Monday, December 31, 2007

Books Read in 2007 (Allison)


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Books Read in 2007 (Gaines)



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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Tunes To Go!



Sufjan announced the winner of his Christmas song contest today...it's a thoughtful, witty tune called "Every Day is Christmas" and you can find out more and listen here! My favorite line: "Your love is so much better than a plasma screen TV!"

If you're like me, you might find the Christmas tunes on the radio and in shopping malls to be a bit nauseating. I mean, I love the classics as much as anyone but some of those versions are just, well, plain awful! Thankfully, I've been reminded of the perfect collection to cheer me up while in the car:

Sufjan Steven's Christmas Box Set

As I've been runnning errands the past few days, I've found that Sufjan's five short volumes offer me the perfect interval in between trips to the mall (ugh), the dry cleaners, the post office, lengthy gift shopping expeditions, and back home for some apple cider and MORE SUFJAN. Go ahead, listen to the streaming audio or even buy the box set! You'll get fun stuff like stickers and a songbook!

Remember: Since it's Christmas let's be glad, even if your life's been bad, there are presents to be had! (And don't forget to indulge in the elf boogie!)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Glimpses of God

La Shawn Barber updates us on what those Hanson boys have been up to. I'd like to check out their most recent release, Walk, and I'm thankful for this being brought to my attention. (By the way, they all seem to have lost the blonde hair...)

All that to say, I'm not sure what to think about his new "Glimpses of God" series Christianity Today has started. At the bottom of the Hanson article, I found this statement: "Unless specified clearly, we are not implying whether this artist is or is not a Christian. The views expressed are simply the author's. For a more complete description of our Glimpses of God articles, click here." I clicked, and this is what I found:

In recent years, we've noticed an increased interest in spiritual themes in today's popular music outside the Christian subculture. We refer to these faith-inspired examples as Glimpses of God. Some of them are by Christian artists working in the mainstream music industry. Others are nonbelievers who are clearly soul searching. Regardless, these challenging examples give the listener something to think about—and an open door to discussing matters of faith with non-Christians.

I suppose it's a step in the right direction -- a major Christian publication is actually acknowledging that there is other good stuff out there than what falls under the "CCM" label, even if they do have to limit it to stuff with "spiritual themes." I'm all for that. I just wish more Christians would realize that a work of art doesn't necessarily need to have "spiritual themes" to be good, beautiful, and true. But I'll save that soapbox discussion for another day.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Best. Fundraiser. Ever.

It's all over the blogosphere, but I have to mention it here for my readers who only get their news from the mainstream media. Yesterday, due to efforts of volunteers unrelated with his official campaign, Ron Paul raised over $6 million, the most any candidate has ever raised in one day (beating Kerry, even), but there's barely a mention of it on any of the news stations or political websites or newspapers. At least the AP/NYT is taking notice.

Even if you think he's unelectable, that's a remarkable feat, especially since the median donation amount was $50.

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In Sickness and in Health

What a week it has been since I last posted! At J's 9 month well check-up last Wednesday, the doctor discovered he had a serious ear infection in his right ear, and put him on antibiotics. The medicine didn't help this weekend, though, when he developed a fever we now think is due to a viral infection he picked up sometime last week. Saturday night was pretty rough, what with J's fever spiking and me feeling pretty miserable due to the weather changes and stress and getting little sleep. Sunday was better. We had to go back to the doctor this morning due to his continued fever and other issues. We get to make a return trip on Friday to get the final word on the ear infection, but in some good news the antibiotics are working and the ear infection seems to be clearing up.

On top of all this, we are getting word of extended friends and family who are in the hospital or enduring doctor's visits, and are praying for all. This is a reminder for me to be more thankful during those times of health!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ron Paul has a Blimp

It looks like another crazy idea is taking shape from Ron Paul supporters, but I only wish they could somehow fly the blimp over useful places like the BSC bowl games and the Superbowl in February instead of just campaign rallies. How do you get permission to do that sort of thing?

By the way, for those of you who don't know, since I first posted about this Ron Paul guy I've been reading everything I can about him and watching tons of interview clips (including these by John Stossel). He's greatly overlooked by the media despite his amazing ability to raise massive amounts of money (he's up to almost $11 million in just the fourth quarter!) Now that I've learned more, I'm very intrigued by his honesty, his consistency, his pro-life and non-interventionist stances, and his push for limited, Constitutional government (No more IRS! No more Dept. of Ed! Yay!). I even plan to vote for him in the Republican primary. *gasp* And yes, I do think he has a chance to win, but even if I didn't, I still wouldn't want to vote for someone I didn't believe in, like one of those "frontrunners." I guess I'm proof that those bumper stickers really DO get people's attention in a positive way...

Ron Paul 2008 - Hope for America

P.S. Some friends and fellow RP supporter and I have a new joke where we greet each other with the phrase "Ron Paul" said in quick succession, like the SNL sketch of "Buh-bye!" Do you think it could catch on? Maybe I should teach J to say it as his first words and then record it and put it on You Tube...he might be like the little Animaniacs girl. Remember her? "Love ya! Bye-bye!" Heh heh. Ok, nevermind me. I'm off to attempt to be more productive and less random...


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Which god?

You've probably gotten an e-mail forward or two or heard the news stories about The Golden Compass, which opened last week in theaters. It's based on a series of books by Phillip Pullman, a professed atheist, and the final installment of the trilogy includes a controversial scene in which "God" is supposedly killed. (As a note-- we've yet to read the books but hope to get them from the library sometime in the near future...)

This post (thanks Common Grounds!) asks a very important question about which god is actually being killed in Pullman's book. Is it the God revealed in Jesus Christ, or a caricature, a capricious old-man figure? Although Pullman obviously is antagonistic towards Christians and the church, and is not killing some false god in order to set the True God in its place, it does put a different spin on the idea.

It reminds me of the story N.T. Wright often tells from his days as a college chaplain. A student might confess to him: "I don't believe in God." And Wright would go on to ask the student to describe this god in which he didn't believe--usually some angry-grandfather figure who looked down from on high to punish people according to his whim. The students were often surprised to hear the chaplain Wright respond, "Well, I don't believe in that god, either!" Wright tells how he would go on to say that he believes in the God revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ, and begins a dialogue. That's certainly one way to catch an atheist's attention!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

More Tech News

A few notable announcements from the Yellow Jackets today:

Durant Brooks Wins 2007 Ray Guy Award As Nation's Top Punter
Best punter in the nation. Not too shabby.

But the big deal today is:

Paul Johnson Named Georgia Tech's Head Football Coach
This sounds like it could be a good move. I think he could definitely help re-tune our struggling offense. I just hope he keeps (Defensive Coordinator) Jon Tenuta around. Then we might become a force to be reckoned with.

I swear this blog isn't becoming an official GT news outlet. More diversified output to come, I promise!


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Monday, December 03, 2007

Back in Blue

Well, it's official -- for the second time in four years, Georgia Tech's post-season will include this:



That's right. The smurf-colored turf of Boise State U's Bronco Stadium, site of the Humanitarian Bowl. Come December 31, the Jackets will square off against Fresno State. That's right, it's a showdown between the ACC and the (wiggety wiggety) WAC. Ah yeah.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

While We Were Out

Whenever I leave home for a few nights or a long weekend, one of my greatest fears is to return home and NOT find things exactly as I left them. Well, I can say we've crossed that one off the list.

