Archives for January 2011

I Look Forward To Many Happy Times With Jenny And Also Her Block

The overwhelming collective opinion around these parts was that I should give the new American Idol a try. And so that is exactly what I did. For the most part y’all said that you were pleasantly surprised by the new judges, and after watching the first episode, I would definitely agree with that assessment. Plus, last night’s show featured the first breakout superstar of this AI season: Jennifer Lopez’s hair. MY WORD IT’S GLORIOUS.

Honestly, I thought I’d abandoned my J-Lo hair obsession back in 2003 because, well, Gigli. But I am here to tell you that last night’s AI premiere has fanned a flame of hair envy for which I was not prepared. Her hair is spectacular, isn’t it? It’s so very long and lustrous and shiny. And I’ll tell you something else: I’m not exactly sure what day-to-day activities are the norm on Jenny’s block, but I’m thinking that deep conditioning is pretty high on the list.

Hair obsession aside, I thought Jennifer Lopez was a comforting, maternal presence. She was kind. She wasn’t silly. And she came across as very real and very funny and very likeable. I’m still not completely sure about Steven Tyler, but he was definitely quirky (in a good way). More than anything, I didn’t miss the contentiousness between the judges, and I thought there was a lot of talent among the kids. So, you know, I’m in.

Next thing.

This afternoon I was in the kitchen, just starting to pull out everything I needed to get supper ready, and I turned on Food Network to keep me company. After a few minutes I decided that I wasn’t terribly interested in whatever was on, so I called down the hall and asked Alex if he’d like to come sit on the counter and read me a book while I chopped some tomatoes. He was all about it. After he found the book he wanted to read, he walked in the kitchen, and when he saw the TV was on (I don’t normally watch much TV in the afternoons), he grinned at me and said, “Mama? You need to turn off that TV and LEARN THE WAYS OF NATURE.”

I have no idea where that came from, but I thought it was hilarious. I have a feeling he was paying tribute to my daily reminders that it’s time TO TURN OFF THAT TV AND GO PLAY OUTSIDE.

But let’s face it: “learn the ways of nature” sounds so much better.

I just hope the ways of nature involve air conditioning in the summertime and some complimentary peppermint mochas in the winter.

Really, it’s the least the nature could do.

A Deep, Life-Altering Question

The last two days have been busy but wonderful, and tonight seemed like the perfect time to wind down a little bit and play catch-up with the DVR. I didn’t have any particular show in mind – I just thought I’d see what looked good and run with it. Because I’m wild and crazy like that.

So I turned on the TV, pulled up our list of shows – and y’all, I nearly gasped when I saw what was close to the top of the list.

American Idol – “Auditions #1: New York and New Jersey”

I had NO IDEA that it was that time again, people. NO IDEA.

And honestly, by the end of last season I was sort of done. Couldn’t say whether I’d stick around for this season or not. I’ve always been a big fan of the show, but last season it felt a little bit like it was running out of steam. Not to mention that I don’t have to hear an AI contestant sing a cover of “Alone” or “Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” EVER AGAIN IN MY WHOLE LIFE EVER I’M NOT KIDDING ONE BIT WHEN I SAY THAT.

I was also a little bummed by the changes with the judges. I mean, even though I thought Simon could be a little harsh at times, he was never wishy-washy, and he was dead-on with his assessments more often than not. It’s just a little hard to imagine that Jenny from the Block and Steven Tyler are going to bring that same authority to the table.

So. To watch or not to watch – that is the question. I just don’t know if I want to jump in this season or not (much less blog about it). What are y’all thinking? Are you watching? And if you are, what are your thoughts / reactions? Will you watch again next week? Or is the AI viewing experience RURNT forevermore?

I’m all ears.

Or eyes.

Or whatever you say when you can’t wait to read the interweb’s take on pressing TV-related issues.

The end.

Some Thoughts On Pageants And Basketball

After church this morning the little man and I hopped in the car and drove to Starkville to see the Bulldogs play Auburn. I planned this little outing on the spur of the moment after State beat Ole Miss last Thursday night, and I figured it would be a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon. D didn’t really care about going because basketball is his least favorite sport (AND SOMEHOW WE’VE MANAGED TO STAY MARRIED FOR OVER 13 YEARS), so Alex and I went on a super-quick mama-son road trip. I was tickled to pieces about spending the afternoon at State with my young’un because 1) basketball and 2) MY WORD, BASKETBALL.

On the way to Starkville Alex decided that he wanted to play Angry Birds on my iPod, so I called Melanie to distract myself from the Angry Birds music that EMBEDS ITSELF IN MY BRAIN. Seriously. After I hear it for five minutes I start to mimic the motions of a marionette, and after ten minutes I’m ready to throw the iPod out the window because OH SWEET MERCY AT THAT MUSIC. Anyway, Mel and I desperately needed to discuss Saturday night’s Miss America pageant. We’d enjoyed a lively commentary on Twitter the night before, but there comes a time when you need to discuss a topic beyond the 140 character limit.

