Friday, March 31, 2006

You Gotta Have Faith

About five years ago, David and I drove to Memphis to see Faith Hill and Tim McGraw in their first "Soul2Soul" Tour. While I typically have fairly decent perspective in regard to celebrities, I have no perspective at all when it comes to these two.

I love them. I Love Them. I LOVE THEM.

So we drove to Memphis and went to the concert with Stacy and Janie. And OH MY WORD WAS IT FUN. The show was awesome, we had great seats (thanks, Sister), and we determined that two such beautiful people should not be able to marry because the sight of Tim and Faith together is really more than the human eye can comprehend at one time. It's an overload of beauty. Well, it's actually an overload of hotness, but good Christian girls shouldn't say that about strangers, so I'll steal Sister's expression: "They are all that. And then some."

You can imagine my reaction when I got the following email from my husband yesterday (and I would like to point out that we were both in the house, except he was down in his office, and I was in the kitchen, so the fact that he emailed me this information struck me as very, very funny): "Tim and Faith have updated their listings. They will be in Birmingham at the BJCC Friday, May 26. Might you be interested in going?"

I do not even have to answer such a silly question. I could say "yes" in every language, and it wouldn't be enough.

But just for the record: Yes. Si. Oui. Uh-huh. (I don't know any languages besides those.)

It's important to note that our ninth anniversary is May 31, mere days after Faith and Tim come through town.

Do y'all think they'd want to go to dinner with us? Or maybe come over? Or maybe arrange a play date between Alex and their youngest daughter, Audrey? I'm sure they would be fast friends.

I have put David in charge of all arrangements because 1) I'm far too excited to actually plan anything and 2) this is an excellent opportunity for him to hit an anniversary homerun. Which we usually don't even try to do - we're actually really laid-back about that kind of stuff - but FAITH AND TIM? Only five days before our anniversary? Come on.

I believe it is God's will that they become our COUPLE BFF, which in no way interferes with Wynonna's designation as my GIRL BFF, because everybody knows you have your couple friends, and you have your girlfriends, and there's no conflict of interest at all.

And no, I'm not crazy. Not at all. I'm just, um, enthusiastic. Nothing wrong with that.

Now since I have confessed my pretend celebrity BFF, who are y'all's? Don't even try to act like you haven't thought about it. You KNOW you've watched a movie or a talk show and decided that you and so-and-so would hit it off.

I will be EAGERLY awaiting your comments.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Mariah Carey Song Is Not An Option

Last night when I was watching the American Idol results show (bye bye, Lisa), I noticed that once again the judges pointed out the importance of song choice. Randy's comment that the contestants need "to pick better songs" led to some deep introspection on my part that I feel on some level is entirely inappropriate for a 36 year old wife and mother. But I couldn't help myself.

Here was (is) my dilemma:

If I were a contestant on American Idol next week, what would I sing? Keep in mind that the fact that I cannot sing is by no means a hindrance here in my personal la-la land.

And somehow this question has become all-too-real to me, like at some minute the AI producers are going to walk in my house and say, "Okay - time's up. Tell us RIGHT NOW." I feel an odd sense of urgency about my decision, because I'm, you know, INSANE.

Next week's competition has a country theme, but my talent cannot be limited by genre. I just can't work with that kind of process, people. Don't try to put a fence around my level of singing talent. Because the dogs, when they hear me, they will have to run free.

So here are my top three options:
"Independence Day" - Martina McBride - my country selection
"Bring It All Together" - Natalie Grant and my BFF Wynonna - my contemporary Christian selection
"Hard To Handle" - the Black Crowes version - this is my "break out" song to show the judges how versatile I am

Yours? And don't be shy. I know y'all. I have seen many of you sing into a hairbrush. So 'fess up.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where I Abandon All Talk Of Cleaning

So. Let's talk about BLOGS! I tell you what - I know how to reel in an audience, don't I?

Seriously, I've been giving this whole blog thing some thought, so bear with me.

As most of y'all know, I haven't been writing this blog for very long, though I have been reading blogs for several years. I really didn't know what was out there besides the 10 or 15 "big" bloggers who no doubt get thousands upon thousands of hits each day on their sites. And good for them, you know? They have an audience, they speak their minds, and several of them are oh-my-word-I'm-going-to-wet-my-pants funny.

A couple of months ago, though, I took a mental step back and really started to think about the blogs I was reading. I realized that the content of some of them was bothering me. Now I am certainly not Miss Prissy Prude, but there's some stuff out there that made me uncomfortable...what Mama would call "vulgar" language, some incredibly personal details, and, on a couple of blogs, a little Jesus-bashing to boot. Please don't misunderstand me. Those people are completely entitled to their opinions. But it doesn't enrich my life to read that stuff. It just makes me frustrated and sad.

So I had an epiphany. Well, several. 1) If I was feeling isolated out here on the vast interweb prairieland, then I needed to seek out some like-minded people. 2) There's some stuff that I was reading that I just didn't want to read anymore. And finally, 3) I wish that I were a mere tenth as funny as Finslippy. I'd even settle for a twentieth.

Long story long - right about the time I was "evaluating" my reading habits, Sister mentioned a blog called HolyMama!. Sister found it by - oh, I don't know how she found it, as she spends much of her internet time unraveling complex unsolved mysteries and pursuing justice in the Jon Benet Ramsey case. And I don't think HolyMama! is connected to any of those things, just for the record. But I do think that Sister was looking for Christian bloggers, and HM was a great place to land. I envy HM's ability to write short posts that generate lots of comments...I, on the other hand, seem to ramble on and on to the point that there's nothing left for anyone to say. I believe myself to be quite gifted in that area.

Anyway, I didn't visit HolyMama! (very important to include the exclamation point) much at first, because it takes me a while to work a blog into my daily routine (y'all know I'm OCD - don't look so surprised). But eventually I clicked over more and more because there seemed to be a community there. And it's not that I'm looking for people to replace my lifelong "real life" friends because why would I? They're the best. But it is nice to read other people's stuff and be able to ask questions and see what little buttons people have on their sites and try to figure out how to put buttons on yours. You know, geekery. (And now I'm singing "Geekery In Jesus" to the tune of "Victory In Jesus" in my head, which is proof positive that God made me, um, crazy.)

HolyMama! (again, punctuation is critical) eventually led me to Lauren's blog, which is where I found out about the Bible study I've just started with some other Christian bloggers (oh, the wacky Christian bloggers). And also thanks to Lauren, I have a new blogroll over in the sidebar that links to the sites of all the other people in the Bible study. Y'all know that I don't believe in coincidences, and I've shaken my head a couple of times when I've thought about the fact that I'm doing a BIBLE STUDY - on the INTERWEB - with STRANGER-FRIENDS. God is creative, no doubt about it.

All of the girls listed (sorry - I know I'm 36 years old, but I cannot bear to say "ladies" - ladies, at least to me, are 80-ish and use canes) will be posting about our study every Saturday for the next ten weeks. I really encourage you to check out what they have to say. I for one can't wait to read all their bloggity Bible study goodness.

It's gonna be good.

The Bible Still Has Promises, Even If They're Not Showing Up Here

Apparently the folks at are having some technical difficulties, because for the last two days my verse in the sidebar hasn't been showing up. I clicked over to a couple of sites who also have a sidebar verse, and theirs is gone, too. Sigh.

Hopefully the server/mainframe/whatchamajigit will be up and running soon. In the meantime, get your Bible, close your eyes, open the Bible, and point.

Voila. Verse of the day. :-)

I've Never Liked The Beatles OR Juggling

But this is pretty impressive.

And to give credit where credit is due, I first saw this video via Woulda Shoulda, but I couldn't get the Google version to work on the blog, so I found it on You Tube.

I'm sure you were wondering.

And by the way, this performance is so the kind of thing that Emma Kate would go see, and she would talk about it for days, and probably cry a little when she talked about it, completely overwhelmed by the talent of Chris Bliss, Master Juggler.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Finals, Week Three

Only an hour-long show, so the songs will be mighty short, and that's no fun. The non-theme (songs from the 21st century) hopefully means that folks (Mandisa, Katharine, Taylor) can showcase what they do best.

