I hope you enjoyed ringing in the new year with people you love (or at least enjoy)! At 8 months pregnant, we decided on a low-key, low pressure evening this year. I could have gone for good movies on the couch, but we’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so I thought the man could use a night out. Not looking for a fancy deal, we had dinner at Oak City Grille in Royal Oak before heading over to our friends house to party in the new year. We had a reservation for 8pm and about half way through dinner the live music started on the stage over the bar. All-in-all it was a fun, festive environment. The food was decent, and it was nice to get out of the house. Once at the party I found a nice comfy post in the corner, put my feet up, cup of water in hand, and eased my way into 2015 in style.
But last year, last year we celebrated just a little bigger. We had been TTC for a few months already, and were really hopeful that New Year 2014 would be our last as a family of 3 (including Brinkley dog of course). I figured that once we have kids it will be harder to justify expensive concert tickets, so I went all-in and bought 2 general admission floor tickets to the Zac Brown Band at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
It was a frigid night, and we nearly froze our buns waiting in line to enter the arena with our light coats. I was worried we wouldn’t have a good view if we got there too late (since it was general admission), so once inside we had to wait some more for things to get going. Man was it worth it.
We ended up just left of the peninsula sticking out of the stage. Brian was concerned it would be too loud if we got too close, so we found a good view a little ways out. Man, did it turn out to be perfect. The band made it out to the end of the stage many times throughout the show, and it was a great view of the main part of the stage.
Surprisingly, the Canadians in the crowd were the really rowdy ones! We had some trouble with pushy drunkards, but not nearly as much as would have suspected for a new year’s eve show. It was a great atmosphere, and a really great show. There are just some bands that are even better live, and this is one of them. These guys are true musicians. There are so many different instruments on the stage, the sound is incredible (Brian hardly needed his protective ear plugs, they kept the sound level at a good point), and the play list is really well put together. They didn’t play my favorite song, Free, but they played a number from what was their newer albums, and we found a few new favorites to love.
When it got to just before midnight, they projected the New York City ball-drop countdown on the big screen, and the whole arena counted in the New Year together. This was followed by a flurry of red, white and blue confetti from the rafters. Seriously, one of my favorite New Year’s Eve countdown moments ever.
For the encore, the guys came out in mechanic’s suites painted as skeletons. It looked pretty awesome in the black lights. I wish I could recall more about the line-up, but the songs they chose for the encore went perfectly with the scene.
If you ever have the chance to see the Zac Brown Band, I would definitely recommend you do. Brian isn’t a country music fan and was really skeptical about how much he would enjoy the evening. A few songs in and he was sold. We had an amazing New Year’s Eve, and made memories that helped get us through the year to come.
It’s been a long year…. full of good, full of change, and full of learning experiences. The turbulent weather seemed to match the tone of life. Unpredictable, overwhelming, exciting and scary. Life has sped up so much these last few years, with big shifts in my life coming faster and faster. Looking back reminds me how much we really did and how many really good times we had, amid the chaos of lose and change.
I’m not huge on parties, so when it came to planning our New Year’s Eve I knew I wanted to do something special but different. We decided to make dinner at home together, then head Downtown to the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to ring in the new year with the Zac Brown Band. With so many instruments and high quality musicians on stage, how can you go wrong? I would definitely put this at the top of my favorite live shows list. It was an intimate and thrilling way to count down to 2014.
Last winter was cold. I don’t have to remind you about our fantastically freezing Polar Vortex. There was something exciting about how extreme the weather was, and how life just had to slow down and shift to accommodate it. With that said, I’m glad we aren’t pushing through negative degree weather and heavy snow this year! I’m not as sure on my feet with a basketball belly under my coat, you know what I mean?
I loved my work, but was ready for a change. In March I got a new start at a smaller digital company in Ann Arbor and dove in to the new work. It was scary starting a new job, with an hour commute, right as I found out I was pregnant, but I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Brian, the loving husband he is, knew that I was ready to get back to Ann Arbor (one step closer to a feeling of home), and we started our plans to move.
After the long cold months of winter, we were eager to head home to California in April. Excited that we would be 12 weeks along while we were there, we made plans to announce the pregnancy in person to my friends and family. It was to be a trip full of celebrations and love with my sister’s baby shower and my best friend’s bachelorette. There was so much joy in the first half of the trip… only to be balanced by the heartbreaking end of our trip and our first pregnancy.
