weekend update

Try to try

Sooo, hi.

Here are some things you should know.

I work ALL THE TIME, or at least it feels that way.

Pat might work even more than I do, but it's a close race. A very uncool, close race.

We manage to have a lot of fun despite our workaholic tendencies.

We've been to Letchworth (aka, the Grand Canyon of the East) a couple times this summer. Greta is Little Miss Hiker Girl.

My one silent requirement I never actually announce but that my family just understands is that wherever we go I will blow them off at some point to spend some quality time with rocks. I haven't found any notable fossils lately, but I've found some pretty cool ones, and I'm excited to announce Greta found her first legit fossil rather than a number of rocks that are eroded to sort of look like heart-shaped rocks (which she calls fossils). The one she found was some sort of horn coral embedded in some, um, regular ol' rock.

Greta asked me why I like rocks so much, and I don't know what it is. They just make me happy. I can look at this picture from the lower falls at Letchworth and I feel calmer.

On the nature theme, when we moved into our house there was a dead weeping cherry tree in the front. I am horribly indecisive, and we went to a bunch of places and all of the trees were just so...meh. We went to Oriental Garden Supply and I fell in love. It's such a great place and there is such an amazing selection of really wonderful, different trees, shrubs, and plants. We ended up getting a weeping larch for one side of the turret. For the opposite side we got a contorted filbert. I feel like our yard and sort of coming together. In a very exciting development, this summer I finally realized I enjoy weeding. I always hated it, and no I will not come to your house and weed. We have plenty of weeds here to keep me busy. But I actually enjoy weeding now! It's oddly relaxing! Who knew this?

Here's our new weeping larch.

I've had quite a few culinary hits and misses in the last few weeks. I definitely have enough for another blog. And I promise I will try to try to post another one soon. And yes, I said I'd would try to try.

One last thing I want to mention is I saw a great news story last week about this five-year-old boy who came up with the idea to sell artwork to raise money for multiple sclerosis, the disease his mom suffers from. Connor Grossman is from Rochester, but the story is making national headlines. I will just say I think you should watch this video and check out the Marbles for MS site and consider donating to this worthy cause.

Okie doke, I think that's enough for now.


Wrote a blog about it. Wanna hear it? Here it goes.

File under: CSA | recipe | weekend update

This past week we got our first summer share of our CSA from The Good Food Collective. It was definitely the highlight of my week. I was so excited to get fresh organic fruits and veggies, and the bounty did not disappoint. This past week I really enjoyed meal planning for the first time in ages. I also enjoyed finding new recipes and even trying some new veggies (garlic scapes and Swiss chard) for the first time ever. In addition to the garlic scapes and Swiss chard, we got strawberries, bok choy, lettuce, and beets.

I thought I would post the links to the new recipes I tried this week. They were all winners.

In addition to throwing the garlic scapes into everything I could think of from marinades to raw in salads, I also made garlic scape pesto, which beats the pants off of basil pesto if you ask me (and I LOVE basil). I used the pesto on spaghetti, used it as sauce for a pizza, and even mixed it with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to make a salad dressing.

Beets are a huge favorite of ours. We love to roast them and eat them with some goat cheese, and we also had a roasted beet salad with orange dressing.

The Swiss chard recipe was amazing, but that might be because it called for white wine, butter, and cheese, and I also threw some bacon in for good measure.

We didn't have the bok choy yet, so I am currently auditioning recipes. If you have any good ones, please share.

The strawberries didn't make it into any recipes because we just stuffed them in our faces.

I can't wait for this week's share!

Friday night went to a very cool art show for a group called Sweet Meat Co. I was a little worried we'd be the old non-hipsters there with the kid, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a wide variety of people there. And Greta wasn't the only kid, even. We actually ran into at least a dozen people we know, too. Hey, we're still awesome! Good to know.

Here is Greta contemplating the art.

I wish I took some photos of show itself because it was such a cool setup, but I am terrified of getting yelled at for photographing artwork. I once got reprimanded for taking a picture of Greta in a gallery, and I was horrified. I hate getting yelled more than pretty much anything ever. Anyway, it was a great show, and you will just have to take my word for it.

