Friday, June 30, 2006

You Are Cordially Invited... participate in a little shindig being organized over at A Gracious Home.

Now I'm fairly new (in the grand scheme of things) to all this bloggy business, and I see that there are some pretty specific requirements for these awards, but my guess is that every single person in the "Bloggity Goodness" links on my sidebar meets the criteria. And there are lots of categores besides the one you see to the left...that was just the only badge I could find on their website.

So if you have the time, do yourself a favor. Make a point to visit some (or all!) of the people I link to day in and day out. Check out the "Captivating" study girls, too. I am constantly encouraged and humbled by how well these women write, how deeply they think, and how fun they are to read.

Then, after you look at their blogs, as well as any others you read, think about heading over to "award headquarters" and taking the time to nominate a few.

And by the way...I don't know any bloggers who write because they want to win contests. They write because they love it and because they have something to say. But encouragement is always a nice thing, and so many of the bloggers I read are deserving of a little pat on the back.

So thanks, Carol, for getting the word out...without you, I'd never have known that I can nominate all my favorites.

I'll be working on that list directly. :-)

You Can't Even Imagine The Horror Of It All

If I seem a little shaky this morning, it's because my husband took the computer from me during my normal writing time (while Alex is eating breakfast) and took it downstairs because we hadn't password protected our wireless network or somesuch nonsense, and yes, while I see the value in keeping everything secure so that some crafty geekazoid can't look at my hard drive while he's sitting at the end of my driveway and therefore determine once and for all if I use mayonnaise or cream cheese in my chicken and broccoli casserole, I TREASURE those few minutes of peace and quiet in the morning when Alex is trying to spear his waffle with his fork and I can actually string some words together and make sentences or even paragraphs.

At one point, when it seemed to me like I had given David AMPLE time to set up the network password thing-y, I went to the top of the stairs that go down to his office and said, "Hey. Just so you know? I'm starting to twitch up here!" He did laugh - but in a "I'm-somewhat-worried-that-we're-going-to-have-to-put-you-through-blogging-detox" sort of way. He said he'd be finished in about five minutes, so you can be proud of my restraint when, TWENTY MINUTES LATER, he finally returned the computer to its rightful place. With me.

I was planning to write about TV guilty pleasures this morning, and I had this whole angle worked out in my head about how as Christians sometimes we feel "wrong" or like we have to hide it if we get interested in some pop culture something-or-other - and how good grief we all need some entertainment every now and again and can't possibly just sit on our hands and sing "Blessed Assurance" from sun-up to sun-down - but I can't even remember everything I wanted to say right now because I don't know if I mentioned it but MY HUSBAND? HE TOOK THE COMPUTER FROM ME.

Anyway, please understand: you will never ever hear me say that I think it's okay for people to sit around and watch certain kinds of shows or movies (NO WAY I'm typing in the adjective that would describe those shows or movies...don't want those Google searches). I'm just talking about stuff you like on network television. Stuff you can watch without it becoming some sort of stumbling block. Stuff that won't hurt your marriage or damage your testimony. Just so we're clear.

So since you now know - at least if you read the comments to my post from yesterday - that I TiVo a little show about P. Diddy's search for a new all-girl band, and since we also know from those comments that Shannon TiVo'd the Britney Spears / Matt Lauer interview (HOW MUCH DO I LOVE THAT?), and Amanda and Barb have interesting favorites, too, I'm guessing that most of us have some TV guilty pleasures that we enjoy on a pretty regular basis.

Mine? "Project Runway," "24," "America's Top Model," and oh my sweet goodness "The Office."

Yours? NO JUDGMENT. I promise. :-)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I Have A Confession To Make

I Tivo'd "The View" today.

And I feel a little guilty.

I mean, I've never watched "The View" except for a couple of times when it first came on. I'm sure the girls on the show are lovely people in real life, but on TV they all sort of get on my nerves talking on top of one another, and I always feel like it's some sort of weird contest to see who can be the most "outrageous" or "hip" or "controversial."

But to me it was all just "annoying."

But then this Star Jones / Barbara Walters thing happened - and I just had to check it out. Would that be called television rubbernecking? Craning your neck to survey the damage as you slowly channelsurf past the morning show train wreck?

And to make sure I got all the latest "View" info, I even Tivo'd one of those entertainment "news" magazines (this is "apparently" the "post" of "quotation marks") a couple of nights ago. You know, the shows where they scream at you and use the word "hot" a whole bunch? (Which reminds me: have I discussed my disdain for the use of the word "party" as a verb? I need to put that on my list.)

So that's all. No other point to this, really.

And for all I know, this whole thing was just a big publicity stunt to get normally disinterested parties like me to watch "The View."

I guess it worked. Because if they have a big tearful reunion show about two months down the road?

I'm SO there.


Thursday Thirteen

Banner by Kelly

Bev did this for her Thursday Thirteen - and I thought it was such a good idea that I'm borrowing it.

Plus, this whole potty training thing has totally sapped my creativity. :-)

But I won't talk about potty training ANYMORE.

At least not today.

Thirteen Things I'm Thankful For

1. We set the TiVo to record "A Bug's Life" over the weekend. But "Pillow Talk" came on instead. And I would SOOO rather watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson than animated bugs. Have y'all SEEN all those cute stoles and hats that Doris Day wore? I think I want to be her when I grow up.

2. We have air conditioning. That may seem a little trivial, but I'm not taking it forgranted. Because I don't know if you've noticed, but OH MY SWEET MERCY it's hot.

3. We have a fresh 24-pack of diet Coke in the kitchen.

4. Ground chuck is on sale for $1.99 a pound at Publix. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. It makes me want to buy eleventy hundred pounds. But I don't have a deep freeze. Or $2200 to spend on hamburger meat. But still.

5. WIRELESS, HIGH SPEED INTERNET. Let's have a moment of silence in honor of that one, especially given the fact that this past weekend I was bogged down in Daddy's dial-up debacle.

6. When Alex says his prayers at night, he says, "Thank you for Jesus' name. Thank you for Amen." And it makes me want to cry just a little bit.

7. Remember me telling you about Emma Kate and Brad feeling led (by God - not with, you know, a leash) to do a new work in Tupelo? Well, things are movin' and groovin' with that. And one day, in the not-so-distant-future, when I tell y'all all the details, you're not going to believe it. Well, yes you will. But I'm telling you, it is gonna be cause for some TESTIFYIN', and God will get ALL the glory. Seriously.

8. My husband just stopped by the couch on his way to bed and gave me a very sweet hug and kiss. That never, ever gets old.

9. You. I'm thankful for YOU, the person sitting there, looking at your monitor, wishing this post were over already. :-) Writing is great and all, but this blog wouldn't be nearly as fun for me if y'all didn't make time to read it. And comment. And email. And call. And come back day after day.

10. Sarah is going to be writing for Lisa Whelchel's website (yes! BLAIR WARNER! I KNOW!). I am so tickled for Sarah - first of all because she's one of my favorite people I've never met - and secondly because God is providing her with a ministry so uniquely geared to her gifts. If you're not reading her blog, you're missing a blessing. I just love her.

11. This person and this person and this person are all coming to visit soon. And we're going to Paula's restaurant! We are!

12. I don't have to cook for the next two nights! We're having supper at our neighbors' house tonight, then at some other friends' house tomorrow night. And I will be thrilled to death if all we have is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich - because I don't have to plan it or fix it. That makes me happy.

13. God is good. All the time.

If you're participating in TT this week, leave a comment and make sure to provide a link to your blog in the "webpage" field.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I've Created A Tee-Tee'ing, Chocolate Eating Monster

People who know me in real life (I always feel weird when I say that because it implies that blogging is some sort of fake life, which of course it isn't) will tell you that I have about a 24 hour window for staying at home. I always find that a solid day at home leaves me feeling rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world, but more than that and I start to go a little stir crazy. I start thinking too much, analyzing too much, wondering what "the normal people" are doing at those places where you can shop and eat and work and talk to other adults. I start to feel isolated.

I have been home for over 48 hours now. You must trust me when I tell you that ain't pretty. Because I have lost all perspective and have turned into a crazy woman. A crazy woman armed with a container of Clorox wipes, frantically wiping the commode after every use. Because let's just say that the little man likes to quite literally get in touch with his porcelain surroundings when he uses the bathroom.

It is the potty training that's kept us at home. Necessity, not choice. I've determined that one reason Alex struggled the last couple of weeks is because we were on the go a lot, so I figured it might do him some good to stay put for a few days.

Find his potty groove, if you will.

And it seems to have worked. He has not had an accident all day today - and has pretty much run around unclothed because he wants to use the potty every 2.4 minutes. He has had tons - TONS - of chocolate, but that's okay because I figure we can pay for the dental bills with all the money we're saving on diapers.

Just look how everything works out!

*fake smile*

So I'm going to turn off this computer and go in search of a better mood. And tomorrow we are GOING SOMEWHERE, dadgumit, come tee-tee or high water. Or high tee-tee, heaven forbid.

OH MY SWEET GOODNESS there's no turning back, is there?

Works For Me Wednesday

I haven't talked much about Potty Training '06 because, well, it's been a bit of a train wreck. We moved to Pull-Ups a couple of weeks ago, but any requests / encouragements / demands about going to the bathroom have been met with "No thank you, Mama. I don't want to go to the potty. No thank you."

