Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jury Duty

It's my turn again tomororow morning. Last time I was called, I was number one hundred and something, they let everyone go home before lunch. This time, though, I am somewhat looking forward to the possibility of fulfilling my civic duty, but I'm also bringing not one but two books to read while I sit and wait. Of course, I am number 000009 so I imagine I'll end up serving somewhere, which is just as well. New experiences and all that...

Gaines will be home with Jacob and I'm sure they'll have a grand time. I can't wait to hear about their day together!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

LOST Madness (Redux)

Congrats to Desmond, who beat out Sayid in the final round.

Admittedly, the seeding of the brackets was poorly done, but I'm not displeased with the final result. All in all, a fun little contest. Maybe they'll make some improvements by next year.


Monday, March 24, 2008

My New Project

I just wanted to let you all know that your encouragement about our party planning ideas inspired me to start a new blog!

Very Merry Events is all about frugal event planning. I hope it will become a website for people to find ideas for their celebrations, get their questions answered, be an outlet for me to share my creativity, as well as hopefully become a helpful resource as we (hopefully) transition back into being a CARES Team in the summer.

If you would like to have a party-planning question you would like answered, or have some ideas you want to share, please let me know! Criticisms, comments, suggestions, ideas and links are all greatly appreciated! You can comment here or there or e-mail me at verymerryevents[at]gmail[dot]com.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

The First Day of God's New Week

Everybody in the ancient world knew that resurrection didn't happen. More: they knew it couldn't happen. They spoke of it, in the classical world of Greece and Rome, as something one might imagine but which never actually occurred, and never could or would. The Jews, though, began to believe that it would. Not all of them, mind; the Sadducees resolutely stuck out against it. And they weren't all clear exactly what it would mean, what it would be like. But they believed, as we saw in [John] 11:24, that when the resurrection happened it would happen to all God's people all at once. (Perhaps, even, to all people everywhere, as in [John] 5:28-29.) Not--this is the point--to one person in the middle of time. That would be an odd, outlandish event, unimagined, unheard-of.

When Jesus raised Lazarus, Lasarus returned to the present life. He came back again. The echoes of the Lazarus story in the present one are there partly to tell us that it was the same kind of event, but mostly to tell us that it wasn't. Lazarus needed someone to untie him from his cloths, and the napkin round his head. Jesus left his behind altogether. Lazarus came back into a world where death threats still mattered ([John] 12:10). Jesus had gone on, through death and out into a new world, a new creation, a new life beyond, where death itself had been defeated and life, sheer life, life in all its fullness could begin at last.

Ask people around the world what they think is the biggest day of the year for Christians. Most will say 'Christmas'. That's what our society has achieved; a romantic mid-winter festival (though we don't actually know what time of the year Jesus was born) from which most of the things that really matter (the danger, the politics) are carefully excluded. The true answer--and I wish the churches would find a way of making this clear-- is Easter. This is the moment of new creation. If it hadn't been for Easter, nobody would ever have dreamed of celebrating Christmas. This is the first day of God's new week. The darkness has gone, and the sun is shining.

From John for Everyone: Chapters 11-21 by Tom Wright


He is Risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Musically Inclined

For his birthday, Jacob received two awesome Pottery Barn Kids instruments as gifts: a drum and xylophone. He loves them! However, to be more like his dad, he'll eventually need something with strings. Usually, people think about kid-sized guitars, right? Well, I just found something at My Mom Shops that blows that out of the water:

Dueling banjos, anyone? That's right, it's My First Banjo from Plan Toys. Just in case any of you family members out there go shopping for Christmas presents really really really early.


I always wanted to publish my own book.

And now I can! With blurb. Mod*mom just let me know I'm one of the 10 winners of the blurb book giveaway! Sweet!

Blub is a website that let's you upload original photos, blog entries, and write your own text, and then they'll publish a professionally bound hardcover book just for you--only one or as many as you want. I think I know just I'll write about, too...

Also, I don't believe in karma, or luck, for that matter, but I also won a Funkie Baby bib from a contest at MyMomShops. Maybe it's a reward for being home sick all week. This news certainly makes me feel better!

Go check out mod*mom and My Mom Shops for way cool stuff and other neat giveaways. You, too, could win!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Resurection Letters

Since we are coming to the close of Andrew Peterson Week here at Team Redd (though there is still one final post), and I have already shared some of my favorite Good Friday songs with you, and because we are approaching Easter, and because Andrew Peterson is such an awesome songwriter, I want to share what just might be my top favorite Andrew Peterson song of all time: High Noon.

Curt over at the Rabbit Room reminded me of it when he posted today about Andrew's tour and upcoming CD Resurrection Letters, and he shared a link I'd almost forgotten about, the Resurrection Journals from Holy Week 2007. (You'll forgive me if my memory is fuzzy -- I was staying awake with a newborn at the time.) If you haven't yet, you should also go read those journals, which are thoughtful reflections on the days leading up to Easter.

Which also reminds me...Andrew posted one last post on his old blog with a video from the Resurrection Letters tour, which is like the Christmas Behold the Lamb of God tour, only with the Easter Bunny. Wait, no, that's not right...

