Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Photo taken at Allison's parents' house in L.A. (that's Lower Alabama to the uninitiated) on Christmas Eve.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love."


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent and the Time Foretold

This past Sunday morning, the second Sunday of Advent, I was struck by the last stanza of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," though I've sung it many times:

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing!


I had rushed in late, after a hectic morning that involved sour cream on Jacob's head and a last-minute bath before church (long story), and so I had forgotten to get a bulletin and song sheet. I didn't know the number of the hymn in order to look it up, and so I just sang along as well as I could from memory. I was suprised that I knew the entire song! (Thank you, hometown church, for the annual caroling to the old folks' houses.)

When I got to the last two lines, I spontaneously broke into a grin as I sang. I couldn't contain the joy inherent in the thought of the whole world proclaiming the glories of Christ our Lord at the New Creation!

Sometimes, when we grow up hearing these hymns and carols, we forget to pay attention to the lyrics and what they really mean.

I'm currently reading a soon-to-be-released book (review coming soon!) that attempts to correct some of the misconceptions we have about heaven, or as N.T. Wright describes it, "the life after life after death." Yes, we go to be with the Lord after we die, but that's not the end! There is another "life" after that-- the one which we will be raised to when Christ returns. So many Christians miss this... The whole earth is groaning now for "the time foretold," when everything will be renewed and Christ will come down from heaven to reign here, over a redeemed world, complete with new mountains and vistas, not just puffy clouds and harps.


And so, as we celebrate Advent this year, we remember not only Christ's first coming as a babe who would one day die on the cross, we also look forward in anticipation to his second coming. On that day every tear will be wiped away, and the whole creation will be renewed along with those in Christ, raised up on the last day to "send back the song which now the angels sing." I love that image!

In case you are wondering about Advent and why we celebrate, there is a fantastic series of articles at The Rabbit Room this year, complete with an introduction on why Christians celebrate and weekly "Virtual Advent Wreath" meditations: Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3, so far.

The photo above is our non-virtual advent wreath, made from the same candles I've been using for the last few years, plus some added greenery and berries that I got at deep discount at Michael's. It's about the only decorations we have up this year, but I don't mind. Advent, I think, is my favorite season of the church year. It must be the expectation, the hopeful longing, that culminates with the sheer delight of Christmas day.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Great News for GT Football

Paul Johnson Named ACC Coach of the Year

... and National Coach of the Year by CBSSports.com

Jonathan Dwyer Named ACC Player of the Year

and finally,

Georgia Tech Accepts Bid to Chick-fil-A Bowl

This is an exciting bowl selection. It's pretty high-profile and it's on New Year's Eve. Tech will get a chance to go 3-0 against the SEC this season (likely against LSU, but we'll find out soon). And most importantly, there will not be a blue field involved.

Actually, the most important part is that it's here in the ATL. Which means Jacob is going to need a babysitter that night! Woo hoo!

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siran Stacy: God and Football

All my life, I've heard about Siran Stacy. He was a football legend born and raised in my small hometown. He became a star running back at the University of Alabama and then went on to play pro for Philadelphia.

[Edited to remove paragraph that was inaccurate and false concerning his conduct. He has made a great turnaround from his wild youth, though.]

Last November, he and his family were involved in a horrible car wreck. Siran's wife and four of his five children were killed, along with the drunk driver in the other car. I remember hearing about the accident and praying for his family, but hadn’t heard anything since.

This week, Birmingham's Fox affiliate ran a news story about his life since then. You can view the video from Fox 6 at their webpage.

As a testament to God's grace, Siran has become (or has always been? I don't know) a Christian. In the interview, he speaks of being content with where the Lord has placed him, being thankful for life, even after such a tragedy. He quotes Romans 8:28, and has become an evangelical speaker. It's definitely a different portrait than the one painted by small-town rumour mills. I am especially encouraged to see how his life has been transformed by Christ, and I wonder what it would be like to hear him speak.

For a little more info about his time at Alabama and how he got there, I found this Talk of Champions interview enlightening.

(I originally read about this at The Avenue, and wanted to give credit where it's due. Thanks!)

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Victory

No. 18 Yellow Jackets Surge Past No. 13 Bulldogs, 45-42

What a great game. This should put to rest the taunts that Paul Johnson's "Perfect Option" offense isn't effective enough to hang with the big boys. Exhibit A: Roddy Jones and Jonathan Dwyer put up a combined 358 rushing yards against the 'Dawgs, each with a pair of touchdowns to his name.

With this win, Tech moves up to #15 in both the AP Poll and BCS Rankings. Unfortunately, Virginia couldn't pull off the win against Virginia Tech this weekend, so the Hokies will be headed to the ACC championship instead of us. Alas. But there's always next season.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

November Adventures

Because I am lazy and never got around to turning these into actual posts, here are some Jacob highlights of the month in pictures:

  • First ride on a plastic dinosaur.



  • Second year to see glorious fall leaves.



  • First opportunity to see a live-action musical: "Goodnight Moon," here with friend Judah after the show.



  • First haircut (!)
    Before...



  • During...



  • After...



  • Feeding the ducks! (Again.)



  • Second trip to the Georgia Aquarium. Mommy & Me tickets are good through the end of the year!



  • First perfectly pronounced three syllable word: "bicycle"
    (Sorry, no video yet. But here's an extra photo for ya.)



    Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Book reviews, general zaniness, possible profundity, and hopefully a celebratory football-related post are all forthcoming after the holiday.

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  • Friday, November 21, 2008

    Yellow Jackets Hobble Hurricanes, 41-23

    It was a chilly night in Atlanta, but Georgia Tech brought the heat, and dismantled No. 23 Miami.

    We were there to witness it first-hand, bundled in multiple layers. Tech played really well, and our longshot hopes of making the ACC championship are still alive. It was a lot of fun, and there's plenty to tell, from providential Chick-fil-a to obnoxious Miami fans (though really, is there any other kind?). But for now, sleep beckons.




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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Butternut Squash, anyone?

    5 Minutes for Mom is having a Fun with Food Photo Contest where you can win a $500 for groceries! That can go a long way at our house with all the couponing I've been doing!

    Here's a photo of Jacob enjoying some butternut squash soup in a little ramekin-- all by himself! I was reminiscing that this time last year we were spoon feeding him homemade butternut squash baby food, but now he's graduated to new levels of culinary experimentation. He even ate all of his grilled cheese sandwich today and kept dipping it in his soup (like his Mommy does...). Yay for my super little eater!



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    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Book Review -- A Primer on Worship and Reformation

    A Primer on Worship and Reformation

    (The following review refers to a pre-publication galley copy, which the fine folks at Canon Press were kind enough to send me.)

    Releasing this week is Douglas Wilson's latest, A Primer on Worship and Reformation: Recovering the High Church Puritan. As the title would indicate, the book is a short overview on how the right worship of God is vital to rescuing wayward American Christianity.

