Sunday, October 26, 2008

When it Rains... floods. I'm sure this week could have been busier, I'm just not quite sure how. To start the week off, Avey was teething something fierce all week. She had a fever most of the week and was way cranky and moody. One second, she was playing like all was well, the next she was wailing like a banshee. She woke up feeling worlds better today and hasn't stopped smiling and telling everybody she passes, "Hi!".
Of course, Dad had two exams this week. Both were take-home, but one took about 12-14 hours to finish and the other took around 8. Mom had a full client load, and in the time she wasn't at work, she was at work at home trying to console poor Avey.
On top of all of this, Kira and I were asked to speak today in church.
All turned out well, though. Avey has at least one more tooth just about to poke through on the top, Dad passed the 8-hour exam (no grades are given, you just have to get 80% on that exam before finishing the class) and had his 12-hour one in a day early. Kira learned to appreciate Avey's non-teething days even more, and we both received a lot of compliments on our talks. They went much better than I expected, actually.
I'd like to say that this next week will be a little less hectic, but now I have to really start cracking on some other schoolwork I had to put off to finish the exams.
I guess there's no rest for the weary. Except Avey; she gets all the rest she can stand. Hence the wild hairdos.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Word About Music

Hey all,

As you may or may not have noticed, I have slowly been putting together a playlist on my blog. In fact, if you'll shift the focus of your eyes ever so slightly to the right of this post, you'll probably see it. Yeah, right there.

Anyhoo, I wanted to share just a bit about the playlist; why I chose to share my love of those songs with the world, what they mean to me, etc. So here you go. I recommend plugging a quality set of headphones into the computer and spending a couple of hours reading this, then studying the songs with the volume turned all the way up. WARNING: this may change your life.

Let's start with the first song I chose for the list, shall we?

Coldplay - "Fix You"
This is pretty much the most amazing song Coldplay has ever written, and if they never write a better song, I will still put them on my "Greatest Bands of All Time" list. I chose this song because it not only has an epic feel to it, but the lyrics have come to mean a lot to me personally. I'm normally not one to pay much attention to lyrics - takes too much brain power - but Coldplay seems to have unusually uplifting messages in their songs. I find that whenever I'm down, wondering what it's all for, why hard things happen to people I love, why life is such a struggle, and why I've gone through dark times in my life, this song understands that. Each of the lines is or has been applicable to me, and for that I feel almost connected to it. I only wish that it had been written years ago during the darkest time of my life; "when the tears come streaming down your face... when you lose something you can't replace... when you love someone, but it goes to waste..." And the hope is clearly there, the light at the end of the tunnel; "Lights will guide you home."

You'll notice I have several songs by Muse. They are the most recent addition to my iPod, and a very welcome one at that. Not a whole lot of sentimental meaning behind these, but they are high on my recommendations list for anyone looking for a fantastic band. My playlist here includes some of the tracks of theirs I think everyone can enjoy. For more specific recommendations, email or call me day or night.

The Beatles/John Lennon
Ahh... what can I say? "Imagine" is probably Lennon's most poetic and beautiful song and part of his legacy as a musician. The message is clear, and really what separates us from the animals, I think; we have the ability to think of things as they could be. I'm a dreamer.

Pearl Jam - "Wishlist"
Most poetic PJ song ever. "I wish I were a messenger and all the news was good." Brilliant. This one speaks for itself.

The Smashing Pumpkins
My personal favorite band in history. Billy Corgan wrote the best version of "Landslide" in history, and has written some of the most poetic and meaningful lyrics I've encountered in my life. My favorite line of his is in the song, "Muzzle", his greatest poem to date: "My life has been extraordinary; blessed and cursed and won." Doesn't that just say it all? We will win. Making it through all the hardships and all the wonders makes us who we are, and it is because of them we are extraordinary. And we will win.
"Medellia of the Grey Skies" does not have explicit lyrics. For some reason that's in the title to that link. I have shed more tears to this song than I like to admit. It has a very personal meaning to a particular time in my life, and often still does. I think it captures perfectly the longing and desperation a person can have to be what a loved one wants. It used to have more romantic meaning to me, but has taken on new meaning to me as a father. The lines, "If I could, I'd dress you all in pearls, I'd give you what you wanted. You're all I notice in a crowded room... If I just could be anything for you, just anything at all..." capture, I think, the pressures I feel as a husband and provider to be what is best for my wife and daughter. They are the reasons I do everything I do. And I constantly struggle to be the husband and father they deserve, yet fall short at times because of my humanness.