Anyway, as you celebrate with family and friends this weekend, and especially as you proclaim the triumph of the resurrection, I hope these lyrics, this allegory, helps you contemplate the glory of the moment on which all of history hangs, the climax of the age, in which the life of the age to come breaks through into our time, and Christ rose, the Heavens resounded, and the people rejoiced. Let His name forever ring out!

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the deep of the valley was bright
When the mouth of the tomb shouted,
"Glory, the groom is alive"
So long, you wages of sin go on,
Don't you come back again
I've been raised and redeemed;
You've lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow

And the demons, they danced in the darkness
When that last ragged breath left his lungs
And they reveled and howled
At the war that they thought they had won

But then, in the dark of the grave
The stone rolled away
In the still of the dawn on the greatest of days

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the shadows were shot through with light
When Jesus took in that breath
And shattered all death with his life
Be gone, you wages of sin
Go on, don't you come back again
I've been raised and redeemed
You've lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle
High noon in the valley of the shadow

Let the people rejoice
Let the heavens resound
Let the name of Jesus, who sought us
And freed us forever ring out

All praise to the fighter of the night
Who rides on the light
Whose gun is the grace of the God of the sky

High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the shadows were shot through with light
When the mouth of the tomb
Shouted, "Glory, the Groom is alive"
Be gone, you wages of sin
Go on, don't you come back again
I've been raised and redeemed
All praise to the king
The victor of the battle
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow


Songs for Good Friday

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior's side


Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

This has been in my head all week. "Beautiful Scandalous Night" was a favorite song of the West Merritts worship team, especially connecting it with communion and/or baptism. I still hear Gaines' voice in my head everytime I sing it (even if he isn't playing it on his guitar in the next room!). Little did I know before Googling the lyrics that it was covered by both Smalltown Poets and Bebo Norman, two of my longtime favorite Christian artists. That's how far out of the Contemporary Christian Music loop I am.

I feel the lyrics are particularly appropriate for Good Friday, the day in the liturgical calendar in which we remember Christ's sufferings on the cross. There are other, older hymns that come to mind as well, like this one, recently reworked and sung by Sandra McCracken on Indelible Grace 3: For All the Saints:

O come and mourn with me awhile,
O come ye to the Savior’s side
O come, together let us mourn,
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

2. Seven times He spake seven words of love;
And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men;
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

Chorus: O love of God! O sin of man!
In this dread act Your strength is tried;
And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

3. O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and His Judas were:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.

4. A broken heart, a fount of tears,
Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love’s cradle is:
Jesus our Lord is crucified.
(Repeat chorus)

Tag: And victory remains with love;
Jesus our Lord is crucified!

I've forgotten how important music is to my spiritual health. If I don't sing favorite hymns or songs regularly (as in, more than once a week at church), I become somewhat sullen. We've recently started singing the Doxology at night before J's bedtime, and it has made my heart glad.


And the winner is...

We put the entries into a hat...

and Jacob, who likes paper, picked one! He was so cute getting it out of (his) hat and handing it to me very sweetly. I wish I'd taken a picture. Anyway, enough of this...

The winner of a copy of Andrew Peterson's On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness is Kelsey!

She even submitted a limerick even though she didn't have to:

I've a friend who's a fan of AP
And she wants me to join in her glee
Now he writes a book
I think that's the hook
That catches my interest in he.

(he? him? oh well, close enough)

Please e-mail me at allisonredd[at]gmail[dot]com with your address, Kelsey, and I'll send it along!

Thanks for everyone for playing! And if you don't have a copy already, you should go buy one this weekend -- it's available almost everywhere!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Andrew Peterson Week Update

Okay, okay. So no one wants to write a limerick. I get it.

It's too quiet around here. So as of tonight, if you want to win a free copy, all you have to do is comment.

Just post a comment, ANY comment, by midnight Thursday on the Giveaway post to win a free copy of Andrew Peterson's new book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.

I was going to write a post today about how Andrew Peterson helped bring Team Redd together, but I'll have to save that for tomorrow. It's only fitting that I give it adequate effort and include some old-school pictures. It'll give you something to look forward to while you enter the contest. Deadline is tomorrow at midnight!


The Eleven O'Clock Hour

Let me say up front that though I am not a Barack Obama supporter, I do applaud yesterday's speech. One of the good things that I hope might come out of this crazy election is more honest discussion about race relations in our country BETWEEN Americans of different races, not AT each other. And I hope "A More Perfect Union" acts as a catalyst.

What struck me most is that Obama sees and insightfully acknowledges the multiple racial perspectives that are often only talked about behind closed doors. He brought the private discourse of this nation into the public light of day. Though I encourage you to watch the entire video and read the transcript, I wanted to highlight what I thought was the climax of the speech:

For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. ... And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

Until we in the Christian community, in all churches, openly acknowledge the tragedy of segregated Sunday mornings and seek forgiveness--until we start to mend torn relationships with our brothers and sisters down the street--we will not be able to be the church for the world that we are called to be. I'm not saying anything new. I'm just repeating something we all need to hear (me especially).

