Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another Year Older

I turned another year older on Saturday. I must say, this was one of the best birthdays I can remember because of the gifts my family gave. Here is a list of the loot:
  • Melanie: Cupcakes. These "Black Bottom Cupcakes" are a little slice of heaven on earth.
  • Kylee: She wrapped a Book of Mormon from her closet, with a used Christmas tag taped on the front cover that said "Merry Christmas from the Thomas'." She also found a Scentsy warmer that she wrapped.
  • Danica: She wrapped her First Grade workbook as well as some ornaments from the Christmas tree. She also included two butterscotch candies.
  • Jackson: He made a cute birthday card, a Christmas ornament, and gave me an article from the newspaper about the Utah Jazz.

I was touched by how much thought they had put into the gifts, and how excited they were to see what they had prepared for me. Aside from this little experience, it was the perfect day. I have eaten enough cupcakes to feed all of Norway.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas! Our Year In Review

Behold.....our electronic Christmas card:

We have had an incredible year at the Reese house. Looking back at 2009, I’m surprised at how much we were able to pack into the year. Here are a few journal entries and a recap of our 2009 adventures. You’ll notice that the theme of barf pops up just a little too often. My apologies. It’s just that barf is pretty funny.

January 8, 2009
We hung out at Mel’s mom’s house for New Years Eve. The festivities and fun of the evening ended promptly when Kylee launched barf all over the floor. Then she launched again. Then as I was helping her move toward the bathroom she launched again, all over me and my leg. I felt bad for her. I don’t know what got into her.

February 10, 2009
This morning when I was getting ready for work Kylee came into my room with a church dress, tights, shoes, and a matching flower in her hair. She was so proud to tell me that she chose her clothes and combed her hair. I told her how beautiful she looked and she said “You should marry me when I get bigger.” I had a smile on my face and she said “You’ll have to buy me a white dress though.” I said okay. Then she got an excited look on her face and said “You can get it at Wal-Mart!”

March 2, 2009
In the evening Mel ran in to the living room laughing hysterically. It took a few minutes before she could say what she was laughing at. Apparently when she was tucking the girls in to bed, Danica climbed up on her bunkbed and said “What the helllllll happened to my bed? (very drawn out).

August 17, 2009
Kylee said something funny to me yesterday. We were sitting at the table eating breakfast and she said “Dad, when we go to heaven will we have to eat our food storage?” I told her I didn’t think we’d have to do that in heaven. I told her I thought there was every kind of food we could ever want and we could have as much as we wanted. Her eyes got so big and she was really excited. Then she said “Ooohhh! I want to die right now! Then I can have as many candy corns as I want!” More proof that she’s my daughter.

August 27, 2009
When I got home from work Monday evening, my stomach felt terrible and I told Mel I wouldn’t make it through the night without throwing up.

So at 9:40pm the barfing began. I threw up a ridiculous amount of vomit. I was kind of surprised my stomach had that much in it. As I was walking to the bathroom to empty my garbage can full of barf, Danica came running in from her bedroom and launched right into the garbage can before I even had a chance to empty it. It was miserable and funny at the same time. We spent the rest of the night on the couch taking turns upchucking.

In March Jackson and I went to Las Vegas to watch two Cubs spring training games. The first night we enjoyed $18 worth of nachos, popcorn, and soda at the game. I dearly regretted that decision. I was so nauseous a few hours later. I spent the rest of the night with a nasty Vegas motel garbage can on my lap begging to throw up, but to no avail. Grrrr.

In April Kylee got her tonsils out. Thank goodness for the barf basins at the surgery center. Otherwise I would have been wearing stomach acid.

Also in April, Mel and I spent a week in Washington DC with my parents and my brother’s family. We had an incredible trip. We saw the White House, Smithsonian museums, all the monuments, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and George Washington’s house. Over the course of that week I ate an absolutely obscene amount of Dunkin’ Donuts. God bless the USA. And Dunkin’ Donuts.

