Remebering Dad, our Supernova

November 19, 2014 by Alison

Dad was a true gentleman and a great soul. Humble, compassionate and unbelievably generous, he was a man of the first order. Dad’s work ethic, values, personality, and leaderships traits have made an imprint on many of you here and as such, his bright burst of life has radiated his essence to us, where it continues to be the feedstock that fuels us. And to those in his family, we are driven to replicate this; and have that same impact in our lives and communities like he had. A cranberry farmer, civil engineer, conservationist, public servant, wetlands expert, board chairman, bank board member, private pilot, sailor, poet, old car enthusiast, American history buff, gardener, chef and amateur golfer; he wore many hats, but to his family most importantly, he was a shining example of both a father-in-law, supportive uncle, The best dad and a wonderful husband.

My parents have one of those rare great loves. Supporting each other with unconditional love and strength, each would say the other was the better half! My sister and I always felt like the lucky ones to have such amazing parents. Mom and Dad seamlessly wove beautiful memories with the everyday parts of life: Listening to jazz while reading poetry in his leather chair by the fire with his family on a cold winter night; coming down to fluffy pancakes and bacon for Sunday breakfast; or, dancing to Paul Simon after a family dinner waving napkins in the air. When we were growing up, Dad would often work 15+ hours a day with early mornings to set up his bog and engineering crews and late nights presenting his engineering work at town meetings. But most nights he always made a point to cook and eat at home. Through this, he showed us how to find a way to strike the right mix in life between work and family.

Dad loved to cook. And he loved to narrate his cooking even more. Every time the family got together, he somehow managed to pull someone into the kitchen and talked about exactly how to make whatever he was making. And in doing so, he turned what were memorized recipes or methods into epic dishes and mastered techniques that are best described in ‘bold, capital letters’ and are now eternal folklore:

  • Cheese Soufflé, London Broil, Scalloped Potatoes, Banana Foster and Pancakes from Scratch
  • …the time-tested techniques: How to Carve a Turkey, How to Sharpen Knives, How to make a Rue, Boiling Lobsters and Searing Scallops.

After cooking and hosting family gatherings (and Dad was always the host), Dad would promptly decamp with a scotch in hand to the sitting room, light a fire, and talk for hours. Business — the markets — American history and our forefathers — tales of our ancestors – seeing epic concerts at Woodstock and the Newport Jazz festival, lessons learned from his life — and every now and then, he would impassionedly recite “manly” poetry, such as The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. And if it was Christmas Eve, a special annual reading of the Night Before Christmas a time honored tradition for the Gilmore girls.

Another time-honored tradition with Dad was frost nights.   It began on a cold April night when I was six year old I dragged my Winnie the Pooh sleeping bag from my bedroom downstairs to the front porch of our house on North Ave in Rochester. I told my mom that night I was going out on Frost night with Dad and since he was at an evening meeting, I spent the night outside waiting for him. A while later, Dad pulled into the driveway in his big black pickup truck and chuckled at the sight of me shivering in my sleeping bag waiting for him to come home. Grabbing his flashlight and thermometer, he carried me in my pjs into his warm truck and we went out on frost. Ever since that first night waiting for dad on the front porch, my sister and I loved going out on frost nights with dad. And the best part as a kid was stopping at McDonalds to get a late night snack! French fries for me and an ice cream cone for my sister. Frost nights with dad became a wonderful part of cranberry growing and a tradition that as adults we still loved. The conversations changed but the time alone with Dad was simply priceless. Whether talking about current events, school, jazz on the radio, or cranberry farming — the conversation always found its way to talking about legacy — where we are going and where we came from. We would ponder the big wide unknowns such as religion and astronomy sitting on those cold nights counting shooting stars.

As I reflect on his life and remember my amazing Dad; a humble and loving man, husband, father, and friend; I hold close his astute understanding of the interplay between the physics of the universe and the belief of a greater being and power other than ourselves- it is in this that I find comfort that he is perhaps most fittingly like a supernova – “A brief stellar explosion that outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun over its entire lifetime, it is an extremely rare, radiant burst of light.” Dad, I and we feel blessed and thankful to have had you in our lives. You are our supernova and your energy you’ve now dissipated into the universe lives on through all of us.

Welcoming Susanna!

February 11, 2014 by Alison

Happy New Year and hello again dear friends

I feel like I have re-emerged from the 4th trimester!  With the holidays (and Charlotte’s 5th birthday) behind me and a few hours of continuous sleep each night (followed by a large cup of coffee to start off the morning), I am finally able to sit and write the long overdue birth story for Susanna.  As many of you may recall, this pregnancy was plagued with test after test to determine if anything was seriously wrong with my baby girl.  And at the start of the summer after ever test came back “normal” I was left with the aching feeling that something might have been overlooked despite the continued great prenatal checkups with my midwife. The baby was growing, I was healthy, and after a third trimester ultra sound showing a very healthy baby girl, I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and focus on the birth!

