Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

What I'd rather do than talk about my b-day is just use it as an excuse to throw up my favorite Georgia pix of the last couple of months. Her b-day was a few weeks ago (6/2) and now that we're going public with baby #2 on its way (due mid-January), I figured I'd make it more about the kids.

Sundays With The Hackings

I don't mean to sound overly suspicious, but I'm pretty sure we have a killer's sibling in our ward. Here's what I know.

The guy's name is Hacking (can't remember his first name), he is a nurse (like Mark was claiming to want to become), he has a Hispanic wife (like Mark did before he slaughtered her) and he has a goatee (like Mark did). I know that isn't much, but I think it's enough. He looks a lot like this picture, only he has thick grey hair.

I guess they are only supposed to be here for a short time, as he is on some travel nursing program. Their time should be up by now, but he was there today for the first time in a while. Maybe they're back! (That back was meant to be pronounced "baaaaccckkk" like in a scary movie).
Oviously, I haven't full on asked the guy. He probably gets that a lot. Or, he never gets it because people like me always suspect something and never say anything. Either way, it's weird.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CD Shopping Spree

One of the many downsides to the file swapping boom that has rendered music stores and tangible music nearly extinct is the long lost experience of a cd shopping spree. It’s one of life’s true pleasures.

Denver has one of the greatest record stores in the country, Twist & Shout. Even though we’ve lived here for a few years, I only just went there recently for the first time and was instantly sucked in by its atmosphere, I could spend a week in there, not just listening to music, but reading the thousands of music related books they have for sale and perusing the posters and other tchochkies. They also have a huge room full of vinyl. Have I mentioned that it’s a good thing I don’t have a turntable? If I did, I’d blow my wages every payday.

So, I sold some used stuff to them and had some credit I needed to retire, which is always a daunting task. What to get? For some reason I was in the mood for Earth Wind & Fire on this day. I love EWF, but they are never foremost on my radar. I own a handful of their discs, but most were bought used from discount bins.

They were calling me that day and, as luck would have it, several of their older catalog titles were on sale for $5.99, so I walked out with 3 of them. Yes, I could have gotten them for free via the net, but there is no feeling like laying down your own cash to take a chance on some new stuff and support a great artist in the process. And, as with all of their stuff, it did not fail to satisfy.

The taking a chance part is crucial to a good spree. To really get rapped up in the moment and let it overtake you, you gotta give in to hunches. Maybe you only know one song. Maybe a friend recommended it or you read a good review. Maybe it’s old and out of print. Maybe it was playing in the store and you were won over. Or, best of all, you never heard of the band, but were sucked in by the cover. That takes balls. Plus, if it’s good, you’ll love it forever because you’ll feel you discovered it. Treat yourself to some nourishment and drop $50 bucks on some cds sometime. It’s good for the soul.

And, speaking of covers, how dope are these? I couldn’t resist.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #9: Eight Seconds - "Almacantar" (1986)

Almacantar, whatever that means, could only have existed during the cold war. Even though the band is Canadian, and there is nothing overtly political happening in any of the songs, it has that Easter European sound that was big in the 80s. A lot like what the Fixx were doing. Synths took the lead, followed by guitars and a rhythm section that was either way down in the mix, or it was also coming from the synths. I guess by Eastern European, what I really mean is that it sounds like it was performed in a cathedral somewhere in Germany. A cold cathedral.

These guys only had one very modest hit with “Kiss You (When It’s Dangerous)”. Like I said, not overtly political, but the name alone suggests some lurking unrest or foreboding that’s coming from who knows where. They were slightly bigger in their native land, but not enough to be considered more than just a blip on pop radio’s history. Their true calling would have been having their songs playing in the background of a movie montage where some nerdy college students are inadvertently building a nuclear bomb as a finals project. Something so unmistakably 80s in tone and topic that the issues and montage become dated minutes after it was committed to film.

The album isn’t entirely cold synths though. The two highlights have to be “Where’s Bula” and “Zoe”. Again, not sure who either of them are (or what a Bula is?), but the songs have soul and heat, especially for tunes so drenched in synths. Another current touchstone could be Keane. Their first album, especially the song "Bedshaped", sound a lot like half the songs on Almacantar. I almost think Eight Seconds could have a decent plagiarism case going if they wanted to pursue it.

