A Good Bit Of Giddy-ing

First of all, I hope the predicted stormy weather will go ahead and move into Birmingham in the next hour or so because Hazel is on HIGH ALERT. Every little rumble of thunder sends her into watchdog mode because CAREFUL OR THE SKY WILL ATTACK US ALL, and I don’t think my nerves would mind the opportunity to SIMMER ON DOWN.

Second of all, I have been dealing with a sinus infection / barking cough all week, and the current state of my voice might cause you to think that my preferred snack for the last 20-odd years has been a pack of Marlboro Reds along with a bottomless mug of scalding black coffee.

Basically I am one of Homer Simpson’s sisters.

Third of all, how are y’all? Delightful, I hope.

We are officially in the wind-down part of the school year, which means I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed in the mornings. As soon as I hear my alarm, my first thought is typically this:


Somehow, though, we will power through, and one day in the not-so-distant future I will turn off that alarm and LO, I WILL SAVOR SOME SLEEP.


It occurred to me earlier tonight that I had neglected to share some important book-related news here on the blog. So here it is.


All you have to do is pre-order Giddy Up, Eunice from your favorite retailer, then go back to the Giddy Up website and upload a picture / screenshot / PDF that confirms your purchase. You can also download the first chapter and GET TO READIN’.

So. That is all of my news. I hope y’all have the best weekend.

And please, by all means, giddy up.

Hey There, May

We’re in that part of the school year where I really don’t know where the weeks go. It seems like it was March last week, and now somehow it’s May. I kind of feel like time is mocking me.

Okay. That might have been a tiny bit dramatic. But spring is no joke on the activity front, is it?

Plus – and I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this or not, so if I’m repeating myself, forgive me – but I’ve been recording the audio versions of all three books. We’ve mostly had to do the recording late in the afternoons and on the occasional non-lacrosse Saturday. We’ve finished the first two (in fact, A Little Salty… is available now), and I’m almost finished with Giddy Up, Eunice. At some point I’ll tell you about how the timing of re-reading the books has been sort of bittersweet (and you’ll also understand more about why if you read the new one), but I am very grateful to have been able to record the audio versions – for a whole bunch of reasons.

And probably the very best part of the audio stuff is getting to meet and hang out with Don, Betty, and Tyler at the studio where I’ve been recording. Don and Betty are both from Mississippi; they’re probably ten years younger than my parents, and they are the SWEETEST PEOPLE. Don sounds like DJs used to sound when I was growing up and everybody listened to their local DJ from 6-10 at night, and Betty is so sweet and fun and smart (she plays bridge a few times a week and loves to talk about current events). Tyler is a musician who also works at the studio, and LORD, BLESS HIM, for he has had to listen to way-too-many-stories about my family and my friends and my thoughts about television. Tyler also turns the AC down for me in the afternoons so that the room where I record can get nice and cool before we have to shut the door, so I am forever indebted to him for that act of service alone.

The only downside of the whole process is that it’s made me LOATHE the sound of my own voice even more than usual (I don’t have to hear myself EVER AGAIN, THANKS), but I’m gonna be sad when I’m finished, which will probably be in the next week or so.

I am also gonna be sad when this year’s seniors graduate at school, but we won’t talk about that right now because DENIAL. IT IS HELPFUL WITH THE FEELINGS.

(Last weekend I spoke at a luncheon for the senior girls.)

(To my credit, I only had to fight back tears twice and only cried openly once.)

(This was nothing short of miraculous.)

The other big development around here is that we very unexpectedly bought a new couch this past weekend. I mean, we had talked about how we’d like to get a new couch since the last one we bought – a gray one – turned out to be HORRIBLE in terms of fabric and construction quality, but we knew we were going to have to find a great deal because, well, sofas are expensive. There was definitely some tension between the gray sofa and me, though, because while our sixteen year-old sofa still looks great, that four year-old gray one looks like I attached the cushions to the back of a truck and dragged them down the street.

This was a simpler time for the gray sofa. It was also a less-frayed and less-worn time. And a time when the piping wasn't poking out of the sofa cushions.

This was a simpler time for the gray sofa. It was also a less-frayed and less-worn time. And a time when the piping wasn’t poking out of the sofa cushions.

So this past Saturday we went to my FAVORITE store in all of Birmingham so that I could pick out a birthday gift for my friend Kasey. The store is called At Home, and they have such a great selection of china and furniture and linens and basically all things decorative. They also have really great inexpensive jewelry, and it’s my favorite place to stock up on trendy bracelets / earrings / necklaces because their prices are so good. Anyway, I was with my fellas because we’d been at UAB graduation earlier that morning, so I asked if they wanted to run in the store with me.

