Happy Birthday, New Year, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

Well hello again.

I’ll just jump right in.

You may ask yourself, “What have the Butays been up to for the last seven months?” If you don’t, then this is going to be really, really boring, so you could watch this controversial video instead. If you do ask yourself that question, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s tackle this systematically. Month by month.

Twas May when we last blogged, so on to June!

June:

June was pretty low key. It did include my first Father’s Day:

Father's day

Look at how small he is. That picture was taken after church where I had just won the Youngest Father award. The prize was an Outback gift card which later went to good use to purchase a Bloomin’ Onion. That actually turned out to be a decidedly poor use, because Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion is 90% grease and 10% ranch. To be fair, Chelsea told me so. Speaking of Chelsea, in June she finished her internship and officially completed all the requirements for her Masters degree. Yay! Finally to cap off a swell month, we celebrated our anniversary with some Southern Fusion cuisine:

Anniversary

A lot of you reading are in the South where there’s no need to “fuse” your food with anything, but you know. It was in Brooklyn. Just to note: I say you don’t need to fuse Southern food, not because Southern people aren’t fancy, but because there’s no way to improve Southern food. It’s already the pinnacle of cuisine. Anywho, if you check out the restaurant’s website and see that huge scrolling picture of fried chicken and a red velvet waffle, I will tell you, yea. It was as good as it looks.

July:

When 2013 began, I had an idea of the arc it might take, and visiting our respective hometowns was definitely an anticipated climax. It did not disappoint. 

But we shan’t let that overshadow Elijah’s first Fourth of July!

4th of July

This was in New Canaan, Connecticut where a friend from work lived. We enjoyed some grilled pizza, ice cream from a truck, and the longest and most beautiful fireworks display I’ve ever seen. No joke.

Now for our big vacation! After an unfortunate plane ticket/airline debacle, we made it to Alabama a day later than expected. Though it rained on our plane, it didn’t on our excited-to-be-home-parade, so all was well. Elijah of course had some long awaited meetings to attend. Such as with uncles:

Jacob

and great aunts:

Sherri

and other equally but not technically great aunts and uncles:

Mill & Jer

and great grandparents:

Grandma

Granny

Marion

I love that last picture. Chelsea’s Granny lives with her husband, Marion, in Arab, Alabama and there is an awesome serenity I feel each time we visit. They have a good bit of land and every time we go out, we walk around, take in the peaceful country, and enjoy just not really doing much of anything at all. We also usually take in some BBQ, sweet tea, and homemade cake. It gratifies all of my idyllic imaginations of what visiting grandparents in the Alabama country should be like, and that picture somehow captures all that emotion.

Anywayz, Alabama consisted  of lots of friends, family, food, and first times in a pool:

Jenna

Unfortunately we didn’t get a shot of my matching full body shark suit. We did, however, get a shot hanging with some old high school friends:

JIBC

To be clear, those are high school friends of Chelsea, not Elijah. Though he has been applying to all da Ivy Leagues. After such a quick hello, we had to say goodbye, but our time in Alabama was of the highest quality. We anticipate a 2014 Christmas trip to Alabama so keep those fingers in shape, because Elijah’s cheeks grow increasingly squeezable by the day.

Travel to Tulsa was hiccupless (boom word invention) and our pick up from the airport was particularly special because a certain set of grandparents had never met Elijah in person.

BFamily-4

As you may have noticed, that picture is not at the airport, but FYI it was taken by the wonderful Megan McLeod. Props also go to Megan for the awesome cover photo and About page pic from the same shoot. On to the many meetings in Tulsa!

So many friendz:

D and K

Anna

Amanda

Johnny P

and an uncle:

Bryan

Needless to say, Tulsa was amazing and we still miss all of you, like, a ton. Shameless plug: we do have a pullout couch in the one of the coolest cities in the world, so if you’re thinking vacation ever… Come soothe our homesick hearts.

So that was July. A climax indeed.

August:

With August came the unfortunate onset of reality, which meant job searching for us both. I had been working as a server at the same restaurant since we moved to the city, and through a fortuitous work friend/coincidental church-mate I was offered a position to be a manager at a bar in the Financial District. Truth be told, there is probably more money to be made being a server than a manager, but with a seven month-old we were looking more for security. Unfortunately, that security often meant me coming home at four in the morning and working the weekends. I don’t think I’ll remember this job really all that fondly, due to the hours and the demands, but I will always remember it as an awesome example of mundane grace. For all of the drudgery, the fact that I was managing a bar in NYC, with my prior experience, age, and all kinds of factors was pretty incredible. It was equally incredible that it paid exactly what we needed to survive, and that it was in the works even while we were on vacation. Thanks be to God.

September:

September is Chelsea’s birthday month. To celebrate the day, we ate some bangin’ crepes and enjoyed a nice day together. Other than that, September was spent adjusting to the new job and schedule, and most notably celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

Pirates

Our particular celebration consisted of dressing up with Chelsea’s homemade accouterments and going to Krispy Kreme to get free donuts. Another FYI: the only Krispy Kreme in NYC is located in Penn Station and the donuts are shipped in from New Jersey. It was still totally worth it. Two dozen free donuts. Our only regret is not making Elijah’s eyepatch edible.