We returned home Sunday afternoon from a wonderful time with family over Thanksgiving, with lots of travelling and turkey and too much time in the car, longing only to sleep in our own beds. Instead, we climbed the stairs to the sound of an industrial fan and found all of our posessions piled high in the non-carpeted areas of our two-bedroom apartment. Sometime early Friday morning while we were away, a pipe near the water heater had burst and our apartment had flooded, mostly in the closets and bedrooms and hallway. When they called on Friday morning, they said it was a "leak" that got the "carpet" and would be "cleaned up" by the time we got home. Bleh for bad communication! Though not completely unexpected, it was still a shock. Thankfully, the water didn't get everything, but they had to clean the entire carpet so everything was moved and rearranged and piled up hurriedly. I will say one thing -- the poor guys who had to move all our heavy furniture and bookshelves and stuff miraculously moved three bookshelves and our computer desk without taking anything off the shelves. (Even Gaines' little Yoda figurine above the computer is still there!) Way to go, Carlos!

We stayed in a hotel for three nights and were able to return to our apartment on Wednesday night. (In between, some very gracious friends offered us places to hang out, nap, eat, play and check e-mail. We are so grateful for their hospitality! Jacob, especially, since it meant he could actually crawl around and interact with other kids!) They dried out the carpet and replaced the carpet pad, and now we're cleaning up the rest of the mess. We are just now finding out exactly what the damage entails. I'm finding all sorts of stuff that I didn't think about being on the floor, like the mesh laundry bags or the cardboard boxes of pictures under the bed. Thankfully, all of our electronics/computer stuff and furniture has survived unscathed. So, here I am, sitting at the computer researching how to get that mildew smell out of clothes! I'm very thankful for internet access. If you have any cleanup tips, please let me know.

I'll end with a few important things I've learned this week:

1. I am way more attached to things -- especially favorite pairs of shoes -- than I should be.
2. Always clean up before you go on vacation because you never know who may have to rearrange your stuff.
3. We have too much stuff.
4. Even if your home is in disarray and smells slightly musty, if you've been away for a while, sleeping in your own place is always better than somewhere else.
5. Always, and I mean ALWAYS, turn off the water before you plan to be out of town. It will just make things so much easier in case of unexpected emergencies.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fare Thee Well, Chan

On Monday, Georgia Tech announced the firing of head football coach Chan Gailey, a move that was hardly surprising to long-suffering Jackets fans. Personally, I'm conflicted about the news. On the one hand, Gailey never had a losing season during his six years at Tech, and Tech recruited some stellar talent during his tenure. On the other hand, his teams always seemed to have the potential to perform much better than they actually did. One assessment I heard rings true: Gailey did a great job of turning average players into good teams, but he was never able to turn superior players into excellent teams. Of course, there's always the question of how much responsibility the head coach should bear in the first place, but that's another story.

Anyway, coaching talent aside, Gailey is a fine Christian man. This article gives a great example of how classy he is. I can only hope that his replacement is at least as good a person as he is.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Odds & Ends

Not much time for blogging these days, and even when there is, the office firewall doesn't always play nice with Blogger. I know, excuses, excuses. Anyway, here are a few links for your perusal.

  • Re:Greek is an online Biblical Greek resource from the folks at Mars Hill Church. From my limited poking around, it looks like the site has plenty of neat features, including parsing, lexical tools, concordances and what-not. Plus, it's FREE.


  • N.T. Wright spoke at Asbury Theological Seminary (Kentucky) earlier in the week, with chapel messages on "Use of Scripture in Contemporary Political Discourse" and "God is Public? Biblical Faith in Tomorrow's World." You can listen online at the Asbury chapel site. (Scroll down to 11/13 and 11/14 for high- and low-bandwith recordings of both talks.)

    I have already listened to the first one, which was good. Wright gives an overview of how politically-minded folks in both the US and Britain use Scripture to advance their causes, noting that they tend to cherry-pick a few verses here and there while ignoring major themes and key passages. He then offers some insight on how the full story of Scripture (with particular attention to the Gospels) can and should inform the Church's interactions in the world. (Apparently, there was a third talk on Acts with Q&A, but it does not appear on the webpage. Pity.) Update: The third talk is now available.


  • Speaking of the Bishop of Durham, I just received my copy of John Piper's newly-released The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright in the mail this week. I think I would have been more interested about this book a year or two ago, but I'm still going to read it. I might even write a review.


  • Sufjan Stevens has a great Christmas present in the works: the rights to one of his songs. Contestants enter by submitting an original song. The winner gets to exchange the rights to his/her song for the rights to an unreleased Sufjan song.

    Oh, and Sufjan has put up his entire (excellent) Christmas box set for free streaming here.


  • And finally, as a shout-out to Duke fans everywhere, here's a site devoted to their upcoming bowl game.



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    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    Christmas Giveaways at 5 Minutes for Mom!

    Christmas Giveaway 2007 Sweepstakes

    Lately, I've been addicted to entering contests, and this is one of the best. So far, the prizes include diaper bags, a stroller, cameras, and a Secure2Me blanket (I have a sun-protection one, and think these are a great idea! Love the warm winter cuddly ones!). Click on the graphic here on in our sidebar to find out more -- it runs through Nov. 25th, so you might want to check it our soon!

    Also, for those of you who aren't moms, I'm adding a Prizey graphic way down at the bottom of the sidebar, because online giveaways are fun, and someone has to win them, right?

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    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Pushing Daisies

    “Emerson Cod did not like to knit in public, but he often left the house with the needles in his pocket, should the opportunity to rib-stitch a ski cap present itself.” --Narrated by Jim Dale in Episode 2


    Pushing Daisies is my new favorite TV show. Inventive and clever, with witty dialogue, heartwarming characters, and luscious settings. Somehow, it makes death seem less morbid. Pleasant, even. In fact, one of the most delightful aspects of this show is the design-- a little quirky, a little retro, always colorful and bright. The backgrounds, sets, wardrobes, and style of Pushing Daisies exudes a fairy tale quality that I just love. The attention to detail by the set designers and stylists is amazing. I loved the retro cowboy sheet used for a ghost in last night's episode, the overly-patterned apartment of Olive Snook, Emerson Cod's jacket and shirt combinations, and the floral painted house of John Joseph Jacob's mom. Oh, and the storyline was good, too! It's a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, sweet, but not overly saccharine. Like a good pie.

    I couldn't find photos of all the previously-mentioned cool stuff, but you can watch the first five episodes online at ABC.com.

    In other good news, Pushing Daisies has been picked up by ABC for at least the rest of the season. Yay!



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    A Pictorial All Hallow's Eve


    brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? (thanks aunt amy!)


    baby punkin' feet (thanks great aunt ethel!)


    seinfeld should be jealous (thanks grandpa redd!)

    *these outfits are sponsored by the generous family members who made it all possible and to the letters G and T. Go Yellow Jackets!

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    Happy Halloween!