Saturday Greta and I headed to my parents' house for a few hours. We were planning on going to a McCarthy family reunion, but due to a scheduling snafu, we were a day early for the reunion. Woopsie. It was actually nice to just have lunch at my parents' house and let Greta run around the yard for a bit with no agenda.

This week I've been a completely cranky stress case. I don't know what to say about that except I hope I stop soon because I am sure my family is not a fan of my mood and I can hardly stand myself.


Fancy Dancer

File under: holiday | weekend update

This past weekend Greta had her big dance recital, which went off without a hitch. She did a great job and had a blast. Greta's grandparents all came to show their support.

Greta got SO many flowers. It was sort of ridiculous...ridiculously awesome. Look: the bouquet is bigger than Greta's head.

She got flowers from her dear mom and dad, both sets of grandparents, her friend Sophie's parents and her friend Sophie's grandparents. Greta just got more flowers than I've gotten in my entire life.

Right after the recital we had a late lunch, or linner, or dunch, if you will. Since it was Father's Day weekend and all my favorite dads were in attendance, I thought it would be nice to step it up a notch, and we had beef tenderloin with two kinds of butter (roasted garlic and horseradish), taders, haricot vert, macaroni and cheese (per Greta's request), and fruit salad (also per Greta's request).

We also had a big family jam session (Pat on guitar, Grandpa Reed on ukulele, Greta on harmonica, and Grandma McCarthy on mini accordion) and we looked through various fossil collections (Grandpa McCarthy's, Greta's, and mine). Do we know how to have fun or not? In case there is any question in your mind, the answer is yes.

On Sunday, when it was just the three of us, Greta and I surprised Pat with breakfast in bed, and then we went to Letchworth State Park. We hiked.

We dined on ice cream.

We hung with the hippies.

We found more fossils. (Not pictured.)

We loved it.


Are you happy to see me or are you just happy to see me?

I've been meaning to update for ages, if no other reason so that when my mom comes to the site she doesn't have to see that awful "...or are you just happy to see me" joke. Oh well. Things have been busy again, but what's new? I sound like a broken record.

Things have been good. A couple weeks ago we went out to Pat's parents' camp, and we all had a great time. There is such a nice community out there, and I love hanging out with the Reeds, drinking beer, eating hamburgers, sitting by the fire, and catching up. Also, Pat's dad always has some great stories that start like, "Did I ever tell you about John Prell, the punch-drunk fighter who burned his meat?" (That one was so good I had to write it down.)

Greta got to fish with her grandpa, and unlike last year, when she quickly caught three fish, this time the fish were just stealing her worms.

No fishies.

The highlight for me was I was reading my book, Remarkable Creatures, and Greta asked me what it was about. I told her it's about fossils, and then I told her a little about fossils. Greta got all jazzed up about looking for fossils. I figured we'd poke around a bit and not find anything, but we actually found some good fossils. (Well, I found part of a trilobite, Pat found part of what I think is some coral, and Greta found a bunch of rocks she thought were pretty). It rekindled my fascination with fossils that started in high school, and now I can't stop thinking about them.

I loved how focused on finding fossils Greta was.

Last weekend we went to Hamlin Beach, and the first rock I picked up and turned over was a fossil. It looks like some sort of wormy larva dude (technical term). I then proceeded to pick up probably three hundred more rocks and got nothin'.

Also last weekend we went to a fantastic wedding reception. My friend Dottie (who won the honor of Favorite New Friend of 2009 [Yes, I give out superlatives like these in my head. Sorry if we met in 2009 and you did not win. I'm sure it was an honor for you just to be nominated.]) and her husband Bryce were married in Italy la few weeks ago, and they had the most beautiful reception that was made out of fancy. Look how handsome we all are. The fancy even rubbed off on us.

Well, almost.

And now we're almost caught up. So, this Saturday we realized we had nothing really going on, so we decided to take a day trip to Ithaca to go fossil hunting, hiking, hang out in the Commons, and eat at Moosewood. It was a beautiful day as we drove the almost two hours. Then when we got to Taughannock Falls and stepped out of the car, it started sprinkling. By the time we got to the first small set of falls, it was full-blown raining. By the time we got a bit down the first trail, it was pouring. We tried to stick it out for a half hour or so, but it was MISERABLE and we decided to retreat. By the time we got back to the car, we were all drenched to our skivvies. Bust.