I also understand that though Obama's speech does not get at the true heart issue of sin in this matter, it certainly highlights the symptoms. Especially the talk of anger. And it opens the door for discussion and a way for some to find much-needed redemption. I hope and pray the Church will be the ones to lead this nation in reconciliation by acknowledging the root of bitterness and pulling it up quickly. The Church should, I believe, demonstrate through word and deed that in Christ "there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus." This is one of those issues that is at the heart of the Gospel. Christ came to make us one, and we should all share table fellowship with Christians from all corners of the world, but most especially those in our own cities and towns.

Some of my friends are tackling the issue of racism and race relations as well. Lane attempts to comment on the misunderstanding of racial issues. Travis has been posting a series on "Racism 101" with a reading assignment and a post praising Obama's speech.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

No Relation

So, just now, I got a telephone call. I usually check the caller ID before picking up. It was a number from Washington, DC. Washington? But it was a real number. So I answered.

Me: "Hello." (If there is a pause and no one speaks, I know it's a telemarketer, so I usually hang up.)

Caller: "Hi. Is Nicole Reed there? Is this the Reed residence?"

Me: "Reed? No, there's no one by that name here." (Phew, I think. Wrong number. I can hang up now...)

Caller: "Ms. Redd, then? This is [name unitelligible] from ABC News/Good Morning America. I'm obviously calling about the news story --- hey who's that cutie back there?" (hears Jacob "talking" to the phone)

Me: "Um, I'm sorry. Can you repeat that?!" (Why in the heck is a news agency calling me?!)

Caller: "Yes, Ms. Redd. Well, this is [again, I have no idea] from ABC/Good Morning America. I'm obviously calling about the new story about Jeremiah Wright. You're related to him, right?"

Me: (Laughter!) "Ha! Um, no, I'm sorry, I'm not related to him. I don't know a Nicole Redd. You must have the wrong number. Thanks. Bye"

Hysterial laughter continues as I proceed to sit down at the computer to write this down so as to preserve the incident for posterity (and hopefully get Jacob to return to his afternoon nap).

The End.


Giveaway: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
releases TODAY, March 18th!

Visit Andrew Peterson's Official Website here.

Visit AP's site devoted to books, music, art, and life, called The Rabbit Room, here.

Read AP's biography here.

Read a fantastically long excerpt from the book here.

Read my review here.

Buy the book online from various sources here.

Read about limericks here. (Don't worry, that will be explained soon!)

We at the Team Redd household have been anticipating the release of this book for years. Ever since Andrew Peterson first shared with us a short story he had written about children's fingers magically walking down the stairs in the middle of the night while they we sleeping, we hoped that one day Andrew would become a published author. (It sounds gruesome, but it was really imaginative all the same!)

So, when we were given the chance to review his new book and give one away on our blog, we jumped at the chance.

And now it's time to announce the first ever Team Redd Giveaway!

Win it!
We have one copy of Andrew Peterson's book On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkess to send to a lucky reader!

All you have to do is post a comment, ONE comment only (no cheating please!), on this post and then we will put all the entries in a random number generator to find the winner!

It sounds easy ... too easy. So, I decided to make it a little more, um, interesting. In order to properly enter the contest, you must write a limerick about either Andrew Peterson or another fantasy author that you enjoy! Don't worry, the winner will still be picked randmonly, it's just that if we have to look through a bazillion comments I'd at least like them to be funny.

Also, be sure to include a working e-mail address where you can be contacted if you win. Comments will close Thursday night, March 20th, at midnight. The winner will be picked by random number generator and announced on this blog Friday morning! So come back to see if you've won!

Andrew Peterson writes limericks. You, too, can be like AP.

Don't worry, I've decided to start you off with a limerick of my own.

An old pirate named Podo from Skree?
Toothy cows and a girl named Leeli?
Surely you jest!
No, it's only the best
A new book by the famous AP!

See, that wasn't so bad, was it? (Heh. It's horrible, I know! So make yours better! We may even post some of the most amusing ones on our blog.)

Here's a quick review of the groundrules in order to win a copy of AP's On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness:

1) Post ONE comment only on THIS POST. [Edit: ANY COMMENT is fine.]
2) Your comment must be in the form of a LIMERICK.
3) Your limerick may be about Andrew Peterson or another fantasy author/book series of your choice. (Feel free to glean ideas from the links above.)
4) The funnier, the better (for our enjoyment, anyway).

5) Include contact information (either in the post or on your blog)!
6) Make sure you post your limerick COMMENT by Thursday, March 20th, at midnight EST.
7) Come back here on Friday to find out if you won!

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Waterbrook Press (Random House) for the free copy.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Celebrate Easter

Yes, it's Andrew Peterson Week here at Team Redd, but let us not forget about Holy Week!

This post, Chocolate Eggs and Jesus Risen, at Femina has finally gotten me excited about the Easter holiday this year.

Last year, litte Jacob was only a few weeks old (and it was bitterly cold!), so we didn't do much, though we did attend an Easter Lamb Roast the day before...and we attended our church's sunrise service and breakfast. In the afternoon, we had a visit from some family members on Easter Sunday, including my great-aunt Tweet.