October:

After three long months of waiting, Chelsea finally heard back from a few jobs. Longer-than-it-needs-to-be-story short, Chelsea accepted a job with CFR, the Center for Family Representation. If I get this a little bit wrong, I’m sure Chelsea will correct me in the next post, but CFR basically handles the majority of legal representation for child welfare cases in Manhattan and Queens (with respective sister branches in the other boroughs). In other words, if a parent has an accusation of abuse or neglect against them, CFR provides free legal and social work services, as well as a parent advocate for support. The goal is to keep families together and children out of foster care as much as is safe and possible. Just to reinforce, God’s grace is so evident in our lives. Not only is Chelsea really enjoying her work, but CFR just opened a Queens location A MILE FROM OUR APARTMENT. We live in what many consider to be the boondocks of NYC, so for Chelsea to find a job in walking distance was completely unexpected. We have been unbelievably taken care of, which leads quite well into November.

November:

What I am most thankful for, and what I neglected to mention above, is that Chelsea’s new job means I get to stay at home with Elijah. Full time y’all. Our days consist of napping, eating, and playing. They say the best parents lead by example, so I feel pretty confident that Elijah will develop quite well in all the above categories. To reward those who are actually reading this outrageously long post, and to break up the sea of text for those people who scroll through and just think to themselves, “No, here’s a picture:

Millers

These swell folk are my mom’s sisters and brothers and I have really enjoyed getting to know them better just this past year. We celebrated Thanksgiving with them in Maryland, and I legitimately think Elijah overate. But you don’t want a picture of that.

December:

Nothing happened in December.

Jk. Christmas happened, duh. With Christmas came a slew of visitors. Grammy and PawPaw came to visit first and enjoyed a snowy city:

Mike & Kel

Then came a bunch of firsties. Uncle Jacob came with the rents’ and enjoyed his first trip to NYC. We all had a splendid time. Next up were Grandma and Grandpa Butay, also with their first trip to the city. Elijah-boy graced them with some of his first steps. Finally, technically in January, La-La-Lauren Wells visited for a weekend (FOR DA FIRST TIME). And we partaaaay’d. The high of December was definitely having all of those people over. The low was taking some of those people to Times Square.

So here we are.

January.

2014.

On Sunday, Elijah will be one. Whaaaaaaat? Scroll down memory lane with me:

Birth

Now he’s turned into this crazy dude:

Toyz

To close out, here are some things we are looking forward to in 2014:

– #grashtin2014

Grashtin

– House of Cards

– Elijah becoming more Elijah.

– Chelsea’s next post.

That’s right she has one in the works AS WE SPEAK. Or… as you read.

We love you all very very much.

Grace and peace,

Elliot, Chelsea, & Elijah

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Happy Mother’s Day!

So Chelsea and I have recently taken up a new hobby.

Archaeology.

Inspired by our love of history, the release of Jurassic Park in 3D, and Buster Bluth, we have immersed ourselves in the art and study of the worlds past. You’d be surprised at all of the amazing resources New York City has for such budding fossil, pottery, and buried-city-enthusiasts as ourselves. I mention this because in our avid pursuit for all things ancient, we were out on a dig and we unearthed our last blog post.

While none of the above story is true, it is true that we apologize for not updating, like, ever.

However, now that I’ve wasted your time, Happy Mother’s Day! As I write this it still technically is Mother’s Day for all of our South/Central friends (i.e., the people who read this blog) and this saves me the painstaking process of coming up with a title for the blog. First things first though, Happy Mother’s Day to our wonderful and beautiful mothers.

Lenore:

Mom Butay

And Kelly:

Mom Farris

It’s safe to say that these women love Chelsea and me with the deepest love possible, and we would like to say that they do an amazing job of showing it. For the last 20 some odd years these fine ladies have shown love, support, and sacrifice to make sure we were healthy, happy, and having fun. We are forever in your debt Mom(s) and we love you! Thanks for being great.

Second things second, today was obviously a special first Mother’s Day for Chelsea, and I would say that it was pretty swell. Some pancakes and bacon in bed, church, homemade lunch, Arrested Development, walk and pictures in the park, family nap, Skyping parents, take out, Jenga, and looking at cute animal pictures about sums up the day. Chelsea is an amazing woman and an amazing momma. For those who don’t know, this past year Chelsea has been juggling an internship three days a week, two sixteen-hour semesters, and a brand new baby in a brand new city amongst other things. I can personally attest that she has done so, with perseverance, grace, and all the while lookin’ real pretty. This last month especially had many a sleepless night of intermittent paper writing and baby feeding. Of course, those nights were not in vain as our baby is healthy and we are overjoyed to say that she has finally made it! This past Thursday was her final day of class and barring another month of internship (to make up for maternity leave) and one summer class she will be Chelsea Butay, MSW. She has worked so hard and been a wonderful wife and mom all the while to her little family, and that little family is really proud of her! Speaking of her family, I’ll stop bragging on Chelsea and get to third things third.

