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Archive for the tag “Family”

Weekend Recap: The one where I remember pictures

Little Man’s Swim class

This past weekend is best described as full but happy. 🙂 Friday night, after scooting out of the office on time, I met a friend for dinner at my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant. Over fresh made guac and al pastore tacos, we caught up on life. Then I headed down to Jersey.Originally, my stepsister and I planned to take my nephew, Little Man, to a campout in a park near thier house, but due to some horrible storms coming through, it was cancelled. So, I rolled out my sleeping bag and camped out on the floor.Saturday was full as we ran some errands, went out to breakfast, and they showed me around the area. I got to see Little Man’s swim class,  a parent and child class he and my stepsister attend each week where he learns to scoop his arms, kick, and splash like a mad man. He loves the water, and it was alot of fun to see him show off his skills.Among our stops on Saturday was this amazing fruit and vegetable market, which sold really ripe produce for amazingly inexpensive prices. I was able to pick up several pounds of zucchini and avocados for a whooping $4.00. The zucchini is going into a few dinners and has gone into several batches of gluten free muffins. The avocados will be going into a big batch of homemade guacamole and probably into a salad or two as well.The past few weeks have been insanely busy, so it felt nice this weekend to slow down and to rest. It was refreshing to just hang out and talk with S. and be a part of Little Man’s routines. It reminded me to slow down, and be a bit more grateful. And to take pictures because there are moments I want to remember.

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Weekend Recap: A few hundred miles and four days later

A bit of home.

This past weekend was a travel weekend, thus my delayed weekend cap and my lack of Anna Karenina posts. I had been hoping for a trip to Maryland to see family and friends this summer, and that opportunity finally came this past weekend.

Friday was a travel day, logging 255 miles of road time, 2 bottles of water, 3 snacks,  6 different radio stations, and 1 stop to stretch my legs. Arriving at my destination (my Mom and Stepfather’s house) was glorious, and not just because there was steak, baked potatoes, and salad waiting for me. 🙂
Saturday was a day for sleeping in, although I didn’t, and just having the chance to spend time with people. After hanging out with my Stepdad, and their new Yorkie Molly in the morning, I headed over to the local farmer’s market and bought three pounds of amazing Furnace Hills Coffee (I highly recommend their coffee, which I regularly have shipped to New York). I also got to meet the staff behind the coffee- Dave Baldwin, Erin Baldwin, and Lia Moore, which was amazing! Thanks for taking the time to chat!

After meandering the Farmer’s Market, and then stopping by a local salon for a haircut, my parents and I headed to Wegman’s for my great gluten free adventure. Assembling the necessary ingredients to bake, or even finding a decent package of gluten free cookies can be a bit of a challenge. My Mom, after some research, discovered that Wegman’s had an amazing gluten free section, and so we headed for a shopping spree. I now have 4 or 5 gluten/corn free cookie and cake mixes, gluten/corn free all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, pasta, and corn free tomato sauce.

The store in and of itself was an experience. I have never been in a store quite so large, or quite so crowded. In addition to the normal grocery store aspect (but think more high-end grocery store), there was also a massive food market/food court. You could get anything from coffee to baked goods to sandwiches to sushi. It was slightly overwhelming.

Saturday night, I was able to catch up with one of my best friends and her husband and kids. We talked, I got updated pictures, we watched some of the Olympics, and for a grand finale, we had a bonfire and toasted marshmallows.

Sunday was a little quieter, but not much. In the morning, Mom and I attended the church I grew up in. After church we hit Panera for lunch with friend, before I headed out to Columbia to see my Dad, Stepmother, and three sisters.

Waking up Monday was tough, particularly because I knew it meant returning to New York. After breakfast with a friend, a trip out to a local farm for some more produce (I couldn’t leave the area without cantalope, watermelon, and the amazing peaches I had tried), my parents and I loaded up my stuff for the trip back. Although the return trip seemed to move faster, it was still the return trip.

What made this trip home different was that I was different. I just finished grad school, and really, this was the first time visiting home knowing that I wasn’t living there because of school, but because I had chosen to live in a different place. It made me thoughtful, nostalgic, and a little sad. Especially since I know that these short visits are more the reality.

 

Review: The Elusive Mr. McCoy

 The Elusive Mr. McCoy by Brenda Baker was a surprising tapestry of interconnected lives and stories. They are the lives that surround Mr. McCoy, a man would slipped into a coma in a coffeeshop and is found with two wallets revealing two separate identities- one Eric McCoy, married to Kendra McCoy, the other Dave McCoy married to Lesley McCoy. In one life he is a mysterious and elegant employee of Pentagon, in the second he is a wilderness guide hoping to make a go of organic gardening. And he is married to both women at once.

There are quite a number of characters and factors in this book- McCoy, the wives, his agent, the former police detective Jason who was talking to him when he slipped into a coma, the families of the wives, and Jason’s own complicated family and history. It seems like its almost too many characters for a 300-page book, and yet it works. Each character has there own story, motivation, and secrets of their own.

Baker is an amazing writing. The book contains a bit of suspense, a bit of romance, and a surprising bit of sci-fi, all blended together in a highly readable piece of fiction. Four stars out of five.

Review: How to Love An American Man

 How to Love An American Man by Kristine Gasbarre was part of my library loot from this past week. I was intrigued when I saw the title, intrigued enough to add it to my reserve items. When I found myself between books this past weekend, I decided to give it a try.

First of all, I’ll be honest. Its not at all what I anticipated, even having read the description. So we’re both on the same page, here is the books description as it appears on Amazon:

“Kristine Gasbarre made a New York career of dating driven, inaccessible men. When she realizes her love life will never result in happiness if she continues on the same path, she makes a big decision—relocating to Italy to discover her roots and find out what defines her adoring grandpa. But upon receiving the news of his sudden passing, she is lured away.