Interesting story about Eight Seconds. When I was 13, my grandma was visiting from Norway (not my real grandma, but may as well have been). She knew of a young Norwegian girl visiting Utah for the summer and suggested we go out. I was told she was 17, so I lied and said I was 15 since I couldn’t drive. For the date, we saw Wang Chung at Symphony Hall (now Abravenel Hall) and Eight Seconds were the opener. I didn’t know who they were, but I thought they were great. I still remember I was wearing a green and pink long-sleeved shirt under a pink cable sweater with the sleeves rolled up. Needless to say, my dad dressed me. It was a fun night, but I felt dumb after the concert when I had to find a pay phone to call my dad to come pick us up. By the way, she turned out to be 19. Poor girl was stuck with the company of a 13 year old for an evening on a DATE! At least the concert was good.

The Nugget - "Zoe". Yes, it's of its time, but the song is catchy and anthemic and should have been a big hit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Movie Wrap Up

The Visitor

Sometimes it just feels good to be in a movie theater again. It’s been a while since I felt compelled to go out, but seeing The Visitor had been on my list for a while, so I sucked it up. I even liked seeing that stupid Stella Artois ad again. A night in the theater is made even more satisfying when the movie is good. It seems to happen so rarely now.

The Visitor is the story of a widowed college professor in Connecticut who keeps an apartment in NYC that he rarely stays in, only to find that an immigrant couple have been living in it for a couple months. Now, having never lived in NYC, I’m not sure if that could actually happen, so I had to suspend belief somewhat, but the film is about the strongest I’ve seen all year. The immigrant couple (he’s from Syria, she’s from Senegal, both are illegal) are a couple of sweet kids who help to bring the professor out of his stupor. When the guy gets arrested and is held in a deportation cell, the professor is taken on an odyssey of, not only the ins and outs of the political and legal process for illegals, but on an emotional journey he never could have imagined.

One of my biggest pet peeves in movies are those quiet insular performances that are always seen as deep, when really they’re just stoic. Brooding is often empty. The prof is played by Richard Jenkins, a guy whose name you probably don’t know, but will recognize the second you see him. He’s one of those guys. While the role could have been nothing more than one of those empty performances, Jenkins infuses a lot of life and power in his persona. He deserves an Oscar nom. Then again, I just really like the guy.

My only issue with the movie is it’s overly sympathetic view of the treatment of immigrants. The message is mildly heavy handed. However, the performances and subject matter quell the preaching. And, it turned me on to Fela Kuti, whom I’m now obsessed with.

Score: 8

The Hulk

Not normally being a superhero fan (or Edward Norton, but more on that later), I can’t say I was dying to see The Hulk. However, Iron Man has managed to plant some optimism in me. That has now been extinguished again.

The Hulk is ridiculous. It’s loud, it’s boring, it’s nonsensical, and Norton is so badly miscast that there is almost nothing good about it. Let me put it this way, I like Speed Racer better.

Edward Norton is SOOOO overrated. People think he’s a great actor, but I tend to judge greatness on range and he has almost none. I think people mistake an innate intensity as good acting. Sometimes, it’s put to good use like in Primal Fear or American History X, but that’s about it. (I did love Keeping The Faith, but not because of him.) Truthfully, he has a weird voice, is very average looking (I mean, like nondescript average) and his head is shaped like an oblong football. He could have played the Crystal Skull in the Indy movie. It’s discomforting to watch him emote here.

I never saw the one from a few years ago, so I have no idea if it’s better or not. I can say Eric Bana was a much better choice for the lead. The special effects are cool, but the story is lame and the set up is invisible. You never get a sense of why Tim Roth becomes that other guy. It just happens as a device to push more CGI on us.

Score: 3

Kung Fu Panda

Not a lot to say about Panda. It’s cute, Jack Black is funny, the animation is sub Pixar, but still good and it goes by quickly.

My only beef is that there was no reason for Angelina Jolie to have a part. I like her a lot, but she didn’t have many lines and you would never know it was her if you hadn’t been told in the ads. Why pay her fee and not give her something interesting to do?

Score: 7

Bigger, Stronger, Faster

Best movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s this year’s Super Size Me. It effectively pulls the veil away from, not just sports and steroids, but basic American ideals and exposes them for what they really are.