Mel and I were put in charge of Youth Conference this year and took the kids on a Pioneer Trek in July. We had an amazing experience and couldn’t think of anything we’d rather do with sweaty teenagers. Our feast on the final day was a true celebration of our rich heritage: large amounts of Little Caesar’s Pizza and countless boxes of Twinkies and Ding Dongs.

Jackson got baptized in August. We also got a phone call from the school district in August. They said that Jackson read the most books of anyone in the school over the summer. Because of this, they asked him to throw the first pitch at the St. George Roadrunners baseball game. It was a Proud Father moment. I’m hoping someone from the Cubs organization will call next.

Mel and I have taken up the hobby of running over the last year. In July we ran the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. For those of you who haven’t experienced the pain of a marathon or half marathon, let me explain how it feels. Imagine the most painful things you can think of. For example, 1) Getting paper cuts on your eyeballs, or 2) Reading Shakespeare, or 3) Listening to Celine Dion music. Now…put them all together. Celine Dion is giving you paper cuts on your eyeballs with pages from Shakespeare while she sings the National Anthem. Now you have an idea of the torture of running a long race.

In October I ran my first marathon, the St. George Marathon. I can’t think of a logical explanation for why someone would willingly pay $75 to suffer through something like this. It’s as puzzling as why some people like Celine Dion music. Despite the pain, it was an incredible experience and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I plan to do it again. To read about the experience visit fastcory.blogspot.com (FYI: I have no Celine Dion music on my iPod.)

We feel so thankful for our family and all of our blessings. We sometimes have to pinch ourselves and wonder why we got so lucky. We hope your family has an awesome Christmas and New Year. And we pray that no Celine Dion CDs will end up in your stocking. Sincerely, The Reese’s

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best Music Of 2009

There has been some awesome music released this year. As a self-proclaimed music junkie, I'm pleased to announce my top picks for 2009:

7. Mat Kearney – City Of Black And White
This is just a solid album of “adult alternative” music. There isn’t necessarily anything that will make your jaw hit the floor, but almost all the songs fall into the “Pretty Darn Good” category.

6. Brad Paisley – American Saturday Night
Generally country music isn’t my thing, but I admit that there are some pretty good tunes here. Albeit highly sappy, I like the song “Then”. You be the judge.

5. The Fray – The Fray
Although their song “You Found Me” got a ton of radio play, there are plenty of other equally good songs on this disc. My favorites are “Absolute” and “Never Say Never”.

4. Britt Nicole – The Lost Get Found
I think Britt has one of the best female voices around. There are a few songs on this CD that are just alright, but most are really good. I love the title track and “Safe”. But the closing song “Have Your Way” is enough to yank you out of your seat. Especially on this song, her voice is raw, sincere, and powerful. “Have Your Way” has lyrics you should not miss.

3. Matthew West – When I Say I Do
Matthew’s album “Something To Say” won the top spot on my Best Music Of 2008 list. While he didn’t release a full album this year, he did put out this song, “When I Say I Do” which was awarded KLOVE’s Next Great Love Song. You’ll like this one.

2. Steven Curtis Chapman – Beauty Will Rise
I’m not a tremendously emotional person, but these songs brought me to tears. Steven’s five year old daughter died last year and each song grew from that experience. This is the most personal music I have ever heard. The most touching thing about this album is the faith, trust, and hope he sings of. Each song seems to shed a little bit different light on God. Suffice it to say that no description I give would do justice to this stunning music. You just have to hear it. Although it’s hard to listen to, I absolutely love this album.

Here's the opening song "Heaven Is The Face".

And finally.....The Best Album Of The Year......

1. OneRepublic – Waking Up

I didn’t think it was possible to get any better than OneRepublic’s first album Dreaming Out Loud. But it happened. The CD is chock full of strings, piano, and music that would make Coldplay jealous. Every song has such a unique sound and style. I am worried that I will wear out this CD from playing it so often. This is easily my favorite CD of the year. It. Is. Brilliant.

Here is their song “Secrets” from the CD. Apparently it will be on the soundtrack to an upcoming movie as you’ll see in this video. Nevermind the video, but enjoy the music.

