Archives for February 2009

Random Randomness With A Dash Of Randominity

1) Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gotten some really sweet emails. And the emails usually say something like “I feel like I’m supposed to pray for you but I don’t know why” or “I noticed you’ve been writing about TV a lot lately and I’m just wondering if everything is okay” or “Hey. Have you seen this picture of some bacon?”

Seriously, y’all. People are doing a whole lot of bacon-related projects right now. I’m just grateful that the bacon hasn’t killed me and I’m alive to witness this bacon-laden period of American history.

Anyway. I just wanted to say hey, thanks for those prayers. I appreciate them more than you know. And yes, I’m writing about TV a lot lately (though I’m not sure if I’ll be writing about The Bachelor tonight because it’s the Women Tell All deal and therefore doesn’t really lend itself to synopsis, so I’m just going to wait and see) because it’s a good distraction for me and because I’m sort of sick of myself and wrestling with the whole blog thing right now.

(It’s okay. Really. Every six months or so blogging and I have a bit of a sparring match. We usually emerge closer than ever. But right now? Blogging and I are struggling, to be really honest.)

(Not so much the write-y parts of blogging.)

(More like the parts of blogging that I don’t enjoy.)

(We’ll talk more about this when I’m feeling less jumpy.)

2. This past weekend the little man and I went to Memphis to celebrate my sister-in-law Janie‘s 40th birthday. We had a deeee-lightful time, and as always, these two fellas were the first ones up on Saturday morning. I think they share an early-bird gene.

Anyway, I took the early birds’ breakfast orders Saturday morning, and Alex could not quit talking about how happy he was that sausage was on the menu.

So, for the record, my favorite things about motherhood:

* hugs
* singing together in the car
* when the boy wants to play cars and I convince him to use my back as a racetrack because OH, IT IS RELAXING
* more hugs
* shared love of pork products

3) Last night I flipped open my calendar to see what we had on deck for the week.

NO WORDS for how happy that makes me.

Even if I had to write in a soccer practice this afternoon. Because MY WORD AT THE NOTHING.

I plan to enjoy every second.

Have a great week, everybody.

Bless Him

This past Monday afternoon I drove Alex to a friend’s birthday party. Once we got there, we went through our usual routine: parked the car, grabbed the gift, reminded the child to BE A KIND FRIEND, then climbed out of the car and joined the festivities.

However, I soon realized that this party was different. Because about three minutes after our arrival, I noticed that the other mamas? WERE LEAVING.

Y’ALL. It was a drop-off birthday party – a first for us. And I don’t want to overstate my delight, but I think it may have changed my life in countless wonderful ways. I mean, I enjoy a large group of screaming five- and six-year olds as much as the next uptight person, but people, we’re talking TWO HOURS OF ALONE TIME. TWO HOURS. OF ALONE TIME.

No kidding: as soon as I told Alex goodbye, I wanted to drive to the cul de sac at the end of the street, screech out some celebratory donuts and then honk the horn repeatedly as I drove back past the party house toward my totally unanticipated but much-appreciated afternoon-o-freedom.

IT’S A NEW PARENTING DAY! GLORY!

A couple of hours later I picked up the little man, and clearly he had not left the confines of the bouncy/jumpy/slidey apparatus for the entirety of his birthday party stay. We said our goodbyes, hopped in the car – and just as we were driving away, he announced that he had a stomachache. Because I’m Mother of the Year, however, I gave absolutely no credence to his stomachache claims. I just figured that either 1) he’d had too much cake at the party or 2) he was trying to get out of eating chicken and broccoli for supper.

I had no intention of falling prey to his kindergarteny schemes.

But when we got home, the unexpected happened: the little guy took off his shoes, walked back to his bedroom, stretched out on his bed and covered up with a blanket. Since that has happened approximately, oh, one time in his whole life, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Sick, It Was Coming.

Long story long, he woke up around 10 that night and told me he thought he needed to throw up. But then he said he didn’t need to throw up. And then he said, “Wait! I need to throw up! I don’t want to throw up! I hate to throw up! I’m scared to throw up, Mama! And you know what, Mama? My grandmother calls it ‘vomit!'”