I give him points for being polite, at least.

But here's what seems to be working (she says, with fingers, toes, and eyes crossed): throw out the Pull-Ups. Put the young'un in some underwear. Let nature take its course. And, despite every pre-parenthood vow that I would not, would NOT bribe my child to bring about a certain behavior, BRIBE THAT CHILD LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS. :-) At least when it comes to potty training.

Seriously, the combination of Superman / Spider Man / Batman underwear, lots of encouragement and praise, and a couple of bags of Hershey's Miniatures (two pieces of chocolate after every successful potty trip) is giving us MUCH better results. He's so much more interested in going to the potty now that his underwear becomes a little, um, uncomfortable if he reverts back to diaper-ish behavior.

And the chocolate helps, seeing as how our child considers it The Most Special Treat Of All The Special Treats In The History Of Ever.

It works for me!

For now. :-)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Family Matters

Alex and his cousin M. have always been pretty big buddies.

But on this latest trip to Mississippi, they got to spend more time together than they normally do. And M. is eight now, so in addition to the fact that she CAN look out for Alex, she WANTS to look out for him. Very maternal, she is.

So as I was transferring these pictures from the camera to the computer this afternoon, I noticed a common denominator that I missed when I took them.

In every single picture, she is in some way reaching for Alex. If she's not reaching, it's because she's holding him.

And I think that's about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

She Would Probably Do Better If She Realized That Surfing The 'Net Is Fat Free

My sister-in-law Rose - who is married to David's brother - is what you might call fit.

No, Fit.

No. FIT.

She's a fitness machine, is what she is.

She's one of those people who has a passion for health and wellness, and as a result she is usually either running or lifting weights or playing tennis or swimming. Sometimes she even runs to the place where she's going to lift weights or play tennis or swim, so inevitably when I'm around her for more than about three minutes I realize that all my Professional Gravy Drinking is not serving me so well fitness-wise. And then I feel like a bit of a slug.

And clearly, when feeling like a slug, the only response is to drink more gravy and then eat donuts. Which really gets me nowhere in my quest for Rose-like fitness. And since the word "quest" implies that I'm actively pursuing some sort of fitness journey, I think saying "my THOUGHTS of Rose-like fitness" would actually be a much more legitimate representation of the truth.

Anyway, this past Saturday night I ran by Scott and Rose's to pick up Alex's car seat and sippy cups and other stuff that had migrated over there during All The Swimming, and Rose was on the computer. Now granted, she was still glistening from her late afternoon run - I'm fairly certain that her arm muscles were pulsing (in direct contrast to my arm muscles that were atrophying by the second) - but as soon as I saw her sitting in front of the computer monitor, I got a little tickled because I knew that comedy - BIG COMEDY - was in store.

Because while my sister-in-law can run a mile in five minutes and hit a tennis ball with deadly accuracy, she can't work a computer to save her life. And when she saw me - her admittedly non-fit but comparatively computer-savvy sister-in-law - she pretty much clapped her hands with glee. And thankfulness.

See, the whole notion of typing a web address in the browser toolbar is utterly foreign to Rose. If she wants to find something, she clicks on the search button, then types what's she's looking for.

In this particular case, she was looking for "guy with funny name on food network who had great zucchini recipe."

I'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that she wasn't getting very strong search results.

So I typed in the homepage for Food Network, bookmarked it, showed her how to pull up the bookmarks, and then found the elusive recipe (shocking newsflash: she will not be including the cheese when she prepares this dish). And then I helped her find several other recipes, and oh it was all so glorious, until Rose realized that she couldn't actually, you know, read the recipes because the font was too small on the screen.

At that point I went into her computer settings, changed her screen resolution, went back to the recipes page, and showed her how the type was now much bigger.

And you would have thought, as the gratefulness was practically pouring out of her non-gravy-drinking mouth, that I had presented her with buckets of chocolate and gold, though the chocolate would most definitely have to be fat- and sugar-free, and come to think of it, she doesn't really like chocolate, so really, I should say: you would have thought that I had presented her with buckets of lettuce and gold.

Only money doesn't mean that much to her, so let's try one more time: you would have thought that I had presented her with buckets of lettuce and pretzels. Yes. That's better.

And all I could think was that it's too bad that blogging doesn't result in rock-solid abs.

Because I'm telling you. If it did?

I would be RIPPED.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oh My Word We're Home

I bet you hate that you missed hearing Alex yell say some variation of "I DON'T WANNA GO HOME; I DON'T WANNA GO TO MY HOUSE" throughout our 2 1/2 hour drive this afternoon, huh?

It was LOTS of fun.

Apparently staying with grandparents and having Coke and pancakes for breakfast agrees with him. He doesn't mind the pound cake for lunch, either. Or having an aunt and cousin around the corner who want nothing more than to take him swimming every single day. Or staying up so late that I'm embarrassed to tell y'all a specific hour.

But suffice it to say: laaaaate.

So the toddler was not at all excited about returning to The Land of Boredom, Home of Ye Olden Routine, though he did get a good bit better once he saw his daddy and had an "OH YEAH - that guy! I LIKE that guy!" moment.

Anyway, now I have laundry to do and phone calls to return and blogs to read (oh my sweet goodness at the blog reading - I need two days of solitude just to catch up). And a Bible study post to write. And a husband who hasn't seen his family in about five days.

See y'all tomorrow.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Greetings From Paige's Closet! Wish You Were Here!

So when Alex and I left home Wednesday, the plan was to spend a couple of nights here at my parents' house, help Paige a little with her baby room plans, visit a bit with the in-laws, and head home Friday or, at the very latest, Saturday.

But Sunday night - 7:12 pm - and I'm still in Mississippi! Oh yes I am.

See, here's the thing about my cousin Paige, who is perhaps the sweetest, most tender-hearted person on the planet: if you gave her a clip for her hair in the 6th grade, and you took a paint pen and wrote her initials on it, and then you wrapped it up in a bag from the dollar store and then made her a card to go with it, she still has every. single. bit. of that gift. Card and all.

And I know for sure that she still has the hair clip, because I saw it in a drawer in her bathroom, along with the stickpin our great aunt Myrt gave her when she was eight.

Which was laying beside a birthday card her daddy gave her six years ago, with the birthday money still inside, because she can't bear to spend the money her daddy gives her because then it's like she loses the gift.

Are you catching on to the fact that she's very, very sentimental?

So while I came here to work on the baby's room, it sort of evolved into more of a whole house clean-out. And we're still not finished. But since I would like to see my, you know, husband, we're taking a break and then picking up again - hopefully with Sister's assistance - sometime in July.

And even though the work has been hard, and even though I never want to see a Sterlite 58 gallon storage container for the rest of my whole life ever, we have had a great time. There's just something about having some uninterrupted time with "kinfolk" that ensures that everything will funnier, that the stories will be even more entertaining than usual, and that at least one person will wet her pants as a result of all the hee-hawing.

An added plus is that I have stuff to write about for oh, the next month or so. I've said before that you can always count on family to provide enough material to pull you through a writing slump, and these last few days are no exception. In fact, I cannot wait to get home, sit down, and just write to my heart's content. Lots of thoughts running through this limited brain-o-mine right now.

And to answer the question a couple of you have asked: no, Paige doesn't know if she's having a boy or a girl. She doesn't want to know, and of course that is oh-so-very-Paige to be perfectly content with not knowing, to be perfectly happy with a little mystery on her hands.

Yesterday we were sorting through some clothes (I really did spend the entire afternoon in her closet), and she said, "I guess this should go in the baby's room." And she sort of patted her belly when she said it, and looked up at me, and said, "You know, that still sounds so weird to me: 'the BABY's room'."

I didn't say anything in return, because I thought that if I did I would probably start to cry, but all I could think was how instantly she will fall in love with that little baby whose existence is so difficult to imagine right now.

And how there is nothing - NOTHING - any sweeter than packing up old hair clips and birthday cards and stick pins to make way for baby blankets and crib sheets and diapers.

And how her life is about to change forever.

Not just because the sleep won't be as plentiful.

But because the love is about to multiply.

Again and again and again.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dear Inventor Of High-Speed Internet: I Love You.

I have been at my cousin Paige's house almost all day long, helping her start the process of getting her house ready for a little one. We've been cleaning out closets and cabinets, trying to get things a bit more organized so that once she hits the third trimester and enters major nesting mode, she won't feel quite so overwhelmed by what she needs to do.

So all of that has been great - her hubby fixed us a wonderful supper, we've laughed a ton, we've called Sister when we felt like she needed to be laughing with us. And we've gotten a ton done. But do you know one other great benefit of being here?

CABLE MODEM, my friends.

I deliberately avoided sitting down at her computer this afternoon, because I knew if I did, and I saw how fast my email loaded and how quickly I could move through all my daily blog reads, I would look up six hours later in a blog-induced daze and say, "Huh? What? We were cleaning? And you're having a baby? Or something? I don't remember? But hey! Toni is going to see Beth Moore!"

So finally, when we finished up with today's work - though we have more in store tomorrow - I checked my email (oh, the speed with which it loaded), I checked my blog (oh, the ease with which the pictures appeared), and then I started to check the other blogs I read (oh, the frequency with which you people have posted over the last three days).

