Monday, July 31, 2006

Please Excuse Me While I Make Excuses

So here's what I know.

As a Southern girl, you learn to reciprocate any kindness that comes your way. If someone brings you flowers, you fill the vase with candy before you return it. If someone gives you a gift, you write a thank you note. If someone sends you a letter, you answer it. These things were non-negotiables as far as my mama was concerned.

As a blogger, I want to adhere to the same code. And I did for awhile. If someone commented, I quickly went to her site and commented in return. If someone emailed, I immediately answered. If I saw that someone had added me to her Bloglines, I added her to mine.

But then a lot more people starting coming around, and it changed things a little bit. I'm not saying that it should have, but it did.

Which leaves me here, still trying to figure out how to keep up my end of the bloggy deal.

A bit of backstory: I have been in my house one night out of the last fourteen. ONE NIGHT IN THE LAST TWO WEEKS. And I'm not positive, but I think my mental state at this point is only slightly better than an eight year old enduring his first week of sleep-away camp.

(In other words: “I wanna go HOOOOOOOME.”)

Two weeks ago I went on a great trip to Savannah with some of my bloggy friends. The day after we got home, I made an unexpected trip to be with my friend Elise. And when I left her last Tuesday, I came to my parents’ for a visit we'd planned several weeks ago.

And I've realized something during my time away from home: so much of my blogging "routine" is dependent on location. Since I've pretty much been hijacking other people's computers for the last two weeks, it's thrown me off more than a little bit. I've blogged from Wendi's, from Mama and Daddy's (DIAL UP IS HATEFUL), and from my cousin's house. I came THISCLOSE to blogging from Elise's house one afternoon, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that, seeing as how she's been recently widowed and all. I mean, I know we've been friends for almost 20 years, but I'm pretty sure that the etiquette experts would draw the line at trying to catch up on blog reading from the computer of someone who is grieving the death of her husband. I think that would probably qualify as tacky. (And by the way - lest you worry that I'm being insensitive to the plight of my sweet friend Elise - I can promise you that when she read those last two lines, she laughed. Loudly.) :-)

So I haven't exactly been minding my bloggy manners. I've hit "mark all read" on Bloglines more times than I can count...I've read all of your sweet emails and more often than not been totally unsure of how to respond...I even asked y'all to open up your homes, and you did, and in a lot of cases I haven't made it by your place yet.

Tacky, tacky, tacky.

But there is a flipside. And the flipside is why, in the grand scheme of things, I just can't beat myself up too much for the way the last two weeks have gone, blogging-wise.

- I made time to take a trip with four sweet blogging friends. Only now they're not just blogging friends - they're friends. Period.

- I was able to be with a long-time friend who needed me more than ever before.

- I hung out in my pajamas for almost two days when I got to Mama's - and pretty much never let go of my little one. We sang songs and read books and watched movies and loved every second.

- I've spent the last three days with my sister at my cousin's house - cleaning out, decorating, rearranging furniture - all for the new member of our family who's scheduled to arrive sometime in November.

- And I've missed my husband like crazy.

So yeah, I've missed some posts. Yeah, I'm behind on the tour. And yeah, I've been a little overwhelmed, truthfully, when I've thought about how many of you are reading Ye Olde Blogge these days, because I want to make it worth your while. I want to have something to say.

So if you would, bear with me. I need to ease back into regular life - and ease back into blog life, too. Once I get back home, I'll re-discover my routine. I'll be able to write a little when A. is eating breakfast, and read through my Bloglines when he's taking a nap, and write a little more after he goes to bed. I'll be able to click on your comments and (quickly, thanks to DSL) discover all sorts of new bloggity treasures.

Did I mention that I've missed my husband?

One more thing. I owe Jeana a big ole thank you. She made me smile last Thursday by giving me a funny blog award, and because I've been visiting Tackyland, apparently, I haven't thanked her yet. So, many thanks to Jeana - for making me laugh with her quirky sense of humor, for giving me something fun to put in my sidebar, and for ensuring - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that at least in terms of the Christian blogging world, my mama's legacy is secure.

I'll be back tomorrow.

With nary a trace of tackiness remaining.

Hopefully. :-)

Friday, July 28, 2006

That Seemed To Go Pretty Well, Don't You Think?

When we were in Savannah a couple of weeks ago, Addie asked me if the initial response to the Tour of Homes had overwhelmed me. I told her that yes, it did a little bit - but that it had surprised me more than anything else. I think I've mentioned before that I was thinking sixteen, MAYBE seventeen people might participate. Twenty if the wind was blowing just right.

Good thing I don't make a living off of predictions. I sort of stink at them, obviously. And today's response has blown me away. Thank y'all so much for sharing your homes with all of us!

Honestly, part of the reason I wanted to do this is because I was hoping to drive some traffic to other blogs - just as other bloggers have done for me - and it sounds like my crafty scheme may have just worked. I was excited that I was able to get to more blogs than I anticipated, even using Daddy's dial-up, but some of you had so many comments that the dial-up totally rebelled when I tried to post a comment from me. It made me smile a little bit every time that happened.

Since I have been away from my own home the last week and a half, when I looked at my blog today and saw the pictures of my house, it honestly made me a little homesick. But I think that's what this whole bloggy deal was about: sharing the things that make our homes so special to us, and also recognizing that regardless of square footage or paint colors or kitchen design, God has blessed each of us with a roof over our heads - a place that we can call home. I'm so grateful for that, and I can tell that y'all are, too.

Earlier this afternoon, Sister suggested - and then I saw that someone else mentioned it in the comments - that we should do a Holiday Tour of Homes next. I think that is a GREAT idea - so I'll keep that on the back burner. Sounds like (the beginnings of) a plan to me.

I'd love to hear your feedback about how today went for you...if it increased your traffic, if you found some blogs you'll be visiting again, if you felt encouraged by seeing more comments than usual. I know that some of you had problems with the Mr. Linky thing, and I have no idea why...but maybe I'll have more practice with it by the time December rolls around.

Thanks again, y'all, for such a great day. I have a LOT of blogs left to visit, so just continue to be patient...and know that if I don't make it by your place this weekend, on Monday I'll be back in my leather chair in the corner of my den, enjoying me some wireless high-speed internet :-) - and making much quicker progress through the linky list.

There really is no place like home, and it's great to know that so many other people feel the same way.

Come On In, Y'all!

Welcome to the 1st Annual BooMama Blog Tour of Homes! I can't wait to see all of your posts and pictures - so in the spirit of the festivities, here are some snapshots of La Casa de BooMama.

You'll have to forgive this first image. Since I'm at my parents' house, I had to crop a picture of the outside of the house so that only the front door was showing (trying to protect my family from The Ring of Thieves, of course). But when I finally got it cropped on Daddy's unfamiliar software, it turned a little smaller than I'd planned. You can get the idea, though.

This is our den - where we do all of our hanging out, TV watching, and some of our very best napping.

And then our master bedroom - with all shams, drapes, and throws made especially by Sister. She's a talented one, she is.

The kitchen is pretty self-explanatory. It's where we, you know, cook. My favorite thing is that the pantry door is covered with Boo's artwork - which makes it functional AND decorative. You can't see the rest of the cabinets, the refrigerator, or the breakfast area, so just close your eyes real tight and let your imagination run wild. :-)

And then, over in the corner of the den - the place where all the bloggy magic happens. With "magic" being a bit of an overstatement...but a whole lot of typing goes on in that chair after the little one goes to sleep.

Upstairs is A.'s room, his playroom / guest room, another guest room and a bath. It's his little sanctuary up there, and it felt weird to me to post pictures of it. So, again, just close your eyes real tight.... :-)

And now that you've seen all I have to offer...SKEDADDLE. :-) Lots of great posts to read - and don't forget to comment on them!

Remember, when you enter your link below, link to the specific Tour of Homes post - not just to your blog in general. We wouldn't want anyone to get lost as they navigate their way through this new bloggy territory.

Happy tour travels to all! I'm so glad - and so grateful - that you're sharing your homes with all of us. I can't wait to stop by for a visit.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tour Of Homes Update

I've been a little conflicted, honestly, about whether or not to do this whole Tour of Homes deal. I've thought about re-scheduling it, or moving it to another blog, or just cancelling it altogether. It hasn't exactly been at the forefront of my mind over the last few days.

But I woke up this morning thinking that we should definitely proceed as planned. I think it'll be fun. And truthfully, I could use a light-hearted diversion right about now.

Since I've been a little out of pocket over the last week and a half, I have many, many emails requesting "the code" that I haven't answered. But here's the good news: you don't need "the code" to participate - you only need it if you want to put a button in your sidebar. And it's real sweet and all if you do, but at this point, you don't even need to bother. Just stop by tomorrow and jump on board.

So, first thing in the morning, here's what will happen.

When I post my pictures - which I'll do sometime after midnight - there will be a Mr. Linky thingy at the bottom of my post. That's where you'll enter in your name and the URL of YOUR post (the specific Tour of Homes post - not just your general blog URL). Once you do that, you will be officially "on the tour" - and people can stop by here, click on your link, and go straight to your beeee-yoooo-tee-ful pictures.

And if you don't get your pictures up tomorrow, no big deal. Just come by Saturday and add your link. I don't think that ANY of us will get through all of the posts tomorrow unless we have hired babysitters or called in sick to work, so if you add your link a little later, people will still find you.

