice touch, too. Maybe even a plant.

D812D803-4E90-44D4-83D0-659FF47A373D
I took on the task of painting the bathroom myself and finally was motivated Saturday. I gathered together everything I needed, and picked up a few necessary items at my local hardware store, Bridgeford on Delaware Avenue.  Turning on a 60s Apple Music playlist, I began prepping.

First, the walls needed to be wiped. Next, the floor was vacuumed with a shop vac. Then the taping began. Using newspapers and blue painter’s* tape, I started taping off the tile and trim work. Then I mopped. There was a time when (like prior to my experience yesterday) I despised this prep work involved with painting. It just always felt so damn tedious and took too much time.

Something was different, though, yesterday. Instead of dashing through the prep process, I decided to slow down. I’m older. I now know that cleaning up one’s mess is a far more tiresome task than honoring the process of getting ready for creating change.

5A1E95FC-B9FC-4521-8B7E-1E6B707E76B3

Not helpful

After sending out a social media post asking for help in opening my can of paint,** I got busy rolling and brushing the walls. As I covered the soft lilac on the walls with bright white, my thoughts were free to roam. I considered the countless ways my life is different than the one I was living last time I painted those walls.

The baby filling my belly then is turning 21 at the end of this month. Time certainly does move on.

I coated the walls and let my thoughts travel from the past to the future and, finally, to today. There have been so many experiences and adventures and moments in my life and many of them have occurred within the “confines” of my years spent in this house. Painting it shouldn’t be isn’t a chore, it’s really more of a gift to this place which has sheltered me and those I love.

This morning, before breakfast and coffee, I put on my painting clothes and did a second coat. I think I may even need to do a third, a realization which no longer discourages me because I’m kind of enjoying the combination of physical work, but mental indulgence, that painting involves. Covering a no longer favored color, while recalling special memories, makes for a solid win-win.

This bathroom redo has been a very good investment.

I can’t wait to get to the bedrooms.

 

*I’m really unsure about this usage…painters’?

**A flathead screwdriver was the most recommended tool.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, family, house, love, musings, Observations, Spring

Where to stay in NYC?

Over the years I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in New York City. Most of them have been perfectly fine, especially since I’ve only required accommodations for a single night or maybe two. There have been a couple that I won’t book again – The Empire across from Lincoln Center comes immediately to mind. That room was so damn small that it was impossible to navigate, even though there were only two Lilly boys at the time we stayed there and they were significantly smaller than they are now. Pass.

My favorite hotels, the ones I return to repeatedly, are my picks because of a combination of amenities, space and location. Value for the price, basically. The Millennium Hilton on Church Street is my absolute favorite place to stay because it checks every box for me – I love that area of the city for an evening run, on weekends it’s possible to actually find on street parking, and the shopping and eating options are decent. Oh – and there’s an indoor pool, something rarely seen in my experience in NYC.

While I tend to stay at Hilton properties (including Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree) because of rewards programs related to my credit card, there are times when I go off brand and try someplace different. TravelZoo sends a weekly email with some good deals and I’ve discovered some terrific, new-to-me hotels by taking advantage of these opportunities when the price is right.

The hallway and the closet which was larger than many NYC kitchens I’ve been in.

Last weekend my son and were in the city to celebrate his birthday. I had a reservation at a Hilton, but canceled when I received an email offering a night’s stay at the St. Giles Tuscany on E. 39th. A few years back I spent a night at a different St. Giles property, now closed, and found it to be comfortable, chic and well located, especially when Amtrak was using Grand Central as their NYC station. The deal being offered through TravelZoo was unbeatable at $140 total. I booked it.

We arrived too early to get into our room prior to our matinee at Lincoln Center, but we were welcomed and invited to enjoy the complimentary hot beverages in the lovely lobby while our bags were checked. We returned hours later, after dinner and a walk around Bryant Park, to finally see our room and I was blown away.

The room was easily the largest NYC hotel room I’ve ever been in. There was a hallway with the bathroom to one side and a gigantic walk in closet on the other. The bedroom had two queen beds with enough room remaining to move around without bumping into one another. It was just enormous! The bathroom was a dream with gorgeous tile, a floating vanity and a tub that made me regret having had recent surgery which prevented me from indulging in a deep, sudsy soak.

