Archives for March 2011

American Idol – Top 11

I’m always a fan of a Motown show, because as I’ve said before (and I’ll say again): the songs are great. Great songs make for great performances, and here’s to hoping that holds true tonight. Also, here’s to hoping that Casey doesn’t do anything too strange. And that nobody sings “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.” And that somebody does a really cool cover of some old Motown song because oh my word, we are way past due as far as a cool cover is concerned.

There. I believe I’ve made enough demands. So here we go.

Casey Abrams – “Heard It Through The Grapevine” – My first reaction to this song choice is that I wish he’d picked something that hadn’t been featured thousands of times in California Raisin commercials. But I liked the little bit of blues infusion that he put into it, and I also liked how he stayed just a little bit behind the beat…it made a song that we could all sing by heart feel less predictable. All in all, nice job. Really good to see the “old” Casey this week.

Thia Megia – “Heat Wave” – I’m happy to see Thia sing a song that breaks her out of the Disney princess genre. And this particular performance was an important one for her, I think. She actually moved around the stage and showed some personality. The weakness was that her voice was weaker on the high notes – and did she forget the lyrics at one point? It sounded a little muddled toward the end, but good for her for mixing things up a bit.

Jacob Lusk – “You’re All I Need To Get By” – Now listen. I have been tough on Jacob for SCREAMING HIS HEAD OFF the last couple of weeks. But I adored the first part of this song. I loved hearing him sit in that pocket and build some momentum. And when he got louder, it wasn’t too much (save one section when it sounded like he and the background singers were cancelling each other out). All in all, it was an original, memorable performance – totally infectious and fun and sing-along-able. (Let’s just pretend that’s a real word.)

Lauren Alaina – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” – It was fun to hear her do something different at the beginning of the song, and what I appreciated the most about this song was that she didn’t scream her way through it. I liked that she was confident without being over-the-top (as opposed to a couple of weeks ago, when she sort of skipped! across! the stage! and acted! very excited!). Nice to see her settle into the zone.

Stefano Langone – “Hello” – If y’all knew how many times I sang this song when I was in junior high? OH MY WORD. I recorded the video off of “Friday Night Videos” on NBC and watched it OVER AND OVER AND OVER. So all that to say: Stefano picked a good ‘un as far as I’m concerned. However, I didn’t really like the first part of the performance because it felt abrupt and a tad overdramatic, but once he got going it started to grow on me. He put a modern R&B twist on it, and he sounded great. If there was any drawback, it’s that it seemed very rehearsed – so while everything sounded okay, it didn’t really make me feel anything.

Haley Reinhart – “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Haley has an interesting voice, but this song was hard for me to follow. I never really figured out where she was going with it. And as much as I like her voice – which is unique and textured and controlled – I don’t have any feel for her personality, and in this competition, that’s important. So while I appreciated this performance, I can’t really say that I enjoyed it. And that makes me a little sad.

Scotty McCreeryBABYLOCKTHEMDOORSANDTURN“For Once In My Life” – When I was a little girl, my daddy had all sorts of country music 8-tracks in his car: Charley Pride, Ray Stevens, Kenny Rogers, etc. And honestly, that’s sort of what Scotty’s performance tonight reminded me of – something I would have heard in Daddy’s green Capri back in the early 70s. The arrangement was a little on the hokey side (all that harmonica? really?), and I guess I just would’ve liked to hear something more modern. He can sing, no question – but this wasn’t my favorite.

Pia Toscano – “All In Love Is Fair” – Well, after a one week break, it’s back to the power ballads for Pia. I thought the first few bars of this performance were rough – it was almost like she couldn’t find her footing – but she was back on course at the end. However, if at some point she doesn’t break out of this sing-a-moving-song-with-a-big-finish tendency, Chris Harrison is going to walk out on the stage, crown her Miss America and send her on her way. The big voice is great, but there also needs to be an element of fun and surprise, you know?

Paul McDonald – “Tracks In My Tears” – INTERESTING COVER ALERT! INTERESTING COVER ALERT! First of all, I think the having the guitar worked for Paul because it sort of anchored him on the stage. Second of all, tonight’s song choice – and arrangement – really capitalized on the qualities that make Paul unique. So for me, this was leaps and bounds better than last week. LEAPS AND BOUNDS.

Naima Adedapo – “Dancin’ In The Street” – The first thing I thought when Naima started to sing? Oh, I would totally wear those pants. I would, however, pass on the cropped top. There’s something about Naima that I just adore. She’s creative, original and fearless when she performs. And while I don’t think she necessarily put some big, memorable twist on the song, she clearly paid attention to everything the judges told her last week – and made changes accordingly. Smart girl.