Remember, this is a GREAT chance for people who might not have read your blog before to get acquainted with you, so try, as much as you can, to leave comments on the sites that you visit. After all the sprucing up that people have been doing :-), I'm sure they'd like to know that someone has actually looked at their pictures. So let's make de-lurking the order of the bloggy tour day.

Finally, please be patient with me as I make my way around to everyone's Tour Of Homes posts. I will get there - I promise - but I'm at my parents' house right now, and, well, dial-up. The Southern girl in me has been SO conflicted about not visiting blogs lately, about reading all of your sweet comments and not having an opportunity to comment in return. So please know that I have read every email and every single comment, and I will be doing the same tomorrow. It just may take me awhile because of my techno-limitations.

I think that covers everything - you can go back and look at my original Tour Of Homes post if you don't remember what pictures you're supposed to use.

See y'all tomorrow - bright and early!

The Lap Of Luxury

By nature I’m a bit of a planner. A list-maker. And while I like to think that I’m just a person who wants to be prepared, I think there’s probably a little OCD in the mix. I mean, I am a person who typed out an itinerary for a SPRING BREAK TRIP in college, so basically, you know, I’m crazy.

So last Thursday, when certain aspects of Paul’s condition started to come to light, I started to make some plans. It wasn’t anything maudlin – just the pending matters of What To Do With The Child, How To Get To Jackson, When Would We Go To Pensacola, etc. Practical stuff, really.

When we first heard about funeral arrangements and realized that there was going to be a second memorial service in Paul’s hometown, Polly Planner here went straight to the phone. I called a hotel chain, asked about their properties in the area, and made a reservation. I knew that some of the girls would want to go, and I figured we would need a place to sleep. Being proactive was oddly comforting to me.

Late Monday afternoon, after the first memorial service in the town where Elise lives, Tracey, Merritt, Wendi and I got in the car and set out for the Mississippi Delta, which is such a unique place geographically and culturally that it deserves a blog of its own. Since I’m a girl who grew up in the piney woods of central Mississippi, I just can’t do the Delta justice, but it was always one of my favorite places to visit when I was in college. It’s a place where family is everything and cotton is king, and I’m fascinated by every single aspect of it.

It was getting late when we finally got to the hotel, which I won’t mention by name but may or may not rhyme with Barefield Binn, and it seemed like a pretty nice place, all nestled up against the Mississippi River levy, only blocks away from the church and the cemetery we’d be visiting the next morning. It seemed functional, efficient, practical – exactly what we needed.

But I think maybe the first indicator that it wasn’t quite time for me to pat myself on my planning back was that our "doormen" were a couple of stray cats who were jumping in the garbage can by the front door and – I kid you not – leaping out of the garbage can with chicken bones in their mouths. Merritt seemed concerned that the cats weren’t being taken care of and thus had been forced to forage for food, but I was just concerned that there were HUNGRY CATS LEAPING IN AND OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN. That has to be some sort of urban legend omen. Has to be.

Once we got in the lobby and looked around, we had to wait a few minutes behind a gentleman who was also checking in. I couldn’t help but laugh when he asked the girl behind the desk if his reservation was for a smoking room, and when he heard that yes, it was, he replied, “Well, it’s a good thing – because if it’s not, it will be when I leave!” And then he went into a full-fledged coughing fit, which I feel is perhaps an indicator that he might should, you know, stop all the smoking. But maybe that’s just me.

I should probably tell you that Wendi and Merritt, who were roommates in college, are scaredy-cats extraordinaire. Before we even got to the hotel, they were plotting all the ways they were going to ensure our safety, either by moving furniture in front of the door, or – my favorite – PUTTING TACKS UNDERNEATH THE WINDOW, because, as we all know, tacks are an EXCELLENT crime deterrent, cited far and wide by Safety Experts as the #1 way to stop a BAND OF THIEVES dead in their tracks. I mean, a deadbolt lock can only do so much…you really need those tacks under the window to provide some extra peace of mind.

Once we got up to the room, we immediately noticed that it wasn’t just humid – it was DAMP. Borderline wet. The window unit was pumping out cool air, but seeing how the humidity in the Delta is about 98% at all times, we were pretty much standing in the middle of a cold sauna. And no way were we going to let our feet touch that wet-ish carpet. Oh no ma’am. Flip flops would be the order of the day – or night, as it were.

Everybody immediately got ready for bed – we were exhausted and pretty desperate for sleep. Merritt did read a page or two from her book (I had to include that detail because it's something that has never happened before, and I wanted to capture the moment for all posterity - a bit of heritage for her children, if you will), but we went to sleep pretty quickly. Safe and sound, snuggled in our semi-wet beds. Just a little piece of heaven on earth, it was.

You can imagine our delight when, around 2:30 in the AM, the fire alarm in the hall sounded with the force of all nature. The four of us leapt out of bed so quickly that Tracey, when recounting our luxurious overnight stay, said, “All I could see were arms and legs flailing everywhere.” I think what tickles me the most is that, despite the fact that an alarm was blaring and we were awakened from a deep sleep, not a single one of us hit the floor without getting our feet in flip flops first. Because, I mean, if you’re in a fire, your number one concern is almost certainly preventing direct contact between the damp carpet's mold and mildew spores and your bare feet. Right?

As it turns out, it was a false alarm – though that didn’t keep Wendi from plotting our escape as we dashed around the room with no particular destination in mind. We were all sort of running from bed to bed, from door to window, not doing a single one of the things you learn to do in fire drills, and at one point I heard Wendi say, “You know, we’re only on the 2nd floor. It’s not that far a jump, girls! It’s not that far a jump! I’ll get that TV and throw it through the window and we’ll be out of here in no time! I’ll throw it right through the window!”

The mother of four children, ladies and gentlemen!

We all slept fitfully for the rest of the night – and just like college, Tracey was the last one to get out of bed the next morning (by the way, one of my favorite tales from our week together was when T., who has three children, told her husband, in all seriousness, “Imagine something that you really dread doing. Something you HATE doing. That’s how I feel about getting out of bed in the morning”). And if you’ve doubted my assertions of the high level of humidity in the room, I offer you one more detail as proof: when I was putting on my make-up, the brush that I use for blush was wet. Not that I’d run it under the faucet or anything – it had just been sitting in my make-up bag.

Can’t wait to make YOUR family some reservations at the Barefield Binn, can you?

But you know, just like everything we’ve ever done together, the whole experience was oddly fun – not in a Oh-I-Can’t-Wait-To-Do-That-Again sort of way, but in a Well-If-I-Have-To-Stay-In-A-Hotel-With-Scavenging-Cats-And-An-Abundance-Of-Mildew-I’m-Glad-I-Was-With-Y’all sort of way.

The stuff of memories, you know?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Longest Week

For the last few days I’ve wondered what in the world I would write about when I finally sat down in front of the computer again. I wrote the last post in my journal at about 2 in the morning, just a few hours after we left the hospital in Pensacola, and then I typed it at my sweet friend Wendi’s house while I was waiting for D. to make revisions to the program for the memorial service. But since then, I have had a hard time even putting sentences together (Tracey would tell y’all that I have said, “Ummm…never mind. Forgot what I was going to say” at least 20 times a day since we left Pensacola, and she’s right).

We have struggled, the words and I.

I think there’s a point, when you’re watching someone you love go through something so unthinkable and so painful, where words just stop. I mean, you can only express how sorry you are so many times before you run the risk of having the Hallmark crown imprinted on your head and then finding yourself stuck in one of those little slots on the greeting card aisle at Walgreen’s. At some point you have to talk about something besides the fact that you’re sorry and that you’ll do whatever you can.

So as much as we have cried over the last few days, we have laughed just as much. Elise has always loved a good story, and I don’t know anyone who appreciates funny more than she does. When something tickles her funny bone, she doesn’t just laugh – she yells, claps her hands, and throws her head way back. Then she sticks her arms out in front of whomever is sitting next to her at the time – sort of a “Hold on, don’t budge, you’d better freeze right where you are because you can’t possibly move in the middle of this hysterical moment” kind of thing – and then she wraps her arms around her stomach and leans over as far as she can. It’s what she did when we were freshmen in college, and it’s what she did yesterday, as we sat around the table after the second memorial service in two days. It might seem strange to y’all that we laughed so much in the middle of such tragic circumstances, but laughing is what we have done for all of our adult lives, and I’ve learned over the last week that not even death can change that.

Back in 1991, Tracey, Wendi, Merritt and I donned some of the most, um, floral bridesmaid’s dresses in all of wedding history and stood at the front of the church as Elise and Paul said their vows. Yesterday our attire was not nearly as floral, but we found ourselves once again in a church with Elise – for entirely different reasons. Honestly, it was a little surreal. After the service, Paul’s mama’s sweet friends, who have stuck by each other for forty years, served lunch to all of us, when it was finally time to leave the church - when Elise’s daddy looked at us and said, with a little gleam in his eye, that if we said another word to E. that it had better be “BYE" - I felt the tears welling up again.

Those tears caught me completely off guard. I mean, I have been the one who, since last Thursday, has been telling all of our friends, “Remember – it’s not about how we feel. It’s about how Elise feels, and if we need to sit in a corner to make her feel better, we will sit in a corner.”