Lisa Tucker - "Because of You" - I really like Kelly Clarkson's version of this song, but Lisa's version didn't blow me away. Is it me, or was she really flat? She seemed to concentrate so hard on E-MOT-ING that the singing part suffered. I almost felt a little sorry for her because Simon was so rough on her, but he was on the money, truth be told.
Kellie Dawn Pickler - "Suds In The Bucket" - She seemed hesitant to me, not to mention the fact that she sang through her nose the whole time (which was pretty accurate now that I think about it, because Sara Evans does the same thing in her version, which is really another post for another day). But it was bad. Really. Bad.
Ace Young - "Drops Of Jupiter" - One of my favorite songs, but speaking of singing through your nose...was he out of his range or what? And y'all - WHAT is going on with Ace's hair? It looks like he's slicking it down on the top and then poufing it out on the sides. Weird. And WHY WAS HE SHOWING HIS SCAR, for heaven's sake? The scar next to the BIG THICK CHAIN? I don't get it.
Taylor Hicks - "Trouble" - I've never heard this song before, but I like it. The only thing about it is that nobody knows the song - but he was good. I actually agreed with Paula - it was nice to see Taylor just stand behind the microphone and sing. David said that it sounded like the perfect movie montage song, which is an excellent call.
Mandisa - "Wanna Praise You" - Y'all! It's the "Shackles On My Feet" song! Look at Mandisa breaking out the praise and worship music. But I don't think the judges got was a bold choice for her. And I don't think Mandisa's goal was for 40 million people to want to join the "Church of Mandisa," as Paula said. I think Mandisa was really trying to use her platform tonight, so good for her.
Chris Daughtry - "What If" - Well, he's consistent. But again, I'm a little tired of this one-note genre deal. I think it would be way more impressive if he would show some variety, some actual interpretation, instead of doing what feels like one cover after another. He's good at doing covers...but I'm starting to feel like he's not very original.
Katharine McPhee - "The Voice Within" - This was probably my least favorite performance by her. She's so good at subtlety, and I felt like she was over-singing (I guess that's appropriate seeing as how it's a Christina Aguilera song). After David heard her, he said, "It's gonna be one of those nights, isn't it? She's better than that song." But the judges liked it, so that's positive for her.
Bucky Covington - "Real Good Man" - Y'all, Bucky can't sing. And I feel it's a mistake to venture into Tim McGraw territory, because Tim can sing. And he's cute. And he has charisma.
Paris Bennett - "Work It Out" - Now that was just too much. And who would let their seventeen year old sing, "We can't make it to the bedroom, so we'll just hit the floor"? I'm a little offended. Seriously. Too much. And I agree with Simon: it was like a little girl pretending to be Beyonce'.
Elliot Yamin - "I Don't Want To Be" - I like the twist on a Gavin DeGraw song. This was probably my favorite performance of the night - I loved it. But again, Simon was right - the dancing was hideous. :-) Great fun, though.

What a lackluster night...I'm kind of disappointed. But I think part of the problem was that they had all of a minute to sing, so everything felt jumpy and disjointed. Eh.

Best of the night: Elliot
Should go: Pickler or Bucky
Will go: Lisa Tucker

Rach Is Cookin' Tex-Mex And It ROCKS

Rachael Ray just referred to using salt and pepper as "a little 's' and 'p' action."

I've written before about the fact that she gets on my nerves a little bit.

So why can't I quit watching? Why am I still sitting here at her "E.V.O.O./DELISH/S and P ACTION/YUM/YADA YADA/STOUP-because-it's-thicker-than-a-soup-but-thinner-than-a stew" mercy?

Why can't I turn away?

Something is wrong with me.

But tonight - it's songs of the 21st century on American Idol.

Not even Rach describing cheese as "melty" can dampen my excitement.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Survey Says...

Okay, here's the deal. I am cooking this Sunday night for the latest crew of new members in our church. There will probably be around 50 people at the dinner.

In the next 24 hours, I need to figure out what I'm cooking so that I can buy the groceries and get the food ball rolling (that sounds kind of gross, doesn't it? I promise I won't serve an actual ball of food).

So here's the question. If you were going to a supper at your church, what meal would make you clap your hands from sheer excitement? And if you don't get excited about a meal every now and again, I'm afraid you'll have to move on to another blog because clearly we have nothing in common. ;-)

I need an entree', a side, a bread, and a dessert. And be realistic. This is home-cookin' if you're thinking, "Oh, I'd like a filet and then some bananas foster like they have at Palace Cafe' in New Orleans" - well, that's just plain crazy talk.

So tell me what your favorite "church meal" would be. And thanks in advance for the help...I'm not usually this last-minute with my plans, but well, you know, there was lots of cleaning around here this past weekend.

The Glamorous Life

I mentioned last week that I checked out Wynonna Judd's autobiography from the library and that I really want for Sister to introduce us so that we can go ahead and start our journey down the inevitable road of being Best Friends Forever. Well, last night I was reading her take on meeting famous people: Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Carl Perkins, Tammy Wynette, etc. - and I started to think about my own encounters with the Rich and Famous. Mine is such a lame list. But I'll share.

1. Meeting Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. backstage at a concert in Meridian.
2. Meeting Lee Greenwood outside the Temple Theatre in Meridian. This was when "God Bless The USA" had only been played about a thousand times, as opposed to the 16 bajillion times (and that is an actual number) that it's been played since.
3. Seeing Amy Grant at the former Sunflower grocery store on Highway 100 in Nashville.
4. Seeing Amy Grant just two nights later at the James Taylor concert in Nashville (maybe Amy and I are also meant to be BFF, though I'll have to watch my back for Stacey D. if that happens, and only those of you who went to college with me will get that).
5. Seeing TG Sheppard (is your heart pulsing with excitement?) in a restaurant in Gatlinburg.
6. This is a long one. When we were juniors in college, Merritt, Tracey, Katy and I went to Washington, DC for spring break because isn't it the nation's #1 spring break destination? OH, we had the best time. We went EVERYWHERE, much to Merritt's (not really) delight. Anyway, when we were leaving our White House tour, which was kind of special because a sorority sister's daddy was in the Secret Service and hooked us up, we saw a limo pull out of the gates, and we did what most 20 year old girls would do: we chased it. Much to our surprise, it stopped. The window rolled down. The first thing we saw was a dog. The second thing we saw was Bob Dole, who was MOST kind. And we were so flustered that we really didn't know what to say, so eloquent me spoke up and said, "So. Are you off to do? Some important things?" But isn't that sweet, y'all? At the time he was the most powerful man in the Senate, and he stopped to talk with some college girls from Mississippi. Love that memory.
7. Meeting Emily from the Indigo Girls after their concert at State. I tried to talk to her about the lyrics from "Ghost," and oh it's all just so unbelievably awkward that even 15 years later I don't like thinking about it.
8. Meeting Chris Parnell after a Groundlings show in LA. This was in his pre-SNL days, and since he was from Memphis, and I was from Mississippi, I wanted to let him know how well he represented the South. He was very nice. That very same night I saw Mike from "Real World: Miami," but we won't count that one.
9. Seeing Ivana Trump outside of a restaurant in NYC. My brother stuck his entire body out of the car (we were about to leave the restaurant) and did one of those Jethro Clampett cat-call whistles so that she would look our way. I don't think I've ever laughed that hard. In fact, I know I haven't.
10. Meeting Point of Grace, Chris Tomlin, and Louie Giglio through stuff at church. Y'all have heard all about that. And I know they're not famous to all, but they're famous to me, so there.

So - what are some of your encounters with famous folks? And Sister, you have a DECIDED advantage in this area, so maybe you'll just want to give us your top 5 or so - because I don't think Blogger can handle your list. :-)

Tell it all in the comments.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

After Three Long Days, I Have Put Away The Vacuum

It's not perfect (I keep telling myself, "it'll never be perfect; it'll never be perfect; make your peace with it; it'll never be perfect") - and there is still work to be done - but for the first time in about two years, I feel like I have control of my house instead of the other way around. I have thrown away THIRTEEN garbage bags full of, well, I don't know what. Stuff. Burp pads. Old washcloths. Pacifiers. Expired vitamins. You name it. And here's the thing...none of the stuff was out in clear was in closets, in chests, in the secretary, the armoire, the pantry, etc. THIRTEEN BAGS.

I still have to tackle our closet, which actually isn't that bad, and Alex's closet, which is overrun with clothes, but all in all, it was a mighty successful weekend. Plus, I made a list of a few things that David and I need to do every single morning - nothing complicated, just practical - so that we can make this our routine and not just a phase. I'm sure you'll be waiting on pins and needles to hear how it all turns out. :-) Seriously, though, "re-purposing" some closets and pieces of furniture was huge - because the way we're using our space finally, FINALLY makes sense to me. That's a big deal. I feel like we have a system, which is what I was after all along.

And LOOK! LOOK! I didn't take "before" pictures because, um, I was too embarrassed. But I promise you that it's better.

Notice how nothing is falling over onto anything else. My mama would tell me to apologize for the fact that there are rolls of toilet paper in the picture, but it is a closet in a bathroom, after all.

Peaceful, tranquil clutter. And I used the great linen spray that I bought after smelling some that Janie uses in her house - love it.

Finally, if you need a content, happy toddler while you turn your house upside down, put on a DVD of his birthday party. Works like a charm. And you also get the added bonus of hearing your child sing "Happy Birthday" over and over again. Which is kind of sweet.

Thanks for all the encouragement, internets. I couldn't have done it without you. Seriously.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

$60 And 9 Garbage Bags Later

So I'm not finished with the house stuff. Not by a long shot. But OH, MERCY is it better around here.

And I'm sure you're all sitting around thinking, "I HOPE SHE POSTS PICTURES!"

Actually, though, the thought of posting pictures has given me incentive today...because I have felt a little accountable to y'all. I mean, you can't really post about how overwhelmed you are by your house and then show up the next day and say, "Um, well, I didn't do a thing." Hence the trips to Lowe's and Walmart for Fun New Storage Supplies.

The kitchen and the den are now under control. That makes me very, very happy.



To get the armoire ready for the new blue hamper toy-thingy, I threw out an entire garbage bag filled with old videotapes. There were two tapes I couldn't bear to throw away. One is the video of Alex at my 24-week sonogram. Any guesses as to what the second one is? Here's a clue. It's NOT a movie.

There's a fabulous prize for you if you guess correctly. Well, not really. But I can hook you up with a pack of gum if you're the lucky winner. Everybody needs a goal, right?

