The real highlight of Super Bowl week in Indianapolis was our opportunity to attend the GQ party.  Every year, GQ throws a large invite-only Super Bowl party in the host city.  Did I know this two months ago?  No, but thanks to an amazingly fortuitous work connection a couple weeks prior, Lynne and I found ourselves on the guest list.

The event was held at the Stutz Building, about one mile north of the Super Bowl Village, which kept the event a little mysterious and private.  Co-hosted by GQ and Lacoste, and sponsored by Patron, we knew there’d be a variety of celebrities in attendance, but since it was invite-only, there wasn’t a lot publicized ahead of time since they didn’t need to sell tickets.  All we knew was that QuestLove (from The Roots) was going to deejay, and LL Cool J would be performing.  Just as a frame of reference, buying a ticket to some of the other Super Bowl parties ran $800 - $1,000, and the reviews for those events were quite mixed since people were packed in shoulder to shoulder with little access to the famous folks.

We had a fantastic time at the event.  Celebrities walked the red carpet and got interviewed but then were fairly accessibly to meet.  We didn’t take that many pictures since it was dark and we only had Lynne’s iPhone camera, and honestly, taking pics seemed a little tacky since this wasn’t your average fan event.  They served a lot of decent hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening and sponsor Patron provided tons of fancy tequila cocktails. 

So what celebrities did we meet and see?  When we first arrived, Hines Ward was on the red carpet (I later had the chance to talk with him), and we quickly got our bearings.  The venue wasn’t that large, so it was easy to stand up top in the back and survey to see who you wanted to meet.  As we were doing so, I noticed that directly to my right was Purdue’s Curtis Painter.  I gave him a quick “Boiler Up” and handshake but really had nothing more to say.  I’ve met Painter before, and as we continued to walk around the venue I realized that no one was talking to him, likely because he’s not that famous in comparison, not as recognizable, and people in Indianapolis (who aren’t Purdue fans) probably don’t really like him.

Patron had set up a giant photo studio to get professional photos taken, complete with swanky props and Patron bottles.  We had a lot of fun doing that, and you can see some of the evidence below (way nicer than our iPhone photos).  Lacoste set up an area to create custom screen-printed Super Bowl shirts, so we made a couple and took some home for our generous babysitters who we kept up quite late.

Since Lacoste co-sponsored the event, Andy Roddick, one of their biggest endorsements, attended the event, and as a tennis geek I was quite excited.  I had the chance to say hi a couple times, but you could tell that he wasn’t too excited to be there.  It’s not like he wasn’t having fun (he really enjoyed LL Cool J’s set), he just seemed tired.  His wife, model Brooklyn Decker, on the other hand, might have had more fun than anyone.  She was very nice and apparently quite big pals with Erin Andrews.  Near the end of the evening I did try to get a picture with Erin but got shot down, boo!  She may or may not have been quite intoxicated (trying not to get sued here), and you can see she and Brooklyn have quite the red carpet conversation.  I actually lose major man points as upon her arrival, Erin and Brooklyn walked right past me (I had to help them get to Roddick in the front row), and I didn’t even realize who they were even as Erin stepped on my foot.  That’s how transfixed I was on LL Cool J’s fantastic set that got the crowd really enthused.

Ah, LL, what can we say.  He was honestly the nicest person we met the entire night, and I seriously think he was treated like the biggest celebrity there (maybe that’s due to his two gigantic bodyguards though).  Lynne was able to get a picture with him because he seemed to be the only celeb that it was cool to do that with, and even Roddick was getting his picture with LL.

I also got to meet Greg Jennings from the Packers (took me all night to figure out who he was), guys from The Roots (who were in attendance to watch their boy QuestLove deejay), and Troy Aikman (firmest hand shake of my life).  Troy spent a significant portion of the night chatting with Erin Andrews, quite closely if I might add.  They must be great friends (still trying to be careful not to get sued with what I write here).

Hines Ward didn’t seem to be having too much fun, and it was funny to see him (and others) avoid getting pictures taken with their dates, I suppose to avoid the gossip columns.  I also struck up a conversation with a gentleman as we waited for the restroom, only to discover it was the Lacoste CEO.  Yes, I already reached out to him about connecting with DC.org.

