Category Archives: moms

Goals unmet – Serena Williams and I

There was a time when I had no interest in watching a tennis match. It was just so boring to me and the scoring made no sense with some points being worth 15 and others 10 and what the hell was advantage and deuce? No, thank you.

But, then I learned how to keep score and began to understand the rules, and there was Andre Agassi, and I was hooked. I no longer minded when big matches were on television and even attended the U.S. Open a number of times and just loved it. What a great game.

During most of my time appreciating tennis, the Williams sisters have been on the scene. I’ve seen both of them play a number of times and even met their Dad, Richard, one year at a match and found him to be approachable and pleasant. While Venus was always the more appealing player to me because of her quiet demeanor, Serena awed me. Her strength is remarkable and she plays, like all my favorite players, with her heart pinned to her catsuit sleeve. She can be confrontational and combative, but damn it, she is a warrior.

There’s been a lot of talk about the number (23) of Grand Slams which Serena has won and the record (24) being within her reach. I personally don’t know if it is Serena’s goal to match or beat Margaret Court’s achievement, but if it is and she’s feeling disappointed or frustrated after losing in last night’s final to a woman half her age, I’d like to offer her some advice.

Goals can be motivating and provide focus. It can certainly be positive to have a target for which to aim. Training and practice can be grueling and keeping an eye on the prize can provide the inspiration necessary to keep one going.

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to run 1,000 miles this year, a feat I accomplished a couple of years ago. I also declared that I’d like to run 25 half marathons before I turn 55 in 2021, feasible with a dozen under my belt already. Both of these goals were achievable, I thought.

But, then my body started to complain. My feet hurt and the first few days of my vacation were remarkable for the limp I had related to discomfort in my hips. It was painful to walk, which made running impossible, and I essentially took the entire summer off running a total of 8 miles in two months. I watched my goals get away and was left feeling badly about my perceived failure.

I’ve gained a little perspective, though and have come to appreciate that not every goal is meant to be achieved. Life, babies and physical limitations can get in the way and demand our attention at times. Honoring our bodies and treating them with respect is essential for our long term health and wellness and that’s the most important end result to me. When it comes to goals, sometimes, you’ve just got to let that shit go.

 

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The perfect Cape house

When I awoke from my afternoon nap to the sound of the wind in the trees, for a moment, I did not know where I was. I smiled that my response to that temporary state of being was excitement and not fear. Good. I prefer the unknown to be interesting instead of scary. I took a breath and, before opening my eyes, recalled where I was…the Cape, in the most perfect house I’ve ever stayed in the two decades since I began visiting this lovely area.

I’ve lost count of the number of other houses there have been over the years. The first few trips to Cape Cod were short getaways of just a couple of nights. My older boys were little guys and we were in the depths of daycare expenses hell which didn’t leave much of a vacation budget. We stayed in an adorable bed and breakfast/inn in Harwich Port and I fell in love with the adorable town and watching my babies enjoy the waves and sand. I was hooked.

We moved on to renting a tiny cottage for an entire week – a big leap forward. The lack of a dishwasher was a drag, but what really propelled us into getting a different house the following year was the need for a washing machine. Beaches + boys = laundry, and lots of it.

Our criteria for a rental now included the following: dishwasher, laundry facilities, dog friendly and an outdoor shower. We found a house a bit further out on the Cape that met each of these demands and rented the same place for the next few years, happily. I learned to immediately remove all the little throw rugs for the duration of our stay, thus avoiding the game of slide-around-the-oversized-kitchen, and somehow managed to sidestep any medical emergencies other than swimmer’s ear and the chicken pox.

During some exploratory drives beyond Chatham, I fell hard for Wellfleet and directed my attention to finding a rental there for the following summer. Fifteen or so years later, this remains my favorite spot on the Cape. The houses we’ve had have mostly been winners, but there were a couple of exceptions.

At this point a week on the Cape had become two weeks, sometimes divided between the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard. For a number of years there was an awesome “upside-down” house that featured a second story kitchen, dining and living room which gave the place a tree house feel. The deck wrapped around two sides of the place and there were turkeys in the back yard and a hammock the boys would swing in until someone reliably got unceremoniously dumped.

We switched things up the next year for a house with newer furniture and a better yard for the kids to play in, but these perks came with unexpected consequences – ants and mice. After a week of storing all of our food in Rubbermaid containers, we knew it was a one and done kind of situation. There was no looking back.