    The first chapter, "They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Schlock," laments the state of American Christianity, which is far too often driven by cash registers than by the Word of God. Wilson applies his usual "serrated edge" to provide a brief inventory of relics, a list of the wackiness that often passes for expressions of Christian devotion. But instead of dwelling on Testamints and praise song hand motions, he proceeds to sketch out the cultural trends that have brought us to this place, such as rugged individualism and pietism. By doing so, he highlights the false dilemma accepted by those seeking to address such issues in the church: endure heresy or embrace schism. However, there is a third way: namely, that of reformation.

    To advance this alternate approach, Wilson adopts the term "High Church Puritan." As he explains, he uses "Puritan" in its original sense: "one who has a deep desire to purify the Church, but who has no intention of voluntarily separating from that Church if he doesn't get his way immediately." Hence the qualifier "High Church," which signals a serious understanding of the covenant and the bond it creates between Christians -- even those in error. For those dismayed by the frivolities and idolatries of modern evangelicalism, neither doctrinal apathy nor schism are viable options. Rather, the task at hand is to work within the church to reform it. As always, reformation in the church -- and in ourselves -- begins and ends with Scripture.

    As Wilson argues, true evangelism is much more than simply exhorting individual believers to share the Gospel with those around them. Rather, evangelism is the work of the Church, which seeks to transform the culture by first being transformed herself by the right worship of God. To encourage reformation of our worship, Wilson devotes chapters to each of the following:
    • Covenant renewal worship -- as summarized in Jeff Myers' pattern of call, confession, consecration, communion and commissioning;

    • Thundering the word -- for modernist methods of interpretation cannot be allowed to trump what Scripture teaches about itself;

    • The Lord's Supper -- which is an indispensable source of spiritual life;

    • Recovery of the Psalms in worship -- because God has given them for our use and benefit;

    • Right understanding of the Sabbath -- for the Lord's Day is not a drab observance of rules, but rather a joyful time of resting and feasting; and

    • The place of children in church -- because the blessings of the covenant are for them, and they should be nurtured in the faith instead of taught to doubt.

    I've read quite a few books on worship, but I really enjoyed this one. Wilson does not try to prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to worship, and he freely admits that worship can look different from church to church without sacrificing its integrity. Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts, he looks at the larger picture of the concerns and values that churches should bring to their worship. Plus, instead of simply berating Christians who worship in a trivial (or even blasphemous) manner, Wilson sees them as brothers and sisters in need of loving correction. Although brief, A Primer on Worship and Reformation packs in quite a bit of great material, all of which is useful for establishing a foundation for the right worship of God. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in Christian worship, whether they spend Sunday mornings in the pulpit, the choir or the pew.

    (Note: the official release date is November 11, but Canon Press is offering free shipping on all orders placed prior to this date.)

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    10 Things to Keep in Mind After the Election

    As an addendum to Gaines' earlier election post this morning, I'd like to add these ten things to remember no matter the outcome, from Doug Wilson.

    #1 is obviously the most important:
    God is still Father, Christ is still at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit is still abroad in the world, recreating that world according to the image of Christ. When the nations conspire against Him, He laughs at them.


    But I do heartily recommend #7:
    Learn something about economics. Please.
    .

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    Some Thoughts (From Other Folks) for Election Day

    A couple of thoughts before I head to the polls in just a few short hours:

    First, a hymn:

    Whate’er my God ordains is right,
    Holy His will abideth.
    I will be still whate’er He does,
    And follow where He guideth.
    He is my God,
    Though dark my road.
    He holds me that I shall not fall
    Wherefore to Him I leave it all

    Whate’er my God ordains is right,
    He never will deceive me
    He leads me by the proper path,
    I know He will not leave me
    I take, content,
    What He hath sent
    His hand can turn my griefs away
    And patiently I wait His day

    Whate’er my God ordains is right,
    Though now this cup in drinking
    May bitter seem to my faint heart,
    I take it all unshrinking
    My God is true,
    Each morn anew
    Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart
    And pain and sorrow shall depart

    Whate’er my God ordains is right,
    Here shall my stand be taken
    Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
    Yet I am not forsaken
    My Father’s care
    Is round me there
    He holds me that I shall not fall
    And so to Him I leave it all


    Secondly, Derek Webb has some good thoughts on Christians and voting.

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    Monday, November 03, 2008

    And We're Back

    So after a minor setback, Georgia Tech is back in the top 25. Check it:

    Yellow Jackets Upset Seminoles, 31-28 This really was an historic win, since Tech hasn't beaten Florida State in my lifetime. Seriously. Plus, it was a crazy-exciting game, complete with a nail-biting finish. Good times.

    Plus, the win pushes Tech back into the Top 25 (#20 in the BCS) and back to the top of the ACC Coastal Division. Oh yeah!

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    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Happy Halloween from the Pensive Giraffe!



    Jacob's costume arrived in the mail today. (Thanks, JL!) Though we didn't go trick-or-treating, we'd already had a full day (handing out Breakfast-on-the-Go treat bags in the early a.m. and throwing a party for the neighborhood kids in the afternoon) so we just took a few shots inside and on the porch. You can even see a glimpse of the gorgeous fall foliage outside our window in the background of this photo. I attempted to be all fall-ish and get a picture of him with a pumkin, but he insisted on tyring to bounce it like a ball. Poor pumpkin!



    (And no, he doesn't have pinkeye or anything. Just a sty that won't go away. The doctor even checked it out. Hopefully it'll disappear in a few days.)

    This thoughtful pose below is my favorite:

    "Hmmmm. What sound DOES a giraffe make?"

    However you celebrate, whether reclaiming this holiday for Christ who is over all things, greeting neighbors with hopes of sugary delights, perhaps reenacting Martin Luther's nailing of his 95 Theses, or just staying home with the lights off and watching the tube, I hope you've had a wonderful day!

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    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    Finally, an update! (With pictures, even!)



    October has flown by. Is tomorrow really Halloween already? We've been busy with parties and appointments and playdates and Apartment Life events, and Jacob has survived all the commotion pretty well, considering the amount of time he has been strapped into a stroller or otherwise restrained. Speaking of being restrained...

    On Tuesday, I took advantage of the Advance Voting here in Georgia and cast my ballot. However, I apparently chose the wrong site, since it opened late and I waited over 3 hours. Jacob was with me, and he was very good for the first hour, calmly sitting in his stroller, unlike the other toddlers near us in the line. Then the meltdowns began. I almost left at one point, but I had already been in line in the cold for an hour and a half. Thankfully, there were some very patient parents near me in the line, including one who turned out to be a fellow BSC graduate! They watched the stroller for me while we went on extended walks, shared exciting new toys and crackers, and were generally understanding, considering. Next time, I'm finding a babysitter. As a fellow sufferer commented, "To make it this far, we all must REALLY want to vote!"

