Fran's blog

Well, well, well

File under: NaNoWriMo | rit | weekend update

What do we have here? Two blog entries in one week. I think I deserve a cookie.

As I mentioned, we were looking forward to going to Imagine RIT this weekend, and it did not disappoint. Pat was able to take off from his exhibiting duties for part of the day, and we got to have lunch with him and walk around for a bit with someone who knows the campus very well. I am notoriously good at getting lost and have a horrible sense of direction, so even though I am at RIT multiple days of the week and really should know my way around by now, I still find myself bumbling around, even when I have a map in my hand. Luckily for Greta and me, there are enough fun things to do in every square foot of that festival, my crap navigation skills are moot.

Highlights include sharing a lunch table with some RIT old timers and hearing some great RIT history, listening to some nerdy (I use this adjective in a completely affectionate manner) college boys singing an a cappella version of "Fat Bottomed Girls," watching a quidditch game, professing my love for the RIT publication Reporter to an exhibitor for the publication and getting a free Reporter t-shirt, watching Pat sort of diss YNN's Getaway Guy, getting a photo with YNN's Dan Eaton, and seeing Greta's maturity and good sense when we went to the area where there were a bunch of bounce house things and when G saw the lines, she said, "Those lines are too long. Let's go do something else." I love seeing glimpses of sensibility in my child.

An honorable mention goes to Greta's heavy petting session with some blue cotton candy.

In case you don't believe we met thee Dan Eaton, here's your proof.

As we were walking up to the YNN table, Mike O'Brien (commonly known as the Getaway Guy) gave us a big hello, and Pat didn't recognize him and said, "We're here to see Dan." Haa. Maybe you had to be there.

Here's a picture from the quidditch game. Although they didn't fly, they did use brooms.

Overall, it was a great day and lived up to even my lofty expectations.

It was such a nice day with Greta it felt like that was my Mother's Day, but then we had special Mother's Day plans as well. We went to see my parents and went out for linner, or dunch  if you prefer, at Elderberry Pond. It was Greta's first sort of long meal out at a restaurant sans crayons. She had some ants in her pants, but she didn't try to set the place on fire or anything like that, so she gets points for that.

Ooh, it's getting late and I will hopefully have another update tomorrow, but I will leave it at this for now and just mention that after some friendly nudging by Pat Reed and Taryn, I feel like it is finally time to get back to the book project and start phase one of editing, which means I have to start getting up early again. So I bid you adieu. Night!


Feeling writerly (not really)