I’ve had such a deep hatred for steroids and the cheaters who use them, but the film shows me that they’ve been in use for years by almost everybody, including in the Olympics. Once you realize how rampant they are, how they have no noticeable side effects of any real danger, and that there are many other ways to “cheat” that are just as effective, you have to ask yourself if all the hoopla is worth it.

But the film is about so much more than steroids. It’s really about America’s drive to be the best and how that drives Americans to do whatever they have to do, lie, cheat, or steal, in order to meet that expectation. So, cheaters DO prosper. Nice guys DO finish last. You can screw everyone around you and still get to the top. You begin to realize how much spin is out there to create the illusion of ethics and morality and fairness, when these messages are all perpetuated by people with agendas and are as guilty of being flawed and cruel and unfair as anyone else.

There is no way you will exit the theater with the same rose-tinted glasses as when you entered. The film isn’t vicious. It’s not out to make you feel bad. It’s just examining the motivation behind the messaging and how messed up it is. It should be required viewing.

Score: 9

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Going Goetz

I remember some friends of our family telling me a story once about how they would shoot raccoons and squirrels in their backyard with a BB gun. The image of the dad and sons sitting quietly inside the house with the lights out, gun aimed through a crack in the window, looking to paralyze some trespassing rodent has always stuck with me. I’m about to pull the same stakeout.

In honor of the heroic Bernhard Goetz, I’m about to exercise my right to rid the world of annoying things by camping out in my kitchen with a gun (if I had one) and shoot the wheels of the next car that drives by with a loud stereo and thumping bass. The only thing keeping me from going to Wal-mart and getting a firearm, is that if I shoot out the tires, the car will then be stuck in front of my house making that ridiculous racket.

When will these people grow up? I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate me camping out on the street in front of their residence and blare Puccini at ear-splitting decibels. Yet, I feel it’s my right to defend myself thusly. I wonder if a BB to the tire might serve as a message, like a bullet to the knee, meant to cripple the enemy and send a message.

Luckily, it doesn’t happen all the time. But, we live in a pretty diverse neighborhood (which I like most of the time), so they do drive by about once a day or so. The other day, the bass set off someone’s car alarm, trading one annoyance for another.

I say everyone who shares the hate, tricks out their cars, blasts the Beethoven, and drives through some of the areas where the offenders may live. They have it coming.

Live in Concert: Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise 6/12/08

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually like going to live music. Most people assume that since I go to so many concerts, I must really enjoy it, but that isn’t the case.

The truth is, I have a sort of mental checklist going of everyone I’d like to see live. It changes often as I grow to like more bands, or read about someone getting a lot of pub, but I’m not a fan of taking the time to see someone I’ve never considered on the list. It would be like going to the movies with a bunch of friends and the only thing that no one has seen being “The Rugrats Movie” so that’s what you see. It doesn’t accomplish anything.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when a bunch of coworkers dragged me to see Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise. I had probably heard of them, but they were nowhere on my radar. But, it was one of those work groups that’s made up of largely “cool” people, so being invited sort of makes you cool too. (Someone in a single’s ward I in once suggested that I was one of the “cool” people, to which I replied, “I’m not, I just stand by them”).

I’m also leery of anyone professing to be a “blues” based band. I’m not a musician, but the blues seem so easy. It’s the same chords played the same way. The only deviation is in the singer, and a lot of them are posers. Luckily, the blues was only a launchpad for the Surprise. In truth, they can best be compared to some of the bands they’ve opened for like Big Head Toad and the Monsters and Widespread Panic. Bradley is stone blind and had been a homeless street performer when he was discovered by some Detroit musicians wanting to start a band. That’s the hook. He doesn’t so much sing, as yell in a soulful drain that adds some good heft to the tunes, which might be somewhat pedestrian without him.

I wish I could highlight the good songs and powerful encores, but no knowing anything going in I wouldn’t know what to pinpoint. It ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable evening with good friends, good company, and good music that I was glad I attended.

The opener was a guy named Paris Delane and Tye Dye Skye. I liked him a lot too. He’s a big burly black guy (apparently, he’s the brother of Michael Clarke Duncan, the actor from The Green Mile), who also seems like a blues singer, but isn’t really. In fact, I guess his day job is as a member of Sonia Dada, another Big Head Todd like band. I thought he was great, and I told him so when I passed him in the hall after his set, which he took as a chance to guilt me into buying his cd. I caved. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was going to go home and download his stuff for free. Haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m sure it’ll be great. He was excellent.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #8: Ian McCulloch - "Candleland" (1989)

No question, Echo and the Bunnymen were one of the great bands of the 80s. Not quite punk and not quite goth, their sound was sinister, druggy, and black, but with a pop sheen that made it palatable for radio. Their Best Of package, Songs to Learn and Sing, remains a must have for any music fan, no matter how intense. You can’t go wrong with songs like "The Killing Moon" and "Bring On The Dancing Horses". In fact, Ian himself will tell you "Moon" is the greatest song ever written. He can be arrogant like that.