    I'm just thankful I live in a country where I can vote for whomever I like, especially since they happen to be third party candidates! :)

    Okay, enough about that. Here's what you guys really came to see--pictures!

    At the beginning of this month, we celebrated Emily Jane's 2nd birthday. Here is Jacob mischieviousy hiding in her new play kitchen:


    That same week, "Aunt" Jennifer returned from Brazil! She's getting married to David on January 10th, and has been planning like crazy. We were so excited to drive over to Carrollton to see her one Thursday morning. Our time was short, but sweet! We are so excited to be able to visit with her again soon.

    Here they are together--Jacob took to his mom's maid of honor quite quickly:


    And here's a shot of the three of us, courtesy of Jen's long arms. I hope those aren't gang signs Jacob is making. I was hoping he would be immune to the influence of high schoolers while in utero! ;)


    Jacob also spent quality time with his friend Judah, who turned 2 this month, as well. We attempted to get a picture of them together, but, well, you can see the result. Jacob is clearly not amused.


    That day at the local park, Jacob decided to be adventurous and climbed up to and went down the slides all by himself. Here's a picture just before he lets go:


    He's actually becoming quite the independent little dude. He wants to do everything himself, include buckle his stroller/highchair straps and open doors. Tonight, he didn't want me to read to him, he wanted "Ja-bah" (his name for himself) to read to me!

    And, in case you haven't had enough, here are more Jacob tidbits from the last few weeks:

  • When he gets overly tired, sometimes he shouts "Run!" and toddles very fast through every room in the apartment, from the corner of our bedroom to the front door to his bedroom and back again, all while giggling maniacally. We've got quite the little crazy boy.

  • He's also gathering a prolific vocabulary for a nineteen-month old. (I bet if I said "prolific" he'd probably try to repeat it!) I credit all the book-reading we do, but I guess I'm only glad his latest stretch of TV-watching while sick hasn't stunted him in some way. A few samples of his latest words:
    sun, moon, stars, circle, Why?, tree, party, mouse, Bible, color, markers, crayon, Tyl-nol (Tylenol), temp-ture (temperature), ther-ter (thermometer...Can you tell he ran a fever all last weekend?!), hurt, an-mal (animal), bird, goose, frog, goat, rooster, wrench, crash!, tractor, plane, monkey, school, and, of course, slide!

  • He said his first sentence on October 16th: "Caden eat cracker." Way to go, little guy!

  • We've noticed Jacob's also very sympathetic. Whenever we look at this one picture in his ABC book of a boy who got too close to a porcupine, he always says "Ouch!". And while at the doctor's office on Monday, he heard a little kid crying in another room and said "Sad baby!"

    There is never a dull moment around here, and I hope to update a bit more regularly in the next few months just to capture all these mini-milestones before his little brother arrives and steals the spotlight. ;)

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  • Friday, October 24, 2008

    This Sounds Familiar ...

    The conspicuous fault of [Political Party X], like the personal fault of [Presidential Candidate Y], was that it represented integrity and reason, in a year when the electorate hungered for frisky emotions, for the peppery sensations associated, usually, not with monetary systems and taxation rates but with baptism by immersion in the creek, young love under the elms, straight whisky, angelic orchestras heard soaring down from the full moon, fear of death when an automobile teeters above a canyon, thirst in a desert and quenching it with spring water -- all the primitive sensations which they thought they found in the screaming of [Presidential Frontrunner Z].

    Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here

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    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Ranked

    A good weekend for Georgia Tech football:

    The Jackets knock off Clemson, 21-17.

    Tech finally cracks the top 25. We're 18th in the BCS ranking (if you put any stock in that), and 21st in the AP/USA Today polls.

    We're also at the top of the ACC Coastal Division (for the time being).

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    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Free Randall Goodgame Song

    Just in case you haven't heard, Randall Goodgame has a track ("All The Years") from his upcoming EP available for free download at his site. The new album is called Bluebird and releases November 4. As Allison noted, we heard some of Randall's new songs live a few weeks back, and we're very excited about the album.

    Download "All The Years" here.

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    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

    Just now I was working on a large sign to announce some upcoming events at our apartment complex. As I was coloring in the letters, the phone rang, and so I talked to my friend while I worked. Jacob was watching the whole time and kept asking to "color" as well. I gave him some paper at the coffee table and moved to another table to work. Apparently, I had left my phone where he could reach it because I soon overheard this:

    "Hewo?...Yeah, milk.......color..."

    :) I look over to see Jacob with the phone cradled between his ear and his shoulder (like Mommy!) and having an imaginary conversation while he colored his drawing! So adorable! And I thought it was hilarious that he threw in the "Yeah, milk" as if he was answering the question, "So, what do you like to drink?"

    Can I just say that I love being a mommy?!

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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Polls? Who Needs 'Em?!?!

    Warning: rant ahead.

    So, nevermind the fact that Tech put the hurt on Duke this weekend, 27-0. (Sure, Duke is the perennial whipping boy of ACC football, but they're looking much better this year -- honest! They've already won more games this season than in their last three combined!)

    And forget the fact that our star running back and our main receiver each had career best outings this past weekend.

    And don't mention that our starting QB was out with an injury, so our backup had to play -- and he was named ACC Rookie of the Week.

    Despite all of this awesomeness, Tech is still relegated to the "Others Receiving Votes" section of the weekly polling. Yet somehow, a team like Auburn is still in the top 25. Even though they have one more loss. And they just barely beat a team (Mississippi State) that we creamed.

    Okay, enough ranting. Despite the lack of love from the pollsters, Tech is looking really good this season. We've got a chump game this weekend (Gardner-Webb), but after that, it's the heart of our ACC schedule. Plenty of opportunities to prove our mettle.

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    Mommy Tag

    Because it's not just kids who like to play.

    My friend Sarah tagged me days ago and I am just now emerging from The Cold/Sinus/Cough Monster That Won't Go Away (it's still hanging around, but at least I can BREATHE now), so I'm just getting around to this.

    I'm going to tag two other moms I know who blog: Kami and now, Kitti!

    Here ya go!

    1. How many children do you have?

    One, with another on the way!

    2. What are their ages?
    Jacob will be 19 months old on Thursday. How time flies! His baby brother is due on February 5, 2009, so I'm somewhere in the sixth month, 22 1/2 weeks pregnant.

    3. What time do you start your day?
    Usually between 6:30-7:30, with an occasional sleep-in until 8am. (Jacob slept until 8:30 this past Sunday morning! Woo-hoo!)

    4. What do you eat for breakfast?
    Lately, I've been trying to eat more protein, so I've gotten hooked on making my own homemade version of an EggMcMuffin -- English muffin, egg cooked in a ramekin in the microwave (be sure to spray liberally with PAM and cover it while cooking!), a slice of cheese, and sometimes, Canadian bacon. It didn't help that I had a whole package of English muffins left over from a brunch. It's either that or scrambled eggs and toast, or oatmeal. On weekends I might make pancakes.

