Finishing With A Whimper

I realize that nobody really reads blogs on weekends, much less a holiday weekend, but since I haven’t been around for a little over a week, I thought I’d take advantage of this beautiful afternoon and write a little update.

Because I think we can all agree that sitting inside and typing a blog post is the very best use of a beautiful afternoon.

It is what it is, I reckon.

Last weekend was full of graduation activities. Now I of course was not graduating from anything except maybe my rookie year at a new job (and there isn’t a formal ceremony for that particular graduation, though being able to turn off my alarm for 5:10 every morning felt pretty dadgum festive to me), but oh my word it made me super emotional to watch those seniors walk across the platform and accept their diplomas. They have so much fun and so many opportunities stretched out in front of them, and I really can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store. It was such a privilege to be a tiny part of their senior year, and I already miss them like crazy. Honestly, I think part of the reason why I’ve been so quiet blog-wise over the last week is because I just needed some time to process and think about the last nine months; it has been LIVELY and completely different from being with kids in a classroom and a big ole learning experience.

(If you don’t remember why my work has been different this year, this post explains a little bit.)

(I figure clicking on a link is easier than having to read while I repeat myself.)

All righty. So that’s it for the semi-reflective. Now on to the mundane!

It was close to 9 last Sunday night when we finally got home from graduation and a couple of get-togethers that followed, and after Alex went to bed I decided I was going to push through and watch the Mad Men series finale before I went to bed. David had already determined that he couldn’t stay awake for it, but I wanted to see it. Maybe, after graduation, I was just in the mood for another good-bye.

So I watched. And I cried my eyes out. I’m not sure how much of that was related to Don Draper and how much of that was related to those seniors who have been like family this year. Regardless, it was a cathartic hour and a half. And towards the end, when I started to think that my stomach felt a little funny, I wondered if I’d cried to the point that I’d made myself sick.

But then my stomach started to feel even funnier.

And then, about thirty minutes later, even funnier than that.

And not a bit of it was the “ha ha” variety of funny, either.

By late Sunday night, I was in the middle of some full-blown misery. I couldn’t get comfortable, so I slept for a few hours on the bathroom floor (how does the body do that? how does it decide you know what? I can’t possibly sleep in a bed right now, but I will conk out in four seconds if I can just stretch out on a hardwood floor with a towel for a pillow?), and by the time I woke up from my bathroom slumber I realized that I was in for a really long Monday morning. As Mama would say, I was sick as a dog, so I stayed home from work and – no kidding – I slept for 18 hours. EIGHTEEN. LIKE A BOSS.

Nothing like an end-of-the-school-year stomach bug to really kick May up a notch, huh?

Tuesday I was over the stomach woes but still feeling rough. I managed to pull myself together long enough to go speak to some 6th grade girls (it had been on my calendar forever, and I didn’t feel like I was sick enough to cancel), and I am all but certain that my fever broke while I was talking to them. I broke out in a cold sweat and my hair was soaking wet, but by the time I finished talking – about an hour later – my hair had started to dry and was so frizzy that I looked like I’d deliberately copied Roseanne Roseannadanna’s bob. So that made for a stellar afternoon.

By late Tuesday afternoon, though, I was human again. I went to a retirement party for my friend Marcia and had the best time. Marcia has had enormous influence on so many people, so honoring her seemed like the perfect way to close out the school year. Have mercy we’re gonna miss her, but she has all sorts of adventure in store and deserves some time (some years!) off more than just about anyone I know.

As for the rest of the week, it was a busy blur: plowing through the last few days of school, hanging out with friends, running a whole bunch of errands and then our all-time family favorite, going to the SEC baseball tournament. Even though State didn’t make it to the tourney this year, we just picked a team to cheer for at any given game and had ourselves a big time. We definitely missed our Bulldogs, but when Alex and I were tempted to start a “WAR EAGLE” chant at Wednesday night’s game, I felt pretty good about our genuine affection for other SEC teams. It was so fun.

We really don’t have much on the agenda for this summer; I want to write as much as possible, and after a pretty crazy pace for the last couple of years, we’re all excited about staying home and laying low and taking each day as it comes. I want to clean out closets and and throw out clutter and figure out once and for all what exactly is in the big wicker basket that sits on our bar and apparently holds a lot of stuff we don’t need because it is full to the brim even though I never have to look in there. I would also like to pare down my Mentholatum collection (there are jars all over this house) and re-organize my pantry. These are my exciting goals for the summer of 2015.

So. I hope y’all have been doing great. And I hope you have seen these at the grocery store because THEY ARE DELICIOUS.

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That’s just a little Memorial Day tip for you. In the form of Cheez-Its.

Which is as it should be, I think.

Happy Summer, y’all.

