Among Other Things, It Was Take Big Mama To Work Day

Well, the last few days have been the most fun.

And this is where Martha would say, “They’ve been fun! Just more fun! You have no idea how much fun!”

Friday night we went to some of the high school baseball state quarterfinals, and since our school’s team was playing in a double-header, we pretty much spent the whole evening at the baseball field. I don’t know where I have developed my affinity for Friday afternoon baseball games in the springtime, but I am convinced that there is nothing better or more relaxing or more enjoyable than sitting under some green leaves and some blue sky and cheering for your people. I just adore it.

The second game wasn’t over until almost 9:30, so it was later than normal when we got home and pretty much collapsed in the bed. Saturday morning I woke up with plenty of things to do, but instead of taking care of any of those things, I played my hidden object game instead. I realize that it would be nice if, say, all the towels in this house were clean and folded, but the good news is that I helped Dana Knightstone solve the murder of Gabriela Montez, so I believe we can all rest easy now.

Eventually I got dressed so that I could go pick up Melanie from the airport, and after we got back here (“here” would be my house, as opposed to, you know, the wildlife and fisheries center or some other unlikely option) and visited for just a few minutes, it was time to leave for our book signing.

I’ll give you one guess as to what Mel and I never thought we’d be doing when we met each other 8 1/2 years ago: going to a book signing. Well, I mean, we might have gone to someone else’s book signing, but we certainly never thought we’d be doing the signing ourselves. Sure enough, though, we got to sit down side-by-side at BooksAMillion and sign some books. Life is kicky and weird.

We had such a good time getting to talk and visit and hang out and whathaveyou (and oh my word do we ever appreciate the folks who took time out of their Saturday night to be there); I felt like the time just flew by. Afterwards we went out to dinner and enjoyed the wedge salad OF OUR LIVES at Dyron’s in Crestline Village. SWEET HEAVENLY DAYS it was tasty and totally worth a trip if you’re ever in Birmingham and in the mood for the wedge salad of your life. FANTASTIC.

Melanie spoke at a Sav-A-Life brunch on Sunday, and while I’m aware that I’ve seen her in all sorts of great outfits and clothing combinations over the years, I really do feel like Sunday was a highlight. I did not take anything resembling a quality photograph, but she wore the cutest green and white shirtwaist dress with some killer wedges. Martha would say that she was DARLIN’ PLUS. Here’s a tiny glimpse that I snapped with my phone not too long after Melanie started her talk.

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See? DARLIN’ PLUS.

And let me just say this: I got the biggest kick of watching Melanie get on that platform and encourage the men and women who were there. It was hard not to be a little teary-eyed because she really did do the best job. And I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my closest friends. OBJECTIVELY she did THE BEST JOB. It was such a treat to listen to her and get to see how much everybody else enjoyed listening to her. That’s not my typical vantage point when we’re at some sort of event together, and oh, did I ever enjoy it.

But here’s what I did not enjoy nearly as much: when I was being very OCD about arranging Mel’s signed books in baskets before the brunch got started, and then I picked up one of the baskets and the handle popped off.

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That was not my favorite part.

It was mid-afternoon before we headed home, so we stopped at Whole Foods and selected a fairly embarrassing amount of cheeses and crackers and spreads and etc. We had already warned David and Alex that we wanted to have cheese and crackers for supper, and I have to say that we outdid ourselves. My absolute favorite thing were the parmesan crisps (they’re in the cheese section at Whole Foods, and frankly I don’t know why any of us would ever require any other food), and Mel’s favorite was an olive tapenade that was equal parts salty and tangy and wonderful. The roasted chicken salad was also a highlight, along with a wedge of parmesan that was so good I wanted to name it.

Then we watched Mad Men. And if you happen to watch, too, you’ll understand why I was so burdened and bothered for Joan that I had trouble sleeping last night. Also, I do not care for Ferg even a little bit.

Today I had work, of course, but Melanie went with me, and that was an extra fun way to spend the day. A couple of times a month at work we schedule speakers and plan a special lunch for our high school girls – just a way to give them some time with each other and a chance to hear other people’s stories – and it made my heart so happy for Melanie to speak at the final lunch for our senior girls. I tend to err on the side of emotional this time of year because I love the kids that I get to serve and know how much I’ll miss the seniors next fall, but have mercy it’s the neatest thing to see them getting ready to spread their wings.