    Bonus: Jacob enjoyed eating scrambled eggs for the first time last week! I'm not sure why he wouldn't eat them until now, but I'm just glad he sticks his fork in his mouth and says "Mmmm, mmmm!" afterwards.

    5. Do your kids watch TV?
    See, Jacob doesn't really watch TV. It's always been there in the background, from when I was nursing him his first year or if we're at the grandparents, so he mostly just ignores it. We still try to make a habit of keeping the TV cabinet closed during the day, though. However, since I've been so sick lately, a few kid programs have snuck in: Curious George, mostly. (He says "Monkee!" whenever he sees that it is on.) But he won't sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time, even if he does have his milk cup!

    6. What are their favorite activities?
    Jacob loves playing with his blocks (of many varieties) and a car set we got from a friend. He's also taken an interest in "ba-ball" (his word for football) and we will go outside behind our apartment building and kick and throw around his little GT football. He likes to color, too, and this week he's been really into "mak-ers" (markers).

    7. Do you get a break during the day for some you time?
    Yes, I get a nice break during our morning walks while Jacob is happily buckled into his stroller, and I enjoy the few hours during Jacob's middle-of-the-day nap. (His naptime is sometimes the only chance I have to take a shower.) Lately, though, I've been using his naptime to take a nap myself!

    8. How do you end your day?
    I usually tutor online in the evenings after Jacob goes to bed, and then Gaines and I will watch one of our favorite TV shows, like Pushing Daisies, or something on a DVD. Then I'll read for a little while before finally falling asleep, while Gaines studies.

    9. What is your best parenting advice or tip?
    For young babies...you cannot love them/hold them/cuddle them too much! If they trust you when they are little, they will be more independent when they are older. (Or so I've heard! I'm still waiting to see how this all turns out...)
    For toddlers...Be consistent with your boundaries, but make sure they are flexible enough so your kids can still explore and experiment and learn about their world within those parameters.

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    October Happys

    1. Watching Jacob attempt--and finally succeed!--at blowing his first bubble all by himself! (I couldn't quite get a picture of the actual bubble, but you get the idea...)



    2. Hearing The Weepies' music on television, even if it is in a Barack Obama political ad.

    3. Watching the leaves on the trees outside our window slowly become tipped with gold and orange as the fall season visibly approaches.

    3. Playing with my new Canon Selphy CP770 printer! Thank you, HouseParty.com! (And no, it is not some fancy electronic diaper pail even though it might resemble that just a wee bit.)





    5. Listening to old-school Bebo Norman while driving around town with the windows down. For some reason, Ten Thousand Days always makes me think of fall.

    6. Being able to breathe again (and get a good night's sleep!) after weeks of a miserable cold.

    And finally...

    7. Georgia Tech Football's winning season. Let's Go, Jackets!
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    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Let's hope these saner heads prevail...

    I've never been so proud to be from Alabama. ;) I heard this on the radio this morning:

    Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) weiged in on NPR as to why the bailout plan as written now is a stupid idea and we should just let the market run its course.

    "What about alternatives. ... Is nothing an alternative?"
    Shelby: "Oh, absolutely! [Doing] nothing is always an alternative. The best disciplinarian we have is the market itself."

    For a longer and more in-depth look at the situation from a similar perspective, Ron Paul gave his opinion on the proposed bailout in this audio clip from yesterday. (Thanks, Travis!)

    Hopefully, Congress is listening.

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Randall Goodgame Concert Review



    On Saturday night, we drove up to Duluth to see our old friend Randall Goodgame play and talk about his songwriting as part of Old Peachtree Presbyterian Church's Alethia Forum. We hadn't seen him play a solo show in many, many years so we were looking forward to this opporunity! Besides, they offered free nursery care and who are we to pass up a chance like that?

    Jacob even got to meet Randall briefly before the show. That makes the second Square Peg he's met in his short life so far (Eric Peters being the first!). We've got to indoctrinate him into a love of quality indie music early, ya know?

    Randall always puts on a good show and we were not disappointed. He opened with "Bluebird," a song we first heard in 2006 at Andrew Peterson's Christmas show at the Ryman. He told us afterward that it will (finally) be on the new record, and it's the only guitar-driven song on the album. The rest are all piano tunes! Yahoo! We couldn't be more delighted. I love all of Randall's songwriting, but someohow I just feel he's in his element on the ivories.

    He began with a few familiar favorites and talked about the stories behind the songs, including "Susan Coates' Pants" and the ENTIRE Peanuts trilogy, which he wrote after hearing about the death of Charles Schultz. I think we might've heard all three songs live only once before, so this was a treat.

    Randall then gladdened our hearts by playing some new tunes on the piano, including "Reverie," a song for his wife Amy, and "Heaven Waits," a response to hearing all the stories from survivors of Hurrican Katrina. That particular song reminded me of a blend of New Orleans jazz and an old-time gospel hymn, which seemed fitting.

    Somewhere in the set he played "Bears," a song he wrote for his son Jonah. It's from Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies, an album he co-wrote with Andrew Peterson and a Team Redd favorite. Apparently, that album is the favorite of many, because Randall said they have sold more copies of Slugs and Bugs than all of their other albums. He acknowledged, "I guess we've found our niche. We always needed a niche!" By the way, if you didn't already know, Randall and Andy have written the Silly Songs for the last three Veggietales videos. A niche, indeed! They're hilarious!

    I'm sure he played some more songs, but I can't remember them all. I think one of the piano tunes was called "42 Dollars," and it was fun! At one point, he stopped to take requests, and so of course I shouted out "Laundromat!" (Any BSC grad just can't help but like a song that begins "There's a laundromat on Arkadelphia Road...") He responded "But I thought you guys wanted to hear NEW songs?!" Heheheh. He hadn't played it in a long while and at one point he got so into the music that we had to help him out a bit with the lyrics. I didn't mind. :-)

    Randall stayed at the piano (joy!) and played another new song, "California," which recounts the tragedy of a young unwed mother who, in 1968, was sent across the country to a girls' home and forced to give her baby up for adoption. My friend Sarah and I were bawling. I swore I'd never be one of those people who cried in public because of a song, but this one was just too powerful. (It probably also had something to do with being a mom and also swirling with pregnancy hormones.) Still, even if you're not a mom and not pregnant, when you hear this song, I dare you not to cry!

    From that tear-jerker he moved on to "Jerusalem," which helped to remind me of the One who holds our hearts. I can't remember what he ended on, but the organizer (Thanks, Dan!) had included some time for Q&A at the end. I missed part of that, but I did return with Jacob in tow to hear him play a hymn off of his church's new worship album called "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say." Apparently, it was originaly a children's song, and he fell in love with the simple gospel announcement, but the lyrics are so much richer than any children's song written today.