    (Pictures of this cutie in a costume will be forthcoming...)

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    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    The Best Nursery Wall Idea. Ever.

    Ken Jennings (remember, the Jeopardy winner?) is hand-painting an alphabet border for his daughter, complete with famous figures from children's literature, copying the style of the original illustrator.



    This is something I would love to do someday. Seriously. I'm just anal-retentive enough to try it. How fun to come up with a character for each letter! I suppose it could be done as a series of paintings, too, but the permanence of the wall border is fantanstic.

    You can see more pictures and explanations of his process at his blog.

    HT: Design Mom

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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    On Comments

    So we've had a bit of trouble moving from the old Blogger to the new "improved" Google/Blogger. Besides the fact that I messed up and didn't save our old template properly causing us to lose important things (like lists of books read) that we're now having to recreate, our old comments, while saved at Haloscan, are not loading properly into the new template. I've installed Haloscan multiple times in different templates and tried everything suggested at that site, and have only come up with a temporary fix. Apparently, it is a problem lots of folks are having, but I'm not getting any answers at the forum, so this will have to do for now. New comments can be made on new posts and will be saved (and appear in the sidebar), but I am unable to get the old comments to appear on older posts. If anyone who is more computer savvy than me knows how to fix this problem in the new Blogger template, please let me know! (I really don't want to have to go back and manually add some Haloscan code to every old post, but if someone could let me know how to do even that much I'd be grateful!)

    To everyone else, thanks for abiding with the long interruption. We will now continue with our regularly scheduled blogging.

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    Finds at the Norcross Art Festival

    The first weekend in October we spent a few hours walking around the Norcross Art Festival. It was fun to look at the array of booths and vendors, and the best part was that everything, including the parking, was entirely free. It was a fun way to spend a fall afternoon. I thought I'd showcase two artists whom I especially appreciated here on our blog.

    Painting














    One of the first things to catch my attention were a series of large, whimsical animal portraits by Kay Odell. Her color choices and compositions were amazing! Some of her canvases were round, which added to her playful style. So charming! Wouldn't our little dog-relatives Zoe or Cody or Zeke love to be immortalized like this? The artist will do custom orders for $300-350 from a photograph of your pet. (Although, her art did give me inspiration for
    a painting that has been long overdue to be transferred from my head to a canvas... perhaps I will do the honors for our canine friends some day soon!) Still, since you really don't want to wait on me, check out her other artwork at her website. I saw some adorable note cards and 2008 calendars for sale at the festival. Fun stuff!

    Wood Crafts

    Another artist's works I found exciting were some large wood pieces from a craftsman named Lee Chesson, including unique cutting boards and lazy susans. I was surprised to learn that the striped sections are all unstained, natural woods from Africa and South America, like paduak and purpleheart. The one I saw at the festival (pictured to the left) was entirely striped, but I think having only two stripes (at right, pictured upside-down) adds a contemporary flair that I find striking. I'd love to have one sitting on our dining room table! The color combinations are richly arranged. Check out more of his work, including chess sets, albums, cutting boards and other, smaller pieces, at his website. Free shipping in the US!

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    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Good and Bad GT Football News (Plus Some Sorta Good News)

    This weekend, the Jackets beat Army 34-10 (that's good news), but in the process we lost our best running back, Tashard Choice, to a knee injury of indeterminate severity (that's really bad news).

    But today, Tech announced that Choice could possibly be back for the last few games of the season. Guess we'll wait and see.

    PS It's obviously a good thing that we beat Army, but cheering against them makes one feel just a little unpatriotic or something.

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    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Under Construction

    Please excuse our mess while we upgrade our template!

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Observed

    I popped on to the computer just now to get a recipe while Jacob is (for once) playing happily in his crib. He's babbling his baby talk and all of a sudden things go quiet. I turn around and notice that he has completely pulled off his little blue pants and is happily chewing on them, eschewing a teether toy for his clothing! He's tricky, that boy! (And he's in a phase where he really doesn't like clothes, for some reason...)

    By the way, once babies start crawling, why don't they put the snaps on onesies backwards so that you can more easily dress your baby as he is crawling away from you? It would make my life so much easier!

    Monday, October 15, 2007

    Wodehouse

    My calendar tells me that P.G. Wodehouse was born on this day (October 15) back in 1881. So it seems like a great time for a plug.

    Wodehouse is an author that Team Redd has enjoyed over the last few years, although we certainly wish we had discovered him sooner. His fiction is a treat to read and definitely falls into the category of "light reading," though this assessment shouldn't be taken as a detraction by any means. Wodehouse's writing is wonderful, replete with snappy dialogue, amusing prose and memorable characters. His books often feature twisting plotlines that plunge his protagonists into one sticky situation after another. But there's always a happy ending.

    Wodehouse wrote almost a hundred books during his career, so diving into his body of work is quite a daunting task. Based on my limited reading, I would heartily recommend the following:

    Life With Jeeves, a collection of three books revolving around Bertie Wooster, a bumbling and marriage-phobic member of the idle rich, and Jeeves, his ever-brilliant valet.
    The Luck of the Bodkins, a comic tale of complicated romance aboard a transatlantic cruise
    Leave it to Psmith, the adventures of the cash-strapped yet resourceful Psmith

    Additionally, the television adaptation of Jeeves and Wooster is fantastic. It stars Hugh "House M.D." Laurie as Wooster and Stephen "Harry Potter Audiobook Reader" Fry as Jeeves.

    Enjoy!

    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    A Much Needed Win

    Yellow Jackets beat Miami, 17-14

    Tashard Choice had a great game, but our only two touchdowns were rushed in by ... Taylor Bennett? Whatever. Points are points. Let's hope this win will give us some momentum for the rest of the season.

    Also, way to go Auburn, for eeking out that win over the Razorbacks. I knew you could do it.

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Weekly Update

    (or why I haven't been blogging like I promised...and why you most likely won't see much more until NEXT week)

  • Jacob cut his first teeth Friday night! (and, therefore, needs his mommy more these days!)

  • We had a jam-packed weekend of football, an art festival, and fun Sunday dinner guests.

  • I've been tutoring online every afternoon as much as I can between time with Jacob and household chores.

  • We leave today, travelling to Lower Alabama to attend my 10-yr high school reunion/homecoming: an assembly, a parade, Friday night football, a picnic and home-cooked food!

    I'll return next week and continue my series on the Hidden Arts, as well as post highlights from our trip!
  • Friday, October 05, 2007

    Hidden Art Ch. 3: Music

    Part 4 in a series on Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking

    Summary:
    Music, says Schaeffer, is to be enjoyed by everyone. Singing, playing instruments, attending live concert performances, and listening to recorded music are all ways to bring a diversity of quality sounds into our lives. The good thing is that most of us already at least listen to music everyday. And that's a start!

    I appreciate that she connects music to the Christian life, especially how the Psalms tell us to "sing and make a joyful noise unto the LORD." We are not only encouraged, but commanded to make music to glorify God! One of my favorite quotes from this chapter:
    Christian homes should be places where there is the greatest variety of good music, so that natural talent may find the necessary spark to set it on fire.