My midwife is incredible and has made the birthing experience so wonderfully positive.  After I had Lillian, I felt I could conquer anything.  Natural child birth may not be for everyone, but it has given me back the confidence I so desperately needed after my preterm birth with Charlotte. This third birth was going to be special no matter what because it will most likely be the very last time I give birth so I went into the entire experience with bitter sweet happiness. The morning of September 23rd was nothing short of perfect.  The temperature was a balmy 70 degrees and the sky was a beautiful blue.  I  laughed with my sister that day after my last prenatal checkup that I couldn’t possibly have this baby for at least another couple of days because I felt great!  Since my birthday was a few days before, my sister decided to treat me to a pedicure, which was just the thing my toes needed!  During our pedicure, we joked that both of us had chosen the 24th as the birthday and how wrong we were since I felt totally fine.  Later that evening, however, I could tell something was amiss as I felt the waves of sporadic contractions.  At first I thought it was Braxton Hicks or possibly dehydration, but after they didn’t subside, I knew it was the real thing!

I am so happy looking back on the night of Susanna’s birth that I was able to put both girls to bed.  After reading a few extra stories in bed with both girls cuddled next to my big belly, I tried to savor every moment with just the two of them.  I laid in the middle of both of them until they fell asleep not wanting to change a thing, knowing that tomorrow everything would be so very different and yet so very wonderful. To be very honest, I was reluctant to move out of the bed and start on the path of changing everything and yet I was excited to meet our baby girl!

For most of the evening, I sat with John and my mom with a heating pad on my tummy sipping chamomile tea.  I was excited and nervous and delighted that we were spending the night at my folks, which was a 10 minute drive from the hospital.  Once mom and John went to bed for a while, I sat in the quiet of the house where I grew up. The house where I played hide and seek for afternoons on end, the house where I built sleeping bag forts in the den with my sister, the house where I put on my wedding dress on the magical day I married my best friend and the house where my daughters now love to spend lazy afternoons with their Nani. The quiet of the evening brought a peaceful, calmness over my laboring.  And so I sat curled up in my favorite chair listening to Bon Iver conquering each contraction.  As the contractions progressed, I eventually woke up John and we made our way to the hospital not before I took my signature “two thumbs up” labor picture!

I was envisioning getting to the hospital, laboring in the tub for a while and delivering baby girl.  However, this time since my bag of waters remained intact during my labor, I didn’t feel the contractions were as intense as I had with the other two births.  So shortly after I arrived at the hospital I was shocked when the midwife came into my room and said I was ready to deliver the baby.  She joked that I had cut this one a little close and I smiled saying I secretly wanted a home birth! My wonderful husband put on the soothing music of Bon Iver and within a half hour my beautiful Susanna was born. My sister and I were both correct that Susanna would arrive on September 24th! The moment she arrived I was elated she was perfectly healthy.

Ten fingers, 10 toes, and two big beautiful eyes that opened and looked right into mine and in that moment she made me the happiest mama in the world.  I held her so tight breathing in her newborn smell over and over while droplet of tears rained down on her soft head. All those months of waiting, worrying, testing and anxiety were wiped away in an instant as I held her in my arms.  Susanna Cervany Carr we love you so!

Friday Farming Favorite

July 12, 2013 by Alison
A summer favorite!

A summer favorite!

 

Happy Friday!

I spent the entire day at my computer looking at crop data for the farm and I wished I could have spent my day on the farm : ) For the rest of the summer, I’m going to have Fridays dedicated to favorite summer recipes!  I welcome your input and would love for you to share your favorite summer recipes.  The main ingredient of the recipe will be seasonal and I’ll be sourcing it locally (and hopefully from my own back yard at times).

This year we decided to step away from the big backyard garden and instead grow all our vegetables and herbs on a patio garden.  We have basil, mint, rosemary, dill, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, peppers and two hanging strawberry plants!  The patio garden has given me the opportunity to garden without all the upkeep of a big backyard garden (I have almost no weeding to do!!) The girls also love the patio garden and I find it is so easy for them to help me care for it. A staple in the Carr family is pesto and I have an abundance of basil this year.  Last year, all 12 of my basil plants were over taken by Japanese beetles and I practically lost the entire crop for the season.  Thankfully, this year the patio basil is booming.   When possible I like to pick, make and eat the pesto all in the same day, but using pregnancy as my excuse this year, I finding that I tend to make a big batch during the weekend to enjoy throughout the week.  I am always amazed at the high price of fresh pesto at grocery stores because it really is so easy to make at home.  Here is our recipe:

Carr Family Pesto:

2 cups of basil loosely packed (take stems off)

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients (except olive oil) into food processor and turn on blender. Pour in 1/2 cup olive oil while blending.  After blended taste and add/adjust ingredients as needed (add more cheese or olive oil).  Add salt to taste.  If you are planning on freezing the pesto than leave out the cheese (adding it when you are ready to eat)

Here are some of my favorite things to enjoy with the pesto:

Pesto and polenta, pesto and fresh pasta and pesto and couscous.