In Case You’re Wondering, There Are Five More Days Of School

If you’ve ever worked in school setting, you know that there are some years when you get to May and you’re totally energized. You’re ready for summer, you’re planning for fall, and you don’t feel even the slightest hint of burnout.

But then there are other years when May rolls around, and and no matter how much you tell yourself you’re going to finish strong, the reality is a little bit more like this.

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(NAILED IT.)

Honestly, I watch that clip and think, “Well, at least it looks like he tried to get up.”

I’m not sure I could say the same right now.

Given that, I’m going to indulge my current state of Eye-Crossed Tired and break out Ye Olde Beloved List Format to share a few bits of information that I want to be sure to pass along.

1) The folks at Tyndale have put together a great discussion guide for Home is Where My People Are. It’s tailor-made for book clubs, so I think it’ll be a helpful resource for some of y’all. Yay, Tyndale!

2) You don’t want to miss this post of Melanie’s. So encouraging and beautiful.

3) This Saturday morning I’ll be speaking at Crosspoint Community Church in Gadsden, Alabama. It would be so fun to see some of y’all there!

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4) I’ve mentioned a few times that we’ve turned a bedroom into an office for David and me. I’m not quite finished with the decorating – I still have a few more odds and ends to hang on the walls – but this is my new favorite spot in our house. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to be able to work in a room where I can shut the door. Granted, there aren’t any grande flat whites in the new office, but that’s the only thing I’ve missed about writing at Starbucks.

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Also, some of you may remember that Martha really wanted me to use her golden bamboo mirror! golden bamboo! it’s on page 20 of Southern Living! golden bamboo! You’ll be happy to know that it’s hanging above the office sofa; it makes me smile every time I look at it.

5) The mystery of Trisha’s (unexplained) new kitchen remains unsolved. I remain hopeful that we’ll receive reliable, concrete information very soon.

All righty. I think that’s all. So if you’ll excuse me, I will now resume my regularly scheduled time with pajamas and Thursday night TV, oh hallelujah and amen.

Y’all have a great weekend!

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 46

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You know what happens when you record a podcast without a plan?

You wind up talking about things like sparkling water and frankincense and grocery lists and Kate’s post-childbirth public appearance – and somehow you convince yourself that all of those topics just flow effortlessly from one to the next.

They don’t really flow effortlessly at all. But we’re just as enthusiastic as we can be about every one of them, so surely that counts for something.

We also talk about wedding hashtags, and I am still so tickled by the hashtag that Melanie came up with 18 years after the fact that I may start using it on Instagram.

Once again there’s not a single mention of Amy Grant. All I know to do about it is to apologize and assure you that we won’t fail you in this way ever again.

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.

Enjoy, y’all!

Real Life Is Better Than Spider-Man

Our friend Todd is a sound editor at a movie studio. I rarely think to ask what project he’s working on, probably because I will never be more excited about any movie than I was when he was working on Charlie’s Angels back in the late 90’s. THERE’S NO POSSIBLE WAY TO TOP IT.

Obviously it’s an endlessly cool thing for Alex that his Uncle Todd has such up-close access to movies, especially when those movies feature characters like Spider-Man. So with every new installment of The Amazing Spider-Man, Todd has faithfully sent Alex a movie poster.

Well.

Last summer Alex decided that he wanted to display all of his Spider-Man posters in the hallway that leads to his bedroom. Even though that area is fairly visible and should probably be decorated with some grown-up paintings and mirrors and trinkets and whatnot, I told him it would be fine. So one night he and David hung up all three posters with some very precise alignment and spacing, and every time I’d walk through that part of the house, I’d grin and think that it was sort of like living at Carmike.

Seriously. I’d want to pop some popcorn and take up tickets and remind the patrons to turn off their cell phones.

So even though the posters weren’t in the most conventional spot, they never bothered me, mainly because I’d look at them and inevitably remind myself that before long Alex will be at college while David and I sit in our room and watch Finding Nemo at 2 in the morning and wonder where all the time went. Besides, Spider-Man has been Alex’s favorite superhero for most of his life. He and his daddy both enjoy the Marvel characters, and Spider-Man has been a part of their conversations pretty much since Alex could talk. When he was four he even dressed up like Spider-Man for Halloween.

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(I know. SUCH A NUGGET.)

(And you’d better believe it’s taking everything in me right now to resist the VERY STRONG URGE to put iPhoto in slideshow mode, play “If These Walls Could Speak,” and proceed with some endless blubbering.)

(Because I’m really not sure how this picture was over seven years ago.)

Alex fought many a sword battle in that Spider-Man costume – even when the bottoms of the legs wouldn’t go any farther than his knees – and given his continued enthusiasm for all things Peter Parker, I sort of assumed that those posters in our hallway would be there until he graduated from high school.

Which is why you can imagine my surprise when he took all of them down a few nights ago.