This year, we plan to attend the Sunrise Service and Easter breakfast at our church again on Sunday. Jacob's great-grandmother gave him an adorable new outfit for his birthday, so we've got the Easter clothes. I'm putting together a little "basket" of toys that he hasn't really played with yet (no candy this year). But I'd also like to do something special, something...out of the ordinary. A feast. My mom will be coming to visit that evening, so I'd like to make a nice dinner.

Maybe I will naturally dye some Easter Eggs for the table?

Or perhaps I'll just prepare this meal of Lamb Shanks with Butternut squash? Or a slow-cooked leg of Lamb?

We'll see. If you need some food inspiration for your Easter Meal, I highly recommend this Food Blog Search.

There are so many fantastic ideas out there. How do you plan to redeem the time and make your family's Easter Celebration special?


On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness Book Review

Any book with the subtitle "Adventure. Peril. Lost jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree." will be sure to get my attention. Upon opening said book, I would expect to find action, mystery, suspense...and a large helping of humor. I was not disappointed!

In his first novel, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Andrew Peterson weaves a magnificent tapestry out of what is at first glance merely an enjoyable children's fantasy story. Peterson has transmogrified* the ordinary adventure into a rollicking, robust tale that is neither too silly nor too sad nor too syrupy sweet, yet has the proper doses of all of the above. From beginning to end, this first installment of the Wingfeather Saga resounds with hope, stirs the heart, and tickles the funny bone while offering glimpses of the One True Story that makes all others worthwhile.

This imaginary world is imbued with a gaggle of cartoonish, oddly familiar creatures: some good, some benign, and some dangerous. The good, a family called Igiby, are our protagonists, and these three ordinary children will soon be caught up in an extraordinary adventure that begins in their own small township. When Tink, the middle brother, finds a mysterious map which mentions the lost jewels of Anniera, the siblings are propelled into a series of events that will forever alter their ordinary, somewhat comfortable lives, (since it is hard to be comfortable when you have been ruled by Gnag the Nameless for nine long years). With help from their mother Nia, grandfather Podo and various friends, the Igiby children attempt to avoid the dangerous Fangs--and horned hounds, toothy cows, and the occasional traitor in disquise--who are determined to harm them and capture the lost jewels for their leader.

Something that surprised me about this story was Andrew's ability to make even the most hilarious-sounding characters come to life with a pathos and drama that runs deeper than your usual children's book. From the Igiby three to Peet the Sock Man and Zouzab the Ridgerunner, Peterson has managed to develop amazingly complex, robust characters despite silly-sounding names. I did not expect to get so caught up in the Igiby's world, but by the end of the book, Peterson's ability to bring his characters to life forged an emotional connection, and I just couldn't put the book down. Though I guessed correctly about some of the events and circumstances, I was enthralled with these children and their world and stayed up past my bedtime, like a kid with a flashlight under the covers enjoying every stolen moment.

Not only has Peterson created a thrilling story, he also has perfect comedic timing coupled with a unique and somewhat odd, yet appealing, narrative style. Just a few chapters in, I was almost overcome by the giggle-inspiring vocabulary. The trilling titles of Leeli Igiby and Oskar N. Reteep, quotations from notables Eezak Fincher and Bip Thwainbly and locations like Fingap Falls and the Glipper Trail beg to be read aloud. From descriptions of Zizby matches on the lawn to a garden full of totatoes and a forest filled with cave blats, I had to keep pronouncing the not-quite-familiar words to myself so I wouldn't get confused. (By the way, AP, if you read this, I'm still not sure how to pronouce "Anneira". A-near-ra? An-ne-eye-ra? In my head it's stuck as A-near-re-a, for some reason.) Also, dear reader, you must be prepared for the footnotes. "Footnotes?" you might ask. "In a kid's book?" Somehow, Andrew makes it work. The result is only slightly jarring, as he will intersperse the most tense and serious moments with a random aside, but it helps to break the creschendo of action and offers a chance for the reader to make mock-serious Masterpiece Theater voices.

(The only thing better than reading this book aloud with your family would be to watch a live performance of Andrew Peterson voicing all the characters. You know that Aeden, Jesse, and Skye must have so much fun listening to their Papa tell bedtime stories!)

Peterson has thoughtfully imagined not only the names of characters and places, but also his entire mythical world. I admit, by the end, Peterson impressed me with the cohesion of his narrative. As one who wrote a senior thesis on C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, after finishing this first edition of the Wingfeather Saga, I will tentatively predict that Andrew has created a more comprehensive world than Lewis did. (Narnia fans, don't skewer me, please! Hear me out!) While Lewis borrowed his creatures from Norse, Greek, and Roman mythology as well as from his friend J.R.R. Tolkien, Peterson created his inhabitants (almost) entirely from scratch, providing extensive (and hilarious) footnotes on their backstories and providing humorous details that may or may not be relevant but are always entertaining. Admittedly, there are traces of Tolkien and Lewis and even J.K. Rowling (garden gnomes = thwaps) throughout, which is not surprising since they are some of his favorite authors. Peterson, however, breathes new life into an oft-imitated genre, with a unique voice and an enduring theme. I won't go so far as to say that the Igibys are the next Harry Potter, since that may be an impossible feat in the publishing world these days, but these books are sure to instill a love of reading into at least a few hundred dozen kids, one of whom I hope is my own.

