Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Are you ready for some football?

I realized this morning that the Alabama football season starts this weekend. Yeah! I can't wait to watch them play, and hopefully have a winning season. Unfortunately, their first couple of games won't be on TV out here in Texas, so I'll have to wait. But the Arkansas game will be on ESPN on Sept. 15, so I know what I'll be doing that day. Oh wait... we have a choir rehearsal that day! Guess I'll have to make a decision if the times conflict. Anyway, I'll sure be missing my football-watching buddies, Tina, Doug, and Cale this season. Somehow I don't think much football will be watched around their house this year, with a new baby about to arrive and Cale being more mobile. Sure wish I could see them though. But if anyone wants to join me for some Bama football, let me know. And shout out a loud

(pics from the Homecoming game in 2004)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Christmas in Reverse - August Retreat

Sorry I'm just now getting around to posting these pictures from our Christmas in Reverse retreat that took place last weekend. We had a really good time. There were close to 60 kids there, and over the weekend we listened to and worked on every song in the musical except one. Wow! The kids did a great job staying focused. I think the idea of doing a Christmas musical really caught their attention, and they seemed pretty excited about it.

Some of my favorite parts of the weekend (in no particular order):
  • Singing The Twelve Days of Choir - "On the first day of choir, Miss Genny gave to me..." Sharon was very creative in putting this together.

  • Seeing a lot of kids that I missed while I was in Scotland, and getting to be "Miss Barb" again.

  • Seeing the kids get so excited and want to keep singing "Vobis Hodie Salvator." Who knew they would enjoy a LATIN song so much?!

  • Reindeer games - we did a giftwrapping relay, a jingle bell relay, and a "Santa hat" relay (where the kids had to put on a santa hat, scarf, and gloves).

  • Sharon reading the Christmas story to the kids by candlelight.

  • Decorating the sanctuary for Christmas in August!

  • Being back with the "Fab Four" (now expanded from King of the Jungle to include other choir directors as well)

  • Seeing how many kids were willing to commit the musical and audition for speaking, singing, and non-speaking roles.
Here are a few pictures from the weekend. They aren't great, but they're all I have. I can't believe I didn't get any of the kids actually singing, but I guess that makes sense, since I was DIRECTING during that time. Oh well.

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of Fall 2007 classes at Southwestern. I used to LOVE the first day of school. It is a big reason why autumn is my favorite season. I just love the smell of the leaves on the ground, the cooler weather, wearing sweatshirts, college football (ROLL TIDE), shopping for school supplies (I could spend hours in Staples), new books, and that whole You've Got Mail thing about "a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils."

But I am not all that excited about this new semester. I know - the sooner I get through with seminars, the sooner I can write my dissertation and be done with this degree. And I DO look forward to the writing process. It's just that, during the semester, my time is not my own. Almost all of my free time is taken up with reading, writing, reading more, and work. School + work = a dull Barb.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not really complaining about school. I'm here for a purpose, and completing this degree will help me to fulfill God's calling on my life. But I just needed to take a moment to bemoan the real end of life as I've known it for the last 7 months.

My Morning

I rear ended a car this morning...

I knew right then it was going to be a REALLY bad day! The driver got out of the other car, and he was a DWARF!!

He looked up at me and said "I am NOT Happy!"So I said, "Well, which one ARE you then?"

That's how the fight started...

Okay, I know, that's bad, but I couldn't resist. This does NOT originate with me, but my coworker sent it to me and I thought it was HILARIOUS! I just had to share.

(And just to clarify, I am not prejudiced against dwarfs or anyone else...)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wedgwood's Merry Elves

Last night Genny and her girls met me at the church for a night of Christmas decorating. Yes, I said Christmas decorating. We are preparing for a children's choir musical called "Christmas In Reverse," and this weekend is our kick-off retreat to introduce the musical to the kids. It should be a lot of fun. We'll be singing Christmas music (obviously), playing Reindeer Games, and exchanging gifts. What more could you ask for?!