Much to my surprise, they agreed.

When we walked in At Home, I made a beeline for the jewelry and accessories while David and Alex made a loop around the store. After about ten minutes David walked over to where I was in the jewelry section, and he said, “Hey – I think I’ve found a sofa? And I think it looks like our house? Will you come look at it?”

Almost nineteen years of marriage, y’all, and this was the first time my husband has asked me to look at a sofa. So I put down the jewelry I was looking at, and I high-tailed it over to that sofa. YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE I DID.

And oh my goodness – I loved it instantly. I could tell that the quality was really good just from the way the pillows and cushions looked, and when I sat on it? YES MA’AM. It was so comfortable, and while I thought it was a little unusual that it was all the same fabric – every single part of it covered in a paisley pattern that reminds me so much of my friend Laura’s living room sofa back in the 70s – I agreed with David that it would look great it our house.

About that time one of the ladies who works in At Home came over to talk to us, and she explained that the couch was supposed to be leather with pillows in the paisley, but somehow it got ordered wrong and ended up being paisley all over. She said they moved it out to the floor and priced it to sell, knowing that it would have to find the right family with the right kind of house (I realize, by the way, that this is turning into an epic tale, but this story makes me happy), and we explained to her that we live in a house built in 1974. Groovy can handle a whole lot of pattern, you know.

Well, at some point in all of our talking I noticed the price tag, and I honest-to-goodness thought that I was seeing it wrong. So I asked the salesperson about it, and she said that was really the price since it wasn’t what they’d intended to order. And get this: it was the exact same brand as the sofa we bought sixteen years ago – but the new sofa sales price was less than half of what we paid for sofa #1 way back in 2000. It was a DEAL.

After a few minutes of discussion / problem solving, we figured out that we could move the gray sofa into the den off of the kitchen (we sit in there all the time, so the gray sofa will still get lots of use). Then I looked at David, and he looked at me, and I said, “SOLD?”

He said, “SOLD.”

We were both so tickled – D because HE FOUND IT, and me because we both LOVED IT.

She came home today. She’s a lot of look but PERFECT in our living room. And for right now I’m calling her Kasey’s Birthday Sofa. Because thanks to Kasey’s birthday, we found the most comfortable piece of furniture we have ever owned.

You’ll be happy to know that I also found a birthday present for Kasey.

So see? That just all worked out beautifully.

Blogging: Good For The Nerves

I’m been watching the State / Ole Miss baseball game tonight on the SEC Network, but right now Ole Miss has two men on base with only one out, and the whole situation makes me so nervous that I had to turn the game off for a little bit. I’ll follow on Twitter, of course, because knowledge is power and all that, but I needed a quick break from the stats and the tension between pitches and the possibility of a perfectly hit ball.

Okay. Twitter tells me that the inning is over without any runs.

I can breathe and also watch the game again.

Also, I realize this behavior is not at all normal.


We’ve been soaking up this last stretch of springtime here in Birmingham. Sister and Barry came to visit last weekend, which means they got to attend their very first lacrosse game. Sister and I made the rounds to our favorite stores – Steinmart, Home Goods, Nordstrom Rack – and then we got to watch State beat LSU Saturday night (State won Friday night, too, but we only saw the very end of that game). I spoke at the mother/daughter luncheon for my school’s senior girls (to my credit, I didn’t just stand in front of everybody and weep openly for 20 minutes, but there were a couple of times when I thought I might), and then Sunday afternoon we got to just hang out here at the house and gear up for a busy week.

Last night was the final lacrosse game of the season for Alex’s team, and I have to say that we all enjoyed the fire out of his first season. He learned a lot, the families were so fun, and the kids had a blast. So yay, lacrosse. We are fans.

All righty. There are three things I wanted to be sure to pass along today. Wait. There are actually five. So five things. Yes. Here they are.

1) I think I mentioned on the most recent podcast that I tripped and skinned my knee when I was in Starkville weekend before last. And let me tell you: I was not kidding. I really did a number on it, and it was super sore last Sunday and Monday. WELL. Sunday night I remembered that the girls who own Made on Acorn Hill had sent me a box full of homemade soaps and salves (y’all know how I love me an herbal-scented salve), and I remembered from the note they sent that one of their products was actually a first aid salve. It’s called Mama’s Kiss, and y’all, I cannot say enough good things about it. I have faithfully used it on my knee twice – sometimes three times – a day, and it has worked wonders. It’s moisturizing, it’s soothing, it smells fantastic, and it’s all natural. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. My knee is so much better, and the salve was so great at taking the sting out during those first few days. Just FYI if you’re stocking up for summertime boo-boos.