This guy:

Park 6

Where did the last three months go? I have no idea. Though I could give you the stereotypical “It seems like just yesterday he was a newborn,” I rather more feel like we have gotten to enjoy Elijah growing these last three months and that is a blessing. It is a joy to see him learning new things and growing in so many ways. We have gotten to see him develop his own sense of style:

Beanie

Carseat

And also his saliva glands. Those have developed as well:

Park 5

And those awesome baby faces:

Dad

With Chelsea in school, I stay home with Elijah four days a week. For the past three months, those days have pretty much run the gamut of emotions from incredibly happy to want-to-throw-things-frustrated. But we are both learning a lot of new things right now, so I cut myself some slack for the frustrated days and try to embrace the joyful times. I feel a little overwhelmed to try and describe all the time we haven’t blogged about, so I won’t. I’ll just say that everyday I grow to love Elijah more and learn something new about him. And how can you not love this guy?

Park 4

Again, instead of trying to catch you up in detail, I will just say that the last three months have been wild and crazy and busy and fun and frustrating and a whole lot of things. Currently, we are basking in the relief that Chelsea no longer has papers and assignments hanging over her head, and trying to get caught up on everything that we have neglected in the busyness of this year.

Looking forward, we are very excited to go back to Alabama and Oklahoma in July! This means Elijah will be meeting some family and friends and grandparents for the first time. On a more personal note for me, it means muchacos, gut grinders, and sprinkled cake donuts (i.e., Taco Bueno, Kilkenny’s, and Daylight Donuts). Amen and amen. Other things we are looking forward to are Chelsea eventually applying for jobs, the summer in New York, and me possibly having some cool musical opportunities on the horizon.

I’m beginning to feel a direct correlation between the lateness of the hour and my moving further away from coherence. I think this may be a good time to wrap it up. I do apologize if I am confusing or general. Perhaps, one of us will blog again soon (HA!) with better details about how life is treating us here. You should know for now that we are well and happy and healthy and having a great time. I realize that, as I finish writing this, it is no longer Mother’s Day. But to all of our West Coast friends (i.e., no one who reads this blog) Happy Mother’s Day and a belated one to everyone else! I will leave you with some more pictures from our little personal Mother’s Day photo shoot in the park. Enjoy!

Park 1

Park 3

Park 10

Park 9

Park 2

Park 8

Park 11

Park 12

Grace and peace,

Elliot, Chelsea, & Elijah

He’s Here!

In case we haven’t reached you with the good news, Elijah Dean Butay was born exactly one week ago today, and he’s an eight pound, three ounce, twenty inch long ball of happiness.

DSC00975

DSC00957

DSC00964

Seriously – I don’t know if he’s quite as happy about being out in the cold, air-filled world as we are for him to be here, but it’s crazy how quickly I can’t imagine life without him anymore. It’s incredible that we get to see all the life bundled up in this little guy whose eyes and hands and cutie little mouth we can finally see. We’re definitely still in the beginning of the whole adjustment period, but I figure that adjustment period doesn’t really have an end, anyway, so I think we’re doing pretty well so far.

As for me, the whole thing is totally surreal. I went on maternity leave last Wednesday, went into labor last Thursday, and came home with a baby on Sunday. I’ll spare everyone the details of the whole labor and delivery process (unless you really, really want them), but I will say that our midwife was the best person in the world for our labor. She was with us the whole time & was so comforting/supportive/calm/helpful with everything.

Since we left the hospital, I’ve been lucky enough to get to sit around the apartment doing a whole lot of nothing with these guys:

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photo 2

Check out that proud dad, teaching baby guitar already. It’s just too much. And of course, by a whole lot of nothing, I mean lots and lots of diaper changing, endless feeding, and a good bit of laundry thrown in there. But otherwise, there’s been sitting, sleeping, Skyping, watching Netflix, eating good food (Elliot made these cookies last night, and they’re. so. good.), and lots of getting to know Elijah.

photo 3(1)

photo 2(1)

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Of the ten million things I’m learning from all this, one of the first I noticed is that a lot of the preparations I was so, so anxious to complete before Elijah got here just really aren’t that important. I do hope to have his nursery art hung up sometime soon, and I’d like us to finish a couple of organizational things around the apartment, but in the grand scheme of it all, enjoying and being present together as a family this last week has been so much more important than worrying about whether we have a lampshade on our living room lamp (we don’t). I hope I can keep that perspective in the months and years to come, especially since I’m already freaking out about when Elijah won’t fit in a little ball on my chest anymore. I don’t know if I can handle it.

On another note, Elijah gets his first out of town visitors tomorrow. My mom and stepdad, Mike are coming up for a bit to visit, and we’re pretty excited to get to introduce him to half of his grandparents. We also can’t wait until he gets to meet everybody else; hopefully, it won’t be too long, because he’s just way too cool to keep everybody waiting.