    Some of her suggestions I found intriguing were:
  • If you play a portable instrument, and you are going somewhere there might be an occasion for singing or playing, take it along with you.
  • When you get together at family celebrations, sing and/or play music together, involving family members of all ages and proficiencies. (We should do this more often!)
  • Make a collection of musical things, things that bring satisfaction and also encourage creativity, including: books on the history of music or of music from other countries, folk music, etc.; unusual instruments or a variety of second-hand instruments of one type, such as harpsichords or unusual string instruments; and a robust collection of one type of classical musi


  • My reflections:
    We are a musical family. Gaines (and his two sisters) all have a natural talent for music, so I'm hoping some of that will trickle down to our offspring. We keep Gaines' guitar and banjo in the living room so if the mood or moment strikes, he is ready to play (I think keeping them out in the open, out of their cases, has encouraged him to play more often.) Though I can barely carry a tune, I love to sing -- in the car, at home, to Jacob as he goes to sleep. Gaines is forever making up silly little songs about whatever is going on at the moment and since Jacob's birth, the habit -- to my chagrin -- has rubbed off on me. (I once caught myself singing a ridiculous tune about diapers while changing Jacob in the public restroom at a friend's wedding reception. I wonder what the groom's grandmother thought when she emerged from the stall?!) We also appreciate live music when circumstances permit, and have enjoyed many a concert in our day. Jacob has already been to see our friend Eric Peters perform (though he slept through everything but the encore--he was only 3 months old, after all)!

    Here are some ideas of things we do, as well as some things I hope we do in the future:
  • We have started a small collection of world instruments, mostly from South America. Presently, they are put away in a drawer, but I hope that we can let Jacob experiment with the woodwinds and different string instruments as he grows.
  • Every week we attend a small Bible study in a friend's home. For the last few years, it has been our tradition to sing a few hymns (usually acapella) before we begin our study. Of course, we sing hymns and songs in church every week as well, but I appreciate that on Thursday nights the songs come from a completely different tradition and era, mostly from the early twentieth century gospel style. We have learned many new hymns this way!
  • Attending classical concerts in the park or in a symphony hall on a special occasion. My freshman year college roommate gave me a ticket to go with her to Handel's Messiah as a Christmas gift, and I count it as one of the highlights of that year.
  • Musical toys. Some friends gave Jacob a soft baby piano and he loves to hit the notes! (If only we could get it to stop saying, "Heloooooo, baby!"!)
  • Kindermusik (or a similar type of class). I've heard great things!

    Resources:
    What to Listen For in Music by Aaron Copeland (A fantastic introduction on how to enjoy music--any music-- intelligently.)

    Contemporary Trends in Classical Music by John Wykoff at Comment Magazine

    Slugs, Bugs, and Lullabies by Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson (for silly kid song inspiration)

    Please share any other music resources you use and enjoy! I know I've seen a quality guide to classical music on the web (especially for novices like me), I just can't find it in my bookmarks. Anyone know of such a thing?

    Looking ahead:
    Tomorrow Soon I will write about Ch. 4: Painting, Sketching, and Sculpturing, which will meet my goal of 5 posts per week. We also plan to stop by a local art festival tomorrow (if the weather is nice), so I may make a separate post altogether, hopefully with pictures!
  • A beginner's guide to collecting art

    From Comment Magazine, an article about art collecting from an insider.

    I thought it was appropriate to my artistic blog series (which is becoming a not-quite every day event. Music post coming soon...).

    Thursday, October 04, 2007

    Time/Warner Magazine Discount

    I'm a faithful subscriber to REAL SIMPLE magazine, and today they sent me this link in an e-mail. It is only good through Novemeber 20, 2007, but you can order 5 magazines from their catalog for up to 94% off the cover price. It seems like a pretty good deal. If you aren't buying your magazines from someone for a school fundraiser, then you might want to order some from this site. You can even buy gift subscriptions-- just in time for Christmas. Happy reading!

    Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    My new snack addiction

    Trader Joe's Ming's Chinese Mustard Won Ton Chips

    These are yummy, addictive, just a tad spicy, and only $.99. Good thing I only bought one bag!

    To balance their not-good-for-you qualities, I think I'll use them tonight to top off a salad stir-fry.

    Edited to add: The crumbled chips were quite good on top of a stir-fry of chicken and asparagus with lite asian sesame dressing! Yum!

    Dilemma Solved

    I drank the Coke Zero.

    Hidden Art Ch. 2: What is Hidden Art?

    Part 3 in a series on Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking

    Summary:
    Schaeffer defines "Hidden Art" as that which is involved in the everday, rather than as someone's profession or career. She believes that every person has some unfulfilled longing or talent which should be expressed and developed, and that these interests will widen over the course of a lifetime. There is a time and a place for formal art study, but Shaeffer encourages us to live artistically in the present.

    My reflections:
    To me, this chapter was particularly meaningful even though it is the shortest in the entire book. I must share a confession: I have always been intimidated by artists.

    I don't know how it happened. I was a crafty kid and loved to draw-- some of my old elementary teachers still have sketches I did while in their classs. I have memories of my mother taking me to her oil painting classes -- I took a few lessons one summer along with her. There were no art classes in my public school, however, and by the time I reached junior high/high school, I didn't feel it was worth it to take the effort to drive 20 minutes to continue that area of study. I was too busy. I stopped taking piano lessons. I stopped taking time to write.

    College reignited my passion for art when I took a watercolor class one January term. I ended up presenting my Senior Seminar on the intersection of Servant Leadership and the arts. Two of my roommates were art majors and I had other good friends who were artists. But walking the halls of the art building, sometimes, I still felt like I just didn't fit in. Yes, I was an art minor, but only becuase I enjoyed the classes and ended up with enough credits (though I should've taken photography!). I think a deep-seated fear of not being "good enough" always kept me from pursuing art professionally. Whatever the reason, I didn't. And here I am, a wife and mother who longs to be creative but only makes the time to paint when I've paid for and scheduled a class.

    Thankfully, this book has encouraged me to pursue creativity in my everyday life, NOW, and not just every so often when I get the urge. And now I can incorporate art into everything I do and not just wait until I carve out time to break out the easel or the craft boxes. Yes, I have to make an effort, but it feels easier to do when I can start small -- one blog post at a time.

    Some early acknowledgements -- (I feel like I've won some award or published a book when I write this, but I just can't let this gratitude go unspoken.) I'm thankful for all those people who kept me going. For my mom who always inspires me whenever I see something she has painted hanging on a wall. For my friend Christine who got me to take an oil painting class with her a few years back. For Amy and Erin, who practically ooze creativity. For Gaines, for giving me plein air lessons for my birthday and buying me an easel and letting me buy random art and craft supplies and, especially, for encouraging me to continue. I'm also thankful for my friend Kitti who first recommended this book to me. She encouraged me to join both a writer's group and an artist's group a few years ago and helped me see that I, too, have a creative call.

    Resources:
    A books that encouraged me along the way:
    Creative Call: An Artist's Response to the Way of the Spirit by Janice Elsheimer

    Looking ahead:
    Tomorrow's chapter is on music, and begins discussion of the specific "Hidden Arts." More useful ideas and less philosophizing, I promise!