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2) Wright Thompson’s feature story about Tiger Woods is outstanding: deep, thought-provoking, and beautifully written. It’s not really about golf at all; it’s much more about the dynamics between a father and his son – and how that son deals with grief after his father passes away.

3) I first heard Psalm Songs, Vol. 1 a couple of months ago, and I liked it so much that I gave away my CD (seriously – someone commented on it, and I told them to take the CD since I had the songs downloaded on my computer). This is music that begs to be shared; it’s an assortment of Psalms set to music of all styles, and you will sing along and sway and clap. It’s for all ages – really fun for young kids as well as grown-ups – and perfect if you like great music with an even greater purpose. If you’ve ever listened to Act of Congress, you’ll recognize Adam Wright’s vocals and arrangements (he is crazy talented). Really beautiful music.

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4) And finally, here are two delicious gluten-free, low-ish calorie snacks for your enjoyment:

BOOMCHICKAPOP. Kettle Corn (not too salty, not too sweet)

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5) Whisps (which I just discovered at Costco)


Enjoy, y’all – and have a great Wednesday!

p.s. The Dogs won 2-0. I’d like to thank this blog post for getting my nerves through the game. :-)

Some Of My Favorites: Hamilton Edition

So if you’ve listened to the latest podcast, you’ve heard me talk about Hamilton, and I’ll be the first to admit that my love for it is maybe just a smidge obsessive. It’s also unlikely; I don’t know much at all about hip hop music, I’m not typically a fan of musicals, and I think the last time I listened to a soundtrack over and over was back in the late 80s / early 90s when David Foster wrote lots of love songs.

Earlier today someone (hi, Heather!) asked me (on Twitter) what my favorite Hamilton articles are, and oh my goodness – there are so many. I’ve read / watched an obnoxious amount about US history, about the show, about the actors, and about the creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

There’s no way I can list everything, of course, but if you want a little Hamilton primer, maybe this is a good place to start. There may be some language in these clips, just as there’s some language in the show’s lyrics. In that sense I guess the musical isn’t all that different from a PG-13 movie, but if you’re planning on listening to the soundtrack, just consider yourself warned. It’s certainly not for young kids, and I’d hate for anyone to expect Mary Poppins and then find themselves in the middle of a story about love and war and power and greed and infidelity and heartbreak (and so much more).

And just FYI – this is the book that started it all.

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All righty. Clips and articles for your enjoyment.

1) Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first performance of “Alexander Hamilton” at the White House in 2009 – before he knew he was going to write the musical.

2) The cast of the musical performing the same song at the White House about a month ago; they start singing around the 9:00 mark.

3) The New York Times review of Hamilton

4) The cast talks history in Rapping a RevolutionThe New York Times.

5) Charlie Rose interviews Lin-Manuel Miranda about his childhood, writing / researching Hamilton, and the history behind the show.

6) Charlie Rose talks with Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Hamilton: The Backstage Tour.”

(apparently I enjoy Charlie Rose’s interviews)

7) Daveed Diggs plays Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the show, and I love listening to him on the soundtrack. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed “Founding Father: Hamilton Star Daveed Diggs on Being in the Room Where It Happens” so much. He’s super talented.

8) The three men who have played King George in the show did a lip sync of “The Schuyler Sisters,” a song that introduces a couple of women who had an enormous impact on Alexander Hamilton’s life. This video makes me smile.

9) Lin-Manuel Miranda talks to Stephen Colbert (there’s a little language).

10) The Marine Band plays “What’d I Miss?” – a song that Daveed Diggs sings as Thomas Jefferson. He doesn’t sing it here (except for a line at the end), but there’s something about the setting that makes me smile.

I could go on, but I won’t. :-)

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Take Me Out To The SEC Network

Well first of all, I haven’t mentioned American Idol at all this year. Part of the reason for that is because I didn’t watch a minute of it until a few weeks ago, and then one Friday night I blazed through about 15 episodes on the DVR. At the end of my mini-marathon I felt like Trent and La’Porsha would be the final two, but there was one particular performance that made me think Trent would eventually be the winner.

I didn’t really care for the song when it was on the radio last year, but Trent’s version? YES, PLEASE. So gorgeous. Such heartbreaking lyrics – and he sang them so beautifully.

I think he and La’Porsha both are gonna do big things. They’re crazy talented.