And I have made my rounds. I read everything - but I didn't comment much because I am exhausted and would probably say something like "Emr. Alskb laks eirs." Which doesn't really enhance the conversation at all. But I do feel so much better knowing that my feedreader isn't full, knowing that my inbox isn't overflowing, knowing that I can post this blog entry in about two seconds thanks to the glorious speedy fastness that is a cable modem.

But more than anything, I'm a little surprised. Three days is about the longest I've been away from my computer since I started blogging, and it shocked me today when I realized how much I'd missed reading all my favorites. It's one thing to choose not to blog for a couple of days...but it's another thing entirely when you can't follow your normal blogging routine because your daddy is a child of the depression who sees any technology beyond the bare essentials as pure, unrestrained indulgence and borderline conspicuous consumption. God love him.

All that to say: I have missed y'all. Real-life friends and bloggy friends. And I'll check in this weekend as much as I can.

As Martha Would Say: "FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY"

So Bev wants to know if my mother-in-law reads my blog.

To which I say: haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha.

Or in other words: no.

But I will say this: I would love it if Martha AND Mama would read. Martha would get a HUGE charge out of it, because “Those people who read? They’re from WHERE? Oh my word. Well oh my goodness. That is MORE FUN. And your real-life friends read, too? Well, you know that I think Merritt is perfectly beautiful, perfectly BEAUTIFUL, and well, the rest of your friends are, too – I don’t think I’ve ever seen prettier girls.”

So I think that if Martha were to read the blog, she would love it – ESPECIALLY the parts about her. Even though she’s in her mid-70s, there’s a part of her that’s most definitely a teenager, and what would REALLY bother her, I think, is if I didn’t mention her at all, or if I didn’t know her well enough to recognize how funny her personality is. Because here’s one thing I know: some mothers-in-law just tolerate the women their sons marry. But my mother-in-law really does love me like I’m one of her own.

Based on all that, I know that she would get a HUGE kick out of this blog thing if she had, you know, a computer. And more than anything, she would love that y’all get such a kick out of her. THAT would tickle her to no end.

(Sidenote: our favorite Martha expression ever? The time she was explaining to David and me how she had to drive through a terrible storm, and she said, "The weather was just horrible! Horrible! Just pouring! And it was such a WET rain! A WET rain!")

Anyway, odds are that she’ll never read the blog. Because Martha and my mama? NOT exactly the most techno-savvy creatures on the planet, I’m sad to say.

I know I’ve mentioned this little anecdote before, so I won’t repeat the whole thing, but please remember that when I mentioned to my mama that David and my brother-in-law Barry were playing video games together while sitting in separate cities, her reply was, “What? You don’t mean it. They’re in separate cities and playing the same video game together? And I can’t even turn on the email!”

(By the way, Mama loves to tell me that people have sent her emails, and what she means by that is that someone has emailed Daddy, and he has printed it out for her and given her a copy, but she loves – LOVES – using the terminology. Makes her feel all hip and cute, I think.)

And while Martha is smart as a whip, technology isn’t necessarily her strong suit, seeing as how she calls David when her power goes out because she still doesn’t understand how to set the time on her VCR. Or change the time on the clock in her car. Or reset the odometer. So while I think she would get COMPLETELY hooked on email and blogging, I think the first Blogger outage or computer virus or email attachment might send her straight over the technology edge, straight into an abyss of computer frustration. She’d pull her hair out. And you know, since you can only get in with Betty at the beauty parlor on Fridays, it would hardly be worth it.

Truth be told, I don’t think Martha even knows about my blog. I’m not sure she even knows what a “blog” is. Think I should print out a few pages and take them to her this afternoon?

Might be fun....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Thing About Dial-Up Is That It's Evil

I could very easily go on a bit of a rant right now about WHY IN THE WORLD my daddy won't get DSL. I mean, he is on the computer constantly, plans somewhere around 6 family reunions a year via email, researches about 14 branches of the family on a daily basis (here's my conclusion about geneaology: we're all related. Thank you.), and keeps THREE hard drives on hand to store all his documents.

But DSL? NOOOOOOOO. That would be far too extravagant.

And I guess I "ranted" anyway. :-) Please forgive.

My point is - I so badly want to read everyone's blogs right now. Alex is taking a huge nap after his day-o-swimming (no pictures - I think I left the camera at home), Mama is "resting her eyes" (read: snoring in her chair, but she would say "resting my eyes" because apparently it's unladylike to admit that you go dead-to-the-world asleep in an upright position), and the house is as quiet as can be. Perfect blog reading time.

But the dial-up won't allow it. I got two blogs to load in about 15 minutes, so at that rate I should be through all my Bloglines reading around 4:30 tomorrow morning. I guess everything will just have to keep until I get home.

So for those of you going to the bloggy get-together in Kansas City: have a wonderful time. I'll be praying for your safe travel, and I hope you laugh so hard that your sides hurt when you leave. (Hey! Addie! Y'all should call me! Seriously. You can put me on speakerphone and then make fun of my accent after we hang up.)

Okay. Daddy needs his computer now. But he just told me he bought a laptop, which means wireless can't be far behind. Surely.

Fingers crossed. :-)

Frankly, It's Too Hot To Write

Alex and I made it safely to Mississippi, where, if it's possible, it's even hotter than it was at home. And it's humid. Yet parched. Paradise!

This will have to be short because Alex is about to go swimming and I need to put the second coat of SPF 50 (yes, you read correctly - my child inherited his mama's no-melanin-at-all skintone), but I wanted to at least check in.

And I did see my mother-in-law last night, who told me ALL about her recent trip to the beach (please do not think she actually went TO the beach. Oh no. She simply stayed in the condo and looked out AT the beach, and drove BY the beach, but why would you possibly go TO the beach, because, well, there's all that sand and it's just so damp and, well, your hair gets messed up!). I think my favorite comment - and I will confess to you that when she said this, my cousin Paige kicked me under the table, because Paige knew it would SO go on the blog - was this one:

"We drove down to the Crab Trap, the Crab Trap! But everybody says The Shrimp Basket is better but I don't know we didn't actually GO to The Shrimp Basket but we did go to a place where they throw rolls at you but the little boy? The one throwing the rolls? He knew I couldn't catch one so he just reached around, just crept around and sort of handed me one. And the portions! Well, the chicken was THIS big and then the potato was THIS big and it was just more than you could eat even if you didn't eat all day! And we went to this place called Norma's and it was the best chicken salad I have ever put in my mouth and oh, the bread pudding, and they had three sauces: a whiskey sauce, an amaretto sauce and a lemon sauce, and we all agreed that the lemon and amaretto were the best because the whiskey sauce was just too much, just too strong. I only like it when it's really cooked down, you know where it's milder, but it was just too much. And you know. Whiskey!"

And just think. I haven't even told you about her brake pad fiasco. But let's just say that when you put Martha with a mechanic - well, the storytelling fun never ends.

Alex was so tickled to see ALL his grandparents last night - it really is so sweet - and I knew we were in Spoiled Rotten territory when I sat down for breakfast this morning and looked at Alex's sippy cup that he had handed to Mama a few minutes before.

COKE. He had a sippy-cup FULL of "Co-Cola" at 8:15 in the morning.

Anybody think he'll be buck wild today? :-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Smooshiness, Revisited - And A Trip, To Boot

You'll be happy to know that EK's sister gave me permission to post pictures of her little boy.

You may commence with eating him up.

Because you know that little knee is just begging for some sugar.

In other news, Alex and I are headed to my hometown today so that we can See The Relatives. I'm especially excited about seeing my cousin Paige, who's about 20 weeks along now and ready to get started on her nursery. Big fun in store.

I called David's mama last night to let her know we would be there tomorrow (a day earlier than planned), and oh, if I only had a recording. But you know, even if I did, y'all would think I made it up (and if you need background on what in the world I'm talking about, see here, here and here).

So here's my best approximation of our conversation:

Me: "Hey Martha - I just wanted to let you know that Alex and I will be in town tomorrow, and I thought you might want him to spend the night with you one of the nights that we're there."

Martha: "Oh? OH! Well, I just think that would be wonderful! Now you just let me know which night because of course Mother and I have the beauty parlor on Friday morning and we'll have to get up and get moving because her home health nurse also comes on Fridays and we're trying to work around her. See, she's taking some classes at the community college and that's changed her schedule, but we're tryin' to be real accomodating because she's so good and all but she does come really early and that might upset Alex if he were here and asleep and then the doorbell rang at the crack of dawn and she woke him up and that wouldn't be good, would it? And then I know that tomorrow night you'll probably go straight to your mother's house, won't you go straight to your mother's house? I mean, I imagine you'll go straight to your mother's house so y'all will just stay there I'm sure, but you know like I was saying I really do wish David could come but I know he's real busy with work and all that. He HAS been busy hasn't he? I mean, he never really mentions anything about that but I know he works hard and well, I know you work hard, too, because Alex is so adorable right now and I do think he's just the CUTEST thing when he gets on the phone and talks to me and sometimes I don't understand it all but David does translate and like I said, I wish he could come, but we'll really look forward to seeing you and Alex. You just call us whenever you get here tomorrow."

Me: [PAUSING, to make sure she's finished, then:] "So what about Friday night? Would that work?"

Martha: "Yes, sugar, that'll be just great."

