Friday, July 30, 2010

Music...

Before I left on our big adventure I asked some friends for music recommendations.  I tried some new music, but as with every past road trip the air around me quickly became filled with familiar rhythms.  I think it is the nostalgia of hitting the open road that brings me back to old favorites.  I like to be able to sing and beat out the rhythm on my steering wheel while scenery passes me by.

So, in my opinion, there is nothing better to sing along to, and therefore road trip to, than:

1. Dashboard Confessional
2. Dave Matthews Band
3. Jimmy Eat World
4. Dad's Cds - Cars, CCR, Police, Cheap Trick, etc

Might seem lame to you, but like I said to a few friends "Just a warning, if you do not like 80's music and 90's alternative rock do not come help me pack!"  That house was rockin'!!!

This time there were a few new additions though.  I have been trying some country music on for size, so my Shania Twain Pandora station provided me with a few gems.  I have to say my absolute favorite to sing to is "Stay" by Sugarland!  I would say it is probably one of my favorite songs to sing to ever, and that is saying a lot!!!

While we are on the topic of country music - I thumbs up the song "Waitin' On a Woman" by Brad Paisley and so now every third song is Brad Paisley on my Pandora station.  As far as I am concerned he can just go away!  What is the big deal with this guy.  Cheap sentimental lyrics plugged into the same rhythms and harmonies.  Just one girls opinion!

So, here I sit in what Aunt Sheri referred to as a "music time machine" happy as can be switching between the 80's and 90's at the click of a button.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Favorites...

Making weekend plans has always been a favorite pastime of mine.  I do not need to have the whole weekend booked, but one or two events to look forward to is nice.  I am still doing some research, but I think this activity might be in the cards for us...

http://www.chicagoicecreamfestival.com/index.php

It is a "Luxury Ice Cream" Festival held at a Nature Museum.  The museum looks like it has a few very interesting exhibits, so just the trip to the museum alone might be worth it.  The festival promises sweet and savory deluxe ice cream flavors, beer, wine and food demos.  I figure it will be fun for our taste buds and probably a good camera event too.

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In other news...here is my favorite story from today.  The neighbors above us are preparing to move tomorrow so that we can move into our real apartment.  We can hear them moving stuff around and cleaning more than usual since there is so much going on.  The dogs are a bit bothered, but they are being good.

The lady upstairs was running the vacuum directly over us and the dogs were both staring up at the ceiling.  Evan looks at me and in that "dog talk" voice he makes Bella say "Mommy, why is God vacuuming?  Doesn't he know that I'm afraid of it?"

I could not stop laughing, hilarious!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Word of the Day Wednesday...

Baby

I cannot stop thinking about baby names – even though I have no desire to be pregnant at this current juncture, I do have a desire for my baby to have the perfect name.  I am hesitant to do this, but I am going to start a blog post of all of them so I have one place to amend the list.

This is partially for my Aunt Sue who is on her way to Japan for the next three years.  I am going to have to blog about all of the little things and the big things!  We were talking about baby names when we were in Iowa and I wanted to share the whole list with her, but never got the chance.

So, here it is.  There are a lot more girl names than boy names, but they are all mixed in.  I hope this list gets longer and longer, and then more and more cut down!  I am going to add more names here over the next few years as they come to us and I promise I will only cross out the ones that get veto-ed instead of erasing.  Okay in no particular order...


McKenzie
Margot
Grace
Margaret
Jake
Owen Thomas
Madison
Savannah
Charlotte
Katherine “Kate”
Emma Mae
Samantha “Sam”
Isabella
Meredith (Evan)
Channing (for a girl)
Chloe
Sophia/Sophie
Penelope “Penny”
Amelia (Evan Vetoed)

Random ones that I am adding:
Evan smiled when he heard a little girl called by the name of Lauralie
Regan, Addison, Kennedy, Scout, Harper
Grayson, Hudson, Sam

Here is a photo of the smallest baby in our lives right now - Gigi.  What a sweet sweet baby girl!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Moving...




