Wednesday, May 31, 2006

For My Anniversary I Got...

...a headache! Seriously! The kind that sends you to the doctor!

Now what I had today was not a full-blown migraine, to be sure - I never threw up, and I eventually got to the point where I could drive myself to the doctor (and I know full well that when Sister has her migraines, she can't sit up long enough to find her keys, much less get herself in a moving vehicle and operate it). But because I've only had about four headaches in my life, and because today's was the worst of the lot, I was convinced that I was dying. And oh, after today, do all you migraine sufferers ever have my sympathy. I don't know how you ever find a space quiet enough to recover.

I had a twinge of behind-the-eye throbbing when I got up this morning, but I'd slept a little later than usual, so I thought maybe I was having some caffeine withdrawal. Then Alex and I headed to the zoo with some friends, and I medicated myself with a large diet Coke, thinking surely to goodness the caffeine would work its magic. But by lunchtime I had a pretty clear understanding that caffeine would not be the cure-all...and I wanted to get home. Fast.

The funny thing (and I say "funny" because, really, you have to laugh to keep from crying) about having a headache with a three year old in the house is that children pretty much do the opposite of everything you need. When I finally found a position on the couch that didn't make me feel like my left eye was going to detach from my head, Alex took care of me by screaming things like, "ARE YOU OKAY, MAMA? ARE YOU SICK?" while he climbed up my legs so that he could pummel me gently on the shoulder.

After about 30 minutes of that, I knew I was out of my headache league, and I called the doctor to see if he'd phone in a prescription - which he wouldn't, because since I've never been a headache sufferer before, he wanted to see me. Of all the doctors in the land, I have to have the one who's "sensible" and "responsible" - even though this was a day when I would have preferred one of those doctors who fills up your purse with a veritable cornucopia of narcotic samplers. A pain-killer buffet, if you will.

After another hour on the couch, I had been still long enough so that my head was what mama used to call "easy," and I now understand that by "easy" she meant that the elves in my temple that had formerly been using sledgehammers to pound the area behind my left eye had switched to regular hammers, and it was really so much better, relatively speaking. So off we went to the doctor's office.

Long story long - the headache was the result of a particularly nasty sinus infection, and after a shot of some delightful medication called deca-somethingorother, I am pain free. A little woozy, to be sure, but happy beyond measure that those pesky elves behind my eyeball have been sedated.

And you know what's even better? I have some really cute pictures of A. at the zoo. Wanna see?

Our zoo has a really big area where the water shoots up from the pavement, and oh, the joy that filled Alex's was so fun watching him. It was extra fun because the tables and chairs for the parents are in the shade, oh thank you Jesus.

And it makes me happy that carousels are still in vogue with the toddler set - nothing beats those sweet smiles.

So I'm going to take a hot bath with some rosemary mint stuff I found in the pharmacy (I love me some aromatherapy), and hopefully will be a brand new woman tomorrow.

At the very least I'll be clean and medicated. Everybody needs a goal.

Some Assembly Required - But Well Worth It

Here's a great tip that's worked pretty consistently for me for almost a decade:

Being married to David.

But please don't try this Works For Me Wednesday tip at home, because I believe that would be illegal. We like to keep husbands and wives on a 1 to 1 ratio around here (I know! And we're in Alabama, even!). :-)

Happy 9th Anniversary, D.!

I love you very much.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Like, So I'll Share

For lots of reasons, this post by Toni blew me away.

Y'all click on over and give her a warm bloggity welcome. :-)

You'll be encouraged.

Idle Thoughts On A No-Idol Tuesday

Alex and I went to the grocery store this morning, and I had one of those gigantor lists - the kind where you have to cross off items as you put them in your shopping cart or you'll find yourself in a swirling vortex of grocery confusion. Usually A. is in a pretty good mood when we go to the grocery store because he considers all of the check-out clerks to be close, personal friends of his, and I knew he'd enjoy getting out and doing a little "visiting" before lunch.

Once we got to the store, we were about to head into the produce section when I spotted a shopper accompanied by two other women, one of whom was carrying a small tape recorder. And I don't know if y'all remember when I posted the link to that SNL skit about the co-workers a few weeks ago, but Tape Recorder Woman was EXACTLY like the woman with the short wig in the skit. And she was loud. Very, very loud. I know this because I heard her say, "I have a hypothesis about all the reduced-fat foods" from a distance at which her normal conversational volume should have been unintelligible to me.

I'm one of those people who has a system for my shopping, a method to my grocery madness, and as I was very methodically making my way up and down the aisles, I continually ran into the woman who was shopping with Loud Tape Recorder Woman and a companion. I even tried altering my route - skipping an aisle here, reversing direction there, but it didn't work. Loud Tape Recorder Woman greeted me at every turn.

She was helping an adorable woman who weighed approximately 105 pounds to "shop healthier," apparently, and the whole thing put me in a foul mood because I was shoveling things like large jugs of mayonnaise and blocks of cheese and industrial-sized containers of peanut butter in my cart. Meanwhile, Skinny Toned Woman and Loud Tape Recorder Woman were debating the advantages of stone ground whole wheat bread vs. regular whole wheat bread, and in a fit of rebellion I wanted to get a donut and cram the whole thing in my mouth as Alex and I passed by them for the 45th time so that I could hear them audibly gasp at my blatant disregard for the food pyramid and my recommended daily intake of saturated fats.

Instead I just smiled pleasantly and tried to camouflage the large cans of cream of chicken soup underneath the value packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts. 'Cause I'm healthy like that.

And the tape recorder? No idea what it was for - unless she was documenting the contents of my cart each time I passed by her, whispering (no, she wouldn't have been whispering, for this was a woman who has never acquainted herself with a whisper), "Whatever you do, avoid the following foods" as she listed everything I was buying. It definitely didn't help matters that I was shopping for a big ole Southern dinner we're doing at church Sunday night - where low fat fare definitely will not be the order of the day.

Once we got home, I told D. about Skinny Toned Woman and Loud Tape Recorder Woman, wondering what in the world they were up to, and he said, "Well, maybe her husband had a heart attack and she was learning how to cook better for him." That could very well be. Or maybe STW wants to be even healthier - in which case I wish she'd share a tip or nine with me. But the volume of the whole exchange was a little off-putting...even down here in the South, where we pretty much holler from sun-up to sun-down.

I think I'll fry up some bacon tonight in their honor. :-)

Monday, May 29, 2006

All The Loose Ends Are Driving Me Crazy

Let's just take several topics from the last few days and wrap them up in some festive paper with a lovely bow on top, shall we?

1. Based on your comments and some serious over-analysis on my part, I'm gonna leave the blogging church people alone. Here's what I figure: if they wanted me to know they were blogging, they would've told me. Now if it comes up in conversation and I decide to tell them about my own blog and they'd like to visit, fine. But since I do know them, and since they haven't told me about their blogs, then I don't want to trample on their territory. Put it this way: if they were all having a picnic, and I found out about it, I wouldn't just show up. The thing is, I wouldn't care at all if one of them stopped by here and commented...but since I don't know what their blogging boundaries are, I'm going to assume they're pretty rigid and keep my distance. At least until I change my mind. :-)

2. I'm officially not posting what I wrote for the LBY study this past weekend. I talked to David about it Saturday, and he thought it would probably be wise to leave it off the blog - and we got major, 100% confirmation last night that it was the right thing to do. Just because I feel strongly about something does not always mean that I need to share it with the world. The irony is that NOT posting actually confirmed what I learned last week in the study about being humble. Posting what I wrote, telling y'all how I felt about a certain something - it would've been really cathartic for me. But sometimes - and in this case in particular - it just ain't about me. I actually exercised more gentleness - the topic we were studying - by leaving well enough alone. And I hereby abandon this vaguest of all vague topics.

3. David got the chance to continue his home improvement marathon today when he and our neighbor Jimmy used some form of metal-melting tool to fix our lawnmower. D. described all the sautering to me with pure love in his eyes, said he even got to wear protective goggles, and told me that he and Jimmy looked like Stormtroopers as they worked in the garage. D. also got to cook on the grill not once but twice today, then discuss how to kill ants over supper, so I think all in all it's been a fine Memorial Day weekend for him.

4. Not that anyone, you know, CARES, but I'm probably going to be a sporadic blogger this week. Alex and I are heading out of town this Thursday, and I have a bunch to get done Tuesday and Wednesday. A haircut is a top priority...those of you who have never seen me don't know that I usually love me a funky haircut - the more pieces sticking out all over my head, the better - but my hair has gotten so long (it's touching my shoulders - I might as well be Crystal Gayle) that I can actually pull it back into a ponytail. Clearly the sun will be hurling itself toward the earth any moment now. GOT TO GET IT CUT. And I'm sure you'll be surprised, but I'm cooking for a dinner at church this Sunday night, so there's lots of grocery shopping to do before I head out of town, because I'll have to HIT IT when we get home Saturday afternoon.