And then he turned his head and threw up and/or vomited for what felt like, oh, approximately twenty five minutes.

Suffice it to say that there was a whole lot of sickness from 10 Monday night until 10 Tuesday morning, and now that I think about it, I realize that’s totally how parenting works: two hours of free time Monday afternoon; twelve hours of Throw Up Duty Monday night. It’s an Irrefutable Law of Motherhood.

Alex finally fell asleep again around 2 Tuesday morning, only to have another round of All The Vomit hit about an hour later. After I’d gotten him a fresh cold cloth and sufficiently disinfected the sickbay, he looked up at me with his tired little eyes and said, “Mama? Aren’t you going to say it?”

“Say what, buddy?” I asked him.

“Aren’t you going to bless my heart?”

So I leaned over and rubbed his little head and said, “Bless your heart, baby. Bless your sweet little heart.”

And he smiled and closed his eyes and dozed off again.

I stood there for a few seconds just looking at him, and as I straightened his blanket and picked up the towel that I’d used to wipe his face, I couldn’t help but think that sleep or no sleep, sick or no sick, there’s pretty much nothing better than getting to share life with that little guy. I am so thankful that I get to be his mama.

And he blesses my heart. Every single day.

Linky Interwebby Awesomeness 02.19.09

(I think this is the first time I’ve posted links all week long.)

(I’m terribly consistent.)

– I read this article about blogging in Newsweek last weekend. And when I finished reading, I thought to myself, “Yep. That’s pretty much dead on.” You’ve got to love this bloggy bidness because you love it – not because of what you think you might get out of it one day.

– The Nester has a cool carnival going on called 10 Minutes To A Room You’ll Love. So many great ideas.

– I saw a link to this interactive map of the U.S. over at Shannon’s blog, and I was all, OH, I’LL DO AWESOME AT THAT!

And, well, notsomuch. But it was mighty big fun just the same.

American Idol – Top 36, Round 1

I had no idea that tonight’s American Idol was two hours long, and considering that I was up most of last night with a stomach virus-stricken five year-old and just finished eating some great Mexican food with some sweet bloggy friends, the odds of me staying awake for this whole deal are pretty dicey. My only hope is that the DVR will enable me to fast forward through all the filler.

Not that Idol EVER has any filler, of course. NOOOOOOO.

So anyhoo. Here we go.

Jackie Tohn – “A Little Less Conversation” – First of all, 1984 called and wants its outfit back. FOR THE LOVE. I actually really like this song, but the arrangement and delivery were just bizarre. It also sounded like she was really short of breath, which stands to reason because, well, nerves, but the most telling part of this performance for me was that it seemed way longer than a minute and twenty seconds. She seemed comfortable, though, and she moved around the stage well. I’m trying to be positive.

Ricky Braddy – “A Song For You” – Elliot Yamin sang this song a couple of seasons ago in one of my favorite Idol performances ever, so I was doubtful that this version would measure up. But oh, I was wrong. LOVED IT. I know Travis could tell me all the technical terms and explain why it was so enjoyable, but all I know is that I thought it was phenomenal ’cause it sounded REAL PURTY. He didn’t oversing, didn’t overcomplicate it – and once he gets his stage presence lined up with his talent, he could be a real contender.

Alexis Grace – “Never Loved A Man” – Now y’all, it’s a bold move to sing some Aretha on the first time out. But if my hair was that sassy, I might break out some Aretha my own dadgum self. MY WORD she nailed it. It was utterly enjoyable to watch, totally eclectic and quirky and fun, and did I mention that her hair is SUPER SASSY? I just loved that she wasn’t afraid to make an unconventional song choice, and she sang it really well.

Brent Keith – “Hicktown” – He seems like a darlin’ guy. He does. But this just didn’t feel distinctive or original, and even looking at him as a country artist, there wasn’t anything about him that made him stand apart from the pack. Country fans may push him through to the next round, though – so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Stevie Wright – “You Belong With Me” – Now she probably won over a large portion of the tween audience by singing a Taylor Swift song, but besides that? Oh bless her heart. It was seriously uncomfortable to watch because she never really found the key she was looking for. The bottom line is that it just wasn’t a successful performance. I wanted to hug her and then run and hide.

