30 December 2011

Tunes Stood By Me in 2011

I'll be honest. I don't know what I would have done without music in 2011. Never in a year have I needed music as much as I needed it this year. There were my two cross country drives to and from Florida. There was my shoulder injury, then surgery, and subsequent 6 month recovery. There was hours and hours of commuting on trains and buses to work. There was weeks and months spent wondering what I am supposed to be doing with my life and times of some honest to goodness depression this year. Again, never have I needed music more than in 2011.

Thank heaven's it was a good one. I'll make sure to do an official review of my top 10 favorite albums and songs of the year - but above is a glimpse of some of the albums that I found worthy of my dollars. Each one found me at the right season - from James Blake in my surgery, The Antlers and Weeknd in my recovery, Beastie Boys in my low times, to M83 to push me through those first few weeks of uncertainty back in Evanston.

And concerts weren't so shabby either. The Ultra Music Festival, Iron and Wine in Savannah, Mates of State, Youth Lagoon, James Blake, Butthole Surfers and the mind blowing good bye to LCD Soundsystem.

2011 really was a great year for my ears.

28 December 2011

Post Thanksgiving Is All About Christmas

The next day we just relaxed and played with the kids while several of the ladies went shopping for stuff Black Friday style. Matt made a gigantic leaf pile and the kids played in it.I can't believe how cute my kid is, especially in a puffy coat.Oh Max. Fall compliments you well.Tyson forced Alpha to adventure into the pile as well where Max eagerly awaited her joining him. He likes to have a lady friend close by if possible.This picture = awesome. Don't be offended Max - its not you its the leaves.Like I said, all the kids got in the leaves.Buried alive and left for dead.Gruesome for a post Thanksgiving feast. Maybe we ate ourselves to death. Later that night we turned our hearts away from the pagan holiday of Thanksgiving and towards the holy holiday that is Christmas and all the sweet commercialism that comes with it - like Christmas Trees! We went to the Festival of Trees in Rochester. Some trees had cool figurines under them.But more importantly, this year it was all about what you put on top of you tree, not on the bottom or even in the middle. Each tree was an explosion of craziness. Its all the rage.Max was pretty much blown away by the lights and glitter.I liked this snowman tree. Pretty creative with the black balls for buttons.More tenderness between Kelli and Tyson. Geez they are sooooooo PDA.This was my favorite tree - the bubble bath tree. Look how cute it is!Look closer!The festival of trees really got my heart in the right place to start accepting that Christmas season was upon us. I instantly busted out my Sufjan Stephens Christmas album and was ready to role. Hopefully you are to because technically Christmas is over by the time you are reading this. My bad.