We returned to Michigan after the miscarriage and went into hibernation. I can’t imagine a better team I’d rather have by my side than Brian and Brinkley. May was a blur… an adjustment to life without the little baby in my belly. Learning to see life through a new lens.
As fast as loss can come on and sweep the rug right out from under you, love and abundance can swoop right back in and fill the dark spaces lifting you right back up. In early June we were shocked and elated to learn we are once again expecting a sweet little baby. My best friend got married, and though it was a planned elopement and I wasn’t able to attend in person, I was overjoyed for her and her new husband. To top it all off, the end of June brought the arrival of sweet, sweet little Stella Ray. My sister gave us one of the best gifts we could ever receive and we’ve spent the rest of 2014 just loving on her and watching this adorable little bundle of happiness grow!
Ann Arbor here we come!! July 1st we moved into our new Ann Arbor apartment. It’s been a tough transition, but a good one. There are things we miss about life in Royal Oak, but there are many things we love about Ann Arbor too (including the many summertime festivities that we were able to take part in, like Sonic Lunch, Art Fair, and Summer Fest).
We celebrated our first anniversary on July 21st with a trip back up north, you guessed it, to Traverse City! What can I say? We love it up there. We had big plans to spend a few days in Traverse City and then to head to Mackinac City to take the ferry over to Mackinac Island for our romantic anniversary. That plan was thwarted by another pregnancy scare and a day in the ER. So, instead of gallivanting around a historic island, we took it easy and spent the rest of the weekend with good friends, healing and waiting to see if we would get to keep our little one. Thank G-d for good friends and for things turning out alright.
We headed back to California again for my cousins beautiful Santa Barbara wedding. We spent a week taking in the sunshine and loving on little Stella Ray, and another week making the rounds with family and friends in the Bay Area. It was a great trip slightly tainted by our nerves, but we made it home all in one piece, the bun still baking in my oven. Whew.
I LOVE MICHIGAN FALL. I know, what comes after isn’t so hot (pun intended), but I can’t help but love everything about the crisp, sunny days of fall. My college roommate, Anne, came to visit us and we showed her some of the best fall has to offer. After asking around we decided to go apple picking at Spicer’s Orchard in Fenton. The drive wasn’t bad from Ann Arbor, and it was a great experience! We will definitely be heading back next year. The tractor ride through the orchard, bright blue sky, delicious apples, cider and donuts are all part of what makes fall here so special. We would definitely recommend Spicer’s for families looking for a day of fall fun. We can’t wait to go back with little ones someday.
The gorgeous days of fall football and apple picking quickly shift to grey skies… thank goodness for warm family holidays like Thanksgiving to help get us through. We haven’t had much snow this year, but we got plenty during our interstate drive from Michigan to New Jersey for Thanksgiving weekend. Brian is a master driver, and I’m glad he is cause I would have been a whimpering fool if I had to drive!
We spent the weekend with my cousins in New Jersey, playing with her little ones and reminiscing about our extended family. We even got in a day in Manhattan to check out the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I love exploring with Brian, but I don’t recommend traveling when you are pregnant. Maybe it’s just me, but long drives and long days trekking through cities are better enjoyed without worrying about pregnancy troubles (like swollen feet and fatigue). I know many women are able to go hard during pregnancy, but for me it felt like a little too much action. Still, we had a great time. 🙂
My dad came to visit! I love spending time with my dad. He’s great to adventure with and he has a gung ho attitude when it comes to projects. We spent the weekend hanging out, clearing out the baby’s room/closet and working to prep the nursery for when the little one (hopefully!) arrives. There is nothing better than time with family, and we have had so much of it this year, despite long distances and tough times. It’s really been a journey. I feel like I’ve grown and changed more than ever this year (easy to say when you’ve been pregnant most of the year, but I mean it figuratively as well).
We truly can’t wait to see what 2015 brings. Hopefully it’s tons and tons of happy times and snuggles with our sweet baby girl. Cheers to the new year!
In the last few months I’ve seen tons of posts to Facebook and Instagram from friends at concerts and music festivals. Smokey stages with ethereal lighting and itty bitty figures on a stage. This got me thinking about how much I miss live music.
