Friday, October 28, 2011

Dance Party Friday, Anniversary Edition


Today is our 11th wedding anniversary! Hooray for us. :)

We met in October 1998. I was in college at Kansas State University when my husband (in the Army at the time) came to my apartment with some friends. His friend had a crush on my roommate and he wanted to visit her, but didn't want to come alone, so he drug his friends along with him.

I began quizzing the guys on what music they listened to, and one after another, they were saying "Master P" and I was just like Uhhhh. Without the nah nah nah, you guys. Not a fan. I mean, I respect his hustle but his style is just not my thing. When I got to my husband, he said he listened to A Tribe Called Quest. This made me take notice because I was a big ATCQ fan. I left for some party and later referred to him as "the cute one on the couch." I didn't really think about him again.

A couple weeks later, on Halloween night, my roomies and I went to a Goodie Mob concert on campus - and THE CUTE ONE ON THE COUCH was there with his friends! We saw them in the audience so after the show we met up with them and decided we'd all go to the various Halloween parties in town, as a big group. We split off into different cars and I (of course) ended up in his car. OH LOOK, he happened to be playing Tribe on his stereo! ;)

We were out all night and while our friends went into house party after house party, we stayed behind in his car and talked and talked and talked.

A couple days later he & his friends came over (my roomie had begun warming up to the guy who had a crush on her) and the rest is history - we got serious immediately.

Two years and one baby later, we got married, and here we are today, 11 years and two more kids later. We've been through a lot . . . A LOT, Y'ALL. And we're still together and happy.

Here's the little gazebo where we got married. No decorations (none needed, look at that greenery!), our friends & family stood around the gazebo and we had a very small reception at the local brewery.

Love you babe!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Excited for my birthday!

My birthday is in about a week, a couple days later is my work BFF's birthday, and a week after that we'll be going out with co-workers for The 2nd Annual Ashley and Sara Joint Birhday extravaganza!

Last year's festivities involved a lot of bar-hopping. I hoped the evening would end in a killer danceoff, but due to smoke machines and someone's asthma, we just sat around and complained about work. I've decided to plan a dance night separately with people who I know really want to go, and to do something else super fun for our birthday.

Sara got to pick where we eat/drink (she's a foodie, I'm not) and I got to pick the late night activity: KARAOKE!

What should I sing? I'm going for fun crowd pleasers, not an audition for American Idol.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Proud of my husband

Among other things, my husband is a high school football coach. He coaches at his alma mater, under the same head coach he had when he was in high school. This is a big school where football is king, and he's coached there for a few years now, working his way up the ladder.

He's held different coaching positions on the freshman team and has been asked to coach on the sophomore team next year. Also, recently a senior player on the varsity team was highlighted in the Chicago Tribune. That player mentioned my husband's coaching during his freshman year as something that helped him a lot. Very cool!

As a coach he's mentored many kids & teens - athletically, academically and in terms of character and choices. He really shines in this sort of role and I'm proud of him.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dance Party Friday! Simply Happy

Today's Dance Party is simply "songs that make us happy." Who's the "us?" Me & my co-workers. I've put out a call to them, asking for their song requests . . . of course I had to lay the smacketh down immediately when one of them asked for Dirty Diana. Again.

Look. I am not going to play that song on my blog. Ever. I just don't like it and this is my blog and YOU AREN'T THE BOSS OF ME!!!


YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO FIND THIS SONG FOREVER AND IT'S FINALLY ON YOUTUBE!!!! I had this tape, this was my favorite song, I know every word. This is JUST Salt - no Pepa. She kills this song.

Here's the first request I could approve - love this song. It's very cheerleader-y and I like the pause: "That's not my . . . name."

"You take your prospects and your pick axe and you trudge down to the stream, and you bloody your hands digging for your dream." I have never found a band or musician who has more poetic and just plain awesome lyrics than the Indigo Girls. I love this line, it's tattoo worthy.

