Friday, January 11, 2013

Wow, I Forgot about this...for 2 years!

So, I totally forgot that we had a blog.  So, here a short run-down of what's happening in the Benson household in the 2+ years since our last post.

  1. I graduated from Penn State in May 2011.
  2. I had a job lined up by February of 2011.
  3. We moved to Warrensburg, Missouri.  I am now a professor of Scene Design and Technology for the Department of Theatre & Dance at The University of Central Missouri.
  4. My colleagues are incredible.  
  5. We love it here.
  6. Angie is going back to school to compete her degree.
  7. Angie is getting much work as a pianist and music director around Warrensburg and Kansas City (about an hour away).
  8. I am getting much work as a scene designer, in addition to designing for the department.
  9. I hate the school's mascot.  It looks like a braying ass.
  10. Max in 4 year old now.  
  11. He's awesome and he loves it here.
  12. I have a show opening up in Kansas City today, at the American Heartland Theatre.  Hound of the Baskervilles, ala "Reduced Shakespeare Company."
That's the short run-down.  More to come!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hopping Back in the Blog Saddle Again

A lot has happened since our last posts. Two short days after I returned from my professor's memorial service in Iowa, my brother was critically injured in a construction accident. He fell 40 feet onto concrete through an unmarked skylight.

Without going into detail, I'm pleased to fast forward to the present and report that (two and a half weeks later), he has taken some strides, though it will be a long road ahead. Needless to say, life has taken on new meaning since the tragedies of this fall & early winter.

To quote one of my professor's and my favorite musicals, RENT, "There's only us. There's only this. Forget regret or life is yours to miss. No other road, no other way, no day but today." I'm living my life by these lyrics now.

With that, yesterday I started my latest quest to get back into running regularly. I have vowed to run to only Michael Jackson tunes and will run to nothing else until my brother is able to join me again, no matter how long it takes- days, weeks, months or even years.

Why MJ? He's one of both my and E's childhood favorite artists. Our family had 'Thriller' on vinyl (awww yeah) and when my mom was at church council meetings, we (all four of us plus my dad) would blast it at maximum volume and make the house shake. As soon as we saw the family van pull up in the driveway we'd turn it down. :) One of my favorite childhood memories! E & I also share a great love of last year's movie 'This is It' and I plan to take the DVD to the hospital to watch with him sometime soon.

On the Max front, he continues to be a thriving and energetic little dude and the light of our lives. He's currently all about Thomas the Train, trucks and Matchbox cars! His sense of humor and general well-behavedness are sources of pride for both of us. Christmas with his two cousins in the midwest will be very special this year!

M had a very successful fall semester here at Penn State and is just one semester shy of receiving his MFA. It's been a long three years, but well worth it. Feel free to check out his website to see some of his incredible accomplishments!

I had a great fall as well. I music directed 'Altar Boyz' and 'The Drowsy Chaperone' (which M also designed!) and will be playing Keys2/Guitar2 this spring on 'RENT'. This will be very meaningful and special given the loss of my dear mentor & friend.

I'm just realizing that this post has kind of turned into what would probably be in our Christmas letter (that will not get sent this year), so to wrap this up, we'd like to wish everyone near and far a happy holiday and very blessed and healthy new year. Thanks for reading us! And hey, do me a favor, will you? Take a second to hug your loved ones a little bit longer than usual and tell them how much they mean to you. Life's too short.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

National Prematurity Awareness Day

Today is National Prematurity Awareness Day. According to the March of Dimes website, one in eight babies is born too soon. Our Max was born two months premature and spent one month in the NICU. Not all families are as lucky as we were. Should you choose, I encourage you today to support the March of Dimes or Friends of Maddie, a wonderful organization whose purpose is to support families of premature babies during their time in the NICU. We are honored that Max's story has been posted on their website.

On a lighter note, today (apparently in honor of Prematurity Awareness Day) our preemie taught us that Mom & Dad need to start watching what they say.