So, it’s weird that his first solo album would have the same pop sensibility and song structure, but incorporate an entirely new emotion: hope. There is a dreamy positivity to these songs that is totally alien to his persona, yet completely welcome and downright gorgeous. Never before would you have heard Ian sing words like “Choking on the wonder of it all” in "The Flickering Wall" or "Fingers crossed that there's a heaven" in "Horse's Head", both highlights. The Bunnymen seemed overcome by darkness, yet Ian expresses being taken aback by beauty. It’s a nice change.

Every song on the album has a catchy chorus and a powerful feel. “Proud To Fall” got some airplay back in the day and I remember not being all that impressed by it, especially when compared to the Bunnymen’s output. Time has taught me otherwise. It’s become one of my favorite songs to sing. In truth, I would probably pop this album in more often than almost any of Echo's catalog. It’s more consistent. Each track has its own personality. “Faith And Healing” sounds exactly like a lost New Order song. “Start Again” is totally Cocteau Twins.

That Cocteau Twins comparison is not only the most consistent for the whole album, it explains the album’s best song, the title track. On “Candleland”, Ian is joined by none other than Cocteau Twins lead singer, Elizabeth Fraser and it’s a match made it heaven. Her voice is angelic (as always) and brings a depth to Ian’s that would never have been unlocked otherwise.

I can’t stress enough what a joy it is to hear this side of Ian. It’s as though the power and depth of the Bunnymen was run through the Happy Ending Machine and what popped out is a wondrous fever dream of paradise. As he sings in “Proud To Fall”, “But from start to finish, I was proud to fall. And I fell so deep within it, I got lost inside it all.” Candleland will have a similar effect on you.

The Nugget – “Candleland”. Seriously, Ian and Liz missed a golden opportunity to be the Robert Plant and Allison Krauss of their day. It’s perfection.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Adam and Steve and You

An odd question by someone in the class sent today’s Sunday School lesson off the rails. Thank goodness, since I get bored at church really easily. The question was, “what do we do when law makers establish laws that don’t agree with our religion, like abortion and gay marriage?” Of course, I was the first to raise my hand to pounce on that carrot.

My response was, I have no problem with any of those things. While I think it would be nice if everyone was the same and we all had traditional families, that just isn’t possible. So, I don’t think it’s our place to govern that behavior. I’m obviously not for abortion, but I don’t think you can tell someone what to do either. People need the freedom to make the wrong choices. And, who cares if two gay people get married? How does that affect me? It poses no threat to my life. I’m of the opinion that people are most often born with those tendencies, making their desire to be strait about as compelling as mine to be queer. For the record, I have none.

Of course my comments prompted several other comments, all from older members who disagreed with me. The consensus was, our laws should reflect God’s laws. We cannot be persuaded to approve of things that are clearly spoken against in the Bible. They were also concerned with the influence such allowance would have on children and society. I can see why people feel that way (Christian’s are basically programmed to say those things), but it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous.

How do two dudes getting married pose a threat to our society? You know what poses a real threat, especially to the youth? Premarital sex. Why don’t we play morality police on that and make it illegal to act on your horniness? I hate to break it to you, but if your child is attracted to the same gender, there isn’t much you can do about it. What you should be more afraid of are the urges running around in their pants. That’s going to get your kid in a lot more trouble.
Or what about alcohol? The effects of alcohol cause more damage to people’s lives in America than cancer. If we really wanted to pick up a cause that might change our culture for the better, we should be campaigning for another prohibition. Yet we don’t, because we’ve resigned ourselves to a live-and-let-live stance on alcohol. Amazing, since there are SO few issues where we are that passive. Christians pick the weirdest battles.

Just cut with all that pious BS. Raise your kids right, be the example you’re supposed to be, and leave it at that. Rage against the issues that truly stand to threaten your way of life. You’ll find it isn’t this ticky-tack stuff.