5. Seeing the cast of "Grey's Anatomy" on Oprah today has me considering renting the season 1 DVD's. Daphne, pick yourself up off of the floor. It is VERY difficult for me to get on board with a TV show unless I watch it from the first episode, but I'm considering playing catch-up with this one. I know, I know - MAJOR comfort zone step-out on my part. I typically don't like medical shows (never been an "ER" fan), but I'm increasingly willing to give this one a chance. Nothing like jumping on a bandwagon, huh?

Have a great week, everybody!

A Spiritual Meme

Lauren tagged me for this "spiritual meme," which is a mighty good thing indeed because I have nothing to say this morning...that is, I have nothing to say unless it's an attempt to answer the constant barrage of questions that Alex is firing at me (Where are my brown shoes? Where are you, mama? Can I see my daddy? Who's that, Mama? What's that for? Can I watch Noggin? Can I have some turkey? Is that Mr. Jimmy? Can I see Clay Clay? And on. And on.) At some point I believe that my head will spin off its axis, land in the middle of the floor, and Alex won't have a single reaction except to say, "What happened, Mama? Can I touch it? Can I put it back on? Can we take it to the park? Please, Mama?"

Sorry. Needed to vent. :-)

Now on with the meme.

What is your life verse?
I had never heard the phrase "life verse" until we moved here and I went to work at a Christian school that used this phrase all the time, and I realized that I had a life verse and didn't even know it...a verse that I'd been clinging to for almost twenty years, but I just called it "my favorite verse." Here it is (I'm sure the suspense is killing you): "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen." - Ephesians 3:20-21

Give a bit of your testimony.
I don't have a dramatic, rousing testimony...I grew up in the Methodist church and accepted Christ when I was 13 years old. From that point on, I was consistently inconsistent in my walk...there were lots of highs and lows and ups and downs. There have been times in my life when I knew that God was calling me into a deeper relationship with Him - and I would "dig deep" for a period of time, then drift away again.

I think one of the reasons for this pattern is that I lacked a strong Biblical foundation, so I wasn't advancing much on the spiritual maturity chain. And then I went through a phase in my early 20's where I was very disillusioned with the church, very cynical about organized religion, and I decided that I would just be "spiritual" but pretty much had no need for community or fellowship with believers. It wasn't a terribly fun time.

When I was in my late 20's, I got a job teaching in a Christian school, and the fact that that happened at all is a TOTAL miracle, because trust me when I tell you that I was not looking to teach in a Christian school - especially a Baptist one. :-) But that was really the first step into what has become a sustaining, steady faith - it was the beginning of a huge period of growth for me. David and I found a church that we loved in Baton Rouge, and our time there helped us to release a lot of our 'baggage' from the church where we grew up.

When we moved here, I was almost immediately enveloped by a circle of Christian friends. It took us awhile to find a church home, but when we did, it changed our lives. We have learned more about the Bible in the last four years than we did in all the previous years combined. We've learned about community, and fellowship, and really investing in people. More than anything, I've learned to serve others - something I resisted for so long.

Do you have a favorite preacher?
I have several. I love hearing Rick Ousley - our former pastor - "preach down the stars," as my friend Sandra says. Our friend Kevin, who's on staff at our church, is an incredible teacher and makes the Bible more relatable than anyone I've ever heard. As an added bonus, he cracks me up. Beth Moore is my favorite Bible study teacher, bar none.

What’s the best Bible Study you’ve ever done?
Beth Moore's Believing God - hands down. Life changing.

What do you feel God’s calling is on your life?
I could write paragraphs on all the specific ways I think I'm supposed to serve and live out my faith, but I can pretty much boil it down to one simple phrase: to love God and love people. The primary way that manifests itself right now is by serving David and Alex first - however I can - and I feel very, very fortunate that I have a couple of other ministry "outlets" that enable me to serve teenagers as well as new members in our church.

And I can't explain it, but I feel like God has a plan for this writing stuff that I do (proof of my abilities: the phrase "writing stuff," which reveals deep levels of giftedness). I don't mean a book or anything like that - my lack of imagination prevents me from writing more than five or six paragraphs at a time - but I just feel like He's showing me that there's more I could be doing with writing than I am right now. What that might be, I have absolutely. no. idea. :-)

I think this meme has pretty much made the rounds, but if you haven't used it yet, consider yourself tagged.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday With The Boys

I've made not one but two trips to Lowe's today - one to scope out the grills, another to pick up The Chosen Grill (we weren't in David's truck when we went after church, and TCG wouldn't fit in the back of my car).

It's a curious thing, Lowe's. As soon as the doors slide open David goes into a "hunt and conquer" mode: he must find the right drill bit, the right lugnut, the right grill, the right sprinkler, the right width of such and such so that he can brace the thingamajig. It is endlessly entertaining to me. I'm eyeballing the patio furniture and the latest organizational gadgets, and he's looking at the latest edgers and mowers, admiring the sharp blades, nodding his head and saying, "Coooool."

Alex is no different. Both of his trips to Lowe's today afforded him the opportunity to hop from riding mower to riding mower, each time announcing to me where he was driving, and then he'd jump off once he'd reached his imaginary destination, tend to his imaginary business at each imaginary place, and climb back on his yellow and green mowing machine, making all manner of cranking and screeching noises.

Meanwhile, I'm rocking in a patio chair, thinking, "I really like the fringe on that garden umbrella," while Alex pops imaginary wheelies and David talks with clerks about BTU's and warranties and propane.

When we got in the car after our first trip, David said, "Aren't you excited about our new grill? It makes me want to hunt things and kill them and then cook them."

"Yeah," I said. "It just makes me want to eat some chicken."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

It's A Sickness, That's What It Is

I'm pretty private about my blog. I have only told my close friends and family, I don't put my real name on here, I haven't told our friends at church about it - and you can ask me why all you want to, but the bottom line is that it's hard for me to explain. It may have something to do with the fact that I don't like to talk about what I've written - I write it down, and I read the comments, and I move on. The few times that I have been around people who were talking about what I've written, I was so uncomfortable that I can't even articulate it. I wanted to crawl under the floor and stay there until The Blog Talk stopped (so yes, Emma Kate, THANK YOU for bringing it up in front of our friends who didn't know the other night. That was a lot of fun for me). :-)

Another aspect of my blog secrecy is that I'm a little afraid that I'll tell somebody - maybe someone from church - and they'd read it and I'd run into them later and ask if they read it and they'd say, "Um. I. Uh. Yeah. I read it." And then the deafening silent disapproval would consume me.

ANYWAY, a couple of days ago a friend of ours mentioned that a former staff member at our church has a blog. David found it, bookmarked it, and when I finally got around to reading it, there were links to eight or nine people from church who also blog. None of the people are close friends of mine - just people I chat with on Sundays, or speak to when we're getting our kids from the nursery, or work with on a project from time to time.

So you can probably imagine what I've been doing all's like there's a whole new planet in my blogging universe. And I kind of want to comment on their sites - because now I feel free to tell them about mine - but is that invading their privacy somehow? Why do I feel like I need to be invited? Why is this so much weirder when dealing with people you know than it is when dealing with people you don't know?

Could I possibly be more paranoid?

We Hope To Have Our Hearing Back By Tuesday

Lots of fun at the concert last night. We were, as I told David, "disconcertingly close" to The Talent (thanks to Sister, who hooked us up with incredible seats).

When the show started, Faith was on the opposite end of the stage, and David leaned over to me and said, "Hey, I bet Tim enters the stage right here."

And just as he said it, like magic, Tim (who from this day forward will be known, at least for the purposes of this blog, as Mr. Hottie McHotterson) appeared before us.

I screamed. Just a little bit.

And then Faith (Mrs. Hottie McHotterson, for the record) made her way to our side of the stage.

Here's one thing I appreciated about Faith. She was thin, but she wasn't skinny. The last time we saw them in concert she was rail-thin, but this time she had curves and toned arms and really looked healthy. She also looked like a regular person - no fancy outfits, no over-the-top hair or make-up - she just seemed real and approachable and like someone I could've grown up with.

And she sounded great, to boot. David and I were both impressed with how strong and full her voice was - way better than when we heard her live six years ago. She did a version of "There Will Come A Day" - one of my all-time favorite Faith songs - and it was like listening to great gospel music (in fact, she even said, "Praise Him, Praise His Name" at the end of it, and all I could think about was that Emma Kate would have said, "Did you hear that? Did you hear her? She said, 'Praise His Name!'Oh, I think I love her now!"). :-)

The second part of the concert was Tim's solo set.

He was wearing blue jeans.

