Saturday, June 30, 2007

Drywall in the Nursery!

All the drywall has been hung in the nursery, and Steve is busy as I type applying the second coat of mud! He has been working hard over the last couple of months--putting up insulation (that was a HUGE job), running ductwork for the air conditioning (very important to make working up there bearable) and finally, hanging drywall--which really made the room take shape. It made a big difference to get the wall down the middle between the nursery and guest bedroom closed off so you could see them as two separate rooms.

The wall he is working on in these photos is the wall down the center between the two rooms (here's what it originally looked like). The holes along the back wall in the photo above (which was taken from the doorway) are going to be built-in storage. The far left will be a bookcase, then a dresser in the middle, and the largest is a closet (it bumps out into the room slightly). Here's the view from inside the closet:

And here's the view from the corner between the bookcase and the window, looking toward the door:

We are on track for my parents to be able to paint the nursery next week--I can't wait!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Perfect, the Enemy of Good

I've often heard the phrase, "Good is the enemy of best." I think it's true at times. How often do we settle for "good enough"? How often do we allow ourselves to be distracted by legitimate things and end up missing what's more important? A lot of times, it isn't sin or evil that weighs us down or trips us up. It's things that are innocuous in and of themselves, good and healthy things that can be beneficial to us when kept in perspective and used wisely. We just focus too much on them, letting them become the enemy of what's best--what's eternal--what truly matters.

However, twice this week I've heard the opposite phrase: "The perfect is the enemy of the good." And it's got me thinking. I first heard it at the Get Rich Slowly blog, accompanied by an all-too-familiar illustrative story. The author went on to explain:

You can come up with all sorts of reasons to put off establishing an emergency fund, to put off cutting up your credit cards, to put off starting a retirement account. Stop it. Stop making excuses. Your best choice is to start now. Who cares if you don’t find the best interest rate? Who cares if you don’t find the best mutual fund? You’ve found some good ones, right? Pick one. Get in the game. Just start. Starting plays a larger role in your success than any other factor.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. When you spend so much time looking for the “best” choice that you never actually do anything, you are sabotaging yourself.

I've been mulling it over ever since (though not in a personal finance sense as described here). Then I saw the exact same phrase on another blog just this morning. And I think it exactly captures one way I commonly struggle.

I've often used two negative p-words to describe myself: I'm a perfectionist, and also a procrastinator. In college I was fascinated to discover that the two are actually closely related. Perfectionists tend to procrastinate because they have an acute fear of failure. They are afraid to try at all, because what if it doesn't come out perfectly? In other words, they let perfect become the enemy of good.

It's easy for me to spend too much time researching, preparing, gathering information--never actually getting to the project itself. It's the same reason I'm so incredibly indecisive--I can't bear the thought of not making the perfect choice.

I'm learning that only One is perfect. I am called to imitate Him, but ultimately, I can't. So I must learn to rest in His grace, knowing that the perfect obedience of Christ covers my imperfection--in little things like unwise consumer choices, and in big things like the sin that separates me from God.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 39

Thanking God this week for...

  • another week closer to August with no preterm labor
  • the friend from church who came over and helped me with some housework yesterday
  • banana bread with chocolate chips
  • pizza buffets
  • encouragement from friends
  • cookbooks
  • Aldi
  • Lowe's having a paint rebate sale just in time for us to buy paint for the nursery
  • the friends who are letting us borrow their infant swing so we don't have to buy one
  • that clean feeling when you are freshly showered
  • the book of Romans

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ugly Light

So I was all about those CFL lightbulbs. Saving money, helping the environment, all that. Sign me up.

Yesterday both bulbs blew out in the main overhead light in our kitchen. Steve had bought the CFLs a while back, so he put them in. But honestly? I hate the way they make the kichen look. The light just looks fluorescent--cold and industrial, not warm and homey. It makes my butter-yellow walls look a yucky lemon.

Do they make CFLs that don't give off such atrocious light?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Desiring God $5 Book Sale

A message from Desiring God Ministries:

Every book in our store will be $5 on June 27-28, Wednesday and Thursday this week. No limits, so spread the word.
(This sale is online only.)

This is the kind of thing I love about DGM. They are so, so clearly not in it for the money...I have so much respect for this ministry. (And have been very blessed by many of their resources.)

Check out the sale!

Our Only Hope

The storyline in Luke's Gospel points to Jerusalem like one big arrow, because Jerusalem is where Jesus was hanged on the cross, where he became as vulnerable to abuse as a woman or a child, where he was made poorer than a beggar, where he was despised as a traitor, and where he was cast out like a Samaritan or a failed disciple. And he did it not for himself alone; he did it for you and for me, whoever we are, if we will find in Jesus our only hope.

