Feels like the first time

File under: birthday | milestone | music | work

Try to try, my fanny. Sorry, dudes.

The month of August was hands down the most stressful month of my life. I lived to tell the tale, though, but now I'd prefer to just forget the tale.

Here are the highlights of the last month-plus in semichronological order:

  • We went to the Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps, New York, and didn't even eat any kraut. We saw some good friends and watched a parade and got more free candy than a family should consume in a year.

Greta's first WarHead candy

Dan Zanes at the Harro East

Jessica Lea Mayfield at Lovin' Cup

  • We celebrated 8 amazing years of marriage. I can't think of anything else to say about that except for yay us!
  • Pat and I went to a wedding for our friends Tim and Shastin at the picturesque Allegany State Park. The reception was at a casino and there were many jaw-dropping moments gawking at the crazy gamblers. Additionally, we danced our faces off and enjoyed an adult-only affair without the worry of dropping an F-bomb and having it come back to haunt us. Sometimes it's the little things.
  • Greta wrapped up her last days of daycare and then had a week off with Pat (while I was working 12-14 hours days - whoopee!), and they had some great daddy-daughter quality time. Most notably they went on a road trip to Enchanted Forest for a night. They spent two days at the park and had an absolute blast.

Pat and Greta at Enchanted Forest

Greta and the Dude

Greta in Wonderland

  • Pat turned 35, which means he's a year older than me for two months and three days. He's so old.
  • Greta went to her first afternoon tea. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but it seemed like a big deal to me. She poured half a cup of hot cocoa down her white dress, but other than that everything went swimmingly.
  • Greta seamlessly transitioned into kindergarten. It helps she's going to the kindergarten at her daycare center and is with most of her best buddies, but I appreciated how anticlimactic it was.

First day of school

  • We took our annual trip to Ohio to visit my mom's side of the family. We saw my grandmother, my great aunt, and aunt, and an uncle, and we spent a lot of quality time with my parents. It's hard to pick a highlight from the trip, but I guess I'd have to say the highlight was having a cerveza (or two or five) with my Great Aunt Jean at a Mexican joint in Dayton, Ohio. She's 90 and is the one elderly person who makes Pat and me think we may not need to drive off a cliff together in an old-age pact.
  • To round out the list I will share with you Greta's latest artwork from school: a bag person in her likeness! How creepy! How cool!

Freaky Greta

Ruby approves.


Mother's Day with Dan Zanes

File under: greta | music

Even though I hate being in the car for any extended amount of time, I spent a good portion of Mother's Day this year and last year in the car. Last year we were driving home from NOVA after our friends Pete and Rachel's wedding. (Happy one-year anniversary, P & R!) This year we were driving home from Massachusetts after visiting our friends Kensey, Tim, and Maren and seeing Dan Zanes perform. Thankfully for me, I really like all of those people, so being in the car that long after seeing them seemed totally worth it.

A month or so ago we found out Dan Zanes would be performing in Northampton, MA, less than a week before Kensey was due to be induced with baby #2. I really didn't think they'd want guests the weekend before their baby would be coming (and, really, babies can come whenever the heck they want - they're rude like that), but they were game. I'm not sure I would have been open to the idea if our roles were switched, but luckily they're cooler than me. And what I didn't really realize at the time was that the Northampton tour date was on Mother's Day, but honestly I couldn't think of anything I'd like to do more on Mother's Day than take my kid to see her favorite performer. Aren't I selfless? (Oh, don't worry, I've read too much Ayn Rand to actually think that's true.)

So Saturday we took a leisurely drive to MA. We made pizzas, had some tasty Mass-brewed beers, and watched the girls play. Maren and Greta were so cute together, taking turns like champs and just generally being sweet. Greta loved Maren so much, and all day Sunday she was calling Maren her best friend. It warmed my heart so much.

Sunday, we headed to Northampton for a nice lunch before the show. Here is Greta eating my wonton soup. Selfless act #2.

The Dan Zanes show was a special one. He played solo for about half the show, and then he was joined by a children's chorus called Whole Children for another part and was also accompanied for some of the songs by a band called Kandoo Band. As a music therapist, Kensey has worked with both of the groups in some capacity, and it was awesome to see kids she's worked with performing.