AHEM. A-HEM. And just so you know, David listened with amusement to all of my kind comments about Tim's blue jeans, and I listened with amusement to all of his kind comments about Faith's appearance, and we still love EACH OTHER very much. We're also quite confident that Tim and Faith love each other, too.

At the end of the show, our pretend celebrity couple BFF did a few numbers together, and I LOVED the dress that Faith wore. It looked so much like something Liz would wear that I wanted to call her, describe it, and then see if she could find it on the internet. ADORABLE.

All in all - it was a great show. Aside from the drunken revelers who kept working their way down to our seats, hardly able to keep their balance, sloshing their drinks all over the steps, it was a fun crowd. And the police eventually gave the drunken revelers some gentle encouragement to return to their assigned seating. And seriously - Tim McGraw is a great live performer. He has the personality, the vocals, the blue jeans :-) - he is just a ton of fun to see live. So if you get the chance....

In other bloggity news, I haven't forgotten about my LBY post for this week. But after working on it yesterday, I decided that it might be a wee bit personal to post on the interweb...the topic (gentleness) definitely hit home with me, especially the part about having a teachable spirit, which is an area where I've been struggling lately. But since I don't want to say anything that could be construed as divisive, and since I don't want to be SO vague that people would read it and say, "HUH?" - I'm contemplating keeping this one to myself. If I have time today, though, I may try to re-write it altogether. Just so you know.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Young'Uns: They Teach You Stuff

Last Saturday morning David spent several hours on the front porch - cleaning everything with Clorox, clearing out cobwebs, making sure all the surfaces were ready for the coat of white paint that's coming their way.

Alex was inside with me since children and large amounts of bleach don't mix, and about once a minute he'd run to the front door, look outside, jump up and down and say, "I wanna see MY daddy. I wanna see MY daddy, Mama."

I've talked several times about A.'s ever-growing allegiance to and obsession with his daddy, but the whole "MY daddy" thing was new to me. There's OWNERSHIP in that pronoun, POSSESSION implied, and I got the message - loud and clear - that in Alex's mind, lest I harbor any notions to the contrary, David belongs to Alex and Alex alone.

Sometimes I have moments of insanity where I fancy that I can actually reason with Alex, that I can put my three key points into some form of multi-media presentation, explain them objectively while using my laser pointer, and at the end of the lesson Alex will look at me and say, "Oh yes, Mother. I understand now. The three critical components of playing nicely with others are 1) no pushing 2) no hitting and 3) sharing toys. Thank you for teaching me today!"

So when Alex started up with the "MY daddy" chorus Saturday morning, I tried to be fairly rational: "Yep, he's a great daddy...the best daddy in the world - but you need to come away from the door - there's no point in standing there all morning waiting for your daddy to come inside.""

Somehow Alex got the idea that I was trying to claim David as my own father, and he got very defensive: "NO, MAMA! He's not YOUR daddy! He's MY daddy! He's NOT! YOUR! DADDY!"

I explained that yes, I was aware of that, and perhaps after Alex finished with time out for ALL! THE! SCREAMING!, we could change the subject to something like Veggie Tales or "Finding Nemo." There's much less emotion involved with those two things.

But I couldn't get his insistence about "MY daddy" out of my head.

The older I get, the more I realize that every single struggle I have with God is a struggle I also have had with my earthly father. That father / child thing is huge, isn't it? I don't think we can overestimate how our relationships with daddies impact the way we interact with our Heavenly Father.

So I decided, as I re-played the scene from that morning in my mind, that if Alex wants to cry out to his daddy, claiming him as his very own, if he wants to stand at the door and wait for the second that his daddy comes back inside, I will let him. Because every single time that David returns to him, every single time that he comforts him, every single time that he throws his arms around our little boy and responds to him with patience and love, Alex is forming a frame of reference that His Heavenly Father will respond exactly the same way.

It was a total a-ha moment: I need to encourage Alex to seek his father so that one day he will seek his Father, knowing that he can trust him and Him, knowing that they both will answer.

And I just had to write that down.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Temporarily Interrupting Frantic Housecleaning For A Brief Message

I'm not sure what sort of direct line you people have to God, but right after I posted about Emma Kate's church situation yesterday, things started moving into high gear. Over the last couple of months EK has said to me, "Oh, wouldn't it be neat if THIS THING could happen," and then yesterday it all started to fall in place. Their small group made some major decisions last night, but since I don't have the next four hours to devote to typing, I'll probably tell the story in increments somewhere down the road.

All that to say - EK and her hubby are coming for supper tonight. And their three kids. And some other friends of ours. And their kids. Without going into all the details (what else is new, Mrs. McVaguery?), but I think the biggest "God is at work here" moment was when I asked EK what time they'd be here (keep in mind she's 2 1/2 hours away from me), and she told me that they were flying because a plane - YES, I said a PLANE - had been made available to them...someone flying to Atlanta agreed to drop them off here on the way over and stop and pick them up on the way back home.

In the midst of everything else (sorry, Sarah - I stole your first three words), :-) EK and I both had the kind of mornings you have when God is trying to work and the devil just gets all up in your business. Emma Kate actually rebuked the devil in an email to me, and I got so tickled because it seemed oh-so-very 21st century of her. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I've opened an email and seen the phrase "Satan, get thee behind me" in the opening line...but it worked!

Anyway - they'll be here any minute, so I better finish my "chores." And Mama and Daddy are coming in tonight, too, because tomorrow night David and I will be with the lovely Ms. Faith Hill and the handsome Mr. Tim McGraw. We'll be on row nine, which I believe is the closest security will let me get to Faith (given my obsession with her and my pronouncement that she's my BFF) without alerting the authorities and filing a restraining order.

So tonight, I'll be with my real-life best friend, and tomorrow night, I'll be with my pretend-celebrity best friend (but at a safe distance, so that I don't, you know, SCARE HER).

As Alex would say, "THAT'S SO EXCITING!"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Soul Patrol!

I'm just sayin'.

So yay Taylor and all that, but y'all, that was the weirdest two hours of television I've ever seen.

Meatloaf? Mary J. Blige? Burt Bacarach? Dionne Warwick? Toni Braxton? Al Jarreau? The most random line-up of artists ever.

The weirdest was the whole Clay Aiken thing - so weird in fact that I found it difficult to watch, primarily because Clay's hair was flat-ironed within an inch of its life and dyed auburn to boot, but those things didn't seem to bother the young man who sat on the stool and hollered while Clay sang. BI-ZARRE.

The highlights? Carrie Underwood was great, and I thought Prince was delightful.

David pointed out that all the Idols' "routines" remind him of The Brady Bunch - and I feel that's an excellent call.

So Idol '06 is officially over - no more Tuesday night "live blogging" - I'm sure you're all crushed and will be waiting on the edge of your monitors for next season. Regardless, I think we can all agree on at least one thing: I spent far too much time thinking and writing about a reality singing competition considering that I'm, you know, GROWN. But as Alan Jackson says, "Too much of a good thing - is a good thing." :-)

BooMama OUT.

The Only Drawback Is That His Cholesterol Is Now 794

I just read a thoroughly entertaining article on fast food by NY Times food critic Frank Bruni. It's odd to see such beautifully constructed sentences dedicated to Whataburger and Chick Fil A, but it's a fun read.

Plus, I'm hungry. Glowing words about Blizzards speak to me right now.

Link via Throwing Things.

Let's Agree To Pretend There's A Narrative Here

1. Brenda's post about pronouns cracks me up. It is right up my grammatical alley, because Sister and I (not "me and Sister") have had MANY conversations about common (mis)usages that drive us (not we) crazy. My personal pet peeve is when people use the "and I" construction incorrectly, and Brenda does a wonderful job of addressing the rules with a little Southern flair.

There was an adorable girl on Amazing Race a couple of seasons ago who was The Worst "and I" Offender EVER: "I'm so proud of Jon and I...They were really rude to Jon and I...I really feel that the race brought Jon and I closer together." And all of those examples drove I bananas. :-)

[A brief aside: I was about to go on a tear about why I cannot stand the use of the word "myself" as anything but an intensifier ("I myself have never experienced that" is fine from time to time...however, "that's between Sister and myself" is kind of obnoxious), but then I realized that, you know, nobody cares. You can take the girl out of the English department....]

2. Oprah's "Legends" special - anybody see it? At first I was all, "Oh, here Oprah goes, talking about 'energy' and 'power' and getting all New Age-y on me," but I must admit that the way she honored the women who have gone before her - Cicely Tyson, Tina Turner, Maya Angelou, etc. - was very touching. I loved the footage of the gospel brunch - I would have HAD ME SOME CHURCH if I had been there. Which I wasn't. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it because I wasn't invited.

Anyway, David and I estimated that the whole Legends celebration probably cost AT LEAST five or six hundred dollars. Okay, maybe a smidge more.