#bathroomgoals

Generally speaking, I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time in any hotel room, much preferring to be outdoors or doing fun things. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate having somewhere comfortable and well laid out to return to after a full day of activity. Maybe you’re the same? What are your favorite places to stay in NYC?

1 Comment

Filed under birthdays, family, favorites, NYC, Recommendations, travel

When flying south flies out the window

Last night I should have been settling in to my second cocktail of the weekend with the sound of waves in my ears and the scent of salt water filling my nostrils. Instead, I was cozied up on the couch wrapped in a cashmere robe with more holes in it than my aborted weekend plans, watching yet another episode of Sex Education…what is it that they say about the best laid plans?

I initially booked a quick trip to Florida as a chance to see friends and get a dose of vitamin D. I had enough JetBlue points for a free ticket, multiple options for places to stay and plenty of people whom I love and enjoy spending time with. A $100 rental car would cover my three days and provide me with the independence to come and go as I please. Seemed pretty ideal.

Admittedly, the fact that I forgot my son’s birthday took a bit of shine off the weekend, but he was okay with it and his present was on track to be delivered precisely on his birthday. I was covered.

As the weather report evolved and Friday afternoon seemingly became the absolute worst imaginable time to fly with mixed precipitation and wild winds, I started getting concerned about my ability to get out of town. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and settled in at the gate to wait. That’s when things took a bad turn.

Our plane had been unable to land in Albany due to weather conditions and had been diverted to JFK to refuel. We were going to be delayed. I started thinking about arriving in Fort Lauderdale closer to 9:30 instead of 8:20. Next we heard our plane from JFK couldn’t take off because of weather conditions in NYC. Our expected departure time changed again. I called my car rental company to talk about a later pick up time.

Phones in the waiting area chimed again – our flight was going to be further delayed. I approached the check in desk to ask about cancelling my ticket, and having my points returned to me, and was advised to call the 800 number to speak with someone who might be able to help me.

The expected departure time changed again – best case scenario had the flight arriving in Fort Lauderdale close to midnight. The car rental office closed at 12:30, making that an uncomfortably tight transition for me. I called JetBlue and was completely satisfied with their willingness to cancel my ticket and refund my points to use another time. I made a couple more calls, notifying friends and cancelling the car rental.

I retrieved my car from the valet and decided to treat myself to dinner, craving anything that would go well with a glass of rich red wine. I drove towards Yono’s but, upon seeing the marquee at The Palace, realized that getting in an hour before Cheap Trick hit the stage wasn’t likely. I crossed Lark St. thinking I would finally try the cacio e pepe at 288 Lark Wine & Tap, but just felt the need to be closer to home. Nicole’s it was.

I settled in at the bar with a menu and the capable Logan in attendance, He poured me a gorgeous glass of Valpolicella and I eventually selected the fried artichokes and a half order of pappardelle with a hearty beef short rib ragu. It was exactly the kind of meal a snowy February night demanded.

I heard familiar voices from the dining room and was really happy to see some folks that I’ve known since the McGuire’s heyday. We caught up and shared a few laughs. It might not have been Florida, but it still felt pretty warm to me.

1 Comment

Filed under Albany, birthdays, Eating, Food, friends, Lark Street, snow, stress, travel, upstate New York, vacation, Wine, winter

Celebrating Elvis

I can’t say that Elvis was my very first crush (Tom Jones holds that honor), but he was the first performer whose albums I owned and played incessantly. My mother would order them for me from commercials on television and I would wait impatiently for the UPS guy to deliver the records to my house weeks later. The haste of Amazon Prime was unimaginable in the 70s.

The best weeks of the year, from a television viewing perspective, were the ones in which the 4:30 movie  featured Elvis movies like Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas. Even as a kid I knew the quality of these movies was suspect, but they were just so damn fun to watch that it didn’t even matter.

August 16, 1977, the day Elvis died, is a day I’ll never forget. I was in Long Island at a shopping center that had outdoor speakers broadcasting a radio station playing pop music. There was an interruption in the programming and a man’s voice announced the shocking news that Elvis Presley was dead.

