1. The Oh Hellos -- I occasionally discover new albums from noisetrade.com, a website that allows you to download music and pay what you like for it, from nothing at all to the skies the limit. Last week, after being lured to the site with the promise of a new album from HEM, the Mr. and I were poking around to see what else we could find and came across Through the Deep Dark Valley by the Oh Hellos. (You can also find them here with the same kind of "pay what you like" kind of deal.) The group is a brother/sister duo from Texas, and the collection of songs is a concept album that they suggest should be listened to in its entirety in one sitting. It's hard to explain how songs which seem to mostly focus on inherited sin (here comes Total Depravity again!) and the experience of being a prodigal son can at the same time be so incredibly full of joy. This is an album which should be listened to not only in one sitting, but loudly and in a place with room enough to dance (although, if you're in the car, some energetic head bobbing might do). We've listened to it again and again over the past week or so, and it just keeps getting better. In fact, I popped it in on the way to the grocery store and Ana asked, "Who is this again, mom?" and when I told her it was the Oh Hellos she said, "Oh yay. That's a good one!" (The song up there is utterly beautiful, but doesn't convey the energy and drive of some of the rest of the album which we've found so infectious.)
2. This soft pretzel recipe from Alton Brown -- My sorry food photography skills don't do it justice but these were amazing for lunch yesterday.
3. Two neighborhood girls who have befriended our kids, let them borrow their skateboards, and taught them how to play "cops and robbers." -- Our three returned the favor and taught them how to play one of their favorite games, "Let's fight the redcoats!"
4. An episode of Nature about ducks entitled An Original DUCKumentary -- It's kind of funny, I mean, they're just ducks, right? But the kids watched this for the third time yesterday and it continues to amaze and delight them (and us). There is some incredible footage in this film and it has awakened in us a new-found appreciation for Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and all their web-footed, brilliantly-colored, dabbling and diving friends. The opening sequence is breathtaking. (This film also inspired a conversation between Iain and Ana in which he was heard to instruct her that, "when you get older and go to college, you don't need to worry about being pretty and trying to make the boys like you so that you can get a husband. It's the man's job to look good and try to impress the lady, and then she just gets to pick which one she wants. At least, that's the way ducks do it.")
5. Oh, and this (of course!):