I was watching TV at the time, so it initially took me a minute or two to figure out what strange noise I was hearing in the hallway. When it finally dawned on me that I was hearing the sound of posters falling off the wall corner by corner, I wondered why in the world he’d want to put them away. I didn’t say anything, though; he seemed determined to finish the task without explanation, and truth be told I didn’t really think about it again.

Until Saturday morning.

Because Saturday morning is when I noticed something new in the place of those posters: an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of laminated construction paper. I moved closer so I could read it, then continued to study it for a several minutes before I called Alex down the hall and asked him what it was.

“Well,” he said, “last week my teacher took some paper and put a different person’s name at the top of every sheet. She passed the sheets of paper around the room, and underneath each person’s name, we all wrote words that describe him or her. Then Mrs. McGehee put all the words in the computer and made every student a heart out of the words people listed for us.”

Sure enough, the words that filled that heart were crazy-accurate descriptions of our boy. I’m guessing that most of us have done something similar to this activity – maybe back in the day at youth group or as some sort of team building exercise as an adult – but as far as I know, this was the first time Alex had been a part of this particular kind of encouragement. So when I saw that relatively small piece of paper tacked up in the place where three full-size Spider-Man movie posters used to live, I realized how much those words must mean to him.

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I’ve been thinking about that piece of paper for the better part of three days.

More than anything, I guess, it represents the sweetest shift. Slowly but surely Alex is learning that watching and even pretending to be the most awesome superhero in the history of ever doesn’t hold a candle to the comfort and the peace of being really seen and known by his people. He is such a typical 5th grade boy in so many ways (this is a child whose favorite item of clothing is a new t-shirt from a local BBQ place that says “You Can Smell Our Butts For Miles” across the back), but those life-giving words touched him way down deep in his heart, maybe even more than he knows how to express to his daddy and me.

Now granted, it’s also good to remember that our true identity comes from Christ and not from other people’s assessments of who we are. In fact, I hope we’ll fill up even more of that wall space with words to that end. But that little orange piece of paper has brought about some fresh conviction that 1) a little encouragement goes a long way and 2) OUR WORDS MATTER, especially when it comes to affirming each other’s God-given characteristics.

Just ask Spider Man. He’s been forced into temporary retirement at our house just because some 5th grade kids listened to their teacher and decided that building up their friends was a pretty good idea.

Peter Parker would get on board with that, don’t you think?

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” – Proverbs 16:24

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29

I Need Answers

So the Saturday morning routine in our house is that there really isn’t any Saturday morning routine. We don’t always have a big pancake breakfast or go for a family walk or hum duets from the 80’s while we work on our macrame’ plant holders.

I pretty much pulled that last option right out of thin air.

But regardless of what’s going on, one particular thing is a given: our DVR will record The Pioneer Woman and Trisha’s Southern Kitchen on Food Network. It’s rare that I watch either show on a Saturday morning because, well, I believe I’ve established that we cannot be counted on to carry out a predictable routine, but I almost always watch both shows on Sunday afternoon. Ree and Trisha make me smile and make me want to try new recipes and make me want to discover an array of sassy new tunics that I can wear while cooking.

It’s an inspirational hour all the way around.

That being said, I need to bring up a very delicate topic, one that I hope won’t be too upsetting.

Trisha’s kitchen has changed. 

And listen. It has rocked my world. I cannot make my peace with it.

Here’s the deal.

When the show started, Trisha was in her real-live Nashville kitchen. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Because the set looked like this…

…and at some point I think they alluded to the fact that she was in her Nashville kitchen. But then I saw a picture of her real-live Nashville kitchen that caused me to question everything I had previously believed was true.

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Maybe the kitchen in the first two pictures is Garth’s Nashville kitchen? Because I think that would make me feel better.

ANYWAY, the next season the kitchen changed, and I assumed she was in Oklahoma because she was forever having her Oklahoma friends on the show. I loved the Oklahoma kitchen (or maybe I should say “Oklahoma” kitchen since I don’t really know for a fact that it was legitimately her kitchen, but for some reason I decided that it was a guest house kitchen, and since I had made up my mind, IT MUST BE TRUE).

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That’s Trisha’s sister, Beth. Beth is precious and I say that even though I don’t know her even a little bit. And I realize that these pictures don’t really convey what the second set looked like, but it was in “Oklahoma” and I liked the big refrigerator with the “Love you more” magnet on it and everything functioned beautifully. Occasionally the shelves in the back would change; they’d switch out the props or the color scheme, but WHATEVER. We were in “Oklahoma” and Uncle Wilson (God rest his soul) would come over and cook on the grill and Trisha would play a song after they finished supper and everybody would get teary-eyed.

ALL WAS AS IT SHOULD BE.

But then this season everything changed.