    So, if you read my rambling review and are wondering what all these songs sound like, you can buy most of Randall's albums at his website. His new six-song EP is set to be released in October (I think they are mixing it this week)! His church's new worship project, The Midtown Project Vol. 1, can be found here. And you should definitely pick up a copy of Slugs and Bugs and Lullabies, even if you're not a parent.

    (By the way, that church has some great discussion forums coming up so be sure to check out their calendar. Who knew that local newscaster Tony Thomas was a Christian? He's going to be speaking about Christianity and Journalism next March along with Joel Belz, founder of World Magazine.)

    Next up, a review of our Sunday afternoon trip to see MPJ. It was an action-packed weekend of free live music!

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    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Tech Football is Looking Good

    Georgia Tech Downs Mississippi St. 38-7

    After an agonizing loss to Virginia Tech last weekend, the Yellow Jackets bounced back to chalk up a win at home against Mississippi State. Actually, "win" is an understatement -- it was a thumping, and against the same team that held Auburn to only 3 points the week before. Tech scored on our opening possession and never looked back, racking up an impressive 438 yards of rushing offense. Oh, and most of that was with our backup quarterback, since starter Josh Nesbitt went out with a hamstring injury on the first drive. Hopefully, he'll be able to recuperate soon. Thankfully, we have two weeks before the next game.

    It looks like Coach Johnson's new spread option is really starting to click. The rest of the season should be fun.

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Andrew Osenga -- Letters to the Editor, Vol. II



    Good news, music fans! Andrew Osenga has released a new EP via his website. As with the first installment of Letters to the Editor, Andy has taken song ideas, fragments, and stories from friends and fans, all for the purpose of turning them into songs. (It's even got a song about Canada, complete with Geddy Lee reference!) The result is a cool little self-produced EP. Best of all, it's totally free. That's six songs, and a nifty little downloadable booklet. For free.

    Download it now. FOR FREE.

    If you like it, please consider sending Andy some $$$ via PayPal, if only to ensure that he can continue releasing little gems like this. (That, and helping him to support his family and whatnot.)

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    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Snips and Snails

    That's right, it's a boy!

    Sometime around Feb 5, 2009, Jacob's going to have a baby brother!



    Baby Redd #2 is already quite the active little guy, and was even playing peek-a-boo with us this morning at the ultrasound. I still don't quite understand what they see in those pictures, but you can see a nice profile here, sort of. Jacob didn't quite know what to make of the whole thing either, but he definitely cheered "Yay!" a few times and clapped when he saw the excitement of his parents.

    It's nice to know that this "li'l brudder" won't have to make it on his own, since he'll have Jacob to get him into trouble and guide him through the ins and outs of this whole growing-up thing. I'm excited about being the mom to two boys! I can't wait to see them playing together one day. I bet they might even appreciate Homestarrunner.com. But not just yet.

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    Monday, September 15, 2008

    If you are in Atlanta this weekend...

    You should know that this is the concert weekend of the month! Two FREE shows in one weekend! (Though you may have to drive a bit, depending on where you live...)

    Randall Goodgame (a fellow BSC alumni and fantastic songwriter) is playing on Saturday, Sept. 20th at 7pm in Duluth, GA at the Alethia Forum (Old Peachtree Presbyterian Church). Free! And to top it off, for parents, the church is providing child care for infants and toddlers! Woot! Just call or e-mail and let 'em know you're coming! (We already did! We can't wait!)

    Also, the next day, former Atlantan Matthew Perryman Jones will be kicking off Dave FM's Acoustic Sunset Concert Series in Smyrna Market Village at 4pm, Sunday, Sept. 21st. Free! And since it'll be outside, we're planning to make a picnic out of it! Why don't you join us?

    By the way, if you haven't gotten MPJ's new CD "Swallow the Sea," you should. It rocks my face off. Also, apparently Randall will have a new EP available this month, hopefully at this weekend's show. Yay!

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    Thursday, September 11, 2008

    Wendell Berry backs me up!

    I do find it a bit ironic that my most of my limited experiences with the writings of Wendell Berry, a well-known agrarian and one who eschews technology, have been through the internet. But that is our modern world, and as he says, we must live in it.

    From a recent Sun Magazine interview:

    Real reading, of course, is a kind of work. But it’s lovely work. To read well, you have to respond actively to what the writer’s saying. You can’t just lie there on the couch and let it pour over you. You may have to read with a pencil in hand and underline passages and write notes in the margins. The poet John Milton understood that the best readers are rare. He prayed to his muse that he might a “fit audience find, though few.


    In college I was told by a particular professor that in order to read properly, I must "read violently." He would actually check our books for underlinings and notes in the margins for each assignment, and if the pages looked too pristine, we wouldn't get credit. When reading something profound or beautiful I still get the urge to underline or make comments in the margins. My dear husband, however, disagrees with me and only takes notes in a journal, far away from his crisp white pages. But I like to see the words on the page and my interactions with them. At least Wendell Berry agrees with me. I wonder what the books in his library must look like?

    The above interview, by the way, is chock full of thought-provoking quotes about such wide-ranging topics as faith, farming, and the free market. It is well worth your time. I might create a post or two about it, but I think I'll have to print it out first so I can underline and make notes in the margins. ;)



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    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Tech Wins ACC Opener

    Is it Monday night already? This is overdue:

    Tech Tops Boston College, 19-16

    It wasn't a pretty win, but hey, a "W" is a "W." Plus, the team, young as it may be, is proving that it can come through when it counts.


    Next up: VA Tech. I'm guardedly optimistic.

    (Yeah, I know -- Fall means Team Redd turns into a GT football blog. But it's better than no posts, right?)


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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    A New Era Begins For GT Football

    Yellow Jackets Wreck Gamecocks, 41-14

    Sure, beating Jacksonville State isn't exactly a huge accomplishment. But the start of the 2008 season brought plenty of concerns for Jackets fans. A new head coach, with a new-fangled option offense. A young team (the youngest in the ACC, with only 8 returning starters). Less than encouraging reports from early practices. New uniforms. (Okay, that last one isn't really that big of a concern.)

    But in the end, the Tech squad looked pretty good. The ground game is shaping up to be quite potent, with TDs run in by four different players (including Roddy Jones, a graduate of Chamblee High School, where Allison taught). Granted, there were a few miscues, and our kicking game looks like it needs some help (2 missed FGs AND a missed PAT? Seriously?). But Coach Johnson has a reputation for demanding perfection from his players, so I'm sure we'll see plenty of adjustments before we start playing real teams (like next week's ACC opener at Boston College).

    This might turn out to be a good season after all.

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    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Romantic Thrillers

    I've noticed a theme in my reading as of late. In this recent spate of fiction, there seems to be a prevalence of love mixed with the threat of eminent danger.

    After rereading a few familiar juvenile novels (The Twenty-One Balloons, Jacob Have I Loved and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--all fantastic, by the way!) mostly because they were there, I was out of reading material. So I looked at the shelves of fiction we had actually unpacked, and chose a P.D. James novel, since I had really enjoyed her book Children of Men.