Yet I found myself, when it was finally time to leave, totally unable to practice what I had preached. Because when I gave Elise one last hug, I pretty much just wanted to crawl into the fetal position and bawl my eyes out. Though probably not for the reasons that you think.

I don’t know if you’ve ever known the blessing of friends who love you completely and unconditionally, but I do. Elise, Tracey, Merritt, Wendi, Emma Kate, Daphne, Katy and Melanie know, too. And yesterday, as I looked around at my friends who were there – my friends who have been there through every single stage of my adult life – I felt deeply, profoundly grateful. Because if I ever find myself walking through some unchartered territory – as Emma Kate has over the last year and a half, as Katy did back at the beginning of the year, as Elise certainly has over the last week and will continue to do in the days and weeks to come – I know I have people who will walk with me. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when push comes to shove, they will walk with me.

That, to me, is huge. To say that I’m grateful for it doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Over the last week we’ve had to do things I never thought we’d do at this age: dropping everything to be with a friend who has lost a husband, driving to Pensacola to sit in a waiting room the size of a closet, praying around a hospital bed, driving Elise back to Jackson with Paul’s wedding band firmly in place on her left thumb, putting together programs for two memorial services (about 900 people at the first one, about 600 people at the second – you can’t tell me that E. and P. aren’t loved), driving to the Delta for a burial and finally, reluctantly, having to leave our friend E. behind.

For me, leaving E. behind was the hardest part of all.

So continue to pray for her family. I think now is when the most difficult part starts - so many "firsts" she'll have to experience without Paul. There’s a lot of mundane, day-to-day stuff that she’s going to have to learn to navigate on her own. And the mama in me just wants to pack up our house, put it on the market, and move closer to my friends. Even though I think we do a great job of staying in touch and taking trips and all that, this last week has reminded me of how much I love to be with them. And how blessed I am to have them. And how faithful God has been in every single circumstance we’ve encountered over the last nineteen years.

In this particular instance, through the tragedy of Paul's death, God has used so many of you as evidence of His faithfulness. Your emails, calls, comments and prayers have really reminded me that, when tough times hit, The Body of Christ is a living, breathing reminder of God’s goodness. I know Elise has seen your comments, and I know that she’s grateful.

I also know that if she could tell you anything, it would be this: love your husband, and treasure every single day that you have with him.

And if I could tell you anything, it would be this: in addition to loving your husband and your children, love your friends. Love them well.

You will never, ever regret it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

E. + P.

I've thought a lot over the last 72 hours that "once upon a time" is pretty overrated these days. The only people who seem to even pretend it exists are celebrities who do the whole fairytale wedding deal, marry a too-handsome prince, end up in a tabloid as the result of some public falling out, then end it all a few months later with shared custody of the dogs and a big "For Sale" sign in front of the beach house in Malibu.

You know. The American Dream, basically.

But when I was 17 years old, I had the privilege of seeing "once upon a time" unfold right in front of me. Well, a floor above me. The Intensive Study Floor, in fact - though thinking of Elise being so close to the words "intensive" and "study" pretty much makes me want to giggle. Or perhaps guffaw. :-)

Elise and Paul met when we'd been at State two weeks, and I don't think I've ever seen two people fall in love harder or faster. Elise's eyes would light up when she mentioned "P-Dub," and he called her "baby" in a way would make your heart flip over just a little bit. You could just tell that when he looked at her, he had every intention of taking care of her for the rest of his life.

And that's exactly what he did.

Paul and Elise were one of the most affectionate couples I've ever known - they could not sit next to each other without holding hands, or rubbing backs, or, more often than not, locking lips. Those two LOVED to lock some lips. :-) And one thing I want their boys to know is that their daddy loved their mama openly, proudly, and unabashedly...I think that's what her friends loved the most about him. We all wanted to have our very own Paul one day. Just without the Hawaiian shirt collection, if possible.

Really, the thing about the Paul and Elise fairytale that makes it so great is that they never pretended to be perfect. They were honest about their struggles and their victories. Always. They fought hard for their marriage. Always. I mean, truth be told, Elise has been known to be a little, um, authoritative (that means bossy) from time to time, and Paul, God love him, had all the fashion sense of a colorblind retiree. So they weren't exactly the docile princess in her flowing gown and the suave prince in his coat and tails...they favored t-shirts and shorts, thankyouverymuch, and don't even THINK about a glass slipper - it was all flip flops, all the time for those two.

But the one ingredient of the traditional fairy tale that they had totally down pat was this: a pure and steadfast love. Even in those moments when they didn't like each other very much, the love never failed them. Up until the very end, the love never failed.

And so, a couple of nights ago, in a hospital room in Pensacola, my sweet friends and I had the great privilege of being with Elise and Paul as this particular chapter of their unique fairytale came to a close. Elise kissed her prince over and over again, and she stroked his face, and she rubbed his arm, and she held his hand - things we've watched her do countless times over the last nineteen years. And it struck me, as we reminisced about how Paul cried all the way through his wedding vows, and how he fell to his knees and sobbed when he was completely overwhelmed by the blessing of his first baby boy, and how he had to be - HAD TO BE - the first one on the dance floor when live music was playing, that while this particular ending might not be "happily ever after," it's been a fairytale just the same. I'm so grateful that I had the privilege to witness it.

Elise and Paul's legacy as a couple is something that I pray all of our friends will be intentional about communicating to their boys. Because I want them to know - and never, ever forget - how deeply their daddy loved their mama, and how desperately she loved her prince. He didn't ride up to her castle on a white horse - it was more like he drove up to her dorm in a copper-colored car - but their "once upon a time" was very much for real. And it was incredibly inspiring. And it will live in Elise's heart - and so many of our hearts - forever.

The End.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Very Sad Day

Sometimes, after a trip, there's a period where you sort of ease back to your regular life and routine. You remember what it's like to make your own coffee, and make your own bed, and somehow cook supper for your family while simultaneously washing a load of clothes, cleaning out the pantry, catching up with your husband, and tending to a little one's skinned knee. Somehow, eventually, the routine takes over, and vacation mode dissipates, and life as normal resumes over a period of a few hours, or a day, or two days. It just happens.

But sometimes life just smacks you in the face with the right hook of reality. That happened to me this morning around 1 AM.

It's funny how when bad things happen, your brain jumps into some kind of "life highlight" mode - and suddenly events or conversations that seemed inconsequential two or five or fifteen years ago take on a whole new meaning, develop a whole new relevance, almost as if God was somehow preparing you and the people around you - in the middle of a seemingly insignificant moment - for what's down the road. It's not quite like a big flashing's more like a little metal plaque, attached to an old tree or a fence, that gently prepares you for the fact that there might be a little bit of a curve ahead, or a slight detour, or a bump in the road that you weren't necessarily expecting.

When I was in college, one of the first forever friends who crossed my path was Elise. And one of the most memorable parts of Elise's time in college - and something I talked about briefly in the post I just linked to - is that when we were freshmen, she fell head over heels for a guy named Paul. He fell right back. 'Bout near fell over, in fact. I have never seen two people more perfect for each other, and like I told Elise just a few minutes ago, Paul has loved her totally and completely from the moment he met her.

Elise and P-Dub, as everybody calls him, have been sort of a touchstone couple for the rest of us. They were the first of our friends to get married, the first to buy a house, the first to have a baby. They have been fiercely, wildly, and unashamedly devoted to each other for almost 20 years. They have three beautiful boys, and they have parented with intention and devotion. I know that the adjective is inadequate, but there's something so special about Elise and Paul's relationship, about the way they've approached their marriage and their family. AND they're hysterical, which is always a plus in my book. Funny is good.

One night when E. and I were sophomores at State, we were sitting on a couch in the back hall of the sorority house where we lived. Sorority house living was NOT for E., by the way, who needed a little bit more "personal space" than living with 39 other girls afforded, but we had us some mighty fine conversations on that little Queen Anne settee, long after the other girls had gone to sleep.

On that particular night, I was telling E. about a tragic situation my cousin had recently faced, and I will never, ever forget how deeply moved she was by the story. Huge tears streamed down her face, and as we talked about what had happened, she looked at me and said, "I do not know what I would do if something happened to Paul. I cannot imagine it." For some reason the intensity with which she said that has stayed with me...I guess because I knew that she meant it from the deepest part of her heart, and I think it surprised me a little bit to see such a fierce level of love from someone my own age.

About ten years later, during a beach trip to Paul's parents' condo, Elise and I were walking down the beach, a few feet behind some of our other friends. I mentioned how fortunate we all were, how blessed we'd all been, because up to that point none of us had experienced any real tragedy. No one was divorced, no one was sick, everyone's children and spouses were healthy. I said, "You know, it's strange, really, that none of us have had to deal with anything earth-shattering." And Elise, never missing a step, kind of squinted at me and said, "Yeah, that's true. But it's bound to happen. You know it'll happen. Don't you think? Eventually?"

Both of those conversations have played in my head since a little before 1 this morning - over and over again. It's weird to me that I remember them so vividly - and borderline ironic in light of the last 24 hours.