Here's GB outside the church while we finished our coffees.

The show was in a gorgeous old church and we were (obviously) sitting in pews. It was a pretty low key, intimate show. Three things I feel the need to mention - because that's just how I am - are as follows:

  • It was Greta's first time in a church. That's sort of weird but true.
  • There was a lot of nose picking going on. I know the crowd was mostly under 10, but still. I was amazed by how many fingers I saw in noses. (Kids are gross.)
  • Greta got kicked in the face. The whole thing was actually pretty innocent. A little girl in front of us was a very, very active two year old who was trying to crawl over the pew behind her and she kicked Greta right in the face. There were tears and apologies. I mostly mention this because I have been kicked in the head at concerts my fair share of times, but I can't say I ever got kicked in the face while in a concert in a church, but Greta can. Kind of awesome.


Right after the show we headed home and we didn't get back to Rochester until after 10 PM. I feel like I am still recovering from the drive home. I can't wait to go to bed. Zzzz. I was so tired today I wore sweatpants to work for the first time ever. (For those of you who missed the memo before, I work from home now.) Wearing sweatpants to work is overrated, but it is nice to have the option.

Alternative titles for this post could have been "Mother's Day Is a Failure Unless I spend More than Five Hours in the Car" or "I Left the State Two Times in Less than a Month!" Sometimes I can't think of a single decent title, and sometimes I can think of three.

Fran's first music review

File under: greta | music

Greta on Megadeth: Can you turn it off? It's going to make my ears fly off.

Coolest kid in the preschool set

File under: greta | milestone | music


On Thursday we saved Greta the embarrassment of having to someday admit that her first concert was Miley Cyrus or something equally atrocious by taking her to see Old 97's at Party in the Park, which is a yearly free concert series in Rochester that features some local and some national acts. We actually listen to Old 97's (and Rhett Miller), so we jumped at the chance to see them play, for free no less. Music is a huge part of our lives, so Greta's first concert is an important milestone to us. Here is first-day-of-school-style picture before the show.

Greta ready for her first concert

Greta seemed a little out of sorts by how loud the music was at first (I forgot how loud live shows can be), but after walking around a bit and eating some ice cream, she grabbed our hands, smiled, and led us to the front, and I literally mean the front row. Interestingly, there was a bit of a love connection between the Old 97's bassist and Greta. During the last song, he looked directly at her and smiled and nodded for a good 30 seconds, and then as they left the stage, he waved at her. After he/they left, Greta was clearly upset. If I didn't know better, I would have thought the Beatles had just played.

Greta was crying, hanging onto the fence in front of us, and looking longingly in the distance. Of course the band came back out for an encore, but Greta was a young woman scorned. She looked so sad and mad at the same time and refused to clap after the encore. By the time we got back to the car, though, she was in a better mood and asking to hear Old 97's on the iPod. Personally, I am pleased Greta picked the bassist, who looks sort of like a grown Harry Potter, to crush on rather than the more obvious choice, the pretty-boy lead singer. (Atta girl.) Here is a picture of Pat and Greta enjoying the show.

Pat and Greta at Old 97's

As an aside, Greta was "this close" to having her first concert be Molly Hatchet, as that was the concert last week.

Over the last few weeks, Greta has been transitioning into a new classroom at day care, a preschool room! The transition, as far as we can tell, has been seamless, and I was thrilled when I picked Greta up on Friday and one of her new teachers reported that Greta is a pleasure to have in class, that she eats well, sleeps well, follows directions wonderfully, and that there is no question that she's ready for preschool. Does this mean I have to stop calling her a "toddler" and start calling her a "preschooler"?

The other milestone this week is that Greta got her first real haircut. After a lot of trepidation (on my part), we decided to take her to a place specifically for children, based on a recommendation from Greta's best buddy Colin. I'm so glad we did. Greta seemed a little stressed out about getting her hair cut until the pretty lady gave her a pink sucker and put Cars on. Here is a before shot of our shaggy dog.

Greta pre-haircut

Greta was so good during her haircut.

