Brothers, Christmas and a Dead Tree

Luke is 2 months shy of 3 years old.

The latest 'Conversation with Luke'
"Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?"

In other words, we talk to each other all day.
Whew, yes!  Explain everything.
 He wants to create conversation, he wants to continue all dialog.  Silence should never exist.  The question of 'Why?' has become a type of response to anything that we say.  So, we've been getting deep...our conversations take turns that they've never taken before.  Topics of existence, the size of the universe, what we are made of.  Our discussions never intentionally get that far, but when answering the question 'Why?' continuously, you are bound to reach the core of the subject; it is inevitable.

*Currently* Talking about anything related to Santa's sleigh and the reindeer; mainly, Rudolph.  Why is Rudolph's nose red anyway?
He loves creating puppets with his hands, wearing towels as capes (he has a Superman cape wrapped and under the tree!) He's a big Daddy's boy.  And he loves JOKES!  He is too funny.  His favorite joke:  Hey, whose nachos are these? ...  NOT YOS!!!

Sawyer is 10 months old.  He is crawling at lightning speed, and pulling up on anything and walking around...including walls.  I've seen him stand alone once.  He has 4 teeth,  loves Mama,  mesmerized by Adam playing guitar and looks at us like we're crazy most of time...especially when we are dragging a tree into our living room and decorating it.  He loves his big brother.
Christmas is so much more fun with wide eyed children...their wonderment is contagious.  Especially when you are rediscovering the holiday through a child's curiosity.  Such as, why are we getting a tree?  Thanks to google, many questions are answered for everyone.  Are you curious now too?  Find out:
The tree behind the brothers is our first tree this year.  At the beginning of December, we went to get a beautiful PNW Pine tree.  The fir trees they had were way too big.  So we got a nice 7 foot pine.  The smell, aaaah, the smell of a fresh tree in the house beats any oil, candle, scentsy, anyday!!
Well 2 weeks passes, and the tree drooped lower and lower and lower.  Needles were falling, the color was gone.  I didn't understand!  I watered every 3 days!  It was no use dwelling.  After reading about the extreme fire hazard a dead pine tree becomes, we made a decision.  We stripped it bare and tossed the thing in the backyard. For the first time in my life, I now have a $40 Plastic Fir.  Aren't fake trees just a little 'too perfect?'  My Mom once told me that she loves trees that are imperfect, flawed, not very full, not the prettiest tree they have.  Maybe her sentiment has passed down to me. 

Merry Christmas HOHOHO! 


Christmas in Okinawa, Throwback 2013

Last year around this time, I was pulled in too many directions and had to take a hiatus from blogging.  So here are some fun, twinkly photos of our Okinawa Christmas last year.  Luke's 1st Christmas too!!

I had a few people ask me what Christmas was like in Okinawa.  
I'll explain our experience through a series of Christmas throwbacks. 
It was interesting for a couple of reasons...First of all Japan is primarily Buddhist and a native religion called Shinto.  A small percentage of the population (around 1%) are Christians.
However, the culture of Japan and the culture of Okinawa are vastly different.  Okinawa is swarming with Americans.  Most businesses cater to Americans...therefore on the # 1 consumer driven holiday of our homeland, the smart thing for any Okinawan business to do is cover their entryways in garland, blind us with twinkly lights and advertise the gift giving season. Which was nice, honestly.  The best thing about Christmas is the 'spirit'...the shift in our emotion and thoughts; subconsciously taking on a more hopeful positive attitude.  The holiday season is so full of FUN.  The weather gets cooler, you think of scarves, hot chocolate, snow, family, food, love, laughter, friendships, giving, christmas trees, decorations, and for those of us with kids, Christmas takes on so much more joy than ever before. 
So when we were able to take our almost 2 year old on a walk through one of the coolest Christmas displays ever, in a foreign country, next to the ocean; it was a great memory. 

American Village, Okinawa, Japan December 2013

 All photography was with a NikonD7000.  Lovin this bokeh!
More of Christmas in Okinawa coming soon.


Custom Christmas Cards

Some good friends of ours asked if I could take photos of them for their Christmas card this year.  She had a good idea and needed a little help 'getting ready.'
I was all about it! 
So I helped their dog, Riot, string them up in lights and duct tape their mouths...bad dog, very bad dog.  HAHA, I think they came out great!!
Here is the photo they used:

The lights under his paw.  Hahaha, a nice touch!

Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!

