Friday, January 27, 2012

Favorite Music of 2011

Amy has always been the blogger in the family.  She writes really well, and conveys her emotions and thoughts about different events in our lives with clarity.  I am thankful that she is able to do that, and does.  But today... I am writing.  Music is something I love and talk with a lot of people about.  I like to look back at my favorite albums from the past year.  It was a more difficult year then 2010 (which I'll post my favorites from 2010 incase you are interested) because there weren't as many that will make "classics" in my mind, but some very good music none the less.  Some are not the best reviewed by critics, or other blogs or album reviews... but they are all my favorite. I would love to hear what your favorites from 2011 were.

Top 10 (well I couldn't narrow it to 10, so you get the top 12)
1. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Justin Vernon's debut album For Emma, Forever Ago has been one of my favorite since 2007.  This album will be no different.  Holocene is probably my favorite song from 2011.  Justin filled out the instrumentation from his sparse debut, but the feeling is still very personal.  Definitely my #1 from 2011.  

2. Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
Somehow I stumbled apon the song Old Pine and was hooked from that moment on.  I found myself listening to this song over and over which brought me back to good times I had working at Noah's Ark in the mountains of Colorado  Ben is a surfer/musician, and a sense of freedom comes through in his music.  

A few years ago I spent some time in New Zealand.  The feeling of adventure and simplicity was something I will always hold onto.  Tiny Ruins captures that with her detailed stories with very minimal instruments, usually only a muted guitar or piano... she happens to be from New Zealand.  In my mind she accomplishes what may singer/songwriters strive to do with their storytelling. 

4. Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
I tend to like good singer/songwriters.  The Civll wars combines two great voices into some powerful southern sounding folk music that makes me feel at home.  Their lyrics are heartfelt and delivered perfectly over sometimes driving music and other times a subtle gentleness.  

5. Blind Pilot - We Are The Tide
Every now and then I listen to music that just makes me feel happy.  To be honest, I can't tell you all the lyrics to these songs.  But it is a great album to listen to on a long road trip.  Blind Pilot adds a clean pop sound to their folk that doesn't try to be too big. 

6. Folly and the Hunter - Residents
Want a new Death Cab for Cutie with a twist?  This is the closest feeling I have had listening to an album since DCC released Transatlanticism in 2003.  This is an Indie album at its heart, portraying strong emotions with the instruments while telling a story.  Have a glass of wine and sit and listen to this one the whole way through. 

7. Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
What would you get if you took Mumford & Sons, added a girl, moved them west an island or two?  Of Monsters & Men are an indie-folk band from iceland that draw comparisons to Mumford & Sons.  Lively folk music with a nostalgia of the distant past. If you loved Mumford & Sons' 2009 Sigh No More as much as I did, then you will probably enjoy these songs, though probably not as much as Mumford.  

8. Bell X1 - Bloodless Coup
I need some good brit-rock in my life sometimes.  When it is not Wintersleep or Bombay Bicycle Club, this year it has been Bell X1 which combines indie sensibilities with electronic undertones.  The closest I get to Alternative on this list, Bloodless Coup has a cohesive feel while every song brings a different approach to the songwriting. I love listening to this when driving to Boulder for some reason.  

9. Page CXVI - Hymns IV
When I wake up and I want to listen to music that speaks truth, that will start my day off well, that will bring me back from the doubts and fears that I so often have, there is no better album this year.  Every Hymns album by Page CXVI does that, but this was the only one released this year!  These hymns have such deep lyrics written in the past that are brought to today by beautiful creative arrangements and music.  

10. Josh Garrels - Love & War & The Sea In Between
Josh Garrels has always had a unique way of telling a story through song.  This time he uses the whole album to tell the story.  He fills out his folky sound and is more polished then previous records.  The lyrics are deeply human and spiritual.  "Tempted and tried, I wondered why / The good man died, the bad man thrives / And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both" ("Farther Along"). By the way, this album is free

11. 100 Mile House - Hollow Ponds
There is something idealistic about a pastoral life in the plains of Canada.  That is where this band hales from and that is the feeling that comes through the music.  It is an album about the parts of love that come after the honeymoon stage that so many songs are about.  Wondering what comes next, making plans, figuring out routines.  One truly folk album that hits the mark for me this year.  

Try the song Hollow Ponds

12. Noah & the Whale - Last Night on Earth

One of my favorite things to do is go to live shows.  This past year has seen many changes (you can read the rest of this blog to see those!) and with those I have had less time to go to concerts.  Noah and the Whale was the last show that I have seen.  Because of that, this album was one of my favorite to listen to this year.  A more pop driven effort by Noah & the Whale then their past two records.  

It was a struggle to take these albums off of the list, so here they are as Honorable Mentions from 2011:
Matt Pond PA - Spring Fools EP (Indie/Alternative)
Release the Sunbird - Come Back to Us  (Indie/Folk)
Danny Schmidt - Man of Many Moons (Singer/Songwriter)
Arms and Sleepers - Nostalgia For The Absolute (Ambient)
Cloud Control - Bliss Release (Indie/Folk/Rock)
Ivan & Alyosha - Fathers Be Kind (Indie/Folk)
Adele - 21 (Alternative/Soul)
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Indie/Folk)
Amos Lee - Mission Bell (Singer/Songwriter)
Jack Carty - One Thousand Origami Birds (Singer/Songwriter)
Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm (Singer/Songwriter)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

3 months old!