Sorry if this post is a little disjointed, guys. I’m sure you can imagine how much my mind might be racing right now, but it’s safe to say that this has been the happiest, most love-filled week of my life so far. Thanks to everybody who’s offered congratulations and advice and gifts to get us started with all of this. We’re so, so grateful. And since I have a feeling pictures were the main draw to this posts for lots of people, I’ll tack on a few more for good measure.

photo 3

photo 4

photo 4(1)

We love you guys!
Elliot, Chelsea, & Elijah

Does this thing still work?

Oh. It does work. It must be us then.

Nah, we work too. We just don’t blog enough. Maybe our next blog won’t start with some sort of apology as to why we haven’t updated in AGES. But y’all will just have to wait and see huh? I feel in a strange mood, so I apologize in advance for any incoherence or silliness. Though I imagine by now the silliness is to be expected.

As I sit here in bed in the darkness as Chelsea sleeps, I feel like it must be the middle of the night and lo, it is not even 11pm yet. Thankfully due to our jobs and schedules we haven’t yet become “old people.” Though we do oft go to bed earlier these days. I’m not entirely sure why I used the term “old people” because I am often annoyed at people who claim to be becoming an “old person” when they talk about going to bed at a completely reasonable time; as if to make all the people who stay up until ungodly hours of the night the “normal” ones. It’s not normal to sleep 3 hours a night. And to all those who claim that they run “just fine” on 3 hours a night, I’m pretty sure science still says you’re going to die younger. Or be unhappy at any rate. But enough of this nonsense! You don’t read this blog to hear my middle-of-the-night ravings. But why do you read it? Who am I kidding, you just want pictures.

This is what Chelsea looks like exactly one week before her due date:

Chelsea

This is what I look like exactly one week before Chelsea’s due date:

Elliot

It really does grow. It really does grow.

But in all seriousness it has been a wild couple of months! We are very thankful baby decided to wait at least 39 weeks before wanting out. What with best friend’s weddings and holidays and one week crash course electives to take. I can’t believe the last time we updated was Halloween. Since that time we enjoyed an awesome Friendsgiving with these wonderful people:

Friendsgiving

The couple on the far right are our new friends Dustin and Jenn Talley. We met Dustin and Jenn at our small group and the very first night they graciously invited us over for Halloween. Since then, they have become our magical New York holiday buddies. They had us for Thanksgiving and then we ended up watching this guy over Christmas:

Parker

This is Parker Talley. So for practically every major holiday of 2012 we found ourselves at the Talley house. Which was quite alright with us. But fer realz, Dustin and Jenn are great hosts and even more so great people and awesome friends. As are all of our awesome small group friends from Forefront who threw us a baby shower just last week! Hopefully we will have pictures soon to come, but suffice to say there was a taco bar and cake. Oh and they gave us stuff for the baby too. We are overwhelmed with thankfulness for the amazing love and support of these new friends. We would be sad and lonely new New Yorkers without them.

For the sake of posting cool pictures I decided not to tackle this update chronologically, so rewind to before Christmas. We spent the weekend of December 15 celebrating with some of our best friends in the world, Josh and Megan Weed. Only before the 15th they were Josh Weed and Megan McKitrick. See how that works? Cause’ they got mahweed. See how that works? I put their name in the jok- so anyways, we traveled to Houston and got to spend some much needed time with friends and family. This was our first time to see all our friends from Tulsa since we moved up here, and it was really a breath of fresh air. We are by no means miserable up here, but by golly I do miss my friends a lot. Here’s the happy couple:

Weed Wedding

Indeed that is a live band you see behind them. It was an awesome wedding and we couldn’t be happier for them. Someday you can ask one of us and hear about the wonderful love circle that was Josh introducing me to Chelsea, who introduced him to Megan, and therefore created eternal happiness for us all.

After the wedding, we figured since the 8 months pregnant lady was already out and about we might as well jump on a few more planes, and we headed to Birmingham for a few days. There we got some more good family time and another shower was thrown for us, where this happened:

Monkey Hats

It’s true. We have matching family monkey hats. I’m tempted to say that this rivals a taco bar, but I won’t make any rash decisions. Needless to say, they are awesome, and once again we are amazed by our family and friends. It is a crazy blessing to rack up a hefty bill at Buy Buy Baby and then chop it to pieces with gift cards. It’s the same as the amazement I feel when I look in our kitchen and realize that other people bought us nearly everything we use day in and day out. At the risk of sounding trite, I’ll repeat once more that we are incredibly blessed and we surely would not be where we are if not for our friends and family, old and new.

That about sums up our December. January so far has looked like a fun New Years, lots of cleaning/buying/preparing for baby, and as I mentioned earlier, Chelsea finished up two electives last week and today is the last day of her internship before her maternity leave. Chelsea has been having the mixed feelings of how it feels to carry a full term baby everyday up and down stairs and in and out of subways, and the wanting to finish her classes and be ready at home for baby. Having made it through those things we can almost say that we are ready for baby to actually come! For sure Chelsea has been a trooper. I won’t even begin to delve into my thoughts on the fact that a little human is about to invade our lives forever. It’s a little bit and a lot bit of every emotion. Probably except anger… Or jealousy… Or sorrow… You know what I mean.

