Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas Card

The following is our annual family Christmas letter, conveniently posted on the internet where postage is very reasonable:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from our family to yours! We’ve had an exciting and rewarding 2008 in the Reese household. I noticed a few semi-amusing entries reading through my journal that I thought I’d share:

January 10, 2008: The girls went to bed really early last night (about 7:30pm as opposed to 10:30pm). Mel said that when they were saying prayers Kylee prayed that their stomachs would get big so they could have babies.

January 14, 2008: In the afternoon we played for a while and read books. Jackson asked if we could go to the park again to play basketball. I said “Jackson, do you remember how cold and windy it is outside today?” He said “It’s not windy.” I said “Yes it is, be quiet and you can hear the wind blowing.” At the exact instant I finished that sentence, Kylee let out what was at least a seven-second fart. Then, to top that off, Danica, who happened to be sitting on my lap, ripped one off too. It was so funny that those two rippers came precisely after I said “Be quiet and you can hear the wind.” Good times, good times.

January 22, 2008: A few days ago Rachel brought over a cake she had made and Jackson asked if it was for Martin Luther King’s birthday. She answered that of course it was, so we sang happy birthday to Martin Luther King. It was funny. After that we came home and everyone helped make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They all had a blast helping to add the ingredients and mix everything. Unfortunately, none of them liked the cookies. I admit that they weren’t as good as I was hoping either. Hence there was a plate full of cookies in the break room today which went quickly. You could almost put a plate of bloody boogers in our break room and people would devour them.

April 11, 2008: I went to Jackson’s school for lunch. I was standing in line talking to Mrs. McCombs and another teacher came up to her and said “Oh, you have a high school student with you today?” Mrs. McCombs smiled and said no. Then the other teacher asked who I was then. She said “He’s this little boy’s dad.” It was pretty funny.

October 16, 2008: Mel went on a walk with Jackson last night. They were getting some warm clothes on and Jackson started to put Mel’s gloves on. Mel said “Jackson, why don’t you put your gloves on?” Jackson said “They’re just so damn hard to put on.” Mel said “What did you say?” He casually said “They’re just so damn hard to put on.” Hmmmm. There was another funny thing that happened a few days ago. The girls were upstairs and Dani scared Kylee really bad to the point that Kylee came down screaming and crying because she was so scared. She was also really mad at Dani for scaring her. She said to Mel “Mom, should I go scare Dani?” Mel said “I don’t care, go ahead.” So Kylee waited by the stairs until she heard Dani coming down, then she jumped out and screamed which scared Dani to death and she started screaming and crying. I wish I could have been there to see that one.

November 26, 2008: Jackson looked at my tongue after the biopsy yesterday and got a horrified look on his face. He didn’t understand why a doctor who is supposed to make someone feel better would do something so mean to someone. He said “I bet you’d like to go give him the red neck. You should tell him you want to trade tongues.”

We went on many trips throughout the year. I went to a conference for work in Dallas, and went to the grassy knoll where John F. Kennedy was shot. Our flight home ranked as the scariest thing I have ever experienced and we nearly didn’t make it back alive. I almost needed a clean pair of underwear after we landed.

Mel and I went to Mexico with her mom, sister Renee, and brother-in-law Matt. We stayed at a luxurious timeshare near Cancun. We made stops at many ancient ruins such as Chichen Itza and Tulum. We saw a googillian huge iguanas. We did lots of snorkeling, ate some good Mexican food, and went parasailing. Fortunately for other beachgoers I left my Speedo at home.

A few days after Mexico our whole fam drove to California and spent four days at Disneyland. We ate our weight in churros and cotton candy. I talked Danica into riding Space Mountain with me and she screamed in terror during every second of the ride. This may be a topic of therapy sessions when she is older.

I am still working as a social worker at a few dialysis centers and Mel still works as a nurse at the hospital one night a week. 2008 also brought a few side projects. Mel became a consultant for Scentsy Wickless Candles. It has gone so well for her that she probably thinks about Mulberry, Hawaiian Paradise, and Vanilla Walnut in her sleep.

I opened up my own counseling private practice called Red Rock Family Services. I have done a lot of contract work with Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) and Sky West Airlines which has been a good experience. For the eighth year in a row I released a new piano album called “Believe” which again includes accompaniment from absolutely amazing cello player Steven Sharp Nelson.

In health-related news, Mel got braces to correct some problems she has had with TMJ and headaches. She’s more than a little excited that they should be off in December. Jackson and Danica apparently inherited the trait that both Mel and I have of horrible vision and we got to shell out 600 bones (dollars for those of you born after 1990) for their glasses. OUCH! I wish that money tree in the backyard would sprout.

We know we have been tremendously blessed and are thankful to have such close friends and family. We hope 2009 will be as great year for you and your family. Sincerely, the Reese Family

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching Some Air

A few weeks ago our fam went on a little outing to Snow Canyon which may have now become leader of my favorite outdoor spots to hike and hang out. We got some sweet pictures.

