Archives for June 2015

My Not-Quite-Finished Favorite

We’ve been in this house for 8 1/2 years, and at this point it looks like we’re going to shoot for 40. It’s not that we never think about leaving, though. Every three or four months one of us will bring up the possibility of selling and buying something so brand-spankin-new that it squeaks, but then two things always happen: 1) we can’t imagine loving a location more than we love this one and 2) I walk in the door, look out the windows, and say, “OH MY WORD I LOVE THESE TREES SO MUCH I’M NEVER LEAVING.”

So the moral of the story is that we’re staying right here. But after 8 1/2 years, we’re still trying to figure out how to make these rooms work best for our little family.

Well.

For the longest time I didn’t really think I needed an office. I set up my blogging headquarters at the bar in our living room, and it was a pretty handy way to do things when Alex was little and I needed to be in the same room that he was. I liked having my computer in the center part of the house, and there were lots of nights when I’d sit at the bar and type a blog post while David watched TV on the couch.

But then my laptop died and an old desktop computer became my bloggy HQ. So we cleaned out the playroom, moved a few things around, and made me a little office in the room right off of our kitchen. Apparently that room was the “mom den” when the house was built – a place for her to sit and relax at the far end of the house – and it’s always been one of my favorite rooms in the house.

That little office served me pretty well. Eventually we painted the desk and rearranged some things. And then I bought a gold couch at an estate sale and turned the room into sort of a hang-out space / office / den.

But here’s what happens when you put a couch in a room: people start sitting in there. And it’s great because we use that gold sofa and that little off-the-kitchen room more than any other space in our house, I bet. It’s just that a high-traffic area isn’t necessarily conducive to writing, and after I started working my first book about four years ago, I realized that I seemed to require a whole lot more quiet than I did with blogging. And that is tricky when you have been writing in a room that has a gold sofa where everybody likes to hang out.

So that is when we entered my writing-at-Starbucks-and-Panera phase.

I still wrote at home a lot, but I was forever distracted (write a few sentences, put on a load of laundry, finish a paragraph, unload the dishwasher, etc.). Sometimes I’d take the laptop in the guest room and try to write in there (that’s actually what I did a lot with the first book), and that is probably when I developed my deep and abiding affection for the bed in there. That bed and I are best buddies; it has become my favorite place in the world to watch TV, and really, I don’t know why I’m surprised since it is also my favorite place in the world to pile up clean laundry. That bed is good people.

The second book is what really proved to me that SOME QUIET SPACE, IT WOULD BE SO HELPFUL. I had a harder time focusing at Panera and Starbucks, maybe because I always seemed to run into former students and would wind up talking to people way more than I should have. There were times when I wanted to email my editor and say, “Well, I don’t have any chapters to send you, but I can definitely write up a very detailed update on how Cameron, Madison, and Caroline are doing at college,” only I didn’t really think she’d appreciate that in light of my BIG LOOMING DEADLINE.

Long story endless: when I finally finished edits on the second book, I asked David how he’d feel about us turning our 4th bedroom into an office. He was totally on board, probably because he’d watched me move my laptop from the kitchen table to the dining room table to the guest room when I was trying to finish edits on book #2. So after he agreed, it was really just a matter of finding a time to drive over to Atlanta and go to IKEA. Granted, it was nice to have that 2nd guest room when we had a bunch of company, but we’d recently let a friend who was moving borrow most of that furniture, and it seemed like a good opportunity for a re-do.

And listen. It was as low-key a makeover as you can imagine. We didn’t paint, we didn’t add any custom features, and we didn’t buy expensive furniture. We did, however, measure the walls and the floor space, and I’m so glad we did or we would’ve been in a pickle once we got to Atlanta.

We put the room together right after Christmas, but I didn’t really “move in” until the beginning of April. I’m still not anywhere near finished with it; I want to hang some window treatments and make a gallery wall above the awesome small sectional we found at IKEA (it actually has a trundle that turns it into a full bed, so we still have extra room for company if we need it). But this – THIS – has become my happiest little place in the whole wide world.

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Please take note of the fancy stand for my fan (it’s an iPhone box), and I don’t even have the prints framed (you rock, gold washi tape). But I found the framed print at Home Goods (it says “Do All Things With Love” if you can’t tell in the picture), and I have what will hopefully be the intro for book #3 on the poster board above the desk, and then there’s Mentholatum and headphones, two things I never, ever want to be without when I’m trying to get some writing done.

And y’all. It’s so quiet. And THE ROOM HAS A DOOR. And I can sit right here in my very own house and be productive.

I’m not kidding. It has been such a gift. And it has been so nice to actually USE a room that we rarely even walked into before.

Here’s my next favorite thing.