James Durbin – “Livin’ For The City” – Let me just get this out of the way: THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS EVER. And all things considered, James did it proud. Parts of his performance were a little rough around the edges, but he has that thing – whatever you call it – that just compels people to root for him. It’s a combination of talent and personality and a very real sense that he’s doing what he was born to do. So fun to watch.

Best of the night: Jacob (I KNOW!)
May be in trouble: Thia, Haley (again, it’s the respectable-but-not-memorable factor)
And as a side note: There were a couple of comparatively weak links in tonight’s show, but across the board it was probably the strongest Top 11 show ever. Pretty impressive.

What did y’all think?

In Which I Am Concerned

Earlier this afternoon on Facebook, my sweet friend Amanda posted a link to an article called “Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?” – and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Honestly, I can get riled up and soapbox-y pretty easily about the things I see young (and not-so-young) girls wearing. Last week at Disneyland, for example, we saw teenage girl after teenage girl after teenage girl wearing shorts so short that my husband finally looked at me and said, “Did any parents see what these girls were wearing when they left their houses this morning? Because those little shorts they have on don’t really qualify as clothing.”

And he was right.

But here’s the thing. It’s pointless for me to just stand on my soapbox and point fingers where this particular issue (or any issue, really) is concerned. Because the fact of the matter is that many girls who dress immodestly (and, you could argue, the authority figures who allow it) make that choice because they don’t know their worth. If they knew their worth, they wouldn’t be looking for unhealthy forms of validation. If they knew their worth, they wouldn’t confuse the absence of appropriate boundaries with freedom.

And the thought of a nation – oh sweet mercy, a world – filled with young girls who don’t know their worth? Who don’t know that they were made with great, loving intention by the God of the universe, by the One who can clothe them with strength and dignity?

It breaks my heart. And it scares me.

But on the up side, it also renews my admiration and appreciation for all you mamas and daddies who refuse to bow down to the culture, who consistently do an incredible job parenting and leading and discipling your young girls. I know it’s not easy. It can’t be.

So here’s to fighting the good fight (IN LOVE), y’all. It’s worth it. The girls (and boys) in our families, schools, churches and communities are worth it.

Especially when they don’t know it.

But let’s pray that one day they will.

Futility In The Key Of Khaki

Well, I spent most of this afternoon consumed by the fact that I couldn’t find a pair of Alex’s khakis, neveryoumind that I had vivid, distinct memories of smoothing out the khakis and walking in A’s closet and hanging up the khakis this past Saturday while I was on the phone with a friend.

So here’s what I did in an effort to track down the missing pants.

1. Looked in the little man’s laundry basket just in case I’d imagined the whole hanging-up-the-pants thing.

2. Looked in the dryer to see if they’d gotten mixed in with a load of towels.

3. Looked in A’s closet.

4. Looked in the basket where I put all of A’s shorts – just in case I’d confused khaki pants with khaki shorts and OH MY WORD WHO AM I AND WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME?

5. Looked in my closet to see if I’d accidentally hung up the pants with my stuff.

6. Looked in A’s closet again.

7. Paused briefly in my quest to find the khakis in order to season some asparagus and put it in the oven.

8. Looked underneath the currently deflated inflatable chair that’s on top of the ottoman in our den because quite frankly a larger-than-average horse could hide under that thing and we’d never, ever know it. Unless of course the horse decided to whinny. But since khakis can’t whinny, I decided it couldn’t hurt to double check.

9. Looked under the bed in the guest room because, well, I sort of like to think of the bed in that room as my giant laundry basket.

10. Decided that 2011 is going to be my year to enter a crazy contest and WIN IT ALL, BY DIGGITY.

11. Looked in one of the suitcases we took to California.

12. Looked in A’s closet again.

13. Looked in a stack of pajama bottoms that I was about to put away.

14. Looked in a folded fitted sheet that is currently residing on the floor of the guest room because, well, it seems happy there.

15. Greeted my husband when he came home from work and then said, “Have I told you that I CAN’T FIND THE KHAKI PANTS?”

16. Looked in my laundry basket again.

17. Looked in the laundry room again.

18. Served supper to my family while talking about the fact that the two pairs of lighter-colored khakis were in the washing machine, THEY WERE IN THE WASHING MACHINE, but the darker-colored khakis were still NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

19. Poured a Diet Coke over some delicious crushed ice because not even my search for the khaki pants could prevent me from enjoying THE FINER THANGS IN LIIIIIFE.

20. Walked back to A’s bedroom and wondered, If I were a pair of khaki pants, where would I be?

21. Reached the conclusion that it was probably unwise to, you know, ASSUME THAT THE PANTS COULD THINK AND MAKE INDEPENDENT DECISIONS.

22. Folded some more clothes while D was talking to someone on the phone, and as soon as he hung up I said, “I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND THE PANTS.”