Friday, March 24, 2006

All Better Now (Kinda)

First of all, I would like to define irony. Irony is when your brother gives you a hard time in the comments about not having an organized house, when your brother has a maid at least twice a week as well as a super-organized wife, as well as 6 walk-in storage closets in his upstairs hallway, as well as an island in his kitchen that is nothing but storage and approximately the size of my dining room. He has a butler's pantry for all his silver and serving pieces, a temperature-controlled room for his collection of "special bottles," :-) and a full wall of built-ins in his den, the bonus room, and the playroom.

So in the sweetest way possible, I just want to point out that perhaps he's lacking just a wee bit of perspective about what it's like to find room for all of my family's stuff in a 2400 square foot house - when he has (at least) three times as much room. Just a thought. When you have a mudroom AND a special bathroom with a shower off your backyard entrance so that your boys don't track dirt into the house, things can stay a bit, um, tidier. When your laundry room is bigger than most people's kitchens, things don't get quite so cluttered.

In other words, when you open his closets and cabinets, things don't fall on you.

Just a little perspective on all that.

On my end of things, I won't get into why this organizational thing bothers me so much, because it is a long, complex tale, so suffice it to say that it ain't just about the cleaning, people. David said essentially what Liz did - that none of this stuff matters a hill of beans to Alex, and the days with him are few - but because of the way my mama kept house when I was growing up, I have a VERY high standard in my head. And when I don't meet it, I feel like a failure. Please don't even address that statement in the comments, because I can't take a pity party, but that's how I feel.

This battle is not a new one for me, but it came to a head this week because I came back from Mississippi with all of Alex's birthday presents and realized that there was nowhere to put them. So they're all still sitting at the bottom of the stairs. But y'all have given me some good ideas, and I imagine we'll be at Target early in the morning buying all manner of Rubbermaid products. My main thing is that I AM SO SICK OF LOOKING AT BASKETS THAT I COULD SCREAM. All those cute Pottery Barn fabric-lined baskets with which I was so enamored when I was pregnant? I could throw them in a pile and burn them. SICK OF BASKETS.

So, I really am going to clean out this red chest in my den, buy containers to go in the bottom of it, and put Alex's toys there. That way he can put them in there at the end of the night, I can shut the doors, and I won't have to look at them anymore. I think that'll be helpful.

David had a great idea, too. He told me to make a list of everything I want to do in each room - and we'll just knock out one item at a time. My list for the kitchen was a full sheet of legal paper...and I got about 1/3 of them done today. Some of the items are a little more there won't be any quick fixes, but hopefully we'll be in better shape in a couple of months than we are right now.

Lea Margaret asked me why I don't try to get on "Mission Organization" - but we're just not that far gone yet. Everything looks relatively orderly on the surface. I just don't think we're using our space well...I don't think our set-up makes much sense, and that's what I want to fix.

Oh, am I ever ready to talk about television again. :-)

In the meantime - PROGRESS!

Lovely clean kitchen floors and baseboards.

BEFORE: Crazy pantry that had obviously experienced an explosion.

AFTER: Orderly pantry that doesn't make me want to scream.

See y'all tomorrow. :-)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Domestic Dispute

About a year ago, on Oprah, there was a story about a woman who looked picture-perfect on the outside. Perfectly-coiffed hair, beautiful suits, matching shoes - she seemed totally together. But when a camera crew went into her apartment, they found conditions that were vile. Foul. Sickening. Disgusting.

There was a flat of strawberries that had been sitting out in the open for over a year. There were so many dishes in the sink that they had molded, and bugs were everywhere. Garbage flowed out of the cans and onto the floor. The dogs used one of the bathrooms as their personal restroom - and it hadn't been cleaned in, well, ever. The woman's bed was completely covered with clothes, magazines, newspapers...she couldn't sleep there because of all the stuff.

When the lady had to face the inevitable therapist in Oprah's studio, he pointed out that her failure to clean her apartment - her willingness to let it become almost uninhabitable - was a form of perfectionism. At the time I thought that was the strangest thing I'd ever heard. But Therapist Man explained that the woman had such a high standard in her head, that when she started to feel the apartment's cleanliness slipping away from her, she gave up altogether, completely overwhelmed by a standard she felt she could never achieve.

And then I totally got it. Because that kind of personality? It's me.

Now please do not call in the reserves and drive over here from Madison County (Elise) with your cars loaded down with brooms and mops and Pledge and Comet. There's nothing that severe going on. I'm still loading and unloading the dishwasher on a daily basis, still hanging stuff up in the closet and putting away laundry. But I am feeling really, really overwhelmed by my house. And I'm so overwhelmed that I don't even know where to start. I feel like there has been a toy explosion, and the debris has landed in every single room. I can't stay caught up with laundry, my floors need mopping, my windows need cleaning, my porch needs painting, my pantry needs cleaning out, and on, and on, and on. I think I'll tackle one thing a day, like the kitchen, but I get distracted and then Alex needs me and I end up doing one load of laundry, wiping down the countertops, and throwing up my hands, basically. I make a list, and look at it, and I want to cry. Literally.

It's starting to make me a little crazy. I've hit the metaphorical cleaning wall.

I spent some time this afternoon on the FlyLady website, hoping to find a system or at least get inspired enough to develop a system of my own. So I'm going to try the sink-cleaning thing tonight and see if that sparks any resolve.

In the meantime, if you have a system - aside from spending the $300 a month that cleaning services in this part of the world cost - I wish you'd share it. Keep in mind that I'm not at home most mornings, so any sort of "from 9 until 11 I scour the commodes with boiling water and my homemade ammonia" won't really work for me. I need practical. Really practical.

And please don't tell me that this isn't a big deal and I just need to relax and let it go. I've tried. But I'm not programmed that way. I'm one of those people who is psychologically affected when my surroundings are out of order (ever seen me re-arrange furniture? I am TORMENTED until the arrangement is aesthetically pleasing), and I can't take the house baggage any longer. I just don't know where to start, and more than that, I don't know how to maintain The Land of The Toddler.

So yes, internets - this is my cry for help.

Don't leave me hanging (apparently my ability to make bad laundry puns remains intact even when my house isn't clean, and for that I think we're all quite grateful).

I Forgot To Tell You About The Free Food

About year ago, our next door neighbor, E., Queen of All Bargain Hunters, told David and me about this deal where your family can eat out at restaurants and receive cash in return. We're always suspicious when someone says that we can get money for doing basically nothing, but E. promised us that it was a legitimate deal.

And you know what? She was right!

So if you live in an area with most of the major restaurants, and if you're interested, go to Mystery Guest, Inc., to sign up. In our case they contacted us about a week after we registered with our first dining "assignment." You go to the restaurant they've selected at a pre-determined time, order your food, pay for it, come home, fill out an internet survey about the restaurant, and about a month later, you get a check for $35. That's it, more or less.

Yesterday we ate at The Cheesecake Factory for Mystery Guest, and while it isn't my favorite restaurant because it's essentially an overpriced sandwich shop with hunks of cheesecake on the side, I certainly didn't mind having supper there in the name of consumer research. Our neighbors ate at Bahama Breeze a few weeks it's not like you're going to be asked to head down to the corner gas station and sample corn dog nuggets.

Just thought I'd pass along the info.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wednesday Wrap-Up

Going to NK's grandparents' house today reminded me so much of being at my Mamaw and Papaw's house. There were all kinds of barns and fences and stables and cattle grates...lots of places to hide and play and pretend. And then there was the food, oh my word, the food - pot roast, mashed potatoes, fresh corn, green beans, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, rolls, green salad, homemade lemon pie - what most of us fix for lunch, I'm sure.

Outside there were huge trees in every direction, the prettiest green grass I've ever seen, and nothing but rolling hills (and cows) as far as the eye could see. Gorgeous. I'm not a nature person (I think I've made that abundantly clear), but Alex really seems to be. He is perfectly content to roll in the grass, stand under the trees, count the clouds, dig in the dirt - he loves it all. So when we're outside, I watch Alex like he's a TV show or a science experiment: "Watch the youngster as he examines the worm - and doesn't scream! Note the child who falls down in the mud - and thinks it's funny! Observe the toddler as he frolics in the weeds - and doesn't complain of itching!" It just fascinates me to see how he soaks in his surroundings, how he really enjoys nature, and my prayer is that as Alex gets older, the outdoors will become a wall-free sanctuary for him, a place where he can really feel God's presence. And that is my Sensitive Mama Moment for today.

Okay - on to American Idol. Kevin, Lisa, and Bucky as the bottom three - can't really disagree with that, even though I have Ace issues (sorry, Lauren and EK - if if makes you feel better, he was looking directly at both of you, seeing the depths of your very souls). :-) But I think we can all agree that Kevin's 15 minutes are over. Maybe when he gets back into school he'll get the leading role in the fall musical and be the best! Danny! Zuko! ever! 'Cause Kevin will totally rock in Grease, y'all. Totally. Rock on, KC.

Next. Is anyone besides me watching America's Next Top Model? I won't bore you with the details if I'm the only one watching, but I have SEVERAL observations if any of y'all are tuned in. Which reminds me. I haven't done well with posts for The Amazing Race the last couple of weeks because it's right after AI, and it's hard to get it all done, so Merritt, you and I may just have to email about it. If that's okay.