--Mark Dever, The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Southern Confession, Part II

Opinions were divided pretty evenly, so given my Netflix subscription and the pile of books already on my coffetable from Amazon, I decided to start with the movie.

Holy four hour movie, Batman. I kind of knew it was long, but 233 minutes?? My butt is still numb.

Not sure what I think. I'm not sure I found it as great as it is hyped up to be. What was with that ending? Am I the only one who found it somewhat...disappointing?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor?

I wish I was "randomly selected" to win sweepstakes and great prizes 1/3 as often as I am "randomly selected" to do phone surveys about my prenatal care provider. Glad they care so much about quality of service, but SO tired of those phone calls! Ack!

Thankful Thursday, Take 38

Thanking God this week for...
  • another week closer to August with no preterm labor!
  • new chairs in the midwives' waiting room--the old ones were horribly uncomfortable!
  • the friendly mechanic at the quick lube place who said, "you sit back and relax--I'll get the hood release." Good thing she offered...I have trouble finding it on normal days; I'm sure there's no way I could have bent over far enough to reach it today :)
  • getting a book I had registered for, free at my birth class last night
  • Steve being so good at massaging and helping me relax--he didn't learn anything at birth class that he didn't already know and do well
  • clean floors I can walk on barefoot, thanks to a wonderful friend from church
  • the dinner she brought for us, especially the chocolate covered strawberries for dessert
  • lots of yummy fresh fruit to eat
  • little kids who make me laugh
  • His Son, the Resurrection and the Life

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bring on the Chocolate

That blog I discovered yesterday keeps bringing the goodness. Today's post includes a link to the author's favorite study ever, which has just now become my favorite study ever:

Chocolate in pregnancy keeps baby happy - 07 April 2004 - New Scientist

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This Thing That I'm Eagerly Anticipating

"The general rule is that the first six weeks are just shell-shock and constantly feeling like you're the most incompetent, exhausted person in the world. Physical ailments on top and bottom, and every feeding feels like the baby might die if it doesn't eat enough."
--Ask Moxie

Good to know.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Strawberry Fields Forever

When I was little, I was pretty sure I invented a new kind of ice cream sundae: vanilla ice cream with sliced strawberries and their juice, and chocolate syrup. Now that I'm older, I realize I was probably not the first person in the history of the world to think of that combination...but I still do enjoy it.

Fun fact: My belly is now so large that I can rest my ice cream bowl on it while I type in between bites. (I'm leaning back in our office chair with my feet up on the CPU--works quite nicely.)

Also when I was little, I never understood why they didn't sell strawberry juice. I mean, they have apple juice and grape juice and orange juice...why not bottle that fantastically yummy goodness that I eagerly slurped from my bowl of sliced strawberries? I still like to drink it...Steve just shakes his head...probably there is no hope of my not passing my terrible sweet tooth on to this baby.

The shortcake was, as expected, fabulous. We might need to go back to Aldi and see if we can get more berries--they were as good or better than the ones we bought roadside a few weeks ago, and tons cheaper.


Yesterday morning as Steve and I sat in church, waiting for the service to start, one of the men stopped to say hello to us. Picture a great big man with a Yugoslavian accent. Looks intimidating, especially when you are standing right next to him, but very friendly and fun to talk to. After he shook our hands, he looked at my belly, smiled and said, "The baby is really growing, that's for sure!"

After he walked away, Steve cracked up. "That was a really tactful way of saying, 'You're getting HUGE!' I especially liked the 'that's for sure' part."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happiness Is...

...when your husband comes home from Aldi with a surprise: three pounds of deliciously red strawberries, purchased for 99 cents a pound. And then, when you have strawberry shortcake for dinner. Not with dinner, for dinner--a giant piece (the Bisquick kind, which I recently discovered is even better if made with a little extra sugar), covered in sliced berries and their juice, in a bowl with milk.

Important Note: Contrary to the belief of Steve's coworkers, you cannot call sponge cake with strawberry-flavored goop and whipped cream "strawberry shortcake." Is that a Southern thing?? You've just gotten ALL THREE components wrong. Whipped cream or ice cream is acceptable in place of the milk, but honestly, the milk is so much better (and healthier--because we're having strawberry shortcake for dinner, obviously we're going for "healthy").

Mmm...oven buzzer just went off, I'm going to go enjoy my dinner now :)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Friday to Me!