So we transformed the sanctuary into Christmas last night, complete with Christmas tree, rope lights, and twinkle lights on my music stand, all while we listened and sang along to Christmas cd's. This is the earliest I've ever started listening to Christmas music! It was great fun to decorate, but it will be sad when we have to take it all down tomorrow evening. I think we should just leave it up. After all, Christmas is only 4 months away!

Hopefully the kids will get into the Christmas spirit and have a great time at this retreat, but our deepest desire is that they will remember the real meaning of Christmas even as we have a lot of fun. Check back next week for pictures from the weekend - I'm sure I'll take some! =)

A Tale of Two Choirs

It struck me Sunday morning as I was singing in Wedgwood's choir that the two choirs I have been a part of this year could not be more different. The University of Aberdeen King's College Chapel choir is a small, audition only choir. It is very formal, wearing robes, using music, and singing only classical music with organ accompaniment. It was fun to sing with them, but Sunday mornings at chapel were really dull, and the hymns we sang were never upbeat and rarely Christ-centered. I never felt an atmosphere of worship there, and the choir certainly did not lead the congregation in worship. We sat at the back of the chapel, behind the congregation, and only led in music, not worship. As a matter of fact, most of the time the choir was bigger than the congregation.

Contrast that with Wedgwood's adult choir. We don't wear robes, and we're not allowed to use music on Sunday mornings, but throwing off those inhibiters has only freed us to worship more openly. We have a great band/orchestra that accompanies us, and our Wednesday night rehearsals without the guitars, drums, and brass just reinforces how much they add to the music experience. Sunday morning services are never dull; the congregation joins the choir in clapping to the music, lifting hands in praise, and raising voices to the King. The atmosphere of worship is unmistakable, and if I may say, rare. I have never experienced worship anywhere else quite like I experience it at Wedgwood. The choir is not performing - that is plainly clear. Yes, we stand in front of the congregation, but we aim to draw all attention and glory to the Lord of Lords.
Now don't get me wrong. There is certainly a time and place for classical music, and I really enjoyed being a part of the chapel choir and singing such impressive works. But difficult music, beautiful melodies and harmonies, and organ accompaniment means nothing if it is not presented in an act of worship to the King. Better to have drums, shouts of praise, an occasional missed pitch, and contemporary songs with an attitude of worship than the most perfect performance of Mozart for one's own glory.

Pretty Flower

This lily is growing right in front of my house. It's all by itself, so it seems a bit out of place, but isn't it pretty?!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My New Home, Part 1

Here are a few pictures of my new apartment. I've gotten pretty settled in, now that I've lived there for about 3 weeks. I still have to hang some things on the wall in my room and above the entertainment center, and rearrange the furniture in the spare bedroom - I don't like how it is arranged right now. But it's really beginning to feel like home now. I do still have some boxes to unpack - actually the most important things, my scrapbooking supplies, are still in boxes! But I'll get there eventually. Anyway, I just wanted to show off my new home, at least the living room and shelf divider between it and the kitchen. I will post more pictures as the rest comes together.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cable Woes

I must say, Charter Communications does NOT have my vote of confidence! I have been trying for two weeks to get my picture fixed on channels 5 and 6. Channel 5 is NBC and one I watch every morning while getting ready for work - have to get my "Matt Lauer fix" on the Today Show. I have now scheduled 4 appointments and been stood up 4 times. I have wasted 11 hours sitting at home waiting for them to show - 4 hours one Saturday, 6 hours on two different evenings, and 1 hour one morning before work! Every time I call to complain that the technicians haven't shown up, the representatives tell me they're "sorry" and I will have to reschedule. I simply cannot understand why my time is so much less valuable than anyone else's! Even threatening them with cancelling my account hasn't helped - I guess it's not a big-enough moneymaker to concern them. Today the representative had the nerve to tell me, "You can be mad all you want, but in the end you'll have to do what we tell you." What in the world has happened to customer service in this country? What has happened to "the customer is always right," or customer satisfaction. I am definitely NOT satisfied! And I know I'm not the only person who has been stood up by a company representative of some sort - I have heard of at least two other stories in the last two days, one of which was also from Charter. So let me say, if you have a choice, AVOID Charter as your cable provider. And if not, be prepared to wait. It's almost as bad as waiting for a passport...