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Hidden Art Ch. 1: The First Artist

    Part 2 in a series on Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking

    Summary:
    This chapter serves as the foundation for the rest of the book by establishing God as the Creator, the First Artist, and the only one who can create perfect art. Schaeffer uses the Scriptures as well as the glories revealed in Creation as proof of God' creativity and diversity of forms and media. Since humans were created in His image, she explains, we are called to be artists. Schaeffer echoes J.R.R. Tolkien's famous essay "On Fairy-Stories" when she states plainly that "Man was created that he might create."

    We do not, however, have God's ability to be infinitely creative and unlimited. She stresses that we must make choices. We are finite human beings who are limited by time, talent, and ability, yet we still are called to create. We must choose wisely how we spend our 24 hours in a day, and she believes (as do I) that it is not only important to use our time to create art, but to respond to and communicate with others' art as well. In our art we are reflecting the image of God. Though that perfect image is often marred by our sin, through common grace we imperfect creatures have "retained fragments of the perfection" originally created by Him, and the history of art through the ages reflects that perfection found only in the First Artist.

    But why, you might ask, should we spend time puruing creativity when we also should spend time reading Scripture, spending time in prayer, sharing the gospel, etc.? She acknowledges that these are all important and are indeed priorities that are not "ignored or contradicted by" spending time on what she calls the "Hidden Arts," but concludes by asking a profound series of questions which I think can be applied to all aspects of life:

    Is a Christian -- one who communicates daily with the Creator (communication made possibly because of redemption through the blood of Christ) -- to divorce himself from the things God created and intended man to have, and which demonstrates the fact that man has been made in the image of God? In other words are we, who have been made in the image of our Creator, and who acknowledge and understand what that means because we know God exists and experience communication with Him -- are we to be less creative than those who do not know that the Creator made them in his image, and have no contact with him?


    Too often I think Christians have been less creative than unbelievers, and it is not only to our detriment, but to the detriment of those with whom we come into contact. As Schaeffer writes, "The Christian should have more vividly expressed creativity in his daily life, and more creative freedom..." because we know God.


    My reflections:
    The entire time I was reading this chapter I was reminded of Jesus' first miracle, the one he performed at the wedding in Cana. When Jesus turned the water into wine, he was performing an act of creation! What a beautiful picture of the work of Christ! "In Him all things were created..."

    This past summer we attended a seminar by T. M. Moore at the JEI conference in Annapolis. He discussed aspects of beauty and whether or not there is a universal standard for beauty and if so, where we might find that in Scripture. He turned to what I at first thought was an unlikely example-- the gospel account of the woman anointing Jesus' feet with expensive perfume. I don't remember all of his points, and I can't find my notes, but there were three that stood out. Take time to glance over the passages from Matthew, Mark, and John amd consider what they have to teach us about beauty.

    1. The oil that was poured out was expensive, "more than 300 denarii." This teaches us that beauty is costly. Art requires sacrifices of time and sometimes of resources. Something that is beautiful is not slapped haphazardly on a canvas or written hastily without thought. If those moments of inspiration come it is because someone has taken time to practice writing for days on end, or to learn the chords well enough to play them when they come to mind in a new way, or to mix and experiment with paint colors. And even if one is not a professional artist, the small things we might do for each other still require some thought and care.

    2. Art brings pleasure to those who experience it. Though there were some naysayers who were present when she poured out the nard, you can be sure that they did not think the smell unpleasant at the time. In fact, they immediately recognized the fragrance to be costly! Jesus, in direct opposition to the complaints, describes the woman's act as "a beautiful thing." Certainly, it can be said, there is a standard of beauty -- whatever brings joy to our Lord!

    3. Art is not pragmatic. Many in the room complained because the money spent to buy the nard could have been used for other, more "useful" purposes, but the woman poured out the fragrance for Jesus because she loved him. We also should create beauty on the lives of others because of our love for Christ and our love for those around us. We should be extravagant. Sharing creativity with others is one way to show love.

    Consider how you may spur one another on to love and good deeds in ways that reflect the image of the Creator.

    Resources:
    Here are some books to read and websites to visit that encourage Christian participation in and support of the arts. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments, but I will be listing more specific sites as we cover a particular topic.

  • Art for God's Sake" A Call to Recover the Arts by Philip Graham Ryken

  • An Overview of "On Fairy Stories" by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology by T.M. Moore

  • State of the Arts: From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.


  • Looking forward:
    (I promise I will attempt to post tomorrow's entry much earlier in the day!)
    Ch 2: What is Hidden Art?

    Breakroom Dilemma

    So, I have a problem that has been vexing me: there's an unopened can of Coke Zero in the break room refrigerator. Why is this a problem, you ask? Because I often bring cans of Coke Zero from home: this particular can might be mine. Should I drink it?

    Pro
  • It's been in the same spot for several days.
  • That spot (in the door compartment) is often where I store things in that fridge.
  • I don't think there are many folks on my floor who drink that brand.
  • The nearest vending machine with Coke Zero is down two floors. (In another breakroom with its own fridge, mind you.)


  • Con
  • I don't remember leaving it there.
  • I'd feel bad if I drank someone else's soda.


  • What to do, what to do.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Just the Beginning

    Part 1 in a series on Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking

    It's October. A new month, and like someone much wiser once said about a new day, it is "always fresh with no mistakes in it." To inagurate this new month and to put a little life back into our blog (We are so close to 1,000 posts. Too bad it's taken us almost four years...), I am starting a new blog series.

    Last week I finished reading Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Perhaps some of you have heard of this book. Maybe many of you have read it. I, however, let it sit on a shelf for about three years before diving in to this treasure trove of wisdom. It's a quick read (I finished it over the course of three days of Jacob's nursing sessions), but her thoughts and ideas will stick with you.

    The basic premise is that we, as Christians, who realize that we are created in the image of the Creator and are endowed by Him with gifts and talents, are the ones who best understand why it is important to live creatively. Therefore, we should be the ones bringing beauty and art to every area of our lives and to demonstrate it for those most important to us: our family.

    Though she acknowledges that some are called to art as an occupation, most of us only dabble in the arts as hobbies. Even worse, many of us wait for the day when we will "have more time" or "take an organized class" or "join a community theater group" or even, God forbid, "retire," in order to use those passions and talents. In contrast to another book I read recently that sees how Americans focus on our future (sometimes to our detriment), Schaeffer constantly reminds her readers that we should never wait to begin adding beauty and creativity to our lives. She urges us to begin now, today, and that it takes only a small gesture to realize our "Hidden Art" and edify someone else. She also stresses that these Hidden Arts are to be done for those we love-- our family and friends-- rather than waiting for an audience or admiring public to appear. It can be something as simple as buying fresh flowers for the table or reading aloud to each other. What I appreciate most is that this book is not just for wives and mothers-- it is for everyone: single or married, old or young, male or female, those with children and those without. Her ideas and exhortations are timeless and I think greatly benefit the church today.

