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I tried to ignore the blitzkrieg of Facebook tags for this “25 things” business, but alas! We’ve been blog-tagged, which seems to carry more authority than Facebook. (I don’t know why – it just does.) But as much as I would love to say that I’m doing this begrudgingly, I’ve actually enjoyed reading various people’s entries, so what the heck – why not join the bandwagon?

I’m going to try to make these fairly original and entertaining for you people, none of these obvious crap answers like “I don’t like it when people are mean to me.” So here goes:

  1. I love driving, but only when the route is a new one or one I haven’t done for awhile. I abhor my work commute, for example. And I used to hate the drive to and from Salisbury, but now that I only drive down there once a year or so, I actually enjoy it. (Gasp!)
  2. Our life group is becoming one of my favorite things about life right now.
  3. Hygiene is pretty important to me. It irritates me when someone who has the means to bathe themselves chooses not to and subjects the rest of us to their rancidness.
  4. Drea and I both have lists of people we would date if we weren’t married. If that sounds weird to you, then…well yeah it actually is pretty weird.
  5. I love my family. Ackermanns represent – for real. The older I get, the more I appreciate my parents and the way they raised me and my sisters. I don’t think Drea and I will do everything exactly the same, but I hope our family has the same closeness and healthiness as mine.
  6. I love books. (Yep, I stole this one from both Lammy and Leslie.) I became a reading junkie right after college, and I regret not picking it up sooner. Sometimes it actually makes me sad to know that there are great books I’ll never have a chance to read in my lifetime. My favorites of 2008 were The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, A Generous Orthodoxy, and In a Sunburned Country. I also love getting book suggestions from people, so keep those coming!
  7. Drea and I love our new (used) Prius. We drive it everywhere, and are looking forward to taking it on some road trips this summer!
  8. We used to want to get a family dog once we start having kids. But a few months ago we spent a week dog-sitting a puppy who was cute, but who also vomited and projectile-crapped all over the place. Repeatedly. So, yeah, we’re having some second thoughts about that.
  9. I love Google, and I use them for everything – email, calendar, documents, maps, web browser, news, RSS, even weather. Google is like the official sponsor of my life. Honestly, if they approached me to do a commercial, I’d probably do that crap for free.
  10. I hate to steal another one from Lammy, but here goes! I absolutely loved college. I met some of my best friends at Salisbury and had some of the greatest experiences of my life there. I wouldn’t trade my life now for anything, but sometimes I get hit with a wave of nostalgia for my college years. St. Martins 118/120 – good times.
  11. Casual dating is still something quite foreign to me. Drea and I already knew each other pretty well when we started dating, and I’ve never really dated anyone else, although there’s been an “almost” or two in there! :) I wonder sometimes how I’d be at the casual, get-to-know-you kind of dating. I’m guessing pretty sucky, as I’m generally not so great with the small talk, or, for that matter, the suave, debonair flirtation skills. Drea’s a lucky lady. :)
  12. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I did enjoy watching the Super Bowl last night. Probably like the third football game I’ve ever watched in its entirety. Who knows? Maybe I’ll nonchalantly follow the Redskins if they make the playoffs next year.
  13. My dad took our family on epic summer vacations when we were kids. Some of my fondest childhood memories are playing the license plate game or 20 questions in the car on the way to Colorado, Wyoming, San Diego, Seattle, or wherever. I can’t wait to do this with our kids.
  14. My verdict on the timeless toilet paper debate: over is right, under is wrong.
  15. My other verdict on the timeless toilet paper debate: scrunching is right, folding is wrong.
  16. I’m all about it when people take pride in their work, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Intentionally friendly cashiers, knowledgeable salespeople who actually help you find what you need, fast food workers who make an effort to move the line quickly – I’m all about it.
  17. I would never want to live somewhere that doesn’t get all four seasons.
  18. I tend to remember movie lines as being funnier than they actually are. Like, the part in The Wedding Singer where Adam Sandler’s sister and her husband are getting ready for a date, and the husband’s not ready to go, and the wife sticks her head in the door and yells “BILLY, MOVE YOUR ASS!” That line is hilarious in my memory, but when you actually watch it, it isn’t that funny. (And I don’t think the guy’s name is Billy.)
  19. This one is weird. Sometimes a certain moment of music and lyrics in a song will just blow me away, and I have to hear it again. For example, I love the line “dreaming of the Osaka sun” from the Coldplay song “Lovers in Japan”, and I rewind it multiple times whenever I listen to it. I do the same thing with the line “let us sing one true tune” from Switchfoot’s “The Beautiful Letdown”. Inexplicable, I know.
  20. One thing God has recently brought my attention to is my tendency to think unkindly about people I feel wronged by; a basic disregard of Jesus’ command to love my enemies. Sometimes my attitude just sucks. I’m really trying to work on this.
  21. My first car was my dad’s old ’88 Honda Accord which ran like a champ until it finally died at 264,000 miles. I’m now on my third Accord, and I love it. It gets good gas mileage, is reliable, handles nicely, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the dashboard layout. I’m sold on this car, and will probably keep buying Accords for the rest of my life.
  22. I wish we had a Denny’s in Upper Marlboro so I could get a French Toast Grand Slam anytime I wanted.
  23. I hate having to shave every morning.
  24. A good way to punish me would be to force me to sit and listen to country music for several hours.
  25. I eat breakfast cereal for all three meals, and I freaking love it. I’ll take a bowl of Life or Honey Bunches of Oats just about anytime.