Here's one more picture from today...and with it, I bid you good night.

Our Day In The Country

So it was slightly pretty outside. Slightly.

AC wasted no time at all getting on her horse.

My own child was slightly more skeptical, as you can see from the fact that he's not even holding on, and right after I snapped this picture, the dog named Chip spooked the horse named Bear, and the boy named Alex came sliding right out of the saddle. At that point Alex's horse days were over.

Alex spent the rest of the day running and exploring and shouting. When we were out in the pasture, I couldn't take pictures fast enough because of the color of the grass.

The reason he's so far away from me is because, well, he's young and fast. I'm old and slow.

And I think this picture of Alex and AC at the end of the day is just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

If Your Tendency Is To Email Me When I Haven't Posted By 9AM, This Message Is For You

Alex and I are about to leave for a farm in Bessemer, which is about 40 minutes from where we live. We're going to my friend NK's grandparents' place, with the whole idea being that a farm = wide open spaces = lots of running = a couple of exhausted three year olds by 2 this afternoon. Her one month old will be with us, too. But I don't think she'll be doing much running.

I'll take lots of pictures. I think y'all will be especially interested to see photographic evidence of how God obviously likes NK better than He likes the rest of us, if the way she bounces back from pregnancy is any indication. If the way I bounce back from pregnancy is any indication, God not only dislikes me...he smites me. Verily.

Hee hee.

So I'll post pictures later this afternoon, once our day-o-fun is done.

And did I mention there will be a horse at the farm? You will no doubt hear Alex's scream of delight around 10:30, so keep your ears open.

Hope y'all have a great day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Finals, Week Two

From what I understand we have a 50's theme in store tonight, which makes me very, very scared that Taylor is going to try an Elvis song, at which point his AI train will crash and burn into a million fiery pieces. So, fingers crossed: no Taylor does Elvis. Specifically, no Taylor does "My Tribute."

OH MY WORD IT'S BARRY MANILOW!!! Things are looking up indeed. And y'all - do you think Barry has had some work done? Not that there's anything wrong with that. But his mouth doesn't seem to work cooperatively with the rest of his face. Anyhoo, with his coaching, I think we'll have some pretty powerful over-singing tonight, and I for one am all for it. Plus, I love the way he gives the singers really specific advice - fascinating to watch.

Mandisa - "I Don't Hurt Anymore" - I LOVE her Oprah 'do. She looks awesome, and I got goosebumps on the first note. I think she picked a great song, and I think this was her best performance so far. Reminded me a little of Jennifer Holliday, she did. David says it was his favorite performance so far this season - the first time he's gotten chills. Somewhere in Houston, Beth Moore is jumping up and down - I just know she is.
Bucky Covington - "Oh Boy" - Did anyone notice that Barry had approximately 30 seconds' worth of commentary on Bucky's talent and song selection? And with good reason, as it turns out. This performance was exactly what I feared when I found out it was 50's night. Bad Ritchie Valens karaoke. Boring and lame. Sorry, Bucky. It's time for you to go home.
Paris Bennett - "Fever" - Completely superficial observation right up front: Paris, in my opinion, over-accessorizes. She does broaches, earrings, flowers in her hair, bracelets, 16 rings, etc. As for the performance, I didn't love it. I think it's a better song for her than some of the ones she's picked over the last few weeks, but to use a very Bachelor word, I don't "connect" with her. I can appreciate that she's talented, but she doesn't move me the way Mandisa or Taylor or Katharine does.
Chris Daughtry - "I Walk The Line" - Hmmmm. Interesting song choice for him. REALLY interesting arrangement, because it sounded like something that could be a hit right now. Here's my only gripe. I think that Chris finds a way to turn every week's performance into his style of music - Chili Peppers / Goo Goo Dolls / etc. But at this point I'd like to see that he's more than a one-trick pony. I'd just like to see something different. But what does it matter what I think? This boy will be a star regardless.
Katharine McPhee - "Come Rain Or Come Shine" - Oh I'm nervous with anticipation. I think she gets better every week. And I love this arrangement. My only slight criticism is that it reminded me a little bit of a pageant performance, but that's probably because I've seen this song performed with varying degrees of success in one too many Miss America telecasts. But she's the real deal, y'all. So talented.
Taylor Hicks - "Not Fade Away" - The song is a little repetitive for me, but once again, Taylor knows how to pick stuff that is perfectly suited to his voice. This wasn't my favorite performance of his - probably my least favorite over the last three weeks, in fact - but he's an infectious fella, isn't he? Hopefully next week will bring a better song.
Lisa Tucker - "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" - Oh, I loathe this song. I feel like she's trying so hard to be infectious that she's missing the mark. She has a good voice - I don't think that's in question - but she doesn't have that "something" that makes me care. Get this girl back to Broadway...a pop star she's not.
Kevin Corvais - "When I Fall In Love" - Oh thank goodness Barry Manilow got ahold of him and got him to tone down the screaming. I've been pretty clear that I'm not a Kevin fan, but I do think this was his best performance so far.
Elliot Yamin - "Teach Me Tonight" - This is one of my FAVORITE songs - I love the Al Jarreau version. Now Elliott didn't touch that version, but he was good, yo. Dog. Word, dog. Yo, it was good.
Kellie (Dawn) Pickler - "Walkin' After Midnight" - Okay, how in the world does Barry Manilow not know this song? Kellie Dawn walking around the stage really distracted me - because I was terribly concerned that she was about to fall. But I think she knew how to, um, showcase, um, her, um, talents. Way better than last week. And did I hear her correctly? Did she really say, "Look y'all, it's a pickle sign" while the judges were trying to critique her?
Ace Young - "In The Still Of The Night" - First of all, I always want to call him Ace Cannon. I have no idea why. Second of all, I don't like this song. And what in the world is going on with Ace's hair? And that's really all I can say, because the rest of his performance, it did not interest me. And if he sings a falsetto note ONE MORE TIME, I'm going to scream. Bottom line? Cheesy.

My top three: Mandisa, Katharine, Elliott - and Mandisa was in another league altogether
My bottom three: Bucky, Lisa, Ace
Should go: Bucky Covington
Will go: Lisa Tucker

I Have No Title Because All I Can Think About Is How Filthy My House Is

This morning Alex and I went to the grocery store and the library (I do apologize. It's clearly "WISE BERRIES," at least according to Alex's personal pronunciation guide). It seems to get more humbling by the day, this process of going out to public places with a three year old (um, I don't know if y'all heard or not, but he had a birthday last week).

The thing is, I see these mamas who literally have four kids with them, and they're doing FINE in Walmart or Target or wherever. FINE. And then there's me, Mother of One Child, using every reserve of patience that I have so that I don't snap and push the cart away from my person at a high rate of speed, leaving Alex in the middle of the cereal aisle, where he would apparently sit and scream, "THIS ONE! THIS ONE! Baby Einstein dot com cereal, Mama!" until someone rescues him or Jesus returns, whichever should come first.

So here's what I wonder. Once you get above one child, do you just not hear the whining anymore? Or do you become numb to its effects? Or are you just so worn out that you lack the energy to get worked up about All The Demands? Because I'll tell you what - I don't know how people do it when you factor more than one child into the shopping equation. Couple the whining with Alex's constant "No want to go home, Mama" reminders, and you've got a recipe for Mama On The Edge. I honestly think Alex would be his very happiest if we left the house as soon as he woke up, ran errands to Walmart, Publix, Target, Family Christian, Steinmart, and Party City ALL DAY LONG, then topped off our day with supper in a restaurant, followed by some form of church service. And ice cream afterwards. Anything - ANYTHING - but the routine of being at home.

We did have fun at the library Wise Berries, though. I couldn't help but laugh at myself when I checked out my books...Little Miss English Major, Reader of Fine Literature, brought home the following: Wynonna Judd's autobiography, Shopaholic and Sister, and some Yada Yada Book Club novel. The last two have cute, colorful, swirly drawings on the front and come just short of saying "TAKE ME TO THE BEACH. I AM MINDLESS ENTERTAINMENT. I AM ESCAPIST LITERATURE." So we'll see how those go. I couldn't resist the Wynonna book because 1) I love her, but mainly 2) did y'all see her with her mama and sister on Oprah last summer? They have some issues. ISSUES. DEEEEEEEP issues. I'm rooting for Wynonna, though - she seems like a good girl.

Okay - there's your jumpy narrative for the day. I'm going to try to get this house into reasonable working order while Alex is asleep. I've already filled up half a garbage bag (do y'all ever do that? Just throw away toys when your kids are asleep because you're so sick of stepping over them that you could scream?), and I've got a good two hours of cleaning left. I'll be back later tonight with an Idol re-cap.

Let the cleaning begin.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Idol Thoughts

I just read Tracey's comment about American Idol, and I figured there's no need to wait until tomorrow to discuss some Idol-y business. Normally I'd just answer T.'s comment in the comments, but it's pretty far down the page, I don't know if anyone will see it, the fate of the nation depends on this discussion, etc.

So here's the issue. Simon (one of the AI judges, for the uninitiated) recently predicted on Larry King Live that the final three contestants will be my favorite Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, and Kellie (Dawn) Pickler. And everything I've read in the few hours that I've been home has offered the same reaction to Simon's Pickler prediction: HUH?

But I think I know the reason.