Greta's first haircut

The little girls get to pick out ribbons for their hair. Greta is actually squealing at this stage of the haircut.

Greta's haircut

Ta! Da!




Condolences and Neko-fan commentary welcome here

File under: house hunting | music

Yesterday we were eagerly awaiting our news regarding the offer we put in on the house. We offered the asking price, and we knew there was at least one other offer that had been submitted. We ended up finding out three hours after we asked them to respond by that they had accepted another offer, one that was "significantly higher" than the asking price. If someone else likes it that much (even with the small-@$$ kitchen ;-)), all I can really do is shrug my shoulders and say, "That's fair." I admit I'm disappointed that things didn't work out with the house, but neither Pat or I thought the house was perfect, so I'm sure I'll be over it soon. Part of me wonders if my disappointment has more to do with me hating to lose than anything else. I'm staying positive about the whole thing, and to show how happy I am for the new potential owners, I've written the following open letter to them:
Dear new owners of the house I really liked:
I hope you like your new house. Good luck in that toy kitchen of yours. I hope you really, really like take-out.
Frances Q. Reed
Okay, I should probably polish that up a bit more...and maybe wait until I stop feeling bitter.
We didn't let the news put a damper on the fun evening we had planned, luckily. We dropped Greta off at my parents' house and went to Ithaca for dinner/drinks with friends and the Neko Case show (on a Monday night no less - we're coo-coo-crazy!). It was our friend Todd's birthday, and he wanted to get a couple pre-dinner drinks at Chapter House, where he spent his 21st birthday many moons ago, and then we went to the Nines for pizza, wings, and corn nuggets (the latter of which taste way better than they sound). Crooked Fingers (a band we also like!) opened for Neko. I admit I'm not a huge Neko Case fan, but Pat went to last year's show and hasn't stopped talking about it since. Pretty much everyone I know who has seen her live feels the sudden urge to propose to her (man or woman), and I have been intrigued by the hype. I will say that the show far exceeded my expectations, and I get "it" now. She is great live. Everything was perfect. You can consider me a fan, but I think I'll skip the proposal...I can only take so much rejection this week.

Zanes on the brain

File under: music

I am only slightly reluctant to admit that if I'm not specifically listening to something else, I basically always have Dan Zanes songs running through my head. The kicker? I don't actually even mind.

As an aside, Pat loaned some DZ music to a coworker who has kids, and another coworker listened to it without realizing it's "kids' music." (It was the Sea Music album, which, I may have slight musical nerve fatigue, but I would argue is barely for kids.) And coworker #2 said to Pat, "What, is that music for retards??" Um, no, it's for kids, you DB.

Happy Friday.


Really? It’s Tuesday already??

File under: music

Damn, where did I place my weekend?

Well, our weekend was good, from what I can remember of it. Of particular interest, Pat and I went our separate ways on Saturday night, a rare occasion indeed. Pat went to see Neko Case in Ithaca with a couple of his library buddies. I’m not a big enough fan of her to warrant the logistical nightmare that would be finding someone to watch Greta from 4:15 PM on Saturday until 1:00 AM on Sunday, so I opted out of going to that show. Greta and I pined over Pat as quickly as possible and then headed over to the Moens' house for Greg’s 30th birthday party. We only stayed a couple hours, but Greta and I had such a wonderful time. Greg and Kimmie are such generous and thoughtful hosts, and Maddie has super toys, so we were both having a blast. Unfortunately, Greta started rubbing her eyes and getting very tired around 8:30 or 9:00, but it was clear she wouldn’t be going to sleep in the Pack n Play that they so graciously put out for us. Drat. The good news was I got to go home and pick up the house, read, and still get to bed at a very respectable hour.

Pat had a great time at the Neko Case show and had many stories about how funny and awesome Neko is and what a great singer she is and, oh, did he mention how terribly funny she is??? I am guilty of this myself, but I know I’ve mentioned before how concerts are totally a you-had-to-be-there type of event but Pat still tried to relay quite a few anecdotes from the show. It really did sound like a great show, though, and, more than anything, I’m so happy Pat got out to do something fun. He seems to never have the opportunity to get out for adult time these days, so it was especially good.