So there you have it. My 25 things. I’m sure that with enough harassment, Drea will post hers as well. :)

So, we watched a few minutes of the American Idol season premier the other night. And I have to say, after a few years of not watching the show, I can see that the whole act hasn’t changed much: the ratings-garnering pseudo-rivalry between Simon and Ryan, Randy’s continued inability to use a word other than “dog” when conversing with contestants of either gender, and of course Paula’s loopy incoherence. (Kids, for real, say no to drugs.)

idol-judges

FAIL x 4

Except for the new face on the judges’ panel – what’s her name? – who seems more than happy to lend her loud, abrasive antics to the existing inanities.

But these lambastings are only a prelude to focal point of this post: What the heck is up with the background music selections? Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida”? Don’t get me wrong – I love the song (and the album), but isn’t it a little anomolous to hear “One minute I held the key; next, the walls were closed on me” as a contestant bursts through the double doors screaming, “I’m going to Hollywood!”? Hmmm…

And MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine”? Epic song placement fail. I mean, it’s cool that a Christian band is getting some primetime exposure, but I’m pretty sure getting to meet Jesus is going to be a little bit better than Idol‘s holy grail of “getting through to the next round.”

Sorry folks. I don’t mean to deride what is clearly one of the finest institutions of American pop culture. But I have just a few words for Idol‘s producers:

Come on, people. You bammas are supposed to be at the top of your game. Such power you have! I mean, the clouds part for whichever contestant you deem worthy of the title “American Idol”, and even the runners-up. Kelly Clarkson! Rueben Studdard! That Daughtry guy! Carrie Underwood! Clay Aiken! (Eh, well…) All I’m saying is that you can do better. Pick some background songs whose lyrics have an iota of contextual relevance to the show. And for heaven’s sake, get Paula Abdul some professional help.

We’re always trying to expand our music library, and Christmas music is no exception! Hence, we’d like some recommendations. What is your favorite Christmas album? (My current favorites are Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God and James Taylor At Christmas.)

Go.

I’ve personally enjoyed watching Coldplay‘s style and musicianship morph and develop with each of their albums.  2000’s “Parachutes” had a raw, understated feel to it.  2002’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” could probably be considered their break-out album, with radio hits like “The Scientist”, “In My Place”, and “Politik”.  I was slightly disappointed with 2005’s “X&Y”, which was catchy and certainly crowd-pleasing, but a little predictable.

