Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Lessons: Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens' music ranges from "blow my mind" to "killing my ears." He's a crazy talented musician who likes to experiment with instrumentation, style, and (lately) auto-tune. His last album (Age of Adz) appeared on all sorts of Album of the Year lists in 2010; I tried my best to like it, but man, it is some weird music. On the other hand, Michigan and Illinoise are two of my favorite albums of all time.

But where Sufjan Stevens really shines is at Christmas. His five-disc boxed set Songs for Christmas is the best collection of holiday music I've ever heard, and you can quote me on that. Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season has officially started, and I can break out the Sufjan Stevens' Christmas album without annoying certain other members of this household who don't appreciate Christmas music year round.

And now, as if five discs weren't enough, he just released a new boxed set of Christmas music with five more discs. Three more hours of Sufjan Stevens' Christmas music!

For the next week or so, you can stream the new album at NPR, and here's a taste of the songs from the old album:


Monday, November 19, 2012

Me at 34

I want to be the type of person who buys nice things because (generally speaking) nice things are better for people, the planet, and the kind of economy I want to support. I want heirloom-quality furniture, ethically-made jewelry, and organic clothing. I want shoes that last longer than one season. I want to support local artists and artisans.

We are in a financial position where I can afford some of these things. Not everything I want all at once, but slowly, gradually, over time, as things need to be replaced, I can afford to upgrade to the better model.

Except that I have a problem. I am not the type of person who can own nice things. I'd like to be able to blame it on my children, and to some extent, they are part of the problem. But mostly, it's not them, it's me.

I started to list all the things I have broken or ruined in the past couple of years, but it was too sad and embarrassing. You'd think being 34 and a real grown-up that I would have grown out of it by now, but sadly no. This very morning in fact, I spaced out and boiled dry my 2-quart All Clad pot and then spent the better part of my morning scrubbing off the burn marks with an abrasive cleanser that earns an F from the Environmental Working Group. Now it's a much uglier version of itself (and no longer says All Clad on the bottom). This pot was supposed to be an investment that I could pass on to my kids...

I suppose the lesson I've learned is that if I want nice things, I better buy them off of craigslist

Speaking of being 34, I decided the other night at the Pinback show that I need to dye my hair blue. I've always wanted to, and folks, I'm 34 years old. Next year I'm going to have a job and will need to look all professional. I only have so much time left. What do you think - yea or nay on the blue hair?

Lastly, here's what Michael made for my "birthday cake:"

S'more Pie!!!!
toasting the marshmallow

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Music Lessons: Pinback

Michael and I are going to see this band tonight. What I like about Pinback is how they take simple melodies and riffs and weave them together to create an intricate, full sound. I'm curious to see how that will translate to a live performance.

Want more? The boys and I like to "car dance" to Pinback's song Good to Sea.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The dance teacher at the boys' school waved us down at carpool one morning a few weeks ago. "I just wanted to say, do you know what a great dancer Eli is?"

Michael and I looked at each other. Really? Our Eli? Apparently if you combine the genes of two people with zero dance talent, you can still end up with a child who's got some moves.


Today, Michael and I verified Eli's dance skills at his Zumbatomic dance recital. This was one of those days when I wished I had a video camera. Or at the very least remembered to bring my real camera. You'll have to take my word for it that the kid's got rhythm.

(But don't expect to see him break out his dance moves for you anytime soon. We are, afterall, talking about Eli.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Oh, Halloween

I could rant for a very long time about everything I dislike about Halloween, but I'm restraining myself. Let's get straight to the photos, shall we?

Halloween 2012Halloween 2012

For the ward trunk-or-treat, Eli went as Mario and Rylan went as Batman. Rylan's costume was borrowed from a friend, and folks, that is the way to do it.

Halloween 2012Halloween 2012

Pumpkin-carving has become Michael's domain. This year, Rylan requested a Cars theme.

Halloween 2012Halloween 2012Halloween 2012

Cole attended a birthday on the night of the trunk-or-treat, so this year we had to do trick-or-treat as well. Eli switched to Luigi and Cole took over the Mario costume. This is the first year we've ever done traditional trick-or-treating with the boys, and I discovered that I much prefer it to trunk-or-treating. Seems like the kids should have to work for their candy.

For anyone scouring the internet for a cheap and easy way to make Mario and Luigi costumes:
  • Green and red t-shirts are store bought.
  • Mustaches came from the party store.
  • The "M" on the red hat is white felt with an "M" cut out of it. We couldn't find a green hat anywhere so had to improvise.
  • The bib part of the "overalls" are the butt side of old jeans. The straps are from the leg part of the old jeans. Tuck the bibs into a real pair of jeans and cinch with a belt, and you can't tell that they're not really connected.
  • I sewed the gloves out of an old white t-shirt.
We have now entered the Peters Family Band Season of Insanity. Next Up...Erin's birthday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What We Did On Our Day Off

Many people with allergies hate the spring, but for me it's fall. I'm allergic to things that are dying.

My allergies get especially bad after a rain, and when you add in that overcast days make me SAD and that my body can't handle temperatures colder than 70 degrees, you can see why over the past few days, I've spent much more than my allotted eight hours asleep. I totally get why bears hibernate.

On Tuesday night before we got in bed, I checked the weather, which promised to be cold and overcast all day. I said, "I think I'll skip exercising the rest of the week, and maybe on Monday, the sun will have come out and I can feel motivation to do stuff again."

Then lo and behold, I woke up yesterday morning to sunshine. It was the universe speaking to me, and what it said was, "Get thee outside."

Lake BensonLake BensonLake BensonLake Benson

Sometimes my kids ask me why we can't live in the suburbs like everyone else. When we visit friends in Cary and Apex and North Raleigh, I covet their big and beautiful and less expensive homes, but I don't covet the suburbs. A lot of people love them, but they are not for me.

Except for Garner. I love the park in Garner, and when we are there, I daydream about buying a house in the neighborhood beside the park, and sometimes I even check out the house prices. What is so great about this park is the lake, and the mile long mostly flat trail, and the shade structure covering the playground, and the huge field. Lake Benson is the only park where my kids spend as much time climbing trees and collecting sticks and rolling in the grass as they do sliding down the slide and swinging on the swings.

Most days when the universe tells me to get outside, it is to Lake Benson that we head. It's not the closest park to our house, but it is our favorite and our best.

(P.S. What is so hilarious about the pictures in this post is that two out of three of the boys still have on their bike helmets.)
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