Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our Friends the Butchers

Our friends the Butchers finally have a blog! Yay for cute kid updates! They are far away in the icy north and we miss them very much. Today, though, several things happened that reminded us of the leader of clan Butcher, the good Doctor himself:

This morning on NPR I heard part of a radio interview with the author of a new book called Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory, which is cool enough in itself since Jono was part of an a capella group in college. But they also discussed a capella singing specifically at the Butchers' alma mater: the University of Virginia.

Now, until I met Jono I was completely ignorant of a capella groups except for perhaps Rockapella from Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and a few run-ins with the Christian group GLAD. And honestly, up until then, I thought it was all pretty lame. Apparently though, the world of collegiate a capella is captivating and competitive and actually pretty amazing -- the author stated that one group made $300,000 in one year just touring college campuses. Wowsers!

I had no idea how many students actually audition for these things! How do you find out about stuff like that? Do people choose a college just because they have a famous a capella group? The NPR interview played some clips of one famous group called the Hullabaloos, and I have to say that their imitation of the synthesizers (at the end of the segment) on "Come Sail Away" was pretty stinkin' cool.

Finally, to cap off my day of things that remind us of Jon Butcher, we heard not one but THREE Journey songs in the span of 30 minutes on three different radio stations -- two in the car and one in a restaurant. If we had heard a Petra song, too, we would've known something freaky was going on and he was mind-controlling the Atlanta radio stations or something.


Movin' On Up...

" the Eastside, to that de-luxe apartment in the skyyyyy!"

I'm not sure why there's been such a dearth of blogging here lately. Perhaps our minds have been occupied with other things, namely the fact that we are officially moving in three weeks! I still look around me and wonder how in the world we are going to pack all this stuff up in the next 20 days...

In case you missed our earlier announcement, we are moving to a new apartment complex to be a CARES Team again! We are so encouraged by the thought of being in ministry again, and doubly so by the fact that our good friend Kitti will be our Area Director with Apartment Life.

We finally confirmed our new address and are looking forward to the extra space a 3 bedroom will provide. Jacob will finally have his own room and won't have to share sleeping quarters with a computer. I am looking forward to having space to organize and store crafts and office supplies -- the third bedroom actually has TWO closets! Heaven! Not to mention the sidewalk outside our door that goes directly down to a paved jogging trail that circles a lake! With real, live ducks! (There is a small body of water behind our current apartment, but is more swamp-like than pond-like and has become a stagnant dumping ground for trash and runoff debris.) Ah, suburban nature! How I've missed you!

All this talk of moving has made me a bit nostalgic, actually. Last night we bid farewell to some friends who are going to be living in Charlotte for the summer by feasting at the best little Chinese place in Atlanta. And though that couple will be coming back in the fall, some of our other longtime friends are moving to Knoxville. They have a daughter only a few months older than Jacob, and I suppose I'm just sad because we won't get to see her grow up like we have been all year, especially since the ironic part is that we are actually moving to a place very close to where they live now! But, we know they are sure to come visit, at least for a Georgia Tech football game or two, perhaps.

Due to the move, I am frantically trying to get rid of all the items we don't need anymore, and that includes a large box of CD's. So, seriously, check out our eBay auction over the course of the next week. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself.

Recorded Wednesday, May 14, and Thursday, May 22, 2008.
Music: "Can't Go Back Now" by The Weepies (my new favorite band).
Edited today during naptime. :)


Today's Google Logo

The winner of the 2008 Doodle 4 Google contest has been announced and her creation appears on the Google homepage today. I think her work is stunning, especially for a 6th grader! I love her use of color variation. But what I found most compelling is Grace's description of her work:

My doodle, "Up in the Clouds," expresses a world in the sky. This new world is clean and fresh, and people are social and enlightened. Every person here is treated as family no matter who they are. The bright sun heats this ideal place with warmth, love, and brightens everyone's day.

Though I don't believe that heaven is really a place up in the clouds, I think her description of her imaginary world comes fairly close to something like what heaven is supposed to be. Especially since there is no mention of angels and harps. Although I'm not sure what she means by being "social and enlightened," I recognize in her words a longing for God's justice, when He comes to set the world to rights. In her description I see a reflection of the New Heavens and the New Earth where everything will be re-created and the only light we will need will be that of our Lord's bright Son. From the mouths of babes...


Wednesday, May 21, 2008 May Giveaway is giving away up to $200 in gift certificates to Monergism Books. That's not bad. Not bad at all!

Click here to get more details and/or enter. (And please use our referral ID!)


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sippy Cup Solution

In order for Jacob to continue gaining weight (per doctor's orders), Jacob is supposed to be drinking only whole milk all the time. No juice, no water.