3. I mention my friend Emma Kate just about every other day in my posts, it seems. Well, I've been holding back with a little EK info because I didn't feel like it was time to share, mainly because I didn't think that she and her hubby were ready to share. And this is all starting to sound very much like a pregnancy announcement, so let me just go ahead and apologize if you were reaching for some yellow yarn and getting ready to start on some baby booties. Because that's not the news.

And there's not really ANY news to speak of, because this is actually a very circuitous route to a prayer request.

EK and Brad have been meeting with about 12 other people to pray and study and see if God might be leading them to start a new church in the town where they live in Mississippi. They have a vision - a God-given vision, to be clear - for a church that is rock-solid doctrinally and theologically but different, especially in terms of worship and programming, from anything else where they live.

This is not a fly-by-night deal...this is a result of several years of prayer and a genuine desire to be faithful to what God is calling them to do. And in case you're wondering if they really have what it takes to be on this path, I can assure you EK and Brad study the Bible like nobody's business. Let me put it this way: when I get in the car, I crank up my music, but when they get in the car, they crank up preachers like Andy Stanley or Ed Young or Louie Giglio. They know their stuff.

So here's the thing (THANK GOODNESS, you're thinking, that she finally has a point). They need your prayers. They truly believe that for this vision to come to fruition, they must first have God's man. They have the resources to attract someone of the highest caliber, but obviously God has to turn that man's heart toward Tupelo. If you would pray for that, I know EK and Brad would appreciate it. Their group is meeting tonight, and they are at a real fork in the road in terms of what comes next. The next few weeks are going to be HUGE for them, and wisdom and discernment will be key.

4. Newest Google search that made me laugh out loud? "mama de nemo"

So in case the searcher is still lurking around, let me see if I can help using my, er, increasingly limited abilities in Spanish.

La mama de Nemo es muerto. La mama de Nemo fue comida para un "Jaws." Lo siento mucho. Marlin es un padre excelente. Tambien, Dory es una "amiga especial" de Marlin al fin de la pelicula.


Gracias, y hasta luego.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Idol Re-Cap, Final Two

The best part of each season's final Idol show is the debut of the Power Ballad that becomes the winner's first single. Said ballad usually contains images of climbing mountaintops or flying without wings or soaring into the sky or soaring above the clouds on the way to the mountaintop while flying without wings.

So, in a HUGE step-out, I'm going to predict water imagery for this year's single...perhaps we'll have a river of love, or a sea of faith, or an ocean of truth, but my prediction is that it will in fact be a body of water filled with a universally valued attribute. And a soaring note at the end. You heard it here first.

(Now we're watching on TiVo. David and I are cracking up at seeing Mandy Moore and Ben Stiller in the audience - guess this show has pretty broad appeal, huh?)

Katharine McPhee -
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" - Probably a wise move for her to come out and show her fun side right off the bat - especially since her competition is Mr. Fun Happy Man. I loved this song the first time she sang it, and it was rock-solid again tonight. Honestly, though, sometimes I feel like she works really hard to seem like she's having fun! We're having fun! Y'all! She did seem sincerely touched by the reception of the audience - those were real tears. And good grief she's pretty, isn't she?

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - Perfection.

"My Destiny" - Definite imagery of a journey, a quest...but I may have stepped out too far with my water imagery prediction. :-) Anyway, this song sounds like it's in the wrong key for her. The low parts are giving her a little trouble, and plus I imagine that it's difficult to sell lyrics that are quite this cheesy. I'm gonna go ahead and say it: it's a pitchy performance. She's all over the place. But I am happy to see the ubiquitous gospel choir, which I believe is an Official Requirement for an AI anthem.

Taylor Hicks -
"Livin' For The City" - MY that's a fuschia jacket. And he definitely gets crowd-pleaser points. I think his voice sounds great - way stronger than it has in the last couple of weeks. I actually still have his first performance of this song on TiVo, and what struck me tonight is that he didn't sound like a recording of that first performance. Good grief the crowd loves him.

"Levon" - I have a deep, abiding love for this song. And I think tonight's version of it is leaps and bounds better than the first time Taylor sang it - he's calmer, more confident, and seems more at home on the stage. All that being said, I think Katharine wins the slow song round.

"Do I Make You Proud" - This type of music doesn't really suit him, but this song works better for him than Katharine's Power Ballad worked for her. Taylor got to "do his thing" a little more than she did, so I think Round Three goes to him. Even though the song is cheesy, he still sounds like Taylor - doin' the best he can with some wretched material.

By the way, we have no idea what Paula is talking about tonight.

So, here's the bottom line: I think Taylor will win for three reasons:
1) The South will vote in droves.
2) Most of the people who previously voted for Elliott are more likely to vote for Taylor than Katharine.
3) People seem to adore Taylor. His fans are rabid - did you hear the crowd? And for old time's sake, I looked back at some old posts and found this - I've loved him from the very beginning, y'all. :-)

But I think David just gave the best reason why Taylor will win: he has personality. Katharine is beautiful, and her voice is distinctive - but she doesn't come across as having the level of personality and likeability that Taylor does. Plus, in her third song, she didn't offer anything could have been any other good singer doing a similarly average job. On the other hand, Taylor took a weak song and made it his own - I can't imagine that's easy to do.

Looks like we're gonna have another Idol from right here in B'ham.

Soul Patrol, everybody.

The Candy-Covered Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

Last night Alex discovered some leftover Easter candy in the pantry. He asked me if he could have it, and since I knew it was the not-so-great stuff, I said, "Sure - you can have it!" knowing full well that he wouldn't finish even one piece of it.

First he opened some Smarties. After about two bites, he looked at me, grinned, and said, "Here, Mama. You can have them." Lucky me, huh?

Then he found some jelly beans, sniffed them, and said, "Yucky, Mama!"

After a couple of more minutes, way down deep in the bag, he discovered a lone bite-size Milky Way. He held it up to my face and said, "What's that, Mama?" And when I said, "It's a candy bar," he said, "OH, IT'S SO EXCITING! I'M SO EXCITED, MAMA!"

I unwrapped it, and for a full five minutes he sat quietly, nibbling on his little nougat treasure. Then he rummaged through the bag again, came up with a Starburst, and brought it to me.

"Alex," I warned him, "you're not going to like this. It's fruity. You don't like fruity candy."

"No, I'll try it, Mama"- so I unwrapped it for him.

His teeth had barely hit the little lemon square when he scrunched up his nose, smiled, and said, "YUCKY!"

I took the Starburst away from him and said, "I told you, buddy - you don't really like fruit candy."

And he looked at me very seriously, tilted that sweet head, and said, "Yeah. Yes ma'am. I like chocolate. In my mouth."

I do, too, little man. I do, too.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Got It Goin' On? Like Donkey Kong?

Last night when I was going through Site Meter to see if anyone had actually visited the blog while I wasn't writing (and y'all did! You did!), I noticed that several people had reached my blog via queries on a search engine. It was the first time this has happened...and totally entertaining to me.

Now I completely understand why one search led the Googler here:

I mean, I have made my admiration for Mr. Giglio known a time or nine over the last two or three months. I'm sort of flattered, actually, that my blog is forever linked to his name.

And since Wes over there in the sidebar sings for the Gaithers, I understand why I got this one:

By the way, I have no idea why Candy left. Maybe Candy got tired of life on the road. I dunno. Fingers crossed that there were no hurt feelings.

This next one was no mystery at all, and I almost wish that the searcher had stuck around so that I could have provided an answer:

The truth is, the dog's name is Gertie, but she's not Paula's dog (scandalous, isn't it?). In one of the issues of Paula's magazine, she confesses that Gertie belongs to her producer, and get this: the old set wasn't her real kitchen in Savannah. It was her producer's kitchen in upstate New York. Can y'all believe that? I felt that I'd somehow been deceived, because everything on television is real, right? :-)

See, that searcher was at the right place and didn't even know it.

And this one? Oh, it did tickle me:

If I had caught the searcher in time, I would have directed him / her here. Or here. I'm not really a Trace Adkins fan, but since David did see him in Dairy Queen a few months ago, well, we're practically cousins.

So to you Louie / Candy / Paula / Trace seekers out there, I hope you found what you were looking for.

Y'all come back real soon, ya hear?

Didn't Think I Could Do It, Did You?

I thought last Friday that permitting myself to take a couple of days "off" from blogging would enable me to wind down, relax, chill out, whatever you want to call it. And by the way, that's the first time in my whole life that I've used the phrase "chill out," which means that my inaugural usage of "24/7" can't be far behind.