The Gorge Ampitheatre, DMB 2014

The Gorge Ampitheatre.  In one word...amazing.  It's vastness.  It's natural beauty.  It literally echos
It's located in a very small town called George in central Washington...that's right.  It's in George, Washington.  Just east of the Cascades, in canyon country, someone had the idea to build an epic music venue, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the vast Columbia River Gorge.  Someone was brilliant.

Years ago, in my wild youth, I spent 3 days camping and dancing at the Sasquatch Music Festival.  Relive that glorious blog festival here:  SASQUATCH 2010 POST

So that was 4 years ago.  A literal lifetime ago.

Since then, I've gotten married, moved to Japan, adopted a dog, had 2 children, and come full circle...moving to Eastern Washington.  Only 2 hours to The Gorge.
I've been on the search for a good show to revisit this incredible venue.  Honestly, it wouldn't even matter who was playing.  The venue is an experience in itself.
An opportunity came.  My best friend Alicia was coming to visit;  And I needed to get her a birthday gift; And Dave Matthews Band happened to be playing their 3 day weekend at the Gorge. Admittedly, I have sort of lost touch with my jam band side...During my college days, DMB was a regular on my playlists, but has since faded into lost ipod shuffles.  The good thing about this band...they never get old, they are incredibly talented and they are legends.  I can play a song from years ago and still remember every word.  I vowed to see them in concert before they retired...they were a bucket list band.  I bought us tickets.
Sidenote from a Mama...
 It was an amazing getaway from home.  No matter what any mother says, we need breaks too; and while I am not constantly seeking them out, when they present themselves, I take advantage of my temporary freedom to the fullest extent.

Not only was I spending this time with my best friend, who I hadn't seen in 3 years, but we were going to one of the most epic venues in the world to see one of the most talented bands of our lifetime.  Excited was an understatement.

Our drive from Spokane took us across flat countryside, gaping gorges and dry plateaus.  We blasted new music to my ears and giggled with excitement, catching up on lost time and feeling young and free.
When we got there, we parked and pulled out our 40s.  HAHA, seriously that's exactly what we did.  The only difference from the last 40 I had?  This one was a carefully selected local brew, not my usual Coors Light from my college days.   It was warm with a cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky.  Everyone around us had the same idea.  We made friends with our neighboring tailgaters and by the time everyone started shuffling towards the front gate, we had all become best friends...(our 40s were empty.  We all had that in common.)

We danced and pranced across the green grass inside the Gorge (see photo, we had just crested the top of the hill to find this view!) and found an amazing spot to watch from the lawn. 
 It was nice and flat, perfect for dancing, which is exactly what we did for literally 6 hours straight.
The show was incredible.  For all of my fellow DMB fanatics, this was the setlist:

  1. Acoustic
  2. All Along the Watchtower
    (Bob Dylan cover) (Dave solo)
  3. Grace Is Gone
  4. Slip Slidin' Away
    (Paul Simon cover)
  5. Tripping Billies
  6. Loving Wings
  7. Rhyme & Reason
  8. Crash Into Me
  9. Typical Situation
  10. Electric
  11. The Best of What's Around
    (with The Lovely Ladies)
  12. When the World Ends
  13. Squirm
  14. Lover Lay Down
  15. Cornbread
    (with David Ryan Harris)
  16. Jimi Thing
    (with David Ryan Harris)
  17. Grey Street
  18. Steady as We Go
    (First time played since 8/6/06)
  19. Drunken Soldier
    (with The Lovely Ladies)
  20. Can't Stop
    (with The Lovely Ladies)
  21. You & Me
    (with The Lovely Ladies)
  22. Sledgehammer
    (Peter Gabriel cover) (with The Lovely Ladies)
  23. Encore:
  24. Some Devil
    (Dave Matthews song) (Dave solo)
  25. The Stone
  26. Shake Me Like a Monkey

(Cornbread!  My favorite song by Dave.  A little obsessed with it.)
Anyway, it was such an awesome experience.  Memories for a lifetime!  If you've never been to The Gorge Ampitheatre, I suggest you make plans immediately.  You will not regret it.
These photos were taken with my iPhone, not my Nikon...hence the lack in quality.

What is it about an encore that can bring you to tears?!  As we were walking out, he was playing his last song of the encore and it became quite a surreal moment.  It was dark, and I turned around and looked back at the illuminated stage, the sax blaring, glowsticks everywhere, people were dancing and cheering, the entire gorge was alive.   It was like a beating heart, pumping, loud, full.  I was smiling from ear to ear, dancing from my hair to my toes, and smiling from deep within.  This place is something special.