Honing in on our happiness took us closer to the water, near Lieutenant’s Island. The first year was a fail in a house that failed to indicate that going from the upstairs to the downstairs required walking outdoors and down an external staircase, not great with still smallish children. The stone fireplace on the deck wasn’t enough to get us back the next year.

We made the leap over the bridge, (which is inaccessible during high tides), to a decent house within a 10 minute walk to a calm bay beach. During our stay that first year, the kids made friends with a boy in a nearby house and I took the chance to take a peek inside. It looked perfect for us and was in fact an ideal set up with bedrooms and baths scattered over three stories with awesome decks, including one outside of my bedroom that attracted hummingbirds from early morning through dusk. Despite the tight galley kitchen, I really loved that place and we returned to it for the next 3 or 4 years.

As the kids got older, though, the bay didn’t appeal to wave seekers and we shifted our eyes to the other side of Route 6 where we found what is now my ideal house. Hidden in the woods with a semi-private pond directly across the rutted dirt road, the place I’ve visited the past three years is as close to perfect as I can imagine. A 15 minute walk gets us to the ocean and Wellfleet Center is a drive just slightly longer.

The house itself is ideal with a small footprint, but three stories tall. The kitchen and dining area are spacious and open directly onto a large screened porch with a view of the gardens and “our” pond. The separate cabin was perfect as a “crib” for the boys and avoided a whole lot of arguing about wet towels and swim suits on the floor, because I just didn’t have to see it.

The “boys” are older now, though, and no longer interested, or able, to spend a week away from friends or jobs. Last year, for the first time ever I spent a week away from my children at the Cape and filled the house instead with friends. The small cabin became an oasis for a couple and the bedrooms on the second and third floors were occupied with a fluid array of grown ups.

We never ran out of milk. I didn’t drive for five days. We ate when we were hungry and drank when we were thirsty. There was a rager of a party, which we celebrated by taking a swim in the dark in the pond. It was dreamy.

This second year without my sons feels even more indulgent. I’m as infatuated with this house as ever, but I’m looking forward and thinking I’d like to explore some new beaches, maybe in Greece again. The price of the beautiful home I rent is about equal to the cost, I believe, of what I can instead spend putting together two weeks in Greece. It’s time to make a new tradition.

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If I told you I missed you, I was lying

Wait. Maybe that sounds harsher than I intended. It wasn’t actually a lie when I said it, more of an attempt to say the “right” thing. Because when we travel away from our family and friends and lover, we’re expected to tell them we miss them, aren’t we? It provides some sort of consolation in our absence and verbally demonstrates the importance one places on their presence in your life. It’s what people do.

But…

The truth is, that when I’m away, I’m gone. I’m in some other place, hearing languages I don’t know, smelling scents that make me turn my head to locate the source, seeing things I’ve never before imagined and tasting foods that literally make me moan. I’m walking roads made of marble, swimming in remarkably warm and blue waters, and feeling the sun on my back and the wind in my face.

I’m absorbing as much as I can of the place where I am so I can carry it home. Where I will share it, with those that I love who were not with me for this most recent adventure. So, when I say “I miss you,” what I’m really saying is “I’m sorry you’re not physically part of this marvelous experience, but, I am. Completely.”

Love, Silvia

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Winds of change

There’s been so much talk this spring about the rain. Many people seem to feel that we’ve had an excessive number of stormy and wet days. Until recently, I believe, there hadn’t been more than an instance or two of our stringing more than three rainless days together since March. Or something like that. Rain doesn’t bother me too much, especially since I’m finally having some necessary work done to my house to ensure it remains dry when it rains. The wind, though, is a different story.

I was thinking about wind and why it makes me uncomfortable and I think it’s because wind is 3-D. I mean, if 3-D is defined as being discernible with three different and unique senses, that is. Is that what 3-D means? Wind is audible, visible and physical, which is kind of a lot, don’t you think? I don’t know if it’s a childhood spent watching The Wizard of Oz every year or what, but wind frightens me. It’s powerful.

It’s going to sound completely ridiculous, but I’ve been working on becoming more comfortable with the wind. For a long time, actually. I know wind and change are partners in moving life along and I’ve gotten better at swaying when in a gust, instead of going with my usual response of digging in and refusing to let go. I’m a work in progress. Mid-gust, shall we say?