And thanks for "listening" to me vent.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Top Ten Reasons I Miss Scotland

Okay, this post is inspired by Genny's "top ten" lists about vacation, and is supposed to make up for me not making any recent posts. I'm sorry, but it's hard to have anything to blog about when you spend the week working 8 to 5, and spend most of your evenings waiting for the cable man to show up - believe me, you DON'T want to get me started on that!

So anyway, here are the top ten reasons I wish I was still in Scotland -

10. I miss caramel shortcakes - my favorite!
9. I didn't have to worry about whether the cable man was going to show up.
8. No work - I studied by day and played by night.
7. An average high of 65 degrees in July! (Sounds great after a week of near 100)
6. It was much easier to keep up my figure - walking everywhere and not eating fast food.
5. Weekend adventures, exploring castles, lochs, etc.
4. The southern accent is nowhere near as intriguing as the nice Scottish brogue.
3. Did I mention not having to work?
2. I need a hill to climb, and Seminary Hill doesn't count!

And the number one reason I miss Scotland is...
1. I miss my friends there very much.

So there you have it. I had a moment last week where I was driving home and I thought "I wish I was in Aberdeen." And right after that, I thought "What am I thinking?!?!" I guess transitioning back to Texas may be a little more difficult than I thought. But I am happy to be home, even though I do sometimes dream of going back to the land of tartans, thistle and bagpipes...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Ahhh... This is the Life!

So, I'm dog-sitting while the Holmes family is on vacation, which is a really difficult task, let me tell you. I have to go over to their house every day and lay out by the pool to keep King company! Yesterday I spent a couple of hours out there. A hot day, a refreshing pool, a good book, and a Sonic slushie - who could ask for more?!

Family Pics in Savannah

Here are a few pics of my family at the hotel in Savannah before the Special Olympics dance.

Savannah Beach

During our trip to Savannah, I HAD to find time to hang out at the beach. I met up with Meemaw on Saturday morning and we headed out to soak up some rays. Actually, the day was rather overcast, but that was okay. We hung out at a relatively quiet part of the beach, and walked along the shoreline for over an hour with our feet in the water. The water was quite a nice temperature, not too cold but not like a bathtub either. We spent a little time laying out before we decided we were hungry and headed for lunch in town. It was a really nice way to spend a few hours, and I enjoyed catching up with Meemaw as well.

Fayette County Special Olympics

While I was home in GA, my entire family headed off to Savannah for a Special Olympics bowling tournament. Mom, Dad, and I were "chaperones" and Ben and Dad bowled as part of a unified team. Mom actually ended up bowling too because we were one person short. The athletes all did a great job. Dad and Ben's team took silver in their category, and Mom's team took bronze in their group.

The weekend wasn't all work and no play, however. After bowling on Saturday the group headed for the beach for a little while. They didn't have enough time to lay out, but they got to put their feet in the water and look for shells and shark's teeth. That night was Ben's favorite part of the weekend - the dance! He actually didn't dance as much as I thought he would, but everyone, leaders and athletes alike, had a great time. This is first picture is of Ben and his best bud, Tyson.
Mom's aunt, Meemaw, and her family live in Savannah, so Meemaw, Linda, and Eric met us at the bowling alley on Sunday to watch Ben's team bowl. It was fun to visit with them, and we had lunch afterwards at Red Lobster to continue catching up. It was SO cold in the bowling alley, so Meemaw, Linda and I wrapped up in my beach towel (brought along for just such a purpose).

Hotlanta Braves

Yes, I know I've been a delinquent blogger since I returned to TX. I haven't even blogged about events that took place while I was visiting my family in GA! So here's my attempt to fix that...

On July 19 my family and I took in an Atlanta Braves game, vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. We were all decked out in Braves attire (except Mom, but she at least gave in and wore Braves colors after a little prompting). Ben was thrilled to wear his new Chipper Jones jersey. We had a great time cheering for our favorite players - Go Chipper! - eating peanuts, and watching the Braves pull off a 10 to 1 victory. I'm so glad my entire family shares this love for Braves baseball - it is so much fun to experience the atmosphere of a game at Turner Field in Atlanta.