This is a fun dance song but what I love most is the humor. Please note 0:23 - that's Sara's dance!! If only he would make it rain, he would be her dance twin! Also? Hot. Please dance more.

I'd heard of these guys but didn't really give them a listen until they were on Saturday Night Live. This song is incredible. Please listen all the way through, it builds & builds. Here they are, playing it on Letterman.

Sara's request - Now, if you're new to this blog, you don't know that Sara and I have shared a love for this song for quite a while. I mean, we each loved it but then we FOUND OUT that we each loved it and the rest was history. Playing non-stop, leaving each other voicemails, breaking out into song, putting it on each other's facebook pages, history. We're about to go out for our 2nd annual Sara & Ashley Joint Birthday Extravaganza and, well, this song is likely going to make an appearance periodically through the evening. If we go dancing, a DJ will be bothered repeatedly until he agrees to play it.

Sara's really feeling the 80s at the moment.

Yeah! Kate suggested this song, a classic. How amazing would it have been to see this live??

Mike's contribution - I can get with this. After I vetoed Dirty Diana and Danzig.

WE TAKE THE BACKSEATS OUT OF THE MINIVAN . . . Hmm . . . is this how Sara and I will go out for our birthday??

Love me some Patsy!!

OMG don't read the comments. It'll just make you sad. Y'all, just enjoy the music. Don't argue about it.

My favorite song by a favorite band. Brian Wilson just can't be topped in pop song writing, and his voice when he sings, "Everything will turn out alright" . . . sigh.

My friend Nick said that in concert, these guys say some variation of "This one's for the ladies" prior to every song. Makes me love them even more.

What songs make you super happy?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My family is the 99%

I have lots of thoughts to share about Occupy Wall Street, money, class and so on - and I hope to share those thoughts soon.

Today I'm going to direct you to something I wrote in April that you might not have read - it's the story of a crisis my family went through a few years ago.

You know, many people wouldn't look at me or my family and think we'd be the types to go through a crisis of that type - we're too educated, too well-dressed, too smart, too well-paid. Well, we did go through it and there are thousands of families, including families who are even better off than we are, who are going through things like this.

Was our situation the fault of Wall Street? Directly, maybe not. Did Wall Street contribute to the real estate situation where people bought investment properties they couldn't really afford? Yes. Did an incredible number of property owners go into foreclosure because their payments weren't realistic? Yes. Did every day people like my family get the short end of the stick when it came to renting a property that turned out to be foreclosed? OH YES. Why, my family is going through that very same thing right now - we have to move by the end of December - except this time there's no dramatic flooding. There have been so many renters being turned out of now-foreclosed properties that a new law was created in 2009 to protect them . . . and still we weren't protected. There are still hardworking families having to scramble for a new place to live because their landlord went into foreclosure.

I suppose we should "just" buy a house, already, right?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dance Party Friday: SKA-MAZING!!

A couple weeks ago, the Dance Party was about the music my friend Justin introduced me to. I mentioned that he was in a ska band - he's the one who played ska for me for the first time.

I am not a ska expert, but . . . did you know that reggae actually developed out of ska? It's true! Ska started in Jamaica in the 50s and 60s. I don't know much about its evolution there in Jamaica, except that by the late 60s & 70s, reggae was king. Here's what I've pieced together from stuff I've read over the years - imagine rock in the 1950s - Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, those guys. More bouncy, energetic - that was ska. Then as doo wop, Motown and soul began emerging - slower rhythms, more funk - ska made that same evolution into reggae. I think. :)

HOWEVER! Ska was revived in England in the 70s in what is sometimes called the "2nd wave" or "2 Tone" ska era. 2 Tone wasn't the only, but was the biggest English ska record label. The black and white checkers that is associated with ska comes from their logo:

Eventually its popularity died out. In the 90s, ska came back in the U.S. I was around during that 3rd wave and enjoyed it quite a bit. There are still ska bands all over today, though the genre isn't popular the way it was 15 years ago.