Enter “Viva la Vida”, in my opinion their best effort yet.  It took me some time to get used to it, which is usually a sign of an eventual favorite album for me.  We downloaded it from iTunes in July, and it wasn’t until a bunch of repeat listens on our vacation in August for me to realize that this album is incredible.

“Viva la Vida” manages to incorporate a great variety of moods and textures without seeming schizophrenic or indecisive.  The bright optimism of “Life In Technicolor”, the dark, aggressive “Cemeteries of London”, the sonic hugeness of “Lost!” (and it’s stripped-down piano-led counterpart “Lost?”), the brooding, in-your-face quality of “Violet Hill”, and the lighter-than-air “Strawberry Swing” are all tied beautifully together.

Coldplay also tactfully borrows from Asian musical traditions, using a Middle East-esque hammered dulcimer in “Life in Technicolor”, seductive Arabic-flavored strings in “Yes”, and an East Asian pentatonic theme in “Strawberry Swing.”  This diverse, world music feel seems to work well, particularly with the album’s peace-oriented political messages.  (“I don’t want to battle from beginning to end, I don’t want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends.”)

I love moments during an first-time listen to album when I’m caught completely off-guard.  There are many such moments on “Viva la Vida”, where you see that Coldplay has taken a significant risk, and then realize the brilliance of the album because they’ve gotten away with it.  I always feel a little let down when I realize that an album was written and produced for the main purpose of cranking out radio singles and filling arenas.  Not so with “Viva la Vida”.  While I’m sure it will have mainstream commercial success, this album stands out.  Coldplay has outdone themselves.

Go.  Buy.  It.  Now.

…Andrea is still around.  And here I am.

Drew’s been hinting recently that I haven’t posted on this blog for some time and something needs to be done about it.  Relishing in a little extra time today, I’m posting.  (Happy, Drew?)

I have been super busy the past month!  I just launched my photography website and have been trying to keep up with my photography blog, in addition to actually BEING a photographer and doing the duties that come with the job.

I’m at home full-time now and LOVING it.  Having just passed our one year anniversary, I think I may have learned some things about wife-ing.  I think the #1 thing I have learned is that I know nothing of wife-ing.  Oh, this little girl has been wrestling with a lot of things this month, in the BEST WAY.

I am reading the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  If you are a wife, almost a wife, or have ever entertained the idea of being a wife, you should read this book.  Not only is it excellently written, it is thought-provoking and, more than that, HEART-provoking.  Reading the book, I have been forced to look at myself soberly, all the way down to my smallest motives.  It’s horrifying.  It is sort of like looking at a scary monster in the mirror.  At the same time though, I feel such a hope of change and confidence in God about the kind of woman I want to be.

The book has been one of those life-changing books for me.  You know, the ones that define a particular season of life when you think back.  The kind that speaks directly to the situation you are in.  The one that might as well have been written FOR you RIGHT NOW.

Pair that book with daily visits to the book of Matthew (particularly the Sermon on the Mount, talk about heart changing), day-long listening to Sara Groves (that woman speaks to me), and night-time reading of the biography of Amy Carmichael (the woman who gave up everything – including marriage – to serve as a missionary to the poorest of the poor in India) and you might have a slight idea of how I feel.  Talk about tearing a girl up inside!

It’s difficult, wonderful, overwhelming, frustrating.  But colorful.  And vivid.  Things I have been aching for this past year.  An ice heart melting slowly.  The best kind of life.  I’m back.

1)  Fight with other basses over who has to sit closest to the tenor section.

2)  Make fun of tenor section’s general inability to hit a high note without starting half a pitch lower and gradually rising to “almost” the correct pitch.

3)  Snicker with other basses as we realize which particular tenor (it’s always the same ones) is off.

4)  Realize I’m being a jerk because when I try to hit those notes, it pretty much just sounds like screaming.

5)  Sing in falsetto my own harmony part a 3rd above the sopranos.

6)  Fellow bass and good friend Tom joins in a 5th above sopranos.

7)  Incur disapproving looks from sopranos.

8)  Laugh collectively during vocal warm-ups, as we together sing things like “ya ya ya ya” or “kitty kitty kitty kitty”.