Please Watch The King Of Kong

Farrah and I have tried hard to pimp one of our favorite movies of last year, "The King Of Kong". It is the true story of two guys duking it out for the world record in Donkey Kong. No, this isn't a Christopher Guest film. This is a very real documentary and it manages to create one of the greatest ever stories of good vs. evil.

The main reason I mention this is because the movie has been airing on the G4 channel lately. G4 is that gaming channel, which I have never watched or landed on for even a second. However, I would strongly encourage all of you who haven't seen it to set your DVRs to record. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Announce it from the pulpit at church. You can't miss it.

My TV schedule tells me it's on this Friday. Do yourself a favor.

Btw, as I write this, the Celtics are killing the Lakers by 20 in game two. God bless them. I hate Kobe as much as I hate George W. Bush, rising gas prices, illegals, the Christian right, gangster rap, corporate greed, and Paris Hilton.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #7: ABC - "The Lexicon Of Love" (1982)

“Pop, for lack of a better word, is good. Pop is right, Pop works. Pop clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

Gordon Gekko – “Wall Street”

Pop is a beautiful word. It should refer to the highest art that is accepted by the most people, not the lowest common denominator. Warhol would agree with me. It’s an especially good omen when it’s attached to music, such as “Power Pop”, which would refer to songs like “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, or “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. It’s the meat and potatoes. Three chords, passion, ferocity, simplicity, eternally catchy.

Straight up Pop would be stuff like “Baby One More Time” by Britney or “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. It’s mathematical. Code and formulas are typed into a computer and these songs are spit out. They are the realizations of reams of scientific and sociological data. You’re supposed to like them because your bio-rhythm tells you so. You can fight it all you want, and tell yourself it doesn’t have merit, but a lot of research went into the creation of that song and it’s smarter than you are.

Then, we have Perfect Pop. Music that is so pristine and flawlessly produced that it belongs under glass in a museum. That’s where Lexicon lands. It’s one of the most perfect albums ever made. Catchy songs, glossy productions, exquisite sound.

You know some of the songs. “Poison Arrow”, “The Look of Love”, maybe even “Tears Are Not Enough” (so funky!), and “All of My Heart” (so sweet!) and you probably liked them, but now see them as part of an era that’s come and gone. You shouldn’t. It’s time capsule stuff. And, perfection stands the test of time. Time doesn’t render something imperfect.

Most of the sheen is due to Trevor Horn, the producer. He was the lead singer of the Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) and went into producing, spawning some of the most commercially successful and audibly lush albums of the next 10 years. The list includes albums like Frankie Goes To Hollywood Welcome To the Pleasuredome, Yes90125, Seal Seal (1991), as well as collaborations with Simple Minds, Marc Almond and Pet Shop Boys. All were smashes. Some, in fact, would never achieve that level of success again without him. He also started a group called Art Of Noise you may know with some like-minded artists. They had a few hits. One of them, Anne Dudley, went on to win an Oscar for the score to the Full Monty. She scores the orchestral flourishes on Lexicon as well. When Horn takes over a project, he’s obsessive.

ABC lead singer and fashion magnate, Martin Fry, is best remembered today for his gold suit, but his incredible voice and pop craft should never be ignored. ABC was one of the best singles band of the era with additional hits like “Be Near Me” and “When Smokey Sings”. They went on to lose their mojo, like so many others, so Lexicon serves as the lasting testament to each contributor’s creative peak. Even the songs you don’t know are perfect and, maybe, better than the singles. Just listen to the globetrotting, James Bondian swerve of “Valentine’s Day” (especially what Dudley does with the swirling synth/string build during each verse. Name another song that would pull that off so readily).

While being ULTRA (all caps) sophisticated, it will also move your booty. “Many Happy Returns” starts off kind of awkwardly, like a room of wallflowers, but kicks into the groove in a few seconds and the room is bumping. And “Tears Are Not Enough” would have gotten the place sweaty in the post-disco era of the early 80s.

Most people hold Lexicon in high praise, but those people are usually critics, or British. The regular Joe on the street probably has no idea what a benchmark album it was, nor the level of craft included. At least get yourself an ABC best of. Twelve or so of the finest singles “Pop” has to offer. You’ll thank yourself. And, don’t forget to tell yourself, “Pop is good!”

