Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

I am so beyond sad right now. He was finally working on the big comeback and a sold out European tour. LA Times confirmed that Michael Jackson has passed after suffering cardiac arrest. This is definitely not how I wanted to begin sharing music, but I suppose who better to start with than one of my earliest musical influences? I will forever hold MJ in a very special place in my heart. He instilled in me a lifelong love of good pop music and dancing. Below are some of my all-time favorites by the King (any song of his could be on this list, really). You're no longer my friend if you don't get up and dance right now.

*I forgot to mention that the last track is my favorite ever MJ cover.

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My life has been a bit quiet lately.

I am normally surrounded by music at all times. B is constantly playing guitar, piano or harmonica. I have my skull candies on most of the day. I fall asleep with iTunes open. I bought a fancy radio for my dinosaur of a car just so I could hook my iPod up. I teared up when Taso gave me the record player. You get the point. Every memory has a soundtrack, every song a memory or a feeling. Since I was little I've observed life like a movie. I am constantly rewriting the script in my head, framing shots, manipulating situations to make them more beautiful (or finding the beauty in them) and I always ALWAYS hear the score and soundtrack.

Today (like every day) I talked to my best friend, Bonnie, about some movies we were interested in seeing and she brought up the point that she wanted to become more familiar with some of the bands on a particular film's soundtrack. Talking about my favorite films and music with the blank canvas that is my best friend? (She's extremely open minded and artisticly inclined but not as familiar with such things.) These are the moments I live for!

I realized a couple days ago that, for whatever reason, I haven't been soaking up music and film like I normally do. I've been preoccupied and I can tell that my stress level has risen and I'm not enjoying the flow of daily life quite as much. So what better opportunity to reimmerse my senses than this! I've decided to share some of my favorite music (and film because, frankly, I can't resist) with Bonnie right here through my blog, with the hope that all of my readers will be inspired to make their lives a little more cinematic.

When I think about the point of my blog, it was always to share what's going on in our lives with our friends and family who can't be here with us. So why not share two of the things that are most important to all of us who are regulars on this blog (with the exception maybe of Splinter, though she can get into movies too)? I do hope that you will all share some of your favorite things with me as well. I love meeting new people and being exposed to new art, ideas, etc via the world of blogging!

More focused, personal and, of course, musical posts to come!

Splinter is a wee bit crosseyed

and B loves making fun of her.

A late Father's Day post

Just found this here and wanted to share because I'm a super sappy mom.

I am sitting at the breakfast bar in my kitchen, writing on my laptop and looking out into the backyard. We live in one of those delightful old neighborhoods where the houses are so close together that, for yards, we say we have a ‘front postage stamp’ and a ‘back postage stamp.’

There’s a tall old tree in the back left-hand corner of the lot which I honestly didn’t know was even a tree until about a week ago. Strong vines and thick foliage had so smothered the trunk that I assumed it was a lost cause to even bother getting into that section of the yard.

That is until last week when my husband of three weeks announced he was going build a treehouse for my 4 year-old daughter in the neglected section of the backyard, using the forgotten old tree as a solid base.

From where I sit right now, I can see my husband, lean and strong, tearing down the massive vines from the tree and clearing the space around the trunk for construction. Most of the overgrowth has been here much longer than he has owned the house, and the labor is difficult at best. This forgotten back section of the yard has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the inattention to the area makes it a maze of complicated vines to crawl through. His excitement about this project for Caroline, though, has overshadowed the hard work it’s taking to begin construction, and he’s been out there clearing and measuring every night for a week.

And this is where I am thankful that my daughter has a man in her life who wants to build her a treehouse no matter the obstacles. He is, very literally, taking something ugly and overgrown that many people would just leave alone and working to make it a playground for her, all because he knows it will make her happy. What a gift.

Single moms know the frustration of parenting solo better than anyone around, and what makes parenting alone much more difficult than anything else is the pain and guilt you feel as you long for a father for your kids. To make matters worse, society reminds these women often that girls without fathers are more likely to do drugs, face unplanned pregnancies, and marry for all the wrong reasons. Likewise, statistics show that boys without fathers are less likely to be well educated and more likely to commit crimes.