I have to say that I was thrilled to see Miss America back on a major network. It should be. And Chris Harrison is the perfect host – totally earnest but completely in on the schtick of the whole thing, too. He gets it. Because the thing about Miss America is that you can’t overthink it – you just have to embrace it. I’ve said for years that the pageant needs to quit worrying about proving how modern it is and just let some girls twirl some fire batons, already. When I was growing up Miss America wasn’t just a pageant – it was an event – but for the last few years it seems like the pageant has been trying to prove its relevance, and it’s lost some of its appeal in the process.

I guess the bottom line is that when it comes the Miss America pageant, there are only, in my opinion, a few must-haves: articulate women, entertaining talents and evening gowns that have been bedazzled to the point that they weigh anywhere from 10 to 15 pounds.

I would also appreciate a couple of musical numbers. You know, something like this.

Or maybe even this.

Apparently the 1989 Miss America pageant was co-sponsored by Leslie Lucks dresses and Paul Mitchell Freeze & Shine.

The more I’ve thought about it today, the more I’ve decided that there were parts of last night’s pageant that were closer to the days of yore than what we’ve seen in recent years. Granted, there was no shortage of cheesy, but oh my goodness that’s part of the charm. I don’t like all the tricky business of having a top 12 but only 10 people do their talents and then wait! Only five of you will be interviewed! Overall, though, there were some definite old-school moments. And I just think that’s how Miss America should be. There was a ventriloquist who yodeled, for heaven’s sake. In fact, I couldn’t help but hark back to one of my all-time favorite pageant moments from my teenage years.

Yes. I know. And you’re welcome.

Mel and I eventually wrapped up our post-pageant analysis, and before I knew it Alex and I were walking into the coliseum. It wasn’t lost on me that the Black Crowes were playing as we made our way to our seats – it was like 1991 all over again except for the fact that I wasn’t wearing a really big bow in my hair and also my bangs no longer have their own zip code. But we did see Bully when we were on the way to meet EK, and that made a certain seven year-old very happy indeed.

Have I ever told y’all that I am fairly terrified of mascots?

Well, I am fairly terrified of mascots.

I attribute this fear to my lifelong distrust of clowns.

But I digress.

We were so glad that it worked out for us to sit by EK and her little man during the game, and OH, how we cheered. State was ahead by at least 15 points for most of the game, so the boys on the bench got lots of playing time. It was so fun to yell for them. Alex, like his daddy, is completely cut and dried when it comes to matters of competition – he’s not going to half-way cheer for anybody, and if you’re the opposing team, well, you fall from his good graces for the duration of the game. When the game’s over, everybody can be buddies again, but until then, NO MERCY. Anyway, at one point in the second half an Auburn player fouled Dee Bost, the Bulldogs’ point guard, and my child pointed his finger straight at that Auburn player, leaned forward in his seat and yelled, “DO NOT MESS WITH THE MIGHTY DEE BOST!”

And I was so proud.

So I guess the bottom line is that my weekend consisted of Miss America, church, and SEC basketball. I believe that’s what the sociologists refer to as the Southern trifecta. And the fact that I saw Miss Arkansas yodel? Well, we might just be dealing with the Southern quadfecta.

Which may or may not be a word.

But if it isn’t, it totally should be.

There Have Been Some Changes

So. Remember last week? When I uploaded a new WordPress theme and then had no idea what to do with it?

Well. Things are ever-so-much better now.

Thanks to Jules – who gave me my last blog makeover almost three years ago – the new Thesis theme is up and running. I think it’s safe to say that if Jules hadn’t come to my rescue, the new theme would’ve remained unused FOREVER. But now that it’s activiated, the blog is way more functional behind-the-scenes, and everything is so menu-driven that I don’t think I could blow up the blog if I tried. MY RELIEF, IT IS PALPABLE.

Anyway, everything that was here before is still around – it just may be in a different place. Hopefully the blog will load faster on your end, and hopefully it’ll also be a little easier on the eyes (bigger fonts FOR THE WIN). Right now I’m in the middle of the tweaking process, but OH HAVE MERCY the tweaking is so delightfully easy with this Thesis theme that I can hardly contain myself. I’ve been tinkering with it off and on all day, and it hasn’t stressed me out even once. I think you understand that THIS IS UNPRECEDENTED.

Okay. That’s it. Just wanted to post a quick update. I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on the Miss America pageant, Mississippi State basketball and a recent (unexpected) Hibachi experience. Though not necessarily in that order. And it might not be a bad idea to keep your definition of “soon” sort of open-ended. Because I’m not very strong with the planning.

Hope y’all are having a great weekend!