In the hot and sticky summer of 2009 I was living in Sacramento and preparing for my big move across the country to Michigan to start grad school. I didn’t have a ton of money saved up, and what I had I wanted to save for moving and school costs. Going on a vacation felt like too much of a stretch. Mid-recession the phrase “staycation” was the local entertainment marketing rage, and I decided that was the way to go. I went on a concert binge that summer. I saw Kenny Chesney, Coldplay, and Keith Urban. Each show was a different vibe, and wonderful for completely different reasons, but afterwards there was always the same outcome: I felt renewed, rejuvenated and relaxed.
There is just something so cathartic about listening to music live, singing along with a group, and getting wrapped up in the entertainment and atmosphere of the production and crowd.
I usually prefer an outdoor summer concert. There is something truly magical about sitting outdoors at night, listening to great music, looking up at the stars in the hot summer air. The night we saw Coldplay it was beyond any concert experience I’d had before. The Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, CA is the perfect venue for summer concerts. Nestled into what looks like a hillock in the middle of a farm field, this venue is made for breezy, steamy summer nights. The stage production and surprises Coldplay used for this show felt like they were designed from the imaginative experience of a child. There were oversized large yellow balloons bouncing through the audience during “Yellow”, that when they burst, sprinkled the audience with yellow confetti. There were air rockets shooting multicolored neon and metallic paper butterflies on the audience from every direction timed perfectly with the music and building energy during “Lovers in Japan”, or was it “Strawberry Swing”? I don’t recall, but it was awesome. There was just so much imagination in this show it was like an altered state. They even gave out a CD of the set recorded live at previous shows. It was an incredible experience and the gimmicks all worked on me.
The night I saw Kenny Chesney in San Francisco at AT&T Park, it was less of a production, but enjoyable all the same. The cold San Francisco summer air was enough to make him put on a shirt with sleeves (if you know Kenny Chesney, you know what that takes). Lady Antebellum opened, and though Sugarland didn’t make it to open, Miranda Lambert did and she was AWESOME. AT&T park is great, but cold and big for the kind of show I like. The music was enough to carry us to a warm beachy state of mind.
To be honest, when I decided to see Keith Urban at the Arco Arena in Natomas, CA that summer, I was really going to see his opening act, Leann Rimes. Leann was the first country artist I liked as a child. I used to stand on the trunk at the foot of my mothers bed with Leann’s debut album Blue blasting on the stereo. I’d hold my moms brush to my lips as a microphone and belt out each song, word for word, to my (very tolerant) audience of 1 (my mom). Leann and I are almost exactly the same age (a matter of days) and that just made me love her singing even more.
Excited to see one of my childhood idols, I did a little research online to see where the best seats for my money (which there wasn’t much of) would be. I read a few reviews that suggested there would be a second stage at some point in the show were Keith Urban would play a few songs out in the audience. I looked up the layout of the Arco Arena seating charts and made a guess as to where that would be. When we picked our tickets up at will call they told us the seats we purchased weren’t available because a camera would be placed there, so they were moving us. I was livid! I had purposely chosen that location, how could they ruin my plan! Well, it was all for the best. We ended up seated what seemed like a mere 5 feet from the second stage, right on level with him as he sang. This was our view:
It was AMAZING. I hadn’t been a big fan before the show, but by the time it was over I was sold. 100%.
Since I moved to Michigan that August of 2009, I have made it to a few great shows. Jay Z and Eminem at Comerica Park in 2010 was most memorable (Dr. Dre showed up! Beyonce was dancing in her seat!). Brian got me a ticket as a birthday present and we had a blast. We also saw Jason Mraz at a local outdoor venue, DTE Energy Music Theatre, summer 2012 around my birthday again (a theme I guess). I love Jason Mraz, but the set list wasn’t fabulous and it was a weeknight. By the time the vibe picked up and he started playing songs more familiar to the audience we were already headed out for the night… but at least it was outdoors!
With New Years Eve creeping up on me this year, I started longing for a musical vacation. It is such a stress reducer for me, seeing bands I like play, the thrill of the evening, the music. Last New Years we went up north here in Michigan to Petoskey and rented a house with a few other couples (Details will have to be for another post). It was so much fun exploring the northern lake towns with my hunny, playing in the snow with our puppy, and hanging out with friends. How could we top that? Well, the Zac Brown Band is here to save the day.
I can’t wait to head down to the historic Joe Louis Arena on the Detroit River tomorrow night to ring in the new year with my brand spankin’ new husband and the Zac Brown Band! I really hope they play “Free,” that violin intro melts me and I can’t imagine how it will rock my soul live.