File under: birthday | rit | weekend update

Oh, hello. I can't help but notice that my formal favorite outlet has gone down the crapper. Sorry about that. 2011 has been unpleasantly busy and just, well, unpleasant. The last thing I want to do at night, when I finish work around 11 PM or so, is collect my thoughts and write a blog. Also, the internal narrator I've had for the last 8 years or so has left the building. (Seriously, usually it's like an episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose in my head.) So even on the rare occasion I've had time to write, I've had nothing to say. So there's that. But the last two weeks have finally calmed down, and while my internal narrator is still at large, I think I have enough things going on I can piece something together.
Birthday parties galore. We had two really fun parties for Greta, and there are some fantastic pictures that I really need to post somewhere to share. For Greta's friend party, her favor bags contained whoopee cushions, fake mustaches, and nerd glasses. Seeing the nerdy, mustachioed kids having fun was the highlight of my life. So cute. What is not so cute is that we have six kid birthday activities in the month of May. Ridiculous. The party we went to this past Sunday lasted entirely too long and there was a clown—a very rude clown. He bounced back and forth between hitting on me and insulting me. He insulted everyone at the party, I think. He called certain kids stupid and ugly. He told inappropriate jokes about religion, politics, mothers-in-law, and death...not to mention boogers and farts (the latter of which are usually hilarious), and his delivery was atrocious. Also, he had the worst case of dry mouth I have ever seen. He was literally frothing at the mouth. It was so...uncomfortable. Lesson, kids? Don't hire a clown under any circumstances...unless it's a nice, normal, good clown. (Is that an oxymoron?)
Greta had her first semi-legitimate modeling gig! When I say semi-legitimate, I don't mean like in college when you'd get $50 and someone would photograph your feet for three hours (not that I did that). I mean like in the sense that it was just for fun and no money was exchanged. Anyway, a friend of a friend was looking for kiddo models, and Greta had the opportunity to pose for her. The photographer, Hannah Betts, was great, and we can't wait to see the finished product at the opening of the show later this month. She posted a sneak peak of the show on her blog, which happens to be a photograph of Greta! I am SO excited. Does Greta make a great mad face or what? I love it.
This past weekend Pat helped make history by playing in the world's largest dodgeball game at RIT. Greta and I got to cheer from the stands, and it was quite a sight to be seen (and quite a smell to be smelled) with more than 2,000 playing for about two hours. It was quite impressive. There is a really cool video of it here. I love watching the time-lapse video of how the sides moved in waves. It was even cooler in person.
Okay, I guess I'll leave it at one more thing for tonight. This Saturday is Imagine RIT, aka my favorite festival in Rochester. Pat is going to be an exhibitor again this year, and he's been working like crazy to prepare. No exaggeration, he came home at 1:30 AM two nights ago and I woke up, looked at the clock, and said, "You're home early." And the sad thing is I was being sincere. The good news is I'm sure it's going to be a great exhibit and also, for Pat's hard work he, Greta, and I were all given VIP status for the festival. We get high-roller parking and get to wear fancy badges with brains on them and get to get free high-roller food from Mario's in some high-roller tent. High rollers! Woot! Woot! It's a really fun event, whether you're a high roller or not, so you should come. (I had a blast slumming it as a commoner the last three years.)
All right, that's it for now. I will try to upload some recent pictures soon and I've got a few more stories in my pocket. I'm sure all two readers left are thrilled.
Honk if honking!

Life ate my life

File under: blah


Greta is currently in ballet, swimming, and ice skating, not to mention it's what I affectionately call "birthday season." I love it all, but I feel like her activities ate, eat, and will continue to eat my weekends until she goes away to college. But look how cute she was passing not one but two levels in ice skating.

I found a new passion: RIT women's hockey. I just love it. I love the excitement. I love the camaraderie. I love the funny little rituals of the crowd. This might sound really weird, but it sort of feels like a religious experience to me. I always wanted to feel a sense of belonging at church but always just felt very awkward and like a usurper. At the hockey games, I feel that communal sense of belonging. Told you it was weird. Anyway, go Tigers!

Last weekend our friend Chris was in town for the first time since moving to California a couple years ago. We had a great time hanging out and staying up later than I've stayed up since our dear spawn was born. Of course we had multiple impromptu photo shoots and listened to the likes of Steely Dan and Dio. We would have listened to Billy Squire, too, if his music were available on Rhapsody. Here are two of my favorite dudes.

I am reading a good book that is worth mentioning called The Lost Girls. One of the authors (Holly) went to my high school. I wasn't sure what to expect because the description sounds a little more, um, inspirational and upbeat than I like my books to be, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it! I had read "warnings" in reviews of the book saying that the book encourages wanderlust. I don't even like leaving the house, so I thought, pshaw. And then about five pages into the prologue I was fantasizing about going to Africa. It's a fairly light, quick read. Good stuff.

Greta's birthday is on Thursday, and we haven't solidified a single plan. What can I say? Things have been busy. We will no doubt get our acts together to properly celebrate it before the last snowfall I'm sure.

ALSO, uh, Greta has a Twitter account now. The topic of Twitter came up the other day, and Greta said, "I want to do that!" So I started an account for her a few days ago, and I have been recording some of her musings. Think Kids Say the Darndest Things meets Sh*t My Dad Says. In case you're so inclined, you can follow her here.