Sunday can be summed up as one giant Greta tantrum. Sigh.

Monday can be summed up as one giant Fran tantrum. Overall Pat and I are happy with our day-care situation, and having Greta at RIT’s day care feels like the ideal situation. Pat visits Greta at least three days a week during lunch, I visit her at least once at lunch during the week, and my mom is there for a few hours one day a week. It’s not like we’re spying on the place, but we obviously keep our eyes open for things that may seem troubling, including how Greta is treated and how the other little rugrats we’ve all grown to love appreciate so much are treated. Yesterday was one of the few days where I shook my head and wondered what the hell we’re thinking entrusting our kid to anyone but ourselves. I left on the verge of tears and, to add insult to injury, when I got to my car I had a big, fat, juicy $30 ticket from the fine law enforcement enthusiasts at RIT. The thought of it MAKES ME SO MAD for so many reasons. I’ll just say that the parking situation there is completely bogus and I am hoping to do something about it. Some days I just want to climb under a blanket and not come out until the first Saturday above 65 degrees. Yesterday was one of those days. The kicker: This all seemed moot at the end of the day when I got a very sad email from a good friend of mine telling me her brother had recently passed away.

So this week has had a rather bad start, to say the least. What? Not every story can end happy, people.

Does anyone have any good news for me? Because I already tried chocolate and that didn’t really help much.


Bright Eyes

File under: music

Last night Pat and I went to a concierto de rock. For our non-Spanish-speaking friends, that means we went to a rock concert. I know what you’re thinking, “First a movie and now this! What’s next, a trip to Vegas?? You’re so exciting.” I know, I know. We are quite exciting and we go where the road takes us.

For real, though, we went to the Bright Eyes show last night at the armory, and it was wonderful. We live close enough that we were able to walk and avoid any parking annoyances, so that was a bonus. When we got to the armory, there was a long line of hipsters outside, and it was cold and windy and it started sprinkling. With the walk and the cold, my knees started to ache from arthritis, and I got one look at those hipsters and I thought, I have no business being here. Within a few minutes, the hipsters to our backs and the hipsters to our fronts started chatting with us, and the line started to move, and the sprinkling stopped – things were improving dramatically. We got inside and immediately saw some of Pat’s library buddies, and we got some beer – things continuing to improve.

I won’t go on and on with the details because I understand that concerts are a you-had-to-be-there experience, but I will say that it was a fantastic night. As far as concert-goers go, this was by far the most polite crowd I’ve ever seen. The sound in the armory was kind of awful, but it somehow added to the experience. There were two opening acts, one that was mediocre and one that was great, and Conor Oberst came out incognito during both of their sets (but we totally knew it was him) and joined in. By the way, Conor Oberst is so cute and mini; I wish I could carry him around in my pocket. Anyway, Bright Eyes was great. I am a bit of a purist about my music and I fear change, so I become a little alarmed when things don’t sound the exact same live as they do on the album (I kept expecting Emmylou Harris to come out during certain songs), but it was really great nonetheless. We weren’t able to stay for all of Bright Eye’s set because we were going to turn into pumpkins soon, so Pat said, “I think we’re going to have to leave after the next song.” I said, “Ooooh, I hope it’s Bowl of Oranges.” And GUESS WHAT CAME ON NEXT? Bowl of Oranges! So we missed the finale, but that was the best possible finale I could have imagined.

In honor of the Bright Eyes show, Pat woke up this morning with bright red eyes. Yup, I think he got the oozy infection that Greta had last week. Fun times. School has been absolutely crazy for him, but the good news is his last project for this quarter is due tonight at midnight, and then he will be DONE. Such a relief. Pat’s coworkers commented to me last night that he has been sans funny bone lately, likely due to school (in addition to everything else), so we’re all looking forward to getting our Pat back.

Happy Friday, y’all. What was your best concert experience? Or, possibly more entertaining, what was your worst concert experience? Quickly, my worst concert experience, hands down, was going to see Tori Amos at the non-air-conditioned Landmark theater in August, when I had a kidney stone, with my ex-boyfriend (who was newly my ex at the time). Fun times!


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