23. Looked in the dryer again.

24. Contemplated asking the people on Twitter if they had any idea where the pants might be.

25. Looked in A’s closet again.

26. Found the pants hanging in A’s closet in the exact spot where I thought I remembered putting them this past Saturday when I was on the phone with a friend, OH THANK YOU.

So that was pretty much my afternoon / early evening.

And needless to say, the little man will be wearing those khaki pants to school tomorrow, OH YES MA’AM HE WILL.

Love,
Crazy in Alabama

Linky Goodness

– I do not, as a general rule, enjoy baking, but I like the idea of being a mama who has tasty treats on hand when the kids on our street are playing together in the afternoons. That’s why I was tickled – TICKLED, I TELL YOU – to see recipes over at Picky Palate for Chewy No-Bake Cookies and Cream Bars and Chewy No-Bake Nutter Butter Bars. I can’t wait to try them.

– Jennifer has written a lovely post about the fact that changing diapers is about way more than just changing diapers. So, so good – and such an encouragement to moms with small children.

– Nester has done some really fun no-sew upholstery treatments with fur. Well, with “fur.” Totally kicky.

– For whatever reason, this assortment of photographs (taken by a whole host of super-talented people) on Ree’s photography blog just blew me away. I have a different favorite every single time I look – but right now I’m leaning toward the picture of the mountain. But I love the picture of the little boys on the bench, too. And the poppies. I adore the poppies. (See? I have a problem.)

– I am officially crazy about Chopped All-Stars on Food Network (ever since I discovered it last week on the plane), and I was so happy to discover that the host, Ted Allen, is writing recaps of each episode on the FN site. I think it’s such a blast to watch super-talented chefs perform (and excel) under those crazy conditions. Are any of y’all watching?

Vacation All I Ever Wanted

Well, since I’m struggling a little bit today with doing anything that could be considered remotely productive (unless, of course, you consider watching basketball a productive activity), I thought I’d update the blog and bore y’all for a little while.

It is my sweet privilege to serve you in this manner.

So.

Last Saturday our little family of three hopped on a plane and went to California. We flew out of Atlanta because we could get a flight from there waaaaaay cheaper than we could from here, so we left the house at dark o’clock Saturday morning and made the trek to the ATL. A friend of mine had suggested that we park at one of the off-site parking lots and catch a shuttle to the airport, so that is exactly what we did. It was a big time- and money-saver. I’m now an off-site parking believer.

(And yes, this is life at 41. Excitement over off-site parking lots.)

(Next up: FIBER SUPPLEMENTS!)

We’ve been planning our trip to LA since the first of the year, and we had about fourteen different reasons behind it: 1) D’s best friend Todd and his family live there, and we were way overdue for a visit 2) We were also overdue for a just-for-the-fun-of-it family trip 3) My sister-in-law Janie and my nephews were meeting us out there 4) It was Spring Break 5) Spring Break happened to coincide with the little man’s 8th birthday 6) We wanted to ride some rollercoasters.

Okay. Maybe we only had six reasons. BUT SIX IS A LOT.

And we had so much fun. Here are a few of my favorite moments.


Our flight to LA had TVs in the backs of the seats. And for six American dollars, you could watch a pretty wide selection of live television programming. I opted for Food Network, and OH, IT DELIGHTED ME. I love “Chopped,” and there was some sort of “Chopped All-Stars” thing going on. I DID NOT MIND IT.


We spent most of Sunday sightseeing, and when we stopped at Hollywood & Highland to walk around and take some pictures, I got very excited when I saw the banners for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” across the street. I kept pointing and asking D if he wanted me to take his pictures in front of the banners, and he looked sort of puzzled and grinned and said, “No, that’s okay.” It was only, oh, YESTERDAY when I realized that D doesn’t actually watch Jimmy Kimmel – he watches Jimmy Fallon. He loves Jimmy Fallon’s show, in fact, but it is filmed in New York. Which is a considerable distance from Hollywood & Highland.


By mid-afternoon Sunday, the boys could not quit giggling / making tooting noises / actually tooting. Janie decided that if we had any chance of returning to the hotel with our sanity intact, she was going to have to physically separate Alex and H. They were slightly wound up.


Their wound up state may have had something to do with the fact that they had just spent about fifteen minutes running around in the ice-cold ocean. Oh, they were lively.

The next day we were at Disneyland bright and early, and as you can see, everyone was considerably more calm.


In his defense, it was his 8th birthday, and it was the first time he’s been tall enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride, so his happiness was sort of off-the-charts. Plus, the Indy t-shirt was in a stack of clothes that our sweet neighbor recently passed along to us, so, you know, PERFECTION.