Fortunately, fathers don’t exist only in biological forms or as step-fathers. Fathers can be baseball coaches, youth pastors, and teachers. Fathers can be brothers, as was the case for me, uncles, grandfathers, and cousins.

As I write I am thinking of my daughter asleep upstairs, knowing what “B” is building for her in the backyard. She’s too young to see the treehouse as anything more than just what it is- a treehouse with the potential for a million memories and climbing galore- but I’m not.

When I look out my window I see a man who’s worked all day and comes home to work some more, all because he loves her.
I see him batting at bugs and ripping up vines to make her a place to run and play and have sleepouts under the stars. I see a man I prayed would come into our lives, and I see a man who is a father. Fortunately for me, he’s also my best friend.

This is when Brian looks up, sees me though the window, and smiles. Happy Father’s Day.

- Mary Cady Bolin

Monday, June 22, 2009

...and another one...

The surprises keep coming!
I am now Assistant Managing Editor of Special Interest Publications at D Magazine!


Let it be known that when I said I wanted a fancy USB record player for my birthday, it was said in complete fantastical dreaminess. You know how you have the reasonable things you want and then the one BIG crazy thing that you never in a million years dream of actually getting but think how super cool it would be? That was my baby blue record player. Even when he let clues slip over the weekend, even when I saw the perfectly sized box sitting right in front of me, I did NOT expect Taso's birthday awesomeness to extend this far beyond the amazing weekend he'd already given me.

I do believe this is my new most prized possession.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

This is the first time I've ever had someone to say that to. How exciting! I sometimes thought maybe someone would want to be a father to Bradley some day and I would celebrate Father's Day with him, but never in a million years did I imagine that I would say it to my own father. I'm a bit baffled by the way life works. Nothing ever goes the way you plan and surprises always seem to happen in the strangest ways, when you least expect them. Today I am very thankful that one of those big surprises was meeting my dad. There is so much I understand about myself now.
Thank you for picking up the phone and for welcoming me into your life.

June 'teenth in ATX

My 24th birthday was pretty sweet. The only thing that came to fruition from my list was #3 but somehow it turned out even better than I could have hoped. Taso, Britt Clardy and I spent Friday doing some of my favorite Austiny things like visiting Toy Joy (Bonnie, I must take you here. Awesome, random toys + chocolate/peanut butter vegan soft serve), bought and sold clothes at Buffalo Exchange and poured through old rockabilly/jazz/big band records at my favorite record store, Antones.
Taso bought me a sweet record. Yes, I collect them even though I can't play them. It's one of those "if you build it they will come" kind of things.
We also went to Waterloo Records. I've never really given the place much of a chance because I find myself overwhelmed by big, popular places like that but Taso found some sweet out-of-print Criterions and I realized just how insane their selection really is.
I had the best birthday dinner of my LIFE that night from Whole Foods and the dude gave it to me for free because it was my birthday. Score! I love nice people. I spent some time with my beloved friends who I pretty much never get to see anymore, and Taso and I continued our exploration of the Firefly series. Only one episode left, which I'm hoping we'll knock out tonight. If you haven't seen it, you MUST! I'm not a TV watcher but this show is SO good.
Saturday we had breakfast tacos from Curra's at Taso's polite request. (And by polite request I mean that I'm pretty sure these tacos were his sole motivation for taking me to Austin.) Needless to say they were amazing...the vegan chorizo/potato combination was anyway. Number 5 billion on my "why I was meant to live in Austin" list: EVERY RESTAURANT has vegan options. Sigh.

We spent the rest of the day at Schlitterbahn on the house, thanks to our amazing friends Dameon and Natosha!!

Most of the day was spent at the "old" part of Schlitterbahn, the one I went to as a kid. It's full of tube rides that are run by water from the river. The whole park is built into the landscape, so you've got trees growing through rides, moss covering the ground and a lazy river that is actually...a river. Then we went over to the new fancy side of the park and rode the beast that is Master Blaster. The line was brutal but sitting in a two person tube with Taso and being propelled several stories into the air by water was definitely worth it. Floating around the wavepool/lazy river was a perfect ending to the best birthday I've ever had.