And then we went to Moosewood, my favorite restaurant. Surely the meal would revive this otherwise crappy day, but we had our first mediocre meal there. Disappointment.

But with all the bad, it was oddly good. Even though we all had fits of grumpiness (well, Greta and I did at least), we also had ridiculous fits of laughter that was directly related to the rain and being soaked.

Also, we found out Greta is a harmonica prodigy. The rain must have been her muse.

In conclusion, this is too long. Sorry.


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 you...like honking!

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!


Sing a Song for Old Marcellus

This weekend I went home to do some "research" on my wee little book project known as NaNoWriMo, which starts a week from today. Gah! (Deep breaths.)

I can't remember the last time I was so excited for something or so nervous. The book is going to be an autobiographical novel my high school years, and I'm realizing my memory of those four years in Marcellus is a little rusty. I was hoping the trip to my hometown would help dislodge some memories and also help me collect my thoughts. When I get all jazzed up about writing something, I tend to narrate in my head a lot, but that wasn't really happening with the book. I have been taking lots of little notes and *thinking* about it a lot, but I haven't been able to figure out how I actually want to write this stuff. So I figured I needed a little immersion therapy time in Marcellus. I made plans to get together with Taryn, who has been living back in the area for the last few years and who always had a better memory and attention to detail than I do.

So Saturday, we went to the Marcellus senior class spaghetti dinner so I could actually get in the school. There were two main highlights and two main lowlights:

  • Highlight #1 was seeing one of my favorite high school teachers. (Ms. Nic!)
  • Lowlight #1 was when one of the nice senior girls gave Greta a 12 oz cup of apple cider that was filled the brim and Greta took two sips and then promptly dumped the rest on the floor and then I had to sit there nervously while said favorite former teacher mopped it up. Ah well.
  • Highlight #2 was when we took a little uninvited tour around part of the building, and it was really fun to see what had changed (almost nothing), what had stayed the same (just about everything), and watch Greta and Oliver running through the halls like they were in a John Mayer song.

Greta and Oliver in Marcellus

  • Lowlight #2 was partway through dinner I got a bright red, itchy rash over a good portion of my face due what I'm guessing was either allergies or nerves or a combination of the two. I think the key takeaway is that Marcellus gives me a rash.

Sunday, we hung out at my parents' house for a bit. My mom pulled my old dance costumes and Halloween costumes out of the attic, so Greta got to dress up like the devil (or what we were calling "a red kitty" because I didn't have the wherewithal to explain to a four year old who the devil is at the time), a cheerleader, a jailbird, and, um, I guess a Yankee Doodle Sweetheart?

Red, White, and Blue Greta

In the afternoon I ditched my family and spent a few uninterrupted hours with Taryn so I could "interview" her and drive around Marcellus a bit and take pictures.

Talking to Taryn was great. It was not only informative, it was also really fun to spend time with Taryn, reminiscing and rediscovering our old stomping grounds.

Taryn took a picture of me where the building once was in which I worked from November of 1991 until a few days before I left for college in 1995. It has since been replaced by, um, really tall ornamental grasses (I'm not a little person - not that there's anything wrong with that). This picture could be titled "NERVOUS." That's me.

I was still feeling pretty scattered about the book yesterday during the drive home and in the evening, and then when I went to bed my brain wouldn't turn off and I was narrating the book in my head! Hallelujah!  I kept using my phone to draft notes. (Note to self: get a pen and notebook on the night stand.) That was sort of a breakthrough for me, and now I really, really can't wait for November 1st!

The other purpose of going home this weekend was that Greta has been asking for weeks if we could go to Grandma Norma and Hoppa's to jump in their leaves. Yes, we have leaves in Rochester, but apparently they're not as good as theirs.

Missions accomplished.


Good times, bad times (and lots o' pictures)

This week was full of highs and lows. Lists and lots of pictures seem in order. Still, this is a long one. You might want to grab a snack.

- The father of one of my best friends passed away. Knowing one of your best friends is in pain and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it is a horrible feeling, to put it mildly.

