Category Archives: birthdays

20 for 20

Some of the things I thought about on the day my middle son turned 20…

  • My pregnancy with him was the least stressful of my three – he went full term and I wasn’t yet considered to be “geriatric” as defined by obstetrics.
  • When my water broke in the late afternoon, I was scrubbing the grout from our newly tiled bathroom floor as a chicken roasted for dinner. Griffin’s favorite meal growing up was what he called “big chicken,” aka roasted chicken.
  • Griffin was born the following afternoon. I was not a quick birther.
  • Delivering him was my proudest physical accomplishment.
  • He had no hair when he was born, but there was a reddish glow and I was convinced he would be a redhead.
  • After the horrible circumstances involving my oldest son’s birth and neonatal experience, mothering Griffin gave me confidence in my abilities to take care of a baby.
  • He was not an easy baby. Whereas Liam was placid, Griffin was demanding and would nurse (or cry) for hours. Or so it seemed.
  • I’ll never forget waking up one night with him in the middle of the bed, his usual spot, and seeing his eyes wide open as he just stared at the ceiling. He looked incredibly wise and peaceful.

  • He climbed out of his crib at 9 months and was running by 10 months. He remains the most coordinated of my children.
  • His first word was “Go!,” which he yelled at the car in front of us which did not accelerate fast enough when the light turned green.
  • Griffin was always aware of his appearance and clothing. He refused to wear a winter parka because it made him look fat, which was weird because we never talked about “looking fat” and he has never been overweight. Or, thank goodness, afflicted with an eating disorder.

  • He received a classic toy for his second birthday – one of those plastic lawn mowers that “pops” as you push it along. He was playing outside with it with my mother-in-law shortly after receiving it and somehow she lost track of him. We located him about a block away from the house, completely oblivious to our collective panic.
  • His nickname was “the runner” because he would intentionally take off when he was out in crowds. It was an exhausting phase which caused him to miss a number of special events because no one wanted to take on the responsibility of supervising him.
  • School and making friends has always come easily to him. This has been good and bad.
  • One of my biggest worries for him has been that he never really has had to work hard at anything.
  • I was wildly frustrated with him when he was in high school and not really applying himself.* At the time, I remembered some wisdom I had received from a friend who had tragically lost her young adult son. She said all we can do is enjoy them while we have them. I’ve thought about that often.
  • We’re down to just one teenager in the family.
  • While my oldest and youngest sons enjoy traveling and seeing historic sights, all Griffin wants to do on our vacations is “eat and hang out.” I’m really looking forward to doing exactly that with him in Greece in a couple of months.
  • His awareness of the inequities in our world and his interest in contemporary politics makes me think he’d make a great advocate for the disadvantaged.
  • I’ve never been prouder, or more frightened, than the day he walked away from me and got on the subway to go to Thailand, solo, for three months.
  • It doesn’t seem possible that this guy has been my son for two decades. I am so interested to see what he does in the next twenty years.

*gross understatement

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A due date becomes a do date – 22 years later, that is

My first pregnancy was pretty dreamy – I conceived the exact month I wanted to, which meant my maternity leave would be perfectly integrated with my academic calendar. The Lilly baby was due April 5th, which would give me about 6 weeks home, followed by 6 weeks back at work, and then summer off. It all seemed pretty ideal.

Of course, Liam was born 5 1/2 weeks early, arriving at the end of February, rather than early April. Obvious proof, of course, to support the theory that parenting is state of being that can not always be controlled. That perspective, along with the knowledge that once your child almost dies, subsequent things that occur to them make one both less concerned, and more inclined to worry, are how I’ve rationalized a lot of things in the last 22+ years. So far, so far mostly good.

So good! Pizza Suprema.

When it came time to celebrate my oldest’s most recent birthday, we headed to NYC, a full six weeks after his actual birthday, but the day before his original due date. He was interested in seeing a performance at the Metropolitan Opera House and it was challenging to synchronize our calendars and that of the Met to get to the opera that he wanted to see. We were able to find a mutually good date on Thursday and grabbed Amtrak to the city, leaving ourselves barely enough time to eat a couple of slices, get checked in to our hotel and catch the subway to Lincoln Center.

We were cozy in our upgraded seats (When we picked up our tickets at Will Call the man helping us said he had “something better for us.” Turns out that was 11th row center in the orchestra. Bonus!) when the chandeliers lifted to the ceiling and the lights went down. The music was fantastic and the conductor led the orchestra with as much well placed energy as I’ve ever seen. Take this all with a grain of salt – I know nothing about music or conducting.

