Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Zac Brown Band

On Sunday night, -thanks to Rachael's willingness to babysit- Matt and I snuck off to see the Zac Brown band perform at the Birchmere. I got Matt tickets to the show for his birthday... so it was an event that had been on the calendar for a while. This was our first time at the Birchmere... which is amazing, since we live in walking distance. It was an awesome venue - it definitely lends a cool intimate vibe to fairly big-name shows. I can't believe we waited this long to discover such a local gem!

The concert was fantastic!!! We had a blast. I liked the Atlanta-based Zac Brown Band from listening to them on the radio... Their song "Chicken Fried" gets stuck in my head all the time, and I run around for days - tapping my foot and humming. Their music is mostly modern country - although live, they proved that their music range is definitely much broader... including rock and even reggae. Of course, when they decided to do a number by one of my favorites - Shawn Mullins - I became a permanent fan.

Friday, May 29, 2009

fun with acrylic

Let's face it... Zara is never probably going to be able to walk in to a gas station and pick out a cheesy key chain with her name on it. ...or the meaning of her name on a little laminated wallet-sized card. -at least not in this country.

But, sometimes it's fun to see your name on the wall - or your child's name on the wall. There's something cool about personalized stuff. So - I decided to make Zara a name plaque and try my hand at painting. The painting was neat - it ended up being a great unwinding exercise, forcing me to sit down, be creative and pay attention to little details. I had so much fun, that I ended up making another one for a friend.

After a primer, I painted everything with acrylic. I'm not necessarily the best at coming up with images from scratch... so for the dragonfly and butterfly, I rubber stamped the image on the board and then painted my own "masterpiece" on top of it. :-) Very fun!

Life of Pi


So, I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Well - ok, I read most of the book... and skimmed the last little bit. Anyway - I got to the end. With all the accolades... the awards... the hype of the book, I must say - I thought it was OK. Got the best... not bad: It was pleasantly solid yet - in my opinion - slightly overrated and lackluster. When I started the book, I had very high hopes. It definitely had some great parts... I loved the writing style. The main character's internal monologue was often hilarious and relatable. I found the sections discussing zoo life and animal characteristics to be fascinating... and the character's dribbles on life and religion to be thought provoking. That being said... the middle majority of the book was more of a day to day description of survival on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific. -still definitely interesting, but eventually a bit monotonous. I realize that the daily struggles and thoughts of Pi over the course of his 227 days at sea build the character and take the reader little by little through the experience... so that you can fully "get" the twists at the end. BUT - I must say... it didn't break my heart to skip a few incredibly detailed accounts of turtle butchering or tiger taming. The wacked out end seemed to kinda take on a life of its own... definitely a sharp contrast with the first 3/4 of the book. I wish it had explored the religions more... I wish it had gotten in to the make your brain contemplate the big issues stuff more... but it didn't. So my final review: Eh... it wasn't bad, but I've definitely read better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Weekend fun



We have had such a great weekend!







Over the past week, Matt has been working hard on getting our deck refinished - we knocked out the built in benches for more access, and Matt changed the color from pumpkin orange to a nice peaceful Oxford Brown. With a nice backyard sanctuary in the works - we couldn't think of a better place to relax for Memorial Day. So, we ignored the drizzly weather and kept things simple by grilling out in the back yard. For dinner, Matt took inspiration from Bobby Flay and created grill materpieces... chicken, pork ribs, different types of sausage. ...he even grilled the veggies. With some icy cold beer, the meal was complete - and absolutely fabulous.



For my birthday, Matt suprised me with a tandem skydive from Skydive Orange! It was the most incredible experience, and I would go again in a heartbeat.





We jumped from a DeHavilland (DHC-6) Twin Otter...aka the Super Otter, which holds about 22 people.



We jumped at about 13,500 ft - did about 50 seconds of freefall - and then were "under canopy" for about 5-7 minutes. I didn't take any pictures, but the view was AMAZING! I could see the Blue Ridge mountains, beautiful Lake Anna, and hundreds of miles of foothills and countryside. The jump was cool - I had a lot of confidence in my instructor - Juan, and felt totally calm and about the whole thing. The freefall was so exhilirating... we dropped at a roaring 120mph and the air was cool and totally refreshing. After we pulled the parachute, the feel totally shifted to complete peace and silence. Juan pointed out a few cool terrain features and showed me how to turn (sharp turns are really fun). Otherwise, it was just a smooth and totally eye-opening life-enhancing experience.





On Friday, we packed up and went to the Maryland shore for a little Chesapeake Bay beach time. This was Zara's first time in the sand... and Hana had an AMAZING swim in the waves. We had a picnic lunch and a wonderful dinner... and then came home and grilled out in the back yard (dinner number 2!). Lots of sunshine and family fun- and just enough beach to make us want to head out to the real thing. Ooooh, how we crave a good ocean beach.