A couple of hours later the boys made their first trek to Space Mountain together, and listen: we all hollered like a bunch of hillbillies who had just won a round of “Family Feud.” We love us some rollercoasters, and we screamed our heads off. Even after we waited SEVENTY MINUTES to ride Tower of Terror. Such a blast.


Alex was a little scared about riding California Screamin’ – it is super fast and has a big loop and all – but he decided that he wanted to try it, and OH MY MERCY he loved it. In fact, he walked off of it, looked at me and said, “One word: AWESOME” – and jumped right back in line to ride it again. My nephews thought it was awesome, too – they rode it three times in a row.


We had a little birthday dinner at a Disney restaurant Monday night, and we were all so tired that I’m not entirely sure we could tell you what we ate (I do know that ice water has never tasted more delicious than it did when I sat down at the table and KNOCKED ‘ER BACK). At the end of the meal our waitress brought Alex a birthday cupcake, and he proceeded to eat all the icing and very little cake. Which was really no different than his first birthday.

Tuesday we went to Universal, and after spending Monday fighting some serious crowds at Disney, our time at Universal felt a little bit like a trip to a spa. We got to the park about fifteen minutes after it opened, and the average time we waited for rides was about five minutes. The first thing we did was take Alex to the souvenir shop to buy a hat (I’d left his cap at the hotel), and y’all, he picked out a WINNER. Cracked me up every single time I looked at him. Especially when he paired his new hat with the 3-D glasses for the studio tour.


WHAT UP, PAPAW?

The studio tour was so entertaining (way better than it was ten years ago); the kids and the grown-ups had a blast. Afterwards we rode some rides and took some pictures and watched the very cute Shrek in 4-D.


I didn’t know if an eight year-old would still be interested in getting pictures made with characters, but as it turned out: YES. He was way more laid-back about it than he was four years ago, but he still got such a kick out of seeing the “real” characters. Big fun.

Late Tuesday afternoon Todd was sweet enough to set up a little behind-the-scenes tour for the boys at the place where he works, and it may have been the boys’ favorite part of the trip. Afterwards we went to eat at a place called Paco’s Tacos, and I could write an ode to the tortillas there. They were FANTASTIC. Todd’s wife and daughter met us for supper, and we all spent most of our meal talking about how cute Gracie is. She is a doll.


See? I told you.

We had a long day of travel on Wednesday thanks to a couple of runway delays in LA and Atlanta (there was no gate for our plane in Atlanta after we landed). I was about to CRAWL OUT OF MY SKIN after sitting on the runway in LA for over an hour, but then the Delta people made it somewhat better by making all the on-flight movies complimentary. Which is precisely the reason I spent a couple of hours getting re-acquainted with one of my favorite movies of all time.


“That is one NUTTY HOSPITAL.”

So good.

And when we finally got back to Birmingham, there was one very sweet puppy dog who was beside herself with happy when she saw us.

So all in all, it was a great trip. We had great fun. We made some great memories.

And it’s great to be home.

The end.

American Idol – Top 12

I’m knee-deep in laundry and trying to catch up on All Things Home, so I’m not going to do a contestant-by-contestant recap of last night’s American Idol. I’m just going to hit on some highs and some lows and then let y’all chime in with your reactions. If you feel so inclined, of course.

Lows:

– Pia’s off-white jumpsuit with the elasticized waist. #wardrobefail
– Casey’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” performance – I appreciate that he takes risks, but one of his strong suits (so far) is that he’s been charming and endearing and sort of a throw-back to a time when people could really sing. Last night’s performance was way too screechy and yell-y and didn’t do his talent justice (in my humble opinion). America will extend him great grace, I think, because he’s SO TALENTED, but I hope he’s a little less edgy next week.
– Naima’s pitchiness – I am rooting for her, but she was all over the place last night.
– Jacob’s scream-a-thon – He has such a powerful voice, but his performance was too much for me. I halfway expected a wardrobe change mid-way through and then some fireworks to go off at the end. I’d just like to see him sing something more subtle.

Highs:

– Stefano – I thought he did a great job making a classic song sound super-modern. And in a night that was filled with lots of flats and sharps, he was pitch-perfect.
– Pia’s big voice – She nailed her song, and even though she picks songs that are a little pageant-y to me, she’s consistent.
– Scotty – It was great to hear him do something that was a little higher and a little less Josh Turner-esque.
– The producers – The behind-the-scenes stuff is so interesting to watch, and working with the same “mentors” week after week will reap big benefits for the contestants, I think.
– Lauren – I loved that she was more calm on stage this week, and even though she was sick, she sounded great. I actually liked the raspy quality in her voice, and I was a fan of the country twist on a rock and roll song.

Best of the week: Stefano
May be in danger: Paul, Karen, Haley – not because they’re not talented – but they just weren’t memorable

What did y’all think?