Stories from the road – 1,900 mile road trip filled with changing scenery, excitement and laughter

the lady that never smiles at me smiled

So we had a neighbor in Scottsdale that lived in the apartment across from us – basically go up the stairs and we go left, she goes right – she was very unfriendly.  Evan and I used to try to smile, say good morning, or just a nod, but she never barely made eye contact let alone smile.  It has been going on like this for a year and 4 months now.  When we were moving things out of the apartment and into the moving truck I was coming out of our door with a load of stuff and she was coming up the stairs.  I said “good morning,” and she gave me the biggest smile, so apparently she hates us and was finally so happy to see us leaving that she couldn’t contain herself.

all of the little things that can never end up in a box and end up causing a fight

Whenever we move we are so good about packing each room into it’s own individual boxes with detailed lables the first day, but a strange thing happens when Evan starts to tape up boxes and cart them down to the moving truck.  Instead of leaving one box open in each room, he carts out each box prematurely and leaves a few remaining items in each room.  Every time we move these items end up in one giant box, then the remaining items have to be taken down by hand to the moving truck loose.  It drives me nuts and always ends up causing a fight.  Doesn’t seem like something to fight over you say, well you try making 10 trips down to the truck with a few awkward things in your arms and see if you are ready to give someone a piece of your mind.

the most awful Arbys

Raton, NM has the worst Arby’s in America.  The buns have been like biting through rubber both times I have been there.  I am happy to say I will never return.

new mexico thunderstorm

There was a thunderstorm across northern New Mexico that caused the most brilliant sunset I have seen in awhile.  It was two thunderstorms on either side of the interstate out about 10-20 miles, which meant we were able to watch the lightning, but did not have to drive through much rain.  The filtered light coming through the pockets of open sky turned the grass a brilliant shade of emerald green, showed detailed shadows in the mountains, and turned the sky vivid steaks of purple, topaz, peach, and fushia.

best air mattress in the world

Evan and I own THE BEST AIR MATTRESS IN THE WORLD.  It was not a lot of money, nor is it a brand name item, but I am telling you it is the best air mattress ever.  Whoever manufactured this air mattress that day at the factory really cares about his or her job.  Top notch job!

finding out that our apartment is not ready

We are now stuck on the first floor because the people that were supposed to move out of the second floor, where we are supposed to be, decided not to move out until July 30th.  Come to find out once we arrived here and spoke to the current resident of the second floor, they did not intend to move out for a few more months.  Their lease expired on June 30, but they went one more month.  The only resident that put in notice was the third floor resident who moved out the middle of July, which is when the property management company told us that the second floor people were moving out.  They already rented the third floor to another couple.  Follow me so far?  So we get a call 36 hours before we are supposed to move in telling us that we cannot move-in to the second floor.  We are temporarily residents of the first floor until next Sunday when we can move up to the second floor, which means we are box people eating out or easy at home meals for another whole week.  If you do not understand it’s okay.  All I really wanted to say about this whole situation is – Ms. Property Management Lady, I used to do your job and I must say I did it a heck of a lot better – Madame, do your job better!

crossing the borders

I do not know what it is, but whenever I am on a road trip I cannot wait to drive through a new big city or see the state line.  I love how different each state’s sign is.  If you study them you can get a little glimpse into how the residents of that state see their state.

armadillo vs tire shred

I saw an armadillo on the side of the road in New Mexico, or so I announced to the car.  About 20 minutes later we drove by another “armadillo”, or something that kind of looked like the “real” armadillo that I had seen 20 minutes back – the second “armadillo” turned out to be a tire shred from a semi-truck.  This has lead me to wonder ever since if the first armadillo I saw was a tire shred or a real-life armadillo.  The general consensus seems to be that it was a tire shred on both occasions.

this is NPR

Start anyting with “I heard on NPR the other day” and it gives your statement instant credibility.  Like, “I heard on NPR the other day that cell phones promote the growth of ear wax, which may lead to a premature hearing loss.”  (that is a made up fact just in case you were confused)


Lessons I Have Learned on This Trip

I love road trips.  I love my husband, my sister, and the rest of the family.  All fast food is created equal to me. There are three types of scenery in just about every state.  Iowa may be my favorite place.  I am so excited to be a resident of the city of Chicago.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Road Trippin'

    We are now two-thirds through our move across America back to Chicago.  We have taken a few days in Iowa to see family since Aunt Sue is moving half way around the world to Japan on Monday.  Here are a few stories from the road.