After hiking, we had a picnic near some sand dunes and began a quest for the best “Jumping Off A Sand Dune” picture. My award for best picture goes to photographer and brother-in-law Matt Anderson who captured this moment of sheer bliss and unbelievable hops. Michael Jordan – eat your heart out.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quality Time With The Toilet

Warning: The following post could cause dry heaves. Can't say you weren't warned.

I caught a mean dose of the flu a few days ago. This one hit me harder than I've been hit in a long time. From about 7:00 on Sunday night until 10:00 on Monday morning, I had a date with the toilet every hour and a half. It was like clockwork.

After about the fourth time of being so intimate with the toilet, you don't care anymore how gross it is that you're resting your head on the porcelain. The last meal I ate before I started blowing chunks was a chili dog. I'm not kidding you. I can guarantee you this: there aren't too many things that could possibly be worse to regurgitate than a chili dog.

I'm still not feeling great, but I've gone a whole day without spewing so I can't complain. One thing is for sure though. It's going to be a long, long time before I eat another chili dog.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Makes Me Cry

This is hands down my favorite Christmas song of all time. It's by Matthew West and Mandisa. Take four minutes of your life to listen to this one. It is amazing and touching.

Christmas Makes Me Cry

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Music

Here's an awesome song from a sweet new Christmas album I just aquired. Being a piano player, I was immediately a fan of the rocking piano in this tune.

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" by Casting Crowns

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day

So the school district cancelled school today because of a severe winter storm warning. This made me chuckle. Granted, it snowed in southern Utah. Big whoop. Oohhhh. 3 inches. Cancel school. We don't want to risk the safety of the kids.

Let me tell you big sissies something about safety of the kids.

Growing up in Salt Lake, I remember walking home from middle school with the snow nearly up to my groin. I didn't hear one parent expressing concern about the safety of their children getting to or from school. The general sentiment from parents and teachers was "Suck it up you big babies!"

I remember school being cancelled ONCE. Once. That was after it had snowed two feet the night before. I'm not yanking your chain. Two feet.

I lived to tell about two winters my wife and I survived in Laramie, Wyoming while I went to graduate school. Those guys know about snow. There were mornings where I'd go outside and literally couldn't see my car. I remember having to drive to Mel's work to help her unbury her car so she could get home. They didn't cancel school. Those cold hearted Cowboys must have ice running through their veins. Heck. The "severe winter storm" we experienced today is just an average July day to them Wyoming folk.

Maybe I'm just green with jealous envy that I didn't get a snow day off work. I'm thankful that my kids were able to stay home from school today where they were very, very safe. One day when they're old enough to understand, I'll tell them what a real winter storm looks like.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Best Music Of 2008

I'm a music junky. Family and friends can vouch for the fact that I have music on in my house or office at all times. I'm surprised the under-cupboard CD player in the kitchen hasn't worn out yet. The following is my Top Ten List of the Best Music of 2008 (click on the song to hear the music or see the video):

10. Paul Cardall - Living For Eden: I've mentioned Paul's album earlier in the year. This two CD set is easily the best instrumental album I've heard this year. Song To Hear: "A Piece Of My Heart". I dare you to try and get this song out of your head after you hear it.

9. Chris Tomlin - Hello Love: I don't think this CD is as good as his previous albums See The Morning and Arriving but it's good. Fans of Chris definitely won't be disappointed. Song To Hear: "You Lifted Me Out". This one's a high-tempo rocker and one of his all-time best.

8. Remedy Drive - Daylight: Having met these guys and seen their show, I really respect a group like this who is willing to travel the country playing for anyone they can to create a name for themselves. Song To Hear: "Daylight". I was hooked the first time I heard this song.

7. Coldplay - Viva La Vida: Their newest isn't as good as their previous CD X&Y. Actually, there's no way it could be. X&Y is one of the best albums I've ever heard. It didn't leave my CD player for months. Viva La Vida is better than I expected though. Song To Hear: "Lovers In Japan". Don't let the crazy title throw you off. This song is awesome. I've listened to this song like crazy and haven't gotten sick of it. Please. Check it out.

6. Phil Wickham - Singalong: He put this live album for free download on his website. I almost feel guilty listening to something this good for free. I'm always a fan of music that consists of a guy with his guitar, and some fans that know all the songs. Song To Hear: "Beautiful". It gave me goosebumps. That's all I can say.

5. Jewel - Perfectly Clear: It should be understood that I was the most anti-Jewel human being a few years ago. She has been known to yodel, and I think anyone who yodels should be "accidentally" pushed in front of a bus. But.....her last CD Goodbye Alice In Wonderland is just so, so good. She also gets a few bonus points for being cute. Song To Hear: "I Do". This is an example of one of her songs that simply boils down to great songwriting and excellent arrangements. I pray she continues to avoid yodeling. I'd hate to see her in a tragic bus accident.

This is where the competition gets tight. It's hard to separate these last four. But if I have to...