(I can’t believe I just used the expression “spread their wings.”)

(Now I feel like I’m obligated to compose several rough drafts of greeting cards and then maybe listen to a medley of moving ballads.)

So that’s what’s been going on around here. Oh, and there’s the whole thing about how Melanie got to experience first-hand the anxious protectiveness that is Hazel, but the good news is that Hazel really did love her new friend from Texas once she accepted the fact that Melanie was not in fact here to kidnap us and steal our stash of chew sticks. In fact, I fully expect that Hazel, Piper, and Mabel will be vacationing together in no time at all. I mean, clearly Piper will have to take charge since Hazel and Mabel will no doubt be worried about their hair and wondering if they packed the right clothes and spending most of their waking moments FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS, but I’m happy that Hazel now knows she can trust her people in Texas.

And finally comma I haven’t even covered the part about Kate giving birth and how I’m not entirely convinced that she didn’t have that sweet baby a couple of weeks ago (the absence of swollen ankles and pregnancy lips gives me cause for some suspicion), but we’ll get around to that topic eventually.

Just as soon as I recover from the the whole Joan and Ferg debacle.

And maybe hum a few more of those moving ballads.

I’m almost certain that Hazel will want to sing along.

Currently Occupying My Mind

1. The Cheez-It box has been redesigned. New font and everything. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

2. We have lived in our current house for 8 1/2 years. That means it’s just about time to redecorate / repaint / etc. The problem is that there’s a whole lot of stuff I didn’t redecorate when we moved in. SO I AM TWO DECORATINGS BEHIND.

3. Yes, “decoratings” is a word or at least we will pretend that it is.

4. Hazel went to the vet for her check-up today. The vet said she needs to lose two pounds. TWO. I am so jealous of that. TWO POUNDS. She will totally hit her goal weight in a couple of weeks if she just gives up Cokes.

5. Hazel doesn’t really drink Coke.

6. She prefers Dr. Pepper.

7. Christy Nockels’ new album, Let It Be Jesus, is something really special.

8. There is a very real chance that Mississippi State isn’t going to make it to the SEC baseball tournament this year. My college baseball world has turned upside down.

9. However, my high school baseball world is just fine, thanks for asking. Monday night we went to see our high school team play in the state quarterfinals, and we won in extra innings. We also yelled our fool heads off. And the sky looked like this for a good part of the night, so that was another plus.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

9. Mad Men only has three more episodes. I think it really may be my favorite TV show ever. The only other one that comes close is Friday Night Lights because Coach Taylor.

10. I have missed all the quirky judges on The Good Wife this season.

11. And speaking of The Good Wife, I’m not sure why Alicia had to go through all that State’s Attorney business, but maybe that’s a bigger discussion for a different time.

12. Yesterday I downloaded my first hidden object game in a while, a sure sign that my brain is gearing up (or winding down) for summer. Please feel free to pass along any hidden object game favorites (and now I feel like I need to scream “NERDS UNITE” or something like that).

13. Has anybody read The Girl on the Train? I keep looking at it and thinking about buying it for Kindle – but if it’s dark like Gone Girl I’d rather not.

14. Another question: does anybody have a good source for pre-made slipcovers? We have had a bad upholstery experience with the last sofa we bought, so I’d like to slipcover it since it’s a sofa that gets a lot of wear. I just want something super-simple with clean lines.

15. I have been sitting here for 25 minutes trying to think of a #15. I am the most boring person alive.

16. I sure am grateful for your patience when I’m not thinking in paragraphs.

17. My official Royal Baby prediction: a girl, born this Friday, named Elizabeth, but called Lisbet for short.

18. I have no idea how I developed that theory.

19. Runner-up name: Alice. And please feel free to share your predictions, too.

20. I made it to #20. I’m calling that a win.

Some Sunday Sunshine

Well, I managed to just flat-out disappear last week, and it wasn’t anything I planned. But late Monday I flew to Houston, and Tuesday I spoke to the ladies at Crossroads Baptist Church in The Woodlands (they were just delightful, by the way), and then Wednesday I flew home and drove straight to work once I got here. Wednesday night I ended up cooking supper and washing clothes and finishing a book I started reading on the Houston flight, and Thursday I got my hair cut and highlighted after work (hallelujah) and then had to work on an article that I completely forgot about last week when it was due. Because I am a pillar of organization and follow-through.