One of the things I realize about not updating frequently enough is how many stories I wish I could tell and all the details I want to convey but that would make posts insanely long. That said, we will try to be better about updating in the future! Hopefully since Chelsea is off soon she can give y’all an update as well (guilt guilt guilt). Some things to look forward to:

– Nursery and updated apartment pictures!

– Potentially interesting updates about my creative and musical life/job!

– Baby pictures?!

And so much more. For now I can leave you with our baby name choices! If it’s a boy we are thinking of going with Elliot Chelsea Butay and if it’s a girl we are thinking Chelsea Elliot Butay.

Or maybe I’ll leave baby names for the next post too…

Grace and peace,

Elliot & Chelsea

Happy Halloween!

Well it has been far too long since we posted and I was sitting at home on this Halloween looking at people’s costumes on Facebook and I just thought, “There must be a reason to put on my bee costume.” So this blog serves both as a short update and a reason to once again festively don my bee costume. For those of you who don’t know, the bee costume has a long lineage of being passed on through members of Fusion, my high school youth group and family. By “long lineage” I mean my youth pastor, Daniel McIntosh, wore it one Halloween and then humbly offered it up at a Fusion Christmas Dirty Santa Party.

This is Dmac before he served us communion at our wedding:

So the passing on of the bee costume is mostly someone picking it as a white elephant gift, then my good man Grant stealing it, and finally me stealing it, effectively “locking” it as a gift. If you’ve ever played a dirty santa game then you know what’s up. But that story is neither here nor there… What is almost here is our baby!

24 weeks strong in this ultrasound. We are getting all kinds of ready. Slowly… but surely. The first order of business was assembling this little piece of furniture.

Isn’t it a marvelous work of carpentry? I would say. Truly magnificent.

But in all seriousness Josh Weed, Grant Robison and I built this crib with our bare hands. Like real men. Since I said this would be a short post I will only say that building that crib with those fellas is one of the best memories of my life. Those guys are true studs.

This is the three of us at my 18th birthday:

After we put a nice layer of non-toxic sealer on the crib, it will be finished and we will move on to decorating the room. Speaking of decorating, Chelsea and I carved these pumpkins at a party last week.

Mine is the normal Jack O’Lantern face. The magical work of art that is the second pumpkin is Chelsea’s award winning cat. We have been blessed to meet some friends at our new church home, Forefront. We’ve been attending Forefront on Sunday for almost two months now, and last Monday we finally got connected with a small group, wherein we were invited to carve pumpkins. We already feel welcomed into Forefront’s family and we are excited to grow with them in the Kingdom. As our small group is a married couples group, I have to say it is a bit strange for me to totally associate with married people. I am so used to thinking, “There are those married people over there,” but not so used to actually being one. It’s a craazy. But that’s neither here nor there…

What is here (or was here) is hurricane Sandy. I believe technically by the time Sandy hit us it was actually categorized as a superstorm, but that’s neither here nor- just kidding. I won’t do that again. In all seriousness, thanks be to God that we were kept safe during the storm. Briarwood was relatively untouched save for a gutter outside our window and a fallen tree in the road. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! We have gotten lots of concerned texts this week and we feel loved. In the meantime, we have been enjoying some unexpected days off. The restaurant I work at is without power, school is cancelled for Chelsea, and one of our trains into the city will reopen tomorrow. There are countless people still without power or a home right now and prayers and support are definitely needed.

Well. Those are the things that are here and there. You may ask yourself, “What about the bee costume?” You didn’t think I would just throw the goods out there in the beginning did you? No! If you want the good stuff you have to read the whole post! Or at least scroll down some…

Happy Halloween!

Elliot & Chelsea

Mr. Bojangles

I have had a lot of dreams come true this year.

This happened:

(Shout out to my brotha’ Haden)

This happened:

This happened:

Or it’s gonna happen… I guess it’s happening.

Indeed it has been a big year for us. I turned 21. We got married. We moved to New York. We’re going to be parents. It’s all happening at once. Tonight the next of my dreams comes true.

This will happen:

Photo Credit: Roberto Zava

What exactly is that? Why it’s Einstein on the Beach. And Chelsea and I will be at the Brooklyn Academy of Music tonight to witness it.

Einstein on the Beach is an opera by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. It was an avant garde production originally performed in 1976 and it has been revived three times, this year partially in conjunction with Philip Glass’ 75th birthday. Wilson and Glass are artists known for breaking and recreating the rules and Einstein is broadly considered the most significant work of their careers. So to say that it is a non-traditional opera is an understatement. Instead of using a plot, the opera uses the set, music, and dancers to stage pictures of Albert Einstein’s life and work. You can read a great article with a bit of history on the play and the creators here.

I do not claim to understand the opera. I probably will not grasp most of the concepts or artistic innovations during the four-and-a-half hours with no intermission. But I will enjoy it. Why you may ask? Well I have to tell the whole story!