Don Giovanni is a wonderful opera and the costumes, sets and singing created an experience which was satisfying. I mean, come on, the cad gets his comeuppance! Everyone loves when that happens. While the demise of Don Giovanni was dramatic and well depicted with fire, there were also some more lighthearted scenes with clever dialogue and wit. Admittedly, I dozed a bit here and there, but I don’t believe I missed much. I had feasted on the production and felt sated. It was way better than a C-section.

#renttherunway #openingceremony

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Filed under aging, beauty, birthdays, Boys, concerts, Events, moms, Music, NYC, pizza, road trips, Spring, theater

sto·ry·tell·ing – the activity of telling or writing stories.

Somehow I’ve pushed the “Publish” button 1500 times on this WordPress blog. If you’ve been around any length of time, you’ve witnessed some great trips, fantastic meals, fun adventures and a heartbreak or two. I’ve shared more than some would prefer, but have learned I’d rather commit to honesty than anyone who might be less than truthful. Lies are joy suckers and who has time for that?

Speaking of sharing, I believe I’ve gotten more selective about what I share. It may be hard to imagine but, I keep a lot in my head. Hopefully, what I do share is accepted with the same simple motivation with which it is given. I’m just a person who is living a tremendously rich life and appreciating the heck out of every experience with which I’ve been graced.

I have a couple of new things coming up that maybe you’d like to check out. The first is an event in which I am participating on March 15th (yes, the Ides of March). The storytelling series Front Parlor is celebrating its 8 year anniversary with an evening of live storytelling. I’ve been invited to tell a story, which some of you may know parts of, about finding my father’s family when I was 22. I’m nervously excited. The title of my story is “A Fire, a Phonebook and Finding My Father,” in case you’re considering getting tickets.

Also exciting is an in-the-works new local source of information to which I’m hoping to contribute some regular writing. I’ll have more deets when they’re available, believe me!

Come celebrate – DelSo 1500+ and the Front Parlor Series’ 8th birthday.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, DelSo, Events, Local, love, Observations, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, writing

Fierce and 14

Last night, I woke up to the sound of the wind howling. It was fierce and powerful reminding me of where I had been exactly 14 years previously – in labor, climbing the stairs at St. Peter’s Hospital. My progress that night was slow, despite it being my third time at that particular rodeo, and I walked up and down those stairs countless times in an attempt to cajole my third baby boy to come out and join the family.

The stubbornness he demonstrated during (his time in utero and) delivery was a precursor of the level of stubbornness he has exhibited ever since. Q was characterized by his grandmother, who sadly died shortly before his third birthday, as “formidable.” She knew of what she spoke, having raised 5 sons of her own, and I so wish she had lived longer to provide further observations and maybe even advice. This kid is a force.

I’ve often described Q as relentless. He just digs his heels in and refuses to yield and it never fails to exhaust me. In the midst of a disagreement, negotiating isn’t an option with this one. I’m learning to quietly tell him the conversation is closed for now, with the promise of revisiting it at a designated later time. It’s the only way out. But, speaking about the way out, this is the same kid who never hangs up or allows us to part without a kiss and an “I love you.” He’s wonderfully demonstrative and affectionate, sometimes to a fault when it comes to his girlfriend.

We learn so much about ourselves as parents from our children. This one has taught me to pick my battles thoughtfully, to be willing to table disagreements and to do your best to always let loved ones know that you care. Happy 14, QP.

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Twinning with Princess Diana

There was a time in my life when holidays and birthdays often came with gifts of jewelry. Earrings were a popular choice and I was given some really beautiful ones that are special to me and probably even valuable. Like those .5 carat diamond studs of which I managed to lose one. Twice.


There was one pair in particular which quickly earned a spot in my rotation of ear accessories because they were reminiscent of Lady Di’s engagement ring. The studs with large oval sapphires (my birthstone) surrounded by small diamonds were about as close to Princess status as I was destined to achieve and I just loved them.


Except, they were
heavy and pulled my ear lobes uncomfortably. In the hopes that I would avoid losing one of these beauties, I had them modified into screw backs which ultimately only added to the discomfort because the posts were now thicker and caused some pain when I put them on and took them off.  They languished in a drawer for years, only seeing the light of day on the rare occasion when I would resign myself to suffering with them in my ears for the sake of the perfect outfit.


Recently, though, I decided I needed to have them modified to make them more wearable and I knew just where to bring them –
Byron & Gill Mercantile on Lark St. Siobhan Byron had previously created a necklace for me from a pair of ruby and diamond earrings, that single .5 carat diamond and a dangling ruby as a self-gift for my 50th and I knew she’d be able to help me wear these earrings more frequently. I left them with her and a couple of weeks later, I had myself a new pair of infinitely more comfortable to wear earrings. The price was reasonable (approx $150) for the quality of work(wo)manship and I am thrilled to be able to wear these pretty blue earrings with pride instead of pain.