As a fan of Andrew Peterson's music for almost ten years now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of his songs and lines that this book brought to my mind. The obvious "Little Boy Heart Alive" is overshadowed, in my opinion, by these fitting lines from a song Peterson wrote with Andrew Osenga, titled "More":

A thing resounds when it rings true
Ringing all the bells inside of you
Like a golden sky on a summer eve
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve
And you cannot say why
There must be more

When I read the last sentence of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, I felt at once that Peterson's book rang true. The hope that was shining in the Igiby home reflects the Hope that shines throughout Peterson's music and his life. I am grateful that through this book he has shared with us some of the light and laughter that fills his home.

Andrew Peterson is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist best known for his Dove Award-winning songs of the year, “Nothing to Say” and “Family Man.” A natural-born storyteller (being a preacher’s kid from the south), he wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical, Behold the Lamb of God. He has recorded seven albums and tours every year. Andrew and his wife, Jamie, are the parents of two sons and a daughter and live in Nashville, Tennessee. His website is

I hope this review inspired you to pick up a copy for yourself! You can buy it at Amazon or directly from Peterson himself at The Rabbit Room. We do have one extra copy you can win for yourself, so stay tuned for the Giveaway Announcement coming soon!

*transmogrify (v): to change or alter greatly and often with grotesque or humorous effect.


Andrew Peterson Week

Andrew Peterson's new book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, releases tomorrow, Tuesday, March 18!

In honor of the AP Blog Tour that is taking place, we have deemed this Andrew Peterson Week here at Team Redd. So, along with our regular programming, we will post something related to the multi-talented AP (be it about this book, music, songwriting, etc) EVERY DAY this week. That's right, you're guaranteed at least one post a day! (I've been working on following through with things that I've promised lately, so thank AP for helping me aspire to higher standards.)

I finished reading our advance copy of his new book Saturday night, and I'm working on a review this morning, which I hope to have posted soon.

Until then, be sure to check out our friend Travis' blog, The Hog's Head, which normally features Harry Potter-inspired content, but is also highlighting Andrew Peterson this week (I swear, I thought of it before he did.). He'll also be posting a review and a giveaway as well as the ones here, so stay tuned.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Atlanta Tornado

According to the news, the vertical strip in the center of the frame is the Category EF2 tornado that hit downtown Atlanta on Friday night. While Team Redd lives out towards the 'burbs, it's still surreal to see the pictures of the massive damage done to familiar Atlanta landmarks like the CNN Center and the Georgia Dome. Amazingly, no one died, and only around 30 people were injured. Amazing indeed, considering the sheer concentration of folks in the area on Friday night. For instance, the tornado hit the Georgia Dome while the SEC basketball tournament was underway. In a stroke of Providence, the game had gone into overtime. Had it not, thousands of fans could possibly have been exiting the arena when the tornado arrived.

My office is downtown, so it should be interesting to see things firsthand on Monday.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Not a Girl

How many times do I wish Jacob was wearing this onesie from Wrybaby?

Too many to count! Even when he's dressed head to toe in BLUE, some people just don't know a beautiful baby boy when they see one. ;-)


Thursday, March 13, 2008

On My Mind and on the Web

  • I'm thinking about an interesting discussion over at one of my favorite parenting blogs about the labels art vs craft and the merits of both terms and types. I appreciate what one commentator described -- that adults prefer to start with crafts, like knitting, when you are just learning something, whereas kids are more apt to be free and open with their first creative experiments and don't need "rules" to help them along just yet. That comes later. Which is why the blog is titled The Artful Parent. (If you are a parent, at what age did you start doing "art" or "crafts" with your kid(s)?)

  • I'm slowly digesting an interview with Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, with the advice to only eat things that are capable or rotting, as well as other helpful information about food science and what "natural" really means. (Along those lines, after seeing the Supersize Me DVD extra a few years ago where the McDonald fries didn't decompose at all after almost 10 months, I've seriously questioned my fast food choices.) Grocery store trips can be overwhelming, between all the planning and budgeting and STILL trying to eat healthy. I commented somewhere recently that it's sad that all the cheap, convenience foods marketed to lower-income folks are the unhealthiest. So on that note...

  • I'm attempting to eat healthy yet stay on a budget. It can be done. See moneysavingmom's post with links to other ideas, especially the $50 budget posts and all the links therein (you can get lost!). I working on this. Slowly.

  • I like looking at this fascinating flickr collection of photos called The Little Zoo. Check out her etsy shop where you can purchase note cards and prints! In fact, I just like etsy in general. All that handmade goodness. Maybe you'd like to see my favorite etsy stores?