Just for the record, my picks for the final three are Daughtry, Hicks, and Katharine McPhee.

I think what Simon gets, however, is that Pickler is going to be the favorite of a great many teenage boys because they think she's, um, well, um, a hottie. I was unaware of this phenomenon until I found myself in an AI discussion with some teenage guys from church last week. Now they didn't come right out and say that she's a hottie, because that would've been, you know, awkward since I'm basically old enough to be their mama. But what they did say was stuff like "Yeah, I definitely think I'll be voting for her" and "Who cares how she sounded?" and "It doesn't matter that she gave the worst performance - she's Kellie Pickler!"

Ergo, Simon's prediction.

The only thing about Simon's theory that really gives me pause is that I'm not entirely sure that teenage boys are the most loyal voting demographic. I didn't survey the guys I was talking to, but I should've asked them how many of them actually voted. My guess, though, is that Simon figures the following: Daughtry pulls in the teenage female vote, Pickler pulls in the teenage male vote, and Hicks pulls in the older folks - you know, the ones of us over 30 who are sitting around in our rocking chairs while we clean our dentures.

So I am resolved to vote each and every week for two people: Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee. And if you have your own top three picks - or any AI thoughts at all - SPEAK UP, for the love of pete. :-)

La Fiesta de Boo

I'm sort of ready for this final 3rd birthday post because, quite frankly, I'm running out of ways to title them, though hopefully inspiration will strike between now and next year. And aren't y'all excited about another full week of birthday posts only 51 short weeks away?

All righty - here's the thing with me and parties. I don't really like them. So I always make a point to give people an out when I invite them to something, and really, no one is more surprised than I am when someone shows up. My wedding is the perfect example. We sent out a good many invitations because David and I grew up in the same town, belonged to the same church, went to the same college, etc. But for a couple of months leading up to the wedding, I was a completely atypical bride, assuring people across East Central Mississippi that really, it was okay, they didn't have to come, and I would completely understand if they had something more important to do, like cleaning out closets or washing cars. I even scheduled our wedding for 10 in the morning, because it seemed like people wouldn't want to wake up in time to be there, and maybe I could escape the bridal spotlight. Have I mentioned that I have issues about being the center of attention?

Anyway, since most of our family is in Meridian, and since Alex shows no signs at all of shunning attention, we invited all of our family to his party, though I had full confidence that no one would come. But you know what? They did. So many of them, in fact, that I had to make a mad dash to the grocery store right before the party so that we would have enough hamburger meat to feed the masses. Oh! That reminds me of a Tip For Entertaining: when you serve grilled hamburgers, consider using homemade pimento and cheese instead of your standard American or cheddar cheese slices. I stole the idea from one of our favorite restaurants, Jim N Nick's, and it was a hit. But you must must must grate your own cheese - none of the pre-grated business, no matter how convenient it seems. Enough about that.

So Alex loved the whole event, even though he did get a little freaked out when everyone cheered after they sang "Happy Birthday." Mama claims that she was the reason he settled down fairly quickly, but I think it had more to do with the Blue's Clues cake. White cake with buttercream icing, Merritt - just like you like it.

And the presents? Oh my word. It was sort of embarrassing, the volume of them. I came thisclose to putting a "no gifts" disclaimer on the invitations, but I knew David would tell me I had gone overboard with the I-will-not-spoil-my-child mantra, so I let it go. Everyone was so generous - great books, adorable clothes, fun summertime toys, a funky MSU painting for his room, money, gift cards, etc. - and I was really very humbled by the thoughtfulness of this thing they call gift-giving.

After he opened his presents, Alex and the other kids went outside to play (I think I've discussed in the past that, despite my best efforts to the contrary, our child loves the outdoors). And everybody else stayed inside and talked and drank coffee and laughed and drank coffee and visited and drank coffee because apparently the more caffeine you introduce into a family gathering, the more successful said gathering becomes.

Sister had laryngitis all weekend, which actually made her the ideal audience for my mother-in-law's 15 minute story about looking for a jacket at Steinmart, and I promise you that I overheard the words "turquoise" and "cutey cute" at least 10 times, along with "three-quarter sleeve" and, unless my ears deceived me, "sexy," which I believe was the final straw in Martha's decision to return the cutey cute turquoise three-quarter sleeve jacket. But I can't be certain.

All in all, it was a fine Birthdaypalooza '06 indeed. And it's over. Really and truly. I promise. No more talk of Alex's birthday.

Until next year.

Birthdaypalooza! Pictures

Balloons make everything better, it would seem. At least for Alex. Not for me, as I am still traumatized by An Unfortunate Balloon Incident with a clown at a rodeo when I was 4.

Alex and his cousin, Melissa - I don't think they could adore each other any more than they do. Alex loves Melissa because she includes him in everything. Melissa loves Alex because when she includes him in everything, he does whatever she asks him to do. It works out beautifully for all.

Chips = GOOOOOOD. Hey Lea Margaret - does the shirt look familiar? Thanks again for it - I think it is so cute.

Nighty-night after lots of birthday fun. And a piano recital, of course.

That 28K Modem Was REAAAAL Nice

We're back home.

I'm in the throes of a two-way withdrawal: 1) I didn't get to write anything all weekend and 2) I didn't get to read anything all weekend. For me, the latter has been way worse than the former, so give me a few minutes to get Alex down for a nap, catch up on my reading, and transfer all our pictures to the computer. Hopefully by then I'll have something coherent to say.

And just one more thing. If you're still hanging on to a dial-up modem because you think it doesn't make good sense for you to spend extra money on DSL or cable because you're not on the internet all that much? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY AND FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR RELATIVES' SANITY, get rid of the dial-up and join us, won't you, in the 21st century. It's lovely here.

I got tickled yesterday when I looked in Mama and Daddy's den and saw David and Barry with their laptops open, no doubt offering prayers to God that He would somehow mercifully intercede and miraculously create a wireless connection. They even called around town to look for wi-fi hotspots, but apparently Meridian isn't on board with that yet. I told Barry that we could ride around with our laptops on and see if we could jack someone else's connection, but I guess that wouldn't have been very "ethical" or "appropriate," not to mention "legal."

We had a great time - but it is nice to be back in the land of the high-speed wireless connection.

More updates soon.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Birthdaypalooza 2006

So we're leaving town this afternoon (I may as well have just said, "ATTENTION, THIEVES OF BIRMINGHAM! OUR HOUSE WILL BE UNOCCUPIED! THE ALARM CODE IS...") to go to my parents' house and celebrate (again) The Birth of The Toddler. Just a thought: could we possibly drag out Alex's birthday celebration any more than we have? Can you say "only child"? Anyway, things will be slow around BooMama, unless I can get Daddy's high-fangled dial-up interweb provider to talk to the laptop. I'll go ahead and tell you - the prospects don't look good.

Sister and Barry will be there, along with all manner of grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and it'll basically be a contest to see who will be the first to say, "WHEW. I am SO full. Gosh I'm full. I can't eat another thing. But I will try a piece of that pie." Last night I talked to Mama, and she was cooking pork tenderloin and turnip greens and sweet potatoes and lima beans and cornbread and thought she might make some potato salad, "but I don't know if I need two kinds of potatoes. Well, I think I'll make a little anyway." So there will be some food.

I'm actually looking forward to the drive because David and I haven't gotten to talk much this week. I even have a list of five or six things I want to remember to tell him (oh, don't laugh - my mind and memory went to pot as soon as they pulled that baby out of me, and I need me a list). Between the birthday and the crazy schedules and my constant barking cough that oftens gives way to gagging, there hasn't been very much Quality Conversation at our house the last few days (I can't for the life of me imagine why). At one point when David and I were trying to Share Meaningful Information and were interrupted by a) Alex b) the phone and c) my continued efforts to offer up a lung, David said, "Hey! Is it on the blog?" And when he got an affirmative reply, he said, "Okay! I'll just read it there!" and then raced down the stairs to escape The Wife Who Does All The Talking and Barky Coughing.

Hope y'all have a good weekend. I'll check in if Daddy's 28K modem will allow it (oh, it's nice. It's reaaaal nice). In the meantime, click around and let me know if you find another blog that you like - I'm always looking for something new and funny. You can start here or here - lots of clicky link goodness at both places.

In the meantime, we'll be eating lots of cake. And laughing. And I of course will be coughing, because nothing says "Happy 3rd Birthday!" like a mama with her hands braced on the kitchen table, trying to remain upright though her body wants to collapse from the force of the violent hacking.

I am a treasure, aren't I?

Wanna Dig Deep?

About a year and a half ago, I did a Beth Moore Bible study at church called Believing God. Emma Kate had been involved in these studies for several years, so I'd heard lots about them, but I really didn't get why they were such a big deal. I mean, great for Beth that she's written a bazillion books and sells out arenas and all, but I was wary of what, if anything, I'd take away from the study.

Honestly, I wondered if Believing God wasn't just one more cog in a big ole Christian marketing machine (I'll save my thoughts on Jesus action figures and the Full Armor of God playset and how just because I'm a Christian I'm "supposed" to see End of the Spear for another post). So I was a bit, um, cautious. Okay, cynical. Years of church baggage at your service, ladies and gentlemen.