Last night, at the place they're visiting on vacation, Paul was involved in a freak accident that I won't even attempt to describe - I'm too scared I'll get something wrong or misrepresent what happened - but the bottom line is that he was airlifted to a hospital, and put on a ventilator, and suddenly Elise finds herself smack dab in the middle of her worst nightmare. Paul's condition is unchanged since last night - the doctors compare his head injury to something a person might experience in a high-impact car crash. It's pretty grim.

I'll be gone for a few days so that my friends and I can be where Elise needs us, when she needs us. I know I've written over and over again about how special my friends are to me, and I'm telling you - when hard times hit, our group rallies. It's an almost unthinking loyalty that we have for each other - and it's one of the biggest blessings in all of our lives. So if you think about it, pray for our safe travel and that we would be a comfort to our sweet friend and her family...that we would know what to say in the middle of a situation where words alone will never be enough.

And here's what we ALL know for sure: God is Sovereign. None of this is a surprise to Him...He knew that He would allow this accident before Paul was even born. Elise finds comfort in that - she and Paul are both believers - and she says that she can feel people's prayers surrounding her. So please, when her situation comes to mind, pray. For her, for her boys, and for her husband. Prayer has been her consistent request all day long. The next 36 hours are going to be very critical...and Elise is going to need discernment and wisdom and God's perfect peace more than ever. I know she will be so grateful for your prayers.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Update: Earlier tonight, Paul went home to be with the Lord. Please keep Elise and her sweet boys in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More Fun Than Blogging Girls Should Be Allowed

First, we had a ball in Savannah. I need a couple of days to process my thoughts so that I can sufficiently wax poetic about Paula's collard greens and candied yams, because OH MY WORD they were delicious. In fact, the candied yams were so good that I had to call my mama from the table. Seriously. And I'm pretty sure that I've never felt more Southern than I did when I said, "Mama. You know how I'm in Savannah? Well, we're at Paula Deen's restaurant, and her candied yams are SO GOOD, Mama. I just wanted to tell you that."

And the sweet tea was delicious. Because I KNOW all you Southern girls are wondering. Honestly, I think of all the concerns I had about finally going to The Lady and Sons (what if it doesn't live up to the hype, what if the food's not good, etc.), the biggest possible letdown would have been if Paula's sweet tea wasn't good. But it was perfection. Just the right color. Two big chunks of fresh lemon. A little sprig of mint. And bottomless. Perfection.

Second, I'm a little, er, behind on answering email, reading comments, mailing out links for the Tour of Homes (by the way, I told the girls on our trip that when I originally posted the Tour of Homes idea, I honestly thought that 15, maybe 20 people would participate. Seriously. So when I got home today and checked comments for that post, I'm pretty sure that my mouth fell down to the floor and only returned to its proper place a few minutes ago). :-) Anyway, I'll get all of those details taken care of by the end of the week - so thanks in advance for your patience.

And just in case a few of you are confused about how the Tour of Homes will work, here's a little reminder. I will not post everyone's pictures here on my blog. I will LINK to everyone's post with pictures here. So you'll get your pictures posted on your own blog on July 27th, then pop in over here and add your name and URL to a Mr. Linky list. If you're not sure what that means, take a look at how Shannon handles Works For Me Wednesday here. It's really pretty simple.

Third, after about five days away from my people, I need to see my little family. And squeeze them tight. And snuggle.

So I'll see y'all tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

When Bloggity Worlds Collide

I've been pretty upfront about the fact that I didn't start a blog to meet people. I started a blog to document our lives for Alex so that one day he'll be able to look back and have a sense of who his daddy and I are as people, not just as parents, and I started a blog to try to keep in touch a little bit better with the friends I've had for years and years. But new friends? Not a goal. Honestly, the possibility of that never entered my mind.

But back in the spring I did an online Bible study that Lauren organized, which meant that suddenly there were about 25 other blogs I was visiting. So over the course of ten weeks, I learned a good bit about the people participating. And I developed a relationship with several of them. Granted, it's not EXACTLY like it happens in real life, but you do get a sense of who you could hang out with, and who you could confide in, and who looks at life from a similar perspective. And before you know it, people feel like friends. Not "online friends" or "those people on the internet" - but friends.

Color me surprised.

A couple of months ago, I got an email from Robin that said, bascially, "Hey, what if we took a trip to Savannah to go to Paula Deen's restaurant?" She mentioned some of the logistics that would be involved, and then: "Are you scared?"

To which I replied: "I ain't skeered." I mean, I AM from Mississippi. Them there Texas gals don't skeer us one iota. They make THINK that their hair is bigger, but they've got nothin' on us. Trust me. When I was a freshman in college, my bangs had their own zip code.

So we started to plan.

Turns out, Addie's coming. Flying here from "Missourah," as my mama says. Theresa, too. She's flying from Arizona to Texas, then riding with Robin from Texas to Alabama. Lori is driving down from Ohio. Then the five of us are getting in my car, and we're driving to Savannah. And going to Paula Deen's restaurant. And, I imagine, talking incessantly. I'm dying to hear Addie sing, so I'm going to, you know, make her.

But more than anything I'm looking forward to just VISITING - getting the stories behind the stories that we read on each other's blogs. The neatest thing is that all the preliminaries are out of the we can jump straight into the deep end of the conversational waters. And I love that.

All that to say: I'll be a little scarce 'round these parts for the next couple of days. Because I'm going to Savannah with my stranger-friends. :-) Only they're really not strangers at all...I know their hearts, even if I've never seen their faces in person. And the fun starts in about 6 hours.

So if you think about it, please pray for our safe travel. Robin, Theresa and Lori have a LOT of driving in front of them for the next three or four days...and I'm driving everybody from here to Savannah. So you might want to also pray for my visitors' nerves. :-)

I've actually gone back and forth about taking my laptop with me...David has teased me about how the girls and I will end up riding around looking for a wi-fi hotspot so that we can "liveblog" our trip. But I'm thinking that I'm going to leave the computer at home...I don't want to be so busy writing about the trip that I forget to enjoy it. And I think that, between the five of us, you'll get to hear alllll the details when we get home.

See y'all in a few!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I Think That Squealing Sound Coming From The Pipes Was A Warning

One of the highlights of Alex's young life is to get to take a bath in his mama and daddy's tub - what he calls "the big tub." And for the last couple of weeks, he's been in a "big tub" kind of mood, wanting me to fill it up with piles of bubbles and loads of toys so that he can sit in there until he resembles a 40 inch, lily-white prune. I've been happy to oblige him.

Last night after I washed his hair and saw that the tub was full enough, I tried to cut off the water. But no matter how hard I turned the knobs, I couldn't get the water to stop. I'd get it down to a trickle, but I couldn't cut it off completely. So, I did what any self-respecting Southern woman would do: I shrugged my shoulders, figured it couldn't run forever, and told Alex to enjoy it. He said, "It's like raindrops, Mama?" And I said, "That's exactly right, buddy. Raindrops."

I mean, if the child is entertained....

Anyway, after Alex went to sleep I casually mentioned to David that by the way I hadn't been able to turn off the water in our bathroom, and let me just tell y'all: he could. not. stand. it. Dripping water? In HIS house? Oh no ma'am.


So while I continued to sit right here, just a clickety-click-clicking on the keyboard, D. started marching back and forth from his tool box in the laundry room to the bathroom to the basement to the bathroom to the laundry room - he had to have this wrench or this screwdriver or this contraption made from the finest amalgamated metal so that he could Stop The Dripping Water, because how in the world could he ever go to sleep knowing that there was water dripping? For the love of pete, HOW?

And about 10 minutes into our little home repair extravaganza, I heard the words no wife wants to hear when her husband is trying to fix something:


Those are never, ever good words. Especially when expressed with a sense of urgency.

They were necessary words, as it turned out, because I walked in the bathroom to find that Old Faithful had apparently migrated from Wyoming and taken up residence right here in Alabama - beneath our very bathroom, in fact.


David quickly asked me if I'd press down on what used to be one of the knobs on the tub to try to hold back the geyser while he ran to the basement to cut off the water altogether. And after about 2 seconds of fulfilling my assigned task, I realized that what he should have asked was, "Hey. Will you please place your hands on this piece of metal that boasts Ginsu knife-like sharpness and then lean on it with all of your weight in the hopes of stopping the water that is rushing through our pipes with the force of all nature? Would you do that for me, bride of mine?"

Fortunately he got the water turned off, and I was initally pretty relieved, but then the realization that the water was turned off meant that I suddenly had to use the bathroom like I had never needed to use the bathroom before. But, um, what to do?

Well, if you're me, you figure you'll call a plumber in the morning. And then you head back to the computer and finish answering emails. Just a portrait of concern, I was. The epitome of it, really.

But if you're David, you embark on A Mission to Conquer The Faucet, Part Deux. And sure enough, he found some o-ring thingamajig in some dark corner of his toolbox, was able to put the cold water knob back together, and do you know what? He fixed it. He DID.

Now I'm not sure if y'all have ever taken the time to really observe a man when he tackles a challenging home repair without having to go to Home Depot or Lowe's and ask for assistance, but I am fairly certain that my husband's chest expanded to two inches beyond its normal size. And I believe he may have pounded said chest with his fists. And I'm quite certain that I heard him growl.

About thirty minutes after our waterlogged ordeal, I told D. that I was very glad that he was here when it happened, because if I had been alone I would have just shut off the water and climbed in the car and headed to a hotel.