    Our move packing up the truck went great!  We had about 95% of our things loaded by 5:00 on Saturday.  The remaining 5% was cleaning items, odds and ends like pillows and blankets and our mattress.  I am not sure if it was lack of boxes or lack of effort, but the remaining 5% took us about 3 hours over Saturday night and Sunday morning.

    Our first stop was in Denver.  We stayed with my Aunt Sheri and had a great time.  We had one full day and boy did we pack it in.  It was their dog Astro's birthday, so with our dogs there it was almost like a little dog-cousin birthday party.  They played a lot of fetch, had a great meal and spent almost the whole day running around the backyard!  Us humans decided to take a trip to Coors Brewery for a few free samples and then we took a ride down the alpine slide.  We had a great time and it seemed like much more than just two nights and one day!









    Now we are in Iowa and there is not much finer!  I was so happy to drive across Nebraska and get closer and closer to the Missouri River!!!  I am so glad to be back in the cornfields, green pastures, rolling hills, rivers and lakes!  We all went to Trivia last night and team Uncle Mick, Danny, Maddie, Evan and I beat team Jon, Amy, Mike, and their two friends!  We did not win the grand prize, a free bar tab, but being the victor of the family feud was good enough for us.  It was a great time because all of us were able to contribute at least one answer that the others did not know and Uncle Mick filled in the rest.

    It is nice to have Maddie back from Europe now.  It is kind of weird in a way, but it is so nice to be able to pick up the phone and give her a call.  I heard most of the stories on our two days in the car, but I have a feeling there is probably another few days left to hear.

    I am so excited to get moved into our new place and be a resident of the great city of Chicago!  On our way from the SW to the Mid-West we have encountered a few people who have asked “Where are you guys from.”  Each time I watch Evan field the question and my smile grows bigger and bigger knowing the answer will soon be Chicago!!!


    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Victory...

    I am very excited to watch the World Cup finals tomorrow and will be so sad it is over!  I have always liked the idea of soccer, and I vowed to watch as many World Cup games as I could this year.  I wanted to understand the game and have now fallen in love with it.  I enjoy the complexity of it - I love the large field and how you can see a play or a breakaway develop - I am taken away in the anticipation of how suddenly a goal can come.  

    So - with all of the new found soccer love, and since this is my first world cup as a newly initiated soccer fan, I could not wait to see the world cup trophy.  I love a good trophy.  I am a sucker for the history behind them and all of the emotion that is displayed when a champion hoists it over their head!  This may be the most alienating thing I have said if you disagree, but when I finally laid eyes on the World Cup trophy I was disappointed.  I was in disgust at the thing - it looked alien, it did not look polished or stately - it looked like it was molded out of clay and dipped in bronze.  The people are so non-desrcript and the colors and design are, dare I say, garish.

    I have since adopted an appreciation for it, but I still come up with new, not so favorable, descriptors for it every time I see the thing.  Now - I have found someone that agrees with me.  Not only does she agree with me, but she has put it out there on the world wide web for all to read and I am sure the hate mail has rained down upon her. 


    Well in a small, actually very small, gesture of solidarity I would  like to say I am with you!  I am willing to put it out there for all to judge!

    And finally - GO SPAIN!!!

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Wine & Cheese

    So, who would like to have wine and cheese at my house???  Today we went shopping for some groceries and decided we would like to relax with some classic white wine and cheese.






    I like to dress up our relaxed nights to make them special.  I suggest buying a few different sets/styles of fun appetizer plates and stocking your cabinets with nice wine glasses.  Life is too short to drink any wine out of a boring wine glass.  The long and short of it is that any wine tastes better out of a nice glass!  Bringing out the fun/fancy appetizer plates helps to set a theme, add a cheese knife, and suddenly you are taken away - if only a little bit.