(NEIL PATRICK HARRIS ALERT! NEIL PATRICK HARRIS ALERT! I ADORE HIM! AND HE’S IN THE AUDIENCE!)

(WHY AM I SO THRILLED BY HIS PRESENCE?)

Anoop Desai – “Angel of Mine” – Anoop decided to go with a ballad, and his voice sounded incredible. I didn’t love this song choice – a little boring for me – but there’s no question that he can sing. I think it would’ve been fun to see him do something a little more lively, but good for him for showing that he’s got some big-time talent – and I’m hoping that he picks a better song for the next go ’round.

Casey Carlson – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – Before I heard the first note, I was thinking that this is a HUGE song choice mistake unless you’re Shawn Colvin and recording a CD of covers back in the early 90s. And while Casey is darlin’, she’s certainly no Shawn Colvin. Her gestures were very pageant-y and over the top, and I’m pretty sure that she winked at us. More than once, even. All in all it felt like karaoke to me (I typed that right before Randy said it – it’s like we share a mind).

(As a brief aside: why is it taking so long for them to put each contestant’s name on the screen once he or she starts singing? It’s driving me a little bit crazy.)

Michael Sarver – “I Don’t Wanna Be” – Now I love me some Gavin DeGraw, so I was immediately excited about the song. The performance was a little rough in the beginning, but he seemed to find his way about thirty seconds in. He wasn’t pitch-perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but he was definitely infectious. He seemed nervous, but if he continues to pick good songs, he could hang in the competition for awhile.

Ann Marie Boskovich – “Natural Woman” – In all honesty, I got sick of this song back in the late 80s after I’d watched “The Big Chill” for the four hundredth time. And while there was nothing about Ann Marie’s version of the song that made me want to stand up and shout, I did appreciate that she took control of the stage and performed with some confidence. She just never seemed to have control of the song – but I’m betting she gets another chance to show us what she’s made of.

Stephen Fowler – “Rock With You” – Okay. I’m just going to say it. I think we over-romanticize these early 80s R&B songs, and while yes, they were fun at the time, every single time someone drags out an old Michael Jackson song I just think MY WORD, COULDN’T YOU FIND SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE CURRENT? It’s going to be boring as all get-out unless you do a complete re-do like David Cook and “Billie Jean” – because it’s too tough to improve on some classic MJ. So all that to say: I was really underwhelmed.

Tatiana Del Toro – “I’m Saving All My Love For You” – You know what I just said about people breaking out some early 80s MJ? Ditto for people breaking out some mid-80s Whitney. IT’S BEEN DONE TO DEATH. And it’s not that Tatiana can’t sing, because she has some pretty decent skillz, but what we heard tonight was no different than what we could’ve heard in the piano bar at a really nice hotel. That being said, she was better than about half of the other contestants, so she’ll probably make it through the the next round.

Danny Gokey – “Hero” – I’m immediately questioning the Mariah Carey song choice, but I’m willing to trust that he knows what he’s doing. Plus, there’s a raspiness in his voice that I absolutely adore because it makes him distinctive. BUT – he’s better than this song. With a voice like that, he should be picking songs that don’t immediately make us think of Mariah and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. He’s way better than a cheesy ballad, but that being said: he flat-out nailed it.

So, internets – what did you think? Who did you think were the best (and the worst) performers tonight?

Edited to add: I forgot all about the Mr. Linky – so I’m adding it now! Make sure that if you add your post to the list, you link to the permalink for that post – not the general blog URL. Thanks!

They’re Standing On The Edge Of Falling And Also Plunging Into Leaps Of Faith

Have I ever told y’all about when David and I were dating and he whisked me off to New Zealand?

No?

Maybe that’s because IT NEVER HAPPENED.

However, he did take me to the Ryan’s Family Steakhouse buffet a few times, and oh, we did we ever make eyes at each other over a basket of piping hot yeast rolls (with some Country Crock Honey Butter Spread on the side).