I never win anything. But I am always entering free contests, completing store surveys for a chance to win a sweepstakes, etc.--thinking that surely one of these times it will prove to be worthwhile.

Finally, today, I found out I got third prize in the Ergo Baby Carrier contest I told you about a few weeks ago! It would have been nice to actually win the Ergo, but I won't complain about a $15 gift certificate to Along for the Ride. A fun little surprise to kick off the weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 37

Thanking God this week for...
  • another week closer to August with no preterm labor
  • the wonderful midwife I see every week
  • air conditioning
  • generous surprises in the mail
  • stores that will let you return things without a receipt
  • Steve's job
  • colors
  • granola bars
  • clean water
  • laughter
  • Spray 'n Wash
  • access to information and the ability to make educated decisions
  • Jesus' becoming vulnerable, poor, outcast and ultimately sin itself, for my sake

Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Y'all, I have to tell you what Steve made for dinner last night. Do you get tired of hearing me brag on him? I don't care. It's my blog. He made this:

It was SO yummy. I highly recommend (here's the recipe). A wonderfully healthy, fresh-tasting, summery meal.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Personalizing a Gift

MSN always throws up a few article links on my "sent message confirmation" page in Hotmail, and occasionally I click through when the titles catch my eye. An article that drew me in this morning with "wedding gift survival guide" as the teaser included this great tip I thought was worth passing along:
More important, by selecting an item from the registry, you know you're going to get them something they really want. Ah, but you're afraid they'll know how much you paid for the gift and think you are cheap because you only sprung for a toaster. Well, the wedding gifts my husband and I have gotten the most use out of in the seven years since receiving them are a set of glass mixing bowls and an iron. Not very exciting gifts, but I sure am glad people saw them on our registry and got them for us. You can also personalize a registry item to make it more meaningful. Include a couple of your favorite cookie recipes with that mixing bowl set, for example, and toss in a few of the key ingredients.
What a fun idea! I'm filing it away for the next time I need to buy a registry gift.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Better Than Plumb

Drywalling has begun in the nursery!

The last thing Steve did before quitting for the night was to put up a piece of drywall on the wall between the two rooms, so we could start to get an idea of what it will look like when they're actually separated. The next thing I heard was: "Great. That's what I get for making the wall plumb." To his dismay, he discovered that the floor slopes three inches in just six feet!

Ah, the joys of old houses...he has enough drywall scraps lying around that he'll just patch this craziness.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Baby Belly: 30 Weeks

I had a request for a new belly, here I am in all my pregnant glory. Goodness my face looks fat in this picture. And I really need to do something about that hair. Anyway, for the last few weeks I've been saying how I look bigger in the pictures than I feel in real life...but all of a sudden today I feel huge and uncomfortable. You take for granted things like getting up off the couch and rolling over in bed, until you're in your third trimester of pregnancy. And (hopefully) I have another two months to go! Eek!

It's fun to feel the baby rolling around in there. I push on my belly and can feel what I think is a little bottom sticking up, which makes me smile. According to the books and websites, Baby weighs over three pounds now and is around seventeen inches long--just mostly packing on the fat from here on out (try to limit yourself to about five more pounds at most, please, okay little one?).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Response #5: Have Generous Compassion On Them

(The following is part of a series of "responses to the persecuted church" based on a sermon by Eric Schumacher at An Infant in a Cradle. As a preface to his sermon, Schumacher noted: "It is important that we hear these stories. However, hearing them is not enough. We are called to respond. So, I want to ask this question...: How do we respond to the persecuted church?" I'm breaking down his "ten responses to the persecuted church," listing his suggestions and adding my thoughts.)

5. Have generous compassion on them.

The word "generous," for whatever reasons, automatically makes me think "financially," so maybe this is a good opportunity to talk about "putting your money where your mouth is." There are a lot of ways you can build the Kingdom, and specifically, serve the persecuted church, that cost little or no money at all. But the fact remains that no matter your income, as an American you are among the richest people in the world--and to whom much is given, much is required.

Of course, there are many valuable places to give. However, know that you can give to The Voice of the Martyrs with confidence., which rates Christian organizations in terms of their financial accountability, has released a "Top 30" list of ministries "in response to requests for a list of Christian ministries that are among the best to which donors can give with confidence." Voice of the Martyrs is one of those Top 30 Shining Lights, receiving four stars for efficiency and an "A" grade for transparency.