So, without further ado, I'm going to go chronologically through the years and play some of the songs and artists that my friends and I have come to know and love. I'm also going to include some music that wouldn't be categorized as ska, but has obvious ska/reggae influences.

Skatalites – Guns of Navarone
The Skatalites are one of the bands that got ska off the ground in Jamaica and this is probably their biggest hit. I need more of their stuff, like whoa.

Desmond Dekker – The Israelites
Desmond Dekker was another early ska artist who went on to have great success in the 60s and 70s. Love this song.

Toots & the Maytals - Pressure Drop
The Clash later covered this, and it's been covered by many others. Great classic ska by a massive ska/reggae band. If you're into ska/reggae and you don't listen to these guys, you need to rectify that situation IMMEDIATELY.

Bob Marley and the Wailers - Ska Jerk
Um, recognize that name? That's right, these guys were ska before they were reggae! And do you recognize the melody when they sing ska jerrrk? Sounds very similar to a U.S. r&b song from the 60s, though I can't place it at the moment.

A Message to You Rudy - The Specials
The Specials are my favorite ska group, hands down. I love their style, I love what they added to ska classics. I love their messages of racial unity. You'll notice the name Rudy/Rudie a lot in ska music, in reggae. This is from the term "rude boy" or "rude girl" which basically means a street kid, a tough, a punk, a troublemaker. I had fun explaining this to some friends a couple years ago when they were singing Rude Boy by Rihanna.

The Beat - Ranking Full Stop
The Beat (known as The English Beat in the U.S.) is another favorite of mine, also from the 2nd wave in Britain. Their sound is often a mixture of ska and the New Wave sound that was developing at the same time.

Madness - The Prince
You may remember Madness from their song "Our House" but they did have a song on the 2 Tone label . . .

The Clash - Rudie Can't Fail
The Clash aren't really a ska band but they definitely have ska/reggae influence in a lot of their music.

The Police - Canary in a Coalmine
The Police will be a favorite band of mine for life, and one reason is the prevalence of a ska/reggae sound in their music. No shock that they were forming alongside guys like the Specials.

Fishbone - Skankin to the Beat - SUCH A FUN SONG!!!
Now that I think of it, Lloyd Dobler introduced me to ska, not Justin! I love the movie Say Anything, and John Cusack's character, Lloyd Dobler, loved Fishbone. In fact, he wore a Fishbone t-shirt in the scene where Lloyd holes up in the bathroom to call Diane Court and ask her out on a date. I got this soundtrack in my freshman or sophomore year and fell in love with this song, though it was a slightly different version. Justin didn't tell me about ska until senior year of high school. :)

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Simmer Down
A nice 90s ska cover of this classic song. The Bosstones were probably the first ska group Justin introduced me to (though not all their stuff can be categorized as ska) (have I said that enough? geez). It's a plaid, plaid world, y'all.

No Doubt - Spiderwebs
No Doubt isn't a ska band but there's no denying that they have ska influences in their music, and there's also no doubt that like it or not, they were one of the factors in ska's resurgence in the 90s. I happen to like No Doubt, though I don't consider them a ska band - just a pop/rock band with ska tendencies . . . at times.

Sublime - Wong Way
Yet another band that wasn't necessarily a ska band, but had a ska/reggae influence, and was out around the same time as full-on ska bands. They helped make the genre accessible to the masses.

O'Phil - Reno
So Justin ended up joining a local ska band, which was the most popular local band of any genre, really, at the time. Interestingly, first Justin was in a teeny ska band of guys we went to high school with, at the same time that I was going to O'Phil shows. O'Phil, like a lot of ska bands, weren't straight up ska, they blended it with other genres, namely punk. I'm sure they could give a much better description of their sound and influences, but that's how it came across to me.