Friday I had a super-busy day at work and then picked up salads for supper (this information is way too specific and boring, I realize, but I’ve committed to the boring at this point and feel like I have an obligation to stick with it), and then yesterday morning I ran errands before storms rolled in. I spent the rest of the day working on some writing stuff that I hope will eventually become the third book, and it was so good for my brain and my heart to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. In fact, when I finally opened my office door around 6 and walked to the kitchen to start cooking supper, I was so recharged by the whole process that I pretty much talked in capital letters for the next two hours.

THAT WAS SO FUN!

I REALLY ENJOYED THAT!

AREN’T THESE STEAK BITES DELICIOUS?!!?

Our former pastor preached this morning at church, which was SUCH A TREAT, and after our usual lunch at Chuy’s we ran in Target for a few things I totally forgot to get yesterday. David needed to get some car washing stuff (the aisle of car washing products is his happy place, much like the aisle of pens and pencils is mine), and while he was debating the merits of one product versus another, I spotted this little number on an end cap.

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

Oh, y’all. It is a wonder. I put it on my desk, and it’s just perfect if you like some air circulating but don’t want to mess up your hair or worry that pieces of paper will fly all over the room.

I haven’t named it yet, but I’m tentatively thinking of going with MY PRECIOUS.

Anyway, I’m about to go clean out the refrigerator since I feel like I’m playing Jenga every time I open the door, but before I do that I wanted to mention a few things that I probably should have told you about last week.

1. Melanie is coming to town next weekend, and we have a couple of fun things in store. The first is that we’re signing books together at the Brookwood BooksAMillion on Saturday, May 2nd, at 6 pm. We are excited about getting to sign books, visit with some of y’all, and maybe even re-enact scenes from Coal Miner’s Daughter during the lulls. Since Melanie’s third book is brand new I am expecting that she will sign a LOT more books than I do, so please know that I am also happy to serve as a photographer in the event that you’d like to have your picture made with her. I will even select my favorite Instagram filter at no extra charge to you. It’s just a book signing service I like to provide.

2. Also, Mel is speaking Sunday afternoon at SavALife’s Mother’s Day Brunch.

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I got a little giddy when I saw that the brunch was sponsored by Ashley Mac’s, because if they wanted to bring some of their Baby Bleu Salad with them, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings even a little bit.

You can buy tickets right here.

3. There’s a conference called Look at the Book at our church on May 29-30, and I am so intrigued by the content and the format. John Piper is the teacher, and from what I understand he walks participants through passages of Scripture and shares his method of reading and analysis. A few minutes ago I watched a video that demonstrates the kind of teaching he’ll be doing, and it looks super interesting. Tickets are only $12, and the schedule still leaves some room in your weekend (6-9pm on Friday, 8am-1pm on Saturday).

All righty. I think that’s all.

If you need me, I’ll just be sitting here in front of my fan.

Happy Sunday, everybody!

Sometimes There’s Treasure Beneath The Velcro Rollers

Right off the bat I feel like I need to mention that I went to see Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2 at the movie theatre this afternoon.

I don’t even know what to say. I almost never go to the movie. But somehow in the last month I’ve found myself sitting in the SpongeBob Sponge Out of Water movie and now Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2, and while I guess it’s good that I’m going to the picture show again, I’m not sure why I’m letting myself get talked into seeing ALL THE WORST ONES.

There’s a 5th grader in this house who doesn’t have any complaints, though.

And shockingly, despite the fact that I never saw the first Paul Blart movie, I was in fact able to follow along with the sequel. I don’t think I missed any subtle nuances in the narrative or anything like that, mainly because Paul Blart just sort of ran into things and fell down a lot. There were some parts where I actually laughed out loud, but I won’t give anything away because SPOILERS. I would hate to think that I took away even a second’s enjoyment from the plot’s intricate twists and turns.

For the record, Alex Hudson laughed for a solid minute after the bird fight.

Clearly we are doing everything we can to instill in him a certain level of culture and sophistication.

But really, I can’t even think much about the movie right now because I have THE MOST EXCITING NEWS.

Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago I posted something on Instagram about the demise of my most favorite hair clip in the whole wide world. I was just about to make the drive from my hometown back to Birmingham when it quite literally fell apart, and I was so moved by the years we’d shared together that I felt the need to memorialize it.

I knew that a clippy of its caliber would be difficult if not impossible to find, and I tried to make my peace with the fact that most modern-day clippies are either much smaller or much larger. I made do with a very small clippy when I got home that night, and then the next day I picked up a possible clippy replacement in Publix.

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They were fine – at first. The clip part was actually a good size and seemed to hold my hair pretty well, but I realized after an hour or so that the clips were top-heavy and hurt after a while. They’d flop over and cause the prongs to poke my scalp a little bit, and while there are few things I enjoy in life as much as pulling my bangs off of my face at the end of a long day, I do not in fact wish to sustain a minor head injury in the process. I think this is reasonable.

So. For the last three or so weeks, the top-heavy clippies and I have been trying to get along. I come home in the afternoons and pull my hair off of my face – but inevitably I’m yanking the clippy out of my hair by suppertime. Because I don’t know if I mentioned it but PRONGS.

Well.

Tonight I’ve been packing for my trip to Houston (I fly out late tomorrow afternoon), and just about an hour ago I was digging through my bathroom drawers, trying to find a plastic something-or-other to hold just the tiniest bit of my foundation so I don’t have to pack the whole bottle. I looked through my two main make-up drawers, and I decided on a lark to go through the drawer where I keep velcro rollers. I hardly open that drawer at all because I haven’t used velcro rollers regularly in about seven years, but I still hold on to the rollers because you never know when you might be faced with a hair emergency that only velcro rollers can fix. I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE, OKAY?

I was just about to close the drawer when I spotted what I thought was a familiar looking logo towards the back, and as I pulled it out from under the rollers and realized what it was, I found myself fighting the temptation to, you know, SQUEAL.

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OLD SCHOOL CLIPPIES.

Seriously. All I could do was think of that verse from Psalms that says (and I’m paraphrasing), Many, O LORD, are the wonders you have done, were I to name them I could not count them all.

Not that I was being dramatic or anything like that. Oh, heavens no. But can I just remind you one more time about something?

OLD SCHOOL CLIPPIES!

I couldn’t wait to see if they were everything I remembered. I had already taken one of the newer clippies out of my hair because, well, PRONGS, so I tried one of the old school clippies and y’all, it was like coming home. It’s lightweight, the hinge is solid, and it holds my bangs in place just beautifully.

The best part? I still have two back-ups! Should this clippy be unable to fulfill its duties and responsibilities, there is a first AND a second alternate ready to take its place.

I’m considering locking the alternates in a vault or at the very least a fire safe. It just makes good sense to take care of your valuables, you know?

So that’s pretty much my Sunday afternoon in a nutshell: Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and an unexpected supply of old school clippies. The movie was just okay, but the clippies get two thumbs up from me.

Five stars.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Turning That April 15th Frown Upside Down

I’ve had a running list in my head all day long. I am happy to share it with you at this juncture. Also, I am so sorry that said list did not appear in my head in the form of connected paragraphs.

– The other day Alex asked me if I knew the reciprocal of 1/2. Much to my surprise, I blurted out “2/1″ and then wondered what in the world had happened. Alex couldn’t believe I knew the answer. NEITHER COULD I. But I’ve thought a lot about it and am sort of curious to know if there are other random math tidbits lodged way down in the recesses of my brain. DOES THIS MEAN I STILL KNOW HOW TO FACTOR?

– Last night I went to my friend Pat’s book club. A group of women from my church started the book club back in 2006, and they are such dedicated, thoughtful readers. The English teacher in me could have listened to them talk about their favorite books all night long. Their April book was Home is Where My People Are, which was so very kind of them, and for our dinner they made the recipes that Tyndale sent out in the pre-order incentive. IT WAS THE MOST FUN. I didn’t get home until almost 10, and that is a big night out considering that I am person who is typically in pajamas by 5:30 in the afternoon.

Anyway, I say all of that to tell you that in the next few days you’ll be able to find book club discussion questions on the HIWMPA blog page. I hope they’ll be helpful!