The Nugget – “All of My Heart”. Tough call, mine changes every time I hear it. Lately, I’ve been really digging on "Valentine’s Day", but the track that may get the layman to sit up and pay attention is this one. I think it's one of the greatest love songs ever written because it's so sophisticated and without sap.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Georgia Turns 1 Today

Today's Georgia's b-day. Farrah and I have a rule that we don't celebrate things with our baby before she knows what's going on. Baby birthday's, especially the first, are always more about the moms than the kids. The kid doesn't even comprehend anything. We just don't see the point in elaborate celebrations and loads of gifts. We didn't make a big deal out of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, or New Year's and we probably won't this year either. We didn't withhold entirely though. My folks came to town and we opened a couple presents and watched her obliterate her first cupcake. Classic moment.

But, I'm not above making a big deal over how wonderful my child is and how lucky I am to have her. As any parent knows, before the baby is born you're just so full of anxiety about whether they'll be healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually, and hope that they aren't too much like the you you know you really are. So, there are several levels of relief and gratitude when they come out with all their limbs intact and fully formed, then it's daily as you watch them mature and grow into something special. The pipe dream is that they are better than you have ever been. We got that with Georgia.

Here are some of my fondest memories.
  • Saying to Farrah (we have this on tape) as she comes out of the womb, "She hasn't said anything yet" and then, on queue, have her belt out her first scream.

  • The first night home and her not sleeping in the bassinet we had set up in our room. We laid there wondering if this is what we were in for for the next few years, a baby that won't sleep. Luckily, she liked her car seat better and she did great from there.

  • Taking my shift 1-5 am with her sleeping on my chest while I laid on the couch watching TV. I was afraid to move.

  • Her blessing was a very emotional experience for me. I managed to say everything I felt needed to be said, barely. That's when proud papa syndrome set in for good. It was especially sweet that our friends the Boyds blessed Stephen that same day.

  • Her colicky first few months when she had to be held a certain way or else she's lose it. Bounced while sitting up away from my body. If I stopped bouncing her, or pulled her against my chest, she'd scream her head off. My arms got a work out, and so did my patience.

  • Taking her to her first movie, "Crazy Love" at the Esquire here in town.

  • Watching her attention jump whenever I'd play music. The first time I noticed she liked it was when .38 Special came on my itunes.

  • At first, she would only smile when she was being changed.

  • Speaking of which, the nastiest diaper I've ever had to change was when she exploded minutes into "No Reservations". It made matters worse that Mom was in a different movie with the diaper bag. It was everywhere and I could never calm her down for the whole movie, so we sat outside while both grandma's finished the movie. She was much better after that and we managed to take her to movies for months.

  • Her first time in a swimming pool at the Ritz Carlton in West Palm Beach. We were prepared for the worst, but she loved it. The photos are some of my faves. She didn't like laying by the pool though.

  • Going for walks to the library with her in the bjorn. I would always forget to put socks on her, so I would hold her feet while we walked to keep them warm.

  • Thanksgiving with my family was the first time she slept through the night. It's been great ever since.

  • Her personality finally started to come out around Christmas at the Newbolds.

  • Settling into a routine of coming home from work, relieving mom, sitting down with her in my lap to watch Pardon The Interruption. Whenever she hears the opening, a big smile comes across her face to this day.

  • I put her jumperoo together while she was taking a nap and mom was gone. I was so excited to bring her out of her room and present it to her, I was beaming. She didn't really care and didn't take to it at first, but it showed me how much doing things for my kid means to me. Christmas mornings are going to be incredible.

  • Seeing her start to recognize who I am when I come home from work. Sometimes, she yelps with excitement.

  • Our first bath. It's the best. I love looking at her cute little butt with the brown birthmark.

  • Seeing so many people in our ward fall in love with her. I sometimes feel like she's the unofficial mascot of the Crestmoor Ward. No offense to the other families, but I swear most people love her the best and know she's the cutest. It's pretty obvious.

  • In the last couple months, all signs of colic are gone and have been replaced with the biggest brightest smile ever. It lights up a room and I'm not just saying that. These huge dimples that came from nowhere and gentle disposition, another mystery, make her the loveliest creature in creation.

Farrah covered this better than I did on her blog, but I love thinking back over the last year. There are parts of my old life that I miss, but I wouldn't go back. Not saying I'd do it all again, but the lesson in unconditional love is invaluable.