Three words: mimicing parrot son.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Best Part of Wakin' Up...

So for his birthday, Max's Nana got him a toy Coleman camping grill. It's actually pretty awesome. The burners light up and make noise when you turn them on, and it comes with a myriad of cooking utensils, including tongs, a spatula, frying pan, and of course, a percolator.

Flash forward to last night...I couldn't fall asleep. I had a pain in my side and down my leg that was keeping me up. So when the alarm went off in the morning, I was hitting snooze pretty frequently. At one point, Max came into the bedroom and grabbed my hand with a cheery "Hi!" and tried to pull me out of bed. I suggested he curl up with me for 9 minutes, but he refused; his day was well under way and he wasn't going to let his bleary eyed old man slow him down. Well, I was really interested in those 9 minutes of sleep. I rolled over, Max left the room silently, but rapidly. Nine minutes later, he was back at my bedside, but this time, he had his grill, the percolator, and one of the toy camping mugs. He proceeded to make me a cup of the best pretend coffee I've ever had and served it to me in bed with a huge smile.

That has got to be the best way to wake up in the morning. Period.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Monsters & Homecoming

I went on a quick jaunt to New York City last weekend to attend an amazing concert honoring a dear friend. It was a whirlwind 40 hours and I was fortunate to see my uncle & aunt, cousin and a handful of very dear friends in the short amount of time I was there. As you can see above, I had my picture taken with a couple of furry monsters in Times Square. After said picture, Cookie Monster started talking to me- "You make donation now?". I was all "For REAL, Cookie?", but gave him a dollar anyway. Then Elmo chimed in, "You make donation?" and I realized that you can't tip Cookie Monster and then leave Elmo hanging, so I gave him a buck as well. It turns out one of my friends had been trying to warn me that they were going to make me pay for the picture, but I was too excited about the prospect of getting a pic of me with two Sesame Street characters for Max. The look on his face when I showed him the picture was worth a MILLION dollars. :)

This weekend was Penn State's Homecoming. Normally I'd hide indoors and stay away from the craziness downtown, but something about having a super interactive 2 year old changed things this year. The weather has been GOR-GEOUS this weekend, so we spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon walking around campus. My ultimate goal was to take him to hear the Alumni Blue Band play whilst eating Creamery ice cream. I ended up heading in the complete opposite direction at first, thus our long walk. We arrived at the Alumni House just in time to hear the last 10 minutes of their concert AND meet the Nittany Lion! We were fortunate to get a really great spot in front of Old Main for the parade, too. We waited about 45 minutes and just as Max was starting to get testy, lo and behold- a firetruck! He was in it to win it from then on. Tractors, light up floats, bands- he had a blast. We definitely have a little percussionist on our hands, too. He loved the bands all around, but whenever the rhythm section marched past he went totally bonkers- screaming, clapping, screeching, you name it! Michael has decided he'll need to take up the bass so we have a whole rhythm section. We'll be on the road like the Partridge Family before you know it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Birthday Party

Last weekend was an exciting weekend in the household. The show I music directed (ALTAR BOYZ) had a fantastic three day run at Penn State and fulfilled all my childhood rock star dreams. :) (Max's as well- see above pic of him at the drumset!)

Then on Sunday we had a joint birthday party for Max, E (our friend Grace's 3 year old) and A.M. (a faculty member's 3 year old) at a local park. The weather was perfect- sunny and not too hot! Michael grilled and everyone brought lots of yummy side dishes, not to mention the CARS cake for the boys. We were very touched by all of our friend's generosity with gifts for Max. He really stocked up on fun books, trucks, cars, Legos & trains!

In general, we've been so fortunate to have made such awesome friends here at Penn State. Every different group has been so amazing with Max and just adores him. He's become a mascot of sorts for all the theatre folk at everything from the paint/scene shops to rehearsal to production meetings. We're so thankful that everyone is so accepting of having a little dude running around underfoot.