  • I've been listening to fun, FREE music for kids that adults will actually enjoy as well! (Thanks, kristen!) We've been savoring the mellow, melodic, mood-lightening and somewhat moody It's a Big World all morning, and it has certainly helped Jacob quiet down since he's currently (finally) taking his morning nap. (Babies do not follow daylight savings time. How do you keep their bedtime/naptimes still reasonably early when you have to set the clocks forward?!)

  • Finally, something more...non-parenting and fun and! I am loving this comparison between Old Navy and J. Crew shoes. Can YOU tell the difference?

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    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Gaines' LOST Theory

    So, Gaines has this interesting theory about LOST I wanted to go ahead and share. We already know, of course, that there's this time difference when you leave the island. But, what if the different trajectories used to leave the island also puts those who leave at a different WHEN? So, for example, if Lapidus the pilot had gone just a little farther off course, the helicopter might've ended up on the freighter even later than it did! Or earlier!

    I would imagine that if this island space-time connectedness is true, then Ben knows about this and how to exploit the time difference upon leaving the island. Which is why he has all the passports and identities, and also helps explain why the others (like his daughter) don't notice that he is gone all the time. Not only can he go anyWHERE in the world, he can also go almost anyWHEN (at least, within a reasonable distance from the now, like a few years, maybe.) Although that is pure speculation on my part.

    So, here's the main point of the theory: when Ben gave Michael those coordinates in season 2, we think he sent Michael (and Walt) BACK IN TIME a few years. (This helps explain why there is a "taller, older Walt" appearing on the island.) And somehow Ben found him at those coordinates, and had him change his name and go into hiding and get him to work for him. So, for the last few years, there has been this other, second Michael just waiting for the first Michael to leave the island...and when he does (and subsequently goes back in time), the second Michael somehow gets himself on the freighter. In fact, maybe Michael is the captain?!

    I think it sounds just crazy enough to be right. What do you all think?

    I also think that the upcoming "Meet Kevin Johnson" episode might be the flashback of how Michael ends up on the freighter. I think "Kevin Johnson" might just be the alias that the second Michael uses when he goes back in time. I cannot wait until the next few episodes to find out if we are right!


    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Familial Birthday Craftiness

    Friday night we Redd girls were in quite the crafty mood, putting together lots of little (and big) things to make the J-man's first birthday extra special.

    My contribution was this Resa Design-inspired birthday shirt (my first-ever attempt at applique!):

    Aunt Erin made these awesome blocks and put up all the streamers and decorations:

    Aunt Amy stayed up way too late making this cute cupcake bib! Also, she took tons of wonderful photographs of the party! Much better than mine!

    This blanket became part of the decor! Nana Susanne and Great-Grandmother Annette made this really cool embroidered alphabet blanket many years ago for Jacob's dad. I just took a (blurry) photo of the J square, but the entire blanket is stunning.

    And the piece-d'resistance: Great-Grandmother Bobbie made this amazingly-delicious caramel block cake. Just like the one she made Gaines on his first birthday. Mmmmmmm. (photo by Amy)

    I am thankful to be part of such a creative family. My mom and my aunts are also quite talented as well, and so I hope Jacob will be doubly blessed with creative genes.


    15 Seconds of Fame

    Sweet! I almost forgot I sent this in...(thanks, kristen!)

    Jacob made the birthday blog over at AT:Nursery! (I only wish I had sent a better picture!)

    If he could talk, he'd say "Thanks for all the birthday well-wishes!"


    Lost March Madness

    This is fun:

    A Washington Post bracket for various characters from LOST.

    Unfortunately, I was too slow posting this (curse my metal body!), as Round One is over today. But don't let this dissuade you from casting your votes!

    (Thanks to Amy for telling me about this!)


    AP Book Review and Giveaway

    Most of our friends and family know the story of how we met at an Andrew Peterson concert eight years ago. However, most of you may not know that Andrew, besides being a fantastic musician, is also a published author!

    His new book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. and the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree., will be appearing in bookstore shelves in a mere eight days!

    To celebrate the release with much fanfare and gaiety, next week is the blog tour of Andrew's new book, and we are honored to participate by posting an original review. Last Friday, not just one but TWO copies arrived in our mailbox, which means we'll be giving one copy away! Come back here next Monday (you can return sooner, of course, but I can't post the review until then) to find out all the details. That's right, a Team Redd review of AP's new book AND a chance to win a free copy for yourself!

    Oh, the exuberance. To whet your appetite, here's a summary:

    In the once-quiet land of Skree, Janner Igiby, little brother Tink, and crippled sister Leeli stumble upon lost jewels of the mysterious King of the Shining Isle Anniera. But Gnag the Nameless seeks the treasure for purely evil ends, so our brave trio, accompanied by their trusty dog Nugget and ex-pirate grandfather, must escape his minion Fangs.

    Singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson spins a page-turning tale of redemption peppered with songs, poems, and hilarious asides that follow the Igibys through a fantastical world of wonders, complete with...