He grinned at me and said, "So WHERE exactly would you go in this house to cut off all the water?"

And without missing a beat I oh-so-sassily said, "Down to your office. Behind that little door on the wall."

He was noticeably impressed that I knew this critical piece of information.

But what he doesn't know is that the only reason I had the foggiest idea where to turn off the water is because about an hour before, when he was trying to plug up our personal Old Faithful, he very plainly said, "I'm glad all I have to do to turn off the water is to go down to my office since the valve is behind that little door on the wall" [emphasis mine, of course].

Otherwise I wouldn't have had a clue.

The menfolk come in pretty handy, don't they?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Prayer Request Update

Most of y'all know that my friend Lea Margaret's little boy had open heart surgery today. Here's the update from her:

"Mac had his surgery today. He is doing great for a little fellow who has just had open heart surgery. The doctor said that he did great in the O.R. They did not have to give him any blood, which we were glad about, they just circulated his own blood and they only had to stop his heart for about 8 minutes. There was only 1 hole (for a time we thought there might be 2), and it was about 1/2" in size. We got to see him at 6:30 for about 15 minutes. When we got back from supper he was awake and the first thing that he said to us, in this sweet, little weak voice was, "I did it!" What a trooper!

C. and I are staying with him tonight in ICU. He will probably go to a room in the morning.

Thank you for your continuous prayers for Mac. We appreciate it so very much."

I don't know about y'all, but everytime I think about Mac, who is 2 1/2, saying, "I did it!" - the tears flow. So precious.

I'll post any additional updates in the comments.

Keep praying!

It's A Bloggy Tour Of Homes, Y'all!

The 1st Annual (and by "Annual," I mean "Only") BooMama Blog Tour of Homes is going to be Friday, July 28th. And if you're thinking HUH? WHA? NUH-UH!, let me explain.

About a week ago, in this post, I confessed that I find it impossible to read someone's blog without picturing her house. And in the comments, Shannon and Carol were all, "Hey, why don't you organize some sort of home tour and host it here?"

To which I said, "Um, okay!"

Because while I am incapable of an original thought, I am TOTALLY capable of following instructions. Plus, I've been trying to think of a way to help direct some "traffic" to some of the newer blogs I'm reading, and if we have enough people participate, this should definitely do that.

So here's the plan.

First, you'll have to get the word out on your blogs. Feel free to use the button at the top of this post; just load it as a small image because the resolution isn't great (hey. I tried). And make sure you link to this specific post, or people will end up going straight to the main page and wondering what in the world a blog open house has to do with my latest lengthy post on "Project Runway." Or potty training. Or how I love Jesus.

You just never know around here.

Second, participating bloggers will display five pictures (or more, if you want) of their homes on Friday, July 28th. I'll set up one of those Mr. Linky dealies here so that everyone can be listed in one central location.

Third - and this is the most important part - this exercise (should we call it a "blogtacular"?) has two purposes: 1) to give people some insight into the "real world" of the bloggers they read and 2) to demonstrate grateful hearts for our homes - whether said home is 50 or 5,000 square feet. God gets all the glory regardless. Can I get an "Amen"?

So here are some guidelines:

1) I think it's a good idea to refrain from large, sweeping shots of your house's exterior. You never know who's reading, and too many identifying features probably isn't wise. Especially if your house numbers are involved. Since I don't want anyone to be victimized by a Ring of Thieves, I think it would be neat if everyone's first picture was a shot of their front door. And if there are numbers on your door, then you can either blur them in Photoshop or take your chances with the Ring of Thieves. :-)

2) Second photo = show us where you blog. Show us where the magic happens. The BLOGGY magic happens. My word.

3) Third photo = your main living area. Show us the place where your family hangs out.

4) Fourth photo = your kitchen. It is, after all, the heart of the home. And we're not going to compare countertop upgrades or somesuch nonsense...just show us where you prepare meals for your family. Or where you unpack fast food bags for your family. Whichever the case may be.

5) Fifth photo = your choice. Could be a bedroom, or a playroom, or a favorite spot outside.

And you can post more pics if you like...but five seems like a good number because those things I listed are pretty standard. I for one could not post a picture of my butler's pantry with a wet bar, because you could look high and low and never find those things in my house. :-)

So, it looks like you have about two weeks to get your house like you like it. But for what it's worth, I can pretty much promise you that you'll see toys in the floor in my pictures - because that's how we live around here. A spotless house lasts about .483 seconds. In other words, don't be afraid to show us the real deal.

I decided to make this a one-day "event" as opposed to something ongoing because there are so many rotating memes right now; I didn't really want to start another one. And since Jules' Everyday Things is on Fridays, you could tie that meme into this one and spotlight one of your favorite everyday items in your house.

Spread the word, y'all! And remember, this extraordinarily detailed information will give you something to post one day when you're struggling with writer's block. SERVING THE PEOPLE AS ALWAYS, I am.

And seriously: humble gratitude for what God has graciously provided...that's what we're after. And if there's a neat story about how you found your home or how long you've been there or how God moved mountains so you could get there - by all means share.

As my mother-in-law would say, "This is going to be MORE! FUN!"

Let me know - in the comments or via email - if you have any questions. And if you're interested in participating, let me know that in the comments, too - I'll email you the button code to make it easier for you to use it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Day That Summer Prevailed

Today Alex's friend G. is hanging out with us, and I think I would be fine if he stayed forever. It has been, for lack of a better word, delightful. Classic Summer Day.

Lauren has written lately about how difficult it can be when there are kids in your house who haven't been taught the same things as your own children. Like manners. And respect. And consideration for other people. I can't even imagine what the last couple of weeks have been like for her, with not one but TWO guests who have pushed the limits of her hospitality. I can see, even now with our three year old, that "company" becomes much harder to navigate when two households have vastly different rules or parenting "philosophies." And I shudder, just a little bit, when I think of what we'll have to wade through when Alex gets older.

But today, with G. here, I have just been so grateful. He's only 3 1/2, but he has great manners. He's respectful. Doesn't whine. Isn't sneaky. Doesn't push boundaries. He's just a typical little boy who wants to play with cars and wrestle a little and run outside. And we're fans of all those things around here.

After lunch I took the boys to the park even though it's around 145 in the shade (maybe a slight exaggeration, but OH MY it's hotter than blue blazes). For forty minutes they ran and climbed and took turns down the slide and ran some more. They walked across the picnic table benches like they were on a plank bridge above a river, and they laughed. And giggled. And laughed some more. Then they drank about 30 ounces of water in a single gulp. And started all over again.

Afterwards we went to Dairy Queen to cool off with some ice cream. And as Alex and G. sat on the same side of the booth, hair plastered to their hot little foreheads, I couldn't help but notice how they carried on like a couple of 70 year old men sitting outside a general store. They talked about TV shows ("G., do YOU like "The Backyardigans"?), what they do for fun ("Alex, do you like to go to the library and get books?"), and the boxing match that was on the television inside DQ. Just a couple of little guys, shooting the breeze. I could've listened to them all day.

When we were driving back home, the boys did a rousing duet of "God's Way Is The Best Way" from a favorite Veggie Tales CD (it's all the rage now with the toddler set, you know), and they tried to outdo each other in terms of politeness ("YOU take a turn!" "I'm all done - now YOU take a turn!"), and while I know that behavior probably won't hold when they're, say, thirteen and having to share an XBox, it was encouraging to see that the beginning of a foundation is there. That there's something to build on.

Right now they're upstairs, supposedly resting but actually sitting on Alex's bed playing with cars (SHHHH - I'm not supposed to know that - they think they have me fooled). Just a second ago I heard G. say, "I LOVE YOU, ALEX!" and Alex reply, "OH! I love YOU, G.!" And while two little boys can make much mischief, and while heaven knows they can make a mess, they also make me feel very blessed indeed.

I think that today has been the very essence of summer. And I think I'll get back to enjoying it right now.

(By the way. Those two little boys who are "resting" upstairs? I just heard G. ask Alex if he wanted to smell his feet. Apparently Alex did, because he started giggling uncontrollably.)

Ahhhhh. Life is good.

Prayer Requests

Hey y'all -

Paulette asked me yesterday if I'd direct your attention to this prayer request. Please read the info on Paulette's blog and keep this family in your prayers.

And also, please remember that Lea Margaret's little boy's re-scheduled surgery is tomorrow. I know their family will appreciate your prayers again.

Thanks, everybody!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Post That Rambles All The Way To Nowhere

I've spent the last couple days in sort of a general fog and funk - it's what happens to me when I stay in the house for more than 24 hours straight. The irony, of course, is that once I have been home for 24 hours straight, I sort of never want to leave. Is there a personality type called "circumstantial extrovert"? Because I think that's me.

Yesterday I didn't get out of my pajamas at all, though I did clean the house and wash clothes and take care of my "chores." So at least I haven't been unproductive. I've just had too many nights in a row with not enough sleep and too many days of busy-ness when awake. I believe that's what the experts refer to as "life." And yesterday, life caught up with me. As Diane would say, I was TARD.