So what I’m saying is that I can’t really relate to the whole fantasy date thing. I can’t relate to going back to a “fantasy suite” (though we did stay at a Comfort Inn & Suites recently, but that was a wee bit different than some sort of romantic hideaway in New Zealand). And I sure as heck can’t relate to wearing a bikini and piling up in a hot tub ON NATIONAL TELEVISION because, well, NO.

But don’t think for one second that my inexperience in these areas is going to prevent me from discussing them.

Tonight’s fantasy date episode of The Bachelor started with Jason saying “her and I” AGAIN, but I was willing to forgive his pronoun errors since I really liked the scruffy beard he was sporting. After ten minutes of recap, we finally got to see Jason in New Zealand, where he wore a leather jacket and stood on a rock and looked very rugged (see: scruffy beard).

Jillian had the first fantasy date, and Jason picked her up in a helicopter (which, by the way, was always the preferred method of transportation when David and I went to the Ryan’s Family Steakhouse). Apparently Jason and Jillian talked beforehand and said, “Hey! I know! Let’s both wear PLAID!” because they were both sporting some serious flannel. I’d also like to add that they looked absolutely exhausted, thus confirming my previously stated concerns about the jet lag.

While they sat on the edge of a cliff (metaphor much?), Jillian told Jason that he was amazing and they had such a connection and she was so grateful for their amazing connection, and she went on to say that she was looking for someone who could be her best friend. Jason responded by saying that he felt like he could be friends with her forever, but then he told us (apparently Jason thinks we’re all REALLY CLOSE FRIENDS) that he didn’t know if there was any passion between them.

So they met for supper in some abandoned building and Jason said AGAIN (just to us. not to Jillian. I think he trusts us, y’all.) that he didn’t know if they have a romantic connection. Jillian said that everytime she’s with Jason it exceeds her expectations, at which point I wanted to climb through the TV, tap her on the shoulder and say, Hey, Jill – do you mind if I call you Jill? – PRODUCERS PLAN THESE OUTINGS. If you make it to Seattle, it’s gonna be lots of Wendy’s Value Menu and some DVR’d episodes of “30 Rock.” Don’t kid yourself, sister.

Then they went back to the fantasy suite where we were subjected to waaaay too much footage of them in the hot tub.

(Is anybody else noticing that whereas people on The Bachelor used to pretend like they were just going back to the fantasy suite for drinks or something, now the people on the show are much more vocal about why they’re going back to the hotel room?)

(IT MAKES ME SO UNCOMFORTABLE.)

(And if you’re under the age of eighteen and reading this, you need to know that the reason they’re going back to that hotel room is to play board games.)

The next date was Molly, and the first thing I noticed was that she ran like crazy toward Jason and he pretty much stood still.

Symbolic? PERHAPS.

Molly and Jason went bungee jumping, an activity that gave Molly lots of opportunities to make puns (“we’re taking a leap of faith together”) as well as analogies (“it’s like we’re going through something scary together, but we have each other to lean on”). And also: “[Bungee jumping] was really like falling in love. You’re sitting on the edge. You’re scared. And then you just have to let go and do it.”

Well said, Molly. Well said.

Afterwards they had coffee and Molly pulled out a long list of questions, a move that was nothing short of brilliant since we all know how much guys like to have an endless barrage of questions fired at them. Molly was quick to point out that she was saving one question for later (WHAT COULD IT POSSIBLY BE? SURELY IT DOESN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FANTASY SUITE, YOU CLEVER GIRL!).

And (sort of) seriously, I think what made me the most uncomfortable about the whole Q & A exchange is that it spotlighted the fact that Molly and Jason’s conversations are a little stilted and awkward. It seems like she isn’t willing to just let conversations happen, and tonight I kept thinking that watching Molly with Jason is like watching a girl act like she thinks she’s supposed to act in order to make a guy interested. That doesn’t really have “LONG TERM” written all over it.

Later that night “J” and “Mol” had dinner in front of a really large fireplace, and after about three different awkward silences, Jason broke out with an analysis of Molly’s family’s body language. Molly told Jason that she was falling in love with him, and about that time my husband – who was tapping away on his Blackberry and as far as I could tell not even watching the show – piped up and said, “Well, it’s pretty obvious that he’s not falling in love with her.”

YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, PEOPLE.

After dinner Molly pulled out her list of questions again, and I’m sure you were as surprised as I was when she used her final question – written in beautiful, painstakingly-crafted calligraphy – to ask Jason to go back to the fantasy suite. Personally I think that “Mol” is most comfortable when she’s in control, but Jason didn’t ask me so I couldn’t warn him. Anyway, they went back to the fantasy suite and put on their bathing suits and then climbed in a bath tub.

Which, as I’m sure we can all attest, is pretty much what every married couple in America does on a nightly basis.

Last but certainly not least in the fantasy date line-up was Melissa, and the first thing I noticed was THEY RAN TO EACH OTHER, IT’S TOTALLY A SIGN. I also noticed that Melissa used “Jason and I” incorrectly, so maybe these two really are destiny. “Her and I” loves “Jason and I.” It’s PERFECT.

The two lovebirds took a boat ride (has anyone else noticed that he always does stuff with her where they just hang out and spend time together?), and I loved how easily Melissa articulated what she was thinking and feeling (a Bachelor anomaly for sure). They talked a little bit about how Jason was disappointed that he hadn’t met her parents, but then he assured her that not meeting them doesn’t affect his feelings for her, so LET’S JUST MOVE ON NOW, M’KAY?

Jason grinned like crazy when he saw Melissa walking toward him for their nighttime date, and then they had dinner at some place with a bunch of red curtains. The Southern girl in me was tickled to death to see them actually eating their food and not just playing with it. After dinner they went back to the fantasy suite, and while normally I’m totally cheesed out by any fantasy suite shenanigans, that wasn’t as true this time because Melissa told Jason that she loved him and it was almost as good as “Notting Hill,” I promise. So naturally when Jason responded by saying that he was completely falling for her, I couldn’t help but worry that we’re in the midst of a major Bachelor fake-out.

I WILL BE SO ANGRY IF THAT HAPPENS, I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU.

Before the rose ceremony Chris and Jason had their weekly therapy session, a part of the show that I have grown to adore. I like how Chris looks at Jason oh-so-earnestly and says, “So. How are you holding up?” and then Jason pours out his heart and I smile and wish that this season would never end. Once the therapy session was over, Chris told Jason that each girl had made “a very personal, private video message” – so private, in fact, that each message was only seen by Jason and the millions of people watching.

I adore reality television.

We didn’t really learn anything new in the videos, but I thought it was interesting that while Molly and Melissa professed their love, Jillian held back a little bit. And based on how often Jason said tonight that he’s looking for so much more than a best friend, I’m thinking maybe Jillian should have said more than how they would laugh a bunch together and enjoy lots of homecooked meals. And there’s not anything wrong with those things, of course – we just have to remember that Jason wants an amazing passionate connection with lots of passion that’s very amazing. And connecting.

Jason was pretty emotional at the rose ceremony (quick aside: I love Melissa, but what in the sam hill was she wearing?). However, he composed himself and gave the first rose to Melissa, which was really no surprise at all.

BUT THEN.

The second rose went to Molly, and WHAT DID I TELL YOU PEOPLE ABOUT JILLIAN NOT SAYING ENOUGH IN THE VIDEO?

MY WORD.

(Seriously. I have to bring it up again. WHAT was Melissa wearing? Were there rhinestone hearts on the back of that dress? And some scallops?)

After Jillian left Jason had to sit down on a bench and compose himself while I wondered why there were two frilly purple pillows (with trim!) on a bench that was totally exposed to the elements. Jason said he was falling for Jillian but not in love with her, so I guess he was falling into like? Into friendship? Into I-know-I-only-want-to-be-with-Melissa-so-getting-rid-of-Jillian-will-make-the-final-decision-even-easier?

The previews for the next two weeks were such BONAFIDE GOLD that I’m going to have to watch them about six more times, and while I don’t have any idea why the “After the Final Rose” show has the potential to be “so dramatic and so emotionally difficult,” you can rest assured that I won’t get a good night’s sleep until I find out.