In his exhortation to give generously, Schumacher directs us to Romans 12:13--"Contribute to the needs of the saints..." and 1 John 3:16-17--"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" He continues:

Compassionate love for their imprisoned brothers and sisters in the faith was the hallmark of early Christianity. Hebrews 10:32-34 says to the early church, “you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” They were willing to suffer persecution and plundering for the sake of showing compassion to their imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus speaks of his judgment of mankind at his coming. He says that the King will receive into his kingdom those who visited him while he was in prison, naked, and without food (just as much of the church around the world is today). He says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the least of these [brothers of mine], you did it to me.” Our care for or neglect of the persecuted church is nothing less than our care for or neglect of the Lord Jesus Christ. How are you loving Christ?

If we love Christ, then we will love his church and will be like the saints in Macedonia, who Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, who “gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” Do you “beg earnestly” to take part in relieving the suffering of Christ’s body?

Previously in this series:
Response #1: Do Not Be Surprised
Response #2: Remember Them
Response #3: Research Them
Response #4: Pray for Them

Great Eight: Blah Blah Amy Blah

Shauna posted a meme recently and invited anyone to play along. Why not? Eight Quick Random Habits Of / Facts About / Thoughts Of Amy:
  1. My guilty indulgence: 59-cent frozen pizzas. You know, the single-serving kind that have about three shreds of cheese on them. I like the pepperoni kind because it's tiny pepperoni cubes, not grease-puddle-filled slices. I add shredded mozzarella and bake them on a rack in the oven to let the crust get a little crispy. We refer to them as "evil pizzas" here at the Kannel house because Steve is appalled that I eat them. But I do. I love them. I can't help it.
  2. I have lately developed a preoccupation with eBay. I've had an account for several years but have never really gotten into the auctions. Suddenly I can't get enough. It's dangerously addicting.
  3. It's nearly 3 pm--I really should go take a shower. These days I often don't end up showering until after lunch. When you're just sitting around the house all day there's not much motivation to get cleaned up.
  4. I really would like to find a brown and blue comforter set for our in-progress guest bedroom. I love that color combination. I like this Target one, but it has terrible reviews for quality. I've looked at tons of online stores and can't find anything. Probably just as well, since a) we have nowhere to put it if we bought it now, and b) we have enough other things to spend money on for the next couple of months.
  5. These stretchy knit black capris I'm wearing are the best maternity clothing item ever. Too bad they're not even mine. At least half of my favorite maternity clothes aren't.
  6. Gooey homemade brownies are a dangerous, dangerous thing to have in the house. I should freeze half of them.
  7. I wish reading on the couch didn't make me fall asleep. I have all these great books to dig into, but when I lie down to read them (since I am supposed to be off my feet, and I am semi-sitting-up enough at the computer) I end up getting sleepy. Lately I am averaging two naps a day, plus about eight hours at night. It's really quite ridiculous. But I guess my body is appreciating it since I'm not having any trouble sleeping at night. Everyone keeps saying, "Enjoy it while you can"--I know, I know.
  8. I wish I were packing for vacation right now. My parents are on their way to South Carolina as I type and my in-laws head out to DC tomorrow. We had planned to join the DC trip but either one sounds fabulous right about now. I don't mean to be whiny, I know this restricted activity thing will be worth it in the end, but it's still a bummer.

Like Shauna, I won't tag anyone in particular, but will invite anyone interested to post their own random eight, or leave a comment with just one.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 36

Thanking God this week for...
  • another week closer to August with no preterm labor!
  • all the people who have called, sent notes/email or offered to help
  • brownies
  • not being one of those pregnant women who are insanely overheating all the time
  • my new books from Amazon
  • comfort in the Psalms
  • the ability to walk
  • the baby's breakdancing
  • the sense of touch, specifically, scalp massages/playing with my hair
  • the certainty and trustworthiness of His Word
  • His patience with me
  • His mercy

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nashville is...Speechless

...well, not really. I don't think it's possible. But the local blogging community is shaken up, for sure, over Brittney Gilbert's resignation as author/host of Nashville is Talking.

As she demonstrated in her resignation announcement, she has had to put up with an appalling amount of cruelty, judgment and vile hatred over the last two years. I am completely stunned at the ignorance and the venom people feel so free to spew online. Can't blame her for wanting that to be over. And as others have pointed out, this may be a great move for her personally in that writing and moderating NiT has stifled the creativity of a talented writer. Still, I'm disappointed to see her go. Ever since I was somehow "discovered" by NiT a year and a half ago and added to the blogroll, I've thoroughly enjoyed this unique forum where people from all over the ideological/political/theological/cultural map come together.