Then last night I was fixing supper, and I decided to bake potatoes differently than I normally do - all because of something I saw on Food Network (note: when I'm in fog and funk mode, my television doesn't budge from HGTV or Food Network unless something REALLLLY special is happening on another channel, like, say, the "Project Runway" casting special, but that's another post for another time). Anyway, my fancy new potato cooking method caused my entire house to smell like Old Burned Oil, which left me slightly out of sorts because I had spent the whole day cleaning, and THIS was my reward? To be trapped in Old Burned Oil House? With nary a hint of April freshness?

So finally around 11 last night I just got in the bed, which prompted David to look at me and say, "Um. What are you doing?" Keep in mind that I am Official Night Owl in these parts, and I don't go to bed before midnight if I can help it.

My reply? "I've had enough."

So today I got up to a house that still smelled of Old Burned Oil, at least until Alex's breakfast was ready, at which point the house's smell magically transformed into Old Burned Oily Waffle With Syrup. And this was before Alex had an accident in his big boy underwear, but I can't talk about that right now or I'll throw up. And really, I'd rather not add that to my plethora of olfactory sensations (don't all these delighful smells sound like a recipe for some exclusive air freshener? to be sold in specialty boutiques nationwide?).

ANYWAY, after lunch David took Alex to run a few errands (ah, the perks of a husband who works from home - perks for which I will be forever thankful), and I decided to, you know, bathe. And change out of the pajamas that I'd had on since SUNDAY NIGHT (I'm hoping you won't be appalled - surely you've been in the same boat at some point or another - but if you haven't, please don't judge me, I beg you).

A bath! Even though I didn't have anywhere to go!

So when David and Alex got home just a little bit ago, David said, "OH! Did you take a bath?" Apparently the very notion that I had Chosen Cleanliness was surprising to him, given the fact that I had seemed pretty content to be in a foul mood and wear the same hot pink tie-dyed t-shirt for the last 36 hours. I was proud to tell him that yes, I had in fact bathed - and felt much better as a result. Clean helps, you know.

And an olive oil and coriander candle that Emma Kate's sister gave me helps, too. Because the Old Burned Oil smell seems to be fading. Of course, it's being overshadowed by the smell of Hot Boiling Chicken, but the candle has definitely helped. In case you were wondering.

And I feel like my regular extroverted self again. But I'm soooo getting out of the house tomorrow.

So how are y'all?

Works For Me Wednesday - My Little Black Book

No, not THAT kind. :-)

Every Sunday our church provides us a little sheet of paper with a sermon outline. And it's great, until the little slips of paper start filling up your Bible and falling out in your car and curling around the edges.

So I went to Walmart, bought a little plastic binder that's the size of the sheets - and voila - instant sermon journal.

In the front I keep the outlines, in chronogical order, of course (would you expect anything less from this OCD girl?)

In the back I have blank notebook paper - because sometimes we don't get outlines when we have a guest speaker and because I typically need more room than those little outlines allow.

In the front pocket I keep my Scripture index cards, a pen, and maybe an outline or two that need reinforcements over the holes or that I want to look over again.

And then, in the back pocket, I keep a notepad with my name on it. We go to a big church, and if I find myself in a conversation with a visitor or in a meeting with people I don't know very well, the personalized notepad enables me to jot down whatever information they need from me - and prevents them from having to wonder, "Hey, who was that woman who wrote down the chicken and wild rice casserole recipe for me?"

But my favorite thing about my little black book? It's something we can pass down to the little man one day - all sorts of Biblical wisdom in one convenient little notebook.

And that most definitely works for me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Just A Sweet, Random Mama Moment

Earlier today Alex and I were upstairs. He was in the playroom, and I was putting away clothes in his bedroom. Once I got everything squared away, I figured it was as good a time as any to make up his bed.

So I did.

A few minutes later, when the little man walked in his bedroom and surveyed the wonder of his newly made bed, he jumped up on the footboard and said "OH, MAMA! MY CLEAN BED! THANK YOU, MAMA!"

Then held out his arms so he could give me a big hug.

And I realized that there was no way, no way at all, that my heart could possibly process even one more ounce of love because the child, in that 30 second exchange, split my heart completely in two.

Those seemingly ordinary moments that suddenly turn into something spectacular and consequently take your breath away?

The best.

No doubt about it.

I Would Call This Post "The Best Of," But That Implies Something Was Good To Begin With

Since some of y'all haven't been reading my blog very long, this (and by "this" I mean "this day when I have had not one original or creative thought") seems like an excellent opportunity to familiarize you with the history behind what I like to think is some astoundingly average writing here at BooMama.

And since a few of you have emailed me with questions (by the way, do you have any idea how many emails I've gotten in the last week with the word "pickle" in the subject line?), or you've asked me questions in the comments, or you've made some suggestions that, while oh-so-very-kind and appreciated, are way outside the realm of possibility, I want to take time to answer them since I am a good Southern girl and all.

So in order to address all those things, let's step back into the archives, why don't we? It'll be a win / win for everyone: a trip down memory lane for those of you who have been reading here for awhile (okay - maybe not a total win for y'all)...a chance to get up-to-speed for those of you who haven't been here very long...and an embarrassingly easy cop-out for me writing-wise.

Fun for all!

Or, you know, not.

"Where did you get the name BooMama?"

Well, it all goes back to our time in south Louisiana....

"I'd buy a book if you wrote it." (Most encouraging comment ever, by the way.)

Well, that's real sweet and all, but since I have no imagination at all, it's not gonna happen. It would be painfully bad and people would laugh at me, as you will see after reading this.

"How do you find time to post so often?"

It helps when you only have one child and no social life whatsoever.

"Why don't you ever use your real name?"

My real name isn't common. My husband's name and my child's name are. I can use their names without giving too much away. But my name? Not so much. So it seems that the best way to protect our privacy at least a little bit is to keep my name off of this blog.

And then, of course, there's the secret stuff that I don't talk about here.

The bottom line is that I try to be specific enough on the blog that it's readable, but not so specific that I give away too many identifying details, especially in regard to some ministry work that I do. I'm just more comfortable that way. And I think it's the right thing to do for my family.

"Why don't you post more pictures of yourself?"

Um, read that last paragraph.

"Why does your tagline say 'Read by tens of people each and every day'?"

Because for the longest time, it was true. It was probably took three months for my Site Meter to climb over 1,000 visitors.

Plus, it's an oddly comforting phrase to me - it reminds me of how many bloggity doors God has opened since last November. But if you have another suggestion, let me know.

"What's your favorite post?"

Okay, no one really asked me that, but I needed a way to wrap up this post.

So I'll go ahead and answer anyway:

Why, yes, I do.

A couple, in fact.


See y'all later.

Monday, July 10, 2006

You Might Find It Sad That This Is The Highlight Of My Day

Since I grew up with a daddy who is as frugal as the day is long and a mama who would rather stay inside the house indefinitely than to leave it wearing a Cheap Shirt, I am a unique financial personality: someone who likes good, quality stuff but doesn't want to spend any money on it.

A salesman's dream!

You can imagine how fun Christmases could be during my childhood with Mama's and Daddy's polar opposite money personalities: Mama would give Daddy an expensive suit that he would in turn vow could be found down at the men's discount store for a fraction of the price, and he would buy her hubcaps for her car because, well, she needed them.

Mama still hasn't gotten over Hubcap Christmas, by the way. Even if it was twenty five years ago.

So I don't think it requires much of a mental leap to realize that growing up with those two people definitely shaped my deep desire to find quality products (Mama) for inexpensive prices (Daddy). And when I do? I'm GIDDY.

A couple of years ago I was in Steinmart shopping for a comforter set for our guest room, and I always think of that particular shopping experience as a highlight of my bargain shopping. I found a Ralph Lauren comforter set that had been $399.99, then marked down to $279.99, then marked down to $189.99, then marked down to $139.99, THEN marked down to $99.99. I practically skipped to the front to buy it.

But wait! There's more!

When the cashier rang up my purchase? There was an additional discount.

Unadvertised. Which I feel is the most beautiful of all words in regards to sales or specials. Melodic, in fact.

So the comforter set cost me $70.00. Marked down from almost FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS to SEVENTY DOLLARS.

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that I heard angels singing.

These days, though, aside from finding a cute jacket on clearance or a having a particularly good run with coupons at Publix, I haven't had many banner bargains cross my path. And truth be told, I don't really think about it as much now that Alex is here, because 1) it's harder to shop when he's around and 2) if I need baby wash, I just need baby wash, and I don't find entertainment from running all over town to find the best baby wash price. (But, in case you're wondering, it's the lavender Target brand - only $.99 - works just as well as Johnson & Johnson's - not that I pay attention to that kind of stuff anymore. Or anything.)

ANYWAY, today Alex and I had to make a trip to Walmart. I wasn't really happy about going, because I wanted to stay home and clean and nest today, but I was out of some of the supplies required for cleaning and nesting. Like, you know, Endust and vacuum bags and detergent and fabric softener and dryer sheets, not that we need to open up that whole laundry quandry again. ;-)

We drove to Walmart, went inside, started making our way through our list, and I spied some items that I thought were certainly mispriced...but upon closer inspection, I realized that no, they weren't mispriced, it's just that they've gone all cuckoo and bonkers at Walmart and have obviously decided to practically give away the merchandise.

(And now I feel sort of bad, because MY WORD this is a lot of build-up for what I ended up buying, because you're going to think I found a car for, like, five dollars, and that's so not what it is, so just remember that I LOVE ME A BARGAIN, especially when it's a good product.)