Really, someone should base a movie character on her. She's one of a kind.

I'll try to brave Daddy's dial-up and keep y'all posted.

Works For Me Wednesday

Last night Alex was starting to wind down a little. He grabbed a basket full of books, hopped up on the couch, and began to thumb through some of his favorites. And as he was "reading," he started to sing to himself:

"See the world / sail the seas / climb the mountains if you please / God put it there / So you could see / The wonder of His love!"

Seriously? One of my sweetest mama moments yet.

And where did he learn this song? At church?

Nope. In the car.

Now I know that it gets OLD listening to kids' songs. Sometimes I have to take a one-day break from Veggie Tales because I feel like I can't take the song-stylings of a high-pitched cucumber for one more minute. But it dawned on me last night that it really is so worth it - because Alex is absorbing truths about God. That's always a good thing. Plus, the songs keep him occupied during a trip...he is perfectly content to sit in the back, and look through books, and sing to his heart's content.

And I keep a "Mama back-up" on hand, too - a mixed CD with fun arrangements of old hymns. He loves Selah's version of "Deep, Way Down Deep," for example - and you must believe me when I tell you that the "Mama back-up" has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

So a young'un learning about Jesus (from vegetables, no less) during what could be wasted time in the car - it works for me.

For more great Works For Me Wednesday ideas, click here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And The Winner Of "Most Talk Of Bacon Grease In A Mommy Blog" Is...

I don't, as a general rule, win things.

I WAS Lucky Caller Number 14 when I was in 6th or 7th grade, and I have the Berlin and Midnight Star albums to prove it. Because that's not lame or anything.

But at this stage in life, I have collected approximately zero honors and accolades. That's not really part of the deal when you sign up for this wife and mama gig.

I think that's one reason why I so appreciate this encouragement from Jules at Everyday Mommy. Jules is passionate about mamas recognizing the mission field in their own homes, and the fact that she makes time week in and week out to honor and encourage mamas who blog - well, it's an example of her walk matching up with her talk. I love that.

So head on over to her place if you crave some thought-provoking conversation...there's always an interesting discussion going on. And those of you who blog will appreciate that she also does great design work...Shannon's blog is just one example.

Thanks, Jules! Really. You made my day. And that "Golden Croc" in my sidebar will make me smile for many days to come.

Recipe For Exhaustion (Now Don't THAT Sound Good?)

I am one of those people who has to have sleep. Unlike my sister, I cannot stay up all night, resume my normal activities the next day, and then casually, while in the grocery store, mention to someone that yes, those cantaloupes do look delicious, and by the way I read a FASCINATING article on cantaloupe farming the previous night when I didn't sleep at all but had MORE. FUN. reading magazines and rearranging my living room.

Because when I don't sleep? It ain't pretty, people.

Last night Alex screamed out in his sleep pretty consistently until about 4 in the morning, and inevitably the screaming occcurred right as I dozed off so that as soon as the noise registered with my brain, I sat straight up in bed, hit the ground running, and flew up the stairs, because clearly - CLEARLY - evil clowns were gnawing at my child's knees.

But then I'd get to his room, rush to his side - and he would be sound asleep.

It was a LOT of fun.

Around 3 in the morning - between my precious husband's snoring and my precious child's screaming - I determined that if a pack of wolves entered my house and said, "We have a completely quiet place for you to rest, but it's in the middle of a snaky swamp, and we can't guarantee that the other wolves won't chomp off one of your arms in the night," I wouldn't have had to think twice about my reply:

"Take me to this place you call paradise. Ay, and quickly."

And I don't know about y'all, but I can't count the number of times I've been visited in the middle of the night by talking wolves. But just run with the whole willing suspension of disbelief thing. I'm a little tired.

I do think the devil loves those moments of mama exhaustion coupled with trying to, say, get dressed and get the car loaded for a church event. Because I snapped at Alex this morning when he was apparently trying to braid my legs together when I was looking furiously for my lime green pants, and all day long I've thought about the mixed message I gave him (it wasn't quite "LEAVE MAMA ALONE! SHE'S TRYING TO SERVE JESUS!" but it was close). Yikes. Needless to say, I called with apologies before I was even five minutes away from the house. Humbled, I was. :-)

The breakfast was great fun, by the way. We're just so grateful for our church staff - and really, plying them with high levels of saturated fats seems so insignificant compared with everything they do for us on a daily basis. We love them. And in case you were wondering, nothing says "We love you" quite like two pounds of Swiss cheese combined with two dozen eggs, whole milk, Pet milk, ham, mushrooms, and crescent rolls.

Anyway, our afternoon has consisted of me looking for places to "rest my eyes" while Alex watches as many DVD's as he wants. Earlier we were upstairs watching a Superman cartoon (and by "we" I mean that Alex was watching while I stretched out on the floor), and I dozed off for a second, only to be awakened by Alex standing on my behind, bouncing up and down, chanting, "BOING! BOING! BOING! BOING!" And I thought, "OKAY, MISSY - when your behind becomes a trampoline of sorts for your child, it might be time to start doing some lunges. Or, you know, to quit eating."

Eventually we settled in for a nice afternoon nap, and I'm feeling almost human again. And I'll post more about this later tonight, but Jules did something that totally made my day. Sometimes a little encouragement goes a long way, you know?

More later - including pictures of Sunday night's smooshy cuteness. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 19, 2006

How You Want Them Eggs, Hon?

In my ongoing campaign to singlehandedly sustain the dairy and pork industries, I have spent a considerable part of my afternoon grating cheese and frying bacon (not for us...for something at church tomorrow). And as I was cooking pound-o-bacon number two a few minutes ago, I determined that right now my kitchen feels decidedly like a truckstop...that I just need to pile my hair up on my head, have a name tag embossed with my name, and forevermore refer to David and Alex as either "sugar" or "darlin'."

Really, all that's missing is a neon sign.

And, you know, truckers.

But other than that it's just like a truck stop.

I guess you'll have to take my word for it.

A little earlier I contemplated calculating the fat content of everything I'm preparing - it's a little bit of trivia I'd like to remember, kind of like the whole 32 sticks of butter thing. But as soon as I figured that I'd fried 120 fat grams worth of bacon, and grated 148 fat grams worth of cheese, and I hadn't even approached the egg and butter territory yet, I decided that I'd just stop counting right then and there, lest I be seized with chest pains simply from looking at numbers that high.

But you know, who wants to show up for a big celebratory meal to find soynuts, tofu, sprouts and dried fruit on the table?

And yes, I know there's a little something called A Happy Medium, but we don't really go for that so much in the South. I mean, I know in my own family we tend to vacillate between two extremes: wrapping pretzels in lettuce and calling it a meal, or combining butter with sausage and bacon, wrapping it in dough, sticking it in a deep fryer, and then spreading cream cheese on top.

(Please don't be alarmed. I totally made up that last thing. We would never, ever do that. Because cream cheese by itself is for Yankees. We Southerners would use mayonnaise.)

It only occurred to me last week that I do talk about food a lot on my blog, and a large part of that is because Southerners talk about food a lot in real life. A couple of years ago Alex and I went to visit Lea Margaret and her family, and for an entire evening LM and I went through her cookbooks, and her mama's recipe box, and we talked about who ate what when and how much they enjoyed it.

And it's not enough, at least down here, to mention a preference for the generic form of a food and leave it at that. Saying, "I like chocolate" is, quite simply, unacceptable.

But if you said, "Hey. Do y'all remember that restaurant that used to be on the corner across from the old post office? It was in that building that used to have a guitar shop but then they just picked up and left town all of a sudden and so Mr. Davis went in there and put in a soda fountain? And then he got REAL busy because his wife would make homemade chicken and dumplins every Friday for dinner and he had so much business that he opened a full-fledged restaurant? Well, that's where I had my first piece of homemade chocolate pie, and I'd cut off my right arm and four of my toes if I could have just one. more. bite."

So food. It means something to us down here.

And that being said, I'd better get back to frying that bacon. There are about 50 people who are expecting me to feed them in the morning and elevate their cholesterol counts ever-so-slightly.

I'd hate to let them down.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Too Much Smooshy Cuteness To Behold

Tonight we have had Emma Kate's nephew at our house...he is just about a year and a half now, and oh. The cuteness. Too much to take in at once.

Anyway, Emma Kate and her sister made some extra special Father's Day plans for their daddy, and while they're celebrating in Atlanta, we have had a big time here in our neck of the woods.

EK's nephew is just like Alex was at the same age: a CHUNK OF LOVE. And I just hope his mama and daddy don't mind when they pick him up and find large sections of his legs and cheeks worn away from ALL THE SUGAR his Aunt BooMama has given him. He is adorable. And Alex loved him on sight.

After supper David looked at me when the two boys were giggling and running through the living room and he said, "So, does this make you want another baby?"

To answer: YES. In fact, I think I actually felt my ovaries quiver at a couple of points in the evening, so strong was my baby fever.

Needless to say, it's been a fun night. And two tired little boys are sound asleep upstairs after much running and playing. And squealing.

But I may have to sneak upstairs and squeeze those little legs ONE MORE TIME before EK's sister gets here.