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Its a terrible picture. But I finally have a place for my nerdy podcast microphone and all the notebooks and papers that I like to keep nearby but tucked away.

Here’s a picture I posted about a month ago; it gives a little bit better idea of how the furniture ties together.

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Eventually I’m going to make everything look all neat and PURTY and I’ll open the blinds and turn on the lights and take lots of pictures. But in the meantime just know that if you’ve been wondering if it makes a difference to have a place in your house where you can really settle in and write / paint / draw / sing / hum / cry / pray / read / plan in the semi-quiet, I would just like to say that YES. YES, IT DOES.

It took me 8 1/2 years to figure it out. And it’s not even a little bit fancy.

But it’s functional, and it’s cheerful, and it’s worth every bit of the wait.

Hallelujah and amen.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 49

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Well, if your idea of a good time is hearing Melanie and me talk about how we can barely muster the will to leave the house this summer, then this podcast is for you!

And really, we are leaving the house. We would just not choose to leave the house, necessarily, if we weren’t responsible for the care and socialization of some very active pre-teens.

We also talk about how we met (I thought most people who read our blogs knew that story already, but I’m always happy to share it), a video thing that we’re doing with Christy Nockels and my resulting hair insecurities, the holy re-do of Melanie getting to spend time with Christy and her hair, and the very exciting possibility of Melanie making a guest appearance on John Tesh’s radio show.

I also have some disappointing Sheerlume news. I just want to prepare you for that in advance.

We also discuss our favorite summer candles and answer a few more questions from y’all, too.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here on the blog.

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Just FYI – here’s where you can get more info on the products / places we mention (these aren’t affiliate links – just regular ole links):

dotMOM with worship leader Christy Nockels
Christy Nockels’ beautiful new CD
The unfortunate skinny jeans incident
Voluspa Goji Tarocco Orange candle
Gap v-neck linen t-shirts

Enjoy, y’all.

Please Mark Your Calendars & Locate Your Batons

I feel like I need to give ample advance notice for this EXCITING LIVE EVENT so that you can plan accordingly.

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In the past we’ve used the blog for our commenting, but it gets tough to keep up with the conversation when you’re constantly refreshing and trying to catch up on what you haven’t read. For the last Miss America, we used Twitter, and it was great fun except that comments are limited by 140 characters. So this time around, I thought we’d give Facebook a try. We can start a new thread with every section of the pageant, so hopefully that will keep the conversation more manageable. Plus, Facebook makes it easier for us to reply to each other.

Here are the details.

Miss Mississippi Live Stream“Watch Now” link will be live a little before 8 central on Saturday

Viewing Party – We’ll discuss / analyze / pray corporately that a tap dancer makes it to the top 10 on my Facebook page. As always, this is all in good fun; we don’t want to be critical or hurt anybody’s feelings. We just want to enjoy the pageant together and show our appreciation for the best evening gowns and clap like crazy in the event that someone performs an interpretative dance to a Mariah Carey ballad.

Just FYI: you will have to “like” my Facebook page in order to read and comment, but you can “unlike” it just as soon as the pageant is over if you have a finely curated Facebook feed and don’t want to add anything else to the mix.

By the way, I just wondered why my blog posts never show up in my FB feed, and after a little investigation I realized that I have never liked my own Facebook page. I AM A MARKETING GENIUS. Maybe I’ll decide to like myself before the viewing party. Or maybe I’ll just continue to be non-committal.

REGARDLESS, our Miss Mississippi party will be so much more fun if you can join us. You don’t have to be a Mississippi girl – just a person who loves a good pageant. It should be a delightful way to spend a Saturday night, and I am sure to quote the Sugarbaker girls at least once.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing them.

It Feels Like It’s Been Friday Three Days In A Row

All righty. I sent out the first newsletter this morning about 9:30 central time. If you signed up and did not receive an email from me, check your spam folder. If there’s nothing in your spam folder, then check to make sure you followed the instructions in the confirmation email you received after you signed up. And if you still can’t find a newsletter from me after you do all of those things, email me and let me know. I can check for your email address and then add you manually if need be.

Today I got to hang out all afternoon / evening with three of my best friends from college, and WHOA NELLIE we laughed and dare I say guffawed. My friend Katy had to come into town for work, so Elise and Tracey decided to tag along and oh my word I am so glad they did. We pretty much just sat in a hotel room in our pajamas for the better part of the day, and I laughed until I wheezed on at least six different occasions. I wouldn’t take anything in the world for that.