    In order to celebrate this book and share her ideas with those who might not have read it, I am starting a new blog series. Every weekday for the next three weeks (beginning tomorrow, Oct. 2) I plan to create a post on one chapter of her book. There are 14 chapters, and I plan to cover each one by giving a short summary, include some of her ideas I've found inspiring, list ways we have implemented that art in our family (or plan to) and, most importantly, include a list of internet resources with ideas to enrich the lives of your family through these Hidden Arts.

    I encourage you to share this series with others and become involved in the coversation through the comments below each post.

    Even Better Tech News

    Georgia Tech Topples Clemson, 13-3

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Some Good Tech News

    Georgia Tech football has had a rough couple of weeks, but here's some good news about one of our players who had a frightening injury last Saturday. Thankfully, it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    It's way too early for stuff like this...isn't it?

    Today, while shipping an eBay package, I saw a yellow one of these plastered on our local post office dropbox:




    I've heard they are everywhere (at least that's what the interweb tells me), but this is the first one I've seen or heard about. Not that I'm even considering this guy or even know that much about him (though I do appreciate his pro-life stance), I just found it an odd place for a bumper sticker. Besides, isn't that some sort of defacement of government property to put a bumper sticker on a mailbox? What does that say about a Presidential candidate when his supporters are campaigning in an illegal manner? But maybe that's the point?

    I don't think it will help him get many votes here, anyway, since I think that half of the people living in our zip code aren't even legal citizens and/or don't read English. (Last week while in the post office I had to help someone distinguish between the "stamped mail" and "metered mail" boxes--things like that happen often.) Well, at least it made my weekly postal drop-off a bit more interesting!

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    In other news...

    I am now officially a part-time English tutor for an online company! I was a writing tutor in college, and this is very similar, just in an online capacity. The job doesn't pay as much as, say, giving private lessons, but it is more than I made working part-time in college. Plus, the hours are very flexible, I can work from home, and I feel safe knowing it a secure, professional site and they value anonymity between tutors and students. I also like the fun whiteboard feature! :)

    My release from educational limbo coincides nicely with the interesting pedagogical discussions going on over at How Kids Think (HT and Congrats to Kristen!). If you are a current or former teacher, or have kids in school, or just like talking about how we learn, especially from a Christian perspective, please consider joining in--the project will only last about two months. Plus, there are great incentives.

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Small Blessings

    Tonight I went to dinner with some friends and brought Baby J. He has recently begun teething. Usually, chewing on a toy will help when we're out for short trips. The doc told me this week to get some baby Orajel, but I thought he was OK without it for a few days until I made my next grocery run. He's such a happy boy, always smiles and loves being with people and that's always been enough to distract him. This time, however, he was inconsolable. I think he may have his first actual teeth coming in -- he's never been this traumatized before. Nursing eased his pain for a short while (long enough for me to gobble half my dinner) but was only a temporary fix. He didn't just cry in the restaurant, he screamed bloody murder. You could hear him OVER the two dozen-odd other children AND the mariachi band. None of my usual soothing tricks appeased him, including old faithful -- the mirror gag. I left early.

    On the way home, he was screaming in the carseat and no toy would console him. I sang to distract him (curse my broken CD player), but during pauses he whimpered loudly. I didn't think I could make a trip into a store with him like that -- the horrible howling cry of a baby in pain. I knew I needed something to help ease his discomfort quickly, but I'd already given him baby Tylenol once today and didn't want to give it to him again. Thankfully, our local pharmacy has a drive through, and I persuaded the nice night-shift pharmacist girl to get me some baby Orajel. She was so gracious and efficient, and as a bonus J was mesmerized by the lights so he calmed down long enough for me to pay her. I belted out snatches of random camp songs and lullabies all the way home and administered the stuff as soon as we got in the door. Currently, he's nursing again, but this time he's actually smiling at me. Maybe he'll even go to sleep.... Thank you, Lord, for 24-hour drive-thru pharmacies!

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Quality Children's Books

    Certain events have transpired in the last week that have turned my thoughts towards books: the death of a favorite author, a recent post on the decline of reading at AT:Nursery, and, most notably, the process of packing up our entire book collection so they could replace our carpet and then painstakingly sorting and organizing and replacing them on the shelves over the last 8 days. I've been attempting to weed out our ever-growing collection with a series of questions to help me decide which books I should keep. Like beachfront property, our shelf space is valuable and I want to make sure that only the best books reside there.

  • Do I want to read it? (If I already own it, usually, yes, so that one doesn't help much, though I have found a few "free" books I could do without...)

  • Will I read it again? (probably, if it's fiction, although I'm itching to try out paperbackswap with a few titles)

  • Is is a classic and/or will I ever want to teach it in a literature class?

  • Will I want to reference something in it and either wouldn't want to take the time to go to the library (dictionary) or wouldn't be able to find it at my local branch (ex: The Quotable Lewis)?

  • Will I want to read it to Jacob or let Jacob read it when he is older?


  • That last question is the most important, I think, and has helped me when deciding what makes a quality book -- classic, children's or otherwise. Obviously, we all have childhood favorites, but who can remember them all without wandering bookstore and library shelves for days at a time? And I don't think anyone wants to wade through the drivel found on most chain bookstore shelves. There ARE some great children's books out there, which I found out from a professor in our Master's program who loved using picture books with ESOL students in the middle grades; however, weeding out the wheat from the chaff is a time-consuming and overwhelming process. Where to begin? So, for other parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, or anyone wishing to buy a present for a particular little boy (or girl, as may be in your case), here are a few time-tested lists.

  • Jerram Barr's Booklist for Children

  • This is a monster list of titles by a professor at Covenant College. You will probably have read or at least recognize many of these titles, and I count it joy that we have copies of a number of these gems. There is always room on our shelves for these titles...

  • Caldecott Medal Winners and Honor Books

  • These are judged based on the illustrations, but also tell good stories. A place to start for younger kids (like J!) who can't read yet and don't understand the words but love looking at pictures.

  • Newbery Medal Winners and Honor Books

  • Awarded annually to the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children," many of these titles I fondly remember from grade-school, including From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Twenty-One Balloons, and, of course, A Ring of Endless Light.

  • Charlotte Mason's Early Years Read-Alouds

  • A list of books for 3, 4 and 5 year-olds that are time-tested.

  • Kristen's Best Children's Story Bibles

  • How could I neglect to mention this?

  • 1000 Good Books by the Classical Christian Education Support Group

  • A ginormous list of books, categorized by age. Overwhelming, but a good resource nonetheless.

    Additionally, here are some short lists of well-designed, eye-catching simple books for infants.
  • Rachel Jones' Board Books

  • AT Nursery's 10 Classic Books for Babies and Toddlers


  • And, for those of you just itching to write and create something for your little one:
    How to Make Your Own Board Book

    P.S. For those wanting to buy gifts for baby J, and you want to know what we already have, check our our Library Thing catalog -- our attempt to keep track of every single book we own. It's constantly being updated, and I'm woefully behind (about halfway), but I promise to update it completely in time for Christmas shopping!

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Football!

    Georgia Tech pummels Samford, 69-14

    The Yellow Jackets climb up to #15 in this week's AP rankings. w00t!

    Plus, as an added bonus:

    The Dawgs fall to the Gamecocks (Disclaimer: I felt a little dirty about cheering for Spurrier, but it had to be done.)