It was my first rock and roll heartbreak.

Had Elvis lived, he would now be 85 years old. On Saturday night the Hangar on the Hudson in Troy is hosting a birthday party to celebrate the King of Rock and Roll. Johnny Rabb, the Tichy Boys and other special guests will be performing in what promises to be an epic party in the King’s honor. My dancing shoes might not be blue suede, but they’ll be on my feet nonetheless.

3 Comments

Filed under aging, birthdays, concerts, Events, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Troy

Catch up!

Believe it or not, DelSo is nearly ten years old. It’s been a pretty interesting run for me. Writing and sharing my life with people who take in my words, without looking in my eyes, is a sometimes odd experience.

My original concept, an inspired idea without much planning (aka The Silvia Story), was a community blog with neighborhood things and local events. I had birthed the sometimes hated name, DelSo and, for some weird reason, it stuck. I’ll never stop smiling just thinking about “DelSo” appearing in some official city mailings and on Google Maps. Kids, you can make up your own language!

Anyway, my idea was to explore happy hours around town and write about it. Low key, kind of insider foodie stuff. Fun. You know, light.

My life changed and the blog changed. There was a lot of emotion and readers responded. I grew to accept that the stories I shared were, in fact, mine to tell and if my transparency revealed the shadows of others, it wasn’t my intention.

DelSo has been a consistent outlet for nearly a decade, something I never imagined. Since last spring I’ve also been publishing pieces on a new platform, CivMix. Some of the topics are similar to things I’ve written about right here, but they’ve been tweaked a little differently. Truthfully, I sometimes wrestle with where to publish what. It feels like some weirdo writer’s infidelity thing. Whatever.

Here are some recent posts I’ve written over at CivMix. Hope you enjoy them – S

Travels With Sons

 

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-school-year-…chers-confession/

Why Own When You Can Rent?

http://civmix.com/2019/09/the-waterboys-ca…-theater-9-19-19/

Beach birthday – Jersey Shore Weekend

1 Comment

Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, DelSo, Events, family, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, travel

Jersey girl birthday

Or, The Story of the 35th Anniversary of My 18th Birthday, Jersey Shore Style

F7603EE7-FF2E-4B6C-9287-B2717F42DEA6I sought this photo out for a post over at CivMix and every time I look at it, I can’t help but smile. What in the world gave that high school dropout with zero prospects the nerve to look over her shoulder with such an assured gaze?

For the life of me, I can’t remember feeling half as confident as I appear in that photo. I was in love. I know that. M1 was making me smile and I was happy, not knowing where I was going, but glad to be exactly where I was.

I’m fairly certain that picture was taken in the summer of 1984. I know it was on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. My hair was permed and glazed. I believe the shade was called “fuchsia plum” and my hair looked wild under the bright lights.

That was the last time I was on the beaches of New Jersey, until last weekend. Thirty-five years later, I was finally back on the beaches of “the Shore,” which was what we called the New Jersey coast where I grew up.

F306957B-791C-41CF-AB3B-1288B73BD5B9On this recent trip I felt more so much established, certain of my value. I knew I was a catch for far more than a coquettish glance. The swagger in my step currently comes from the knowledge that I am, without a doubt, capable, independent and resilient. My gaze is direct instead of coy and, while my hair may be fading into silver, I feel more confident in myself than ever before.

I look back at that photo and can’t help but consider all of the decisions I’ve made between then and now. Some good, others not so great.  I’m so happy to know that I wouldn’t alter a single one of those choices because, if I did, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and it’s a damn good place.

Sunday, the day after my 53rd birthday, I laid on the beach soaking in the rays of the sun. I wore a two piece bathing suit, something I wouldn’t have done when I was 18 because I would have been concerned with how I looked to others.

On this particular day, though, I realized I didn’t really care how I looked in a bikini, because it was all about how the sun felt on my skin. And it felt great.

0661BFCF-F00B-430C-84DC-51EA84F1BDD7

2 Comments

Filed under aging, birthdays, girlhood, musings, road trips, Summer, sunday