    It was on that note that I have been reading a collection of books that I will dub "romantic thrillers," mostly because the phrase bedecked the cover of one of my recent reads, and it seems an apt description. So instead of just doing mini-reviews, this time you get a thematic assessment, too! Here goes...

  • Death in Holy Orders

  • Excellent P.D. James murder mystery which takes place at a high-church Anglican theological college set on a lonely British seaside. I'm a sucker for a good murder mystery if it's well-written, but I don't really enjoy the genre, per se. Mostly Agatha Christie and the like. However, I might have to check out more of Ms. James' novels, especially since her descriptions, attention to detail and characterizations are riveting. Here, the "romantic" part of this thriller was the landscape, which reminded me of Tintern Abbey or something equally Wordsworthian, desolate, and remote. Yet still, somehow, beautiful. I'd like to visit the east coast of England some day.

  • gods in Alabama

  • Not much to speak of, but it was funny. And there WAS a murder involved, and some definite romance, so I suppose it fits into this category after all. More of a Prodigal homecoming novel than anything else, though. If you've ever lived in a small Southern town, you'll appreciate the humor. Enjoyable, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

  • No Place Like Home

  • My go-to beach book author, Mary Higgins Clark. There are three things you will always find in a MHC novel, and this one did not disappoint:
    1. Murder, with the heroine somehow involved and usually in eminent danger herself.
    2. A romantic interest who steps in to save the day at the last minute, though usually the girl gets a bit part in the action, too.
    3. A happy ending for the couple, and proper punishment for all evil parties involved.

  • Thunder on the Right

  • A "highly-charged romantic thriller," or so the cover says, set at a French Abbey, with a twenty-something heroine on a holidy to visit her cousin. A fast, charming re-read, filled with evocative descriptions and lessons in culture and language (some French phrases were left intact). Though the setting is wildly romantic in the literary sense, there is, as always, a bit of romance involved with a young man from her past. Intriguing until the last.

    Mary Stewart was one of my favorite novelists in high school. You may know her from her Merlin trilogy, but I was first familiar with her other fiction. I remember finding a copy of The Stormy Petrel at an outlet bookstore, and I soon gobbled up all our local library had to offer. I appreciate her much more, now, since her books are chock full of literary references and allusions that I wouldn't have caught as a young teen. I was especially proud to understand the nods to Mrs. Radcliffe in this one, since I hadn't even heard of The Mysteries of Udolpho, much less read it, until grad school. Also, she always begins each chapter with a famous literary quote, and though I hadn't read each work she referenced, at least I could say I had heard of them this time!

  • The Moon-spinners

  • Another Mary Stewart novel, this one set on the isle of Crete. The heroine is on holiday from her job in Athens and stumbles upon a young Englishman in trouble. On the edges of the White Mountains her adventure begins, and she finds herself mixed-up with a pack of jewel-thieves. The film version starring Haley Mills is nothing like the book, but is entertaining nonetheless, if I remember properly. The Moon-spinners overflowed with classical allusions and even some actual Greek, which I asked Gaines' assistance in translating. Whenever I read a Mary Stewart novel, I feel like I've taken an actual trip to her locations, since her descriptions are always so vivid and enduring. A highly enjoyable re-read. (Thankfully I forget the plots of books I have read before, so I will probably enjoy this again in another ten years.)

  • Twilight

  • This seems to be on everyone's list nowadays, though it has sitting been idly on my bookshelf for over a year now. A friend from Seattle, Lindsay, gave it to me after Jacob was born, and for some reason I just never got around the picking it up. I've been enjoying it as a diversion these last few rainy days and nights, and I'll let you know if I want to read the rest of the saga once I get to the end. Though there has been no mention of murder (yet), the fact that this is a love story involving vampires MUST place it squarely in my category of "romantic thriller." Surprisingly, though the premise might seem too sci-fi for some, it is actually written in a quite believable way, and I have to say my suspension of disbelief is holding out. I appreciate it for what it is, so far. I would guess that it would be more appealing to women, though, just because of the style. Too mushy for the men. ;)

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    More eBay goodness!

    It's a Caedmon's Call-apalooza this week at our Team Redd eBay page. We were unpacking our CD's and found, amazingly, more duplicates of some rare Caedmon's Call finds. I'm still not sure where we got this third Guild 1 CD, but it's there along with the EP Just Don't Want Coffee in all it's orange glory, as well as The Austin Sessions that came with 40 Acres. Happy bidding!

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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Make Way for Ducks

    Every Wednesday morning, and some other mornings during the week if we're not too busy, Jacob and I take a walk around the lake at our apartment complex. The paved (asphalt) trail is at least maneuverable with the stroller, though there are a few bumps along the way from roots, as well as some major hills! I definitely get a workout. The trail itself is about a mile and a half long, or so I've been told.

    Everytime we walk together I am instantly transported back to my childhood. The creek reminds me of the one that ran behind our house growing up, where I spent hours playing, splashing, building bridges and swinging across on a rope swing. The woods are quiet and cool, mostly pine, and invite me to breathe deep. At one particular place, there is a smell that reminds me of summer camp, and though it must be the aroma of a particular plant that I can't place, it catches me short every time.

    Because of an ample food supply, the lake is filled with many, many, ducks. Yesterday I counted no less than 55 along the hillside! There's also a gaggle of geese, and one strange-looking duck which we think might be a lone Muscovy. How he got here I have no idea! I must remember to snap a picture of the odd fellow!

    Jacob loves to visit his feathered friends and asks about them constantly. "Duck!" is a common word whenever we go near the office or the trail. When we were at the libary today, I picked up a copy of Make Way for Ducklings in honor of this newfound appreciation.

    We are blessed to have a bit of nature imposed on us in the middle of this large urban metropolis. I envision much exploring of the creek and lake as Jacob gets older. I am glad, at least, to be able to share this one echo of my past with him for these few years we are here. And now, I hope to share a bit with you!

    Here are some pictures I took last month on one of our walks:


    Two roads diverge...


    The creek, the lake, and the swampy areas in between are full of wildlife. I think this is a heron.


    The most well-fed waterfowl in the metro Atlanta area.


    A view of the gazebo behind the leasing office.


    A nice resting spot.


    View from the trail across the water where we often stop for a quick duck sighting. The hillside with the benches is a popular duck/geese hangout.

    Won't you come join us on a walk someday soon? :)

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    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Cheap as Free at CVS

    I've been shopping fairly regularly at CVS for about 7 months now, trying to figure out how to make the most of our money by combining coupons and Extra Care Bucks (ECB) rewards. I've gotten lots of "free" items as well as things that we need for much less than the retail cost.

    Today, for the first time, I actually made TWO transactions in the same visit, using the ECB's from the first one to pay for the second...and I was pleased at how much money I saved.