Hope everybody had a wonderful Father's Day!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

It's His Personal Indoor Slide, Really

Yesterday afternoon I was in the kitchen, and Alex was upstairs watching Veggie Tales - or so I thought. Because suddenly I heard the strangest noise coming from over by the stairs. I could tell something was falling...but since nobody was crying or whelping, I figured that Alex and the dogs were safe and sound.

Then I heard A. squeal with delight, and I knew big fun was in store. Plus, I hadn't heard anything shatter or explode, so I figured he was within reasonable safety limits. And by the way, I believe that's yet another criterion for Mother of the Year that I've now fulfilled...I only rush to my child's aid when something has shattered or exploded. Or crying or whelping is involved. Because clearly he couldn't possibly be in danger unless those very specific qualifications have been met.

Anyway, being the investigative blogger (read: nosy mama) that I am, I picked up the camera and walked over to check it out.

Here is what I saw:

This gigantor inflatable soccer ball was one of his birthday presents, but I don't think he really knew what to do with it until he discovered that he could propel it down the stairs...and in addition to making cool noises as it hit each individual stair, it also smashed into the wall at the foot of the stairs with authority.

In other words: World's Perfect Toy.

So here he is before he launched his next gigantor soccer ball missile...

...and afterwards, in a picture I have entitled "Pure Unbridled Toddler Joy."

I couldn't help but laugh with him, and it was all fun and games with the soccer ball - including a round of mother / son volleyball on the stairway - until this morning, when I heard something, and looked up, and saw his old bouncy seat careening down the stairs. And it landed with a good bit more authority than the inflatable soccer ball.

Thus ending the Stair Olympic Games of 2006.

We didn't really have any Closing Ceremonies. They're kind of a waste of time and money anyway.

This next picture...well, I love it. Alex couldn't wait until tomorrow for his daddy to open his Father's Day presents, and I think this pretty effectively sums up his excitement.

I love my little family.

Happy Father's Day.

Captivating, Chapter One

Okay, after feeling TOTALLY uncomfortable with how personal my Bible study post for this week was, I decided to pull it off of "the blawg" and email it to everyone in the group instead. Kind of ironic, I know, for someone who basically documents her whole life on the INTERNET, for crying out loud, but writing it dredged up some old emotional junk, and I'm not ready to feel quite so "exposed." Even David said, "Um. Yeah. That was pretty personal." And since he has (so far) never thought I've crossed the line blog-wise in terms of revealing too much about myself, I'm heeding his wise counsel. So there you have it.

In other news, Alex and I have been making secretive plans for Father's Day...but I am learning that there's no such thing as a secret with a three year old. After I explained to him that Father's Day was coming up, he said, "We'll have party, Mama! And get Daddy a Nemo cake! And hats!" I explained that no, we weren't going to have hats, and no, we weren't going to have a Nemo cake, but we would definitely get the stuff to make Daddy a cake after we picked up his presents this morning.

Well, A. has spoken of little besides "CAKE" and "PRESENTS" ever since I foolishly thought I could somehow plan Father's Day WITH him, and finally, when his daddy asked for the fortieth time what cake and presents Alex was talking about, I let the cat out of the bag my OWN self: "WE'RE BAKING YOU A CAKE! WE'RE BAKING A CAKE! FOR! FATHER'S! DAY!"

Which just made Alex talk about cake even more.

Then I explained to David that we were going to have his Father's Day meal tonight (for some reason coming home from church and trying to get a meal on the table just stresses me out to no end), and I said, "I'm sure if you ask Alex what we're having, he'll be glad to fill you in on the details."

So D. said, "Hey, Alex - what are we having for supper tonight?"

"CAKE! We're having CAKE, Daddy! CAKE!"

It's all going to be a HUGE surprise.

Friday, June 16, 2006

And Then We'll Light A Fire And Sing "Kumbaya"

This past Sunday I was making my way up to the main church building after our little BBQ shindig, and I found myself walking beside a woman who I met last summer when our church did Extreme Home Graceover.

Her name is Annette. She's a hoot.

Anyway, I mentioned to Annette - who is 60-something - that I would love to be on a bus with her and a bunch of other 60- and 70-somethings, that I can't think of anything more fun than listening to them cut up and tell stories. So I said - and I meant it - "if you and your buddies ever want to take a road trip, you just give me a call. I would LOVE to go. I'll even drive."

She looked at me - wondering if I was kidding, I think - and said, "Honey, you wouldn't want to go anywhere with us old people."

To which I replied: "Have you ever noticed who I hang out with at church? I see 30-somethings all week long. But on the weekends, I love hanging out with y'all and soaking up your wisdom."

And it's true. David will verify.

About that time someone else pulled me aside, and Annette walked away, and I didn't think much more of it.

Well, internets, listen to this.

I got an email from Annette a couple of days ago. She said she had talked to my friend Sandra, and they thought it would be great fun if we got a group of their friends, and a group of my friends, and took off on a road trip for a few days. Sort of a cross-generational women's church retreat.

Does that not sound like a blast? I mean, I can't be the only one who loves me a bunch of sassy 60-something grandmamas.

So, we're thinking of a couple of different of which is going to the flea market in Canton, TX this fall - and I have a feeling more than a few of you could give me the lowdown on that. :-)

But here's my question: once we're all together - what are some things we could do to make the time really MEANINGFUL? I feel like these women have so much wisdom to share...what would be a way to facilitate them sharing it?

And please don't suggest a skit. You KNOW how I feel about a skit.

But seriously - how could we 30-somethings honor the ladies who have "gone before us" in our church, who invest their time in our lives, and who have so much to teach us?

Because I don't want to plan a trip and miss the blessing, you know?

So if you have any suggestions - or any experience planning this kind of thing - holla back in the comments.

Do churches do stuff like this and I don't know about it? Shouldn't churches be doing stuff like this? The more I think about it, the more I think it's not just important - it's essential.

You Will SO Thank Me For This

Next week our Soul Food ministry at church is doing a breakfast for the staff, and that's always good news for David because it means I start trying out new recipes about a week in advance. Earlier this week I ran across a new recipe in Southern Living, and I made it last night. I have to share it because it's the simplest thing in the world but so, so good...David and I couldn't get over how tasty it was.

I modified the original recipe a little bit (it called for horseradish...David does not do horseradish), and you could do this very thing on bagels, English muffins, etc. I just happened to have wheat bread on hand, so that's what I used.

Did I mention how delicious it is?

Here's what you do:

Boil 6 eggs.

Fry 6 pieces of bacon.

Slice 2 or 3 fresh tomatoes.

In a food processor or mixer, combine 1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened and broken into about 8 pieces; 1 cup of mayonnaise (or horseradish), 1 packet of Ranch dressing mix, and 1 small grated onion (about 1/4 cup). Set aside.

Toast 8 or 10 pieces of bread (or bagel, or whatever). Cover toasted bread with a tablespoon of cream cheese spread. Then layer 3 or 4 slices of fresh tomato, a sliced boiled egg, and crumble bacon over the top. Sprinkle dried dill over one layer (or every layer if you like a lot of dill). That's it!

We made "real" sandwiches...the original recipe in SL is for pretty open-faced sandwiches that have been cut into circles, and that's probably what I'll do for the staff breakfast.

And I'm telling y'all - it is SO DADGUM TASTY.

Guess what we'll be having for lunch? :-)

In other news, Alex has actually gone upstairs BY HIMSELF to watch a Veggie Tales movie.

Yes, I said BY HIMSELF.

This is a HUGE development because for the longest David and I have wondered if Alex wasn't going to be like the guy in Sixteen Candles whose parents are trying to drag him into a school dance but he's fighting them with all his might and screaming "NO! NO! I want to stay with YOU GUYS!"

I mean, I get that Alex is extroverted. Oh BELIEVE YOU ME I get that. But I really do try to encourage him to go upstairs alone every once in awhile and play with his toys or read his books or jump on beds or test the laws of nuclear dynamics or whatever. But he usually says, "Mama, YOU come upstairs. YOU play with trains. YOU test the laws of nuclear dynamics."

That's why this going upstairs to watch a movie alone thing is such a big deal. In fact, last night, when I told my neighbor E. about it, she practically screamed, "NO WAY! That's HUGE!"

I'm telling you. The child is a people person.

So I'm going to take advantage of this rare moment of solitude and vacuum before Alex realizes that he is in fact all alone up there and then calls for me to come sit with him. It won't be long now. Trust me on that.

OH! One more thing! I mentioned in the comments a couple of days ago that I told our worship minister that I would cook breakfast for the praise team and band if he and his wife would sing "Grateful People" from the Watermark CD that you should buy or download if you haven't already. And then I remarked that it's fun to bribe worship ministers. All for the cause of good Christian fellowship, of course.

ANYWAY, Jim wrote me back and said that he was way ahead of me - that his wife is singing that song this Sunday, so yes, to plan on fixing breakfast in a few weeks. :-) But y'all. Isn't that weird? Maybe I should set up a fortune telling booth in my front yard.

Or not.

But still. Weird.

Off to clean...Alex is still whatever you're doing, keep doing it. Don't alter the course of the universe one iota, lest he revert back to "constant companion" mode before I get the downstairs clean.

Happy Friday. :-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I've Learned From A Toddler

No need for a drumroll.

Well, maybe just a little one.