That's okay in my book; juice has too much sugar, and he likes water whenever he's tried it, so I don't think he'll be refusing it later on (although he might when he reaches that picky toddler stage!)

However, my only problem is in transporting the sippy cup of milk safely from place to place while keeping the milk cold. My solution?

A coffee cup with a lid!

The insulation keeps the milk cold for a few hours...

The sippy cup fits perfectly inside...

And yet still has just enough wiggle room for me to get the cup out!

On longer trips, when we will be out for more than a few hours, I keep milk in an taller, insulated aluminum coffee thermos.

This is what works for me! What works for you? Do you have any creative uses for everyday things?


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mr. Messy

All morning I've been packing and getting ready for a short trip to see family and friends in Alabama this week. However, I'm off to an even later start that I originally planned, since I had to give Jacob a SECOND bath today before we could leave. Here's why:

Apparently, he decided that instead of using his spoon, he wanted to pick up his bowl and use it like a cup, dumping his lunch all over his face and down his shirt and on his hands and all over the highchair (but thankfully not the floor!). Though he was too quick for me to prevent it, at least I was able to contain it--we went straight to the bathroom. Jacob is now newly bathed, clean, and laying down in his crib, about to take another nap, while I'm left trying to clean up the evidence. The washer is running, the dryer is drying, and I'm trying to figure out how to get everything in the car and get out of here in the next hour!

I'm glad I stuck around and checked my e-mail, though, because I was delighted to read this news: our friends' dad is getting a new heart today! Praise God!


Monday, May 12, 2008

It's funny, because it's true.

I am white, and I appreciate correct grammar.

“Hey Jill, I’m sorry to do this, but I have a business degree and I’m a terrible writer. Can you look this over for me?” This deft maneuver will allow the white person to feel as though their liberal arts degree has a purpose...


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fun with Video

I am definitely enjoying motherhood, especially since Jacob does something incredibly cute at least a dozen times a day. I usually don't have the camera handy, but this week I was more fortunate to catch a few (very short) clips. (If only I'd had my camera with me at P.F. Chang's today during lunch. He was totally rocking out to the music and bopping along in the high chair! The boy's got rhythym!) Though his attempts at walking are too brief to even try to record, he's pretty easy to tape if he's sitting down...

The following video presentation may only be appreciated by me and possibly one or two other close relatives. You have been warned. It's VERY short. I threw together these three little moments just because I wanted to try out a bit of video editing. (This could be dangerous. One day I might even get crazy and add music to photo montages!) For now, listen in for Jacob's adorable attempts at communication, especially in the third segment, as well as our (brief) commentary. Enjoy! I call this: Swing + Eat + Shop?


Free Stuff for Moms

Happy Mother's Day!

TCBY is giving away free yogurt to moms today.

Sign up for free dessert at Boston Market all month long!

Today ONLY use the code "HIMOM" at Snapfish to get one free 8x10, but it cannot be combined with any other offer, so you'll have to pay shipping.

And for all you mamas who like to wear your baby, click here for a chance to win a free Ergo Baby Carrier from Along for the Ride! It's a great carrier for toddlers...I've tried one out before and it was really comfortable.

For anyone:
Here are instructions for ordering a free 8x10 AND 5x7 from CVS through May 17th. I did this yesterday and picked them up same day--it really works!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

I ♥ the Beach

I miss this:

This photo is from two summers ago on a day trip with my mom to Destin, Florida. We stopped at one of our favorite beachside restaurants for some seafood after a long day of outlet shopping. It was just long enough to stick our toes in the sand and snap a few pictures of the aquamarine view.

My hometown is an hour's drive from the gulf beaches along Florida's Panhandle, and during the summers we would often make short trips to Blue Mountain or Panama City or Sandestin. Seaside was a popular destination, too. I bought my very first paperback, The Island of the Blue Dolphins, at a Seaside bookstore. Sometimes we would stay a week or more in a condo or rental house on one of South Walton's finest, drinking in the smell of the Gulf and the warmth of the sun's rays reflected off those perfect white dunes. To me, it's not a beach unless it has white sand. (I'm sorry, California and all Atlantic coastal just don't make the cut in my book.)

I was born in June, appropriately, and one of my favorite birthday memories is the time my parents took three childhood friends and me water skiing at Philip's Inlet when I was 10. You can take the Pass to the Gulf by boat and enjoy skimming across the deep or drop anchor in the shallow waters and play on the stretch of sand between inlet and ocean. I always like the latter option because you could almost always dig a pit deep enough to reach saltwater. And we would drop sand-mud from our fingers to make drip castles along the edges as the surf evaporated in the sun.