Around 7 we decided to put on some make-up and change clothes and go to dinner, and we had ourselves a lovely meal at Bellini’s (I know I talk about Chuy’s all the time, but Bellini’s is one of my top five favorite restaurants in Birmingham). I came home after dinner because I have a couple of appointments in the morning and didn’t need to stay up late singing duets from the 90s (I’m not saying that’s exactly what we would have done, but it’s probably a pretty decent guess), but time with forever friends is always such a treat. I wish we all lived closer, but I’m so grateful we get to see each other as much as we do.

The other big news is that Alex comes home from camp this Saturday, and we cannot wait to have him home again. I fully expect that Hazel will lose her dadgum mind when she sees him, and I also fully expect that his camp clothes will require an extensive fumigation process. He left for camp last Sunday afternoon, so the house hasn’t been the same without him here – but he has had a great week away, and we are mighty thankful for that. If I had to guess what his top priorities will be when he gets home, I’d say 1) drinking an ice-cold Dr. Pepper 2) taking a shower and 3) reacquainting himself with the wonder of air conditioning. These are all fine and noble goals if you ask me.

Finally, let’s continue to pray for peace, justice, and healing in Charleston. I can only imagine the shock, the hurt, and the grief. Be near, Lord.

See y’all next week!

Tuesday Still Needs A Title

I’ve been out of town / out of pocket for the last couple of days, so I’m ready to settle in for a little TV time, but I wanted to mention a few quick things before I watch some deeply educational re-runs of House Hunters International followed by back-to-back episodes of Chrisley Knows Best, oh please don’t judge me.

So. The things.

– Today I spoke at Friends of the Library in New Albany, Mississippi. Emma Kate went with me because she has family in New Albany and absolutely adores the town. We were also in dire need of a gigantor catch-up conversation, and it’s good to do that when you’re in the car together (and to continue said conversation in EK’s orange chairs). Anyway, when we walked in the library we saw this table – CHOCK-FULL-O-GOODNESS, it was – and then we realized that someone was playing the piano while everybody ate lunch.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

Between the table and the piano, I basically had everything I needed to keep me happy for the rest of the summer. I mean, why don’t we all do this more often? Why don’t we decorate a table in a patriotic theme and make a bunch of sandwiches and then ask somebody to play music while our friends visit? It is an absolutely delightful way to spend a lunch hour. So between the Library Friends and getting to spend time with Emma Kate, I just can’t say enough good things about this particular Tuesday.

– I keep forgetting to mention this, but several people (including Emma Kate) have asked me to post my speaking schedule. It’s actually already here on the blog, but it’s buried a little bit. So if you click on “About” at the top of the page and then click “Speaking,” you’ll find it. Or you can click here and pull it up in a flash.

– When we were leaving the library in New Albany today, Emma Kate said, “We can’t leave town without stopping at Sugaree’s.” I’ve heard of Sugaree’s Bakery for years but had never made the time to visit, so I pretty much hopped in the store after we parked the car. After considerable deliberation, I decided to buy half a caramel cake for David and me (Alex is at camp this week), and I bought a whole cream cheese pound cake to take to a cookout tomorrow night. Anyway, D and I just had a piece of the caramel cake for dessert, and I can honestly say that I’ve never had better. Seriously. It is THE BEST caramel cake I’ve ever had in my life. The icing is divine (I fully believe that it was cooked in a cast iron skillet), and the cake is perfection (made from scratch and not too sweet). But it gets even better. About four minutes ago I googled the bakery and realized that you can order their cakes online, so I’m thrilled to have a way to send a little bit of (DELICIOUS) Mississippi to friends and family who live out of state.

– Tomorrow or Thursday I’m sending out the first issue (installment? I DO NOT KNOW THE LINGO.) of my brand-new newsletter, so here’s the link if you’d like to subscribe.

That’s all for now – hope y’all are having a great week!

That Garth Brooks Is Quite A Teacher

The first time I saw Garth Brooks in concert, it was 1992-ish. I was still in school at Mississippi State, and thanks to a couple of my best guy friends who played the “No Fences” CD non-stop, I’d been listening to Garth’s music for a couple of years. I had no idea what to expect from him as a performer when I went to that first concert, but as soon as he hit the stage, it was evident that he was going to put on a show like most of us in that audience had never seen before. He was just phenomenal – fun and energetic and self-deprecating and grateful. As far as concerts go, it was high point.

About six years later, David and I got to go to another Garth Brooks concert in Baton Rouge. It was packed and lively (Geaux Tigers) and worth the price of tickets just to be able to sing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” in Baton Rouge. That night was hands-down one of my top five memories during my three years of living in that part of the country, and I honestly never expected that another Garth Brooks show could top it.

But this past Friday night in our beloved Birmingham flat-out changed my mind.