+ We went with friends Michael, Christy, Colin, and Miles to the George Eastman House, making it Greta's first visit (I'm guessing of many). Michael took some wonderful pictures of Colin and Greta playing in the gardens, and he will hopefully not mind me reposting some here.

This one I took with my phone during a moment of quiet. She looked like I felt (see minus above), which is why I let her get comfortable on a big bench in a room that was occupied but just us while we watched an old black and white movie for a bit.

+ My brother wears a suit all week long and then transforms into "Weekend Phil." Here is a great article featuring my brother and his latest obsession, cyclocross.

- I was in such a fog this week I completely forgot to go to my book club meeting. This is very unlike me. It's the thing I look forward to most each month, and I'm sad I missed it.

+ We have a new tradition. Pat has been staying late at work on Wednesdays as a focused effort to catch up on school work, and Greta and I have declared Wednesday night "Funsday Night." We have done something fun each week to really appreciate our one-on-one time together. It usually invoves some type of tasty dinner and some other fun activity, like going for a hike, browsing books at Barnes & Noble, a manicure, listening to live music, baking, etc. It's something I look forward to each week (even though we miss PattyCakes, of course).

-/+ We wrapped up what has been a process of more than three months worth of dental work for Greta. I lead a pretty damned charmed life, I gladly admit, so I will say that at the outset of this process, this felt like the hardest thing I've ever dealt with. We have a great pediatric dentist, though, and Greta was such a huge trooper that, all in all, it was actually fairly painless (in a this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you kind of way, of course). And now I'm glad we're done - for now at least, and in the grand scheme of things, I feel lucky that everything was fixable and that Greta probably won't require therapy later in life (due to this experience, at least).

-/+ After a bit of a scary night Thursday night and an appointment first thing Friday AM, Greta was (finally) diagnosed with asthma and we (finally) got her some therapy/medication that is helping her. She's on three meds right now and we are the proud renters of a nebulizer/compressor, but my baby can almost breathe like a normal person now, thankfully.

+ We went to an awesome squash dinner. Our friend Ian has had an annual squash dinner for 10 years, and we were excited to invited to the 10th anniversary event. I've always been sort of "meh" about squash, but all of the food was so great that this week I have been having a love affair with squash. I can't stop preparing and eating squashy foods. Yum. Speaking of squash, if you don't mind some naughty lauguage and like to laugh a lot, you should check out this genius piece of writing.

+ We had a great day today. The highlights include walking around at RIT's Brick City festival and just having a nice low-key day. Pat and Greta carved a pumpkin while I cooked dinner (a pasta dish with two types of squash, if you must know).

Here are some pictures of Greta at Global Village (a new area in RIT that when I heard about it I thought sounded hokey as hell but which is actually a really cool place).

And here's the aforementioned jack-o'-lantern. Look how cute!


You again??

File under: weekend update

Hey dudes,

We had a very full weekend and I feel like I can barely put a sentence together, but I'm practically on a blog-writing bender here, so here you go.

Friday morning we headed out to Ithaca to meet up with some friends to go to a Dan Zanes show and get a great meal at Moosewood. The show was ball of chaotic fun. Pat "Fast Fingers" Reed scored us third-row tickets, but it really didn't even matter because I think almost everyone in the theater squeeze in front of the first row. Toward the end a bunch of parents sort of tossed their kids up on stage. I thought DZ or someone else would put the kibosh on that, but he and the band were unfazed. Eventually I let Greta go up there too, and I think it's pretty awesome that she got to do that. I have been to many shows, but I've never been up on stage. How cool is that? Here's how DZ does the smooth exit. You can see Greta on stage and you can almost see the thought bubble over her head, wondering where he's going.

Greta at the Dan Zanes show from Fran Reed on Vimeo.

Greta was like a young Courtney Cox in that Bruce Springsteen video, but with 50 of her closest friends.

After a fantastic meal at Moosewood, we went to the Children's Garden to play for a bit and then headed home.

Today, we headed to Brown's Berry Patch for a very chilly birthday party. I think I am still thawing out from that, but we had a blast.

Getting ready for boot camp.

Greta: I'm on a Boat.

On the hayride.

I am incapable of making a nice face around this creepy Pooh.

I am better now that I'm not near Pooh.


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