Anyway, right after I made my vow that I was going to take a relaxing break from blogging for the weekend, I backed into a car in a parking lot (only hurt mine, not theirs, thank goodness), received a letter from the city that one of our dogs had "traumatized" a small child (for the record: one of our dogs got out accidentally and ran toward the street barking...the "small child" was about nine and barely even blinked, but the father was none too happy and immediately committed the numbers on our mailbox to memory), and then to cap off the day Alex authoritatively shut a locked door. With my keys on the other side.

All in all, big fun.

Saturday at lunch I told David, "I feel like someone has rammed a steel rod into each of my shoulders," but I guess there's really no point to me telling you that because that's as far as the conversation went since I had to retrieve Alex from the other end of a long bench and give my "Alex! Knees or bottom!" ultimatum so that he would sit down and eat his lunch. And that always makes me feel like those four years of college and two years of graduate school are reallllly serving me well.

It didn't help matters that I spent half of Friday night sleeping in Alex's bed (he had a bad dream) on top of, as best I can remember, a stuffed Elmo, a stuffed monkey, a stuffed Blue, some Happy Meal toy that I believe is also used as a weapon in parts of Asia Minor, a small dump truck that squeaked, and a Thomas book with those little squares that make all the chirpy noises that supposedly enhance the narrative, though I would beg to differ.

So I was REFRESHED Saturday morning, as you can imagine. The Blogging Sabbatical was off to a GREAT start.

All righty. Moving on.

New senior pastor. David and I found out who it is a couple of days before the official announcement. I'm sure you're shocked, because, well, word NEVER gets out about stuff like that in churches. A-HEM. But here's our guy. He's preached at our church several times, but I never expected for him to be our senior pastor because 1) he's 27 (TWENTY-SEVEN!!!) and 2) he has such a huge heart for overseas missions that I didn't figure pastoring a big church in Birmingham, Alabama was part of his plan.

About a month ago, though, I realized that he was definitely making an impact - especially on the 20-somethings - when a former student of mine mentioned that she and her boyfriend had been driving up from Auburn every Sunday to hear him preach. He's smart as the dickens - he has five college degrees, one of which is a PhD., and did I mention that he's TWENTY-SEVEN?!?!?!

So everybody click over to our church's website right now and take a look at the recommendation video...I really do believe that he's exactly what our church needs. And say hey to my friend Sandra (who looks after me like I'm one of her own and has a sassy Texas accent to boot) while you're watching.

Last thing. I called Emma Kate the SECOND I walked in from church yesterday (although I did not casually toss my Bible on the couch as I made my way to the phone like Holly Hunter in the Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom movie - and if you know the specific scene I'm referencing, you are my FRIEND FOR LIFE). I gave her all the scoop on the senior pastor stuff at my church, and she mentioned the importance of God taking us out of our comfort zones from time to time (which the new guy does BIG TIME), and then she referenced a sermon that she'd been listening to that morning. When she mentioned the preacher of that sermon, I said, "Hey, you know that a couple of girls who comment on the blog go to that church."

And she said, "HOLD ON ONE MINUTE, MISSY. They read YOUR BLOG?" [apparently, it's very surprising to EK that members of large churches in Texas would come within earshot of anything I have to say :-)]

"YES, Emma Kate. I've TOLD you all of this before."

"Well, this time I'm just gonna have to write it down."

Then, I explained how all the members of the Blogging Dynasty (Sarah, Bev, Barb, Judith, etc.) are connected, and I promise you that she was taking notes ("Wait! Hold on! SHE is her MOTHER? I had no idea! Well that's just so fun!").

When I finally got to the end of the explanation, she said, "Well. This world just gets smaller and smaller, doesn't it?"

And it does, y'all. In all the best ways.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

LBY - Week Eight - Faithfulness

Back in 1999, David started to think that the time was right for him to step out and start his own business. We were just young enough to be fearless, just naive enough to not be intimidated. After a lot of talking, praying, and planning, David decided in February of 2000 that he wanted to go for it. And here's what happened in our lives over the next three months:

We decided to move to Birmingham because D. felt like it was where we were supposed to be. I quit my job. We found a banker who really believed in us, then signed a contract on a house in B'ham. We put our house in BR on the market, sold that house within two weeks and got the exact amount we needed. I found my "dream job" in B'ham, and David quit his job in BR. We moved to B'ham on the first Friday in June, and on the next Monday David got his first client.

In retrospect I think, "Well, obviously, clearly, we were insane."

I mean, you don't just quit your jobs, sell your house, build another house in a city you hardly know, AND start a new business all at the same time. But we did, y'all.

And as I look back over that time, I also think, "God was so faithful." He worked out every single detail, made every possible provision, and our lives have never been the same. The move was, without a doubt, the most important step of faith we've ever taken.

In our study this week, Beth used the story of Paul's shipwreck in Acts to illustrate four core truths about faith, and I related so strongly that it brought tears to my eyes.

1. Feelings or perceptions cannot be the basis of faith even in the most Spirit-filled life.
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our gut feeling isn't always the same thing as the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Looking back on our move from BR to B'ham reminds me how true this is. If I had looked at our situation objectively, I would've never agreed to go. But I knew that God was leading us. I trusted that He wouldn't abandon us. And really, to see Him at work like He was, we had no choice but to follow. My gut feeling said, "STAAAAY!" But the Holy Spirit said - again and again - "GOOOOO!" I'm so glad we did.

2. Faith comes from listening!
Beth points out that "Paul chose faith. Everything he could see and feel screamed death and disaster, but Paul's greatest reality was what he could not see." If David and I had relied on what we thought might happen, if we had been deterred by our worst case scenario as we prepared to "pull up stakes," we would've been paralyzed by fear - no doubt about it. And even though fear would creep into our hearts from time to time, even though we knew the risks were great, our greatest hope was what (and Who!) we could not see.

So, at this point you're probably thinking, "My, this is a lovely little story, BooMama. Good for you that you moved and all. I'm sure it was an exciting time."

But if you think the story of our move is a fairy tale, you are, in fact, waaaay wrong.

Which leads us to point #3.

3. God's deliverance came through the ship running aground!
Going into all the details of what happened in the first three years we lived here would be nearly impossible. But it. was. so. hard. Without a doubt, it was the most grueling, agonizing, challenging, and borderline depressing time of my life. For lots of reasons.

Beth says, "Deliverance does not mean ease....God's deliverance in your life may be one of the most excruciating things you ever experience."

Yes. Excruciating. EXCELLENT word choice.

I firmly believe that the main reason God led us to Birmingham was because we had Junk To Deal With, and this is where He wanted us to confront it (there are specific reasons why I believe this, but then this post would turn into what Jeana calls a bleries or a blovel). So if you're in this study and did your day 4 homework, that's exactly what we were up against.

But now, when I think about all the things we had to confront, all the trials we experienced, all the problems that seemed insurmountable, I am overwhelmed by God's faithfulness. Beth says, "Heavy winds and raging seas don't always mean you're on the wrong course. It may mean you're right on target....Perhaps He couldn't get you to your destination any other way...."

No doubt about it. For three years God took us down a road I would've never chosen, but it was the absolute perfect path. He didn't give us what we wanted, but we got exactly what we needed. Why? Because...

4. God always has a destination in mind when he delivers.
When Paul and his shipmates landed on Malta, they were greeted by people who were warm, welcoming and kind. Beth says, "...once you have been faithful to who He is, He will show you what He can do. Malta was a place of miracles, a place of healing, and a place of supplication."

That's exactly what THIS place has been for us. It's our little Malta. :-)

And here's what's so encouraging to me about this week's study: our lack of faithfulness can never, ever nullify His abundant supply. God is who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can do. He is faithful - ALWAYS - so it makes perfect sense to respond to Him with belief, with trust, and with a faithful heart that longs to mirror His faithfulness to us.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

JannaFlipflop Robin
This is a list of the women participating in the study and the links to their blogs. New postings on the study will be published for the next ten weeks, between Friday 8pm - Saturday 8am. Please feel free to visit each of us and comment. Everyone is welcome to participate in this discussion as we seek to live beyond ourselves. May God bless you richly from the hearing of His word.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Greetings From CrazyLand! Wish You Were Here!

A couple of weeks ago, when Alex and I were riding down the road, he said, "Hey Mama?" in the absolute sweetest inquisitive tone you can imagine.

I answered, "Yes, precious darlin' angel boy?" [okay, slight exaggeration. But I was feeling much love in that moment.]

And my child - the one for whom I have provided gentle, loving care, the one for whom I have suffered all manner of insufferable diapers, the one for whom I have sacrificed every single shred of my pride - replied with, "Are you CRAZY, Mama?"

At the time I giggled a little and said, "No, buddy - Mama's not crazy." And then he giggled along with me and oh if we weren't the McGigglesons in my car, yukking it up as we made our way down the road.

Oh, silly Alex. Asking Mama if she was crazy? Witty, clever child.