So We Went To Dinner

1. We just got home from a retirement dinner for a wonderful lady in D’s office. It was one of those deals where I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go or not, but I lined up a babysitter at the last minute and tried to make myself presentable and hopped in the car and ended up having such a great time. I love when that happens: when you don’t really have any expectations one way or another, and then you end up laughing a whole bunch and feeling really grateful and wondering how on earth it’s possible for a chef to make meatballs so tasty, MY WORD.

2. At dinner I sat by a darlin’ 20-something girl who works with D. We’d met before because she goes to our church, but we’d never really gotten to have a nice, uninterrupted conversation. She is just a DELIGHT. And I’m telling you: the more I talk to and interact with the teenagers and the 20-somethings who are bold enough to live life with a global, Gospel-driven focus – the teenagers and the 20-somethings who love the Lord and love the nations – the more I’m convinced that they’re going to change the world.

Seriously. They’re going to change the world.

3. D and I aren’t really people who do a lot of “fine dining,” and tonight was the first time in a couple of years when we’ve been out to a really nice restaurant. After what could only be described as an array of appetizers – meatballs, calamari, crab cakes – we dug in to our main course of veal and risotto. We don’t eat a lot of risotto in this neck of the woods; we sort of prefer our rice cooked for 20 minutes then bathed in butter.

Anyway, D was initially a little hesitant about his risotto, but he was a gamer and more than willing to give it a try. He took a bite, then sort of examined all the herbs and whathaveyou that were stirred into the risotto. He took another bite, and after a few seconds he started to nod his head.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Hmmmmm,” he responded. “Tastes like tree.”

WE ARE SO FANCY.

4. I still don’t like red wine even a little bit. And I still like Diet Coke over ice a lot.

5. For most of my life I was kind of on the fence about tiramisu. It was okay, but it wasn’t my favorite. It certainly wasn’t something I’d order in a restaurant, not when there were things like lava cake and flourless chocolate cake and brownie a la mode and whathaveyou.

Chocolate? GOOOOOOOOOD.

But over the last couple of years I’ve had a change of heart about the tiramisu. I so enjoy it. And tonight’s did not disappoint. I would totally order it again…and while chocolate desserts still reign supreme, I think tiramisu may have passed cheesecake as my second-favorite dessert to order at a restaurant.

Anyway, tonight’s tiramisu made me start thinking about my all-time dessert favorites. I think the best chocolate dessert I’ve ever had was last spring at Nobu in NYC with Ree and Melanie. I have no idea what it was called (except for “TASTY” and “ALL GONE”). My favorite dessert that’s not chocolate? Tiramisu from Bottega here in Birmingham. Or maybe the lemon pie from Jim and Nick’s. Because it is also very divine.

So I’m curious: what’s your favorite dessert to order in a restaurant? And if you’d like to go so far as to specify the restaurant where you most like to order that dessert, all the better. Let’s please remember that knowledge is power, my friends, and if you can encourage someone in terms of setting their dessert goals for 2011, well, you have certainly been of service today.

And we are all ever-so-grateful.

For Your Wednesday

It seems like every few years the insomnia and I have us a mighty fine battle.

And for the last few nights? The insomnia has been KICKING MY TAIL.

You’ll be happy to know, however, that I don’t have any intention of sticking around here today and boring you with 500 words about how tired I am. I just want to throw a few links your way and then continue thinking about all the sleep I hope to get tonight.

I’m nothing if not optimistic.

Please keep Joanne Heim (The Simple Wife) in your prayers – and her family, too.

– Mandi Mapes is a deeply gifted singer/songwriter who’s on the worship staff at our church. She’s also CUTE AS A BUTTON. I love her heart, I love her desire to make much of God, and I love her new CD. I think you will, too.

Lindsay’s post about check writers at the grocery store? Oh, yes ma’am.

– There are only four more days to enter the Reebok $100 Visa gift card giveaway. Time’s-a-wastin’!

– Only six more days left in the BlackBerry Style giveaway – I’m giving away two sassy cell phones that come complete with a month’s service from Sprint.

This article about a heartbreak shared by SEC basketball coaches Billy Donovan, John Pelphrey and Anthony Grant brought tears to my eyes. So touching. (via C-L)

– A little over a month ago I went to a Compassion Bloggers reunion dinner here in Birmingham. It was one of the top five favorite nights of my life (the joy went so deep that I haven’t figured out how to write about it yet). One of the people there was Dan Woolley. Dan is a great guy who works with Compassion; you may remember that last year, after the earthquake in Haiti, he was trapped for several days in an elevator at the Hotel Montana. Well, Dan is actually back in Haiti for the anniversary of the earthquake, and you can read his thoughts and reactions over on the Compassion Haiti website. There’s so much good stuff there. And it’s a great reminder to keep the people of Haiti in our prayers.