Any other music you'd like to add to the list?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cool Christmas Music

Did you say you wanted some awesome Christmas music? I love this song from Casting Crowns.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Medical Procedures To Avoid

As a courtesy to my friends and readers, allow me to provide a list of medical procedures you should avoid. I learned the hard way that these are not my idea of a good time.

1) Foley Catheter. Many years ago following a surgery, a well-intentioned doctor gave me Compazine, a medication to minimize nausea. For the next few days my muscles tightened like a full-body charley horse. Another slight side effect was the fact that I didn't go to the bathroom for a few days.

Eventually I ended up in the ER. The problem was so obvious that even the receptionist knew what was wrong: an allergic reaction to Compazine. That medication often causes muscle spasms. And the bladder refusing to do what it's supposed to do. Grrrr.

For the blissfully ignorant, a catheter is a fat tube inserted into the bladder to release all the yellow water. And there's only one way to get the tube into the bladder. Ouch. Ouch.

A cute young nurse walked in with the near-lethal rubber tube. "Turn your head and cough" is a gross understatement. I'm confident that I levitated between five and six inches off the table. My life flashed in front of me. I saw stars. This is not an experience I'd recommend.

2) Barium Swallow. Many moons ago a well-intentioned doctor thought I may have reflux where some of the stomach acid comes back up your esophagus. And how, you ask, do you find out if you have acid reflux? Simple - swallow an element from the periodic table.

Barium is like the evil, evil brother of Pepto Bismol. Like a mixture of chalk and spillage from the septic system.

The technician handed me a big bottle and said "Here, drink this. And don't be sassy or I'll make you drink another bottle." I took a few swallows. Then I was supposed to drink some more. I got the barium in my mouth. But my stomach threw an all-out rebellion. I physically could not swallow it. I stood there for a minute with a mouth full of barium before I was able to gag it down. I reached up to wipe away some of the pink drool spilling out of my mouth. I wanted to drop-kick the doctor who thought I might have reflux.

3) Having Blood Drawn. I'll be the first to admit that I'm an enormous sissy when it comes to needles. One time when I had my blood drawn, I had an unfortunate outcome. I didn't watch the nurse put the needle in my arm (never have and never will). I felt a little prick but it didn't really hurt.

Suddenly I woke up to some strangers with concerned faces talking to me. I could see a lady's mouth moving but I couldn't hear anything. I didn't know who they were. I didn't know where I was. I didn't feel good. My lunch decided it didn't want to me in my stomach anymore. After a few minutes I realized what had happened, and what a huge pansy I was. What a wussie to pass out when you have your blood drawn.

So let this be a lesson to you. Avoid needles, barium, and any tubes near your groin. You can't say you weren't warned.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Piano Playing Marathon

I am in the midst of my annual piano-playing marathon. Over the next week I will spend more than 70 hours (70!!!) at the Dixie Center, with much of that time spent playing the piano. Click here to read last year’s experience.

I’ll be playing at the Dicken’s Festival tomorrow (Wednesday) through Saturday. Stop by and say hello.

As physically challenging as it is to play the piano this much, I love to opportunity to visit with my piano peeps: the kind people who have supported my music career over the years. I’m so thankful for you and the opportunities I have had with my music.

I think you have to have thick skin as a musician. My music is so personal, and each song is an almost uncomfortably revealing exposure of my feelings. The music is a way of bearing my soul, and it’s sometimes difficult to see someone walk past, oblivious to what they are hearing. Being a musician has a way of teaching you how to handle rejection.

But then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Seeing people connect with the music and express appreciation for how the music moved them really means a lot to me. I feel humbled and inadequate when I hear stories of how the music helped someone through a hard time in their life.

A few days ago a girl came up and opened one of my sheet music books and played one of my songs that she had been practicing. She is going to play the song in her music class tomorrow for extra credit. Watching someone play one of my songs is rewarding and just plain cool.

So to those of you who have supported my music over the years, thank you. Seriously. Thanks. My God grant you all the Twinkies your heart desires. (And heaven knows my heart desires lots of Twinkies.)