And that's about all I have the brainpower for at this juncture.


Tigers and Groceries and Valentines, Oh My!

File under: holiday | weekened update

Wow, I've become quite the workaholic lately. After six straight weeks of a crazy pace, working 10-11 hours a day has started feeling normal. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it has improved my disposition at least.

In nutshell form, I present to you the last couple weeks:

I have the nicest mom ever. Is there really anyone who anticipate her 30-something-year-old "child's" needs better than a mom? A week and a half ago, after visiting Greta at daycare, my mom surprised me by stopping by with a TON of groceries from Wegmans, including a variety of prepared foods and some simple things to throw together, some great staple pantry items, and some of our favorites (a bottle of red wine [for me], a six pack of a really nice microbrew [for Pat], and a giant package of blueberries [for Greta]). She knows us very well. It was just the sweetest thing, and we all appreciated it so much. That is really nice, and when you consider the fact that she doesn't live in the same city as us, it is even that much more impressive. Yeah, she's a nice lady for sure.

Last Thursday was the one year anniversary of getting laid off. Thinking about it still puts my stomach in a knot. I am definitely thankful to employed, and I am appreciative to be on a great team. But, man, damn if it's not still hard when I think about my old gig and my unsavory exit. Sigh. That is all.

On a lighter note, we had the BEST time this weekend. Saturday night was particularly fun. We went to a great event at RIT. We were invited to the number-one ranked RIT Tigers women's hockey game and a "tailgating" event before the game with lots of free food and fun. We were quite surprised that Greta wanted to have her face painted before the game like a "pink tiger." I couldn't stop looking at her and smiling.

Wow, right?

We really enjoyed the game. It was actually our first RIT hockey game, and while I was a bit of a hockey fan (go Bruins!) in high school, I've been out of the hockey loop. We were all SUPER into it, though, and it was a very, very exciting game. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost their first (and last) game of the season. It was a really disappointing loss, and I'm crazy superstitious (with an emphasis on crazy), so of course I thought maybe our presence is what jinxed them, and then I remembered we're not actually *that* important and that it doesn't work that way.

Okay, the last thing I wanted to share is that I was pleased with how or valentines came out this year. They were not only easy, but I thought they're pretty cute too. And this year they are completely original as well. I usually get ideas for crafty stuff from, but this year I was standing in stupidly long line at Christmas Tree Shop, waiting to buy a gift bag and birthday card, when I saw these super cute red straws bent into heart shapes. I thought it would be fun to do something with them. I wasn't quite sure what we could do, but I bought them sort of on a whim anyway. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I yelled, "I'm grasping at straws to be your valentine!" Pat was like, "Huh?" And I was like, "I'm awesome."

Anyway, here's the end result. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours.


Where to begin?

File under: greta | weekend update

This month has been the busiest month I have had...maybe ever. I have been quiet here due to lack of time but also a little bit of the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say kind of thing. Since it's the last day of the month, I am optimistic that things will calm down a bit and life will stop sucking the life out of me.

Anyway, here are some highlights:

Greta has been continuing her dance and swim lessons on Saturdays and she started ice skating lessons on Sundays. While having at least three planned activities every weekend makes it go by in a flash, it's fun to watch her enjoying herself, and I like hanging out with the posse of parents/friends we see there each week. Greta's first week of ice skating was sort of horrifying, though. She was clearly miserable the entire time; we really didn't prepare her for just how hard it would be to start out, but things have been on the up and up since.

I know Pat doesn't share this opinion, but personally, I think ice skating might be one of the more worthless skills on the planet, but I am happy that she wanted to do it and even though it was a total bust the first lesson, she was excited to go back and try again, and she's getting better and better each week.

In other Greta news, she had a dental check-up today, and she received rave reviews from the dentist and hygienist. This is VERY good news since she has a less-than-stellar dental history, but we've made many changes in her habits the last six months, and it's nice to know that it has made a difference.