One recent change that I’m trying to relax into is the diminishment of family dinner nights. I think it’s more a function of the season than a complete breakdown of family time, so I’m tolerating it. Time will tell, but for now I’m going to cook when I feel like it and continue to make an attempt to prepare meals that can be reheated or repurposed. Case in point, last night’s baked ham with scalloped potatoes and broccoli, became the foundation for a pasta with cubed ham, peas, arugula and grated cheese. Tomorrow I plan to eat some leftover scalloped potatoes with poached eggs. Is it morning yet?

Has the rain or wind impacted your mood? How old were you when your parent stopped regularly cooking dinner?

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Filed under aging, Boys, breakfast, Cooking, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, moms, musings, Observations, Spring, upstate New York

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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I’m your Mom, not your pimp

I’m really concerned about today’s young people* and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what a shitty world in which the next generation is  growing up. Does saying that make me sound really old? If it does, so be it. Unlike much of today’s youth, I can live with a little criticism and negativity.

It may not be fair to make comparisons to my own young adulthood since my situation was a bit different, but when I consider the responsibilities which were foisted upon me at a young age, I have a hard time accepting how lame dependent my sons continue to be on their Dad and me. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m appreciative of the fact that we can provide them with financial and other types of support, but their collective inability to navigate through life without relying heavily upon us, strikes me as kind of bizarre. I’m only half kidding when I say that I’ve wondered at times if they would starve if we were gone and they were faced with a manual can opener and a pantry filled with canned goods. I honestly don’t know if they would even know where to begin.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to finding a job, something both of my younger sons have been needing to accomplish (shout out to the fully employed LL!). Apparently, one of my sons had no idea as to how to actually obtain employment. When I asked him how his friends with jobs may have found their way to employment, he said they “knew people.” I suggested he might want to either search online help wanted ads or visit some retail/restaurant spots and ask for applications. Radical, right? How could he not know this?

What prompted me recently to actually utter the phrase that titles this post, relates directly to finding a job. As he was walking out the door to walk to school, my 14 year-old  asked me to “get him some babysitting gigs.” Keep in mind, he’s the youngest grandchild on both sides of the family and knows nothing about actually taking care of children. When I asked him about his skills when it comes to diaper changing, he informed me that he’d like to start with older kids, like 3 or 4 year-olds and then work his way down to babies because babies are harder. He may not be experienced, but he isn’t dumb.

Maybe you need a babysitter? Or a son?

 

*am I alone in this?

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Becoming Purnomo

Circa 1988

When I first moved to Albany in 1988, I got a job working split doubles at PD. Ladd’s, currently Dove and Deer. My apartment was just around the corner on Washington Avenue and, since I was carless, I needed to work within walking distance. The Ladopolous brother were very kind to me and, while I really enjoyed working there, I wanted to work someplace that was more renowned for their food than their proximity to the Capitol for the political types who regularly filled the bar.

At my 50th birthday party.

I read a story about Yono Purnomo, and his recognition as  Chef of the Year, and set my sights on working at Yono’s in Robinson Square never imagining the impact that decision would have on my life. Thirty years later, my relationship with the Purnomo family continues to affect my life frequently. For instance, yesterday I enjoyed lunch with a friend who I originally met at Yono’s where she was a guest and I a server. Today, I will bring my tax documents to a preparer whose office is next door to the original Yono’s location. Back in the day I would deliver happy hour cocktails to his office, cutting across our rear shared parking lot. My dermatologist, veterinarian practice and optician all were selected upon Donna’s recommendation and I’m still loyal to each of them decades later.

Dinner with the ladies!

Because of this family, on some level, I have a family. My boys’ dad and I met working at Yono’s and we held our pre-wedding fete at the restaurant. When my boys were born, there was bakmi delivered to satisfy the intense hunger caused by birthing babies. Through the Purnomos I’ve met countless hospitality professionals and have enjoyed some terrific industry perks and courtesies. I realized recently that the very first time I ever shared a piece of my writing (some thoughts I had when we lost our resident curmudgeon, John Radley) publicly, was at Yono’s. The response and support I received was encouraging and more than likely influenced me to write and share more.

Is there a word for sister-daughter-niece? Maybe in Italian?

My life has been enriched by this hard-working and gracious family, and the experiences we’ve shared, and I am so glad they allowed me to become part of their extended clan 30 years ago. Happy anniversary, Donna, Yono, Nick & Sis.

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