Enjoy!

 

Picture credit

Hope floats

July 10, 2013 by Alison

“When you look into the eyes of a baby you see all the love and hope this world has to offer”

A wise women once said, that pregnancy is a hope not a promise.  When you strip away all the baby supplies, the birth plan, the discussion about baby names and nursery colors, you are left with the hope for a healthy baby.  Yes, I’m expecting my third baby, due this fall!  But before I go into how I’m feeling and what we are having, let me back up and fill you in on this roller-coaster pregnancy.

John and I had always talked about having three children and this winter when I found out I was expecting my third I was excited but overwhelmed!  I couldn’t believe that this would be my last time pregnant and wanted to soak up every moment of being a pregnant mama.  Early on I opted for the maternity 21 test to rule out Trisomy 13,18 and 21.  This fairly new blood test can distinguish the baby’s skin DNA and test for common genetic disorders.  My results came back normal and I was elated!  I confidently walked into the follow up neucal scan with easy.  After an hour in the ultra sound room and a visit from the head ultra sound technician, I knew something wasn’t right.  And sure enough, they found that the fluid in the back of the baby’s neck was at the upper end of normal prompting them to perform an entire anatomy scan at 13 week, which yielded some trace fluid elsewhere.  I was shocked and speechless as the technician explained the results.  My doctor was even more concerned when I sat with her later and within minutes she arranged appointments with a geneticist and the high risk maternal fetal medicine group at the Brigham.  Something could be seriously wrong especially when fluid is seen in the first trimester elsewhere in the body. I drove home alone with my windows down on a cold March day hoping that the wind would blow away my tears.  When I got home, my mom and two beautiful daughters were watching a movie while resting in my bed and as I curled up next to them I could feel my emotions unraveling.  After a half hour of a good cry on my mom’s shoulder, she did what any mom would do, she gave me hope.  I knew she couldn’t for certain tell me everything would be fine with our baby, but with her words of wisdom she gave me strength to face the month of testing and countless meetings with genetic counselors that would follow.

 

I won’t bore you with all the details of our tests, but let’s just say that I became very familiar with the maternal fetal medicine team!   Thankfully, every test we had yielded a normal result.  I know more about this baby’s genetic make up than I do about any of my other two girls. The heart is perfect, the baby is normal for over 150 genetic disorders that were tested and during all the ultra sounds for all our appointments baby is growing and appears healthy.

And through it all, my husband and I held onto the hope for a healthy baby.

When I first met with our genetic counselor, Diane, she told me that even with all the extensive testing we would have, I still might be worried even if everything came back normal because I still won’t be able to explain the initial variation found at 13 weeks.  And she was right, I am so relieved that every test came back normal, but I still don’t have a scientific answer for the initial variation.  So now all I can do is hope that baby girl (yes we are having another girl!!!!) is healthy.  I have the same hope that every mother has regardless of how many or how few test they go through while pregnant.

After almost an entire trimester of worrying about test results, I can now start to enjoy the remaining trimester of my last time being pregnant!  I am taking the girls to the beach, sitting by the shore with my big belly and soaking up the summer sun : ) I’m feeling tired and well pregnant.  I’m cherishing the nights when I sit in bed in my air conditioned room and catch up on my favorite shows! And you can be sure that I will post more about this last trimester and the joys of being pregnant through the summer!

Friday Favorites – The Carr family Marching Band!

March 22, 2013 by Alison

Welcome back! I have been gone for far too long and now I’m back committed to writing several times a week again ;-) it has been a long winter and spring has arrived here in new england with several inches of snow (sigh)

I’m longing to put on my long skirts, flip flops and enjoy the wonderful local food that the summer has to offer! But for now, all I can do it snuggle under a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea. Tonight , the girls decided to play “marching band” one of my favorite activities! Several summers ago, Charlotte and I visited Pentwater with John and his family and enjoyed a weekly local tradition of sitting on the town green listening to the local band. Charlotte marched around during the concert pretending to be in the band. Ever since that trip she has loved pretending to be in a marching band.