But I've thought about that exchange several times over the last couple of days, and I've decided that the toddler, he was on to something.

Because here's the thing.


I can't even begin to tell you what the last three or four days have been like. But the word that comes to mind is the one that I've already overused abundantly in this post, so I won't say "the 'c' word" again.

Most of the time I do a decent job of managing my commitments. I'm involved in more activities than I talk about here, mainly because some of the stuff I do requires a certain degree of confidentiality.

You know, the spy stuff.

But aside from dismantling smart bombs, perfecting my faux accents, and mastering the art of ka-RAH-tay ("Friends," anyone?), I think I went a bit overboard with my shed-ule this past week. In fact, I know I did.

Last week when I was doing my Bible study homework, there was a question that said, "Are you trying to do so much that you're failing to do some of it well?" I immediately answered, "yes," listed the stuff that I needed to back away from for awhile, and actually got pretty proactive about making some changes.

Here. I have proof.

1) I decided not to do VBS at church this year. I initially volunteered to help so that Alex could go to the activities that they plan for the teachers' kids who are ages 1-4, because, well, the child adores an activity (I don't know where he gets it). But you know, he and I can do plenty of fun things at home the week of VBS, maybe even go see a relative or two, and there's absolutely no law that says I MUST PARTICIPATE. So no VBS.

2) I found a person to take over this cookie ministry thing I do at our church (you join the church, you get homemade cookies delivered to your front door). Getting people to bake cookies wasn't the problem, but getting the deliveries done was becoming a problem. You can imagine the joy that comes from dragging your three year old to all parts of Birmingham as you try to make 11 cookie deliveries on a Monday afternoon. So, yay, me. I've handed off the cookies.

But here's what this week has made me realize. Those two things that I was so proud of giving up? Not even a DROP IN THE BUCKET.

I'm not one of those people who has a hard time saying "no" - quite the contrary - but I am one of those people who likes to "do." The problem is, over the last few months, the "doing" feels like it's taking over. And I need, oh-so-desperately, to just "be" for awhile. Allow me to use "quotes" one more "time" in this "paragraph."

This weekend has the potential for lo, even more craziness. Alex has a friend's birthday party (we're SO not going), I have a college graduation party for a girl I used to teach, I have a house that needs my attention, I'm on standby waiting for a shipment for some of this stuff I do that I don't talk about (no biggie - just a large cache of confiscated missile parts), I have a special service to attend Sunday afternoon, and I would like to, at some point, sleep.

So here's my plan. I'll get my LBY post up sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. And then I'm going to take a couple of days off from blogging. It's not that I don't love it - have mercy, sometimes I think I enjoy writing about my life as much as I enjoy living it (which is, you know, a problem) - but I've just got to make some time to wind down, lest this whirling dervish get caught in the middle of an irreversible tizzy.

And I'm sure I'll dream up even more astoundingly average content over the weekend, which should give all of you something to feel ambivalent about while I'm gone.


Is all my sidebar stuff showing up on your computer?

Because it's completely missing from mine, and I can't figure out why.

Let the troubleshooting begin.... :-)

Time, Time, Time - See What's Become Of Me

Bev tagged me to write about a few things that help me manage my time. At first I laughed a little bit because I can be a total procrastinator and some days waste time as if I were trying to win some form of Time Wasting Competition (that would be a terribly original name for such a contest, wouldn't it?).

But there are several things I do around here that make life easier and more efficient.

1. I keep one of those dry erase board calendars on my refrigerator. Every month I take Alex's Mother's Day Out calendar and list everything on my calendar...due dates, picture days, birthday parties, etc. I list everything that we have going on at church, everything D. and I have happening, and bascially put our entire month's schedule on there. It keeps me sane.

2. I catch up on phone calls when I'm sitting in traffic. There's been all kinds of construction on the road that leads to our house, and inevitably I'll pick A. up from Mother's Day Out and end up sitting in traffic for 30 minutes trying to get up the mountain. It's a great time to return calls, check in on friends, etc., especially considering that Alex is typically sound asleep in the backseat within five minutes of picking him up.

And yes, I'm very, very careful when I use the phone in the car. I hold the phone at the 10 and 2 position, plus I dial and hang up with the same foot - none of that two footed dialing in my car. No ma'am.

3. I make my grocery list in order of the aisles in the store [now I'm ducking so that I'm not hit by the objects y'all are hurling at your computer screens]. But it helps me so much...time is of the essence when grocery shopping with a toddler who considers it his life's mission to become close, personal friends with all the Publix customers and employees.

Now that I've written this post, it feels a little like the Works For Me Wednesday that Shannon does, so just consider it Works For Me Wednesday, two days late - which is very much in keeping with my procrastinatory* tendencies - as well as Time Management 101, which is what Bev asked me to do in the fist place. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will. Though I'm certainly not advocating the stoning of birds.

*And I totally just made up that word. At first I thought it really was a word, then I realized no, no it isn't, but I'm leaving it because it's my blog and I can.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Little Man

A few pictures from this week's Adventures of Alex...

Best part about a trip to the zoo? The carousel. But NOT when the carousel stops. Carousel stopping is obviously the work of the devil.

And here's the thing with chickens. To fully understand them, you really have to get down on their level.

All the classes at A.'s Mothers' Day Out made these hats. He's very proud that he painted the dots, by the way. He would tell you ALL about the dots if you asked him. Very proud.

I'm proud that we convinced him to keep the hat on his head for more than four seconds because, well, with a hat this big, you've gotta get a picture.

He gets bigger every day, it seems.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Important Question Requiring Your Deep Thought And Insight

Alex is in quite the "Finding Nemo" phase...he wants to watch it every night before he goes to bed, and he talks about it first thing every morning. He especially loves the part where Nemo disobeys his daddy and swims out past the drop-off - inevitably Alex looks at me with great seriousness in his eyes and says, "Mama. Nemo touched the boat. Nemo gets time out. He's disobedient, Mama."

And at that moment, at least inside my head, I high-five myself, just a little bit.

Anyway, David and I are in the midst of an ongoing debate regarding the end of the movie. I'm hoping that the internet can resolve it.

Here is the issue:

In the final scenes of the movie, what exactly is the nature of the relationship between the daddy, Marlin, and Dory, the fish who helped him to find Nemo?

The first time I asked David this question, he looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head and said, "They're FRIENDS."

But I am a woman, and with women relationships are rarely, if ever, that simple. Especially when single people are involved.

I personally believe that Marlin and Dory may be, well, dating.

Here's why.

When Marlin and Dory are trapped inside the whale, Dory tells Marlin she never wants to forget what it's like to be with him, because being with him feels like home. Those aren't "just friends" words, people.

Then, when Nemo goes back to school towards the end of the movie, Dory is there when Mr. Ray picks him up, and she says, "See you after school, Nemo!" Which implies that she's around a lot.

I'm just sayin'.

Two single fish...both funny...bonded together by adventure...sounds like a recipe for love, if you ask me.

p.s. - Yes. Insane. Yes. :-)

Another Day, Another Meme

Carol tagged me for this short little meme....

What is your favorite word? Based on this blog, it's apparently either "just" or "really." I seem to like those two words more than the rest. :-)

What is your least favorite word? "Religious." Not a fan.
And for what it’s worth, I also really dislike the word "spore."

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Creatively – writing for my blog. I’ve written more in the last six months than I have since college, and this time I actually, you know, enjoy the writing. I wonder if David regrets encouraging me to write again, because let's face it: I've gone waaay past "hobby" with this blog thing. I believe a more appropriate word would be "obsession."

Spiritually - I love me a sermon series or a Bible study presented by a wise teacher - learning really gets me going. Music does, too...on Sunday mornings, the music definitely prepares my heart for the teaching that follows.

Emotionally - Unexpected sweetness pretty much melts my heart.

What turns you off? Arrogance – in any shape or form.

What is your favorite curse word? OH this is a very different answer than it would have been 10 years ago (I came away from graduate school with a big ole case of potty mouth). So it is a great victory for me to be able to tell you that my favorite curse word is “dadgumit.” The South, you know. I also say, “oh have mercy” about 45 times a day.

What sound or noise do you love? I love hearing Alex talk to himself before he falls asleep. And I also love to hear what he says when he first walks downstairs in the mornings...every single day, he seems surprised that his daddy and I are still there: “OH! HEY MAMA! HEY DADDY! DID YA SLEEP GOOD? CAN I HAVE WAFFLE WITH SYRUP? PLEEEEEEEASE?”

And I typed that in all caps because the child talks in all caps. All caps, all the time.

What sound or noise do you hate? The sound a knife and fork make when they rub against each other. Also, the imagined sound of someone chewing on tinfoil makes me shudder.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Christian counselor.