Other celebs we saw but didn’t talk to: JR Martinez (Dancing with the Stars), Terrell Owens, David Arquette, Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Peter Berg, Giants owner Steve Tisch, and former Miss Indiana/USA finalist Brittany Mason. We left as the party was winding down and apparently missed Adam Levine (Maroon 5).

Lynne and I were both disappointed that Jon Hamm (Mad Men) didn’t show up.  We had heard he might attend, and I had prepared a great opening line to meet him, but he got held up at the Playboy party, go figure.

On the way out we ran into Guy Fieri, which was fun, and I gave him a little secret ATO love (he’s an Alpha Tau Omega alum from UNLV), and he totally got it and replied, “You too…brother!”  Overall we both had a great time at this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and Lynne did an admirable job keeping me from looking too stalker-ish.

You can see much higher quality pictures at the GQ site: (you can see Lynne and I in the front left of the first pic, in my tan blazer).

Pictures from the Patron photo booth

expmanCAIW1OM7 expmanCAP6ITSR super bowl patron pic

Son of Man, anyone?


Walking the red carpet (after all the famous people had)


Does “LL” stand for “Lynne Loves” Cool J?  He insisted that his sunglasses be on for every photo, but was far more down to earth when you talked to him


Even Andy Roddick was excited to get his picture taken with LL.  Check out one of his two huge bodyguards staring me down.


Brooklyn Decker looking happy the entire night


 IMG_0965 Erin Andrews and Troy Aikman spent a lot of time talking


QuestLove was a great deejay



Super Bowl Spectacular

While most people on the coasts don’t give Indianapolis a lot of credit, the city sure can host an event.  Remember how great the 2010 Final Four was?  That was just practice for this year’s Super Bowl, and the city was as impressive as the 1985 Chicago Bears defense (OK, I’ll make that the first and last awkward football analogy in this post). Of course it helped that the weather was warm (50 degrees+) and there was hardly any rain.

On the Wednesday prior to the game, we made the short drive downtown to check out all the festivities. While the area around Georgia street was quite packed, we enjoyed seeing some of the free concerts, roman numerals on Monument Circle, ESPN studios filming live shows, and zip line (unfortunately there wasn't a chance to ride on it). What we didn't enjoy were the massive crowds (and it got far worse the other evenings later in the week) and the plethora of cigarette smoke and Bud Light - Super Bowl Village basically smelled like a giant bar, which made it a little kid-unfriendly.  Bud Light aluminum bottles were $8, yet people seemed to be OK shelling out that much money to drink horrible beer outside on the street.

(Apologies for the quality of the pictures – the only camera we had for this event was Lynne’s iPhone)

IMG_0872 IMG_0869 IMG_0875 Eliza really enjoyed watching the ESPN shows being filmed in Pan Am Plaza, and she even waved to the camera and could be seen in the background on one of the shows.  Of course, her favorite thing about the ESPN area was seeing her favorite TV personalities, Wilbon and Kornheiser, on a gigantic screen.  They weren’t there live, but PTI (and all ESPN programming) was being showed on huge screens around the area.  I’ve trained her well, and yes, I rocked the Drew Brees Super Bowl MVP shirt, much to the chagrin of non-Purdue Indianapolis folks (the Colts lost that year), but with all the Patriot paraphernalia for them to boo, it didn’t get much notice.

IMG_0876 Eliza’s other favorite moment was watching some cheerleaders perform on the street, which had been turned into a giant football field.  You can see the zip line overhead.

IMG_0888 IMG_0899 At the end of our evening, Eliza enjoyed all the music that was being played and loved running around the Monument dancing and yelling.  Meanwhile, we were more interested in watching Jimmy Fallon get interviewed inside the theater where he did his show on site that entire week.

IMG_0911 And after all of that fun, it turned out that the thing that excited Eliza the most was something that can always be found downtown – the horse drawn carriages.  She loved seeing the large horses, petting them, and talking to them.


Here’s hoping Indy gets another Super Bowl in the next 10 years – as a non-native I can honestly say they greatly deserve it for running such a smooth show that seemed to keep everyone entertained.

You can see how we enjoyed the festivities without the kids in the next post…

6 Months!

Our little Matilda is 6 months old!  I can’t believe that it has gone by this fast, but then I realize how tired I am and I remember.  Matilda is only sometimes interested in sleeping completely through the night but that is OK, since it’s not too bad feeding her at midnight and 5am.  Seeing her sweet little face early in the morning is a blessing and I will miss it one day.