With nowhere left to go, Krissy returns to her small hometown for the first time in a decade to help care for her grandmother—a refined, private matriarch suffering from early dementia along with the loss of her husband. In her reluctant agreement to share the nearly lost love stories and transformative lessons from her rich sixty-year marriage, Krissy’s grandma becomes the one offering comfort as she coaches her granddaughter through the fear of loving. Grandma’s unapologetic femininity and secret giving spirit opens Krissy’s eyes about relationships, teaching her the single most important requisite for loving a man: first a woman has to learn the power of her own inner beauty.”

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting to be honest, but what I found in the memoir, I loved. Krissy’s intimate conversations with her Grandma Glo on love and her grandmother’s life with her grandfather are something to be treasured, and they seem so healing for both of them as they remember the past, and learn from it together.

Krissy transforms in the year she spends with her family. She increasingly comes to rely on her grandmother’s advice and opinions. And she becomes so much more confident.

As a single woman, I think it was also an interesting read, not that I plan on running out and applying each part to my life. But I have certainly been aware of the temptation to change myself to capture the attention of a man, all the while, wanting him to be the one noticing and pursuing me. If Krissy’s Grandma Glo is right, I’ve had things backwards.

The book was a quick read, but a thoughtful and fun memoir. I would definitely recommend it.

Weekend Recap: Readathons and exciting arrivals

I originally envisioned this past weekend as a time to get a fair amount of work done around the house. But when I got home from work on Friday, I realized how exhausted I was from the week and the house was empty and quiet. It didn’t take long for me to realize I wanted a completely different plan for my weekend.

I had been considering a readathon to tackle my increasingly lengthy to be read pile from my Summer Reading Challenge, my Summer Reading booklist, and my library loot for this week, but in reviewing my calendar, I realized it was an impossibility- my schedule is incredibly full and I wasn’t going to be able to devote much time to it. So, instead, I ventured on Friday and Saturday to have my own mini readathon. I was able to read ahead just a bit for my Anna Karenina read-along, and I fully completed two books: Death Comes to Pemberley and How to Love An American Man: A True Story. I loved being able to conquer some of the TBR pile, and it was relaxing to simply spend time reading, something that feels delightfully decadent to me.

Sunday, was much less calm, and involved absolutely no reading. I had been asked by a good friend, L. to be one of her on-call people to watch her son H. when she was going to the hospital to give birth to Little J. So, at 5:29am on Sunday, I received the call from L. that I needed to get over to her house because Little J. was preparing for his appearance.

Around 11:28am, Little J. made his appearance to the world. After spending the day with Little J.’s big brother, H. we were able to meet Little J. It was an honor to be on call for my friends in anticipation of the arrival of their second son, to babysit their oldest, and to meet their newest little one only hours after he was born. And seeing big brother meet little brother is an experience I will never, ever forget. 🙂

Congratulations L., R., & H. on the arrival of Little J.! So excited for you all!

The weekend recap: Family, flowers, birthdays, books, and belly laughs.

This past weekend was wonderful. Although I can’t say it was particularly literary, I had the chance to spend loads of time with family, as my parents visited and we attended my nephew’s first birthday party. My mom and stepfather brought flowers for the pots that sit in the window boxes outside the house, which my stepfather planted Saturday evening. I love it- the house looks so much prettier as you are walking up the steps with that small addition. 🙂

Little Man (my nickname for my nephew) turned one this week, and we celebrated in grand style on Saturday with a Thomas the Tank engine themed party. There was a ton of food (I am pretty sure my stepsisters only know how to cook in massive quantities) and a huge Thomas cake, as well as a little marshmallow fondant Thomas cake just for Little Man. He entertained us all as he showed off his new walking skills, pushing a chair all over the clubhouse, and just being cute and giggly. How can anyone resist a smiling little boy with blond curls and bright blue eyes (which look exactly like my stepsister and my stepdad’s eyes, for the record)?

Sunday we went out to lunch with my stepsister and nephew, having a chance to visit them without all the others. Little Man entertained us with deep belly laughs and lots of playfulness. My stepdad fed him vanilla ice-cream, proudly sporting his Super Granddad t-shirt. I love seeing him and Little Man interact. Its clear they enjoy each others company.

Well…now that we’ve chatted about my weekend, down to business. About the books. I went to the library late Friday afternoon and had the chance to pick up a few books that were being held on reserve for me:

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I found a review of Arranged http://www.5minutesformom.com/57195/arranged/  and found myself intrigued enough to queue up for it at the local library. I started this one Sunday night, and so far, I am hooked.

The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

I was intrigued by the concept. I will probably skim, and fully read only vignettes. Mind you, I don’t think its something I can, or want to attempt to pull off.
The Calligrapher’s Daughterby Eugenia Kim

I seem to be slightly obsessed with Asian literature, and I found this book on a list of must reads. Its about a daughter caught between life in Korea before and after the Japanese occupation.

I also received my copy of Walt Whitman: Poetry & Prose for my Summer Reading Challenge (www.thenerdreports.wordpress.com). Although I am accustomed to my used books being filled with strange notes and markings, the math equations scattered throughout the title pages threw me. Math equations and Whitman….really? It’s a much larger volume, including the entire canon of Whitman’s published work, than I was originally anticipating, so I think I am going to have to plan my reading a bit more strategically. Since I will be participating in the Anna Karenina Read-Along in July, I think my plan is to read Whitman in August.

Sunday, after my parents departure I had some much needed downtime, so I had the chance to finish AJ Jacobs Drop Dead Healthy (see my review tomorrow) and plan out my reading schedule for Anna Karenina. The weekend was full of fun and family…but don’t worry. There’s always time for books. 🙂

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