What profession would you not like to do? Anything involving the analysis of numbers would drive. me. slowly. insane.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Hey, sweet girl* – I’ve been waiting on you all your life. And you can find the TiVo room down the hall on your right, right past the chocolate fountain and the bottomless diet Coke spigot. Enjoy!”

I'm tagging anyone who needs a meme because they're fresh out of stuff to write about. ;-)

* - and it's not that I'm so sweet. AT ALL. It's that He's God. And I just think He would say "sweet girl," because He's personal like that. :-)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Idol Re-Cap: Final Three

You'll all be happy to know that David is taking this opportunity to fine-tune our TiVo settings, not that I'm, you know, ANXIOUS or anything about tonight's Idol, not that I haven't been looking forward to this all day, not that I didn't FLY down the stairs when I finally got Alex to bed so that I could WATCH MY SHOW. :-)

Ah, all done now...and it looks like it's going to be three songs per contestant tonight: one chosen by Clive Davis (Whitney Houston's producer before she had the meltdown), one chosen by the judges, and one chosen by the contestants.

Elliott Yamin -
"Open Arms" - A Journey song? Really? Yes, really. And while this song does remind me of every awkward social experience I had in junior high, it was pretty good. Could've been really cheesy - and it's certainly nothing I would want to buy - but Elliott did pretty well with it.

"What You Don't Do For Love" - I do love this song that Paula chose for him. It seemed like he was dragging, though - and screaming, too. But I love to hear Elliott sing some of the older R & B songs - they really suit his style and his voice.

"I Believe To My Soul" - Funky and fun and everything good right here. If I could download his version of this song right now (legally, of course), I would listen to it over and over and over. Great arrangement, great vocal. Loved it.

Katharine McPhee -
"I Believe I Can Fly" - I cannot STAND this song. But somehow she made it sound like the big finale for a Disney heroine. And y'all, the more I hear Katharine, the more I wonder if she's going to be a great leading lady on Broadway instead of a best-selling recording artist. David says that she pushes too hard - and I think he's right. It seems like she's trying to do all kinds of fancy stuff - but she sounds better when she's understated and subtle.

"Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - Perfect. Perfect song. Perfect arrangement. Perfect performance. Perfectly beautiful. And did she remind anyone else of Sarah MacLachan? So subtle and elegant and perfect. LOVED IT.

"I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues" - I love this song choice. It was FUN FUN FUN. I think Miss McPhee may have secured her ticket to the finals.

Taylor Hicks -
"Dancing In The Dark" - I am SO not a Springsteen fan (I know, it's un-American). And this song is, well, okay. When you consider that the song bored me to tears when it was a hit, it's probably not much of a shock to discover I didn't love it tonight. Would've been better if he had pulled Courteney Cox on the stage to dance with him. ;-)

"You Are So Beautiful" - I thought this was a really romantic and sweet version of this song. I didn't expect to like it, but it came across as so sincere, so genuine, that it actually brought a little tear to mine eye.

"Try A Little Tenderness" - Hallelujah and Amen. I will be listening to this performance LOUDLY in mere minutes - and dancing spastically throughout my house. David actually didn't like it at all, but he's not a Taylor fan like I am. I, on the other hand, ADORED IT.

By the way, the judges were out of control tonight and totally on my nerves. And Paula? Paula, Paula, Paula.

Should go: Elliott
Will go: Elliott
Best of the night: Katharine's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" - but Taylor's last song was mighty fun indeed.

Comfort Food

All this talk of Mamaw’s chocolate pudding and apple tarts has really made me think about 1) food (but what else is new?) and 2) how childhood memories – at least in the South, though I assume it's universal – have a way of getting tied up with food. I have tons of memories of being outside and riding bikes and exploring the chicken coops in Papaw’s barn – but those memories are linked to walking back inside, wandering into Mamaw’s kitchen, and finding a snack of fresh lemonade and leftover toast with a little homemade plum jelly on it.

When I was a little girl, being at Mamaw and Papaw Davis’ house meant chocolate pudding, homemade apple tarts, fried chicken, fresh vegetables, and a loaf of white bread on the table at every meal. Mamaw Davis died when I was 12, so I haven’t had her food in over 20 years, but I can taste her fried corn right now, not to mention her sweet tea that had so much sugar it actually made you pucker a little bit when you swallowed it.

Being at Mamaw and Papaw Sims’ house meant sixteen kinds of ice cream in the deep freeze, boiled peanuts, and basically all the treats Mama and Daddy would never let us have. Mamaw Sims died when I was five, so I don’t remember her cooking, but I do remember that Papaw Sims would LOAD US UP on candy and popcorn and peanuts and ice cream when we visited. To this very day, if Sister and I are together and have to stop at a convenience store, one of us will buy diet Mountain Dews (it would’ve been Sundrop back in the day), peanuts, bubble gum, Red Hots, etc. – and then imitate Papaw Sims when we distribute the goodies.

Even at three, Alex knows that going to my mama and daddy’s house means donuts, Coke, and Cheetos, and going to David's mother's means biscuits, Goldfish, and chocolate. It makes me smile.

Now I know I’m from the South, where we talk about what’s for lunch while we’re eating breakfast, where we bemoan how stuffed we are while we ask somebody to pass us that coconut cake, but my guess is that just about everybody has two or three (or nine or eleven) foods that remind them of childhood, and comfort, and family.

Mine are fried okra, mashed potatoes, chocolate pie and sweet tea.

What are yours?

I reserve the right to ask for recipes.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Numbering Creates The Illusion Of Coherence

1. I'm not as up-to-date with celebrity news as I used to be, what with giving up my InTouch / Us / People habit this year (yes, I fell off the wagon when I had a night alone...every once in awhile you just need some big colorful pictures with mindless captions).

But I have decided that I have a distinct pet peeve in the land of celebrity reportage.

(Is "reportage" even a word? Well, it should be.)

Why do magazines, newspapers, etc. always distinguish between biological children and adopted children? Why is everyone in a big hip-hip-hoo about this Brangelina baby, yet when reporters mention their other two children, they refer to them as "adopted"? Why are Tom Cruise's kids with Nicole Kidman always referred to as "adopted," while his newest child is just "Tom and Katie's [excuse me. Kate. Tom's very insistent that we call her Kate.] kid"? Aren't the other two children "just his kids," too?

Because I'll tell you this (she says, as she creeps up to the stairs that lead to her soapbox): my love for my child is in no way, shape, form or fashion based on the fact that I gave birth to him. I love him because he IS, not because of where he came from. And I don't see why the media relegate children who are LOVINGLY CHOSEN to some sort of second-tier status.

Should I start a letter writing campaign? How do you even do that?
Dear Us Magazine,

I've noticed that you distinguish between adopted and non-adopted children.

Stop it.

It really does make me crazy - doesn't make sense at ALL.

2. I don't know if you've seen Sarah's good news or not - but it's cause for praise. Click on over to see a mighty sweet baby girl.

3. Here is the Slap Yo Mama Chocolate Pudding recipe that I mentioned earlier today (though that's not the pudding's official name - I can't really hear my grandmother saying that, and I think that the official name is, surprisingly, "Chocolate Pudding").

You need to know that my Mamaw Davis was the best cook in six counties - three hot meals a day, everything homemade or homegrown - and this is one of the few recipes anyone bothered to write down. So I'm sharing a little of my cooking heritage with's one of the strongest sensory memories of my childhood. It is SO. DADGUM. GOOD.
3/4 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder (I like Hershey's)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (that is not a typo - that would be 4 egg yolks total, or two days' worth of your recommended cholesterol intake) :-)
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract

In a medium-sized saucepan (no heat yet), stir together first three ingredients until there are no lumps. I actually run mine through a sifter, but hey, I'm OCD.

In a separate bowl, beat your eggs.

Fold eggs into dry mixture.

Once eggs are fully incorporated, add milk, stir until combined, and then turn on stove to a medium-high heat. You do not want to boil this be careful you don't have too much heat going or the pudding will curdle.

Stir or whisk mixture constantly until it starts to thicken - about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Makes 4-6 servings, which I pour immediately into individual dessert bowls (cools quicker that way).
And please, whatever you do, no matter how delicious it may be, please, during the making or eating of this pudding, do not, under any circumstances, slap your mama.

Even though you'll want to. :-)

The Mother Lode

Saturday night David and I were talking about our plans for Sunday. We're not usually ones to make a big deal over the greeting card companies' holidays, so Sunday promised to be a pretty low-key event: church, lunch, rest, play. The usual. But as we ran through all the possible options, David, in a fit of inspiration, looked at me and said, "Hey - do you want for me to take Alex to church tomorrow and you can stay here?"

And I promise you that before he even finished his sentence, I screamed, "OKAY!"

Y'all know that I love my church. I love GOING to church with my family. But getting to stay home by myself? Unexpectedly?