Though I love the beach in the fall and winter, too, (that's the perfect time for long walks or curling up with a good book while listening to the waves), there is just something about summertime that makes me long for ocean waves and white sand and the smell of Coppertone.

We made a brief visit to Pensacola Beach last August, but it wasn't the same. For one thing, the weather was too hot, even at 9am, and Jacob was too little to enjoy the experience. I would love to spend a few days in a beachfront rental house, but I just don't think that will work with our budget or our schedule this summer. Oh, well...there's always next year.

For now, I've found a few things to ease my heartache, including beach-scented perfume, the perfect temporary antidote for beachlessness!


Friday, May 09, 2008

CVS + Coupons = Free Money!

I've known about Extra Care Bucks (ECB's) at CVS for years, but never really took advantage of them. I've been dilly-dallying about coupon clipping and CVS shopping for a few months now, but my efforts have finally paid off and I think I'm hooked!

On Saturday, I made some purchases at CVS and actually got more Extra Care Bucks back than I spent in cash by combining coupons. It was a small victory, since I was suprised that one of the deals from last month was still working, or I wouldn't have been so lucky. Today, though, I actually made $.93 and got two toothbrushes for free in less than 5 minutes! Here's how:

CVS this month has a deal this month that if you buy one Colgate 360 toothbrush at $3.99, you get $3.99 in ECB's back. That's like getting a toothbrush for free!

I bought 2 Colgate 360 Toothbrushes at $3.99 each.
I used a coupon for $1 off two Colgate 360 toothbrushes (from the paper).
I then spent $3.99 ECB's and $2.99 ECB's I already had.
The total rang up as $.07, so I handed over some change.
Then, I got $7.98 back in ECB's to use on a future purchase!
So, if you're keeping track...
$7.98 ECB - $6.98 ECB = $1.00 ECB - $.07 out of pocket = $.93 ECB.

I probably could've done even better, but I want to start small. This was just to build my confidence at this little game, but I can tell it may lead to bigger things in the future. Some people just keep rolling over $20 or more of ECB's every time they go to CVS. In fact, I still have an additional $5.98 in ECB's from a prior purchase, plus I have a $3 off $15 coupon. If you sign up for the CVS e-mail, they will automatically send you a $4/$20 coupon!

My only caveat is that I only clip coupons and/or buy things I know we will use. And if for some reason we don't use them, I will donate these new items to a good cause, like a local cooperative ministry.

If you're new to the whole CVS game, here's some instructions on how to get started saving ECB's.

And go check out Money Saving Mom for updated deals at grocery stores, Target, Walgreens, and of course, CVS!


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Photographic Evidence #1327

As seen this morning:

Those are some mad balancing skills, little dude. I'm so proud!

Now that you've mastered squats, it's on to push-ups! Drop and give me twenty! :)

Seriously, next time, maybe take a step or two? Really, it's not that hard. You've done it while holding on to your parents, now all you have to do is let go...

Breakfast of Champions

Lately, about once a week, I've been enjoying a comfort breakfast of whole-grain toast and an egg over-easy. My mom and grandmother used to serve this, though I never really appreciated it until recently. It was always something about the runny yolks. Thankfully, I'm not so picky anymore.

It's quite simple, though not quite so healthy. Just put some butter in a frying pan, cut out the center of a piece of bread using a cookie cutter (the only one I had that was the right size was the star shape), plop the egg in the middle and cook until desired doneness. Flip once. I love using the butter-soaked toast to sop up the egg yolk.

This is very good with a glass of OJ, though I've been enjoying it with a side of some fresh mandarin oranges I got at Trader Joe's (5 lb box for $8!). Enjoy!

This post was party inspired by this artist's collection of breakfast photos.

HT to Mollie Greene for the breakfast photo link.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pre-Order Ben Shive's New Album

This just in: Ben Shive is finishing up his first solo album, The Ill-Tempered Klavier, and you can help him out by pre-ordering a digital copy here.

We've been waiting for this news for a long time, periodically checking his semi-defunct website for updates. Ben is an amazing musician and songwriter who has been touring and writing with Andrew Peterson, another of our favorite musicians.

When I found out, I actually did a little dance. Seriously. The best part is that the digital release will take place on June 17th, the day before my birthday. What a great gift!


Roy G. Biv

Can you make out the faint second rainbow? Saturday a week ago we saw not one but two rainbows, a double reminder of the promise, on the drive back from a delicious Greek Lamb Roast at the Kotronis' house. We were able to glimpse the majesty all the way through Smyrna and along I-285 until we reached Dunwoody, and even were able to see the entire arc at one point, though we weren't able to get a good photo of that. It was funny to see people in cars beside us going "Look!" and pointing. The whole experience was surreal. We kept wondering if the double rainbows meant there were two pots of gold, and how one small segment of society gets to adopt such an amazing phenomenon as their personal symbol?