After a veggie burger from Fuddruckers and a long drive home, I was tired but so very happy. I couldn't have asked for anything more. Although, if you'd like to get me those chocolate/coconute cupcakes, I won't argue.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gappy lost his 5th tooth!

I find it funny that the hole is twice the size of the tooth. Excuse the face. Normal-face pictures are rare around here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Picture of the Day

My headless a graveyard.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Did you know that I'm a hockey fan?

I didn't either until about a month ago. I've always enjoyed going to Stars games but Taso and his mom are truly schooling me on why hockey is so awesome. We've been watching the Stanley Cup playoffs and finals and it's been really fun. We're really hoping that the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Redwings in game 7 tomorrow to take home the Stanley Cup. Anyone else watching?

(Blurry shots of Taso trying on his Christmas present from John, his bff/fellow hockey fan/hockey teammate. That's John in the stripes.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pinkberry is coming to Dallas!

As much as I try my hardest to be vegan (I am strict vegetarian, no cheating there), there are three things that I can't seem to give up:

1. butter on popcorn
2. cheese on pizza and sandwiches
3. fro-yo

Granted, I almost never allow myself #3 and am a major snob when it comes to what actually qualifies as edible frozen yogurt. (None of that TCBY or self serve junk.) But when I was in the midst of a terrible week in Los Angeles there was one little bowl of heaven (pictured above) that made everything better. And soon I'll be able to get it here in Dallas. This is probably not good...

Watch your favorite Star Wars movie day!

Yep, that's what day it is according to B and Jaren's best friends calendars. Our favorite is Return of the Jedi but we decided instead to watch The Phantom Menace because we haven't seen it in a long time. What's your favorite of the series?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More video from the skatepark

Because Bonnie pointed out that Bradley didn't actually do much in that last clip.
Here you go.

Taso cam from Brittan on Vimeo.

Mom cam from Brittan on Vimeo.

10 days from now...

I will be turning 24.

I remember pulling into the parking garage at SMU a few years ago, about to go to class, when my dear friend Gregg called me in distress. He was so upset because he had just turned 24 and felt OLD for the first time. Oh well, at least I can take comfort in the fact that I will always be younger than him!

I've never made a big deal about my birthday because my family doesn't tend to. Last year I didn't even acknowledge it, much less celebrate. But this year I really feel like I have reason to celebrate life and I plan to. With that in mind, here is my "what I want for my birthday" list. I don't think I've done one of these since elementary school.

1. Chocolate coconut cupcakes.

(I totally stole this idea from one of my favorite blogs but seriously, how amazing do these look? And they go with my recent coconut craze!)

2. Karaoke with all of my friends in Austin.

(The above picture is my way of saying that I'd like it to include a "Come on Eileen" dance.)

3. Schlitterbahn.

4. A usb record player.

(Like this.)

5. A job. (Man, I wish it were that easy.)

For those of you that I know will ask.. I really don't want any presents for my birthday. I don't have any place to put them in my current situation anyway! I just want to be with the people I love, having fun and maybe eating a cupcake. Or two.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Our typical Saturday

Being the sweetheart that he is, Taso spends his Saturdays at the skatepark in Denton, teaching, harassing, skating with and being a friend to a bunch of smelly kids. What a cool guy, no? Well his days at the skatepark are sadly coming to an end and, because it's been a part of his life for almost four years and B's for the past year, I decided I'm going to take the baby HD for the rest of his time there. I'm putting together a bigger video but here's a little clip from this past Saturday.

They're kinda cute, huh?

B and Taso at the skatepark from Brittan on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

"school's out" weekend and looking ahead...

May was a transitional month in my life. Everything went a little bit crazy and then the dust settled nicely. I am now happy, calm and optimistic. Serious.