4. Jon McLaughlin - OK, Now: I'm cheap. I don't spend $15 for a CD unless I'm pretty darn sure I'm going to like it. When Jon's new one came out, I was at the store the day it was released. I had no hesitation shelling out some cash. His debut CD Indiana was unbelievable. The piano-driven CD was free of the overproduced pop stuff that ends up on the radio. It was true, heartfelt music. My heart sank during the first listen of OK, Now. It lacked the simplicity and emotion I was looking for. It sounded overproduced. It has really grown on me though. I still think it's really overproduced, but Jon's style still shines through. Song To Hear: "Throw My Love Around". This song is sappy and lovey but I love it. There is a female backup vocalist who pushes this song over the top. I dare you to not like this song. Another great tune is "Four Years". So good.

3. Ferras - Aliens & Rainbows: Again, don't let the strange name and album title frighten you. This guy is really good. A mix of Jason Mraz/Coldplay/OneRepublic, almost every song on this CD is a keeper. Song To Hear: "Something About You".

2. Brandon Heath - What If We: I'm new to Brandon. This is the first CD of his that I've heard (I now have others on the way). This guy writes music beyond his years. His songs are catchy and are good at getting stuck in your brain. Song To Hear: "Give Me Your Eyes". You'll look at people differently after hearing this song. My kids are hooked on this one too.

And finally......drum roll please..........

1. Matthew West - Something To Say: I LOVE this CD. Matthew had some serious medical problems and was told he may not sing again. After throat surgery and a long period of not being able to talk, he eventually regained his voice (and now sings just as well as he did on CDs pre-surgery) and recorded this CD. This is another one that I bought without hesitation. He is without a doubt one of the best songwriters alive. Songs To Hear: "Something To Say", "You Are Everything", "The Moment Of Truth", and "All The Broken Pieces". It's impossible to feel sad or sorry for yourself when listening to his music. I own everything this guy has recorded. Please check him out.

So there you have it. My favorite CDs of the year. What are your favorites?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bathroom Blunders

I’ve survived my time playing the piano at the Dixie Center. I’d have thoughts like “If I have to hear one more Cory Reese song I will rip out my belly button with rusty pliers.” Or “I’d rather eat a live parakeet than listen to another Cory Reese song.” I was able to meet some great people and hear some cool stories over the last week and a half.

There were a few things that kept me entertained during the time I was playing. One afternoon a bird somehow ended up in the building and was flying all over the place. It must not be too unusual there though because I soon saw an employee walking around holding a huge net that was larger than a basketball hoop. I don’t know that they ever caught it.

I was also fortunate to have my piano strategically placed in a position that gave me a perfect view of the bathrooms. The reason this is entertaining is because on two occasions I happened to see women walk into the men’s bathroom. The first time the lady walked right out. I’m wondering what her first clue was that she was in a men’s bathroom. I’m guessing it was the entire wall of urinals she saw when she first walked in.

The second lady was a little more clueless. She must have been in there for two minutes. Unfortunately nobody was in there, and nobody walked in while she was hanging out in the men’s bathroom. But believe me; I was uttering a silent prayer that a guy would walk in while she was there. I wasn’t that fortunate. Maybe next time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why I Play The Piano

I just finished up a weekend playing the piano at Santa’s Workshop in St. George, and will be playing at the Dicken’s Festival coming up Wednesday, December 3rd through Saturday the 6th. Between these two events I will have spent more than 70 (70!!) hours at the Dixie Center, with the majority of those hours spent actually playing the piano.

At the end of each day, my fingers feel like carrots, my arms feel floppy like spaghetti with marinara, and my back feels like I’ve been giving Hulk Hogan a piggy back ride to Philadelphia. I start to have thoughts of taking a hatchet to the piano. I have to fight myself to drive home instead of driving to the funny farm. The piano and I are not friends. We’re not even speaking to each other.

When I wake up the next morning I get a sinking feeling in my stomach when the realization hits me that I get to take a shower then drive back to the Dixie Center. There I see my arch nemesis, the piano. Then we spend the rest of the day together, still mad at each other.

I’ve played these two events for around five years. After every year, I don’t touch the piano again for a month or two. Finally we reconcile our differences, kiss and make up, and start hanging out again.

I suppose the obvious question is “Why in the world do you do this if it’s that bad?” Good question. I’ll let you know when I figure that out.

Just kidding. As difficult as it can be to play the piano for 12 hours a day, I also find it very rewarding. I’m humbled every single time somebody comes up and thinks the music is good enough to open their wallet and shell out some cash for a CD. I LOVE talking with people and hearing their stories about how they’re learning to play the piano, and giving an encouraging word when they say they’re having a hard time making their left hand work with their right.

It made me feel good to give a CD to a lady who told me that two weeks ago she found out she has incurable leukemia. It made me happy to talk to a nurse who works on the LifeFlight helicopter who put my music on her iPod to listen to when things get stressful during a flight. It’s rewarding to see a five year old walking with their parent into the Christmas festival but stop right in front of the piano mesmerized by the music.

If my payment for those experiences is a sore back, hop on Hulk Hogan!