If you’re looking to have a special piece created or a current item modified, I highly recommend Siobhan and Byron & Gill. Stop in and tell her I sent you.

 

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Syracuse Half Marathon – 11/11/18

While I don’t expect I’ll ever be blasé about running 13.1 miles, I do feel increasingly comfortable with the distance. I won’t say it’s easy, but it a manageable distance that challenges without much post-race discomfort.

Yesterday, I ran my 10th half, an accomplishment I never could have predicted when I did my first in 2016. This particular race was scheduled perfectly for my life, in that it was in Syracuse, where my brother lives, and on his birthday, which made it the ideal weekend destination.

I went into the race feeling ok about my conditioning, but not necessarily as well trained as I was for last month’s Newport Half. I anticipated some hills, which would slow down my pace, but hadn’t imagined the picturesque snow falling from the sky and completing the pretty, nearly winter conditions. It was cool and appropriate for snowy Syracuse.

The route began and finished at the OnCenter. The miles in between were primarily residential neighborhoods with some business/commercial areas thrown into the mix. The crowds were fun and supportive, especially in the early miles. For me, the last couple of miles were less than spectacular in terms of scenery and performance, but I pushed through and crossed the finish line in 2:14:17 – a new PR to best my Newport PR of 2:17:01.

I had kind of given up on ever completing a half in less than 2:15, so I’m thrilled with my time and super proud that I seem to be getting faster, not older.* The yoga class I took on Saturday, before we headed to Syracuse, definitely helped me physically and mentally. During the times when I felt most tired, I worked to release tension or tightening in all of my muscles which were not being put to use to propel me forward. Gripped fists? Let them go. Facial grimace? Smile. Weight of the world on my shoulders? Shrug it off. Thanks, Samara!

My race calendar is, sadly, pretty blank other than next month’s Last Run, but I’m looking at a few new events for 2019. Any favorite 1/2 marathon courses you might recommend?

*Credit for this wise statement goes to a special friend who joined me for the weekend. He’s smart, right?

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Events, family, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Newport – a 1/2 marathon and a full weekend

I’ve had exceptional Columbus Day weekends over the years – some great, some not so much. This most recent one, I’m happy to report, was pretty fantastic thanks to some good friends and 13.1 miles.

Following an exceptionally fun Friday night out at an event  in Albany, we were on the road before noon on Saturday for the drive to Newport, RI. The road trip was uneventful under an overcast sky, but as we crossed the bridge into Newport the sun welcomed us. We went directly to our beautiful airbandb, got settled in and then hopped on our bikes for a quick ride to the beach to check out what would be our race start early the next morning.

Our ride was less than two miles, yet filled with beautiful homes and aggressive drivers. While the first was pleasing, the latter certainly wasn’t, but it was a good introduction to our general experience with drivers as both cyclists and pedestrians – disappointing. Drivers in Newport were not cyclist friendly at all. For a city that invites exploration, this was really unfortunate.

Following a great dinner at home of Cardona’s takeout brought from Albany, and an early night, we were back at the beach Sunday morning 30 minutes before our 7:30 a.m. start time. We had been warned about large crowds and closed roads, but had no issue getting dropped off in a convenient location – good job, JT. Portapotty lines were long, but we managed a quick bathroom visit prior to lining up at the start, optimistically with the 2:20 wave. My half marathon times range from 2:22 – 2:28, but I was hoping to break 2:20 for my first time.  Goals are good, right?

The race opened with an incline, my favorite start to get my legs stretched, before winding through Newport with its extravagant homes and beautiful scenery. There was water and Gatorade (along with portapotties) every 2 miles or so and I grabbed a drink at every single stop following a bad experience with dehydration after my last long training run. My body felt pretty good the entire race with no problems from my right IT band or glute, and only a mild twinge in my mid-back and my usual foot pain from about 8 miles until the finish. I can’t say I wanted to run any farther than 13.1 miles, but I was feeling strong and even managed to pick up my speed for the last couple of miles with the hope of meeting my goal time.

I crossed the finish line with a somewhat disappointing time of 2:21:27, but was pleased to be able to finish strong. Following the race, I enjoyed biking around town a bit, an afternoon nap and an evening walk along the Cliff Walk and I credit these activities with my surprisingly pain free post-race body. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as good after a half-marathon before – and that was before I received an email with my official results. My adjusted finish time was 2:17:01, my new PR!

Next up: Syracuse…

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