Sunday, December 12, 2010

Life In Community

Couple's Night Out~2010~Northstar Church
A few precious hours with the people that help keep us sane and encourage us to be "Daniels". This year has taught us more than ever the importance of living life in community and these are the people we get to do it with now. We were missing a few though (The Fishers, Kibbes & Torberts) but had a great time none the less. Here is a brief pictorial review of the night.

L-R: Justin, Thea, Angie, Scott, Us, Teresa, Jason

A Saturday In December

Wake up (late, since Tim graciously lets me sleep in on Saturdays)...greeted by VERY excited kids...pour cup of coffee...start festive holiday activities.

~By 11am the homemade, potato stamped, wrapping paper is made and gingerbread house walls are up.

I got skills

~By 1pm the Christmas greeting is recorded and the gingerbread house roof is on.

Insanely happy

~By 3:30pm gifts to be mailed are wrapped and Christmas greeting DVD's are made.
~By 5:30pm gifts have been mailed and dinner has been secured.
~By 7:00pm family is fed, gingerbread house is complete, kids are bathed and jammied and Nonna is at the house.

~By 7:20pm out the door for Couple's Night Out
Success (on so many levels)

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Top Ten of 2010

(or the year I fell in love again with music)

It all started when I signed up for a account...and then I was ruined. For the last few years I have definitely been out of the loop when it came to music. Those who have young children will understand that there is little time or energy to devote to listening (or playing music). Since things have settled down with Isaiah and Jadyn (sleeping schedules) I am increasingly exchanging my obsession with sports back to music and I have a Rhapsody subscription to prove it. Here are my ramblings for the best of 2010. Thanks for taking the time to read it (all two of you). :)

10. Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

The Killers have always been a favorite on mine and the solo album by frontman (Brandon Flowers) is no exception. I remember Briahnna and I watching The Killers on a summer concert show when we first got married and thinking, “Man…these guys stink live!” They (and Brandon) have gotten considerably better and I dig Flamingo. (smile) If it wasn’t for the desert and the heat…it would make me miss Vegas. Vegas baby…Vegas!

My favorite tracks include: “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”, “Only the Young” and “Crossfire”.

9. The Roots – How I Got Over

Recently I had a conversation with one of my neighbors about whether The Roots were sellouts for being the house band for Jimmy Fallon. All I can say is (from my own experience as a starving musician) it must be nice to get a steady paycheck to play music and (selfishly) I get a chance to see one of the tightest bands every night on TV. How I Got Over brings some great melodies (which is sadly absent from most hip-hop). Thank you “The Roots” for absolutely being the best band in late night.

My favorite tracks include: “Radio Daze”, “Now or Never”, “Right On” and “Dear God 2.0”

8. Switchfoot – Hello Hurricane

Even though it probably did not make it on many “best of” lists this year…Hello Hurricane exemplifies why I like Switchfoot so much. Strong melodies and complex-enough instrumentation keeps me interested in every track. gets it right about “the band's faith flicker[ing] just beneath the surface of every song.” They will always be one of my favorite Christian bands (or Christians in a band – however you like it). Well done boys! My favorite tracks include: “Needle and Haystack Life”, “Mess of Me” and “Enough to Let Me Go”.

7. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

“Soof-Yahn” was already held high in my eyes but this may be his masterpiece…at least for now. The Age of Adz is a cinematic-symphonic experience and just gets better the more you listen. It is reminiscent of what OK Computer and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot did to their respective bands. With this release…he is going to make it on my list of must see live acts before I die. Brilliant.

My favorite tracks include: “Too Much”, “Now That I am Older”, and ”Vesuvius” (really it’s all good)

6. Elton John and Leon Russell – The Union

Hauntingly melancholic, The Union is one of the most complete albums I have heard in a long time. There may be many more hip choices but the songwriting is impeccable. Leon Russell’s silvery voice slips in and out the tracks with pitch perfect precision. Brings back memories of listening to Elton John cassette tapes on my walkman (before I knew what cool music was) because I wanted to play piano like him.

My favorite tracks include: “If It Wasn’t for Bad”, “There’s No Tomorrow” and “The Best Part of the Day”

5. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid

Wow! What do you get when you combine Folk, R&B, Punk, Hip-Hop, Electronic and Indie sensibilities with an unbelievable voice? A masterful mashup of genres that deserves a listen. Janelle Monae seems to even channel James Brown and Michael Jackson on some tracks. I will most likely come back again and again to this album…it’s a gamechanger.

My favorite tracks include: “Tightrope”, “Cold War” and “Oh, Maker”

4. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

One of the most surprising albums…I was introduced to LCD Soundsystem just this year. This Is Happening is mainly on this list because when an album causes me to spontaneous throw my hands up in the air while I am washing the dishes…it must be good. I am new to the “dance” genre but I think this transcends your typical fare. Plus, whenever you can get away with singing “POW POW” and make it sound cool you are really getting somewhere.