So farewell, Jillian. We all thought you were adorable. If it’s any consolation, you had on the best dress tonight and your hair has never looked better.

It’s true.

And finally, Jill – do you mind if I call you Jill? – I’d like to leave you with this:

Though your tears fall like rain.

And you no doubt feel pain.

True love you will attain.

I’ll say it aGAIN and aGAIN.

Like a refrain.

[dramatic pause]

[stay with the pausing for impact]

Auf wiedersehen.

In Which I Talk About An Office That’s Not On TV

So about a month ago my beloved Hoopty Laptop died forever and for good and for real. I know that I’ve mentioned this about six or four hundred times, but in case you missed the memo, just let me confirm:

HOOPTY IS DEAD.

When Hoopty was still alive and kickin’, I had sort of a make-shift office at the bar in our living room, but the beauty of Hoopty was that I could carry her with me to the couch or the guest room or even to the front porch, where I’ve been known to blog a time or twelve when the boy was playing outside.

Well.

Hoopty’s death meant that I switched over to an old desktop that we had in our garage, and we set up the desktop on our dining room table because I kept telling myself that this was all very temporary. That we’d be buying a new Macbook very soon. That I’d be back to the bar in no time at all.

(JUST LIKE MY EARLY TWENTIES!)

(BADA-BING!)

But.

We just can’t afford a new computer right now. We may not be able to afford a new computer in 2009. I do have a work-issued laptop that I use for my secret-y part-time job (you know. the one where I design and build all the missiles.), but it’s certainly not meant to be my primary computer from home. So since Ye Olde Desktop is going to be my bloggy partner in crime for awhile, my husband suggested that maybe we should turn our playroom into an office for me so that I’d feel a little more settled with this new set-up.

This decision was made all the easier given the fact that the five year-old didn’t really use the playroom anymore. As it turns out, he’d much rather stomp and flip and jump in every other part of the house, not to mention that his Star Wars action figures seem to require wide open spaces for maximum battleage.

So, this past Saturday I started the process of cleaning out the playroom. About a third of the toys and books made their way back to the little guy’s bedroom, but the rest of the stuff is headed for a local charity. I took a picture before I pulled out the trash bags; keep in mind that you can’t see the TV and the three baskets of small toys with pointy edges in these pictures, but you’ll get the general idea of “before,” at least.

And by Saturday night, I had it looking like this.

I think the vacuum and the overturned stool really add something special, don’t you?

Yesterday I set about the business of trying to get the room into some semblance of working order, and since my budget was a lofty sum of zero dollars and zero cents, I had to shop for everything inside my house.

So here’s what I did.

About a year and half ago I bought a desk at a thrift store for about ten dollars, not really knowing what I would use it for but figuring it would come in handy one day. I moved that desk in the old playroom / new office, then cleared off the black chest that was already in the room, and I filled it with mementos and pictures and books that make me happy.

Then I moved Alex’s playroom bulletin board above the desk, and I covered it with stuff that makes me happy.

Then I found a bunch of artwork that makes me happy (ARE YOU STARTING TO NOTICE A PATTERN?), and I thumbtacked it to the walls because I am very, very fancy.

I guess what I’m saying is that I had absolutely no decorative strategy for the office except that I wanted it to be functional and I wanted it to be filled with colorful things (THAT MAKE ME HAPPY).

In other words: if we can’t afford a new computer and I start to feel a little sulky about it (which, honestly, I have), I want to be surrounded by stuff that reminds me HEY WOMAN, GET OVER YOURSELF.

And here’s the final-ish result.

And what I didn’t think about last night when I was thumbtacking all the stuff to the walls is that I would have some seriously great light in the mornings.

Plus, you know, I get a kick out of the boy sitting in the chair. He’s sort of fun and stuff.

I was a little skeptical about whether the whole cleaning out / repurpose-ing process would be worth it, but as I sit here surrounded by so many little things – photos of family and friends, handprints of a mighty sweet five year-old, verses that are speaking to my heart right now, my favorite pens in a handy juice glass – that remind me of the blessings in my life, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that it totally was.

I think Hoopty would be delighted.