9)  Rejoice in the fact that our choir is finally singing songs with lines like “Wait a minute, one more time, I think I’ll sing it again!”

10)  Generally have an awesome time singing God-centered music with good friends.

This was a terrific weekend – and that’s an understatement. Disclaimer: this may be a long post. :)

The concert
Friday night was the long awaited Sara Groves/Derek Webb benefit concert for Blood:Water Mission. It was fantastic. Sara, who I have aptly named “The Groves”, and Derek are super passionate, super real, super talented people. They did not disappoint.

(Another disclaimer: the following pictures were taken with Drew’s old point and shoot…not my sweet Nikon. :) )

 

We saw some friends there! (Fisch and Megan were also there, but I forgot to take a picture.)

 

As Drew mentioned in his previous post, going to this concert may have been a providential thing for us. Derek Webb spoke right to Drew’s heart regarding this election, and Sara Groves spoke right to my heart reminding me of the kind of woman I want to be. Plus, the entire concert was to benefit Blood:Water Mission, a great organization that we want to be more involved with. There were displays and a great photography exhibit, which I will write about soon in the photoblog. Overall, a great night.

The engagement

After the concert was over, Drew got a call from his sister and my dear friend, Allison. He put me on the phone with her. The conversation:

Allison: Hey Drea! So I was wondering what you were doing on December 27th.
Me: Uhh, I don’t know…why?
Allison: Because I was wondering if you’d be a bridesmaid in MY WEDDING!
::screaming ensues on both ends of the phone::

That is right, friends, Allison and Rich are ENGAGED! Let’s tell the world! :) We couldn’t be more excited for them.

Kinda blurry, but you get the idea. :) That thing is blingin’!

 

 

The wedding
Saturday morning, we woke up at 4am and drove to Raleigh, NC for an old friend, Amy’s wedding. We got to ride with Allison, Rich and Kristen the whole way, which made the trip fly. Plus, the engagement kept us busy for a few hours :)

 

Stopping in a fast food bathroom to freshen up…

The wedding was lovely, but it could not have been hotter! The ceremony was in a gorgeous rose garden…with no shade. A little torturous. I realllly felt for the groomsmen in full out tuxes!

 

Amy and Matt had to be the cutest couple I’ve ever seen. They were SO HAPPY. The ceremony was totally them, and the reception was really laid back.

 

 

The boys were a little sad it was only root beer.

There was a pimpin’ disco ball!

 

Congratulations Amy & Matt + Allison & Rich! Long live good weekends!

I noticed today that Drea has contributed no less than 13 pieces of blogerature since my last post, so I would be remiss, nay, NEGLIGENT in my marital obligation if I didn’t post sometime soon! So, to update…

Tom and I went to see the Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile at Ram’s Head on Saturday. It was my first time at Ram’s Head, and I’d love to see some more shows there. It’s cozy but not cramped, and they serve an excellent beer. Chris Thile (most commonly known as the lead singer of Nickel Creek) was, of course, incredible. His technical skill and innovation on the mandolin were amazing to watch, especially from our sweet seats, which were about 15 feet from the stage.

In other news, our vacation out west looks like it’s going to be back on track for August. I’m having a blast planning out our trip. Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Ouray, Denver/Boulder, and Rocky Mountain Nt’l Park are part of our plans. Hopefully some great posts and pictures will come out of that.

I would say I’ll try to post again soon, but that would most likely make me a liar. Plus I’m sure Drea will graciously pick up my slack. :)

Last night, Drew and I officially bought our tickets to what I’m sure will be one of the best concerts we go to this year.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

If you haven’t heard of one or either of these artists, please go check them out. Check out Derek here. Check out Sara here.

Come to the concert with us! It’s only $15. Buy your ticket here.

You can thank us later.

Me: I have Beyonce stuck in my head. “Replacing you is so eassaaayyyy…”
Drew: Hmm. I wonder if Beyonce is a liberal.
Me: Why?
Drew: “To the left, to the left…”