So no one was more surprised than I was when the study started to really hit home with me. Beth Moore is a gifted teacher, no doubt about it. It was probably the deepest spiritual digging I've ever done, and I finally, finally connected the dots between the Old and New Testaments (remember, despite a lifetime in church, I don't have a very, um, strong understanding of Scripture). By the end of the study, I had experienced more "ah-ha" moments than I could count. It was intense, and it was challenging, and it was a really took me outside of my comfort zone .

Our church has continued to offer Beth Moore studies since I finished Believing God, but the times haven't been schedule-friendly for me. I even bought the workbook for one of the studies, thinking I'd go through it on my own, but I underestimated the importance of group accountability and Beth's teaching videos. I have definitely wanted and needed an in-depth Bible study...but I wasn't sure how to make it happen with this crazy schedule that I keep, and this crazy toddler that I parent, and this crazy husband that I do enjoy, you know, seeing from time to time.

Big ups to technology, though, for filling the gap. I'm doing an online Beth Moore study called Living Beyond Yourself. Thanks to the wide world interweb, I can download the workbook, watch the videos online, and post my thoughts about each week's lessons on this blog. I'm doing this study with some other bloggity people, and if you're interested, I would love it if some of y'all joined us.

See that fancy Beth Moore button over there in the sidebar? Click on that, and it'll take you to Lauren's site and all the info you need to know. And no, you don't have to start a blog to do the study. I will let you hijack my comments and post your stuff there if need be - because I'm all about comment hijacking in the name of Jesus.

Just furthering the Kingdom, y'all. ;-)

It costs $23.95 to download all the study stuff, and I'll provide detailed instructions on how to do that if you need help, because we're all about being Savvy McInternets here at BooMama.

So if you feel like you need a little wind under your spiritual sails, or if you've been wanting to do a Bible study, or if you just need a good, fresh perspective to line up with the freshness of the season, Living Beyond Yourself might be just the thing indeed. We're planning to get started March 27th.

And you are cordially invited to attend.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I Have Nothing To Offer You, So I'm Sending You Elsewhere

I don't have anything to say, really, except that I do believe the antibiotics have stolen my funny.

So there you have it.

But do go read about Finslippy's trip to the gym.

And read SJ's take on motherhood and baby #2.

Now that I've provided y'all with some homework, I'm off to bed. We'll have a short reading quiz Friday, so take lots of notes.

See y'all tomorrow here at the House of Excitement, where every moment is a veritable carnival-o-fun.

whoo hoo.

Good Thing She Didn't See Boo And Me Thumbing Through A Vaccination Brochure

This letter to the editor was in my hometown paper this morning.

Parents should seize teachable moments

Recently, while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, I noticed a mother and two restless, preschool-age children.

She tried to interest them in some magazines to no avail. She should have brought their own storybooks, or some simple toys. She could have used that time to teach them how to count or to say the alphabet or to recite nursery rhymes or Bible verses. [emphasis mine]

Parents let too many teachable moments slide by, lost to eternity. How sad!

Nina M.

Ahem. A-HEM. Well.

There's just not much more I can add to that.

I know that I personally never feel more encouraged as a parent than when I face, you know, JUDGMENT FROM A COMPLETE STRANGER. I mean, that frazzled mama might have been up all night with two sick babies (or sick as a dog herself), at which point I doubt flashcards were at the top of her to-do list.

And I certainly don't want to bash the woman who wrote the letter - she was just speaking her mind, as she is completely entitled to do - but, um, gosh. Wow.

If Tracey And Emma Kate Weren't On Vacation, They'd Have Something To Say

I realize that I seem to be the only person on this blog - at least this week, when my Mississippi friends are on Spring Break - who cares one iota about American Idol, but it is SERIOUS BUSINESS, people.

It may take me a long time to get over the fact that not one - NOT ONE - of my alleged friends commented after my hastily written painstakingly crafted AI post from Tuesday night (Et tu, Bubba? Et tu, Daph?). I am comforted knowing that EK and T-Riels will be back from their internetless vacations by next Tuesday night, and EK can ramble on once more about how wonderful Kevin Corvais is (not).

So I need to know the following: 1) Daph's evaluation of Daughtry 2) Bubba's evaluation of McPhever and C) if Merritt and Wendi have watched at all. At least keep me up to speed, because if y'all continue this type of AI abandonment you may have to give up your titles of B/F/F. That's harsh, I know - but there must be consequences for this type of callous commenting behavior. The Bible tells me so. :-) Sister hasn't even posted her usual *YAWN* comment with a smiley face so that we're all perfectly clear that she neither watches nor cares, and while I know the earth won't quit spinning on its axis, we had a nice little AI tradition in the works.

It's all just RURNED. RURNED!

Anyhoo, David and I called two of the bottom three (Ace and Lisa), but we missed on the person who was voted out: Melissa McGhee. It's a fair enough result, I think - she was not long for the Idol world.

And just because I adore them, I wanted to post the clips of Taylor's and Katharine's performances, but apparently the copyright police have clamped down on the folks over at You Tube, so there's yet another reason why every person in America should have a TiVo. Or two.

Love y'all.

BooMama - OUT.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Clearly The Antibiotic Has Given Me A Virus

About three days ago I started to cough. And really, "cough" doesn't do it justice. It's been more like a barking wretch. Last night I woke up in such a fit of manic coughing that I wondered if I was going to throw up, and then that just seemed silly, because who would do such a thing when all they have is "drainage"?

So to the doctor, yes. Excellent idea.

It should be no surprise at this point, as it is par for the BooMama course, that the doctor diagnosed me with a sinus infection. That would be sinus infection #962, if you're keeping score at home, and you should be if you're not, because they're exceptional, my sinuses, capable of storing and replicating all manner of bacteria-laden particles. What can I say? It's a gift.

Two prescriptions later, I headed home, with Alex in the backseat repeating, "Mama! You got a BAAAAD cough!" six or fifty-two times. Observant young lad, isn't he?

Now typically I try not to take antibiotics if I can possibly help it, because I don't like how they make me feel and because I'm always scared some mutant bacterial strain will wreak havoc on the world and I'll be immune to the one drug that cures it. But in this case, well, it seems to me that my options are either 1) antibiotics, 2) pneumonia, or 3) finally coughing up those pesky lungs, at which point I'm guessing that the whole sinus infection thing would seem pretty inconsequential. Antibiotics it is.

So I have taken my medicine like a good little girl - and I took it with food, just like the instructions said - but I am so nauseated - soooo nauseated - that I involuntarily make this low, rumbling, and quite lengthy gurgling noise about once every five minutes, like I'm an elderly, hoarse tomcat trying to get out just one more "meow" before I finally kick it for the ninth time.

And on that note, I bid you a fond, albeit raspy, goodnight.

A Happy Birthday Boy

Alex had a big time yesterday - and his daddy and I had as much fun as he did.

Next up? POTTY TRAINING! Yippee!

Seriously, if you have potty trained a little boy, would you tell me - either in the comments or in an email - what worked for you? I am, um, overwhelmed.

But I'm stocked up on Veggie Tales fruit snacks, so I'm also armed for bribery. Lots of cavity-inducing bribery.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Finals, Week One

We're on the big stage tonight with Stevie Wonder songs as the theme. I am grateful beyond measure for TiVo, as it is 8:42 - 18 minutes left in the actual show - and we're about to zap through lots of unnecessary filler and go straight to the performances. And if anyone sings "My Cherie Amour," I will be hurling large objects at the television. Now that we're clear on that, here we go:

Ace Young - "Do I Do" - My first impression is that he's waaay off. And then he tried to break out some choreography, which made me slightly embarrassed for him. Here's my problem with Ace: I don't get him. He's cute as he can be..but maybe modeling is his thing. Not so much the singing.
Kellie (Dawn) Pickler - "Blame It On The Sun" - First of all, I think she looked really pretty. But aside from that, it was a Miss Mississippi preliminary round talent performance. She seemed uncomfortable, and the song dragged, and all in all, I was just bored. I think her song choice did her in this week...but I think she has the fan base to keep her in it. Aw, shucks, y'all, she's just tryin' not to bust a seam and wear those fake eyelashes that are like tarantulas, and gosh golly yuckity yuck she's just a sweet lil' country girl.
Elliot Yamin - "Knocks Me Off My Feet" - It seems like if the Stevie Wonder theme is good for anyone, it would be good for Elliot. But he looked scared to death, y'all - trying to follow the cameras whirling around him and "connect" with the audience at the same time. But about mid-way through, he found his groove. I like him a lot. He seems real, and humble, and grateful to be there.
Mandisa - First of all, let me say how excited I was today when Emma Kate told me that Mandisa is on Beth Moore's praise team. Y'all, I saw her live in Knoxville back in September and didn't even realize it! But once EK gave me the news, I remembered Mandisa bringing the house down with her version of "Shackles Off My Feet." So there's our bit of Mandisa trivia this week. She's singing "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing" - and I promise that she looks prettier every week. It's not her strongest performance. Again, I think the biggest problem for her was the song choice. That reggae-ish vibe didn't seem to suit her much. That being said, if she's good enough for Beth's praise team, she's getting my vote. ;-)
Bucky Covington - "Superstition" - Careful, Bucky. Careful (and as a side note, I believe that Bucky rolled his hair this week). Now I didn't love his performance, but I thought this was his best week so far. I just feel like there are 1,000 guys out there with Bucky's voice...nothing particularly distinctive or memorable about him to me.
Melissa McGhee - "Lately" - For what it's worth (nothing), I think this is a beautiful song. It's actually prettier when someone remembers all the lyrics. And she flat out screamed the last two verses, which for some reason I didn't mind so much. I actually really loved the end of the song - something about her husky voice and the key change worked for me. I liked her more this week than I have at any other point, but she's got a tough road ahead.
Lisa Tucker - "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" - Hey, y'all - I used to play this song on the piano. Just a bit of BooMama trivia for you. She definitely didn't dress "old" this week, as Simon has accused her of in weeks' past. I did want to reach into the television and ask her to calm down a smidge. It was a little over the top for me. But she sounded okay. I think part of the problem is that she's 16, so she's not really sure of who she is as a performer, and as a result she shifts gears every week.
Kevin Corvais - "Part-Time Lover" - Okay. This has gone entirely too far. Here's a sweet guy who you might let sing one song at your sister's wedding reception. But about two-thirds of the way through the song, you'd be wishing for it to be over because you're a little embarrassed for him. And that's exactly how I felt about his performance tonight.
Katharine McPhee - I LOVE HER VOICE. Tonight it's "Until You Come Back To Me." She gives these subtle, controlled performances that are, for me, light years ahead of the rest of the females. And she nailed this song. Does she remind anyone else of Joss Stone? And big ups to whomever did her eye make-up tonight. It rocked, too. Definitely best so far.
Taylor Hicks - Now that sweet Alabama boy just called Stevie Wonder "Mr. Wonder." Taylor is singing "Livin' For The City." I could not love him more. I adore him. He makes me so happy when he sings that I scarcely know what to do with myself. The end.
Paris Bennett - "All I Do" - I don't like this song, so Paris is at a disadvantage with me from the get go. Here's the thing. When she auditioned, she sang a beautiful, simple Billie Holliday song. And it seems like ever since she's been over-complicating songs. At least for me. So I appreciate her talent. I do. But I don't relate to her as a performer, at least not when I can't hear the melody for all the runs and "hey heys" and whatnot. It was good - just not my cup of tea.
Chris Daughtry - "Higher Ground" - Vastly different than any other performance tonight. And he's a star, y'all. No doubt about it. Contrast what he did with what, say, Ace did - and there is no comparison. I love that he went back by the background singers...and I think he's just great.

My top three: Katharine, Chris, Taylor
My bottom three: Kellie Dawn, Bucky, Kevin
Should go: Kevin Corvais
Will go: This is tough - but I'm gonna predict Ace Young, just because he was first and meh. David predicts Lisa Tucker, but he just amended it by saying, "I don't know, dog." Because he's street like that.

Three Years Old Today

Dear Alex,

Three years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, when there was just the first hint of sunlight on the horizon, your daddy and I took a drive down 280 that would change our lives forever. To say that I was terrified doesn't do justice to what I was feeling...and for the duration of our trip to St. Vincent's, where you were born, I had a steady stream of tears running down my face, kind of like what's happening to me at this very moment as I write about it. You have a way of bringing out the very deepest emotions in your mama, and you started doing that before you even officially entered the world.

As he was driving, your daddy looked over at me, saw the tears, and said, "What's wrong? Aren't you excited? I'm so excited that I can't stand it!" And I had no idea how to answer him, because all I could think of was how things were going to change, how our life as we had known it was over, how I wasn't sure I was even capable of being a mama, yet there I was, in the car, headed to the hospital, trying to stay calm but thinking, "I don't know if I can handle this. I think it might be too much," while your daddy was practically doing somersaults in the drivers' seat. I was scared.

When we finally arrived the hospital, the nerves all but vanished - I became immeasurably calmer, which no doubt had everything to do with medication. Before I knew it, our sweet nurse was wheeling me back to the surgery suite (you should probably know that they only call it a "suite" so patients will get distracted by the luxurious terminology and forget about all the Sharp Cutting Instruments and Blood Sucking Machines that are in the room). You were a scheduled c-section, by the way, because I was fortunate enough to have a doctor who realized that delivering a 10 pound baby was more than this first-time mama could endure, so the first order of business when I got back to the "suite" was the epidural.

I would do commercials for epidurals, just for the record. And c-sections.

So here's the gist of it. About 30 minutes after they wheeled me in, they pulled you out, and you were essentially a three-month old. Ten pounds, seven ounces. Nearly 23 inches. Beautiful. Perfect. Surreal.

I wish I could tell you that they placed you on my chest and we looked in each other's eyes and had "an amazing connection," like all those mamas on TLC's "A Baby Story" who give birth in large round tubs filled with water without the aid of anesthesia while the whole family looks on. But we didn't. My back was killing me, and there was the somewhat essential business of putting your mama back together again, so once I knew you were healthy, I was perfectly fine with your daddy taking over for a few minutes while I got some relief (more medication!) and had all my organs put back in their proper places. I'm practical that way, as you will come to know.

About 15 minutes later, when you were all cleaned off and I was back in the recovery room, the nurse finally did place you on my chest. I was mesmerized. It had nothing to do with the fact that I had been carrying you for 38 weeks. It had everything to do with the realization that you were a wonder, a gift, and as trite as it may sound - a miracle. I was immediately in love with you. And humbled by the fact that how much I loved you was just a small, infinitesimal fraction of how much God loves us. It was an instant, powerful, life-altering shift in perspective. You did change everything. But in all the best ways.

The last three years have given us more memories than I will ever be able to chronicle. And at every single milestone - your first smile, your first laugh, your first step, your first word (which was "HEY," just for the record, followed by "Mama" and "Elmo"), your first sentence - I have thought that I would never, ever be able to love you more than I did at that particular moment. But it just goes deeper and deeper, with no end in sight, and I am so grateful.

At this point in your life you are full of curiosity, running from room to room, shouting out the letters you see, pulling out every newspaper and magazine that you can find so that you can thumb through and point out a P, or a G, or an S, and then clapping your hands and screaming, "OH, MAMA - I'm so EXCITED!" Even now, you are an encourager...if I'm folding laundry and manage to tackle the fitted king sheet, you'll come up to me, pat me, and say, "Mama, GOOD JOB." If your daddy asks you to go upstairs with him to play with trains, the world's sweetest smile comes over your face and you say, "OH, Daddy - GOOD IDEA!" Right now you're sitting beside me with a Teletubbies book, and as you flip to each new page, you say, "Mama, wanna count?" And when I say, "yes," you count the lines of sentences on each page with an enthusiasm that clearly indicates that the continued existence of the universe depends on your counting accuracy, and just then, when you finished with the whole book, you said, "GREAT JOB, ALEX!" It's all I can do not to eat you up.

A couple of weeks ago, right before bedtime, you got in trouble for yelling "NO" at your daddy. There was much crying and bellyaching and general blubbering as a result. We got you all settled down, then into the bed you went. You sniffled all the way through your prayers but tried to repeat what I was saying in the middle of the weepy hiccups - "thanks, God, HIC, for my friends, SNIFF, for, HICCUP, SNIFF, family..."- and you were back to normal by the time we got to your favorite part: "In Jesus' Name. Amen!" which you say almost like the end of a cheer (it's not quite to the point of "all for Jesus, stand up, and holler," but it's close).

Before I left your room to go back downstairs, I looked at you straight in the eyes and said, "Who's Mama's favorite?" You thought for a minute, then said, "God," and I thought that was either a) the sweetest thing I'd ever heard or b) a sign that Mama here may need to back off the God talk a little lest you start leading tent revivals by your fourth birthday.

But I say all of that to say this: the time before you go to sleep is the simplest and sweetest part of my life. We pray, we talk, we tickle, we laugh - and every single night, when I get ready to go back downstairs, you look at me, tilt your head, then point to the pillow that lays beside yours. You say, "Mama no go downstairs?" And I always explain that yes, Mama is going downstairs, because it's time for Mama to see Daddy and for you to go to sleep. That answer always works with you, for whatever reason, and you throw your arms around my neck, say, "Want kiss? Want sugar? I love you, Mama" - and even typing those words I am blown away by the unbelievable gift of your life, the incredible privilege that your daddy and I have to share in it.

We love you so much.

Happy Birthday, Boo.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Don't Even Pretend Like You Didn't Hear Him Scream

Right before David's birthday this year, we found ourselves immersed in the diagnosis and treatment of his upper rib fat cancer.

Tonight, in keeping with our family birthday tradition of illness or injury right before That Special Day, Alex sliced his foot open on a piece of broken plate. And no, it wasn't because we had a Zorba moment and started slinging china around the kitchen while we performed Greek dances and prepared hummus. Unbeknownst to us, a shard was partially sticking out of a garbage bag that was by the back door but had not yet been taken to the garbage can. Alex's foot hit the garbage bag at the wrong angle, and, well, there was some cuttage.

I managed to get Alex out of the kitchen and into the den as I somehow simultaneously ripped off some paper towels to soak up the blood. I got him on the couch, elevated his foot, and tried to apply pressure, although how I knew to elevate and apply pressure I'm not sure, unless I picked it up on an episode of ER (see? television IS so very handy). David was trying to pull out the First Aid kit and get me a wet bathcloth so I could clean the cut, and the following is my best recollection of Alex's words, and I am actually quite confident in the accuracy of said recollection:


And that was just until we got the Band-Aids on.