My favorite tracks include: “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Pow Pow” and “All I Want”

3. Arcade Fire – Suburbs

Suburbs was on this list even before it was nominated for Best Album (you don’t have to believe me). To be honest…I was not a fan of Arcade Fire before I heard this album. Their previous albums did not grab me like this one did. My favorite track “Modern Man” sticks out with its syncopated rhythms and sweeping keyboard patches like a beautiful sore thumb. Almost every song is good. I’m a fan now.

My favorite tracks include: “Modern Man”, “Ready To Start” and “Suburban War”

2. Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More

Is it possible to not want to listen to an album for fear of not wanting to stop? This may not be rational but this album is so good…it makes me want to retire my guitar forever. Or at least be inspired to pick it up again. Sigh No More is on the shortlist of albums that are truly inspiring this year. So…I’ll stop drooling over my keyboard and give this one of my highest recommendations.

My favorite tracks include: “Sigh No More”, “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” and everything else

1. Vampire Weekend – Contra

You may think this is a strange choice for my number one pick…but here is the thing. This album makes me really happy. Briahnna and I were driving the other day discussing this list and we both remarked how “Horchata” (the first song on the album) made us feel. Every song ambiguously emotes delicious melodies…and in the end isn’t that all we are asking for? And so…throw your rotten tomatoes because they are “too hip”. I will take lyrics like “I’d look psychotic in a balaclava” any day.

My favorite tracks include: ALL OF THEM!

Honorable Mentions: Beach House – Teen Dream, The National – High Violet, The Walkman - Lisbon, Julia Nunes – I Think You Know, Gorillaz – Plastic Beach, The Black Keys - Brothers, Roma di Luna – Then The Morning Came, Broken Bells (self-titled), Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown, Frightened Rabbit – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

To Nap or Not To Nap

Now that my little man is a consistent napper I have approximately 1.5-2 hours to myself daily. This alone is a miracle since it is the most "me time" I've had in years. When you're a mom, "me time" seems to go out the window. And when you do what I do, stay at home in the day and then work the evening, that seems to complicate the issue even more. That being said, my new found time has me quite conflicted. Do I take the time to be productive? I could clean, organize, exercise etc. OR (which generally wins out by the way) I could sleep. It seems like such a waste but when you can't even keep your eyes awake to read a sentence in a book, I suppose it's the right thing to do. Still, can't help feeling guilty that the time is being wasted. Guess I'll get over that. Today productivity won out in the form of blogging (and Christmas card stuff). It's a struggle and I haven't come up with the perfect answer yet. Maybe I'll sleep on it?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Yep, you guessed it, Christmas!
I unabashedly admit that I LOVE decorating for Christmas. I love getting a fresh pine tree. I love the lights (which we have now upgraded to LED, energy savings woohoo). I love my cinnamon broom. I love my nativity collection ( I think I have almost 8 now). And on and on right?
This year was quite possibly the smoothest decorating day we've had. All I'm missing are my two giant poinsettias for the entryway. Loving it all. Even little man got into it and helped hang ornaments (or hide them in his special tree spot).
Here's the visuals.
Found it!

Baby Jack (In celebration of)

My dear friend Holly is expecting her second little one, Jack, within the next few weeks. Though I know she's hoping for any day now. We were able to have an intimate celebration with her this weekend complete with the "boob and belly" cake, Taboo, and lots of great girl talk. (I'll spare you those details). But I wanted to share some pictures of the beautiful mama.
Baby Bump


Spontaneity Pays Off

We had a brief window of opportunity to escape our normal surroundings for a night and a day before Thanksgiving and instead of letting it slip away we seized the day, carpe diem and ran off to Chattanooga, TN. Spontaneous trips used to be a little difficult for us when we had Dante around so this was a much needed get away. We'd like to thank the Sheraton Read House for upgrading us to our lovely and spacious suite.
We had a nice stroll down by the river before dinner at Cheeburger Cheeburger (thanks Dan for the recommendation).
Then we spent the next day at the Creative Discovery Museum. And Tim & I think this may be our favorite children's museum thus far. And we've been to quite a few. The kids loved it and we must confess that so did we. So much to do and learn. Tim was inspired by the art section and I was inspired by the green roof they had. The kids were everything I think.
To quote Jadyn "This is(was) the BEST family day ever!" (but aren't they all)

An in-exhaustive list of thanks

I realize this is a few days late, but so are most things in my life these days.