27 December 2011

I'm Thankful for Minnesota

Growing up I remember looking at maps of the United States and thinking that I would never, ever visit a place like Maine. Being 9 and from Idaho, it just seemed too far and purposeless. Why would I ever have a purpose to go all the way to Maine? Well...come to find out that I would make it there and with purpose.
Minnesota was another one of those places. Why would I ever go to this place called Minnesota? Well, I can write this and say that I am officially thankful for Minnesota. First, it is the home of Target. Second, it has the Wortleys. Third, it has the Gardners.
So we drove up from Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with friends in Rochester, MN. The Wortleys drove down from Minneapolis just to have dinner and say hi for a few hours - even though their parents were back in Minn visiting them. Now that is DEDICATION. Their baby Liam is basically adorable and makes my heart explode with love. He and Max will one day be super buds.It was great catching up with our long lost friends from Evanston. The Wortleys were a mainstay of our fun for so long that we just miss their faces to death. Oh why can't we live in the same state? Curses! So grateful they came down to see us.The next day was Thanksgiving time. Let me introduce chef and host extraordinaire - Matt Gardner. What was on the menu? Fried turkey suckas! Yes, he had a deep fryer and about 4 gallons of oil. He would be frying two turkeys that day.I was fascinated with this process and couldn't wait to try it. I mean, what could be gross that involved that much peanut oil? Nothing. I'd eat poop fried with that much peanut oil.Homies: Mark, Matt and Tyson. Let me make the connections. Mark is related to Tyson's wife and married to Kat, who is friends with my sister and lives in the Wortley's ward. Matt is friends with Tyson from their ward back in Logan Square and his wife was roommates with Caitlin at BYU. Tyson lives in our ward but we knew them before through Matt. Got it?My b****es: Kat, Kelli, Alissa and Caitlin. True ladies.Back to the turkey y'all. So, this thing had to stay at a specific temperature the entire time to end up right. I was assigned for a while to watch the thermometer and make sure it was in the correct range. I will be honest, I got distracted sometimes.The weather was unseasonably warm for Minnesota. These bare feet prove it. It made for an awesome weekend where only jackets were necessary.More food. For example - PIE! I don't think a pie could look more beautiful.Place settings adorned.Gorgeous table setting, helping us all feel like home and ready for gratitude.Back to the turkey - the unveiling! The ladies came out to see what we men had accomplished standing around in a circle chatting for an hour or two. Cameras even came out - what would this bird be?Gangsta. You might be looking at that and thinking its burnt. You'd be wrong. It was perfect.Fried turkey in all its glory.The excitement for friend turkey caused some people to get emotional and start hugging and being all tender - like Tyson and Kelli. I think her left hand is on his butt, but I can't confirm.More table as we prepared to sit down and eat and feast.The Thanksgiving crew with nearly all the kids asleep taking naps. A true Thanksgiving miracle!The hosts with the most pizzazz.Precious Alpha - the only kid who had woken up in time to watch us eat massive quantities of food.Us. Dinner was awesome and great conversation was had by all. I really wasn't expecting such an amazing meal and so chill and relaxing at that. Way to completely blow my expectations out of the water.Later when the babies got up we played and then did a mass-bathing event of crazy kid nudity and preciousness. I mean, naked babies in a tub...could you ask for more? This picture just reminds me how thankful we should be to have such great babies.Da kids.After the babies hit the hay, we stayed up for some adult fun. No, not that kind of adult fun sickos. I'm talking about the game where you have a bowl full of names and you do three rounds. One where you can describe the person, one where you have to act out the person, and lastly you get one word to describe the person. Team to get the most wins. Bad explanation, but you've probably played it. Caitlin, who is ultra competitive, started it out by trash talking.Tyson prepares the clock and gets ready to describe. When we got to the acting part things started getting awesome.Eventually the girls killed the boys at this game. How can we compete with them? They know so much more about celebrity gossip and other name driven crap. Also, they are smarter than us. And possibly more talented.

23 December 2011

24 weeks later...

Remember how Beeps is preggo maneggo?
Well - its been 24 weeks and this is what happens after 24 weeks of pregnancy. You get a precious bump. And there is a boy inside for Max and baby #2 to play with one day! Yeah!

22 December 2011

Dama and Beeps Come to Town

Right before Thanksgiving, Dama (Pam) and Beeps came to town to visit and play with Max. He loves his Dama and Beeps and was more than happy to have them around. On Saturday we went down for a free day at the Shedd Aquarium thanks to my company. There was a guy flying around a remote controlled shark that Max was pretty into...until...It got to close to him and then he was straddling Dama's legs to get away. But he couldn't take his eyes off of it.No, No, No shark. Don't eat Max's booty.Beeps and Mama teach Max about fishies and all sorts of sea creatures. I like to give Max an close and personal view of the turtles. Max has really been in to his stuffed turtle recently, so it was good timing.The Shedd Aquarium is basically Max's dream land because he loves whales, dolphins, sharks, fishies, and anything that is in the ocean or has to do with water. He could spend his whole life at Sea World if that were an option.One of Max's other buddies is his froggy - so it was awesome for him to see a real green frog. He loved the frogs. So did I - they were my favorite part.Dama, Max and Caitlin - creating memories galore.Let's not forget our friendly birds of the sea, the penguins. For some reason Max has never been that psyched about Penguins. You'd think that he would love them.Then it was time for the dolphin and whale show. Now let's be honest about something. Once you have been to Sea World...the Shedd Aquarium show is going to disappoint. How could it not? But it didn't phase Max that it wasn't as good...he still was transfixed by the animals. PLUS (like all animal shows), he got to enjoy a big bag of Cheetos while he was at it. So how could life get any better?Dama and Beeps - only moderately impressed by the show, but maximum impressed by Max.Seriously...this show was a bit boring.But hey, if it pleases the kid, then it pleases me. Thanks for coming Beeps and Dama!!! Come again soon!