    So pick a few cheeses, gourmet crackers (they are only a dollar or two more), buy a dried or fresh fruit to add some color, and finally a bottle of wine and join us.  It is so nice to make your home feel special and gourmet.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Diversity...


    I love desert plants.  Ever since the first time I watched the landscape change from tree lined brooks, to golden aspen trees, to high tundra plains, to rocky outcrops, into smooth red rocks, to joshua trees, and into cactus on my first drive from Denver to Las Vegas I have been in love with desert landscapes.  

    The mix of dusty colors and diverse plant life makes for beautiful scenery in the desert.  It is not always easy to photograph though.  Limited cloud cover and blistering hot sun make it hard to capture the complex shadows and range of color.  The eye is so much more complex than the camera's sensor it is sometimes hard to believe.

    These two diverse photos give a sample of the range in intensity and texture of desert plants.  

      


    I have taken many "cactus portraits" here, but most end up like the photo above.  A prickly, hard, thick saguaro against the intense blue glow of the sky.  It is hard to explain how gorgeous a hill of saguaros is.  The sheer age combined with the look of solitude they have standing so straight and alone make them look like an army of worn soldiers on the hillside.

    It was hard to live without seasons for the past few years.  The change of colors in trees is hard to replace, but the desert is truly one of a kind.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Rewind...


    I have found myself pining for the 90s lately.  I am not sure exactly why, but I believe it is a combination of: 

    1). "the back in the day double play holiday weekend" on our local alternative rock station
    2). a random barrage of old sports clips that I have been seeing lately
    3). the trip that we will be making to Denver and CB in order to move more "home"

    Is there a cure for this???  Because I'm all mixed up and don't know what to do.

    Sunday, July 4, 2010

    Namaste...


    Who wants to learn yoga from this beauty:


    Well you are in luck!  These photos are for her soon to be developed website.  She is following her forever dream and opening a yoga studio.

    The reason I love yoga is that it is all about the small details.  I love to concentrate on the breathing, the motions from one position to the next, your hands - it is so detailed, yet there are so many variations it is comforting to all.






    Devin and I spent the morning at Civic Center park photographing yoga positions.  There were so many beautiful photos I had a hard time selecting a few to share.

    The reason I love these so much is because you can see her lovely spirit shining through, her strength, and her devotion to something she truly loves.








    As with everything else, I know you will reach for the stars and achieve only the best.  
    After all, who wouldn't want to learn from such a beautiful soul!

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    Summers are made of....


    The more I think about moving the more excited I get about all of the little things.  Today I have been thinking about all of the great experiences that children of Arizona miss out on during the summer months.  These are all experiences that I cannot wait for my children to enjoy, and the more I think about it the reason I cannot imagine raising children here is the product of many small details all added up.  In the heat it is very hard for kids to be outside during their summer months.  I miss fireflies, cool summer nights, bonfires, sno-cones and other exclusively summer treats.

    I always look forward to the month of July.  I love the fourth – I have always been a fireworks fan.  I love the warm days when you can still stand to be outside and the slight chill of the nights.  Some of my fondest memories are of spending summer days in Iowa with family.


    Summers are made of long days filled with:

    -          capturing fireflies in a jar and setting them by a bedside table

    -          playing flashlight tag in the backyard

    -          running through the sprinklers on the perfectly green lawn

    -          picking berries by the pound and ending up with red faces

    -          boating – with a dog that loves to swim and play fetch

    -          ice cream – especially Kristy Kreme flavor of the day

    -          braided hair and ribbons

    -          bubbles, side walk chalk, and bike parades

    -          books – summer beach reading and short stories around the campfire

    -          nothing on television, which leads to baseball games and movie theaters

    -          vacations to theme parks, cabins, and state parks

    -          renewed romance and spirits because of all the things above


    I love summers and look forward to reliving all of these experiences over again and eventually with a family of my own!!!

    Here are some of my favorite summer photos (picked pretty randomly out of the hundreds!):