And while we’re talking about Idol, I’ll go ahead and mention that we thought the finale was awesome. It was so neat to see contestants from seasons past, and the music was great. Not to mention that Kelly Clarkson? Nine months pregnant? ROCKED IT.

I just kept thinking that when I was nine months pregnant, I wouldn’t have been able to get my breath long enough to sing for five minutes (I felt like I was pregnant from my throat to my knees), and I sure enough wouldn’t have been able to wedge my planks feet into some sassy booties.


The whole thing was fantastic. And while I didn’t watch AI quite as regularly this season as I have in the past, I thought it ended on a high note, oh please do pardon the pun.

So I guess that if AI was the highlight of the first part of last week (well, that and Alex’s lacrosse game – even though they lost), there were all sorts of highlights for the second half of the week. We had our field day at school on Thursday, and prom was Thursday night. My hometown high school didn’t have a prom, so I get the biggest kick out of going to ours, even if I just stay for 45 minutes to see all the dresses. This year I stayed for about an hour and a half because I could not stop running my mouth, but after I finally got home about 8:30, I had a nice little cry about my senior girls who are graduating. I won’t get into all of that now because I’m currently enjoying a tear-free evening, but OH MY WORD I WILL MISS THEM.

Friday morning I had a meeting and then went to work on the audio book for Home is Where My People Are (have I mentioned that on here? that I’m reading all three books for audio books?). I finished A Little Salty… a couple of weeks ago, and hopefully I’ll finish Home… in the next week or so. I am NOT fast at this whole process, and I’ve been surprised by how emotional it makes me. It has also made me wish that I could edit everything one more time, but that’s not really a shocker considering that I am a little bit of a compulsive editor.

Anyway, I think the plan is for all three versions to be ready around the time that Giddy Up, Eunice comes out (which is only a couple of months from now), and I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to record them. But if you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a new podcast in the last few weeks, that’s your answer. I have to drive downtown for recording, and since I’m working in small batches – an hour here, three hours there – it is a time-consuming deal. Plus, I’m trying to fit it in around all our regularly scheduled stuff, but hopefully Mel and I will have more cooperative schedules at some point in the next couple of weeks.

So that’s pretty much what’s been going on around here. Saturday I ran errands galore, a friend of Alex’s came over, and on a whim David, Alex, and I decided late in the afternoon to go to a spring festival in a nearby neighborhood. The weather was beautiful, and after we stopped by the grocery store to pick up supper, we came home and put on pajamas – at which point I settled in for the Mississippi State / Florida baseball game.

Now y’all know that I love me some college sports, and it’s always been pretty easy to stay caught up with football and basketball because of regional sports networks that broadcast a big chunk of the games. Baseball, however, has always been a different story, and there have been so many times when I have wanted to watch the Bulldogs play and have had to follow along via a message board or Twitter because most of the baseball games weren’t televised.

So that is why I can now say that the SEC Network has pretty much changed my whole life for the better as far as Mississippi State baseball is concerned. Even if our game isn’t the main one featured on TV, I can still watch on the computer / iPad, and OH SWEET MERCY IT DELIGHTS ME. So last night I watched us beat Florida (the #1 team in the nation, mind you) 10-4, and then this afternoon / evening we got to watch the Bulldogs win 2-1, and THANK YOU, SEC NETWORK, for the privilege. It has been so fun to watch and text with Sister / Daphne / Emma Kate through so many of the games, and while I realize that I am a total nerd about college sports, I have gotten the biggest kick out of being able to indulge my Bulldog baseball nerdery. It was huge for the ‘Dogs to take the series over the Gators, so next weekend in Starkville – vs. Melanie’s Aggies, no less – holds all sorts of promise (or potential heartache, but we will not entertain that notion at this time).

And if all that fun weren’t enough, today was Daniel Renstrom‘s first official Sunday as our church’s worship pastor. WE ARE SO THRILLED. It was the neatest thing to be led by him this morning, and then afterwards we got to have lunch at Chuy’s with some of our favorite friends.

Plus, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but State won the baseball series against Florida.


Spring is so good, y’all.

Real life is even better.

Hope your week is a great one!

What I’ve Read & What I’m Reading

I thought that I was going to be a little annoyed when the alarm went off at 5:15 this morning and I had to accept that real life was fully underway again, but I actually didn’t mind getting out of bed because I was so rested from spring break. Apparently six days of reading / watching The Newsroom / sleeping (at least) eight hours a night has some benefits.