So here is what I bought. For Alex. Not for me.

A 24-pack of Rose Art crayons for TEN CENTS. TEN CENTS!
A 150-sheet pack of notebook paper for FIFTY CENTS. FIFTY CENTS!
A 10-pack of Rose Art markers for FIFTY CENTS. FIFTY CENTS!

It's prices from YE OLDEN DAYS!

For $1.10 (plus tax), I purchased what amounts to Big Art Fun for the young'un.

Aren't y'all excited for me?

Of course - as is always the pattern in Walmart - I had $59 worth of other random things that were NOT on sale, but still. I'll take my bargain successes where I can find them.

And I thought, when I got home, that those three items would make both my mama and my daddy happy...Mama because they were "real" brands, not some beige cardboard carton with "MARKER PRODUCT" written on the outside, and Daddy would love them because, well, they cost A DOLLAR AND TEN CENTS.

So I'll wrap this anti-climactic post up now, because I need to have a little art time with Alex.

And he'd better enjoy it. Dadgummit.

Because we've got a dollar and ten cents' worth of quality merchandise on the line. :-)

At Which Point You Just Give Up Altogether

A friend just emailed me this picture:


Some of you may have seen this picture via email, too - it seems to be making the rounds now - but can you even imagine? Where would you start?

Oh, I will be HAPPILY dusting this morning.

Maybe even cleaning the baseboards, too. :-)

She Encourages

You know, it's not every day that someone rewards you for your total OCD tendencies.

But Carol from She Lives has rewarded (or awarded, I guess) me!

Remember my post on modifying Blogger templates? The realllly detailed one that made most of your eyes roll back in your head as you fell into a deep, peaceful, please-oh-please-no-talk-of-HTML sleep?

You know, this one?

Well, Carol liked it. :-)

It's a fun surprise indeed to start off my Monday with a new box of bluebonnets to go in my sidebar. They'll look real purty-like over there.

Thanks, Carol! I'm grateful to you and to Addie, too, since she is the one who took time to teach me some template tricks a few months ago.

I am officially encouraged. :-)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Now I've Said My ABC Meme

I was tagged by Chappyswife for this meme...

Accent: Y'all. Do I even have to answer that? Or AIN-sur thay-at?

Bible Book that I like: Ephesians. Why? Because I like me some Paul. But Paul wouldn't want me to focus on him. So I guess I should say that I like the way God speaks through Paul. And I love the encouraging instruction for The Church.

Chore I don't care for: Cleaning the bathrooms

Dog or Cat: Dog

Essential Electronics: Computer and cell phone (and the TiVo! I forgot the TiVo!)

Favorite Movie: Ocean's Eleven - I know that's pretty lame, but if I'm going to see a movie, I'm not terribly interested in An Important Message. I also like Coal Miner's Daughter, Anchorman, Sixteen Candles, and anything featuring the lovely Ms. Julia Roberts as a romantic heroine.

Gold or Silver: Silver

Handbag I Carry Most Often: I have this big bronze hobo bag that is seemingly bottomless when I'm looking for my phone or my keys.

Insomnia: Yes. Thank you for asking.

Job Title: Servant - and I don't mean that sarcastically at all. I really believe that my job is to serve my family, serve my friends, and serve my community by being obedient to God's calling on my life.

Kids: 1 boy - 3 years old

Living Arrangements: We live in a Suburban McHouse that's a little off the beaten path but close enough to everywhere we need to be.

Most Memorable Moment: Being pregnant. LOVED IT. Seriously. And the end result wasn't so bad, either. :-)

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Probably the time Mama was driving down the road and I decided to throw the gearshift into neutral. She wasn't happy.

Overnight Hospital Stays: For strep in the 12th grade, and then when I had Alex.

Phobias: Larvae / cocoon stages of anything. EWWWWWWW.

Quote: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliott

Religion: I don't like the word "religion." Not even a little. But I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Just so we're all clear and everything.

Siblings: I have an older sister and an older brother, who comment here frequently and SHOULD have blogs of their own because oh, the tales they could tell....

Time I Wake Up: As late as Alex allows.

Unusual Talent: Sister and Stacy made up what they called "Bizarro Language" when they were teenagers. I'm fluent in it. Can say or sing anything in Bizarro and freak you out as a result. Or "frarok yaro arot," as it were.

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Radishes

Worst Habit: Procrastination. Once I get going on a project, I'm totally OCD, but if I don't think I can do an EXCELLENT job at something, I put it off.

X-rays: Lots. I'm as clumsy as the day is long. With the most recent incident being this one.

Yummy Stuff I Cook: David likes my homemade macaroni and cheese and country fried steak the best. I think homemade chocolate pudding is the best thing I make - it's my Mamaw Davis' recipe. My pork tenderloin is pretty tasty, too.

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Does the carousel count?

And I tag Melanie, Melissa, and Paulette. And whoever else wants to do this. :-)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dude! Did You SEE That?

Last night around 10:30 I was beside myself with wanting to go to sleep. I was tired and the slightest bit grumpy and I just wanted to get UP IN THE BED.

But David's office / TV room is right below our bedroom, and he and Benji - two 30-something men, mind you - were playing XBox downstairs with the surround speakers cranked up to OH MY SWEET MERCY THE WALLS ARE SHAKING, and about once every two minutes I heard some variation of "HEY!" or "WHOA!" or "OHHHHHH - I GOT YA!" or, when it really got good,




And even though I was tired, and even though I was practically dreaming of sleeping, no way - NO WAY - would I have gone downstairs and asked them to be quiet or turn it down. No way.

Because hearing them have so much fun makes me way too happy. And they were having much fun indeed.

One of the biggest blessings in my life is that I can honestly say that I love my husband's friends. Maybe it's because David and I have such similar senses of humor, but the guys he hangs out with are people I'd hang out with, too. There's not a single friend whose character I question. Or who I'd mind being on vacation with us. Or - even better for me - whose wife I don't love just as much.

David probably has four or five friends who he talks to on a regular basis, but only a couple of them live here in town. So when he gets to see them for any extended period of time, I try to make it as easy on them as I can. No pleas from me to do anything other than what they want to do. No demands on their time. No task on the honey-do list that can't wait until another weekend.

The funniest thing about David and Benji is that they speak some cryptic guy language indecipherable to Brandie and me. One of them can say, "Hey. Look. Corn." and they'll both fall over laughing, while Brandie and I just stare at them, wondering what in the world is the cause for such hysterics. Friday night at supper the topic of Benji going to the dentist came up, and within about two minutes B. and D. were giggling like a couple of second grade boys who just heard someone say the word "bootie."

I still have no idea what was so funny.

Their time together has been a little different this visit because there are a couple of little boys who want to be with their daddies every waking second. Who want to watch them play video games. Who want to hang out on the deck and grill. Who want to scream "WHOA" and "NO WAY" just like the big boys do. And I think that David and Benji haven't minded the inconvenience too much, because it makes them grateful that their boys look up to them like they do. It's affirmation that they're doing their daddy jobs well.

But since the big boys have let the little boys hang out with them so much, Brandie and I ran interference this afternoon so that B. and D. could have some uninterrupted time to play video games that little eyes don't necessarily need to see. Games with machine guns and blood and stuff. And a little while ago, when the big guys finally came upstairs to join the rest of us, the little guys nearly jumped through the roof. And as I watched Alex and P. run in circles while Benji and David were cracking one liners in the kitchen - one liners that made no sense to me whatsoever - I thought about what a different world they inhabit.

It's a world where there's a visceral need to see things explode and burn and shatter (even if it's just on XBox). A world where something you can plug in is an object of instant fascination. A world where words are fewer and noises are most definitely louder. Not to mention funnier. And a world where something that plugs in and produces loud noises is, well, gold.

I am so very thankful, in ways I can't even explain, for reasons I can't even articulate, that David has some great, godly friends who walk through that world with him.

And I hope I never take that - or them - forgranted.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Two Crabcakes The Size Of Quarters And Three Pieces Of Asparagus Later

Oh, where to start?

First, let me start with Lea Margaret. They got to the hospital this AM for Mac's surgery, and within about five minutes they found out that the heart surgeon had been called in at 2 in the morning to do a heart transplant. So Mac's surgery has been postponed for another week - it's next Friday, the 14th, at 12:30.

LM and family are on their way home to Mississippi and will go back to N'ville next week. She said that she's a little disappointed - they were just ready to have put this chapter behind them, understandably. But she did ask that you continue to pray for them as they prepare for next week's surgery, and to also pray for the two families affected by the heart transplant...the family who lost a child, and the family whose child is receiving the heart. Perspective-wise, she said, what her family is dealing with is absolutely nothing in comparison.

Second, Martha's birthday luncheon. And I say "luncheon" because you don't get real food at luncheons. At a lunch, at least in this part of the world, you get hearty food: fried chicken, vegetables, rolls, cobbler, etc. At a luncheon, however, you get what I listed in the title of this post. And you also get some of your child's macaroni and cheese, because three year olds aren't so thrilled when their mac and cheese contains asiago cheese, parmesan cheese and sun dried tomatoes. I, however, enjoyed it very much.