A couple years later, Justin had joined O'Phil and invited me to see them play in a college town (Lawrence, KS) an hour away from my college town. So I made the little road trip, enjoyed the show and catching up with Justin. I think I might have also met Brandi, his then-girlfriend, now-wife. Hi Brandi! :)

So at the show I was sitting near some guys who (it turns out) went to school with me, they'd also made the road trip to see the O'Phil show. We exchanged numbers and I began hanging out with those guys . . . turns out they were in a ska band, too (and actually knew O'Phil - I later went to a show where they both played)! Here they are:

Ruskabank - My Friends
I hung out with these guys a while . . . dated one of them briefly and when that ended, so did my friendships with the band members. I get it, bros before . . . well, whatevs. They were a fun group of guys and their shows were just Tons. Of. Fun.

MU330 - La
I saw these St. Louis ska guys play with O'Phil and a small band (also from Missouri) called Big Bad Chubba. I only remember this because I *still* have a t-shirt from that show. It's a take on the Mountain Dew logo & commercials, and says "Dew the Ska!". In fact, I have a picture of that shirt somewhere on Facebook . . . lemme find it . . . I bought a MU330 CD and a Big Bad Chubba TAPE at that show. Fun Fact: MU330 was named after a music class in the high school where the band members went. I know this because I was talking about the band once with a friend who went to that high school. He's a big music dude and was apparently a few years behind those guys in school.

I was getting ready to perform at a dance competition, so my makeup is a little heavy.

Check it out, y'all - ska isn't dead!

Big D and the Kids Table - Noise Complaint
A co-worker of mine (also from St. Louis so I had fun sharing my MU330 fun fact with him) loves ska and this is maybe his favorite band. I asked him for a couple dance party suggestions . . . he saw them when they were in Chicago recently and got to chat/enjoy a beer with Big D.

Ska is also not dead when you teach your kids to love it!!! This is a video from Yo Gabba Gabba, every hip parent's favorite kids show. I mean, dude - they have Biz Markie on their show regularly. Tell me what's not to love. Pickitup! Pickitup! Pickitup pickitup pickitup!

Spunge - Kicking Pigeons
And this one goes out to Amy and her hatred of Chicago pigeons.

Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
Maybe this is 4th wave ska? Hmm . . . hipster ska.

So, who am I missing?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wake me up in January . . .

Life is a little crazy right now.

1. We rent a townhouse and unfortunately, the owners lost the property in foreclosure. We got notice a couple weeks ago to move out in 90 days. We thought our lease would protect us but 90 days is the max we get. There are some provisions for renters under a law passed in 2009 but we fit in a couple of the loopholes so we don’t get to stay unti the end of our lease.

a. The last couple of weeks have been very stressful as we search for a new place to live.

b. We found something! Same school districts, same size, cute. I’m excited because I’m going to lobby to set my sewing machine up in the living room by a window which looks out onto our backyard, a field & trees.

2. This weekend my brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit us, they have business in Chicago.

3. Next weekend we’re going to an engagement party for my friends.

4. The next weekend is our anniversary and will possibly be the weekend we move to the new place.

a. I’m supposed to go thrifting with friends this weekend, I think. Or some weekend.

5. The following weekend is my birthday.

6. The next weekend is when I celebrate my birthday with coworkers (my annual Big Night On The Town).

7. Two weeks later is Thanksgiving.

My Etsy usually takes off in November, and we could use the money with the move and all, so I anticipate the next 6 weeks or so to be complete chaos as we pack, move, unpack and fit in more socializing than we do almost all year. And as I try to sew, knit, photograph, promote, sell and ship my stuff. OH. LAWD. HELP. ME.

I may not be giving you fresh blog content every day or even weekly but at some point I will be back, I promise! I’ll try to at least keep the Dance Party Friday action going . . .

Here are some random pics for you:

E headband

My co-worker and lovely model, E. She stopped by my office yesterday and was wearing one of my headbands. :) She’s GAWGEOUS.

Kids . . .

kbr2kbr4  kbr3

kbr knitted w buttonsSome knitted cup cozies and fabric-covered buttons that will be in my shop soon! (Each cozy gets a set of 3 buttons) 

Happy Thursday, Y’all!!

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