There is a lot to look forward to in June. B is officially no longer a first grader and we have plenty of time to ride bikes, go swimming, see movies and have fun together. My 24th (wow) birthday and party weekend in Austin is coming up in a couple weeks, Jaren (B's best friend in the whole world who now lives in Utah, if you'd forgotten) is coming to visit for two weeks and *drum roll please* MY best friend in the whole world, Bonnie, is coming to visit! I haven't seen that girl in TWO YEARS! Ok, so we talk every single day, usually for hours at a time, but we are way overdue for some one on one reconnection.

Yep, this is going to be an amazing summer. Possibly the best ever. It just occurred to me that 1999 stands, thus far, as the best summer of my life. I believe 2009 can top it. (This is where I go ponder all that has changed in the last decade and then come back for a sappy "where have the years gone" blog post.)

Friday B and I vegged on Chipotle and sno cones and saw
Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian (yawn) with Taso. Then I let him stay up WAY too late and he drove me bonkers. Today, like most Saturdays, we played all day at the skatepark and then Taso and I took off for hockey and hot wings (ok so fries and veggie sub for me) and The Hangover because I love Zach Galifinakis. It's shaping up to be a pretty sweet summer indeed.

Animal Collective

Taso, the brothers Clardy and I saw Animal Collective Thursday night at House of Blues. Lousy venue but great band. I made a little "best of" video to give you an idea.

Animal Collective from Brittan on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's June already???

It's hot and muggy, there are random lightening storms every other night and I am rotating between Zyrtec and the neti pot. Yep... It's Summer in Texas!

So what, you ask, have we been doing with ourselves and why has the blog been so slow? Well, mostly because we haven't been doing a whole lot. I've been on a "baking with coconut" kick which is weird because, while I truly heart coconut, I've never been much of a baker. Yesterday I made coconut chocolate chip cookies. They're not as awesome as the ones at Pokey-o's that Taso and I are addicted to (think they'd be willing to hand over the recipe?) but they're darn good. If you're into that sort of thing and you live close by, let me know... there are LOTS of extras.

We've also been ringing in the warm weather at our favorite sno cone place, Bahama Bucks. I consider myself a sno cone aficionado and this is THE BEST sno cone. (Toasted Coconut is my go-to flavor but I just discovered Passion Fruit and it changed my life. I do not recommend Jungle Berry. Are you taking notes?)

We've been doing the typical movie watching that we always do. I highly recommend Up (but I say skip the 3D) and Star Trek for cineplex-goers. Both are also great choices if you have an IMAX nearby. If you have a theatre that plays more obscure releases, you should check out Goodbye Solo about an old, unhappy American man and the younger, endlessly optimistic Senegal-born cab driver that he crosses paths with. It is a truly beautiful, touching story and I can't think of anyone (especially of my usual readers) who wouldn't both enjoy it and benefit from seeing it.

The other film I'm singing the praises of right now is Every Little Step, which I saw last night. It's a documentary about A Chorus Line, one of the longest-running and most influential Broadway plays of all time. Few if any of you would be as interested in this, so I'll save my long-winded explanation and just tell you that it's really good and it stirred the dancer that has been buried deep in my heart since I hung up my shoes almost 8 years ago.

B and I have spent quite a bit of time at our beloved Duck Pond Park lately. We like to stop at Tom Thumb, pick up a loaf of fresh bread and share it with the ducks and turtles. The babies hatched when the weather wasn't nice enough for us to visit them but they're still little, fuzzy and as hungry as ever. I pulled out the loaf of fluffy French bread and was surrounded by little duckies (and a very attentive mama) in no time. The turtles are B's favorite but they know to wait till these guys are out of the way before they come looking for food.

The last--but certainly not least--exciting, warm weather development is that of my first birthday present! The g'rents and B decided to give it to me early since summer is upon us and B needs a... BIKE RIDING COMPANION!!! Yeah, I'm excited. I love riding bikes so much that I held Wendy's hostage for months but now I have my own! It's just a simple little cruiser, no gears or anything, which is fine with me. I just like getting to places that are nearby without using a car and following B around.

I'm always a little sad to hang up my comfort hoodie but I'm happy to trade it in for sundresses and swimsuits. For as hot as it is, summer in Texas is kind of awesome and I am so beyond excited for this summer.

More on that soon...