Um, what else? This is the most boring blog ever. Oh! One exciting thing is that I threw a baby shower for my friend Rebecca, and it was lovely (if I do say so myself). I think I throw a better adult party than kid party because when I throw an adult party I know there will be mimosas, I can wear something pretty, and I don't have to worry about anyone smearing pizza sauce on the couch. Aaanyway, I got to make all of my favorite brunchy foods; there were mimosas, as I mentioned (N/A for the preggers); and I got to ooh and ahh over cute baby stuff.

Rebecca looks FANTASTIC, and it's not immediately noticeable who is pregnant in this picture (hint: it's not me!). In addition to showing off a glowing pregnant Rebecca, this picture shows off my new shorter, lighter locks (which are also probably not immediately noticeable).

We haven't had much time otherwise, but we have gotten out a wee bit to enjoy the cold weather. When in Rochester, do as the Rochesterians do.

I have my fingers crossed that February will be a little more enjoyable and interesting (in other words, less soul-sucking) than January!


2011 in the heezy

File under: new years

Dudes, I've had a martini and I'm using a Mac, so we'll see how this goes.

The last week of December was AWESOME. I worked and Pat and Greta were home, but I got caught up on a bunch of work and it was so nice having them around. I really cherished 99.95% of it. The other less than 1% included honest moments of me being annoyed with having my family around while I was working, but seriously, that's not a lot considering it is usually very, very quiet here for more than 40 hours a week and I really, really like quiet.

Anyway, I loved having my family here, and it felt like a reset button was pushed in more ways than one. It just felt like a very happy time, but things must go back to normal at some point, and they headed back to their respective posts on Monday, which was also nice.

New Year's Eve, itself, in a word, was rockin'. We went to our friends' Frank, Joyce, and Nathan's house, and we stayed until Greta's normal bedtime, thinking we'd get Greta to bed at a reasonable hour and also avoiding the drunkards on the road. But then Pat told Greta she could stay up until midnight if she wanted to, and I clarified that if she stayed up she would have to watch adult TV and "not complain," and Greta did just that. Aside from running to the basement at various points in the evening to get water paints and Greta painting a picture of a chameleon and The Little Mermaid, she was a total trooper. She started to look a little peaked around 11:15, and then Pat Reed instituted a family dance party. It was a great night.

Here are Pat and Greta watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

Here's the family dance party.


On Sunday we went to my parents' house to have lunch for my dad's birthday. The entire family helped prepare the meal, which was fun. Here are Phil and Greta working on the scampi part of the shrimp scampi.

We hope everyone had a wonderful end of 2010 and start of 2011!


Putting Presents Back in Christmas

File under: christmas

Christmas was lovely as ever this year. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Reeds, and then we spent the 26th at my parents' house. We got to see some good friends and family and gorge ourselves on tasty food and drink.

Christmas definitely gets more and more fun with Greta each year. She didn't want to ask Santa for anything, but she did want to write him a letter. Pat helped her, and I was amused to see she edited her letter, although I will say she needs to work on her buttering-up skills.

Greta was thrilled with almost everything she got for Christmas, but she needed some convincing here and there. Here I am trying to explain why the book The Secret Garden is a good gift, and I finally ended up saying, "Oh, you'll appreciate it someday!"

Luckily Pat is a better present picker than I am.

Here's the present I'm personally most excited about.

Ooh, another present we got for Greta that I found more enjoyment from than she did is Jenga. Pat and I played one rousing game. I love the expression on Greta's face in this picture.

Fast forward to the following day. Here is my brother gracefully crawling out of the new "castle" he got Greta.

My dad surprised my mom by getting matching Crocs boots for both her and Greta. My mom's reaction was priceless.

Greta got a potholder loom, which is a bit of a McCarthy tradition. Here she is also modeling her new boots from Grandpa, a Tinker Bell dress from Uncle Phil and Aunt Becky, and a hair bow from her little friend Oliver.