Overall, Matilda has been the happiest baby, smiling all the time and laughing at herself, big sister, mom, and dad.  She loves to touch and feel anything that is within her reach (like clawing at your nose and pulling your hair).  Show her a spoon and her mouth will immediately open in anticipation of her first bite of baby food.  Matilda is very observant of the world around her.  She never wants to miss something that her sister is doing. 

(Kirk thinks this hat makes her look like a bird)

Fingers & Toes

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”  Psalm 139:14

Grandpa Smiley’s 90th Birthday

In October we celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday in West Lafayette.  My grandparents met Matilda for the first time and we had a wonderful time honoring Grandpa Smiley with my cousins and extended family.

Halloween 2011

This year Eliza was excited to be a ladybug for Halloween.  We had a similar costume for Matilda who also had a costume change into a caterpillar.  After last year’s bee costume apparently we’re all about the insects.  Eliza has so much fun trick-or-treating with the neighbors, seeing all the costumes, and, of course, getting lots of candy.  This year she got to stay out a lot later than last year so we made it through a couple full blocks of the neighborhood.
One of my favorite highlights was when it was very dark out and Eliza dropped her only sucker (still in the wrapper) and was so distraught that we couldn’t find it.  Using the light on his phone, Kirk spent about five minutes backtracking and looking for it, and Eliza was so thrilled when he did.  In fact, instead of saying “trick or treat” she told the next two houses, “Daddy found my sucker!”  Hilarious – what a hero.
The neighbor boys were ready to go!
Matilda was a very hungry caterpillar
Nick as the nicest little devil you’ll ever meet, and Jack as Spider-Man unmasked!
Our neighbor Elle was the perfect grazing cow.  I think I’d vote for this as cutest costume in the neighborhood.
Preston was a cute Mr. Potato Head

Eliza also went to the daytime version of the haunted house at the Children’s Museum with Gae and Papa.  She had a lot of fun and didn’t think it was very scary (since the lights were on, of course!).  She loved prancing around the museum in her ladybug costume.
Driving Papa in the tuk-tuk.  Who wouldn’t want a ladybug chauffeur?
Standard construction clothes, right?

Playing in the Snow

Although it’s been a very mild winter (50 degrees in February?!), we’ve had a couple snows with just enough to play and sled.  Eliza was very excited to put on her snow suit, sled around the yard, build her first (very small) snowman, then smash him and make daddy build him again (three times).  All she wanted me to do was pull her around the yard (both front and back of course) in the sled in circles until I got so winded that I had to stop.  We also made some snow angels, which happened frequently since Eliza kept falling over in her puffy snow suit. 

Ethiopian Dinner

As we continue to play catch-up on the blog, some posts may fall out of chronological order.  Deal with it :).

Earlier in January we had the rare opportunity for a night out with our house church, sans kids.  Always the adventurous eaters, we decided to visit a local Ethiopian restaurant, something none of us had previously tried.  We adjusted to the fun family-style format although we humbly lacked comprehension of the menu items so we ordered a variety of things. 

We started with the homemade honey wine.  Overall, most people weren’t a fan (it didn’t taste like anything anyone had tried before), but Kirk enjoyed it.  We also discovered it tastes a lot better with food.

The food is served on injera, a flat thick spongy crepe-like bread, and you simply tear some off, dip it in the various items, and eat with your hands.  We ate a lot of injera, and I think it filled people up.

We had the following items:

  • Sega wett: beef in spices (the overall favorite, although Kirk enjoyed them all and tried to “clean the group’s plate”)
  • Doro wett: chicken stewed in spices (good)
  • Yebegge alecha: mild lamb stew (good)
  • Quosta: spinach and onion (good)
  • Yemisir wot: red lentil stew (good)
  • Yekik alecha: split peas and spices (good)
  • Gommen: Ethiopian collared greens (just ok)
  • Tikel gommen: cabbage and butter (good)
  • Denech alecha: potatoes, onion, and carrot (just ok)
  • Yebegga tibbs: sautéed strips of lamb cooked with onion, tomato, and chiles (good, but quite fatty so it turned some people off)