Tonight, John dusted off his old trumpet (yes, my husband is musically inclined playing the trumpet, guitar and piano!) and started playing a few songs! Charlotte and Lillian took turns learning how to make noise out of the trumpet and then formed their own marching band! Marching through the dinning room, living room and den the girls played drums and the “kid trumpet” (a paper towel tube). It was such a fun evening watching the girls embrace their dad’s love of music! The “parade” ended with a dance party in the kitchen. What a perfect way to start the weekend!

Winter Favorites,

January 29, 2013 by Alison

I love the changing of the seasons! I haven’t posted in a while with the packed schedule of the holiday season, several birthdays including my beautiful 4 year old daughter! In our house we love to go sledding, have a fireplace fire, sip hot cocoa and feed the birds! The girls are at such a great age for enjoying the magic of winter! During a recent snowfall, Charlotte was in awe as the snow piled up on the back yard and draped a blanket over our tree branches. Waking up to snowfall today, made her so very happy! We put on our boots, hats, mittens and coats and dove into the dusting of snow! We only have a slight coating of the fluffy white stuff and by tomorrow it will all be gone, nevertheless, we took our afternoon to enjoy every moment! Making snow angels, throwing snowball, building snow castles and our favorite going sledding on our tiny toddler hill! Our slope issmall, but steep enough for a 19 month old and a 4 yr old to embrace the magic of zooming down the slope with the cold wind in your face! I’m sure in a month I’ll be longing for summer and warmer days, but today I treasured all cold, chilly air and the snow on my boots!

Thanksgiving Turkey Vase

November 21, 2012 by Alison

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Here is a great vase to make with the little ones recycling a canister of bread crumbs or coffee can! It makes a great centerpiece for the table or mantle.  It is a perfect way to recycle an old canister and have a fun craft for the little ones!

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All you need is

bread crumb (or similar) can

construction paper

glue

crayons

First remove the wrapping from the can if you are able. Next cover the can with brown construction paper.

Cut out the feathers from a variety of colored construction paper. Cut out the face, wings and feet (we make them in the shape of a heart) Have your little ones assemble the face with eyes and nose.

Glue on the face, wings and feet.

Place the feathers in the back.

Fill your turkey vase with water and add flowers (add a plastic bag if you are using a bread crumb canister as the water will leak)!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!!

End of Harvest

November 15, 2012 by Alison

We are finally done (as of yesterday) and with harvest coming to a close I wanted to put up some of my favorite pics from this season! More great cranberry recipes to come this week!

 

Celebrating the end of harvest!

Decorating with Cranberries

October 16, 2012 by Alison

I love to transform my home in the fall bringing some of mother nature’s best assets into my home as decorations on the mantel or table centerpiece.  Decorating with cranberries can make for one beautiful and colorful centerpiece.  Cranberries look beautiful when floating in water or as a garland on the mantel.  Here are a few of my favorite ways to use cranberries as a decoration during the fall and winter months!

Floating cranberries with tea candles – perfect as a center piece for a dinner party

Cranberry Topiaries – One of my favorite ways to decorate with cranberries, but I have to say I haven’t yet tried to do this at home!

Cranberry Garnish – This one is very easy and is a “big bang for your buck” very straight forward to assemble and provides an elegant center piece for your dining room table or mantle

 

Cranberry Mantel – We love to do this at our home during the holiday season.  It provides such a beautiful way to dress up your mantel.

Cranberries with flower or pine tree branches – This is such an easy way to add color to your flower vase and create a beautiful arrangement.  As a bonus, cranberries can be left floating in water for upwards of a week!

 

 

Photo credit

Main picture

Floating cranberries

Cranberry Topiaries

Cranberry garnish

Cranberry flowers

Cranberry Pine

Homemade Fall Playdough

October 9, 2012 by Alison

We love making homemade play dough and I love to turn it into a teaching opportunity for the girls by having them help me make the dough.  Since it is fall, we decided to make orange play dough to create fall leaves and pumpkins during our play! I love having the girls help me make the dough and choose the color.  Charlotte is fasinated with watching the dough mixture change from plain white to vibrant orange! Homemade play dough is such a great rainy day fall activity to do with the little ones.  The recipe below is perfectly safe if the little ones decide to taste it and if you are daring try and experiment by adding some essential oils to the mixture for a great scent.  We added orange essential oil to our pumpkin play dough.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring

You can added 50ml of orange essence.  OR you can instead add 1 tbsp of both cinnamon and nutmeg for a great fall scent.

Combine all ingredients and cook over medium warm heat on the stove until the mixture combines into a ball.  Let cool before using to play.