My dad got me a NaNoWriMo mug and T-shirt, which I was thrilled about. This is my new favorite mug, just barely inching my This American Life mug out of its previous first-place ranking. Sorry, Ira.

Pat and Greta have this week off and are enjoying some daddy-daughter time while I'm working (like a poor sap).

In other news I have been getting over a rather unpleasant cold and have a nasty cough that won't go away. I told Pat today I have high hopes that sometime in the next few days I'll be able to go a day without coughing so hard I almost puke. Sometimes it's the little things.

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and are enjoying the joyous joys of the joyful season.


Happy happy

File under: christmas

We hope everyone has happy, safe holidays and enjoys their time away from the usual grind.

Oh hai

File under: greta

Whew! I will say that it's been sort of tricky regrouping after NaNoWriMo. It was lovely ignoring emails and dirty dishes and Christmas shopping and having a completely valid excuse to do so. My reality isn't nearly as interesting or fun as being in I'M-WRITING-A-BOOK mode, and I guess I've been a little woe is me. I miss making time for something that's important to me, even though I did plenty of complaining at the time. Apparently I just complain a lot. This is probably not a newsflash to most of you. Anyway, the update on that front is that I am taking some time away from the book right now based on some advice I received. I am still jotting down more and more ideas for things I want to include, and I hope to get in a good editing schedule once December is done. (Notice I didn't commit myself to starting in January, although I hope I will start then.) Thanks so much to those of you who have left comments or messaged me with feedback or words of encouragement. In addition to complaining a lot, I also thrive on getting attention. Aren't I a ball of awesome?

In other news, this past weekend Greta had her first dance recital. It was a fundraiser for Golisano Children's Hospital with a variety of dance performances throughout the night. Greta and her class danced to "Tip Toe, the Dancing Elf." If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing this earworm, then you haven't lived. The performance was pure chaos, but it was the cutest, most enjoyable chaos I've ever seen.

WARNING: If you watch the following video two or more times you may have "Tip Toe, the Dancing Elf" stuck in your head for five or more days.

I can't express how happy it made me to see Greta actually go out on the stage and have so much fun. Thinking back to how scared she used to be of everything, I can't believe my little girl has come so far.

Here's Greta with two of her best buddies. I love these girls to bits.

I posted the above picture of Greta from before the show with her makeup on and posted it on Facebook, and a couple people made rude comments. I feel the need to justify heavy makeup on a four year old, which I fully agree would be completely ridiculous in almost every instance, by saying the following:

  1. The teacher sent us instructions telling us exactly what makeup to put on the kids so their faces wouldn't be completely washed out under the lights. I put it on exactly as specified.
  2. Even the neurotic moms (and I realize I am included in that group) put makeup on their kids. Every single one.
  3. I was actually quite impressed by my makeup application skills. Sure, I was an art major and could paint a mean trompe l'oeil, but I have never figured out how to put makeup on my own face.
  4. I think she looks cute with buckets of makeup on. I feel a little guilty about *that* part.
  5. I didn't want a single thing standing between Greta and getting on that stage and having fun. If putting some eyeliner on my kid will make her feel excited enough to go on stage and set up a positive experience for her first dance recital, then I am ALL ABOUT IT.

I love my kid more than anything in the world. Am I going to start putting her in pageants? Hell no. Will I put makeup on her a couple times a year for recitals and other performances? Heck yeah. Anyone who wants to criticize that can go ahead. If you want to keep it in your head, though, that would be preferable.

End rant. Thanks to the Reeds and Greta's Grandma Norma for coming out for the recital. It was such a fun weekend!


NaNoWriMo Day 29: I got nothin'

File under: NaNoWriMo

See what happens when I surpass the 50,000-word mark? I get all fat and lazy and dull. In other words, I didn't write a single word today. I wanted to, but work was extra busy and I just had a bunch of things on the old to-do list, and writing didn't make the cut. Sigh.

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