After offering Veggie Tales fruit snacks (refused), Coke (refused), and a chance to sit in my lap (refused), I finally remembered that the birthday present Alex's godfather sent him was on the dining room table.

Never, ever underestimate the power of a Blue's Clues book and the Golden Book Bible for Children. Nearly instantaneous relief from the screaming.

So we spent the next hour and half, David and I, sitting on the couch with Mr. Man and pretending to be excited when Alex found Blue or Magenta or Side-Table Drawer under a flap in the Blue's Clues book. And we looked at Baby Moses and Noah and all the animals on the ark, though in keeping with his strong Jewish heritage Alex lost all interest when we got to the part about Jesus.

Oh, I'm kidding. KIDDING. We love Jesus around here.

Anyway, he hobbled around for the rest of the night, and right before we went upstairs for his bedtime, I said, "Alex, how's that foot?"

His reply: "It's better, Mama. I'm SO proud."

Mama here is proud, too - proud that he's okay, proud that he's not screaming anymore, and proud that he's sleeping peacefully...snug as an injured bug in a rug. Bless him.

Insert Lame Pun Using The Word "State" Here

When I was trying to come up with a title, I was thinking "State of Affairs" or "Making a Statement" or somesuch oh-no-she-didn't-now-I-have-to-roll-my-eyes nonsense. Which reminds me. Have y'all seen Fred Smoot when he introduces himself on Monday Night Football and says, "Fred Smoot, cornerback, THE Mississippi State University"? I don't know why I just thought of that, but I did, so there.

Okay. Moving on.

Many of the forties of you who visit here went to State. Some of you went to Ole Miss, but we really don't hold it against you, because State folks are, as a rule, very welcoming, accepting and gracious. But we do pray for you.

Seriously, I've had a couple of moments lately - and I think it's due in large part to the time of year - where I have had vivid memories of Starkville. Now I know that sportscasters and sportswriters like to make fun of Starkville and say things like "the name says it all" or use the word "rural" five times in one paragraph or question why any sane person would choose to attend college in such a small town, but y'all, I just thought it was perfect. It was a wonderful place to spend four five six years. I have such happy memories...and I imagine most of you do, too.

So, here's the question. What are the three things that, for you, stand out from your time in Starkville or Oxford or wherever you went to college? What are the places or experiences that "sum up" that time of your life?

By the way, I think all of us have moved on - and I'm certainly not advocating that we wade neck-high into the river of "remember when" - but it's fun to think back on that time and appreciate it.

My three? Just for the record? Why thank you so much for asking.

1. The Hump
2. Driving through Five Points on Friday afternoons in the fall and being surrounded by RV's and campers
3. Fried cheese from The Grill. Or Harvey's. But definitely fried cheese because really, when you take a fat-laden product, batter it, and deep fry it, you multiply its delicious goodness.

Honorable mention: sweet tea at Bulldog Deli, Oby's, riding out to The Refuge on a spring day, and watching Broadcast News 4,279 times. Just an estimation.


Blogging Has Its Privileges

Chief among those privileges, posting random pictures of your child just because you can.

Alex watched The Lion King for the first time last night, and I initially got out the camera to take pictures of how engrossed he was, but then he turned into a ham (where DID he get such a tendency?), and here you have it.

And somebody is turning three tomorrow....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

In MY House? When Pigs Fly.

I'm folding clothes and watching HGTV, and this show called "Pet Pads" just came on. I've seen it once before, when it featured a couple in Texas with two adorable Westies, and the couple had built all sorts of dog-friendly features into their home. I enjoyed the show very much.

But today I'm, um, struggling. This epsiode features a woman in Washington who has 17 PIGS living in her home. Not dogs. Not cats. PIGS. And the woman calls herself "the pig whisperer."


So I would like to document several of her quotes and let you, the reader, come to your own conclusions.

"We built three different areas for our pigs to sleep in in the living room."
"I have, probably, pretty close to 4500 pig items in this house."
"This section [of pig cubbies] is [modeled after] a hacienda."
"We bought this house because it was one level and we don't have to worry about the pigs going up and down steps or anything."
"The pigs can't walk on tile. They slip. So we had all the carpet installed for the pigs."
"There isn't a room in this house that isn't decorated with pigs."
"This is a pig-only bath."
"Anything we do is pig-related."

And her pigs have names like Hog-N-Das, Cinnabon, and Pigstachio.

And she sings them to sleep.

And I'm trying really, really hard to be open-minded. I promise I am.

Do y'all think she eats bacon?

If My Mama Saw The Second Picture, She Would Be So Embarrassed

I took this picture when we were outside yesterday...and I promise that while it goes against everything in me to post song lyrics because it just makes me feel like I'm in graduate school all over again and reading too much into EV-E-RY-THING, I have not been able to get this song out of my head for the last two days. So I'm "releasing" it into the interweb. Fare thee well, song-that-repeateth-through-my-brain. Be well. Godspeed.

Plus, in light of our recent discussions about the Indigo Girls, it somehow seems appropriate.

Therefore, I give you "Southland in the Springtime," stanza two:

In georgia nights are softer than a whisper
Beneath a quilt somebody’s mother made by hand
With the farmland like a tapestry
Passed down through generations
And the peach trees stitched across the land...
...And there’s something bout the southland in the springtime
Where the waters flow with confidence and reason
Though I miss her when I’m gone
It won’t ever be too long
Till I’m home again to spend my favorite season
When God made me born a yankee he was teasin’
There’s no place like home and none more pleasin’
Than the southland in the springtime

There's just nowhere on earth as pretty at this time of year. Nowhere.

And I get that this is sort of a cheat post - since I'm not really having to "say" anything - but we just got home from a meeting at church, and I have an embarrassing amount of laundry that demands my attention.

Wanna see a picture? Okay!

So there you have it. I have gone to church, attended a meeting, and confessed all my dirty laundry, just as Jesus wouldst have me to doeth. Now I'm gonna take my "Holy Ghost power" to the laundry room and immerse, cleanse, and make thine towels new again.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

At This Point, I'm Officially All Out Of Pride

So Alex just walked up to me with something kind of yellow and gelatinous on his finger, said, "Here, Mama," and waited for me to remove the mystery object from his person.

And without thinking one thing about it, I looked the object THAT I ASSUMED WAS FROM HIS NOSE, transferred it to my own finger, examined it some more, SNIFFED IT, and said, OUT LOUD: "Hmmm. It's fruity. Guess it's gummy bears."

In the interest of clarity, I should point out that it was in fact gummy bears, and not in fact something from his nose.

But still, y'all. Still.

My Little Man

When I was pregnant with Alex, a friend of mine at church - a mama of three boys - told me something that I've never forgotten. We were exchanging emails about four months before my due date, and she said, "You're going to love that little boy with everything that's in you. But I want to prepare you for something. There will come a point in time, probably when he's around three years old, when Alex will gravitate toward your husband. It will make you sad. You'll feel like you're losing your baby. But it's the best thing in the world for's what he's supposed to do."

Honestly, I had sort of a "yeah, okay, whatever" reaction when I read the email. Y'all know how it is...everyone has two or four or ten cents of information that they can't WAIT to share with you when you're pregnant, and I had gotten to the point where I took everything with a grain of salt. But for some reason, Kathy's words stuck with me.

The first couple of years of Alex's life, he was All Mama, All The Time. He loved being with his daddy, of course, and they've always had a neat relationship, but he was pretty clear about his preference for mama. And why wouldn't he prefer me? I am delightful company. :-) When he hit two, I was ready for him to break out of the Mama shell just so I could get a break from All The Clinging, but he'd have no part of it. Mama mama mama - give that boy some mama, because it was the cure for everything.

For the last month or so, though, there's been a shift. It's been gradual...Alex wanting to sit by his daddy at supper, or Alex wanting his daddy to unbuckle him from the carseat, or Alex wanting to hold his daddy's hand instead of mine when he crosses the street. There's also the constant "Where's Daddy?" game; Alex requests updates on his daddy's location at all points in the day. There used to be no mention of Daddy in the afternoons, but now, when Alex gets up from his nap, one of the first things he wants to know is, "Where's Daddy, Mama? Is Daddy working?" So I've felt the winds of change blowing just a little bit, and I've been okay with it. I really have.

Today, when we were outside, I felt like I was seeing a boyhood rite of passage in action as I watched Alex follow his daddy around the yard. It was like David suddenly sprouted a 40 inch, 37 pound shadow. If David shoveled dirt, Alex wanted to shovel dirt. If David watered a plant, Alex wanted to water a plant. If David took two steps, Alex took two steps - and Kathy's email from 3 1/2 years ago played over and over and over in my mind.

It doesn't make me sad to see Alex gravitate toward his daddy. I know it's part of the whole "train up your child" process. As he soaks up the love and example of his earthly father, Alex is also creating a frame of reference for his relationship with his Heavenly Father. I get that. I don't want to do anything to hinder the process. And that part of it - Alex not wanting to be around me as much - isn't what makes me emotional.

But do you know what does make me emotional? That it's just so sweet, y'all. Probably one of the sweetest transitions I've ever had the privilege to witness. Without going into the whys and wherefores of D.'s relationship with his own father, I will just say that watching Alex with David is proof positive to me that God is merciful, and He's loving, and He's gracious, and He's faithful.

And I am one fortunate mama indeed.