When I was in high school at the pinnacle of my listening-to-Christian-rock career, I discovered Edison Glass. Their guitar work struck me first and influenced me as a wee budding musician. I actually learned that a few members were ORU alumni, but more importantly that they took their name from Thomas Edison and Philip Glass, thus my introduction to Philip Glass. I used to work as a clerk for a newspaper which essentially entailed sitting for eight hours and surfing the internet. Inspired by Edison Glass’ inspiration, I spent lots of those long hours at the newspaper discovering Philip Glass.

Until college I didn’t really have formal music training. I learned more than most in your average guitar lessons, but it wasn’t until I got into my classes that I really began to grasp theory and music history. That is to say that when I heard Beethoven or Bach I wasn’t really interested. I only knew that they were great composers and I was suposed to appreciate them. Classical music didn’t really have any true aesthetic value to me. So when I was discovering Philip Glass all I knew about him was that he was a classical composer who influenced one of my favorite bands. When I thought of a classical composer I thought of (what I knew of) Bach, Mozart, or Beethoven.

Then I listened to Philip Glass. I believe the first piece by him that I ever listened to was “Trail 1, Mr. Bojangles,” a scene from Einstein. It was weird. Some percussion and a violin repeating the same pattern over and over again, while a male chorus repeated the same pattern over and over again, while a woman recited a seemingly random monologue about guns and trees and baggy pants. I had no idea what was going. But I thought it was cool. Just like Beethoven, I knew that this was a respected composer and I was to appreciate his work, what I didn’t understand I just passed off as being over my head. But there was something about “Mr. Bojangles” that was different from any other classical music I had heard. It was just interesting to me. I felt something attractive about the music even if it was the same pattern for 16 minutes.

Then I listened to the second movement of his Violin Concerto. It’s a slow movement and is very dramatic. The solo violin plays a wrenching and longing melody over a bed of oscillating strings. As the violin introduces new material the ensemble imitates the previous solos and it just builds and builds until your heart melts. And that is precisely what happened to my heart when I first heard it. I feel sappy talking about how much I love this piece but to that point I had never had an instrumental or classical piece of music make me feel that way. Most of all this was the first time I remember thinking, “This is classical music I like.” It wasn’t that I was supposed to respect his work or I had been told he was great composer or that someone had recommended him to me (even though all those things were true). The reason I love this piece is simply that when I heard it for the first time I felt it. I really can’t describe it. I just remember being moved by that piece and thinking, “If there is classical music like this in the world, I want to listen to it.”

I can’t fully articulate everything I believe an artist should be or do, but I believe that creating experiences like the kind I had with that violin concerto is essential. Philip Glass was one of the pioneering composers of the minimalist movement, which basically means that the great majority of his music is based on small ideas that are repeated a buncha’ buncha’ times with little changes every so often. It’s very minimalistic. Some consider Glass’ music to be nausea inducing, and it can get wearisome, but Glass has said that if you want to listen to something else then he gives you his permission and he won’t be offended.

As for me, I will always have a deep connection to Philip Glass’ music. I have intellectually analyzed his music and it is not the most brilliant or groundbreaking music ever written. But nothing will be as important to me as the transcendence that surpasses my intellect and hits my heart. I believe this is the stuff of which the world is made. Connection. Something Philip Glass created resounded in my being in a way that I couldn’t understand but could only experience.

Life was meant to be experienced. People were meant to be experienced. Art was meant to be experienced. This is the Incarnation. God didn’t only tell us how to live or show us outwardly. He became us. Something entirely other from us shared with us in our experience and now we share in his experience everyday. He connected with us in every possible way. He just happens to be the source of all life and good in the universe. If you don’t believe that then you’ll have to wait for me to post about mewithoutYou.

I should explain that I am not advocating for neglecting our intellect, in fact I think our intellect should be a part of the experience, a tool that leads us to the experience. But it wasn’t knowledge that knocked Saul off his horse and it wasn’t theology alone that made Thomas Aquinas call his entire life’s work straw. Our intellect leads us to the experience and afterward it informs us. I now enjoy Philip Glass’ music more because I spent four years of college learning how to analyze music. I don’t think learning more can ever hurt anyone until it becomes the end rather than the means to the end.

That end, I believe, is knowing and experiencing God and his life as it is incarnate in all of creation. I believe that that life is everywhere and in everything. This life is what motivates people to do real things. It’s why people write symphonies and why people cry after those symphonies. It’s why people get married and have families. It’s why people sacrifice their entire life to fight for justice. And it’s why I’ll sit for almost five hours tonight and watch a group of dancers and musicians tell a story. It’s life and it’s happening.

Needless to say Philip Glass has had a huge impact on me. Tonight one of my dreams comes true as I get to experience one of his greatest and most influential works live and in person. Speaking of dreams coming true, I forgot to mention that earlier this week another one did so. It came in the form of homemade lasagna, made with homemade sauce and homemade pasta.

As Christians we believe that Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God here on Earth, yet it is still not completely here until his second coming. So we live in the here, but not yet. That lasagna was part of the here.

I love my wife.