Props to cameraman Gaines for taking pictures while I was driving. Jacob, I think, slept through most of the excitement. It was still raining--the 6th Saturday in a row of thunderstorms--so we had to take photos between wiper blade swipes. I thought they turned out pretty good, though.

And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." --Genesis 9:12-16


The Superficial Update

Our blogging here on Team Redd has been sporadic as of late. I apologize, since I've had a million things I've wanted to blog about, and have even started about 5 posts, but somehow I just haven't gotten around to it in all the busyness. I'll get to those, soon, I hope. In the meantime, here is a roundup of what's going on with us...

  • We're going to be a CARES Team again beginning July 1st! We're excited about being more intentionally involved in an apartment community again, we have a dear friend as our Area Director, and we'll still be within 5 miles of our church, although that does mean...

  • We'll actually be moving! It'll be the first time we've moved in 6 years and the first time we've moved together since we've been married. We've got a lot to do! Even though we'll be moving up to a 3 bedroom (yay! An actual office that isn't in the same room as Jacob's crib!), I'm working on clearing out all the stuff we've accumulated, but that's easier said than done. (Do you have to have an actual yard to have a yard sale? Could I have a "parking lot" sale?) Oh, well. I'll probably just donate/give away most things and take the baby stuff to a consignment shop. Anyone want a broken laminate bookshelf that's been sitting on our porch for 6 months? The freecyclers didn't want it either. Sigh.

  • Yesterday, Jacob actually stood up on his own, without holding on to anything! If I can ever capture this with photographic evidence, I will share, I promise. Who knows when he will actually walk, but this is a great first sign!

  • We celebrated Cinco de Mayo by going on a lunch date yesterday. Thanks to Gaines' efforts at work his company had given him a gift card so we enjoyed a free meal at On the Border (Ole!) plus some cheap-as-free book browsing at Barnes and Noble. We never usually make such a big deal out of Mexican Independance day, but we figured, hey, Gaines was home from work due to some office remodeling, and a friend owed us some babysitting time, so we might as well jump at the chance to was fun to have some us time. I continued the theme by enjoying ice cream with cinnamon and chocolate sauce for dessert last night while Gaines was in class. Mmmmm.

  • In recent movie viewing, we watched Cloverfield last weekend. Our waiter yesterday randomly struck up a conversation with us about it. Seriously. He just walked up to us while we were enjoying our chips and salsa and said "Have you guys seen Cloverfield?" Just like that. He was from NY, and said it reminded him of 9/11, and I guess he just wanted to talk about it. Anyway, Gaines thought it was a good thing we watched the movie at home instead of the theater, because the shaky cam could be distracting. I, however, really got into the story that way and felt it was a cool method of connecting with the characters. Of course, that other shaky cam movie about being lost in the woods didn't bother me, either. We both really appreciated JJ Abrams' storytelling and perspective, but thought the execution could have been a bit better. I mean, was that monster really supposed to be as iconic for Americans as Godzilla? What were those creature guys thinking?! A giant lizard, a giant gorilla...the one thing those two have in common is that they are large versions of creatures we already know and love! Giant insects, overgrown dinosaurs...those are scary! But some weird amorphous CGI alien-like being from the depths? Not so much.

  • On Saturday evening, we finally watched Juno. I loved it, Gaines thought it was okay. The story, the characters, the soundtrack--all quirky and delightful. I cried when Jennifer Garner's character held her child for the first time. Sometimes, though, I was so into the music I wasn't paying as much attention to the film, so in that way the soundtrack was a bit distracting. I think it deserves multiple viewings, so I would love to own a copy (hint, hint).

  • Saturday, May 03, 2008

    Please Pray

    A friend of ours from church has a brother, James. James' girlfriend, Mandy Annis, (who was soon going to be his fiancee), was struck and killed while cycling home from work on Wednesday in Chicago. There are articles about the tragedy in the Tribune and the Sun-Times, and they reveal a portrait of a beautiful young woman who honored Christ with her life

    Please pray for her family (her parents have just flown back from Romania where they were missionaries), for James and his family, for her students (she was a 5th grade teacher at a Christian school), and for the driver of the car. I am just saddened and grieved by this news and my heart goes out to all who knew her. May we mourn with them awhile.

    And yet, may we as Christians find hope in the resurrection: that Christ the Lord was raised from the dead, the firstborn of the life to come, and we who know Christ will be raised to new life one day, along with Mandy and all those who have passed on. Praise be to God!