  • memorable characters like Brimney Stupe, Armulyn the Bard, and the soft- shoe dancing Peet the Sock Man
  • fanciful creatures: sea dragons who sing by the light of moon, spine-tingling toothy cows, snarling horned hounds, and mischievous flabbits
  • and dazzling places: from Books & Crannies Bookstore and Anklejelly Manor, to Fingfap Falls, and across the Ice Prairies...not to mention the Dark Sea of Darkness.

  • Sensory descriptions and characters rich in heart, courage, and smarts make this a tale children of all ages will cherish, the whole family can read aloud, and book groups will surely discuss for its overarching theme of hope with layers of meaning about the life’s tangle of the beautiful and the horrible, the temporal and the eternal, and good and bad.

    Remember, come back on Monday, March 17, for a full review and all the info on how you can win your own copy! Or, if you just can't wait that long, you can pre-order your very own autographed copy of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness here.


    Sunday, March 09, 2008

    Happy First Birthday, Jacob!

    One year ago this morning, at 7:34 a.m., we welcomed you into the world (with just a little encouragement, since you were all too happy staying inside mommy).

    We nicknamed you "The Poky Little Puppy," which was appropriate, since you were over a week past your due date and took your time joining us. We have few pictures of you from that first day, since your mommy and daddy were so exhausted from being up more than 30 hours that we all collapsed into slumber by noon. It was appropriate, then, that today we celebrated by having an extended family afternoon nap.

    But your first year has not been characterized by sleeping. From the moment you arrived, you opened your eyes wide to the world and have been on the lookout for something new ever since. The nurses at the hospital said you were the most alert newborn they'd ever seen. You slept a lot, sure, but when you weren't sleeping you were always looking into our faces or finding out about this new world. Even now if you are somewhere new, you will not nap. There is just too much to see and do. I love you, my little explorer!

    Little Jacob, I pray that you will always have eyes open wide with wonder at God's great Creation. May you grow in the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. If the eyes truly are the windows to the soul, I pray yours will continue to shine brightly, reflecting Christ's love for you to everyone who peeks into your baby blues.


    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    The History of Psalm-Singing

    Duane Garner at The Avenue posted about the controversy and history surrounding the practice of psalm-singing.

    We've recently joined a denomination in which psalm-singing is practiced by some churches, though not at our particular local one as far as I know. I had never even heard of psalm-singing until I was introduced to it in some Presbyterian circles a few years ago. We once participated in Psalm-singing at a theology conference, and last year we visited one local church where they used a Psalter for one hymn each week, but that is all my limited experience of this rich tradition. I found the above blog post interesting because I never knew the history behind the controversy, or that it affected the state of our music today in such a drastic manner (the absence of psalm-singing in some churches opened the door for "gospel music").

    As I've learned more about the hymns, songs, and creeds used throughout the ages, I've begun to appreciate the great musical heritage of the church. I have never understood the argument (that apparently has been around for a while, according to the post) that songs or prayers that are spontaneous are somehow better than those written down or used for centuries. Or that newer songs are necessarily better than those 10, 50, 100 or 1000 years ago.

    However, I also think there are some fantastic modern worship songs and hymns being written now. Though Garner may disagree, since he ends his post discussing the decline of church music, I think it is appropriate and right to celebrate with songs from various world cultures and from all time periods, as Christ is Lord of them all. Of course, there have been plenty of bad songs and hymns written throughout the years, but I think that quality texts and tunes will stand the test of time. I hope we in the church today can work to preserve the good, true and beautiful sacred music from all ages and cultures of the church, including our own.

    Gaines and I already appreciate those artists who have updated old hymn texts with new, original music, and I wonder if the same couldn't be done for the Psalms? Has it been done and I just don't know about it?


    The King of Kong

    We do like our documentaries. From Errol Morris classics to those ones about spelling bee participants and crossword puzzlers, we always seem to enjoy watching the strange lives of other people. Perhaps because they make us feel better about our own.

    The latest one in our queue is about classic video arcade games from the 80's and the people who still play them, specifically the battle for the highest score on the first game to feature a famous little Italian plumber: Donkey Kong.

    The documentary feature film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters follows the attempts of a relative newcomer to the gaming world, Steve Wiebe, to detrone the reigning champion of classic arcade games, Billy Mitchell. Who is the King of Kong? Well, you've got to watch the film to find out...though the competition continues long after the film's release...

    I will say that I thought I knew what geek/nerdom was until I watched this film. Did you know that even video game players have groupies? I had no idea that things got so cutthroat or clique-ish. If you do rent this movie, I highly recommend watching all the extras like deleted scenes, featurettes and interviews from the film festivals. The menu screens even have little video game versions of the main characters, including Billy Mitchell with his beard and hair and (probably patriotic) tie. Hilarious!

    For me, this brought back fond memories of playing the original arcade versions of PacMan, Centipede, and Galaga in my hometown pizzeria. Once, my parents somehow acquired an old stand-up arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man (I think through a store they used to own) and it ended up in our garage for a few months. Oh, how I wish we still had that. If it had an original board, it could've been worth thousands on e-Bay...


    Wednesday, March 05, 2008

    Let me start by saying...