I hesitate to start this one; I might end up writing a novel. My experience is either that you love Radiohead, or you haven't heard enough of their stuff. Some of their stuff is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you take a bite, you're battered and fried. In my opinion, Radiohead is the second greatest band in history. Have a listen. It's hard to explain.

These guys are also a fairly recent addition to my iPod. I actually know of very few bands or albums I sincerely liked upon first hearing, but their album Hopes and Fears had me hooked from track 1. Their sound is so melodic and rich, and Tom Chaplin has one of the purest voices I've heard in a long time.

Marcy Playground - "America"
Remember these guys? Probably not. They had a big hit back in the 90s and have had a small fan base ever since. I thought their first album was pretty good, and saw them in concert where I fell in love. John Wozniak has a dark sense of humor about his music half of the time, but writes deceptively almost humorous music for his lyrics. I personally hold MP as my third favorite band of all time and I hope they never stop making music. I chose "America" because I think it's a beautiful anthem and tribute to the country. It matches my feelings well, and the music is full of emotion.

Ben Folds
I hated this guy about the first 20 times I heard him. I've grown to really enjoy his music over the years though. His voice is more real than a lot of artists out there, meaning that it's not real flashy, but genuine. Through his music, he seems like a fun guy; the kind of guy I'd like to chill with. And judging by his covers of other artists, I think we have pretty similar taste in music.

I think that's enough for now. As I add more music, I just might make a comment here and there about them. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Eternal Struggle

I suppose the title is a little misleading now, because she's usually spot on these days. But this video is of Avey trying to feed herself a pea about a week ago.

What I find hilarious is that she misses her mouth with the pea, but the thumb is so close, so she just slides it right in. Hilarious!

So get this; I won a drawing about a year ago and got a free night at a Marriott. Of course, Avey was just a few weeks old, so it was out of the question then, and then we kept putting it off because we weren't sure how she'd handle it if we were to leave her with somebody else for an entire night. And honestly, we took her to the hotel on our 3rd Anniversary and she did not do so well and it made the trip a bit of a hassle. Anyway, so we were down to the wire because the coupon expires on the 18th of this month. We decided to go for it and leave Avey with Kira's parents, who were gracious enough to take a swing at it. So what happened? Let me tell you.

We fed her at their house and put her down to sleep after she'd gotten more acclimated to the room and crib. She was quiet for a few minutes, then cried off and on for several minutes. After we left, she calmed right down and fell asleep, slept about 9 hours, ate a good breakfast with Grandpa's help, played, took a 90 minute nap, played some more, etc.

So we had a grand old time at the hotel and even slept in. We went to go get Avey, naturally expecting that she would whimper and reach for us excitedly at the sight of her loving parents who brought her into this world, and keep her fed, shower her with love and affection, and play some pretty entertaining games with her if I do say so myself. But what happened? Grandpa brings her to the garage to meet us there and she barely even glances in our direction, mostly in annoyance because we're blocking her view of the grandparents' dog. Well that's a fine how-do-you-do. She didn't even miss us!

Of course, after the excitement of seeing the dog wore off just a little, she did warm up a bit more. It's kind of nice to know that we can leave her and she won't be permanently damaged, but we were kind of hoping she'd have some kind of attachment to us. I guess it's our own fault for leaving her with such awesome grandparents with such an awesome dog.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Fun, Old Habits

Avey has found a new favorite toy. In an effort to entertain her while she ate the other day, Dad busted out the tape measure and showed Avey how it gets really long and recoils. She found this absolutely fascinating and has enjoyed becoming part of the fun. As pictured below, she holds onto one end while Dad walks away with the other end. She braces herself and then lets go to watch it zoom toward me and disappear back into the orange case. Woah... Ahh... good times. Notice that she still sucks her thumb to make sure we can't sneak in any bites of food while she's distracted.
We also finally went for it; yes, we let her cry it out. Well, we tried graduated extinction anyway, which is not so "harsh". After a year of rocking her to sleep and after several attempts finally having her down, then waking up a few hours later to do the whole thing again, we were ready to try just about anything. She's a very sweet girl, but just didn't know how to fall asleep on her own, so we decided it was about time she tried it. We built up our courage and let her cry in her crib for 15-minute increments earlier this week. The first night she cried 2 1/2 hours. The second night she cried 40 minutes, but went down for her naps without a peep. Now, not quite a week later, she'll cry anywhere from not at all to 20 minutes, but it's usually in the 5-15 minute range. And she has been sleeping through the night most nights - no wakings! Today was the most amazing thing. I was rocking her a little before her morning nap and she was laying on my shoulder as usual. Then she popped her head up and pointed to her crib, so I laid her down without a sound and she slept about an hour. I think she's starting to enjoy sleep as much as I do!

Stay tuned for more adventures!