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A lot has changed in the 17 years since our last Garth Brooks concert. We’re parents now, we’ve hit our 40s, and we’re probably way more boring than we ever thought we’d be when we were fresh-faced newlyweds screaming “Friends in Low Places” at the top of our lungs. There’s no question that my mental / spiritual / emotional frame of reference is different than it was back in 1998 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center; that may be part of the reason why I’ve been thinking so much about the concert we just saw here in Birmingham.

And here’s the thought that I cannot shake:

We can all learn a few things from Garth.

Now don’t get me wrong. Garth didn’t stand on the stage this past Friday night and wax philosophical for 2 1/2 hours. He just did his thing. He sang his heart out and hopped across the stage and entertained the fire out of us. He, his band, and the incomparable Trisha Yearwood put on an incredible show that honestly surpassed anything I saw them do in the 90’s. The fact that most of the lyrics have gotten deeper and richer with time was an added bonus. And from start to finish, it was all so stinkin’ good that David turned to me on the way home and said, “You know what? He should win CMA Entertainer of the Year just for that. Just for that one show. HAND HIM THE TROPHY.”

And that’s when we started to talk about the lessons.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much time in classrooms, or maybe it’s because of the speaking stuff I do, or maybe it’s just because I’m a nerd (true that), but I am infinitely fascinated by what people do to communicate / entertain / teach effectively. I really do think it’s interesting to see how folks earn an audience’s respect and convince them to listen to whatever they have to say or sing. And after this past Friday night’s show, I’m more certain than ever that when it comes all these things, Garth Brooks can flat-out school some folks.

Here’s why.

1. He communicates genuine affection for the people in the audience.

If you’ve sat at a Garth Brooks show for longer than five minutes, you’re fully aware of how much he appreciates his audience. He says so right off the bat, and his actions back up his words. Whether you’re on the front row, way up in the nosebleeds, or sitting behind the stage, you know that you matter, and you know that he doesn’t take a single person for granted. From the outside looking in, it seems like he operates out of a philosophy that when people have spent their money and their time to see someone in concert, there’s an inherent responsibility to make it worth their while. His shows have a huge return on investment for audience members; people leave feeling like they got their money’s worth – and then some.

2. He’s loyal to his team.

There’s something super refreshing about hearing someone speak highly of his / her co-workers / co-laborers / cohorts. When Garth Brooks talks about the people in his band, his words are warm and personal. That coupled with the fact that the rookie of his band has “only” been with him for 20 years speaks volumes. It’s easy to get on board with someone who clearly takes care of his people.

3. He’s excellent at what he does.

In an industry that can sometimes be flash over substance, Garth Brooks is the real deal. He sings every song like it’s his favorite, and he sounds better than ever. His concerts are perfectly paced, a well-timed mixture of fast-moving and laid-back. He’s high-energy without being exhausting (I’ve been in other concerts where, after four or five borderline manic songs, I mostly wanted to scream “ENOUGH” and walk out), and he’s infectious without being insincere. He’s a gifted entertainer who leaves it all on the stage; no one can ever accuse him of phoning it in.

4. He puts first things first.

Garth Brooks walked away from his career 14 years ago so that he could focus on being a good daddy to his girls. Most people would say that he’d never recover from that kind of break. But sold-out arenas all over the country – three sold-out shows in Birmingham alone – tell a different story. His willingness to sacrifice for his family is a great reminder to pay attention to what gets our “yes” and to remember that we can always go back to whatever gets our “no.”

5. He reminds us that it’s never too late.

So often we can think that if we aren’t at the height of our career or our calling by the time we’re 32, we’ve missed the boat. Or we may panic in our mid-40s because we feel like our best years are behind us. But that’s not even a little bit true. Garth Brooks is 53, and he hasn’t missed a step. I’m not sure that he’s even started to hit his prime. He could give any young bro-country whippersnapper (no offense, bro-country whippersnappers) a run for his money. What a reminder to run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1) and GET AFTER IT. Age is of no consequence when it comes to our calling.

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Life lessons aside, a Garth Brooks concert is just about the best thing going right now. So if he’s performing anywhere near you, GO. GOOOOOO. You will enjoy his show like nobody’s business. You’ll marvel at how well his songs have held up over the years, you’ll go home and listen to some of his newer stuff, and you’ll want to call your local country station and tell them to PLAY GARTH’S NEW ALBUM, ALREADY (seriously, country music stations: please play Garth’s new album…arenas are filled with people who clearly want to hear his music).

So. There you have it: my two cents that nobody asked for. But after growing a little weary of a country music culture that’s filled with songs about big trucks, hot girls, and cold beer (plus tailgates! we can’t forget tailgates!), David and I found it utterly refreshing to spend a beautiful summer night listening to (and learning from) one of country music’s all-time greatest entertainers.

Thanks for that, Garth Brooks.

We sure did have a blast in your class.