Thursday, January 29, 2009

Music NOT To Sleep To

Mel and I chose to believe the research that listening to classical music while sleeping makes kids better at math, and science, and significantly increases their odds of becoming a cardiac surgeon. (We also chose to ignore the research showing that this is complete hogwash.)

Up until a few months ago, the melodic, soothing, captivating piano music of Cory Reese played throughout the night, every night. Then habit took a radical detour. The girls have completely thrown the classical music idea out the window.

Their nighttime music now rotates from Josh Groban to Taylor Swift to (oh, how I hate to say this) the soundtrack from Mama Mia. The funny thing is that they like it LOUD. Obnoxiously loud. I’m intrigued that they can go to sleep as easily with Mama Mia blaring out of the radio as they can when soft piano music is being played.

The only part I’ve struggled with during this transition has been, you guessed it, Mama Mia. I flat out refuse to watch this movie (deemed “The Best Movie I Have Ever Seen” by my mom who lives for movies). My primary objections stem from the fact that 1) It’s a musical, and 2) It’s completely ABBA songs.

I would guess that the Mama Mia soundtrack is utilized at Guantanamo Bay to torture the terrorists. I’m sure researchers are already scrambling to study the detrimental effects of Mama Mia during sleep.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Be Fertilizer

I just found this cool quote through my wise friend Desi. Desi has the unique gift that few possess of being able to radiate happiness to others. It's contagious. I am fascinated by people like this that feed on optimism, and are able to keep their chins up despite what difficulties may be going on around them. They give people more than a listening ear to vent and complain to. By their sheer attitude on life, they inspire hope and joy. It's impossible to feel discouraged around them.

"When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change."-Thich Nhat Hanh

I'm thankful for Desi being fertilizer when I needed it in graduate school. She made me want to work harder to be fertilizer too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Don't Care

My wife and I had a deep, heart to heart chat Friday night. This chat happened to occur in the mecca of bargains and Asian imports. Yep. Wal-Mart.

Mel is a bargain shopper and I love her for it. I'm really, really thankful that I didn't marry someone who needs to have the nicest jeans, most expensive furniture, or designer brand ketsup. Sometimes Mel gets made fun of for being thrifty. We feed off of this. If someone is mocking her great deals she knows she is doing something right.

It doesn't happen too often, but she crossed the line Friday night amongst the discount aisles of Wal-Mart. After I wandered the store, read a few magazines, and tried out the lawn chairs, I had reached my shopping limit. Trying to pry Mel away, our conversation started like this:

Mel: "Should I buy these $20 toys that have been reduced to $3?"
Cory: "Sure."
Mel: "Look! These Princess ornaments are only $.20! Should we get them?"
Cory: "Sure."

This went on through six or seven bargains. I saw a cart full of stuff and realized this could go on for 20 minutes. Then I snapped. Without even realizing what I was doing, I revealed what goes on in a guy's mind when boxed into a corner like this.

I said "Mel, I don't care if we get the $3 toy or the $.20 Princess ornament or the other things that are filling the cart. To be honest, I don't care. After being in Wal-Mart this long, I might respond to questions with 'Sure.' or 'Nah.' But the truth is, I really don't care. I don't care if we buy the stuff and I don't care if we don't. I'm just saying 'Sure.' or 'Nah.' so that we can hurry and get to the next fourty cent item you're not sure if we should buy. It might seem like I care. But, really I don't care."

I wasn't mad or mean. I had just reached my shopping limit. If we were buying a car, or a Shetland pony, or a baseball team I would care. But for a cart full of stuff that costs between one and three quarters I don't care.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

St. George Marathon 2009

This is my official announcement of my intention to run the St. George Marathon in October! I'm excited. The only possible deterrent is my really crappy knees. My orthopedic doctor isn't real hip on the idea but thinks I should be okay if I don't push my training out of control.

I planned to run the marathon a few years ago but started off doing too many miles too quickly and I fried my knees. After lots of physical therapy I think I'm in better shape now.

I'm not going for speed, but for completion. My training schedule builds slowly and finally reaches a long run of 20 miles about a month before the marathon. Today was a 4.5 mile run which went well.

But it was COLD outside. I really love running when it's cold except that I thought my nipples might cut holes through my shirt. Youch.

For a funny 1 minute video about the pain after a marathon (including bleeding nipples), view this:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monument Valley & Grand Canyon Trip

A few days ago I completed a 3 day, nearly 1000 mile trip to Monument Valley then to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. My tour companions included my first offspring, Jackson, my sister-in-law Renee, her husband Matt, and his brother Trevor.

I like going on trips with Matt because he's a fellow photography nerd. We each took hundreds of pictures, tried a plethora (thank goodness for spellcheck) of camera settings, then tried them again, then tried them again. The rest of our crew was probably ready to make us walk home because of our frequent photo stops.

I got the cliche, postcard pictures at each location. But that's boring. I thought I'd post some of the more unique pictures I took during the trip. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lessons From Kindergarten

I went to help in Danica’s kindergarten class yesterday. My assignment: help coordinate a painting project, and attempt to minimize the amount of paint that children would be wearing after the extravaganza.