    What? You didn't catch David Cook's emo-stylings on the Lionel Ritchie 80's ballad last night on American Idol? Ok, well I did, but that's about all I saw. That and the dread-headed dude singing "Hallelujah." Who'd even heard of that song before Shrek came out?

    Anyway, back to "Hello"...Randy, Paula, heck, even naysayer Simon praised the rocker-dude's bravery in attempting to remake a pop-song into a contemporary format. He made it his own. But did he?

    Was I the only one who kept thinking of Me First and the Gimme-Gimmes? They made a punk-rock version of "Hello" long before the blue lights of the idol stage were a glimmer in David Cook's eye.

    Gaines has gotten me hooked on these crazy-fast, catchy albums with punk-rock covers of various genres of famous songs, from Broadway show tunes to country songs and R&B hits. They are all catchy, addictive, and very, very short! Great for long road trips when you need a pick me up. I've yet to hear their version of hits from the 60's, 80's and the Bar Mitzvah one, but the others are all pretty good. I'd watch out for some salty language in some of the songs, (especially that country album, heh!) and I have no idea what they are trying to say by covering "Natural Woman," but other than those quibbles, I'd heartily recommend 'em!


    I'm Thankful for the Dealership Cleaning Lady

    ...and other little everday, routine kindnesses that are often overlooked.

    A brief update: Gaines is well. I'm not sore since the storms passed through on Tuesday, though I imagine Friday won't be a great day. Jacob is doing okay, though we're waiting to see if he has caught something from one of the kids in the church nursery (who was diagnosed with strep AND the flu, poor thing), or if his low-grade fever is just from teething.

    Our car's air conditioning system, however, IS on the fritz, which precipitated our outing today. With Georgia's unpredictable weather -- 70 degree temperatures on Monday and a similar forecast for tomorrow -- this was not something we could let go, even though it is only March. Especially since we are driving two-plus hours to Alabama on Friday afternoon. A hot car with a hot baby boy stuck in traffic is not fun.

    So, I went to the dealership to have them check why our A/C is not properly cooling our car. In the morning. At 9 am. After about two hours of playing on the floor in the lobby (which offers complimentary beverages and danishes and happens to have a nice clean carpet), we were told it would be at least another two hours more. Thank goodness I figured out how to lock my cell phone. It's amazing the hours of entertainment these little folks can get from ordinary electronic devices, even when they don't "work".

    We did get a visit from our friend Nicole, who graciously held the J-man while I had to find out exactly how much this was going to cost us (gulp!). Then, only then, a fellow customer notified me that there was a playroom! A playroom! Thank heavens! This would've helped me earlier, but as it was, I was still thankful!

    Now, I don't know about you, but I don't expect a playroom at a car dealership's service area to be all that nice. Doctor's offices, maybe, though they are well used and usually crowded. Well, this one was impeccable. Everything looked clean, especially the carpet, and there were even wipes available to wipe down the toys! A Lego play table, a box of Duplo blocks, a huge selection of books in great shape, and a kid-sized table and plenty of chairs took up most of the space. A bead maze and colorful, interconnected gears lined one wall. There were handheld toys like MagnaDoodle and Etch-A-Sketch hanging on a stand for older kids, and even the electronic ones worked! (I know this because I admit I played Tetris for a few minutes.)

    We had the place to ourselves for a little while, and even then only one other mom and her little girl came in. At one point, we turned down the TV (you couldn't turn it off without asking a sales rep) and turned off the lights and Jacob almost went to sleep. In addition, the bathrooms were nicer and cleaner than most restaurants' and had a changing table. The only thing better at that moment would've been the baby supplies and comfy nursing chairs like they have at Babies R' Us. But beggars can't be choosers.

    At this point, Jacob was getting very cranky, and I thought a long walk in the stroller (not in a small circle in the lobby) might help him sleep. I was also getting hungry, so we took the shuttle bus to the mall across the street. This was wonderful! Plenty of room and a food court and lots of things to see. (Again, something I would've liked to have known about earlier.) I am even more thankful for our stroller, which was a snap to open and close and carry one-handed on and off the bus.

    While waiting for the shuttle back, I spoke to the lady with us, who I recognized from seeing her all morning either with a spray bottle or a duster in her hand. She happens to be in charge of cleaning the dealership and I complimented her on her job. You could tell she takes pride in her work, and she noted that she checks the restrooms and play area every hour or so. This particular customer is very thankful for her attention to detail!

    Our best news was received after we returned to the dealership -- the A/C was fixed, and we could leave! I have never been more grateful to be able to get into my car and drive home, since we had been waiting for over four hours. So, if you ever need some repairs to your Honda and are in the Atlanta area, I've got just the place for you. Especially if it takes most of the day to get it done. You might not mind the long wait quite as much as you would somewhere else -- at least that's sort of a compliment, right?!

    I just have to note that through this agonizingly long day away from home, our little guy was quite the trooper. He didn't fuss, much, and kept happily playing with whatever I could find to entertain him. Our ride in the stroller at the mall seemed to even perk him up, and he started pointing at things and exclaiming "Ahhh Baaa!" or something similarly babble-tastic. We are lucky parents.