Emma Kate you're three months old! 
You have become so inquisitive about the world around you! You love studying your toys and playing with your crinkle book. 
Even when you're fussy, a round of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is guaranteed to bring on a smile. 
 You love to play quietly in the early mornings and we love having that sweet quality time with you! 

 You also have discovered you can put things in your mouth and your newest challenge is to fit your whole fist in there! 

You are starting to stretch out your 0-3 month sleepers but I can't bring myself to pack them away yet! Where did these 3 months go?  We are so so so thankful God has put you in our lives and we are excited to see how you continue to grow ( just slow it down a little, ok?)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Under the weather...

The Callaways have been battling a cold this week starting with Adam and then moving onto Emma Kate and now me. Thankfully Adam had it on the front end and I have it on the back end so at least one of us is able to take care of the other.  Sweet Emma Kate has been up a lot at night snacking and needing to cuddle (which I love).  Between the lack of sleep, sore throat and headaches, my grumpiness has shown it's true colors in the mornings; which is never a good look on me and not very fun for my sweet husband who has given me a lot of grace.  But I'm working on it. We've spent alot of time steaming up the bathroom and rocking Emma Kate to sleep in there. Poor thing. It's so sad to watch her try to clear all the gunk from her throat. We also got the nosefrida by many peoples suggestion and it works much better than those nose bulbs!  She hated when we used the bulb (lots of tears) but she doesn't seem to mind the nosefrida as much.  To quote a review on Amazon "It's the grossest thing I ever loved :)"
And on a totally random note I was verbally processing with Adam about how I want to write more often and I don't want to be stuck in a box..blah.blah.blah (you know, one of my usual verbal processing sessions.)  He knows when I need to verbally process cause my rants normally start with "so..Here's the thing..." Adam told me just to "Write from the heart, pump, pump....blood parts" (there definitely were hand gestures to go along with it)  I was totally tracking with him until he threw in the "blood parts." :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The position has been filled

That's right! I was officially hired on by Miss Emma Kate Callaway as her full-time momma. milk truck. diaper changer. entertainment staff. stylist. personal assistant. sleep expert. late night comforter. soloist. body pillow. maid. absorber of the fussies. activities director. complaint department. developmental trainer. snuggle buddy. etc...

My transition to mommyhood has been getting a little easier everyday. I see pictures on Facebook of moms who seemed to walk out of the hospital like they just walked out of a really fun party. Hair done, makeup on, rested, already back in their pre-pregnancy clothes- and  I totally feel jealous  I realize that has not been my story. I left the hospital swollen all over, sore, wearing the stretchiest pants I own, totally exhausted, scared, excited and in L.O.V.E. (next post I have to write EK's birth story, I'm saying this now as accountability) Now I feel like I am coming out the "fog" that so many moms told me about which is probably a combination of God's graciousness and the fact that I am getting sleep in more than two hour stretches. Most days I can still be found, unshowered before 3pm, teeth not brushed yet (working on this one cause I really don't want cavities :), with dark circles under my eyes, smelling like an unusual combination of milk and dirty diaper, probably wearing the same thing I wore yesterday, feeling like this is that hardest job I have ever had and also the most rewarding thing I've ever done and I love it!

I also think that Emma Kate is a pretty great employer. Besides her few really dramatic moments of anger or sadness where you'd think the world was ending (we have no idea where she got that from ;) which can be easily alleviated for me by a quick prayer for patience and the stash of chocolate I keep hidden in the top right hand corner of our pantry),  she is a happy and content baby who is so smiley, talkative, social and loves to play. She has a really flexible schedule, nap times and long walks are included in the job, there are always knew things to learn and do, and like any mom, I think she is the cutest and sweetest and most fun baby in the world!

Leaving my old job in college ministry feels bitter sweet. I loved L-O-V-E-D spending time with college girls and got to go on so many adventures; Spain, South Africa, India, New York, Long Beach, Katrina Relief... However, I feel so thankful that we are in a position where I can be with Emma Kate full-time!  I am looking forward to the bonding time with her and the many lessons I will learn along the way. Right now I am learning how to enjoy the time alone with her (enjoying time alone has never been my strong suit).  If I'm not careful, I can start to focus on what I would have been doing with my day before a kiddo and I totally rob myself of the joy of having her in my life and miss out on the little sweet moments of connection with her that are so precious! I know before I even take breath I will be dropping her off in kindergarten and then taking her to college (which already totally freaks me out.) I'm praying for the ability to be fully PRESENT with Emma Kate and for a sense of peace and confidence in the journey the Lord has me on right now. 

My friends and I had this old tradition where we would bake a Job Cake every time someone got a new job. Maybe emma kate and I need to walk down to Pajama Baking Company today and celebrate our new venture over a cupcake. With sprinkles on it.  Hopefully she will let me eat her half :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"You never marry the right person..."

Adam emailed me this Tim Keller article yesterday and I was taken back at first when the subject line read "You never marry the right person." What was he trying to tell me?!!! But then I read the article and it all made sense. I feel like this article is so spot on!  I hope you are encouraged and challenged in reading it! I know I was!  Now I need to read the book :)

In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
You never marry the right person
The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love ... ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.
No false choices
The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.
The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller.  Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.