    (Just because I didn't want to take up too much of one cashier's time, I actually made my first purchase and then turned the cart around to go shopping for my second purchase. It worked out quite well, and I even got a different cashier the second time, so I didn't feel all weird buying from the same person twice.)

    Transaction #1:
    2 Crest Whitening Toothpastes, $1.99 each, got $2 ECBs and used a $1.00 off 2 coupon
    2 Oral B Toothbrushes, $1.99 each, got $2 ECBs used $1.00 off 2 coupon
    I Advil Infant Drops $5.79, got $5.79 ECB
    Used $2 off $10 coupon
    Total Spent OOP (out of pocket)= $10.57
    Extra Care Bucks Credit= $9.79
    Actual Cost= $0.78!

    Transaction #2:
    1 12pk Diet Mtn Dew (Sorry, dear, they didn't have 4!) on sale for $2.75
    1 Band-Aid Advanced Box, $4.99, used $.50 off coupon
    1 Neo-to-Go Neosporin, $5.99, used $1.00 off coupon
    Got $5 ECB's for buying $10 worth of Band-Aid/Neosporin products
    Used $2 off $10 coupon
    Used my $.9.79 in ECB's toward this purchase
    Total Spent OOP (out of pocket)= $0.53
    Extra Care Bucks Credit= $5
    Actual Cost= A profit of $4.47 in ECB's!

    If you're confused, I basically spent $6.10 (because of the ECB's) and got $29.72 worth of useful items!

    For those of you who are new to this whole CVS concept, you might want to check out Money Saving Mom for this and other great thrifty spending tips!

    A note to readers: I only buy things we would actually use, and if I realize when I get home that we have way more than we would ever need of one item (like, say, toothbrushes), I'll donate them to charity. It's all good, y'all.

    My next goal is to bring our grocery budget down to about $40/week. I like to think I'm at around $70/week now, but I know it's always a little higher with all the milk we buy. I always have difficulty with food expenses, especially since I like to buy fresh fruits and veggies.

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    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    I have a "famous" childhood friend!

    When I was growing up, I lived next door to a family with three boys. They were the closest thing to brothers I had. We went back and forth between our houses and almost didn't even have to knock. We played war games and matchbox cars and Legos and did lots of running around in the woods, swimming, climbing trees, and riding bikes. And when they had been bad, I'd help them pick up pine cones to speed their punishment along so we could get back to crawling through the underbrush and shooting down enemy combatants with water guns.

    Now, two of those neighborhood boys are in the Air Force. The brother who is my age is Scott. He just celebrated his birthday last week, the day before Russia invaded Georgia. And I just got an amazing e-mail from his dad about something related to those events that happened this past week:

    Scott was in Europe and had just flown a mission into Afghanistan. They landed back at Ramstein, Germany, after delivering their cargo in Kabul. They were supposed to come home to Delaware, but were tagged for the first humanitarian mission going into Georgia. They took off enroute to Tbilisi, Georgia [on Wednesday, Aug. 13th]. Just after takeoff, the President started a news conference in the Rose Garden with Cheney on one side and [the] Sec of State standing on the other side. He said a humanitarian C-17 was enroute to Tbilisi and the Soviets had better honor their commitments to humanitarian aid and allow the aircraft to deliver their cargo. The Soviets control all the airspace in Georgia, and it was basically a free fire zone. Scott said the Soviet aircraft had taken out all the radar sites, and Bucharest center and Ankara center both told them that the airspace and airport in Tbilisi were closed. The ambassador to Georgia met the airplane and they delivered the cargo...

    Can you imagine the President of the United States waiting for Scott Motley to make his takeoff so he can start his news conference?!


    Scott and his crew even landed themselves on the front page of the New York Times! I know he's in the picture with his crew, but I can't figure out which one he is. Scott's tall and lanky and I think he may be in the middle, turned to one side, standing in the cargo hold of the C-17. I thought that was really cool! He may not be named, but honestly, how many people can you say who you know have had their picture on the front page of the Times? :)

    There was even a news story about the event on the local Alabama affiliate, WSFA: Conflict Between Georgia and Russia Hits Close to Home

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    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    MPJ on Dave FM tomorrow!

    Matthew Perryman Jones (or MPJ, for short) is one of our favorite indie artists. Not only is he an amazing singer/songwriter (if you were at our wedding rehearsal dinner six years ago we used his song "Lead Me to the Water" in the slideshow), he's also originally from the Atlanta area. And he knows the Murrays, so he must be cool. :)

    I heard on the radio this morning that he's going to be playing a song or two LIVE on Dave FM, a local Atlanta radio station, tomorrow morning. Woot!

    It was funny hearing the DJ's (both female) talk about him-- they haven't met him yet, but they kept saying how "hot" he is and how he's "the next John Mayer."

    I'm curious to hear the interview tomorrow even more now! I believe it will be around 10am EST and you can listen live here.

    If you're in the mood for more live music, Matthew will be in Atlanta this Saturday, Aug. 16th at Smith's Olde Bar at 9pm. He'll also be at the WorkPlay Theater in Birmingham next Wednesday, Aug. 20th at 8 p.m with Matthew Mayfield (from the band Moses Mayfield. My college friend Matt was in that band.) Anyway, MPJ is always fantastic live, so check him out!

    If you just can't get enough of Matthew Perryman Jones, I just discovered this great MPJ fan website Breaking Out the Windows.

    Update from an e-mail I got tonight:
    Matthew will appear on both Good Day Atlanta (Fox affiliate) and Atlanta's Dave FM (92.9) this Friday, August 15. His appearance on Good Day Atlanta will be between 8-9 AM, while his appearance on Dave FM will fall between 9-10 AM (slated around 9:45). Be sure to tune in!


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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Beach trip, here we come!

    Woo-hoo! We're off to delight in this:


    The place has WIFI, but we have no laptop. We are glad. We are bringing many books.

    We might even leave J with the grandparents and sneak off to see a movie on the big screen. (When was the last time we did that?!)

    Be back next week with lots of cute "Jacob not enjoying the sand" pictures.

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    Action Shots

    Here are some photos from our recent events...

    Gaines serving up some waffles.














    Jacob and me with some new friends.














    Apparently, now that we have introduced Mexican Train Dominoes to our neighbors, everyone wants to play! It's the new trend! (Oh, and in case you're wondering...the A/C wasn't working the night the photo was taken. We were all melting, but folks stayed until the end despite the heat!)
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    Monday, August 04, 2008

    The Longest July

    We've thought lots about posting things here. Really we have. We even started a couple of posts that never got finished. But if you're wondering about the dearth of blogging lately, here's what we've been up to in just the last three weeks (plus all the preparation, cooking, set up and clean up that comes with hosting an event):

  • Serving brunch for over 40 people.
  • Hosting a Game Night with over 60 residents. Pizza and dominoes are popular here.
  • Planning a Kids Club. Though only 2 came, they talked about Jesus. :)
  • An evening of coffee, homemade desserts, about 20 guests, and more dominoes.
  • Handing out breakfast-on-the-go to about 100 of our neighbors early one morning.