Grace and peace,

Elliot & Chelsea

Sweet Home Briarwood

Elliot & I may be some of the world’s worst bloggers, since we’ve gone a month since our first update. Sorry about that. But we have lots of exciting news in exchange for the wait, so hopefully that makes up for it. First, after 1.5 months of staying in condos/hotels/friends’ living room floors, Elliot & I have officially been in our own apartment for a little over three weeks. I can’t even believe it’s been that long already! As everybody who’s ever moved probably knows, it’s easy to get caught up in all the details of what still needs to be done, so all the unpacking/settling in has made the time fly by pretty quickly, hence the failure to post. But that’s all behind us now, because here we are, postin’ it up from Briarwood, Queens. Briarwood is a tiny neighborhood that’s best-known as the former site of United Nations housing, as well as home of the Catholic high school responsible for educating New York’s current governor AND David Caruso from CSI: Miami(!!). Maybe one day we’ll run into him when he comes back to visit his alma mater. We can only hope.

Anyway, we’re doing a pretty good job making ourselves at home in between Elliot’s work schedule and my…not-having-anything-to-do-but-unpack-and-clean-for-three-weeks. We have no couch or dresser at the moment and we’re short at least one bookshelf, but our kitchen is totally well-stocked, our dining room chairs have been painted, and we were so, so blessed by all our family and friends when we got married that we’ve been able to get pretty much everything we’ve needed with gift cards. Seriously, without all the support of the people in our lives, we would be eating ramen and sleeping on the floor. We are really grateful.

And, of course, we don’t only spend our time unpacking or at Target. We make time to watch episodes of Lost on Netflix and cook very tasty dinners together a few nights a week, along with visiting churches, so we’re definitely taking time to enjoy each other’s company and develop some sort of routine together, which is good, since I start school on Thursday. It’s been a luxury to have so much time together, for sure (a two month honeymoon, some might say), but it’ll definitely be nice to have some new stuff added to the mix.

With all that said, we thought we’d give everybody a look at our new home, since some of you will hopefully come up for a visit or two it in the next year, eh?? To preface, our building, neighborhood, and apartment are not without quirks. An upstairs neighbor who regularly throws Indian food out the window and onto the space outside our apartment/our window sill? Yes, we have one of those. And neither one of us has ever lived somewhere with radiator heat, so we’re pretty curious to see what that’s like this winter, but it’s fun figuring all this stuff out with each other. Yay for adventure!

Anyway. On with the tour. Please excuse the maybe excessive detail. Since we can’t have all of you over to show you around and make dinner for you, this is what we do instead. Here’s the outside of our building:

Our street is really residential, which we like, because it keeps things pretty quiet. Our neighbors also seem to do an awesome job keeping their gardens well-planted, so we get to admire lots of nice yards on the walk to our plant-less apartment.

Here’s our front door, complete with the welcome mat given to us by some friendly, anonymous person in the building:

We’ve only met a few of our neighbors, but so far they seem like pretty nice people.

Here’s our little foyer area.

Notice Guard Duck, who made it safely all the way from Elliot’s room in Tulsa. Elliot really loves that ceramic duck. In fact, when he reminded me to mention Guard Duck right here, he actually said, “Let’s all just hug Guard Duck,” and picked him up to take a picture together. Good friends.

This is the dining…area? Hallway? Something.

Whatever it is, we’re so happy to have this little space in our apartment. Most places we’ve seen in the city have eat-in kitchens or combined dining/living rooms, so even though it’s a small area, we’re happy to be able to separate it a little bit from the other parts of the apartment. Of course, these chairs are not permanent. They’re stand-ins while I finish painting/covering the seats on the chairs that came with the table, and they’ve also taken the place of a couch for the time being (thanks for the chairs, Aunt Terri!!). We also have plans to refinish the table, but we’re trying to pace ourselves and not have too much unfinished furniture at a time.

The first room to be finished once we moved in was the kitchen:

We were very ready to be able to cook our own meals and buy groceries, so having a livable kitchen with everything we needed took precedence over everything else in the apartment (except a shower curtain). It’s small, but it has enough space for us, with the help of the big cabinet we found on Craigslist for $30. Heyo! It was a huge hassle to pick up and bring back to the apartment (I begged to just leave it on the sidewalk in Brooklyn) but it’s been so worth it to have all the extra space. Also, check out the Crock-Pot on the counter. BBQ pork sandwiches for dinner. Happy Labor Day!
Here’s our spacious but mostly empty living room:

The dining room chairs have made this their temporary home, along with our board game cabinet, this nice yellow chair we found, and a couple of boxes of decorative things and blankets that are begging for a couch to be draped over.

Here’s Elliot’s work area:

One day, we’ll have some shelves to put those speakers on instead of boxes. But they’ll work for now.

Next is our very short hallway:

Then on the left, we have the bathroom:

I have to say, I really love having a medicine cabinet. It’s maybe one of my favorite things; all the apartments here have them. I guess if your bathroom is big enough to put things in drawers, you don’t need one, but we have no bathroom drawers, so I personally think it is very cool.

On the right in the hallway is our bedroom:

I hope it isn’t the most depressing room you’ve ever seen. We’re just glad to have a bed that’s not on the floor. It’s also still too hot to sleep with a comforter or quilt when you don’t have air conditioning, so the bed looks a little sad at the moment. Still. It’ll come together sometime. Maybe next year we’ll invest in A/C so at least the bed can stay stylish year-round.