1. You can search the world over, but you will never find a food more perfect than Cheetos.

2. Finding Nemo is a crowning cinematic achievement, regardless of what you think about the whole Marlin / Dory thing.

3. Potty training? Overrated. Clearly we should all just strap on some form of sackcloth and go about our business (and Our Business), because trips to the bathroom are really nothing more than an interruption to valuable playtime.

4. There's no such thing as too many stuffed animals in the bed. You might foolishly think that 2 or 3 is plenty - but 15 is actually much more desirable.

5. Waking up grumpy is not genetic. Because if it were, I'd have sullen child stomping down the stairs every morning. But his ingrained personality trumps my genetic code every time - and he's all, "HEY, MAMA! HEY, DADDY! HOW YOU THIS MORNIN'? DID YA SLEEP GOOD? WANT WAFFLE WITH SYRUP?" And I'm all, "GRRRRRRRRRRRR." But then ultimately it's hard to growl when a three year old throws his arms around your legs and squeezes.

6. It's nearly impossible to discipline a child and utter the phrase "obedience brings blessing; disobedience brings consequences" without feeling God saying, "And yeah, Mama - that means you, too."

7. Which reminds me: YOU PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME THAT BEFORE I HAD A CHILD! I thought I was going to be doing the teaching...I had no idea that I would be learning the lessons. Daily.

8. Hearing "What's that?" repeatedly does take a toll on one's patience. And mental health. And demands a period of solitude in order to recover.

9. There is an instant, unbreakable connection between grandparents and grandchildren. And it really has nothing to do with candy. On some level Alex completely senses his grandparents' complete and utter devotion to him. And vice versa.

10. When you were little and sick and your mama said, "I wish it were me and not you," she really did mean it. I never, ever thought that I would wish that I could throw up in someone else's place, but for the little man? Totally.

11. Daddies are clearly way cooler than mamas because daddies make things crank and cut and drill and flame.

12. And mamas are pretty good, too, especially for taking naps and fixing boo-boo's and cuddling before bedtime.

13. Whether you have four children, no children, sixteen children, or one child - there is no greater earthly blessing than family. That I know for sure.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

And They Blogged Happily Ever After. The End.

I just started a new Bible study that Heather has put together, and all the girls who are participating have been emailing introductions to the group so that we know a little about each other before we start posting this weekend.

By the by, I'm the crazy Southern participant. Sort of a stereotype, actually, but usually good for some comic relief.

Anyway, several of the women are writers. Not the way I'd say, "I'm a writer" and then collapse into a fit of giggles - they are for real, working-on-a-novel / get-paid-for-it-and-everything writers. My writing has never earned me one red dime - though my Southern lit. professor in college really liked a paper I did comparing The Color Purple to Ellen Foster, and she said she might like to enter it in a contest, but she never, you know, did.

It's a rich writing legacy here at BooMama, is all I'm sayin'.

I'm always a little awed by people who can write fiction, because I SO cannot. I've talked about my limited skillz before. But thinking about these women who can and do write imaginative works reminded me for the second time in the last week about my college creative writing class.


Let's just say that if it hadn't been a requirement for an English degree, I would've never. ever. in a million years. taken. it.

Here's what I remember - and Laura and Daph can fill in what I can't recall because they took the same class from the same professor (but mercifully not at the same time I did - or I would've been forced into seclusion or at the very least would've donned a wig - the Raquel Welch collection, perhaps? - to cope with the sheer embarrassment of it all).

We sat in a semi-circle, and our appropriately bespectacled professor sat on one end of it. The first part of the semester we wrote poems, which I have TOTALLY blocked from my memory. Because have I mentioned how literal I am? And you want me to compare a tree to honesty? Why? Why would I do that? What does one have to do with the other? Why would we care?

You can see why I might have some problems crafting a poem.

The second part of the semester we wrote a short story, and it had to be 15 pages long. I cranked it out over the course of a weekend - I just wanted it DONE - and at the time, I was pretty proud of myself for completing it. Fiction is not, as they say, my thang.

I wish I could explain the mental block I have when it comes to that genre of writing. All I know to tell you is that I have no imagination. I have never sat around and dreamed of being someone else. I have never thought, "Gosh, I wonder what it would be like to live in New York," and then created an imaginary world to accompany my musings. Because, hello? I don't live in New York. I've never wondered what it would be like if I switched lives with one of my friends. Because you know what? I can't. And don't even get me started about acting, because the attraction of pretending to be someone else in a made-up situation is COMPLETELY lost on me.

I'm not so much of a skit person, if you were wondering.

So back to creative writing. I wrote a story about a girl (who was really just me with dark hair) who was really close friends with a guy (who was really just Bubba in a different fraternity because at the time he had transferred to another college and I missed him terribly), and the guy was killed in a car wreck (sorry, Bubba - something dramatic had to happen...I couldn't just have us riding around singing like we did in real life...that would've only gotten me to page four), and then dark-haired me was very sad, and then she went back to the Bubba-esque character's fraternity house, and sat in a rocking chair, and made her peace with everything.

Gripping, isn't it? And not AT ALL cheesy.

That's not even the worst of it. The worst part is that we had to make copies FOR EVERYONE IN CLASS and then READ IT ALOUD, and when I finished reading it, here is the absolute nicest thing my professor could say about it:

"Well, um. Okay. We've all had close friendships like that, haven't we?"

Really, at that point, any back-of-my-mind questions I had about writing professionally were pretty much done forever.

But professional or no, what I love about blogging is that I don't have to pretend. I can be me, for better or worse. I don't have to create a person with a different name and dream up all the details of her life, because HAVE MERCY I can hardly remember how old I am, much less figure out how Laurel Marie St. Clair, the daughter of European royalty but currently "toughin' it" in the big city to prove to her daddy that she is a Serious Businesswoman, is going to meet her handsome prince in chapter 10.

And that last sentence? It exhausted me.

So hats off to all you fiction writers. I don't know how you do it.

But I hope I get to read it one day.

Two Thumbs Up, A Shout Out, And A WOOT WOOT

Since I'm finally following through on some of the recommendations that y'all have made in the way of TV shows, CD's, etc., I can now wholeheartedly recommend four words for you to commit to memory before you embark on your next Target, Walmart, Family Christian, Amazon, WHEREVER shopping spree:

Watermark: A Grateful People

GLORY! :-)

Addie recommended it to me months ago, and honestly, it's the best CD I've heard in a long time.


We Should Probably Reacquaint Ourselves After My Lengthy Absence

So Plattapalooza was a huge success. We had plenty of food (THANK THE GOOD LORD I wasn't the one doing the cooking - we served about 2,000 people), lots of inflatable thing-ys for the kids to jump in and slide down, and best of all was the worship service that followed...probably the most joy-filled, Spirit-filled environment I've ever experienced (and yes, Addie, that includes the Chris Tomlin concert). Awesome. David took Alex home due to an inflatable-related meltdown (that's SO another story for another day), so I sat with my neighbors E. and J., and we had a blast.

As far as my little hiatus goes, I wish I could tell you that I cleaned out a closet or re-organized my spices or knocked out a wall and extended my dining room 6 feet. But I didn't. I ran errands. I made chicken spaghetti. I napped with Alex. I also dragged escorted him out of a large party supply store after he hit an elderly woman who bent down to talk to him, and I put him the car, and I drove him down the road aways so that I could calm down and therefore refrain from yanking every. hair. out. of. his. head., and then I took him to a friend's office building and spanked him. Oh yes I did.

My unofficial blood pressure reading - and this is just an estimate - was about 275/190.

Or, you know, boiling.

But then he did something adorable or said something sweet or threw his arms around my neck or showered me with kisses, and I got over it.

In non-child-related news, David wants everyone to know that I sat on the couch and watched a TV show Monday night without a computer on my lap. I TiVo'd a bunch of episodes of "The Closer" - based on some of your recommendations - and it's a delightful little show. I knew I liked the main character - who's a Southern girl - when it cut to a shot of her cell phone ringing and the caller ID said, "Mama." Those of y'all who are from the South know exactly why that's so dead-on.

Okay. That should get us up to speed. After all, it's been AGES since we talked. :-)


Thank you so much for your prayers for Lauren and Norris - their little boy's funeral is today at 2:30. And for all of you who have commented and emailed requesting their address, I have that info for you. I'll post it in the comments of this post so that it doesn't turn up in search engines. Please continue to pray for them.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Is "Blogcation" A Word?

It's always surprising to me - though it shouldn't surprise me at all - that summer can get away from me if I'm not careful. Our "lazy days" with no plans quickly turn into a calendar filled with playdates, and commitments, and projects, and trips. Because I constantly battle busy-ness, sometimes I have to deliberately slow down, take stock, and breathe.

There are a couple of things coming up at church, and I need to plan. I need some uninterrupted time with Alex (the child? At Plattapalooza? Not a fan of waiting in line or taking turns. We need to work on that). I need to sit on my front porch and drink diet Coke and watch the moon creep up over the trees. I need to hang out with my husband without trying to fold laundry or make lists or blog at the same time.

In short, I need to get away from this computer for a couple of days. A girl can't keep up the pace of posting sixteen times a day without an occasional break, you know. :-)

I'll see y'all Wednesday-ish.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Prayers Needed

About an hour ago I got a frantic phone call from my sister-in-law, Janie. Janie is always so laid-back and calm that I knew immediately something horrible had happened. Sadly, I was right.