    And the piece d'resistance or the straw that broke the camel's back (depending on your perspective):

  • We threw a pool party on Saturday for over 150 people. Thankfully, we didn't have to prepare the food or man the DJ station. We just handed out meal tickets and served ice cream. LOTS of ice cream. :)

    We've realized that we probably overplanned this first month. (Ya think?!) Yesterday afternoon all three of us napped for FOUR hours. I think we all needed it. And then Jacob slept 11 hours straight last night! That's the most he's slept in one 24-hour period since he was about 6 months old.

    By the way, Gaines also took a week-long graduate course on his "vacation time" the week before last, and he's finishing the final tonight. It has definitely been an extremely long month. (I know, I know, the pool party was technically in August. But it all sort of runs together, ya know?).

    Thankfully, things are looking up! August, in case you hadn't heard, is National Ice Cream month. We will also celebrate our 6 year anniversary. Coincidence? I think not. I'm certainly looking forward to enjoying some yummy chocolate frozen goodness this weekend at the beach! Yay for a real vacation!

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  • Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Dutch: A Review

    Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris


    I was only 8 years old when Ronald Reagan left office, so I felt like I was rediscovering the famed era of my childhood while reading this book. RR was such an imposing figure upon my imagination, and I remember sadly watching as Alzheimer's slowly took his faculties and he dwindled away into a shadow of what he once was, while I grew into an adult. Through this biography, I learned much about the inner-workings of twentieth-century American history, and especially about Dutch himself. Though the author clearly displays Reagan's failings as well as his successes, I came away with a sense of awe and respect for this magnanimous man who denouced the "evil empire" and dreamed of a defense system in the stars.

    The best part about this memoir is the author's ability to insert himself into the narrative (which was highly controversial, since Morris basically made himself a semi-fictional character in Reagan's story), but here, it works. This is a much more literary biography than I've read before, with beautiful, haunting descriptions and creative narrative touches throughout, including (appropriately enough for an actor-turned-President), a smattering of movie script-style sections.

    The only drawback, in my opinion, is that I think the author expects the reader to be more familiar with the time period that is covered; there were many cultural and historical allusions or references that were unfamiliar to me. Perhaps, though, it just means I need to brush up on my 20th Century history!

    All in all, I rate this as a fantastic book, and well worth the six months it took me to finally finish (of course, I had to read the footnotes, too-- they are almost as interesting as the bio itself!). Highly recommended to all, epseically during this Presidential election year. I think I began reading this the night after the Republican primary at the Reagan library. Hopefully, you will be able to finish it much sooner than I did, though it is a whopping 841 pages!

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    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Medieval Animal Imagery in Lewis' LWW

    From the first chapter of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe:

    "What's that noise?" said Lucy suddenly. It was a far larger house than she had ever been in before and the thought of all those long passages and doors leading into empty rooms was beginning to make her feel a little creepy.

    "It's only a bird, silly," said Edmund.

    "It's an owl," said Peter. "This is going to be a wonderful place for birds. ... I say, let's go and explore tomorrow. You might find anything in a place like this. Did you see those mountains as we came along? And the woods? There might be eagles. There might be stags. There'll be hawks."

    "Badgers!" said Lucy.

    "Foxes!" said Edmund.

    "Rabbits!" said Susan.

    But when next morning came there was a steady rain falling, so thick that when you looked out of the window you could see neither the mountains nor the woods nor even the stream in the garden.



    This passage immediately precedes the part where the children begin exploring the house and Lucy finds the Narnian wardrobe for the first time. I think that Lewis uses this short passage to set up his characterization of the four Pevensie children from the very start.

    Now that I'm a little more knowledgeable about the use of medieval symbolism (thanks mostly to J.K. Rowling, of all people, by way of John Granger), when I read this passage, something clicks. It may seem insignificant to you, but the animals that the children name give great insight into their characters and personalities as they are revealed throughout the series.

    Lewis was a Classical scholar, and I think he has each child mention those particular animals purposefully. For example, Peter, who later becomes the High King of Narnia, mentions creatures that are often seen as noble and wise, and many that are also associated with Christ, like the stag, which is a symbol of the resurrection and the "Tree of Life." And this may be surprising to many, but the badger was considered a typical English symbol of bravery, courage and fierceness in defense, which I think we clearly see in Lucy as she ventures into the unknown with a stout heart and fiercely defends her Narnian experience despite others' doubts.

    I won't go into more than that so as not to bore any of our non-literary readers, but I get very excited when I research the animals' symbolism and their respective association with different temperments. Perhaps one day I will actually have the time to write and research this, but for now, it will have to be something on my back burner. I can envision an entire paper just from this passage alone, but I also see possibilities in other Narnian books. I'm not sure if anyone in the academic world has picked up on Lewis' symbolism in this earlier passage, but for now, that research will have to wait. I hope at least someone out there finds this even the most tiny bit as interesting as I do! Thanks for indulging me. :)

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    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    The Senior Thesis I Should've Written

    In January 2001, during my junior year of college, I attempted to write my "Senior" thesis paper, because the next year I wanted to join the Service-Learning Interim trip, and didn't want to have to worry about writing a paper with so many other things looming before graduation, especially since I would have an Honors thesis due as well.

    However, I was very naive and untrained in the ways of large-scale research papers, and it was a miserable failure. I procrastinated for months, even sacrificing most of my spring break to do research, and finally hurried up and edited my final drafts WHILE travelling in England that summer. (I was very thankful for e-mail.) I found out later that my professor didn't read it until November, and I could've continued working on it after I returned home! Ah, well. In hindsight, my advisor did warn me not to attempt writing a Senior Thesis before taking the Senior Seminar course, and I have to admit he was right. The folly of youth.

    The only good thing that came out of that fateful January term was that I got to spend an entire month reading my favorite author! It was an entire course on C.S. Lewis' fiction-- we read the Narnia Chronicles and the Space Trilogy, and I got my first taste at "teaching" when the professor turned over one whole class to each of his "senior" students. I enjoyed it more than I liked to admit at the time.

    Although my first attempt at a paper wasn't a smashing success, I managed to ramble on enough and quote enough proper sources to pull a B-. (The next year I discovered that a friend of mine had been in the exact same situation, even sharing the same advisor, and he gave her a B-, too, so I think he just took pity on us both!) Still, I've always longed to make up for that first sloppy attempt somehow, and I've kept the notes and articles in the hopes that I might one day find time to reconsider my thesis and possibly write a new paper. I definitely feel much more capable now.

    Especially since I think I've discovered a new topic.

    Part 2, where I describe my insights, will be automatically posted later Monday morning. :) So stick around. I promise the blog is coming back to life!

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