– The new NEEDTOBREATHE live album is so good that it makes me teary-eyed. I am a huge fan of their studio albums, but there’s never been one (in my opinion) that came even remotely close to the thrill of seeing them live. This new album – Live from the Woods – beautifully captures what a unique experience it is to listen to them live. It’s FANTASTIC.

– Next week I’m speaking at BLOOM at Crossroads Baptist in The Woodlands, Texas. Here’s the info if you live somewhere nearby; I would love to see some of y’all there! I’m looking forward to a great night-o-laughter-and-fun.

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– This is a great post by Sarah Mae: “Choosing to Wake Up to My Own Life.” Such good perspective for when we’re feeling bogged down in the day-to-day.

– And if you’ve made it this far, here is your reward. Just because I love it (and y’all, too), I’m giving away five (5) copies of NEEDTOBREATHE’s new live album. So if you’d like to enter to win, leave a comment on this post. I’ll close comments sometime Friday afternoon and draw for winners then.

TAKE THAT, TAXES.

WE’LL SHOW YOU.

That Ticking Clock Still Sounds Exactly The Same

Well, last night I watched 60 Minutes, which for some reason made me feel like I was 14 years-old all over again. Couple that with the fact that I watched the Masters for most of the afternoon – something that my daddy and I did year after year after year when I was growing up – and part of me felt like I need to go to my room and try on some new Esprit outfits while I listened to Billy Joel and Phil Collins cassette tapes on my boombox.

I was actually oh-so-happy to be able to lay low yesterday afternoon because I woke up Sunday morning with a headache that WOULD NOT QUIT. We went to Trinity UMC instead of our church so that we could hear Jen Hatmaker speak, and I’m really glad we pushed through with that plan in spite of the headache because OH, MY. Jen’s message. It’s one of those things that I’ll hold in my heart and my mind for a really long time. So encouraging and beautiful. Afterwards I had high hopes that some lunchtime caffeine would knock out the headache, but no luck – so I got home and put on my pajamas and that was pretty much the story of my Sunday afternoon.

Besides that riveting Masters / 60 Minutes part, of course.

I’d planned to write all about the adventure of working on Alex’s DC scrapbook project this past weekend (THE SCRAPBOOK, IT IS FINISHED), but I think I’ll save that for another day. So in the meantime, here are a few things of little to no consequence that might make your day a little brighter.

– I have no idea why, but the Kindle version of Home is Where My People Are is only $8.63 right now. That’s a 46% discount according to what I see on the Amazon page, so it might as well be 50% off if we’re rounding up. AND WHY WOULDN’T WE.

Also, if you’ve read HIWMPA (that’s its catchy nickname) already, would you consider leaving a review for it? Reviews make publishers very happy and provide great feedback when it’s time to start thinking about another book (not that I’d know anything about that, oh no not at all).

And that reminds me: thank you a million times for your podcast reviews last week! I know it probably sounds strange for a podcast where we don’t talk about anything in particular, but it was so encouraging to read your kind words, and we are more committed than ever to continue to provide 50-60 minutes of completely unplanned content as often as we possibly can. Because we are very professional.

– I thought Jordan Spieth was such a gracious, humble winner at the Masters yesterday; he seems unusually grounded. So I loved reading this article about his family and how they’ve shaped him. Very insightful.

– A few people have emailed me to ask about some crackers that Melanie and I talked about on a recent podcast. They’re actually just a step away from a cheese straw, and THEY ARE DELICIOUS: John Wm Macy’s Cheese Crisps. I posted about them on Instagram a while back, and a couple of people told me that they’re also available at Costco. IN BULK.

– My favorite inconsequential thing in the world right now? The flat white from Starbucks. And yes, I just saw for the first time that they, um, have a few more calories than my go-to grande Pike Place, but good grief they’re tasty.

– I keep meaning to do a post about books for tweens (from time to time I get an email that asks about what Alex is reading), and I really am gonna work on that for summer. In the meantime, though, I just want to point out how much Alex loves the Theodore Boone books. They’re a great bridge between books for kids and young adult books, and he’s super excited about the new one coming out in May.

– NEEDTOBREATHE and Gavin DeGraw? Together? YES, PLEASE. (And if you are the mother of at least two boys, good luck getting through this song without a tissue. It’s the best.)

Hope y’all have a great Monday!