Anyway, some of you (and by “some,” I mean “at least two”) have asked about my reading list, so I thought I’d do a quick recap of what I’ve read / what I’m reading. I think it’s probably obvious that I’m in a significant non-fiction phase, so if you have any good fiction to recommend (especially fiction where children are unharmed / not kidnapped / safe and treasured), I’d love to know about it.

All righty. Here’s the list.

1) The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

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I love books about writing, especially Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King. Given that, I was excited to finally get to read Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir since I tend to write memoir-ish books. I highlighted a ton of passages in this book, especially the parts where Karr chronicles her own writing experiences. There are a few chapters where she devotes a significant amount of time to critiquing other writers’ memoir techniques, and I found those parts less interesting just because they reminded me a little of grad school and clearly I still have some lingering stress from my grad school experience (especially as it relates to Vladamir Nabokov, a writer held in the highest esteem by Karr). Even still, I know that I’ll read parts of this book again; Karr is a brilliant writer and so fun to read.

2) Lit by Mary Karr

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So after I read The Art of Memoir, I immediately downloaded Lit, and I’m still reading it. There’s definitely an overarching tone of sadness (the book focuses on Karr’s battle with alcoholism), but there are also some hilarious moments, and I’m increasingly convinced that nobody writes a better simile than Mary Karr. So far I definitely like Lit better than The Liars’ Club, Karr’s first memoir that was hard for me to read because the subject matter was so heavy. I’ll also say that the pace and structure of Lit are a little fascinating to me; I’m kind of hyper-aware of those two elements when I read, and so far I really like how Karr handles both.

3) The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons

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I read a chapter of this book back in the winter, and then I put it aside and told myself that I could start reading again after I finished my book. Well, that is exactly what I did. I tend to like a novel with any kind of CIA / government intrigue / secret and/or rogue government operation as a backdrop, and this one certainly delivers on that count. I was also interested in the mystery at the heart of this book. However, I felt like it got pretty dark about half-way through, and the dark never really let up for the rest of the book. So when the book was over, it just felt over – but I didn’t feel like anyone had really conquered anything / learned any big lessons / walked away better than they were before. Sorry if that’s a spoiler – I really don’t think it is – but ultimately there was something missing at the heart of this book (redemption, maybe?) that left me feeling hollow.

4) Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs

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Reading Annie’s books is like having a conversation with a friend. I just started reading her newest book (it releases Tuesday 4/5), and I can honest-to-goodness hear her voice in every single sentence. I love that. Without spoiling the premise of the book, I will tell you that 1) in the nerdiest possible way, I am a fan of the way Annie has structured / organized the chapters 2) almost every woman alive will be able to relate to Annie’s stories and 3) you’re going to laugh and cry as you read. This book would be a great choice for a book club or a small group – lots to talk about, lots of ways to connect Annie’s experiences to our personal experiences. Just FYI. Yay, Annie!

5) Jesus Outside the Lines by Scott Sauls

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I’ve mentioned this book before. I just don’t want you to forget about it. :-) IT IS FANTASTIC.

6) Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling

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I finished this book a while ago, and I’ve been meaning to mention it ever since. Mindy Kaling makes me smile, primarily because she is hilarious. I loved her first book and was concerned that book two nmight be a let-down, but oh no it was not. So. If you liked her first book or Tina Fey’s book or Amy Pohler’s book, you’ll enjoy this one, too. Some of you who like to read Serious Things might want to keep in mind that this is not necessarily something you would read to strengthen your world view, but it’s light and funny and, in places, tender. I am such a fan of Mindy Kaling’s writing style (random-ish, stream-of-consciousness-ish, loaded with pop culture references, conversational, etc.).

7) Unoffendable by Brant Hansen

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I bought this book last week because I felt like I needed it. This presidential election has brought out parts of my personality that I don’t really love – a side of me that is super-opinionated and very certain of my right-ness and way too judge-y. Without belaboring the (boring) point, I’ll just say that I’m tired of feeling angry about it all, and after seeing mention after mention about Unoffendable, I decided to read it. No joke: I was teary-eyed by page three because it hit me right where I’ve been living. And while I haven’t finished it yet, this book is challenging me and encouraging me. I am grateful for both of those things. Also, Brant Hansen is HILARIOUS (I used to read his blog posts back in the day and wish I could write like he does), and he brings lots of levity to what could be a super-earnest subject matter. Also, I’m pretty sure that I’m on track to highlight more passages in this book than any other in recent memory. It’s a keeper.

So. Those are all of my current book-related thoughts. Have y’all read anything good or memorable lately?