That's a SERIOUS reason to praise the Lord. :-)

So my day started with some coffee, and some sweet presents, and then the little man and David headed out for breakfast and church.

Then I had church right here in my own house. I cranked up my music, started making my way through my to-do list, and I thanked Him and praised Him all morning long. I really did, y'all. You may not have known that laundry could be an act of worship, but I’m telling you that yesterday, in my house, it was. This is a crazy time of year for me, and it blessed my soul to be able to do a little “freestyle” worship in solitude. Totally energizing.

And if that weren’t enough joy for one day, yesterday afternoon something happened to me that has never happened before.

When I was a little girl and would watch Miss America, I would wonder why the winner always cried. I didn’t understand that. I mean, if you’re happy, IF SOMEONE PUTS A LARGE CROWN ON YOUR HEAD, why in the world would you cry? And how could the emotions come on that fast? I wondered if they secretly practiced their “pageant cry” in the mirror - if they worked for hours to get the whole crying-laughing-streaming tears routine just like they liked it.

I did experience "the joyful cry" when we had the ultrasound that showed us we were having a boy, but the crying wasn’t unexpected because I was an emotional wreck heading into my doctor’s appointment that day. So it didn't come at me from out of nowhere...I sort of expected to bawl my eyes out, truth be told.

Well, yesterday afternoon the phone rang, and my aunt was on the other end. She said, “Guess what I got for Mother’s Day?”

And I’m thinking, well, it's a pretty wide open field - I honestly have no idea.

So I played along and said, “I don’t know. What?”

She said, “I got a yellow fleece snuggly, and a yellow bib that says, ‘I love my grandma.’”

Which means.

My cousin Paige.



Her first baby.

14 weeks along.

Y’all, I don’t know what emotional reservoir that news tapped into, but I have never cried tears of pure joy so spontaneously in my life. To know how badly Paige has wanted this baby, to know that she is the most tenderhearted person in the free world and will be the BEST. MAMA. EVIR., to know that Alex will have another cousin, but more than anything to know the joy that is in front of her and how it will absolutely knock her socks off...well, I had a moment.

All I needed to complete said moment was a crown, a scepter, and a large bouquet of roses, because I am telling you, I had that whole Miss America cry DOWN. I perfected it in mere minutes.

So for the rest of the day, no matter what Alex did, I would think about Paige, and everything she has to look forward to. I guess I was talking about the big news a lot, because Alex kept saying, “What’s tomorrow, Mama? PAIGE’S! BABY!”

After supper I made homemade chocolate pudding – it’s my Mamaw Davis’ recipe, and it is slap-yo-mama good (appropriate, isn’t it, for Mother’s Day?) – and apparently the pudding made such an impression on Alex that he thanked God for it twice last night when he said his prayers.

And as I listened to Alex say his prayers - as he thanked God for the chocolate pudding, and the chocolate pudding that got on his shirt, and for outside, and for colors, and for Paige, and Paige's baby, and for carseat (yeah, I know - but he thanked Him for it), and for family, and for playing trains, and for tub, and bed, and pajamas, and Cheetos, and about 20 other things - I had church, in my own house, for the second time on Mother's Day.

Sweet, sweet Paige. And that sweet little baby. The two of them have absolutely no idea what they're going to mean to each other. So many blessings, so much joy - just right around the corner for their family.

It was a really, really good day.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Adventures In Mowing

I know it's Mother's Day, but it is ALL DADDY, ALL THE TIME around our house these days.

I believe this phase is what the childrearing experts refer to as "modeling."

I personally refer to it as "Oh blessed sweet relief."

The little man does still like to snuggle with his mama. But he wants to do EVERYTHING his daddy does, whether it's checking the phone lines, or reading a magazine, or going to Best Buy (what is it with guys and Best Buy?), or mowing the grass.

We've tried to be cautious about Alex getting near equipment with, you know, SHARP SPINNING BLADES, but now he's getting old enough to understand that he has to keep a respectful distance from the machines that make loud noises. And when David got out the mower, Alex was more than happy to follow behind with a somewhat less sophisticated model.

First Alex made his way to the end of the driveway to show his daddy his cool new equipment.

Note the careful attention to detail as he worked his way around the mailbox shrubbery.

Unfortunately, Alex inherited my ability to fall down for no discernible reason. So the yardwork was interrupted for just a minute while he sought comfort from Mama. I love the fact that David is smiling in the background. Almost as much as I love the fact that I made time to take a picture when my child was crying. PARENTS OF THE YEAR!

And they were both back to the task at hand in no time at all.

Aren't they the sweetest, y'all?

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery - 1920-2006

I know that if you didn't grow up in Mississippi, this post might be a little puzzling to you. I even hesitated to write it at all, until I got an email from Lea Margaret this morning that said, basically, "You HAVE to write it; this is what heritage and place are all about. Alex needs to know."

And she's right. He does.

Yesterday, we lost one of Mississippi's most beloved sons, Sonny Montgomery.

Sonny was a member of the US House of Representatives for thirty years (1967-1997), and he was from my hometown. He was an old-school Southern democrat, committed to fighting for our farmers, and our soldiers, and our families. A soldier himself, he very literally dedicated his life to his country, and as I thought today about what he meant to the small Mississippi town where I grew up, I cried.

When I was a little girl, I used to walk with my daddy from the courthouse to the main post office in Meridian. Sonny's office was on the 2nd or 3rd floor, and I can remember running into him on the courthouse steps, listening to him and daddy shoot the breeze in the way that only Southern men can do. It never occurred to me that Sonny was "important" - he was just the nice man who always wore a suit and tie and traveled to Washington a bunch.

When I was around 13 or 14, I remember going up to Sonny's office with my cousin Paige and picking up boxes of Congressional cookbooks so that we could pass them out at the Neshoba County Fair. It was about 114 in the shade that day, but Paige and I were as proud as could be...we were on a mission "for Sonny," and that felt like a mighty big honor indeed.

I was probably in high school before I understood that Sonny was one of the most powerful men in Washington, before I realized that his closest friend was a man named George Herbert Walker Bush. Sonny was very close to my friend Liz's family, and many nights when we were hanging out at Liz's house, Sonny would come through her front door - in a suit and tie, as always - and make time for conversation with a bunch of silly teenagers. He was a Southern gentleman in every sense of the word.

When I was in college I would sometimes get home on Fridays in time to eat lunch at Weidmann's with my mama, and many Fridays I would see Sonny at a table with five or six other men, holding court and philosophizing about whatever the topic of the day might be. And his behavior was no different with dignitaries. I'll never forget Liz's mama telling us about eating dinner with Sonny and President and Mrs. Bush. Sonny and the President got into a lively discussion about running and weight, and at one point in the conversation, the President looked at Liz's mom, who is a dedicated runner, and said, "So, J., what do YOU weigh?" He and Sonny obviously had a pretty down-to-earth relationship. :-)

What strikes me now - in an age where career politicians are often immersed in scandal or consumed by furthering their own agenda - is how normal Sonny was. He genuinely cared for the people he served. To this day I've never heard anyone say a negative thing about him. Let that sink in for just a second...he was a politician...and I've never heard a negative word.

Sid Salter, an editor at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, says that "It was Mongomery's life as a soldier that shaped his political career. He became the very best friend that veterans of American military service ever had. Through the Montgomery GI Bill, Sonny did more to help middle and lower income Americans get a college education than perhaps any other American." You can read the details of his accomplishments here, if you're interested.

About two and a half years ago, David and I were at Mississippi State one Saturday for a football game. We were wandering around campus, and I remembered that Montgomery Hall - named for Sonny - had been renovated and was being dedicated that day. We managed to get there right at the end of the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and when I saw Sonny from a distance, I did a bit of a double-take. Sitting in a chair, he looked frail - not at all like I remembered him. For just a second I was sad, because I, like so many, remember a man with a spring in his step, a purpose in his stride.

But when it was time for pictures on the steps of Montgomery Hall, Sonny stood up. He had on a maroon blazer with a perfectly coordinated tie - ever the loyal Bulldog, even in his 80's - and as he gazed out at the crowd that had gathered to honor him, he looked like the same man I'd seen outside the courthouse in Meridian 25 years before...dignified, charming and humble.

It's no secret that Mississippi isn't always portrayed in a positive light by the media or by people in other parts of the country. Never mind that my home state has produced John C. Stennis, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Tennesee Williams, Morgan Freeman, Eudora Welty, Leontyne Price, B.B. King, and countless other pioneers in government, in literature, in music, in the arts, in science, and in industry.

Sonny Montgomery belongs on that list of pioneers. He went to Washington during one of the most turbulent times in Mississippi's history, and he gained the respect of the men and women who worked with him. More than that, he earned the admiration of the men and women who elected him. And he never lost it.

We will miss him.