A Post for 2012

I’ve spent the last 10 days on vacation. A much needed one. When you’re dealing with agencies on a large-scale project that requires virtually all of your time, it’s good to take a break when they do.

So I spent my Christmas vacation sleeping, catching up on movies and generally laying about while I wasn’t eating.

And man, did I ever eat. Three amazing dinners to celebrate my birthday — one at Trezo Vino, one at J. Gilbert and one at Blanc Burger. Great meals all, but my waistline is definitely worse for the wear.

My birthday and Christmas were terrific: I got everything I really wanted (except more storage for my computer…I’ll just buy that myself), including two new rad pair of sneakers and a new leather messenger bag for work (it makes me feel totally grown up).

And now, it’s officially 2012. Resolutions suck, but it’s a great time to start anew and set new goals for the year. So here are mine:

  • I’m getting back onto Weight Watchers for real. We had some great success with it last year, but I stopped counting points and really lost my way. No more messing around. I’ve got 50 pounds to get to my goal weight. I’m aiming for getting there by the end of the year. Ideally, I’d like to be there by summer, but I want to be realistic too.
  • I’ve got two big website launches this year. I want them both to go well.
  • I want to find some sense of purpose for this site. Whether it’s WordPress or Tumblr or whatever…I want to post more and have more clarity in my posts.
  • I obviously want to improve my work/life balance…whatever that might mean.
  • I want to go on another adventure with Alli. It’s been too long since our Italian adventure. It’s time for another.
  • Drink more water.
  • I’d like to take another crack at reading 25 books this year. It’s been 5 years since I last did it. Look for an upcoming post with the books I intend to read this year.
  • Keep being awesome.

Now that they’re written down, I have to stick to them, right? Isn’t that the point of stuff like this? What do you plan to do this year?

I Love Sneakers (and Other Birthday Musings)

My birthday this year (as well as the 34 birthdays prior) falls 2 days before Christmas. Most people, upon hearing that say, “Oh man, that’s gotta suck.”

I don’t see it that way. My family has always been amazing at keeping my birthday festivities separate from Christmas, which I truly appreciate. Plus, I get to open presents like 4 days in a row, which rocks.

This year, the celebration of my birthday was on a level that is just about unparalleled. My lovely wife Alli and I started the 22nd by using our Groupon to Trezo Vino, where we dined on amazing bruschetta and I had a terrific pasta dish – trofie with lump crab and prosciutto, bread crumbs and chili flakes. It was as delicious as it sounds.

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We saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (if you like the books, I’m assuming you’ll like the movie, but man, is it ever brutal.

On my actual birthday, Alli and I woke up and had breakfast at my favorite place in Olathe, Old 56 Family Restaurant. Seriously, if you haven’t been there, go if only for the hash browns. We then headed to the movies again to see one of my favorites of the year, The Muppets. After the brutal nature of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it was fabulous for the second time. Seriously, it needs to win an Oscar for Best Song.

Had to run an errand, then after a quick nap and massage, we met my family for dinner at J. Gilbert for steak and family celebration. There, I was able to wear my new shoes from Alli and I got another pair from my folks.

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The New Balances on the left are my new kicks from Alli. Old-mannish and retro-y, yet a little dressy…you know…because they’re leather. On the right, my new Muppet-inspired Kermit Adidas from my folks. They combine both my love of sneakers and my love of the Muppets. Plus, they are green. And they have the Kermit points around the tongue. So cool.

I also got a fancy new pen/stylus for my iPad and a bowtie from The Tie Bar from my brother and his family. Also awesome.

After dinner, we headed to another one of my favorite places, Christopher Elbow’s Glacé Artisan Ice Cream.

We topped it off by heading back to the movies to see the critically acclaimed silent movie, The Artist, which was completely charming in its simplicity.

All in all, my 35th birthday was freaking awesome. Family, movies, food, delicious food and rad sneakers. Yeah. I’d say it rocked.

Merry Christmas!

Learning to Play Guitar

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been an amazing guitar player. I never took much of an interest as a kid because I was wrapped up in my own stuff – sports, school, girls, etc.

I come from a very musical family. My mom and dad were in a folk band in college called The North Door Singers (Google them). They sing at church. My brother sang at our wedding and could always carry a tune.

I’ve never had that confidence. I sang when I was a kid in church choirs and at campfires and I even tried playing the piano for like two weeks. But performing music never really stuck on me like it did with the rest of my family. That didn’t keep me from loving music. Not even a little.

My family, God bless them, has always said, “But you have a great voice! You should sing.” NO.

OK, maybe.

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For the past several weeks, Jake and I have been learning how to play guitar from my Dad. Each Wednesday, my mom cooks us dinner and we meet at their house for a few hours to learn new chords, progressions and lately, songs.

Last week we learned our first real song — an original that was written by our friends out in Wyoming (also known as the Cowboy-version of the Osmonds) for my niece. The three of us learned the song and played it for her and the rest of our family last weekend.

This week, I got to bring a song that I wanted to learn — “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars (which you may be familiar with if you pay attention here). And last night, I went home and I sang it to my wife. I didn’t sing it well, but I sang it.

I sent a text to my dad today that read:

I am terrified of singing. Having a guitar in front of me as a shield helps.

It’s the truth.

I still don’t think I can sing. People may pooh pooh that thought, but if you’ve ever heard anyone else in my family sing, you’d understand my trepidation. But ever since I started learning how to play guitar, I’m not as scared to actually do it as I once was. Having that shield/security blanket sure helps because if I think I sound bad, I can just play louder.

Regardless of that, Wednesday nights have been this wonderful combination of family and learning something new and it’s a lot of fun.

Special thanks to Alli who snapped the photo in this post.

Rest in Peace, Taz

Today, my parents had to put their dog Taz to sleep because his body was completely racked with cancer. He was an amazing companion to them and a loving host whenever you went to their house.

Taz and Dreyfuss

Taz (left) was Dreyfuss’ (our dog, right) brother (Jake also has one of the brothers from the same litter, Gutter). They were born on the same day to a litter of 9 other dogs. Losing Taz hasn’t brought into clear view the mortality of Dreyfuss, our family member for the last 10 years.

Words really can’t express my sadness. Dogs are such amazing companions who love and take joy in every moment. As humans, we can learn a lot from them. Their zest for life is something to be admired and Taz certainly had plenty of zest. I know that my parents are going to miss his joyful “smile” and his incessant, obtrusive tail-wagging.

Taz, your family will miss you and the joyfulness you brought to us through the wagging of your enormous tail. I wish I had better words for my mom and dad, but I don’t. All I can say is: I love you guys.

Dogs are amazing and enrich our lives. Please be thinking about ours tomorrow as he goes in to have dental surgery and to remove a lump on his back.

Donut Day

Donuts in the Case

Once every 3 years or so, my family has this ridiculously excessive tradition. We wake up early on a Saturday and have a donut tasting.

And it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.

However, this is an amazingly un-local thing. The local-est place that we go is Lamar’s, but we also tried Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts this year. After my devotion

Then, there’s this.

Meesha is organizing a meetup at John’s Space Age Donuts in downtown Overland Park on May 19, the same day that the new Dunkin’ Donuts opens up just down the street. I’ve got some friends who freaked out when Dunkin’ Donuts came to town. After my donut day, I can categorically say that Dunkin’ Donuts is very MEH and they certainly can’t hold a candle to Lamar’s. I’m going to try and make it to John’s on May 19 and give them a try.

It seems like they’re the awesomest. What are your KC suggestions for my family’s next excessive donut day?