She called to request prayer. Lauren and Norris, two of Janie and Stacy's closest friends, have a weekend place on a river in Arkansas. Their precious little boy, Norris, drowned there today. He was their oldest child - six years old. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes.

Please lift them up in prayer as you feel led. And if you think about it, pray for them in your Sunday School classes and churches tomorrow. They are an adorable, fun-loving family - and I can't even begin to wrap my head around the loss and the grief and the heartache that they're facing right now.

Pray for Janie and Stacy, too - especially that they would have incredible discernment about how to comfort and minister to Lauren and Norris during this horrific time.

I know that there are some fierce prayer warriors who read this blog, and it means so much to be able to put this request before you. Thanks, y'all.

Inspector Gadget

David has decided that he needs a new cell phone. I feel this is a reasonable request since his current phone is only slightly more reliable and effective than the two empty soup cans I connected with string so that Laura and I could "talk" when I was about five years old. Since BIL is here as well, a trip to a store filled with electronic devices seemed to be a near-perfect Saturday morning excursion for the guys. It could only be more perfect if they could play videogames on the way to the phone store, purchase The Coolest Phones Imaginable, then walk straight out of the store into a skybox at an SEC football game. And kill aliens afterwards. While eating fried chicken.

I'm always a little concerned when David goes shopping for electronics, because he gets a slightly glazed-over gleam in his eye that's reserved only for things that beep and ring, and my fear is that he left the house planning to buy a small phone but will return to the house with a large television set or new video game system or, you know, a car.

I, on the other hand, am almost completely unaffected by things with plugs. I love my computer because it's cute, not because of any features that it has. Truth be told, I don't even KNOW what features it has. I do know it has an apple on the top of it, and when my computer is on the apple glows, and that makes me happy.

David, however, speaks a different electronic language. He knows all about tubes and resolutions and giga/mega/eleventy bytes; he knows that he needs this cable or that wire to achieve maximum sound in a space that measures 12 feet wide by 15.4987 feet long. And while I might say, oh, just round down to 15 feet, he would say, NO, you can't do that, NO, don't you know that the cable requirements are completely different for a room of that size?

A little over a year ago we finished out part of our basement and moved David's office down there. His office had previously been in the bonus room upstairs, but it was increasingly hard for him to find peace and quiet up there once A. came along (and let me tell you: after this last week of non-stop toddler talking, I wouldn't mind finishing out an office for me so that I could have a little peace and quiet my OWN self - but that's another story for another day). ANYWAY, when the sheetrock finally went up downstairs, David spent hours figuring out exactly where the speakers should go in the walls.

All that to say: do you know where I would have put the speakers? Inside the television set. Where they belong.

So I'm curious to see what my husband brings back from the phone store. It could be nothing. It could be just a phone. But my guess - and this is based on knowing him for almost 30 years and being married to him for 9 - is that at the VERY least there will be a phone and some form of phone accessory. Because a gadget-y husband is one thing...but a gadget-y husband accompanied by a gadget-y brother-in-law is a recipe for an electronics shopping spree.

And the garage door is opening right now. Via remote control, of course.

More later.

Updated to add:

Oh, I SO know him. Looks like I have a new phone, too.


Friday, June 09, 2006

What Is This Thing They Call BooMama?

Okay. I was trying to register my blog with Christian Women Online, and I got to the part where I had to write a description of my blog.

And, um, well.

I had no idea what to say.

I mean, I keep reading posts where people say that a blog should have a mission statement, and I'm beginning to think that I have no bloggy purpose. At least as far as an "official statement" goes.

Because "Read by tens of people..." is not exactly a description. Neither is the stuff from the "About Me" section of the sidebar.

So I tried. I really did. I got as far as "A Southern wife and mama who loves the Lord, loves to write, and loves to laugh" - but I think that's sort of, well, lame. There's no personality in that...I was SO hoping to use the phrase "wacky shenanigans." :-)

And I know that the people at CWO aren't going to be judging my blurb and ranking it on a scale of 1-10. But I'm OCD, you know, and I want whatever I write down to be accurate, and true, and a real reflection of what goes on in this little corner of the interweb.


I'm curious.

If you blog, do you have a mission statement? Or a purpose statement? Or even a clear description in your head?

'Cause I'm clueless. And feeling sort of stupid.

Because I don't know if you know it or not, but I actually write this thing.

And if you want to write my blog description for me, I'll be eternally grateful.

Is that cheating?

Well, This Is Ever So Much More Manageable

Okay - I had to do a bit of post re-structuring because there was too much linky goodness buried in a post that was way too long. So, I now give you all the linkage in a more condensed format.

Heather has a couple of great ideas for a new Bible study and a book club, too. Click on over and check it out. For the Bible study they're reading Stasi Eldridge's Captivating, which I actually picked up yesterday. Last summer I read her hubby's book, Wild At Heart, in ONE DAY. Good stuff. If you're married to a man or the mother of a man or have only seen a man from a distance, it's a must-read. I can't tell you how much it helped me understand and appreciate my husband. I'm hoping that time-wise I can handle joining Heather's group...I think it'll be a great study.

This post at Lori's blog really made me think. If you're intentional about having some real "teachable moments" as you discipline and encourage your kids, you'll appreciate Lori's list of great, easy-to-remember verses that address many of the heart issues we face with little ones.

This post by Judith (Sarah's grandmother; Bev and Barb's mother - it really is a Blogging Dynasty) demands that there be a part 2, and a part 3, and a part 14. :-) If you get a chance, encourage Judith to keep telling the reads like a movie script. Can't wait to read more.

You have to read this post of Sarah's, too. It's beautiful.

I feel much better now. Link away, internets. :-)

Lots Of Unrelated Info In One Convenient Post! (Version 2.0)

A few random updates, in no particular order:

1. Potty training. [shaking head]

2. Blogger. [shaking head]

Don't they know I have a habit to feed?

3. Last night I stayed up late watching televangelists, a habit I no doubt formed during my high school insomniac days when I would lie awake watching Richard Roberts with the Oral Roberts University Singers. ANYWAY, this next observation has nothing to do with doctrine or deciding to "partner" with someone via their television ministry.

Ahem. AHEM. I seem to have something caught in my throat. Excuse me. :-)

Now what I have to say may be a strong word for some of you, but I feel it needs to be said.

Ladies, let's steer clear of nude hose coupled with an ankle strap shoe. It makes even the slimmest ankles and calves look chunky. In fact, I wish Joyce Meyer had asked me for my opinion before she took the stage. And filmed herself. And then broadcast it. Because a simple pump would have been much more flattering.

That may be the most superficial utterance of my adult life, by the way.

4. I'm due for a Bloggity Goodness update in the sidebar. And I'm working on it. But I probably won't get it posted until Plattapalooza is over (isn't that way better than Plattabration? Addie came up with it. I think it's genius).

5. My BIL, Barry, is here for the weekend. Alex is so excited because he seems to think that he's going to get to be one of the guys (you know, hanging out, playing videogames, etc.). Barry and David just left for a movie, and A. couldn't understand why he wasn't invited ("Mama, I'm leavin'! I'm goin' with Daddy and Barry!"). So A. and I may have to have a little mother / son outing tomorrow, lest he think he can sit and watch his daddy and his uncle rip the heads off of aliens and gather sensitive intelligence information in their plots against an evil dictator.

Sister, if you're wondering, is on a faaaaabulous trip here. It's an annual jaunt for her, and she always has the BEST stories when she comes home. Keep her in your prayers - she's going to be mighty busy over the next couple of weeks.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Am Not A Frontier Woman, People

A little bit of technical difficulty of this end of things today because OUR POWER HAS BEEN OUT since about 10 this morning.

I am now blogging from an undisclosed safehouse. With the thermostat on about 68.

Mercifully, Alex and I had just headed out on some errands when Billy Jack Bubba at the power company got a guide wire crossed with a main wire and blew out a grid that covers a good third of the county where we live. In the meantime, there was a three-alarm fire in downtown Birmingham that knocked out service for 25,000 people in that area. So they've been a little strained, the folks at Alabama Power. Wouldn't you love to be answering the phones there today?

And y'all know me - I do NOT do heat - so we've been to Walmart, Family Christian, lunch, two libraries, the church, etc. The outage didn't affect any of our "stomping grounds," and for that I am more grateful than I can tell you. I ran home and got all of my meat out of the refrigerator and freezer - no sense in adding a little salmonella to the un-air conditioned festivities - and all our perishables are now safely squared away.

So we're staying put, Alex and I, until we get the word not just that the power is back on, but that the house is cool. I don't know about y'all, but the second, the very INSTANT that a power outage happens, I'm immediately just smothering to death from the imagined heat. Can't breathe at all.

(I’m so not kidding about my aversion to being hot indoors. I grew up in Mississippi. I lived in Baton Rouge for three years. I have deep-seeded heat and humidity issues. You people in Texas have to know what I'm talking about.)

Hey, good news. David just called to tell me that we're back in air conditioned business at home. Hopefully by the time Alex and I get there it'll be nice and chilly inside...I just may get to post that Thursday Thirteen after all. See y'all in a little bit.