And just so you know, our car headed instinctively to Burger King approximately one hour after the luncheon was over. :-)

But all that is sort of beside the point, because the food was not the reason for the trip - Martha's birthday was. And she had a LARGE time.

Here's Alex with the birthday girl.

And here's A. with his great-grandmother, Sissie - 96 years young.

My favorite part of the whole day was when we were picking up Martha and Sissie for lunch, and Sissie was calling for Martha to do something or other - get her purse, get her cane, hurry up, etc. - and Alex listened for a second, then looked at me, and just like a little tape recorder said, "Maah-thah, can you come he-ah?"

Big fun for all on hand.

Happy Weekend, y'all.

Just Pretend That There's A Thesis And That The Numbers Are Transitions

1) We're heading out on a quick day trip to Mississippi for my mother-in-law Martha's birthday luncheon. And yes, it will be very much a "luncheon" as opposed to a "lunch," and no doubt we have big fun in store what with trying to tame a three year old bronco in a luncheon setting.

Which reminds me: has anyone ever left one of those little luncheon things where they serve you 2 tablespoons of chicken salad, some finger sandwiches and a handful of grapes - and then an hour or two after you leave your car almost instinctively heads to the nearest McDonald's because oh sweet mercy, the hunger?

Because that might have happened to me. Once or thrice.


Also, being with David's mother guarantees that when we get back here later this afternoon and David tells me that we're out of milk or something like that, I will lapse into Martha-speak and say, "Really? REALLY?!? You don't mean! Oh - YOU DON'T MEAN!"

2) Y'all's comments? From "the pickle post"? Kept us laughing all day yesterday. And last night. And I'm still chuckling a little bit this morning. When I posted it, I was, as my friend Laura's mother would say, "as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers" - not sure exactly how people would react - so it made me very relieved and very grateful to see all those comments. Thanks for that.

3) My sweet friend Lea Margaret emailed me earlier this week and asked me if I'd share something with y'all.

Her little boy, Mac, who's 2 1/2, is having open heart surgery at Vanderbilt today. He was born with a hole in his heart, and after vigilant monitoring of his condition over the last couple of years, his doctors decided a couple of months ago that it was time to correct the problem surgically.

So would you pray for their family today? For Lea Margaret and her husband, Chris...for the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt...for Mac's recovery...and that they would all be comforted by God's peace and His promises. The surgery is scheduled to begin at 12:30 this afternoon - thanks in advance for your prayers.

Later, internets.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Company We Keep

Yesterday when I was making lasagna during Alex's nap, the phone rang, and it was our friend Benji, who said hey, what were we doing this weekend, because he and his family were thinking about packing up the car and heading to our house, you know, within the hour. And just so you know: they live about 400 miles away. In Baton Rouge.

After a little juggling of our weekend schedule, David called him back and said, "COME ON." So Benji, Brandie and their little boy left their house around 7 last night and got to our house about 1 o'clock this morning. They're staying until Sunday. And we are tickled to death.

We are so happy to have them here, mainly because they're some of our favorite people in the whole wide world. They're the kind of friends who require no extensive cleaning-up, no putting on of make-up or "real" clothes until long after breakfast, no planning, no organizing, no adjusting.

But being with them does require talking, laughing, guffawing, kidding, needling, and XBox playing. And now that Alex is old enough to really play with P. - who refers to A. as "my cousin" - being together requires watching our boys have big fun together. So all in all, time with their family is just EASY. Laid-back. Fun.

You know, when I was younger and pictured my life in my 30's, I thought that I'd be a person who did lots of "entertaining." I thought I'd have dinner parties and use all my fine china on at least a weekly basis. I thought I'd invite over an eclectic cross-section of people to sample a creative array of appetizers. I pictured that I'd be able to chat with my guests about a wide range of topics, from theatre to photography to literature. That I'd know the difference between a pinot noir and a cabernet and a merlot. And that I'd care about those things.

But what I've realized, after marriage, and a kid, and a few years of being 30-something, is that while all that stuff is okay, and while for some folks it has its place, those things just aren't meaningful to me. I can't do life without genuine community and fellowship with other people. And the older I get, the more I want some substance behind the conversations, some intention behind the relationships, and some REAL beneath the surface.

I'm grateful that this weekend, without a doubt, will be the real deal: cooking out on the grill, chasing kids in the backyard, cleaning up the kitchen, watching some HGTV, laughing until our sides hurt, listening to each other's stories, promising we'll never tell some of them, staying up way too late for our own good, worshipping together on Sunday morning, and vowing - when it's time for them to go home - that it won't be so long before we get together again.

So I'm about to shut down the computer and hang out with our friends. I'll cook dinner and "entertain" them - just as I imagined doing so many years ago - but we'll be using the everyday dishes for the grown-ups and the Exclusive Elmo Collection (Plastic Edition) plates for the kids. And yes, we'll have appetizers - a little sliced cheese, a few potato chips, some "party dip" that comes in a tub from the grocery store. Fancy. :-) And we'll cover a wide array of topics, all right: faith, marriage, parenting, TiVo, movies, and more. And though I still don't know a thing about wine, I'll be able to speak with authority on the differences between diet Coke, diet Pepsi and diet Dr. Pepper.

And I DO care. Deeply.

Because conversation trumps small talk. Because substance trumps flash. And because real life trumps dream world.

Every single time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Banner by Kelly

Thirteen (More) Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

1. "No butter for me, thanks."

2. "This oppressive humidity is so refreshing."

3. "I got so busy that I totally forgot to eat."

4. "No, really. I'd LOVE to go to the repair shop and explain to the mechanic EXACTLY what's wrong with the car."

5. "Let's watch ALL THREE X-Men movies on DVD tonight! Movies based on comic books ROCK!"

6. "Sorry I couldn't make it to the phone. I was watching a "Murder, She Wrote" marathon."

7. "I saw the trailer for that new Will Ferrell movie, but I didn't laugh at all."

8. "I'd be glad to serve on those four committees. There's nothing I enjoy more than a good meeting!"

9. "What's a blog?"

10. "Alex, just remember: your life is all about YOU."

11. "You know what we need? Hamsters."

12. "I love prunes."

13. "If you can wait just a minute, I want to change into my thong before we go down to the beach."

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

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

I'm Posting This, Running From The Computer, And Never Looking Back

You should be warned that the following topic is a bit, er, delicate for Christian blogging circles, and I have pondered whether or not I should actually post this story. But I finally decided that y'all probably aren't too sensitive about this kind of thing, because most of you are currently married or have been married, and a lot of you have kids, so you, um, have a pretty solid understanding of the, you know, privileges that go along with marriage.




Over the last nine years, David and I have had several discussions about what works and doesn't work in terms of laying the groundwork for romance.

For example.

For many women, here's what works:

1) Kind, sincere, encouraging words
2) Consistent, tender affection, with no end game in mind (yeah - like that happens)
3) Random acts of thoughtfulness - giving the kids their baths, planning a date night, writing a sweet note, etc.

And for many men, here's what works:

1) Everything

So, you know, there's a bit of a learning curve with the whole "love language" deal.

ANYWAY, David is great about trying to speak my language. He really is. If he knows that this, this, and this will help fulfill my emotional needs, he tries to do those things. I think that's sweet.

But every once in awhile, well, it just gets comical.

As it did yesterday, when my husband, fresh from a testosterone-fueled rampage against evil marionettes and a clown-faced spider (a video game...not my worst nightmare come to life), walked upstairs, and said the following with a gleam in his eye:

"Happy 4th of July."

And I just grinned, because yeah, it was the 4th.

And then:

"Wanna make some fireworks later?"


I couldn't help it. I giggled. Then snorted a little. And David started laughing, too. Because the whole thing just reeked of effort.

But that's not the best part.

Later, when we were eating lunch, as we were talking about our plans for the afternoon, David apparently started thinking of all the Southern-ish summer chores he remembered seeing Mama do when she and Daddy lived in their old house. They always had a huge garden, and Mama spent many summer afternoons cutting corn off the cob, shelling peas, snapping beans, etc. and then going through the process of putting that stuff away for the winter, either by freezing it or preserving it in a big ole mason jar.

So I guess David was thinking about what would be the most old fashioned thing I could possibly do on July 4th, what would most closely resemble my parents' all-American summer activities, because here is what he said to me in an attempt at down-home humor, with absolutely no regard for getting me up-to-speed with the train of thought he'd been following for the last several minutes:

"Well, what are you gonna do this afternoon? Put up some pickle?"

And y'all. I thought. He meant. You know.

The fireworks thing.


Because I'll just go ahead and tell you, that was SO not my love language. And SO not something I would ever expect him to say.

But then he continued talking about Mama and all the vegetables she used to put up in the summertime, and I realized that there was nary a trace of irony or innuendo in his previous question. That he really was talking about combining vinegar and sugar and spices with cucumbers.

I practically collapsed with relief. I mean, I just couldn't imagine him saying something so tacky, especially at the dinner table in front of our child, but after the whole fireworks comment, I guess my brain was sort of frazzled.

Anyway, when I told him what I thought he meant, he just about choked on his potato salad. He fell out laughing. We're STILL laughing about it. And yes, he gave me his blessing to share our little "misunderstanding" with y'all.

So, whatever you did (she says, uncomfortably), I hope your 4th was very happy indeed.

And I will never share this much personal information ever again. :-)