    Yay for college football!!!

    PS: Hey Auburn, what's up with you guys this season?

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    Alan Jacobs' HP Review

    I enoyed reading Alan Jacobs' take on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which follows a similar vein to the Vulgar and Dreadful article Gaines' mentioned below. It gives away plot points, so don't peek if you haven't read book 7.

    Jacobs is an English professor at Wheaton College, and I often wish I could take one of his classes, especially this one. I subscribe to Jacobs' tumblelog, and will be glad when it returns in September from European vacation. The bits and pieces he posts always give me pause and often inspire blog posts (some of which I never get around to finishing, but at least it gets me thinking!).

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    Recent Reads

    Over the last week or so I've been gobbling down novels like they were M&M's. Here are some mini-reviews of my latest spate of fiction.

  • Flabbergasted

  • (Found at Goodwill ages ago for $.50)
    Wacky, fun, clean and happy beach book. I'm sorry I never read it sooner. Andrew Peterson narrates the audio version, and I bet it's hilarious. That said, though there are some GREAT lines in this book, the ending left me a little flat. I won't spoil it, but up until the end it had managed not to sound preachy or contrived-- in fact it seemed the best form of satire, mocking the Sunday singles scene from within-- and though I wasn't necesarily disappointed with the outcome, it struck me as off. I really wanted it to end differently, a la Tim Keller's brand of being Christian in the city (if you've read it, and know who he is, that MIGHT make sense). I suppose, though, I'll have to read the sequels, because Ray Blackston really knows how to make his readers chuckle.


  • Midwives

  • (Also found at Goodwill)
    Moving, powerful novel. While reading it, I had the strangest sense of deja vu, like I'd read it before even though I knew I hadn't, because it came out after I'd graduated high school, and you'd think I'd remember it if I'd read it in the last 10 years. I think this was due to the writer's talent and style. Bojhalian was able to put the reader in the mind of a 14-yr old girl and a thirty-something midwife, and I found that astounding. He really did his research. Thrilling suspense, and a gripping read until the very last page. I loved it!

  • Children of Men

  • (Purchased from Amazon)
    I hate to say I watched the film first, so when I finally read this, I had to completely put it out of my mind. It was hard, because I thought it made a good movie, but they had so mangled the book that I kept getting characters confused and seeing the actors in my mind's eye. The movie bears very little resemblance to this masterpiece by PD James. If you haven't seen the film, read the book first. The concept itself is intriguing and could be taken a number of different ways: what would happen if the entire world suddenly became barren? However, it remains a very character-driven and introspective novel. I would describe this as a narrative depiction of total depravity--we all have the capacity for ultimate evil. Not that this is a hopeless story, but it is certainly fascinating and thought-provoking look at human nature. A must-read.

  • The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

  • (Found at Goodwill)
    What inspired me to pick this up? It was sitting on our shelf at eye level after I finished the previous book, but I also like to think that watching an episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. in which they mentioned this Mark Twain mystery had something to do with it. How I became an English teacher having never read this classic I can only contribute to a distate for early American literature that lasted through college. (I blame high school.) I did manage to squeeze in a course on 19th Century African-American Lit in graduate school, and I think reading this during that summer would've been helpful. I definitely appreciated it more now than I would've earlier in my life. I found the caricatures somewhat amusing and slightly appalling at times, though nonetheless I was entertained. I would recommend it for those familiar with this period in American literature, because otherwise you're going to get lost in the dialect and proficient use of the n-word. It does make a decent detective story and displays Mark Twain's humorous wit.

  • A Passage to India

  • (Purchased at Borders on sale)
    It has been 10 years since I first read this E.M. Forster classic for my high school AP Lit class. It enchanted me then, and continues to do so. This is a haunting story about the "muddle" of British-controlled India, and focuses on the confusing relationships between East and West. The unfolding of events is not nearly as striking as the co-mingling of place and character. From the "boum" of the echoing caves and the spiritual chant of "Esmiss Esmoore," in this story, everything speaks. Though you can sense the heat of the omnipresent sun (fitting when for so long we were under drought conditions which only relented this weekend) and spy the outline of the Marabar caves, it is the noise of the novel that remains. The voices of the characters spring from the page, and the tryptich of Mosque, Cave, and Temple serve as backdrops for masses of people longing for freedom, for unity. Sadly, no one in the novel ever really finds what they were looking for, especially Miss Quested (fitting name), our heroine, who was always longing to see "the real India." Though definitely not portraying a particularly Christian or even historical viewpoint of the situation, I would recommend this book as an honest portrait of British India in the early 20th century and a fascinating read. It makes me want to travel.

    For an interesting perspective, check out the original 1924 review from the Guardian. (Warning: this review gives the plot away, if you care about such spoilers. I don't, really, on a book like this, though I was surprised the main plot points were given away on the back of the Borders Classic version!)

    HP Photo Printer Giveaway

    Something to inspire me to start scrapbooking again...5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a brand new HP Photosmart Printer! So small and yet so awesome!

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Mars Hill Audio Podcast -- Dialogues on Justice and Judges

    The latest installment of Audition, the podcast of Mars Hill Audio, is a preview of an upcoming series entitled Dialogues on Justice and Judges. The series' first episode, "Jurisprudence and the Roberts Court," is a fascinating look at the shape of the Supreme Court of the United States under Chief Justice John Roberts. Even if politics and civics aren't your cup of tea, this episode contains some very interesting analyses of the transformation of the nation's highest court over the years, as well as many underlying philosophical changes. Ken Myers and the MHA crew always do a great job, and this podcast is no exception.

    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    All in the Family

    A pleasant surprise! This week's Comment article, "Finding Our Way to Great Work," was written by my second cousin, Bart Garrett, who helped plant Christ Church of Berkeley. If you haven't subscribed to Comment yet, you should.

    There's a running joke between Gaines and I that Bart Garrett doesn't actually exist. Gaines has never met him, and belives his blog is a fake. Though we lived in the same metro area for over two years, we never actually got to see him and his family (though we tried!). If our children ever DO meet, though, this handy little chart helped me figure out that they would be true third cousins, which is what I always thought was my relationship to Bart and his sister, until I was properly informed. The more you know...

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    Consignment Sale Mayhem

    How to be a mediocre consignment-sale shopper:

  • Go by yourself, but with the kids in tow. Supermoms don't need help or second opinions!

  • Put your kid(s) in a stroller. A large one. Have some extra children tag along for good measure.

  • Don't bring a shopping bag or laundry basket or anything to carry your stash o' goodies.

  • Come on the second day of the sale when everything has been picked over, but not the last day, because the last day is usually half-off.

  • Leave after only looking for five minutes.


  • I think we only made two of the above mistakes, which is pretty good considering up until today I was a consignment sale virgin. You'd think since I've had this list of all the kids sales in Atlanta for a while that I'd actually have gone before now, but there wasn't really a good time. First, we didn't have kids yet, although I was working with a kids' ministry so I thought I *might* go. Then, I was going to grad school full-time, or teaching. While I was pregnant, I thought about it, but there was always one more thing to do before the baby came, especially since I taught until just before he was born. The spring sales were taking place when he was only weeks old, and I just wasn't up to it. Now, however, I can see how it can become obsessive and overwhelming and a huge frenzy. But not for me, I think. I don't like large crowds.