Updated to add: Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that on top of the power being out for most of the day, now Blogger won't publish? Or save? AAAAAAAAAAARGH. I flail at ye, computer gods. And smite thee. Verily. :-)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Ordinary

Today was one of those perfect summer days - about 82 degrees outside, a little bit of a breeze, not a cloud in the sky - and the little man and I spent most of the morning with my friend NK and her two girls. Alex and NK's older daughter played and ran and chased while NK and I sat on her patio, in the shade, entertaining her baby and talking about some Life Junk we've both been dealing with lately.

The baby was a little fussy, so I offered to take Alex and C. to lunch - just a little jaunt up the road to ChickFilA - and the three of us sat, and ate, and talked. I grabbed a couple of balloons - green for A., yellow for C. - as we left the restaurant, and then we dropped C. of at her house on the way back to ours.

I expected that Alex wouldn't make it home awake, but instead he balked at his nap this afternoon - he pretty much sat in his room and played and talked during the two hours he'd normally be sleeping - and finally around 4 I pulled him out of isolation so we could eat popsicles on the front steps and run around the yard for a little while. About an hour later we came inside, fixed something to drink, and I started working on supper: making hamburger patties, chopping stuff for a salad, shucking corn and getting it ready for the grill. Alex handled all the "shakey shake" duties - meaning that he sprinkled seasoning wherever it needed to go - and we talked on and off while he watched "Blue's Clues."

David finished up his work around 6, and he and Alex headed outside for grill duty while I checked email, read some blogs, and vacuumed up the corn silks that had scattered across the rug in my kitchen. We sat down for supper, the three of us, and Alex said his Official Blessing: "Dear God, thank you for today. Thank you for our food. In Jesus' Name. Amen." The hamburgers were great, the corn was okay - Alex went a little heavy on the dill when he did the shakey-shake - and the salad was fresh in a way that only happens in summertime.

By the time I ran Alex's bath, he looked slightly like Pigpen. His feet and legs were filthy from all his outside activity; his mouth was surrounded by a ring of peanut butter coated with a couple of layers of Cheese-Its and Cheetos crumbs. I thought to myself that he looked and smelled like little boys should once the weather turns warm - dirty, for sure, legs covered with little cuts and bruises, the official battle scars of his summer adventures.

Once he was clean and pajama-clad, Alex and his daddy played trains, then came downstairs for a little TV time, neither of them doing a very good job of keeping their eyes open. So Alex went up to bed, said his prayers, and was out like a light in no time at all.

It seems like, with my personality, I'm always on the lookout for "the funny." I see the world around me at sort of a skewed angle, so I tend to go through my days being entertained by the oddest little occurrences: the way a clerk at a grocery store pronounces "celery," or the way a political candidate announces that she is "for education. Absolutely for education" (I'm sure the anti-education lobby, powerful as it is, was shaking in its boots at that bold proclamation), or the way a little boy at Walmart dodges behind a rack of clothes just as his mama's hand is about to make contact with his behind. I am, as a general rule, pretty easily entertained.

What I am not, at least not often enough, is easily grateful. There was absolutely nothing spectacular or special about our day, but what bowls me over as I think back on it is that it was absolutely everything that I never thought I wanted. I never dreamed of marriage or of children. I never pictured myself living in suburbia, shuttling kids to fast-food restaurants, playgrounds, and zoos. I certainly never thought that I'd belong to a church where there is no stained glass, no kneelers behind the pews, and instruments that require electricity. So while I don't know exactly what I thought my life would be, I do know that I had some vague notion of living in a big city in a fabulous apartment and walking to a job where I edited what other people wrote. And I'm certain that I never thought my life would be this one that I have.

In light of all that, I just want to write it down and make it official: I'm so thankful, as I look back over this very ordinary day in our very ordinary life, that God has blessed me with all the things I never wanted.

Because there's absolutely nowhere else that I'd rather be.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We'll Be Gathering In Conference Room B At 9 AM To Discuss This Post. I Suggest You Attend.

The thing about it is, I can't stand a meeting.

Oh, I'm a nice enough person. And in regular, day-to-day life, you would probably describe me as friendly. Warm. Engaging, even. I like to smile at strangers, and ask them about the babies they're pushing in strollers, and aside from a child's birthday party, I'm comfortable in most social situations.

But put me in a meeting? For over 30 minutes? And I'll go all cuckoo on you. I'm not kidding.

When I was in high school I regarded classes I didn't enjoy with much the same fondness that I now reserve for meetings, and as a result I always had what I like to call an Alternate Activity. I don't think I walked in a single class during my junior and senior years of high school without a copy of People magazine, or the latest Danielle Steele novel, or at the very least a lengthy note from Merritt or Liz about their latest boy troubles. It was really my first foray into my beloved pasttime of multi-tasking, and I spent many hours learning about "science" and "math" while simultaneously reading in-depth feature articles on Bruce Willis or the phenomenon that was "St. Elmo's Fire."

In college technology was a little more advanced, and I'll never forget a glorious summer semester where I was constantly accompanied by Daphne's GameBoy, or as I like to call it, Oh Blessed Alternate Activity. That GameBoy - Tetris, in particular - got me through a class so boring I can't even recall its name, but I do know that I had the whole I'm-attentively-listening-really-I-am-just-ignore-the-fact-that-my-thumbs-are-moving-furiously-behind-my-textbook thing DOWN. And I made an A. So no harm, no foul.

Now that I'm older, I'm amazed by how frequently people voluntarily put themselves in classroom-like settings by requesting to meet. It seems to me - though I'm certainly no expert - that in these days of email and voice mail and conference calls and whatnot, it is perfectly feasible that people should never. have. to. meet. again. Yet it seems like once a week I get a call or an email saying, "Hey, let's meet about such and such!" as if the act of meeting is a present, a gift to be treasured, and I'm just thinking, "I wonder if Daph still has that GameBoy."

Today I had a meeting at church about what I'm jokingly referring to as this Sunday's Plattabration (although someone else laughingly suggested Plattstock, which I adored...and David and I have decided that our new pastor's column in the weekly bulletin should be called Plattitudes, because clearly, CLEARLY we have way too much time on our hands). ANYWAY, we met to discuss all the details for what is going to be a really fun, special night at our church, and as meetings go, it was pretty painless. Enjoyable, even.

But, like clockwork, about 30 minutes in - though I loved every single person in the meeting with all my heart, though I was actually interested in the subject matter at hand - I started to get what I call "the fidgets." And at that point I wished - no, I LONGED - for an Alternate Activity, for a magazine or a GameBoy or a coloring book, for crying out loud. I couldn't help but laugh at myself, because there I sat, well into my 30's, a wife and mama now, still responding to A Controlled Group Setting with an almost palpable need to occupy my mind with something else, to pass someone a note, to doodle my name and David's name connected by lots of girly hearts. I was 16 years old all over again. Only 16 year olds probably should not be responsible for organizing the distribution of pork products with appropriate side dishes to large crowds of people at church functions. But I digress.

David knows my tendency to "zone out" so well that when I told him that our friend Kevin was also in the meeting, he paused for a second and then said, "Oh no. You two didn't get in trouble, did you?"

And the 16 year old in me was all, "Um, like, OF COURSE NOT. GAH!"

But truth be told, we did roll our eyes at each other a few times.

I'm, like, SO grown up now. Totally.

A Boy And His Dog

First, the boy. I love this picture - mainly because Alex looks like a man on a mission. You know, he's walking down a hill, very busy, got some stuff to do, very busy.

Okay. On to the aforementioned dog.

At this point Alex was still trying to convince Maggie to play. Maggie, however, was far more enticed by whatever she saw on her paw. She had little interest in the toddler who was barking orders at her (the PUN never stops around here, oh no it doesn't).

Yeah. I have no idea. Some calisthenics, maybe? A little light stretching before they begin their backyard workout?

There were lots of pictures between the last one and this one - too blurry to post because of All The Running. Never underestimate the potential for fun when you have a three year old and a 100 pound lab together in a large grassy area.

They're a pretty cute pair.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Vegetable Is Just A Vessel, Really

I was making my way through my excruciatingly boring line-up of summer TiVo programs Saturday night, and I decided to settle in for a new episode of "Paula's Home Cooking." Y'all know I love Paula, and I'm constantly amazed by the ways she can take a perfectly healthy vegetable and transform it into a fat-laden, buttery delight. And after what I saw Saturday night, I think she may have outdone herself in the cholesterol-spiking department.

Here's what she did. She took some perfectly lovely fresh ears of corn, slathered them with mayonnaise, rolled them in parmesan cheese, added chili powder and salt, wrapped them in foil, and then cooked them on the grill. The finished product looked delicious, though it didn't resemble corn so much as some county-fair delicacy that had been battered and deep fried.

And I of course cannot wait to try it.

We have a propensity in the South for taking healthy foods and rendering them void of any redeeming nutritional value (see fried cheese, fried mushrooms, etc.), and I'm a little curious: do y'all have a favorite "healthy"-food-gone-wrong? I mean, yeah, you like broccoli on its own...but do you like it more when it's covered in butter and cheese? Personally, I'm partial to a squash casserole where the squash, cooked down to the point that all those pesky vitamins are eliminated, is mixed with sour cream, cheese, onion, and topped with buttered cracker crumbs.

I'm not completely hopeless, just so you know. I love steamed asparagus with just a little salt and lemon juice on it.

But if you want to melt some cheese on top, you'll get no complaints from me. :-)