Brittney and I couldn't be more different in many important ways. But though I may not agree with her opinions about a lot of things (and she made no pretense of objectivity; that wasn't her job), I thoroughly respect her. Two stints of guest blogging showed me that although "paid to blog full time" sounds like a sweet gig, it's a lot tougher than it looks. She highlighted incredibly diverse posts, whether she personally liked them or not. She demonstrated class and she pushed me to think and she often made me laugh. And she is the best ironic/witty headline writer I've seen, no exceptions.

I'm grateful for the Nashville blogging community. It has challenged me to grapple with ideas very different from my own and introduced me to a lot of very fascinating/wise/compassionate/funny/thoughtful people. And Brittney was instrumental in creating the kind of community that NiT has become.

Wondering what happens to Nashville is Talking now...wishing Brittney all the best.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Free Family Flicks

I just heard about the Regal Cinemas Free Family Film Festival and thought I would pass along the info: Certain theaters are showing G & PG movies at 10 AM each Tuesday and Wednesday for the next two months, starting today. It's FREE!, just limited to first-come, first-served seating.

Nashville locals can see a list of participating theaters and their movie schedules here.
Sorry, that link to search results doesn't seem to be working. You can search by state at the link above!

(HT: Faith)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Still a Northerner

Quote of the day: A native Southerner clarifies for us whether Baby Kannel will officially be a Southerner:
"A child born in the South of Northerner parents is still a Northerner. Just because a cat has kittens in the oven, doesn't mean that they're biscuits."

Friday, June 01, 2007

More to the Story

You're sitting in a restaurant (not a fancy one--just a casual family restaurant), and the toddler at the table nearby starts crying. You roll your eyes, or maybe shoot a glare in the parents' direction. All you wanted was to enjoy a nice meal out, in peace. Shut that kid UP! you think to yourself (or maybe mutter to your dining companions).

But what if that toddler had just been diagnosed with a serious medical condition? What if those parents had spent a few days earlier that week in the hospital with their son, watching their precious child hooked up to tubes and wires, wondering what was wrong or how they would deal with it? What if this toddler was normally a delightful child when they took him out in public, and the ordeal he'd been through, combined with his new medication, had suddenly made him a completely different child? What if the parents were trying to enjoy a break with some friends, and were feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed that they just didn't have the heart to be harsh with their little boy?

Would you look at the situation differently? Would you give them a little grace?

Or a more superficial example...

You're sitting in a dark theater, enjoying a professional stage production. Suddenly some latecomers shuffle in and take their seats. What is wrong with people? you think to yourself. How rude! Is it that hard to show up on time?

But what if that family had traveled in from a different time zone? What if their tickets were waiting at Will Call, and there had been confusion or a misunderstanding with the ticket salesman on the phone about the time? What if they thought they were responsibly arriving over half an hour early to the show--only to walk in the lobby and find out, to their dismay and embarrassment, that they'd missed the first four songs of Act I?

Would you step off your judgment a little? Would you maybe even sympathize?

Neither of these scenarios is hypothetical. And in each one, I was reminded: I don't know the whole story. When I make snap judgments of people--when I shoot glares or mutter comments or simply size them up in my head--I have no idea what's really going on. Passing judgment is simply a way for my pride to assert itself, to lie to me yet again about how I'm better than those people, how I'd do things the right way.

After experiencing the first situation above a few weeks ago, I planned to blog about it, but Josh Longbrake actually beat me to the topic. He had some great thoughts on this recently, focusing more on others' big-picture stories than on the individual circumstances I saw:

It’s terribly easy for me to judge people, especially those that I don’t know.

...He’s going too slow. She’s so loud. They are in everyone’s way. She’s rich and she knows it. If he would just have some self respect. Why does she dress like that? He’s always talking.

But everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everybody has been shaped by something. One parent. No parents. Economic situation. Rape. Culture. Orphaned. Pain. Struggle. Lack of pain and struggle. Death. Divorce. Privilege. Popularity. People are shaped by situations and the people that surround them.

Everyone has a story.

And when you know someone’s story, it changes everything, doesn’t it? Your friends who act certain ways, ways which would annoy you if they were from a stranger, are given grace because you know them. You understand them. He acts that way because of this. And she does those things because of that. You understand. Everyone who knows them understands. It’s the strangers, though…

When we come to the realization that everyone has a story, it changes how we treat people. ...because there’s a story, there is grace.

If only I can remember this lesson the next time I see someone acting in a way I don't "approve" of--and exchange judgment for grace.