My husband of 7 years, the most self-less person I know... my children who burst my little heart with each laugh, smile, kiss and snuggle...all our amazing family both the Campbells and the Villegas'...friends, so many wonderful friends...not having to work on Thanksgiving...cold days with a cup of hot coffee and my down comforter...good music and a sound system to listen to it with...downtown Atlanta, especially the playgrounds at Centennial Olympic Park...changing of the seasons...really great neighbors...stable jobs we love, and a new co-worker I adore...a church that gives, and gives, and gives...nativity sets from around the world...books...being outside in all kinds of pants, cotton tees and hoodie zip nights and family days...Trader Joes...Mrs. D and Mrs. Mali, Jadyn's amazing Pre-K teachers...the Outsiders...heaters...the Sunday crossowrd and in body and house...being loved by so many...having freedom...being forgiven.

oh...and turkey of course

Our Delicious Thanksgiving Bird, compliments of the Lehmans and Fresh Market

Monday, November 29, 2010

In the mean time

I have much to say about this last week but of course, no time to do it (right now anyway). But while you wait expectantly, I'm sure, here is a link to an article Tim and I really loved by someone that Tim has deemed one of his heroes. If you have the time it is truly good reading. It will give you a lot to mull over.

Friday, November 19, 2010


3 things, one post. (is this blogging gluttony?)

1. I once blogged about Jadyn telling us that she was "very awesome". Well that phrase has stuck in our family and every once in awhile I have those moments, that I am "very awesome". One of those was this week after I completed recovering our piano bench. I had been meaning to do it since we bought it with the hideous green floral print (no offense). And it turned out more perfect than I could imagine. It's the little things right?


2. Jadyn's class had their Thanksgiving Feast yesterday and quite the feast it was. I still am in awe of her being so grown.

Feasting Together
The Incredible Mrs D.

3. One of our family priorities is to raise kids who love to read. We re-vamped our front room this last weekend with that goal in mind and have expanded our bookcases to make a more library-esque feel to the room and I think it's working. Check out these little book lovers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not to be outdone... our cousins to the North (yeah, you up there in Canada). Although Ruth is pretty dang cute. Check these out!

The Love of a Dog

Unconditional right? Right. At least that's what we experienced.

This weekend proved to be in the top 5 of worst weekends. It started with getting sick on Friday and having to call out for work. Then there was the bickering between Tim & I (I know, you're shocked but when you only get to see someone a handful of hours out of the week, it's bound to happen). But all that was nothing compared to Saturday night.

We had gone out for our Saturday family festivities and came home pretty late so we set out to put the kids straight to bed. Then we came back downstairs and checked on our precious Dante who had been sick for a few days. (For those of you who don't know, he had a seizure disorder and it was pretty bad. He had cycles every few months where he would have seizures throughout the day for up to seven days.) So we thought he was just in one of his cycles. But when we checked on him he was already gone. 

No chance to say good bye, no prep time. Just shock.

His body now rests peaceful in our backyard and his sweet spirit lives on in our memories.

This is a tribute to him. Our first "child" in many respects. More high maintenance than our human children for sure. He will be sorely missed.

Dante Paradiso Villegas   
March 4th, 2004-November 13th, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Discipline of Simplicity

"Simplicity is freedom" ~Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

And can I just say that I could use a little freedom right now. This idea of simplicity has been at the forefront of my mind lately. Constantly nagging at me and I kept using the excuse that I was too busy to tackle this discipline. But truth be told, I am too busy because life is too complicated right now.
SO...first steps have been taken.
#1, weeding out the DVR. I mean seriously, how many hours of TV do we need to watch a week. You know you have a problem when you are weeks behind in shows. We said good-bye to some very beloved shows but are already feeling the weight removed.
#2, de-cluttering and donating. This is going to be an on-going thing until the New Year. I have a VERY hard time letting go of things, but let go I must. The two "junk drawers" are done and the electronics. It's a start anyway.
#3, stop adding. I read somewhere that you should have the rule that for every new thing that you bring into your home you should set two free. So we're going to try this. And also, that you should put anything that you want to buy on a list for 30 days and then if you still want/need it, go ahead and get it. A great rule for this impulse shopper.
That's what I have so far. Keep you posted. I'm looking forward to some serious freedom in my time, finances and home.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I guess I'm what you call a "political cynic" or maybe even a "political disillusion-ist" (I think I just made that word up) BUT, I did go out and vote yesterday and I'm glad I did.
Our church small group is studying the book of Daniel right now. For those of you familiar, we read about the "fiery furnace" tonight and I praised God for the blessing of having a voice, options and the continued freedom to worship as I choose. Pretty big blessings I take for granted every day.
So I wore my Georgia Voter sticker proudly.

side note (I was trying to explain the whole voting thing to Jadyn since she was coming with us. I told her in so many words that we were going to pick the people who were going to be in charge of the country. And she said simply, "Mom, God is" Gotta love the simplicity of that right.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Fall Y'All!

Fall Activities to date (in no particular order)... camping trip picking and subsequent pie baking and apple butter making

   ...many fun crafts/projects ( Boo-ville, trash bag ghosts, scarecrows) 

...corn-maze and pumpkin patch visits

...attending the North GA State Fair and eating corndogs, cheese fries and funnel cake

...trick-or-treating with the peeps
                                                     ...neighborhood block party

...pumpkin carving and pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake baking...leaf pressing

Still to come

...SID/PID annual chili cook-off...Hawks game and whatever else we can squeeze in