    Thankfully, today was not one of those days. I had picked out two sales within 5 miles of our apartment, avoiding the ginormous sale taking place about 20 minutes away at a civic center (over 1,000 sellers! yikes!). I'd planned to go early to the first one, but Gaines' mom and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast instead. We stopped at the first sale about 15 minutes after it officially opened and found some good deals on like-new or brand-new 9-12 month clothes. Not bad for a newbie.

    Our one misstep: we brought the stroller to the first sale because J was looking sleepy. Upon arrival, however, we discovered the place was small, things were a bit cramped, large bags were not allowed, and he woke up in all the excitement anyway. So, I wore him in my Babyhawk and took the stroller back to the car, which was much better for both of us. I spotted two other babywearers there including one I knew from Koala Momma meetings in a Beco and another mom in a pink Babyhawk. I don't know how many people working there asked me if I made "that thing you're carrying him in"! I wish! (I'm a horrible, lazy, novice seamstress who hasn't even bothered to attempt to make or hem or alter anything with the borrowed sewing machine I've had for a month...maybe the undeserved compliments will inspire me?) At the second sale, I saw another mom with her 10-month old in a cute Beco, a baby carrier I've had my eye on for quite a while now. (Dear readers, won't you please buy some CD's on eBay so I can fund my babywearing obsession? *wink*)

    The second consignment sale was in a much larger church gymnasium, which was lucky since J really did fall asleep in his carseat this time. Thankfully, there was plenty of room to maneuver our Combi carseat-carrying "naked" stroller, and most of the crowd had thinned out. You could tell the place had been picked over, but there were still a couple of good finds left. We got an Evenflo Exersaucer in fairly good shape for almost nothing (which was the only thing we were really looking for anyway) and a posh winter coat, but we weren't really going with needs in mind, just to see how things work. And we made it home before lunch! It wasn't nearly as overwhelming or intimidating or time-consuming as I expected. I think I'll go again sometime. In fact, I'm already planning another consignment sale outing for next week. And this time, I'm making a list!

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    Those Sneaky Kids

    Even though this particular eBay auction has ended, you must read it! Trust me! This has nothing really to do with Pokemon cards, or eBay even. Just go check out the description!

    LOT OF POKEMON CARDS THAT MY KIDS TRIED TO SNEAK BY ME

    Apparently, she alsohas a blog.

    HT to Amy's Humble Musings.

    New Andrew Peterson Album(s)

    AP shares some exciting details about his current project.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Mid-week linkage

    "Bildad and Reformed Theology" -- Good stuff.

    "Study: T-rex could outrun David Beckham" -- I, for one, am glad that question has finally been put to rest.

    "Harry Potter is Dreadful and Vulgar" -- A much better article than you'd think. (h/t to mark)

    Free Chick-fil-A! (While supplies last. Warning: site may be slow to load.)

    And finally, yet another shameless plug: More Team Redd eBay auctions.

    Friday, August 17, 2007

    Pass or Fail?

    Apparently, it's not up to the teachers anymore....

    This article in the NY Times about a teacher who was forced to pass a student exemplifies one of the reasons I think the public school system as it stands is a lost cause. Now, the guy in the article sounds like a bit of a slacker teacher (missing 24 days his first year! missing parent-teacher conferences!) but I still respect him for sticking to his guns and not giving a passing grade to someone who deserves to fail. Believe me, there is a lot of pressure from administration to do so. There are unofficial quotas...if you fail too many students, someone from the state might come investigate your class. And the teacher is the one in the dock, not the students!

    In 2006, a friend of mine (who teaches at another school in the district where I once taught) was also pressured to pass a senior her first year of teaching--the appeals went all the way to the District Superintendent. Thankfully, he realized it would be illegal to pass the kid because he had missed so many days that semester (the principal had somehow overlooked that little piece of information). Reason prevailed, and the kid went to summer school and had to watch his friends graduate. I was so proud of my teacher-friend for not letting anyone walk over her or force her to do something unethical, especially with all the pressure from her superiors to pass him.

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Built to Last a Thousand Years

    Not too far from where we live, in Lilburn, Georgia, a Hindu temple is almost complete. Rising from the suburban landscape, carved completely out of stone, it vaguely resembles the Taj Mahal. No metal or steel was used, and it was built to last a millenia. No mega-church box-like structure, this.

    It reminds me of the shimmering Al-Farooq Mosque that we watched rise and overshadow 14th street with its gleaming minaret. Pagan temples with glorious architectural design.

    Influenced by books like Sidewalks in the Kingdom and Christ and Culture, I have to wonder: why isn't anything this beautiful being built by Christians anymore? It's a tired refrain: grand European churches turned into nightclubs, or bars, or mosques, while church attendance dwindles. Gothic cathedrals reduced to museums, shells of their former self. While in America, our churches grow ever larger and more unrecognizable, until a stadium and a house of worshp are indistinguishable. I know there are exceptions, I've seen them, both here and abroad. Living, breathing beautiful churches in beautiful buildings built to glorify God. However, very few of these awe-inspiring churches are new constructions.

    One partial exception that I recently learned about is a Lutheran church that turned an ugly, big box sporting goods store into a beautiful sanctuary, complete with towering brick spire and bell tower. I can't find a picture online, but I drive past it 2-3 times a week and never guessed its origins until someone who had lived in the area much longer pointed it out. It may not last 1,000 years, since it still has the frame of a box store, but how's that for redeeming the suburban sprawl?

    Anyone know of new churches that are being creatively and purposefully built to actually look like churches? I heard once about a South American man who was using his own funds to build a cathedral, but I can't remember the details.

    Human Barometer

    A large mass of low pressure is descending upon the southeastern US. I know this not becaue of the meteorologists and their tracking of Erin making landfall in Texas. I know this because I feel it--a slow ache in my legs that has been building since last night. A burning soreness that kept me awake too long. I realize we here in hot dry Georgia probably won't get any rain, and Texans will probably get too much. All the same, the large looming storm makes its presence known. Hundreds of miles away, and I can still feel the impact.

    For those of you who don't realize why I'm displaying these strange symptoms, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was ten years old. It's not as bad as it once was, and now I usually only feel the remnants during times of stress, or after sleepless nights, or, like today, during certain weather conditions. (JL, do you feel it to? Is lupus similar in this regard?)

    For those readers who remain skeptical, I present this anecdote. One Sunday morning in April when I was fourteen, I was in such pain during church and was so uncomfortable that I asked my mother to take me home. Thw low atmospheric pressure that was to come was getting to me. I said that I thought it might snow. In some places, this might be a not unusual occurence, but this was south Alabama, where snow comes perhaps once a decade. And it was April. Sure enough, though, the next morning we awoke to wintry white on our yards and houses, enough to cancel school, I believe, though it all melted by midday. And I woke up feeling much better, not like the previous day when I felt as though a truck had run over me, achy nd flu-like. Like I feel today. I hope some sort of storm system moves through Georgia soon. If only for some relief.