One adorable little girl concluded that she was going to paint a picture of Belle. In our house, we have Princess stuffed animals, toys, blankets, and underwear. If they made Princess toilet paper we’d probably have that too. Clearly this budding painter lived in a house very similar to ours.

Over the course of painting, the subject matter changed. “Belle” morphed to “an angel” which transformed into “a penguin angel”. Really. A penguin angel.

I don’t think these transitions were intentional. I think she realized that Belle’s dress didn’t really look like Belle’s dress. It looked more like an angel. So she ran with that. But then suddenly, possibly due to the slip of a paintbrush, the angel had an enormous orange beak. It didn’t really look like a heavenly angel. It looked more like, well, a penguin angel.

I admired her creativity and ability to be flexible with her plans. She was confident, and didn’t get discouraged that her penguin angel didn’t look like an angel that didn’t look like Belle. She was so proud of her picture.

Another little boy got really discouraged when he saw the end result of his painting. He thought it was too messy and the blobs of paint didn’t look like anything. I explained to him that there are many very famous painters who have made millions of dollars from their paintings, and theirs were messy and their blobs of paint didn’t look like anything either.

I learned important lessons from these kindergartners yesterday. 1) Its okay if things don’t turn out exactly the way we want them to. 3) Even when we make messes and ugly blobs of paint, we have a Creator that still loves us, no matter what. 3) Sometimes we make mistakes, but we just need to get over it, do better next time, and move on.

We can take our slip-ups and turn them into a beautiful penguin angel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Covet

I recently got my paws on the latest CD by pianist William Joseph called Beyond. William has opened on concert tours for Josh Groban and Clay Aiken (don't hold that against him).

I listen to lots of instrumental music, and can definitively say that this album is amazing. Amazing. I can't seem to get the songs out of my skull.

The only problem I've found with this CD is that it has been tempting me to covet. The piano he plays has a rich, deep sound. The orchestration on each song is stunning. The sound is full and complex and is way, way beyond background music. This album must have cost a googillian dollars to produce. He's got backing from the big boys in the music industry so it's okay.

The following is a song from this album that William played on Dr. Phil not too long ago. YouTube's video quality is lacking and doesn't quite do his technical ability justice. Take my word for it, his hands are like hummingbird wings: they're moving so fast that you can't see their movement. The piano keys are being played so fast that it looks like they're not moving. Between William's technical ability, amazing piano, and enormous orchestration, my goal is "I Shalt Not Covet". Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Uncomfortable Moments At Baseball Game

My son and I went to a baseball game not long ago. We chose to attend this particular game for a number of reasons. 39% because there were fireworks after the game. 53% because we were looking for a good excuse to eat hot dogs, cotton candy, and Icees. 5% because the females of the house were having a “girls night”. 3% to actually view baseball.

Our seats happened to be the row behind this sweet lady. What you are about to witness in the following video may make the hair follicles in your ears curl. This was the routine before EVERY SINGLE PITCH. I knew others wouldn’t completely understand unless they actually heard it.

The interesting thing is that this lady and her son left in the sixth inning. It was amazing to watch the mood of the crowd all around us. Although nobody said anything, tension was released, moods were lightened, and people began to enjoy the game.

Then….to thicken the plot……the lady came back in the eighth inning! And the pre-pitch ritual continued. I don’t know who won the game. I am still awoken in the night by the chilling “Hey batta, batta, batta, batta!” ringing in my ears.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fat Guys

We had a great Christmas at the Reese house. One fun thing we did on Christmas Eve was to prepare a snack for Santa. I think the kids were hoping that a good snack would influence Santa's gift giving.

Jackson made some chocolate milk, which he informed me is obviously Santa's favorite drink. He also got some cookies to put on a plate for Santa. He kept heaping on the handfuls so I said "Jackson, I think that will be enough." He got a serious look on his face and said:

"Dad....fat guys like to eat."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hurricane Cinder Knoll

My brother-in-law Matt and I got ambitious and hiked to the top of the highest cinder knoll in Hurricane. I haven't been able to track down how many feet this climb is, I just know there were some really, really steep parts of the hike. I'm thankful neither of us had any major ankle rolls.

We started late in the day, about 4:30pm. I got some cool pictures from the top showing a unique view of the Hurricane valley, but my favorite picture didn't have anything to do with our elevation. It was a simple shot taken into the sunset through some branches. See what you think.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Am A Pumpkin Pie Addict

I have a semi-serious addiction going on. This addiction involves consuming large amounts of pumpkin pie in short periods of time.

Over the last three months, I have ingested at least 22 pounds of pumpkin pie. I've arrived at this figure by multiplying the minimum number of pies I've eaten (at least 8 1/2) by the weight of a Costco pumpkin pie (2.68 pounds). When you add how many buckets of whipped cream topped my pie, you've got yourself a gourd full of heavenly goodness.

Hearing this total may make someone question my honesty. Any of my in-laws or my wife will happily verify the truthfulness of my claims. My pumpkin pie consumption is greater than the weight of this big muther bunny: confirms that this is an authentic, gargantuan rabbit weighing 17 pounds, which is still measly compared with my impressive 22 pounds. The average American consumes 6 pieces of pie a year. I've long since left the average American in the dust.