And at the end of the hallway is our nursery:

Hey! Yeah, that’s the even more exciting news we have for you (although it’s old news for some). Come January, that awesome handmade (but unassembled) crib in the corner will be home to a lil’ baby Butay!

We’re 20 weeks along as of yesterday, so we’re halfway to meeting this little guy or girl, and we’re way beyond excited! I’ve been able to feel it moving around a lot these days, and I’ve (finally!) started to get a little bit of a belly, so someday soon I’ll be able to give people glances on the subway when they announce that people should give their seats to elderly, disabled, and pregnant people, and maybe I won’t have to stand so much. Obviously, that’s not what I’m most excited about, but I’d say it’ll definitely be a perk.

So those are the main things going on for us right now. Having an apartment, starting school, working, and getting ready for a little pumpkin to join our family very soon. It might seem a little silly to some for us to share so many of these details on a blog, but we sort of figure that, in addition to keeping people up-to-date, it’s also a great way for us to keep track of everything that’s going on right now in our lives. Having so many things going on at once can sometimes keep us from being really focused and present in any of those things, so this is our attempt to keep track of what’s going on, what we’re learning, and what it’s all like, so we don’t get too distracted by everything to be grateful. It’ll be so fun to look back in a couple of years & remember what the very beginning was like for us, so hopefully we can keep this up a little more consistently now.

On that note, since everyone has the big details now, we hope nobody’s too disappointed if the blog starts to fill up a little more with the smaller things that go on in our lives or thoughts. We’re looking forward to all the work and learning this is bringing our way, so we’re happy to have everybody in our lives to share it with. Woowoo! Had to add that after all the seriousness.

We love you guys!
Elliot & Chelsea

We Made It!

The blog that is. Well we made it to New York too, but first things first!

For those who do not know, Chelsea and I got married on June 30th! I would go into some sort of detail about the day but my friend Rachel Coward has done a better (and more stylish) job on her blog than I feel I could do right now. (Read it here.) Many thanks to Rachel Coward and Parker Miles Blohm for shooting our wedding. They did a marvelous job and far exceeded our expectations (as you should click above and see for yourself). But what happened after the wedding? Well what happens after any wedding?

We went on a honeymoon of course.

We stayed in this little condo in Savannah, Georgia for the week after the wedding. Savannah is a beautiful little town (note the Spanish moss everywhere) with tons of historic spots, and places to eat, and a nice River Street, and lots of restaurants, and a beach and good spots for food. Oh yeah, there are a lot of places to eat too.

So we ate…

And drank…

We made some pretty tasty stuff too. But of course eating isn’t all we did.

To the beach!

and the pool!

Aside from some town squares and parks, this was probably the most historic spot we stopped at. Unless you consider Paula Deen’s The Lady and Sons Restaurant historic. But I would not. I’ve had better fried chicken, Paula. I’ve had better.

So if you’re bored to tears by our honeymoon now, I’ll move on. After the ‘moon, we were back in Tulsa for a few nights. We had this awesome reception where we nom’d some hot dogs and burgers with all of our Tulsa friends.

Of course the one evening we plan a reception with outdoor games in a garden is the one evening it rains in Tulsa, after a month of drought. But it was good. It was intimate. And there was some mad Jenga played that night.

When we had said our farewells to our wonderful family in Tulsa, we headed back to Alabama to pack up our stuff. At about 5am on July 18th we set out for West River, Maryland, our break point for our long trip and the convenient residence of my wonderful Uncle Dobbie and Aunt Dawn.

Dobbie and Dawn hosted us in their amazing home right off the bay and treated us to some real Maryland crab cakes. We also got to connect with some other family I have in Maryland that I haven’t seen in a while, which made me very happy. Then finally we were off to New York. From June 30th to July 20th we drove roughly 3,000 miles – about 50 hours in the car. By the end of it we were very good at solving board game mysteries and my body was composed of 60% Mt. Dew instead of water (bucket list check). We crashed in Astoria for the first weekend with Chelsea’s friends from Alabama, Eric and Jamie Young.

I didn’t know Eric and Jamie before but now I consider them good friends. They are truly great people not to mention awesome hosts and a great help in our slightly grueling apartment search. We had a fun week with a Norwegian couch-surfing host in the heart of Manhattan. This was the view from his 22nd story apartment right outside Madison Square Garden.

For now we’re back with Eric and Jamie. The amount of love, support, and hospitality we have received in the last month has been God’s grace incarnate to us. Our friends and family are unbelievable and we have been incredibly blessed. Many many thanks to all of you.

Well, hopefully this catches you up on our last month. It has been wild since we’ve been married for a month but still live out of suitcases. The apartment search goes on! Chelsea will post soon all about that fiasco (with fun pictures no doubt) and more about life in New York. But speaking of posts! This one is finished. The blog has been made. The first post written. Bucket list check.

Grace and peace,

Elliot and Chelsea