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I took this picture when I was watching this afternoon because seriously, WHERE IS SHE? I don’t think she’s in Nashville because Nashville wouldn’t have been that green when they were filming (yes, I think about these things). Same for Oklahoma. Plus, there was a segment at the end of the show where Trisha, Beth, and Beth’s son were outside eating dinner, and I swanee I saw some bougainvillea. So are they in California? SURELY NOT.

Are you picking up on the fact that this is driving me a little crazy?

I was talking about all of this at supper tonight (to his credit, David didn’t roll his eyes), and as I was speculating about where this new set is, I said, “You know, sometimes I think that she’s in a Food Network studio in Sandra Lee’s old kitchen.”

He just looked at me with a blank stare because 1) he has no idea who Sandra Lee is and 2) he might maybe possibly be tiring of my endless string of observations / questions about Trisha’s new set.

(Which reminds me: do you know that last weekend, when David was listening to Melanie and me talk about Kate and William’s new baby, he asked if she was their first child?)

(It was kind of endearing.)

SO. I believe I’ve dealt with all the major points of this critical issue. And I know that I need to let it go. But is it driving anyone else a little cuckoo that no one is acknowledging that anything has changed? I mean, don’t get me wrong: I would watch if Trisha was cooking in a 1957 Airstream that had been converted to a food truck. I adore her. I sing the chorus to “Walkaway Joe” at some point during every single episode. I love how she grins when she talks about her husband. But it’s sort of like when there would be a new Darrin on Bewitched. WE CAN’T JUST PRETEND IT’S ALL THE SAME.

Okay. I think I’m all done. I’m going to watch The Good Wife and try to calm down and hope that Alicia’s apartment isn’t suddenly different. I don’t think I could handle it.

I welcome your thoughts and observations and oh most definitely your theories.

Raindrops On Roses, Whiskers On Kittens, Etc.

If you’ve been reading here longer than about two days, you know that I am a person who gets on “kicks.” I find something I like and then I hold that thing oh-so-tight until burnout sets in or the product is discontinued (whichever comes first). Over the years I’ve been on asparagus kicks, Friday Night Lights kicks, trouser jeans kicks, painting kicks, black bean hummus kicks, and a somewhat unfortunate 30-Day Shred kick that left me unable to sit down without assistance and more than a little bit resentful that Jillian Michaels seemed to feel like she was the boss of me.

In retrospect, however, I probably should have let Jillian continue to bark orders via a DVD. It might have alleviated some of the consequences of my potato chips with French onion dip kick back in 2011.

Yesterday it occurred to me that I haven’t shared any of my kicks in a while, so I thought this was as good a time as any to play catch-up. I trust you understand that I will love all of these things deeply and completely until, you know, I don’t anymore.

Urban Decay Sheer Revolution Lipstick

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A Mississippi friend recommended this lipstick on Instagram one day, and since I was in the market for a new summer lipstick (yes. that’s a real thing.), I promptly drove to Sephora and bought me a tube of Sheer Rapture. I really, really like it. It’s sheer-ish but has tons of color and is moisturizing, too.

Newk’s Pesto Chicken Sandwich

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This sandwich is beyond delicious. And it probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve also been on a red bell pepper kick (right now a red bell pepper is my favorite of all the vegetables). I love that the chicken is sliced really thin, and the goat cheese is perfection with the pesto. WINNER WINNER PESTO CHICKEN DINNER.

NEEDTOBREATHE Live from The Woods at Fontanel

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I realize that I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but I’m still listening to it pretty much non-stop. It’s that good. Really, it’s just flat-out special – definitely my favorite live album in a sweet forever.

Crystal Light Strawberry Orange Banana

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I’ve lost count of how long I’ve been on this particular kick, but I can tell you that I crave it like crazy when I come home from work every afternoon. And yes, I see “artificial flavor” plastered on the label, but it tastes just like nature to me.

Okay. Maybe not really. But it’s awfully refreshing.

doTERRA Past Tense Essential Oil Blend Roll-On

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I don’t sell essential oils. I don’t even own any besides this one. But oh, how I adore it. I buy Past Tense from my friend LoraLynn, and I use it all the time. I rub it on my temples when I feel a headache coming on. I put it on the back of my neck when I’m stressed (and seriously – who works in a school setting and doesn’t feel a little stressed when May rolls around?), and on a night like tonight, when I’m feeling a good ole summer head cold coming on, I put some at the base of my neck and pretty much transform myself into a walking, talking vaporizer. AS YOU DO.

Artisan Nut Thins – Asiago Cheese

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This is a very fine cracker. And while I don’t know much, I know my crackers. This one is super crispy and flavorful, and I believe it will make an excellent addition to your snack cracker collection.

I’d love to hear about some of your recent favorites, too – and have a delightful weekend, everybody!